July 26th, 2007 - Amanda Holland
The way I see it, stay and wait are very different requests.
Though, dog handlers could technically use any word, many interchange wait and stay for the same action. To me, stay means Fable, my aussie, cannot leave that exact spot until she’s released. Wait is more fluid, it’s a warning that she needs to slow down, take her time, be cautious.
Fable darts up the a-frame and over two jumps before heading for the seesaw. Even at my fittest, I’d have no hope of keeping pace with her. “Wait!”
It isn’t the height of the seesaw that spooks dogs, it’s the movement and the metallic clang as it hits the floor. Fable slows and bows mid plank to make the end she’s facing go down and waits for me to catch up.
We’ve been training in the agility world for a year now. As I watch her hesitate and crawl along the seesaw, I’m proud that she’s driven to make it to the other side.
There are moments in life where it’s easier to stay than wait. I call them “fuck-it” moments. Those times when you know that you’re about to earn a few scars. They induce the same gut wrenching excitement/dread as tall waterslides or rollercoasters. You’re at the brink and all that gumbo of emotion boils into “fuck-it”.
And you step forward.
The past ten years have been a series of “fuck-its” and hesitant crawls.
On July 26, 2007, I threw my purse on the table and grabbed my border collie, Gypsi’s leash. After a closing shift at Barnes and Noble, our nightly walks ebb somewhere between self-contemplation and self-contempt:
Who takes eight years to graduate?
Ignore all 800 numbers; you owe Chase an island and JC Penney a small country.
Another wedding! Ask JC Penney if I can afford a bridesmaids dress.
Please, just pee already!
I can do it. I can graduate. What the hell am I going to do after graduating?
I buckled down, got some As, and graduated anyway. Just in time to be hurled through a nightmare.
When my dad died, I wanted to stay – to remain in that exact moment. If you don’t move, nothing more can happen. How could I move without him? But there was a funeral to plan, an estate to settle, and his remains needed to be fetched from China.
I couldn’t stay.
Crawled my way through each task. Closed my eyes. Embraced the clang.
A funny thing happens when you endure the course. I climbed the Great Wall of China. I got lost along the canals of Venice because my dad promised we would. Gypsi got two siblings and they laid at my feet as I assembled each of my graduate school packets, listening to every essay, and thesis, and lecture through every draft. I held four different jobs. I learned Adobe Suite and attended Regency balls in full costume. I earned my master’s degree.
All because I waited instead of stayed.
Ten months ago I lost my job. Seven months ago I lost Gypsi to liver cancer. The instinct is to stay where it’s safe. But staying doesn’t get you through the obstacles to the other side.
Fable waits for the clang and soars off the lowered edge and on through the weave poles, tunnel, and two more jumps. She leaps around, anticipating her reward. Our coach shouts at us to run it again, only this time, backwards.
Amanda Holland Lives in Las Vegas, Nevada with her fur babies: Fable, Mr. Knightley, and her newest addition Captain. She has her MFA from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Between agility practices, Regency balls, and running a local writing group she is earning her MED from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.
Amanda recommends you get to know Best Friends, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization operating the nation's largest sanctuary for homeless animals. They provide adoption, spay/neuter, and educational programs.They visit different states in the southern southwest and rescue animals. They do a lot of good and have helped many animals find forever homes. Visit bestfriends.org/. You can also consider helping out the ASPCA.org or the HumaneSociety.org.