On BE BRAVE FRIDAYS, we share other people’s stories (unedited) to build a community of bravery and inspiration.
Please let us know if you want to share your story with us and we’ll read it here and post it on our social media and website.
This life is too short to not be brave. We can do this together.
This week it’s Carden’s story that Shaun reads on the coast of Bar Harbor, Maine.
Carden’s Brave Story
Hey Carrie and Shaun!
I thought I’d love to share my story of being brave today! It fits the today’s “dog” theme, too.
So, today I went to the Can Do Canines campus, a service dog organization here in Minnesota, to do a walking evaluation with different dogs.
I was born with spastic cerebral palsy that effects muscle tone in my legs, and causes me lots of trouble with balance and walking comfortably.
Today was a BIG day for me, because up until now Ive been waiting for a mobility assist dog for up to 2.5 years — the first organization I applied for ended up not working out.
But Can Do Canines has gone much smoother.
Going in today I felt nervous, but also very, very excited! I’m a dog lover at heart, and getting to meet these dogs (even though they were already matched with their forever homes) made things feel that much more real. Then came actually walking with the dogs.
I felt a RUSH of anxiety because I had no clue how to walk a big dog, much less the commands and timing of getting the dog to walk forward with me, say “good doggo”, ya know, all that good stuff. It was SO NEW and different and also a little scary.
I felt somewhat in over my head, like “how am I going to be able to function and have a healthy relationship with a dog? How do I learn all these commands? How do I remember commands and to praise consistently? How how how?”
— a lot of it was fear of not being good enough. A good enough student, a good enough handler, a good enough person in general. Internal frustration bubbled up to the point where I wanted to throw down the leash and call it quits. But something else in me knew I could come through.
And then, just like that, I suddenly heard a voice in my head go “aahhh SCREW IT!” and I didn’t feel nearly as anxious!
I took some deep breaths, took some sitting breaks (it was a lot of walking), and made sure to look into the eyes of the 3 dogs I had “tried out”.
All I need to do right now is to focus on the task at hand: walking briefly with a dog to see which harness, height, and handle feel like the best fit for me….thats all. Of course new things, even things I’m looking forward to and that can help me live a more healthy life, can feel scary. But it won’t ALWAYS be scary. Having compassion for myself, and the new dog at my side that I just met minutes prior, helped me push through and enjoy my time much better!!
Carden, we are so proud of you and psyched that you’re getting a dog. You two are going to be amazing together. We know it.
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- Carden Levi Olsen