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December 11, 2016

Learning To Fly

In the Marking Our Territory circus, Penny was my tumbling acrobat while Eko was my soaring aerialist. I loved capturing his casual grace mid-air. From the nonchalant takeoff through the smooth landings, Eko made his flights look effortless.
Rhodesian Ridgeback, Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Adventure, Marking Our TerritoryIn the Marking Our Territory circus, Penny was my tumbling acrobat while Eko was my soaring aerialist. I loved capturing his casual grace mid-air. From the nonchalant takeoff through the smooth landings, Eko made his flights look effortless.As a young upstart, Penny wanted to follow her big brother into the air. But given her propensity for causing mayhem I trained Penny to wait for me to pick her up over the fence. These days, the air above the beach fence is one of many empty spaces reminding me of Eko.  My heart soared with Eko, and it plummeted without him. My challenge over the past months has been salvaging the scrap metal of that crash, building new wings, and discovering the courage to lift off again. It seemed only fitting then that Penny and I learn to fly together.Last week I unleashed Penny just outside the fence at the dog beach. But instead of lifting her over as I normally do, I stepped over alone and walked a couple yards towards the water. The whining started almost immediately. Penny paced along the fence in earnest, begging me to pick her up. She’d go as far as placing her front paws up, but she wouldn’t jump over. Like me, my wild and fearless Penny was still bounded by the past.I climbed back over to show her how it’s done. We backed up a couple yards, we sprinted towards the fence together, I hopped over alone. Penny pulled up short, but when I turned around with my camera I saw the light bulb go off in her head.Rhodesian Ridgeback, Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Adventure, Marking Our Territory

“Wait, he’s going to let me to jump over!?”

Penny backed up, galloped towards the fence and flew! 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Adventure, Marking Our Territory

Well, she less flew over and more threw herself over

I burst out laughing and gave my girl plenty of praise. We began bounding back and forth across the divider in a game of aerial tag. What Penny lacks in Eko’s grace she more than makes up for with enthusiasm.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Adventure, Marking Our Territory

Penny does not have a future in Olympic diving

Since that first day we’ve practiced jumping at each beach visit and I’m happy to report Penny’s form is improving.

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Adventure, Marking Our Territory

Rocketship Penny is now much more aerodynamic 

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Adventure, Marking Our Territory

She’s figured out how to tuck those back legs and really glide

Rhodesian Ridgeback, Montrose Dog Beach, Chicago, Adventure, Marking Our Territory

My puppy rises, and so too does my heart

So we rise. Unsteady and ungraceful on these new wings, but grateful for the opportunity to fly again.

Comments for Learning To Fly

  1. Pat says:

    I’m so glad you let her fly! 🙂

  2. Connie Taylor says:

    Penny started out like “Bambi” when he first learned to walk; wobbly, unsteady and not at all graceful. Now look how she’s blossomed into a Gazelle running and jumping through her African plains! Eko is beaming with pride and boosting to all the other dogs in heaven “Hey, that’s MY sister! See how she has grown!!

  3. Gracefulness is overrated. It’s the flying that counts. That’s what gets you to new places. Also, if you’re flying around the house and miss the couch. Ouch. Trust me. I know.

    Love and licks,
    Cupcake

  4. It doesn’t matter how you get there, it’s that you’re both soaring that counts. As for form, I’d give her a 9.5 so far. When you aim for the moon, you get to at least see stars and Penny will always be a star in our books! 😉

  5. Kismet says:

    She finally read my textbook about flying.

  6. Awesome to see you both learning to fly all over again. Mr. Eko is hella proud of both of you!

  7. Jo Rhodes says:

    Yay for both of you! We’re cheering you on. We’ll be here to give you Eko points too! Smart girl you got there.
    Loving you so much! Jo, Sam and Dean

  8. T&S says:

    Nice for Penny!

  9. HobbesMom says:

    I love this post! So great to see Penny learning to fly and your heart healing!

  10. Linda Diane Feldt says:

    Ah, Will, I am joining you in this pool of grieving, as Nala, my Rhodesian Ridgeback of 11 years has just been diagnosed this morning with advanced liver cancer. I am grateful that I can give her peace tomorrow, and that we have the time to say goodby. But I am now feeling further bonding with you and your more sudden loss. Man, this part of loving dogs really and truly sucks. Your posts and your grieving process will be helpful to me. So thanks. I know it gets better.

