This blog post comes from a different angle. One that is far from the topic of fitness, but more towards how we as coaches, particularly at Unity, aim to change the way fitness is done.
It is often said that you don’t choose your dogs (or pets), they choose you…The story stands true for our family’s dog, Babe.
A few weeks ago we believed that our time with Babe, our dog of 13 years, was coming to end. Two weeks ago one of my brothers mentioned that Babe wasn’t doing well and she had blood in her urine. It was evident that the end was near. My family had rushed her to the vet for some testing to see if there was anything we could do.
Babe was calmly put to sleep on Friday afternoon, March 24th with the family there with her. After a big scare about a year ago, we were thankful to have her around this long. We aren’t entirely sure of her age as my step-dad brought her back from a Nebraska hunting trip in 2003. She was probably a year or two old then, so we can estimate her at 15.
Regardless of her age, she was the “Momma” of our other family dogs. She ran the show, she called the shots, and she was the first to greet you when you came home. Babe was the comfort dog. There wasn’t a bad bone in her body (I don’t think she EVER had an accident in the house or did anything “bad”) and she was there for you no matter how good or how tough the times were.
I think my sister has described her best:
“Many people do not know that Babe was actually a wild dog in Nebraska. Kurt went on a hunting trip and she befriended all of the hunters (for food) Babe was going to be shot (not by hunters) because she was seen as a nuisance, but boy she could not be any further from that…so Kurt said he wanted her and saved her. She was my “when you can’t look on the bright side, I will sit with you in the dark” through EVERY sucky life moment I have ever went through….We are so lucky to have you in our life. You are our protector and light.”
15 years ago I didn’t really understand how we as humans became so attached to our dogs and cats. I had basically had a dog in my life since my mom met my now step-dad, but it was tough for me to realize the true value pets had on families and people (this is where you insert the crazy cat-lady and dog-lovers or bird collectors, right?). It wasn’t until my growth as a human being that I started paying more attention to relationships and moments rather than superficial items and status.
I’m not saying that Babe changed that for me, but she was around for just about every major event our family has had (including my personal and professional growth), not to mention numerous other dogs we’ve had during that time (six to my count) for the last 13 years. She was also “around”, always willing to give up her time to be by you and show affection and comfort. Essentially she was always there to lend an ear. She was noble, graceful, pure-hearted, kind, and fearless. It’s hard to believe she came from “the wild” and was seen as a “nuisance”.
I wasn’t able to really think about all of what Babe offered to our family until this past weekend. It’s absolutely amazing all that you can learn not only from dogs, but pets, if you stop to pay attention and cherish the moments and the relationship. They say that in death comes life. While this saying mostly pertains to human death, I say it is plenty suitable in this circumstance with Babe. It’s also fresh in my mind, so I say it’s relevant, but at a different level of meaning.
I take Babe’s qualities of being noble, graceful, pure-hearted, kind, and fearless on through me with deeper meaning. As a coach, we are listeners before we “actors”, just like Babe was. I also take on her always-comforting, non-judgmental attitude, as I think are two high-quality traits any coach, whether fitness or otherwise, needs to possess. The thing is, I was already doing those things; it just so happens that now they’re being done at a deeper level. And it’s not just me…The best analogy I can give to this is how we coach our members at Unity:
We don’t judge. Ever. And we’re always there to comfort you and dig into the small victories and details that help you grow. We’re always willing to lend out a hand (or an ear) or just be the shoulder to lie on. We’re here to listen. Regardless of what is happening, we are always here. And we’re rolling with the punches with you and we’re taking action with you.
I would say that Babe represented what true friendships/relationships should consist of.
I’ve joked before that I think any of our Fitfam members could probably commit a serious crime and I’d still be there to support them (numerous times, actually). I feel like that was Babe.
The day we put Babe down was unbelievably difficult. There’s only a handful of other days in my lifetime that have made me feel like that. It had to happen fast as she was losing strength to do just about anything – even just lifting her head required an enormous amount of strength and resulted in more fatigue. After I saw the 8 missed calls from my cell phone and the gym phone on a late Friday morning, I had figured something was going on. The day we put Babe to sleep is one I will never forget, but Babe will always be remembered.
Once again, my sister said it best when it comes to sending Babe off: “’And I’d choose you; in a hundred lifetimes, in a hundred worlds, in any version of reality, I’d find you and I’d choose you. …I will find you’”
Thank you, Babe!