How Dog Ownership Changed My View on Life & Adventure
an unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity.
Adventure. For the longest time, mountains popped into my head whenever I heard that word.
I could see the mountains in my mind, so crisp; their peaks reaching up in breathtaking wonder with white-capped finger tips. So clearly I could smell the dirt, feel the rocks and moss beneath my feet, the sweat dripping from my brow with a plunk. The word adventure came hand in hand with stinging scraped-up-noodle-legs, the sound of a water bottle being pulled from a backpack, and the metallic taste of adrenaline.
And yes, that is adventure. But little did I know that I was missing the entire point.
For those of you who don't know me, my name is Taylor McDonald and I'm a 26 year old Canadian living in Ontario. For a long time, I travelled and backpacked yearly. I hiked the Oia trail in Greece, backpacked through Iceland, Spain, and Australia (to name a few). I drank Guiness by the pint in Ireland and ate Fish and Chips out of a newspaper cone in England. It was wonderous and adventurous; at times it was absolutely magical. But the real adventure of my life was rescuing two discarded dogs off of the streets of St. Lucia.
When we first rescued Bindi (our first dog), I was thrilled. Nonetheless, part of me grieved silently for my old life. After all, having a dog is a lot of responsibility; it left a lot less room for spontaneous flights and weeks away from home.
In puppyhood, we were more housebound than we'd been in years. Despite my initial grief, my world began to fill with a different kind of wonder. In less than six months, we welcomed our second rescue - Rosie. Every moment and experience in bringing these dogs home - big or small - was extraordinary.
Being in Ontario, we're not surrounded by the marvel of the mountains like they are to the West, nor are we blessed with the red rocks and ocean that they are to the East. But in Ontario there is beauty, and there is adventure. It just depends on where you look to find it.
It took me almost two years of dog ownership to realize that adventure didn't mean mountains. In fact, it didn't even mean travel. Adventure didn't mean half of the things I thought it did when we set up to welcome two dogs into our lives all that time ago... and that's because adventure is what you make it. Adventure isn't necessarily a journey by car or by boat - it can be a journey of mind or in heart.
For us, adventure this year came in the memories of:
Bringing home a tiny puppy from the airport in a snowstorm that was so bad, that we were the only car on the highway for miles - click to remember -
Watching the dogs swim in a lake for the first time - click to remember -
Feeling the warmth of two furry little bodies inside our tent while we camped in our backyard during the COVID-19 lockdown - click to remember -
Moving into our first home together with the dogs - click to remember -
Watching the dogs grow and interpret the world around them each passing day - click to remember -
Now, a walk around our new neighborhood is an adventure. A car ride to the bakery - an adventure. I know it sounds cheesy, but it's without a doubt the truest statement I've ever made. To me, adventure is a constellation of the little moments, and how they make us feel alive. - click to feel alive -
You see, adventure is described as “An unusual and exciting, typically hazardous, experience or activity,” Which is exactly what dog ownership is. Dog ownership is an invisible mountain climb.
There are highs and lows. Moments that take your breath away in happiness, or make you cringe in fear or pain. But there's nothing like the high, or the love, that comes with it.
While my pack may not live within the mountains, together I know that we can move them - whether it be through small, minute moments or big incredulous ones.
And without a doubt, that's the kind of adventure I'm chasing in this life.
This is our entry into the 2021 Hurtta America Explorer Team.
All photos and video content are our own.
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