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Strength & Softness

Strength & Softness

Strength & Softness

When I started my first job at 14-years old, my grandfather said, “Brandi Kay, no matter what you feel like or have going on in your personal life, you go to work. And, you do your best while you’re there.”

His words stuck with me. I’ve always valued hard work, perseverance, tenacity, honesty, and integrity. So much so that I remember being proud of myself for pushing through food poisoning during a bartending shift when I was in undergraduate school. 

Even though my natural tendency is to bite off more than I can chew, these days are different, of course. Most of us would isolate, rest, test, and repeat if we even think we may have a sore throat, sniffles, or upset stomach. 

Gavin is the opposite of me. I’ve had to pick him up and carry him home after he’s decided the piece of grass I picked out from between his toe and toenail was just so overwhelming that he can’t possibly walk. It’s usually winter, so he’s wearing his full-body snuggie, which means some random driver has to stop and make a comment. 

These days, I’m grateful when Gavin asks, with a knowing glance of his warm brown eyes, to go on his long walk, even when it’s cold. Or, he zooms from the gate to the backyard, his whole face smiling in anticipation for his walk. Or, even when he huffs at me, then rolls around on his back and grumbles like the Tasmanian devil when I’m not ready to leave the instant he’s ready to go.

As a retired dog trainer, I wish I could say his bravery, even sometimes feeling-good-enough-to-be-punky is because I taught him confidence and built trust with him over the years. But, honestly, I think it’s because I’ve leaned into his softness and sweetness as many times as he’s made tiny strides when a helicopter surprises us or a big dog looks our way too long.

This morning, I sat on the floor with Gavin, rubbing the spot between his eyes before giving him his pills. He leaned against me, eyes gently closing and opening. And, I thought about grateful I am that my dog has opened the softer side of me as much as he has. I thought about the person I want to be in the future and how much I like the changes Gavin’s helping me make. And I thought about how much easier life starts to become when we soften around the edges. 

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