Crossing Bridges

I love my dog.  I love him for many reasons, but today, it’s because every day he reminds me that we can learn, we can grow, we can be completely different than we were before.

How many times do we hear people say “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”?  As someone who strives to learn every day, I know first hand how hard it can be to undo decades of habit to do the thing I will myself to do.  Many days, I feel like it’s an impossibility.  Then, I have days when I do things like fly off a mountain in a hang glider and I know that anything is possible.  But, sometimes I walk away thinking that maybe flying off a mountain in a hang glider doesn’t ultimately change anything at all.

That’s where Tisen comes in.

Tisen has transformed himself from a nearly-dead street dog to a urban-dwelling, middle-class gentleman who likes to hike.  He wants to make me happy.  That’s his bottom line.  While I’m not sure I could handle a person being so into me, in a dog, it’s kind of nice.

When we went to Savage Gulf Natural Area to hike the other day, we encountered something called a suspension bridge.  The dreaded structure was not the kind of suspension bridge you drive over, but rather a flexing, swinging, bouncing rope-and-wood bridge meant for no more than 2 pedestrians at a time.  These bridges make me nervous; I have no idea what they are like for a dog.  For Tisen, it was clearly a gauntlet of terror.

First, he would not step onto the bridge at all.  I walked across first to give him a reason to cross.  Then Pat came behind, encouraging Tisen to come with him.  Tisen considered climbing down a sheer rock cliff to the stream below over walking onto the bridge, but Pat managed to get him up the entrance ramp to the bridge.  But there, he stopped.  It wasn’t until Pat had crossed and Tisen was left standing alone that he decided he’d better cross.

He made it all the way across the gulch (which really wasn’t so far below as to be completely terrifying), got to the top of the exit ramp, stared down at me with his longing eyes, then eye-balled the ramp down to me and decided he’d had enough.  He turned around and went all the way back across the gulch.

We managed to coax him back across and all the way to land on the other side.  We completed our hike to Savage Falls and then wondered what was going to happen on the way back across.  When we got to the suspension bridge, I went across first, Pat coaxed Tisen up to the bridge, and Tisen led the way across looking like he’d been crossing suspension bridges most of his life.

In about an hour, Tisen transformed himself from a ‘fraidy cat to a top dog.  He’s my hero.

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7 responses to “Crossing Bridges

  1. aww, good for Tison. those things absolutely terrify me. I have yet to actually cross one. Some of the ones up in the mountains of Kentucky are so flimsy I can’t imagine that people actually go back and forth across them all the time. Some places, that is the only way to get to the home. Tison has come a long way. I am glad that you guys saved him from the life he had before.

    • I’m not sure I would make it home if I had to carry groceries over one of those! 🙂 He’s an awesome dog. He weighed in at 72 pounds the other day by the way–when he was first taken to the shelter, he weighed 40. Although, the vet said he could stand to lose a couple pounds now.

      • I comment you highly for doing what you did. When we (me and my son) got Sasha from the shelter here, she had little gashes all over her like someone had beaten her with a switch. She was deathly afraid of a broom. She was boney and so scared. I am so glad we got her.

  2. What talent and courage-true guts! I know it’s not the swinging bridge at Rock City (which I cannot stand) but I bet it is close in comparison for Tisen. What a dog!

  3. What a great story! Sometimes it takes the gentle hand of someone you love to bring out the courage we all have within. I am glad he made it across, I am sure he felt so couragous afterward too! I am a big dog lover and have two dogs of my own, Zeus and Lucky. They are so funny, loving, and snuggly! I love them with all of my heart and soul! My name is Melissa Crowley and I am on a mission to save my favorite dog! I have started a blog for my Rottweiler Zeus called Saving Zeus. He has a rare genetic disorder and we are trying to raise funds for the medical tests and treatment that he desperately needs. Also on my blog, I have funny stories and really cute photos of both of my boys. If you would like to make a donation or share our blog to help us save Zeus, or would just like a laugh after reading a funny story, visit my page. Since I am just getting started on my blog, there will be many more stories to come so check back every once in a while!

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