Note: I wrote this one year ago. Cosette now swims like a fish and continues to delight us with her joyous way of being in the world. To understand why the stick is so important, an earlier post will explain...
In the last few days, Cosette has finally begun learning to swim. Like a little kid, till now, while she loved to race the waves on the shore and dip her toes in the water - she wasn't too interested in taking her feet off the sand to feel the freedom that the sea (and swimming in it) could provide.
She would wander in a bit deeper, day by day, as we tried to lure her in with cookies and praise. But still, as I'm sure many of us can understand, she was very wary indeed of giving up the safety of the ground.
A few days ago, she found a stick at the edge of the water, picked it up, and then dropped it at our feet. One toss of that stick into the water and off she went after it. Drop, throw, swim (a little), repeat. Yes, she was doing it. But it was still pretty awkward. And you could see - while she wanted to go for it - she just didn't quite believe in herself enough to do so. So we just let her call the shots - little swims a few feet out, then back again to the safety of the shore.
Today, on the beach, on this stunningly beautiful day, we had another chance to try. While she burned off some energy racing the waves at the edge of the ocean, I went looking for a piece of driftwood that the sea might have stranded in the rocks above the sand - small enough for her to handle, yet heavy enough for us to throw.
I walked the beach and found a few - but each was wrong...either too big, too small, or too splintered.
Then, I looked again and - maybe 20 feet ahead of me sticking out of a pile of drying seaweed - I saw what looked to be the perfect fit. A narrow branch, maybe two feet long, was stuck there like an arrow that had hit its target. It was straight and smooth, its bark long since swallowed by the sea. I went over, grabbed the stick, and pulled.
To my amazement, this is the rest of what emerged from beneath the seaweed. Only one arm of the two had been visible. But as always, for whatever reason, that was all it took for me to find it. Turns out, I remembered, I've always had a really good spiritual guide when it comes to that sort of thing.
I laughed and laughed, and laughed again. Hello my dear sweet Donovan. Let's go help Coco trust herself to swim.
You know what happens next, right?
Well of course you do. :)
She loved this stick. She begged for us to throw it. Again. Again. Again. Each time she swam a little further. A little deeper. And most importantly with a little bit more bravery, her confidence clearly growing with each turn. This stick is now hers (sitting on it makes it so). She takes the responsibility of owning it quite seriously, as you can see. This photo is called: 'MINE'.
We now have an IWS who truly loves to swim. And believes in herself and her ability and strength. She is no longer afraid - Independence Day indeed!
And all it took was a little patience.
And a little love.
And, most importantly it turns out, a perfect stick from a perfect dog who dropped in from the clouds to help teach his little sister how to swim.