Husker had never been swimming before this past weekend.
He’s a true Alaskan husky, born in Alaska. Born to pull dog sleds. Born with energy that would exhaust most people. Sitting still is not his forte.
Having lived in Alaska until just a year ago, I’ve never even considered putting Husker in the water. Lakes and rivers up there, even in the summer, are chilly. You don’t want to fall in, and it doesn’t really get hot enough for a dog to want to cool off in the water. At least, that’s my experience. (I’m sure there are a few who would disagree with me.)
The idea to put him on a paddle board might sound crazy.
I hadn’t been paddle boarding myself in over two years. I’ve never attempted to share my board, either. Of the few times I’ve gone, I enjoyed it immensely. But truthfully I was just happy not to lose my balance from a light wave and fall off.
So putting the Energizer Bunny on a board with me… insanity, right?
Why would I ever consider this as a quality-time option with my dog?
I borrowed the idea from a friend. Thanks, Friend 🙂 I saw how much he and his dog enjoyed this activity together and thought why not? Why not try it?
I like being on the water. There’s something soothing about it. Out on water, the commotion of the world disappears and is replaced by serenity. It’s the same reason I love hiking, camping, and just being outside away from it all.
Of course, if you have Wylie Coyote on your board with you, that serenity is a little harder to come by.
I knew this little paddle boarding adventure would take lots of patience and multiple attempts. I knew that going in, but it wasn’t an easy pill to swallow as the day wore on.
That was the biggest reason it made my list—to help me work on my patience. Most of us could use a lesson or two regarding patience. We’ve become an instant gratification society. I don’t want to succumb to that mentality on a fulltime basis. Because there is reward in patiently seeing something through. In not giving up too soon because it’s hard.
If I’m being honest, which I promised to be, I almost talked myself out of this activity entirely. When I called UNO to finally place the reservation, they didn’t have any boards left. The old me, well she would have used that as an excuse not to try.
But dammit, things had to start changing. I had to stop talking myself out of everything just because there were obstacles. Obstacles that were really just excuses.
The new me drove to Lincoln Saturday morning.
Yes, I drove an hour just to rent a paddle board.
Then we headed to Walnut Creek.
I’m grateful that a friend joined me that first day. She’s the only reason I have pictures. On my own, I only managed to get saturated by a dog who was constantly like Mom, what is this wet stuff? Had I attempted to take pictures, my phone would surely be sitting at the bottom of the lake right now.
I invested in a life jacket for Husker, which initially was just a precaution. But it ended up saving my sanity. Because each time he fell in, I didn’t panic. I knew that even if I couldn’t jump off the board quickly enough that he wouldn’t drown. Plus it has a nifty little handle, perfect for yanking him back when appropriate.
I did have delusions that I would be standing on the board, with Husker, before the day was over.
After two hours of swimming lessons and sitting on the board (backwards I might add), paddling around the shallow end of the lake in the hot sun, I was wiped.
And Husker was over it.
I left feeling a little deflated. Like maybe wanting my own board was impractical because Husker would never enjoy it. That’s not quite the story social media told, is it? No it’s not. Because I was trying so hard to be optimistic.
But I promised honesty here.
By the time I got home, I was talking myself out of going again. Ever.
The day had not gone like I wanted. There were no other dogs for Husker to take swimming cues from, so he probably thought I was a horrible mom repeatedly carrying him out to where he couldn’t touch and dropping him in.
Plus one of those times he fell off the board, he went head first, ass in the air. The poor guy was under water for at least 3 seconds before I was able to yank him out, despite his life jacket. Surely Husker felt betrayed by the one person he’s supposed to trust the most.
I felt defeated that night. Like I was already failing at this attempt to push myself outside my comfort zone. Like I didn’t belong outside of it for a reason. Maybe that’s just not who I am.
But if there’s any lesson I’ve learned in life, it’s that we are who we choose to be. We can overcome any obstacle we set our minds to—but we have to make that decision. We have to WANT to. Sometimes it’s hard. Patience is hard. It’s easier to give up and say oh well, that didn’t work out.
If you really want something bad enough, though, you’ll push through these defeating moments.
The next morning, I went to move Husker’s life jacket, and guess what?
He got EXCITED.
So instead of giving up, we went again.