“Progress isn’t linear, and I don’t control its pace.”
Next up in the Spokane Senior Dog project is a 13-year-old Kelpie mix named Fenris.
This boy blew me away when I met him. His kind, attentiveness with his owner was evident within moments. This same calm, confidence also appeared as we encountered many rambunctious dogs on the trail.
I learned as I chatted with his owner, Dakota, that Fenris’ road was long. It involved a lot of work, patience, time, and training to get to this place today. The statement about progress not being linear regarding dog training struck a chord for me. Whether we pass a chill dog like Fenris on the trail and have secret dog envy or we are working on some personal growth, what a powerful message to remember.
From LA to Spokane
Dakota adopted Fenris in 2014 from a Los Angeles animal shelter, beginning their journey together. She knew that she was looking for a shy, project type dog – one that needed her as much as she needed him. Fenris fit the bill. About the time Fenris joined the family, Dakota was also getting into dog training, and together, they learned a lot. While Dakota says he was making good progress in LA a big change happened when they moved to Spokane for a quieter life and Fenris got a backyard.
I love these sessions highlighting senior dogs because, more often than not, the coolest people come along too. Dakota is no exception. You can tell she has a heart for service when rescuing dogs and helping other dog owners along their journey. She also happens to work at two of my favorite small businesses in Spokane! Prairie Dog Mercantile and teaches at Diamonds in the Ruff.
Often, Dakota offered support, encouragement, or advice to other dog owners we met along our walk whose dogs may have been feeling ALL the emotions. As a dog owner who happens to have a dog like that, I can confidently say that encouragement is invaluable.
When talking to Dakota about Fenris, a consistent theme was how they both learned together and helped each other. One important thing she mentioned learning from Fenris was patience. She expressed how much she grew as a person by putting her own emotions aside to focus on just his needs.
“There was nothing to fix. Fenris wasn’t “broken.” He needed someone who would give him time. A lot of us force our ideas of what we want out of a dog without considering who they are as a dog.”Dakota
Empathy IS a superpower
Fenris has a lot of great qualities we would ALL hope from any pet. Everything from how he encounters other dogs to a wide range of cool tricks. However, when I asked what his one superpower would be, Dakota answered, “Empathy.”
“Empathy. I don’t know if that really counts as a superpower, but it’s the first thing I think of! He’s so good at reading others and finding the right ways to approach or comfort them.”Dakota
I think empathy is absolutely a superpower – One I think we should all strive for in our daily life. The world would surely benefit if we all strive for a superpower like Fenris.
For a dog that started life in an abusive situation and ended up in a LA shelter, his days look vastly different now. He is happily living his best life with his favorite person. Chilling on the couch watching Netflix, a day of training, or going for a hike – Fenris seems content to be wherever Dakota is. Probably a true testament to their relationship.
Fenris is just another example of why senior dogs rock, and with time and patience, a rescue dog can change your life as much as you can alter theirs.
Thank you to Fenris and Dakota for sharing some of your story with me that day.
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