Climb Your Own Mountain

I’ll be the first to admit that it can be pretty easy to fall into a trap of comparing your own journey to the ever rotating highlight reels that haunt Facebook newsfeeds. However, I also know it’s important to remember that no two journeys are the same. No two mountains have the same obstacles, the same number of trails, or even exactly the same view when you get to the top, even if they look similar. Your hike may be longer than others—it may even take you somewhere you didn’t expect—but that’s the fun in an adventure. So don’t forget to revel in it. Don’t forget to learn everything your climb has teach you, every way it’ll help you grow.

With as many feelings as Oz has, I’ve always worked extra hard to make sure that we preserve our relationship above everything else. That no matter what, our relationship will get us through anything life decides to throw our way. That even if meeting a dog out on the trail or a training session at home doesn’t go exactly as we hoped or his anxiety kicks in over what seems like nothing at all, we trust that we’ll get through it. Above all, I always try my best to listen to Oz. I always make sure he feels safe, feels that he has a voice.

So for now, our mountain doesn’t look like I might have once expected. Our view at the top isn’t getting to world team tryouts or rocking a course at a trial, it’s feeling safe, more neutral, and just plain happy in the outside world. Simply put, it’s Oz’s best version of content, his best version of care-free.

Today we climbed another ridge towards the top: getting hip x-rays and keeping our trust intact. I’ve worked very hard on Oz feeling like he can trust not just me, but also the people he consistently interacts with. He’s always had body wiggly feeling about people, but has not historically had great feelings about people doing unexpected things. As he’s matured, however, our trust has grown so deep that it has spilled over into the people who we interact with, the people who sometimes need to do those unexpected things. More or less, Oz trusts those I trust.

My vet thought that doing his xrays without sedation would stress and confused Oz the least. So, we donned our muzzle (just in case) and in to the vet we went. I had thought wearing his muzzle outside of his hiking world would confuse him, but to my surprise, it didn’t effect him in the least. He was excited and happy to be there. Despite some of the weird things that’ve happened there, his ever optimistic little self was convinced it was still somewhere good to go.

As we waited, I tried to push my own anxiety away. Mr. chill, Oz lay calmly in the room, hoping his relaxed self-positioned down would make the door open and his favorite vet appear. Eventually she did and long story short, he was a rockstar. He let them maneuver him onto the table, take his xrays, and walk him back to the room—with a optimistic wagging tail the whole way through. And his post-xray hugs and snuggles, his feelings about his favorite vet remained the same—he LOVED her. And through it all, he trusted me that it all would be just fine, and through that, he trusted her. So much so in fact, he happily started to follow her as she left at the end of our appointment, ready to do it all over again.

We walked around the parking lot relaxedly sniffing as I took a deep breath of relief and let myself beam with pride. We had done it. We had climbed our ridge and we were no worse for wear. Our relationship was still perfectly in tact, our trust still strong. We were still optimists.

Today’s ridge was huge for us. For someone else, it might’ve been nothing, might not’ve even been a blip on their climb to their top—and that’s fine. Your climb is never going to be the same. Your climb may always seem more challenging than others’ or longer than others’ or who knows, yours may be easier than other’s. But focusing on someone else’s climb will never help you get to the top of yours. Trying to climb someone else’s mountain will never get you where you want to go.

You may not even know where you’re headed, what the top looks like right now, but sometimes I think it’s better that way. Hell, I have no clue exactly what mine and Oz’s will look like, but I know the view will be beautiful. And as our relationship grows stronger with each step, I know it’ll be worth it.

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Bronagh Daly