This is a story about Amos, but I have to back up to BA (Before Amos) to fully tell this tale.
When I turned 30 last year, I didn’t expect it to be without my beloved sidekick, Pigeon. Pigeon and I had navigated the majority of my twenties together, through several states to several colleges to several housing situations. Through the ups and downs of the “figure out your life” stage in my twenties, I could always count on his black furry face being a constant companion.
But three days before my 30th birthday, Pigeon succumbed to a brain tumor. He was only seven years old when he got sick; far younger than I anticipated him living. I found myself struggling with some regrets: there had been a lot of things I had put off thinking we’d have more time together.
After Pigeon's death, I didn’t think I could welcome another dog into my life anytime soon; I was positive no dog that could fill that void. But a few months later, my mom surprised me with a little brown puppy. As soon as I saw him, I just knew - I needed Amos!
When Amos joined my life I had been dog-free for about five months. During that time I had worked through the stages of grief; eventually coming to realize that just because I would never have the chance to do all these things with Pigeon, it didn’t mean I couldn’t begin living my life to the fullest NOW. In fact, maybe that’s exactly what it meant.
With Amos by my side, I resolved to do things differently with him. I would no longer wait for an ideal time in my life to chase adventure with him... wait for some mystical time when I had time and money and all the other things we think we need to begin living.
One of the first things we did was take a road trip to the beach. Sitting in our van listening to the waves, I pulled out a scrap paper and wrote a bucket list of things Amos and I would do together this year.
An overnight stand up paddleboard trip was on the list, despite not actually owning a SUP and Amos having never been on one! Given his natural love for water I figured he’d love it. I began planning our first single day adventure on a paddle board.
We borrowed a SUP from a friend on one of the first sunny afternoons last spring. I researched 'how to take your dog SUPing' and read numerous articles about your dog's first paddle board - Make sure to get him used to the board on a lake first, where he can get on and off. Have treats and toys around to make it fun. Keep it short... you know, all of the logical advice.
Well, I might have overestimated Amos' natural inclination for stand up paddle boarding... I chose a 5-mile river stretch for his first paddle. The river was an incredibly mild float, but there were not take outs or bail out points for five miles. "Amos is great in the water - he'll be fine!"
We started out floating through farm land with a slight wind, all was going well, until Amos teetered off the edge of the SUP and into the water. He was not pumped. I pulled him back on the SUP, comforting my soaking wet little pup. My friend handed over his only granola bar. Peanut butter seemed to lift Amos’s spirits. Once he began to feel better though, he realized SUPing is kinda boring... Amos didn't really want to stay put on the paddleboard.
For the next few miles I tried everything to keep him entertained, pulling sticks out of the water and playing with him on the board and giving him trail bar bites. I even stopped to let him run in an old cow pasture.
I convinced him to stay on for it a bit, until we rounded a bend and came upon a massive fallen tree blocking the entire river. I decided to work my way around the tree backwards over it, like a seesaw. I got the fin up against the tree and then tried to coax Amos to the other end of the SUP while I stood on the tree and lifted the fin portion over it.
Amos didn't seem to get this concept (and was understandably) a bit freaked out, running back and forth on the board. As soon as he saw me getting off, he’d run back to me and thereby hold down the fin side of the board. The seesaw just wasn't happening.
After a very long back and forth of this game, I finally got the board up and over the tree, but in the process Amos fell off the board and into the water again.
The poor pup was a little shocked to be back in the water, but he was wearing a doggie life vest so I knew everything would be fine. Amos swam along next to me until I grabbed the handle on his personal flotation device (PFD) and pulled him back on the board.
We had one mile left after the first four failed miles. My friend and I laughed about how terribly this was all going, despite all my researching.
“Next time we’ll do it a little better, buddy”, I promised Amos when we made it back to the van.
We plan to give SUPing another try in the next few weeks but at a lake, with toys and treats. I even ordered him a floating walrus toy.
So maybe I jumped in a bit too quick with Amos on this new activity, but I learned a valuable lesson from Pigeon's early passing. I would no longer wait for an ideal time in my life to chase adventure with him.
Thanks, Annabell, for sharing your story of Amos (and Pigeon!). Follow along with their future adventures - @annabell.and.amos!