When I was about ten years old, I thought it would be a great idea to take both dogs for a walk at the same time.
One was a Lab mix, the other a Samoyed mix. They had been part of the family for a good five to seven years at that time, and I was quite familiar with both. But being familiar with your pets doesn’t mean you shouldn’t expect the unexpected.
Before we set out, my mom repeatedly told me to hang onto the leashes and to be sure I had control of the dogs. And for the majority of the walk, I did. Besides, I was somewhat of a sturdy child during those years, so I figured I was a good match for both pooches.
Towards the end of our journey, I was walking them through the streets behind our house when the dogs heard a neighborhood yapper doing what he does best. They were excited to come nose-to-nose with this dog that they’d only heard from afar before.
They took off running, and I made sure I kept a firm grip on the leashes. The problem, at least for my shirt, chest and chin, was that I didn’t let go of them. In fact, I held on for dear life. It was a hellish, two-dog version of the Iditarod — sans snow and sled — in the middle of SoCal.
The dogs made it to the gate where the yapper was going crazy, and they went crazy right back. I must have been able to get back on my feet and pull them away eventually, because I endured quite the walk of pre-pubescent shame.
To this day, I wonder if anyone saw a kid being dragged down the sidewalk by two dogs. Perhaps someone was in their kitchen getting lunch ready, only to look up to see me belly-down and hauling ass on the sidewalk, arms outstretched as though I was sliding into home.
I wonder if my screaming at the dogs to stop, G-dammit, stop was heard.
I wonder if anyone saw me clutching my shirt with the massive hole in the middle, trying to keep the fabric together so that I didn’t flash my training bra to the world.
I walked about three blocks home, angry at the dogs, sobbing and with snot running out of my nose and onto what was left of my t-shirt — being that I didn’t dare free up a hand to wipe the mess away, lest I be dragged again. My stomach was bloody from where the shirt had been chewed up by the sidewalk, my chin was raw and my pride was annihilated.
Traumatizing, yes, but it was one of those situations that went in such a way that I knew exactly what to do differently next time.
(There was never was a “next time,” which is precisely what I did differently.)
The things in life that we take on because we’re determined to do them are the very things that can teach us the most along the way. It’s easy to give up and let go when things aren’t going as we’d planned or hoped, but whenever we hold on tight and see things through to the end — despite what we might be dragged through in the process — we stand to learn a lot: about what we want, how badly we want it and what we’re made of.
For living through the difficult, enduring being dragged and scraped, battered and bloodied — and for learning from it all — I am thankful.