First steps

In every life, or so I am told, there are a number of firsts and lasts, and today certainly included a big first for me.

I haven’t had much unsupervised time since I arrived here (something about carpets), so I decided to do this one by myself – after all, I have to have some private victories, don’t I? Let’s set the scene…

Em was in the basement, having a shower or something, I don’t know. Jay was in the kitchen, making something they call a “salad”. I was with Jay in the kitchen, but I was being very quiet, lying on a towel by the door near the landing.

I lay there for quite a while, just looking around me. I was watching things. The door to the back yard was open so I could see all sorts of things: I saw birds and insects go by; I saw the cover on a big, black thing (they call it a “barbecue”) flapping about in the wind as though it were going to take off all on its own; and then, inside, I saw an ant crawl over the floor by the back door where the shoes are kept. But most of the time I was there I was looking at the stairs.

The other day when Jay gently pushed me toward the stairs I truly wanted nothing to do with them; they seemed very steep and scary, and, well, let’s face it – I was younger then. But today, lying there for as long as I did, I decided to get over my little trepidations and figure out, once and for all, just how to handle them. It couldn’t be that difficult, could it? I mean, yes I’d been scared the other day, but surely all I had to do was put my front feet down and let my back feet follow and it really wouldn’t be all that difficult after all.


So I decided to try it. By myself. Alone. This was one little battle I was going to fight without encouragement, and without witnesses. Of course, this took a certain amount of courage – after all, it was a long way down if I happened to get rolling and forget how to put the brakes on – but still I wanted to do this one by myself.

So I leaned out over the top step. It’s slippery, beige tile – I think they call it ceramic. I leaned out, and looked down. It seemed to be a long way down – even to the first step! – but I remembered doing it with help the other day, so I pushed on.

I pushed my paws over the edge and leaned out further. Suddenly, and a little alarmingly, my whole body started to slide forward. I got scared, but then the very second I did, my front paws hit the tread of the second stair and I stopped. I was half way down. My front paws were down and my bum was up.

Now what? Okay, think. Lean further forward? I decided against it. Instead, realizing that there was no way to turn around, I pulled first one hind leg to the left and over the top ledge then repeated this with the other leg. Before I knew it, I was there on the first step, looking back up with wonder and delight at where I had come from.

I turned around then. I knew I could just go back up the stairs if I wanted because I’d done that quite easily since the weekend, but I didn’t want to do that – what I wanted was to keep going. Three more steps would take me to the landing: was that three more chances to break my neck or three more chances to prove myself?

I got pretty excited, I can tell you. I remember licking my lips and barking once before setting out, but there was never any doubt that I would achieve my goal, I mean once you’ve done something once, it’s just a matter of repetition to do it again. This was so true in my case that I didn’t even stop to think about it: I just did it, bouncing first down one stair, then the next, and then the last.

Just as I finished the last step and was standing by the back door, Em and Jay both arrived. Jay came down from the kitchen and was just congratulating me on my courage and determination when up came Em from the basement to find out what all the fuss was about. That was a proud moment for me, and I felt pretty darn good about myself.

So, how about you? Are there moments you remember from your journey when you took a risk and excelled? As far as I’m concerned, there’s no feeling like it in the world.



About James McDonall

I believe in laughing, especially at yourself, and as often possible. I believe in "live and let live". I believe that communication is the foundation of all our solutions. I believe that listening is more important than speaking, and that speaking should always serve the cause of listening. View all posts by James McDonall

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