One trait common to most successful people, is determination.  Whenever I feel like giving up, I think of the following story.

One of our dogs is Jokko, a daschund/beagle cross.  We call him a German engineered beagle.  As  pup he could pull a ninety degree turn at full throttle. A year ago we were returning from a pack walk in the woods.  Jokko leaped across a ditch and landed wrong.  He yelped in pain,  then came to me on three legs.  I tried to pick him up, but he soon squirmed to get down, insisting on three legging it all the way home. 

Thinking it was just a sprain, I took my time and let him walk.  The next day I heard a second yelp. I found him at the bottom of a set of stairs, struggling to climb back up; both back legs were dragging behind.  That was it, off to the vet we go.  One vet wanted to take X-rays, do tests, etc.  Keep him here for a few days, they said.  Nope, the dog is a pack animal; he his hurt and needs his pack.  I looked for a second opinion.

“The dogs legs are finished,” came the second opinion, “it’ll cost about four thousand per leg.  They can’t do the operation here on the island, you’ll have to take him to the mainland.”  Another opinion please.

The next vet grew up in farm country; he knows dogs, and he knows his clients.  After spending considerable time on the floor playing with Jokko, he declared that the little fellow had badly sprained both knees.  They might heal on their own.  He felt it was better to give him a few pain killers, and let him take it easy for a few days to see what would happen.  We couldn’t afford ten thousand, and putting him down was a last resort.  A few days rest was a better idea.

The big problem here was the stairs.  We lived in a townhouse, three levels and stairs to get in and out as well.  We’d have to carry him, all fifty pounds of him.  Ah well, good exercise.  I got a lot of exercise over the next few days, so did K.  If the pack went up, he struggled to go up, if we went down, he tried to follow.  He never yelped again, and he never whimpered.  He just fought his way onto those stairs, so we had to watch carefully.

I have many years of experience in the fitness industry, and I have help a good many people rehabilitate injured knees, so I took the same approach.  First I would walk the rest of the pack, then leave them outside with the leashes still on.  Jokko would then be fetched, leash and all, to join the pack for a walk, a whole two car lengths at first, but he got his walk with the pack.  Dogs need that.

After a few weeks he was making it all the way down the block, a few more and he was not only circling the block with us, he was making it up the stairs on his own.  It was a long and painful struggle for him, and we only let him do it once or twice a day, but he could do it.  A few months later and he was back to doing the stairs by himself, albeit, not nearly as fast as he once could.  He was also back to full pack walks through the woods.

The original yelps at the time of injury were the only two he ever made.  Every set of stairs was an obstacle to overcome, and he attacked each one with every thing he had, struggling onward until the human taxi arrived.  At no time did he ever consider giving up, he was alive, he belonged with the pack, and he was determined to be with them wherever they happened to be.

So, whenever I feel like giving up, I look at this happy little dog, and remind myself, I’m still alive, I can do this. Yes folks, that picture of me with a dog in my arms is the human taxi at the top of the stairs, passenger in arms, on Christmas morning.  Jokko’s knees are a bit stiff now, but then, so are mine.  We both love the new cottage, no stairs.

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