As the year winds down to its last few hours and we anticipate what the new year will bring, my thoughts reflect on both the blessings that this year has brought in my life, as well as some heartache. I suppose that over the course of any year it would be unreasonable to expect there to only be good times but nothing bad. I have lived long enough to know that each year there are things that go according to plan, but also things that didn’t turn out the way I had hoped.

dogSometimes there is nothing we can do to help them

The dog in this picture is a reminder to me of the reason why I now dedicate my life to helping people with their dogs through education and implementation of positive reinforcement training. I loved this dog and he was absolutely adored by his people. When I took this picture I thought to myself  “how can I help you?” By this time I had been with him often enough to realize that training was just not enough. He needed something more. We had started behavior medications recently and were in the process of trying to see what exact combination and dosage would help him. His gaze over the horizon in this picture to me spoke volumes – it seemed he was searching for whatever that thing was that he needed. He was one of those cases that I couldn’t figure out.

Hard but responsible decisions

When I first started to work with him, I was very encouraged by his progress. He was a willing learner and very smart. But there was something there that I couldn’t reach. It is my belief that genetics played a factor and that there was something off neurologically. We will never know. Ultimately, his was not a happy ending. It was hard for his people to let him go, but it was the responsible and right decision. He was not safe to have in a home as a pet companion dog. He was never going to be happy in a home as a pet companion dog.

Experiences help us grow

Sometimes life requires us to make hard choices. But the lessons we learn from experiences that didn’t turn out the way we had wanted will help us grow in ways that we never would have without them if we allow them to. For that I am thankful. I will never forget him.

Treasure the memories of this past year, reflect on the good times and realize that even if something did not turn out the way you had hoped, you have grown from the experience and you now can take what you learned into the new year to make it even more amazing than you ever dreamed of.

That is my wish for you. Love, learn, let go when you need to.

Wendy Taylor

The Life of Riley