22 June 2009

Taking the plunge

I love both of my dogs, but I'll admit that Wolfie, my older dog, has always held a special place in my heart. He and I are a lot alike. We're both fiercely loyal, love being in the same vicinity of those we love, but we both can be a little prickly at times. A few minutes with Wolfie, and a new acquaintance will realize that trying to hold him is the wrong way to go. My friends joke about my inability to hug people; if I am capable of doing it, it often comes off as quite awkward. So Wolfie and I have that in common, too.

But Tippy and I have something in common, as well--something I didn't really think about before today. Tippy and I are too nervous about the world around us. If I pull out a vacuum cleaner, Tippy takes off. If I'm cooking and the food starts to sizzle, Tippy starts running. If I am presented with difficulties, I run off and hide. I recognize that I need to be less fearful, but it seems that Miss Tippy recognizes the same in herself.

We went on two hikes today. The first was a historical hike at Iowa Gulch, which was a gold mining operation. Although the various implements are showing their age, they give a fascinating glimpse into the dangerous and environmentally unfriendly gold rush days. The miners set up pipes that would capture the rush of water from the mountains, and those pipes ended in a rather fine nozzle at the end of what should simply be called a water cannon. They pointed these cannons at the earth surrounding them, and the force of the water would blast away the earth and create deep chasms that would reveal the gold underneath. It's amazing to see how trees have adapted to the earth falling out from under their feet; some have extensive root systems hanging over a precipice, virtually floating on the thin air, and yet they're strong and still growing. Oh, to be so adaptable to the shifting sands of life.

Our second hike was actually just a lovely walk around Lake Dillon. I wanted to show my mom an island on the lake that is reached by simply removing shoes and socks and walking out on a thin strip of sand that makes the water depth only a little higher than the ankles. While we were walking, I noticed a tennis ball in the water, not too far from the edge. Tippy loves playing catch, loves her tennis balls. I couldn't find any of hers at home before we left, so I intended to buy her new ones here but hadn't found any yet. I know Tippy hates water. When Wolfie goes in, she just runs along the shore to make sure he's okay. She visibly frets while he's having a swim. I really wanted her to venture out a bit, though, and go for that ball. I pointed it out to her, and she spent some time creeping out a little further, craning her neck to try and get the ball in her mouth. She finally found a way to get to it, and then she developed an interest in the water. She kept dropping the ball, letting it roll down a little hill and into the water, and then hopping in to rescue it. We took her back to the shallows near the island, and I threw the ball in the water, a little further each time. And each time, she conquered her fears and met the challenge. I think she fetched it nearly 30 times, and she was clearly proud of herself. There's a lesson in that, I think.

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