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Taking A Hike & Training A Puppy - The Importance Of Doing The Work

A woman sits on a dog bed with the dog, cuddling it and smiling.
Birthday cuddles and Ryders 1st day at 'home'.

Summer has ended. My internal summer too. I ended it. Like the archetypal relationship of the ‘too good mother’ (Women who run with wolves’ reference), it needed to end for my next lesson to start.

Enter Ryder the 7month old Kelpie pup. A rescue with little to no training.

The contentment I was swimmingly floating in was never going to last. I knew that. If you read my season's blog, you’d know that too. Like a mother enjoying a moment of bliss floating in the pool, staring skywards to be bombed by her overactive, zealous child. This is Ryder.

My heart had a paw shape hole, aching for a fur friend. Since Ziggy passed in early February, I’d been mulling over a lot of the lessons that our friend, Nick Sutherland – Myndfit master, teaches in his psychotherapy sessions. The biggie that lands in my throat like a hard lump, swelling in my eyes was Acceptance.

Acceptance is like a bitter pill you don’t want to swallow but know is the step forward to overcoming the ‘should of’, ‘it's not fair’, and bargaining that we play in the cycles of grief - the ‘cognitive disturbances’ as Nick states.


Side note. Whilst we can grieve and remember our loved ones, it’s the cycles that we ruminate through are the ones that keep us from contentment, from happiness. Death is a part of life; some souls are just taken too early.


A dog walks on a lead along a beach near the water's edge with a man a little further ahead.
Ryder's first trip to the beach.

So, as summer abruptly ends with the new fur baby, I find myself ‘zooming’ through spiritual autumn, trying to restrain a puppy that has a zest for adventure, anything not fastened to my being is shed like the leaves shaken from a deciduous tree on a windy day.

Ryder has fast-tracked us to winter where the need to dig deep into our training, expand patience, and have the compassion to sow the seeds that will lay the foundations for the characteristics of this loving boy.

Kelpies are so intelligent. They need stimulation, exercise, and boundaries. Little difference in raising our human children. They are by nature, going to test the limits but how we manage this has a lot to do with how we manage ourselves. Our pets have the ability to teach us many valuable lessons and help to remind us of the importance of balance; work/play.

What are the actions you take to strengthen your resilience? To manage stress or unease that bubbles inside, like a pressure cooker just ready to blow steam? Do you find it hard to create balance in your life? Perhaps you are reactive and then later wallow in guilt at your explosive outburst...

My go-to fix for everything is hiking. You never feel worse after taking a hike and it always helps to reset an anxious mind or seek answers in the expansiveness of nature, enabling me to create space between triggers and how I respond. Hiking tests my limits and shows me that I am always stronger than I believe. When I put my mind to a task and back myself, I’m rewarded with new perspectives, confidence, and a kick up the ass that’s needed at times. I can choose to be gentle, taking a more mindful approach, and other times, it’s the endurance or the summit that lures me to rise to a higher version of myself. It taunts me to test myself when I’ve become too complacent.

When I can’t hike, I walk.

I’ve been walking with Ryder twice a day to keep him active, stimulated, and focused on training.

As the sun rose this morning over the horizon, the sand beneath my feet, waves crashing onshore I was acutely aware of how receptive Ryder had been in the 5 days since he joined our family. He’s quickly learning to wait for cars at the edge of the road. He’s been exposed to traffic noises as we cross over the footbridge on the Peninsula link. He’s learning that the waves are a playground both humans and dogs play. He knows when I mean it, with a short, assertive ‘AH!” and he knows that sound of love when I say, ‘ I love you, you’re home', and kiss him 100 times across the bridge of his nose.

A puppy asleep on his back, legs splayed out looking very comfortable.
Our fur-babies are free to enjoy our couch. Ryder settles in Day 2.

His boundaries are being set, undesirable behaviours are not tolerated and positive behaviours are reinforced with praise and a little snack. Clearly, Ryder is free to enjoy the comforts of our couch and bed.

Training a puppy is not easy. It requires discipline, attentiveness, and patience. Like a puppy, if you have a desired outcome, or seek to change aspects of your life and relationships, you must do the work.

Building a strong body and mind, unifying them as one is crucial to creating the balance, the ease we all seek in life. Choosing to challenge yourself, to strengthen and reaffirm your sense of self, stepping in a more confident you. This is hiking.

Just think, if you can overcome perceived challenges on the trail, then what else can you achieve?

What’s holding you back?

Keen to explore this concept in practice, then why not join me next Saturday for our 26km Two Bays Trail hike from Dromana to Cape Schanck… Dinner to follow at St Andrew’s Brewery.


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