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In our second (I think) week of Rally Class, Mabel kept walking towards the A-frame with eager eyes and a giant grin. And I felt deep appreciation, causing me to smile with no one nearby to notice. I knew precisely why Mabel told me a piece of equipment she’d never been on with me was amazing to her—Sasha. 

Mabel’s pet sitter & trainer, Sasha, has a gift: she can push Mabel without the backlash of short-term unsettledness hours later like I do. Mabel isn’t leash reactive with Sasha, and Sasha can leave Mabel alone, so I knew that scheduling time for Sasha to watch and coach me with Mabel would be hugely beneficial.

However, despite many early morning meditations focused on releasing worry over the years, I didn’t know how much fear was still driving my behavior. 

If I’m honest, fear helped build my dog training business. I spent hours between paid sessions answering emails because I was terrified of a bad review if I didn’t give free advice. I took clients outside my service area when I was afraid I couldn’t pay my mortgage. And I often stayed at clients’ homes past my scheduled time because I feared not being liked

It was Gavin’s fear, which arose after we were attacked by two dogs, that drove me to move back to my hometown, Columbus, OH. So, fear has boded well for me at times. I’m closer to family, traffic is much lighter, and I’ve met people who’ve taught me great life lessons. 

But getting past the fear that changing Mabel’s walk path would cause her anxiety to spiral and spin downwards has benefited us both. Mabel looks to me more frequently for treats. She lays down in the grass to rest and drink water. My sweet girl is bouncing as she walks and sniffs. And I come home ready to resume work, not exhausted, with another note on my to-do list: get to the park earlier, try a different path, or train more before we leave. 

And, opening myself up to Sasha’s expertise and insight has given me the confidence to try again with Mabel at the park six blocks from our apartment. Deep in my heart, I believe Mabel will feel my security and sureness if I’m confident.

Plus, watching Mabel happy and wiggly while she followed Sasha demonstrating the two-bowl game using frisbees also gave me time to feel thankful for the human who cares for my dog twice weekly, when I travel, or treat myself to occasional social outings (in ways no one else would or could.)

So, today and this weekend, I offer this: Let’s acknowledge our fears. We all have worries. We’ll always have doubts. Suspicion, even sometimes, serves us. However, if we put fear in the trunk of our car as we navigate our life’s journey, what we see and experience becomes brighter and more effortless. 

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