35lbs of pure will. That’s a good way to describe the little white bolt of lightning that dropped into my life 13 years ago. On this anniversary of Roxy’s passing, I wanted to take a moment to return to this space, not just to talk about her, but to also talk about how much she showed me about the power of patience, faith, and community.
This was the last walk out in nature I would have with Roxy. It was at a friend’s cabin in Winthrop, WA. What most people will see is just a normal walk with a dog in a field, but for those of you who know our story you’ll know that what you’re looking at is so much more. Because you will know her history of fear, rage, and disconnection. You’ll know how much she didn’t trust the world or the humans with whom she shared her life. And based on that knowledge, you would also know that a beautiful, connected, relaxing walk like this with her would have been impossible years ago. It was a journey to get here, one that was built upon trust and commitment.
The anniversary of Roxy’s passing has made me feel a bit melancholy this weekend as I continue to struggle to find my ground again. But what compelled me to sit down and share with you is the fact that after 9 years away, Amanda and I spent this past week in Vermont at the farm where everything changed for me. It was at Kevin Behan’s farm in Newfane where this journey started. It was in this safe place where I first saw a glimpse of potential, and I began to believe in what was possible. Here was a person who had spent a literal lifetime with dogs and would challenge me to see them in a new light, a perspective and approach that was in complete contradiction to conventional “wisdom”. I am not exaggerating when I say the month spent there with Kevin changed my life. And not just in a few ways. In every way.
The memory of this farm has become so intertwined with the memories I have of our dogs, that I could feel them again when I stepped onto the property. This will always be a sacred place for me, because while I had been living with them for years before bringing them to Kevin, it was here where the dogs and I truly saw each other for the first time. It was here that the first steps towards that walk in Winthrop would take place. It was here where the seeds of faith were sown, and from those seeds grew patience and a community of others who also followed their hearts to what has become a mecca for so many of us.
When I watch this video of Roxy I feel my heart swell. Because for me this walk shows the power of what is possible when you let go of goals and expectations, and focus on the things that really matter. For the first time I felt a true heart to heart connection, like an invisible chord between us. A magnet if you will. I could feel and sense it in the same way I can feel the sun on my face or the ground beneath my feet. It was as real as anything I’ve ever felt, and on those walks I felt a piece of heaven on earth.
I can’t blame Roxy for leaving after that experience we had together. That moment was the culmination of everything we had done prior. We had gotten to the place we needed to be. She showed me what was and is possible in this world, through the power of trust and the connection that can grow from it. But we never would have gotten there had it not been for Kevin showing the way. Every time I watch this video I can’t help but think how this would not have been possible without him. And for that, Kevin, I will never be able to thank you enough.