  11. Victoria Coleman says:

    good for her – and good for you – lifts not only her body but both of your spirits!

  12. Eve says:

    Glad you both are soaring with new learned jump! She will only get better with time!! Take care and have fun and laugh when you can!! Hugs to you three from Juley & I for the holidays!

  13. coastingnz says:

    something so simple brings a tear to my eye. Great to see you both flying a little higher. Well done Penny – you’ll have it nailed in no time with a great teacher by your side (and another one whispering in your ear). Hugs to both.

  14. fran welch says:

    I just love her Will. She has leaned on u n Eko n now finding her way on her time. Love u Penny, u r doing great. Love u all

  15. Judy Petitto says:

    This is wonderful.Very impressive Miss Penny girl.And I’m impressed with you to Will hoping over the fence:)

  16. That makes my heart happy……………go Penny go!

    Hugs, Pam

  17. Lea says:

    Will,
    Every post touches my heart, thank you for sharing all of the love (and the grief) with us
    Lea (Dozer and Koda- Chicago Ridgeback friends)

  18. Tanja&Brownie says:

    I think the first fly has initiate Eko. He took Penny and threw her over the fence. And with that knowing in her heart that her big brother is helping her wherever and whenever he is needed she was learning as fast as possible to fly over on her own. Well done

  19. Emmadog says:

    We aren’t allowed to jump like that, and Mom would be afraid we would start jumping the fence at home, but Penny does it well. Too bad you don’t have a photo of you both jumping together!

  20. ((((hugs)))) well done Penny!!

  21. Michael Bondor says:

    Soaring is a way of life with you.

  22. Ginny says:

    Sweet Penny, she loves and trusts you.

  23. Ellen Quilty says:

    Go girl.She learns fast.I had to laugh when you said you were picking Penny up and helping her over the fence.I think I stopped picking Nikki up when she was about four months old.I guess that is the difference between a guy who has a doggie and a girl who has a doggie. Once she reached about 25 lbs I had to give up on that idea.Great to see her doing so well.

  24. TheRidgebackLife says:

    Oh, i just know Eko was laughing hysterically at her first couple attempts. You know he was the one who was whispering in her ear to just do it. After that, I’m sure he was beaming with pride at his little sister. He’s watching over her, too. There’s no stopping her now

  25. fredrieka says:

    Fred is a jumper! It is her favorite thing to do

  26. Yeah penny!!! If I would of showed her I would of fell flat on my face.

  27. She does look graceful in that last picture 🙂 Such a pretty girl!

  28. Such a cute post. I shared it in my blog’s newsletter yesterday.

  29. Cheryl Mandell says:

    Your writing always warms my heart. It helps me look for the more wonder with my dogs. Happy or sad, amazing….I am grateful… thank you.

  30. Dear Will,

    I found your blog a few years ago during our ‘research phase’ of adding a dog to our family. My boyfriend and I have since been following your journey and feel like we have shared the highs and the lows. I particularly remember your post about losing Dutch, which I saw one week before we lost my family’s beagle, Devon. I remember re-reading your post and re-watching your video and crying throughout but strangely finding this so helpful.

    After three years of researching, we felt the time was right to add a little pup to our family and we found an amazing breeder and subsequently an amazing little pup whom we named Kgosi. He’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback and I believe following your story with Eko and then Penny definitely influenced our decision. So thank you, for blogging and ultimately providing us with such a rich narrative of raising and sharing a life with one of these amazing dogs. I have also been inspired by your blog and have started one myself – primarily to serve as a home for all the memories we have and will create.

    I was so devastated to see that you had lost Eko and can only express my deepest condolences. I believe that these experiences serve as a reminder to cherish every moment with our best friends and provide them with a safe, exciting and loving life. Each time I look down at our little Kgosi, I am overwhelmed with both the love I feel for him and the responsibility we have to keep him safe, happy and adored.

    Thank you again for all your posts, it certainly contributed to our journey and I guess a thank you from Kgosi as he now has and will continue to have the best life we can possibly provide!

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