By Ambassador Kyla Forsberg
The beginning of April, I sprained my ankle snowboarding. Curse of the one last run. I didn’t realize how bad it was until a couple of weeks later when the pain hadn’t gone away, and I was struggling to just walk.
Ten weeks later – I’m still struggling. I’m finally out of the big plastic boot and can walk normally again, but any type of impact or overuse sets me back a few days.
I had to accept all of the goals I’d set for myself this year would be waitlisted. That was a hard realization. I tried to keep my head above water but was feeling depressed.
Around that same time, I happened to be looking for a puppy. I fell in love with a Great Pyrenees mix named Stella. She was beautiful, three months old, and living in Texas. Someone had found her and her brother in the trash. I applied to be her mom and set up a meet and greet over Zoom. It was love at first sight. A month later she was transported to the PNW and we welcomed her home.
I wanted her to ride trails with me. My very own trail pup. Admittedly, I had no idea how to do this. But I didn’t let that dissuade me.
I figured we needed to start with the basics. It had been a long time since I had a puppy. A couple of friends recommended a trainer and we started working together shortly after Stella arrived. First up: confidence. Stella was a bit timid when she first came home. Everything is new and sometimes scary to a puppy. I brought my bike out and started pushing it around while I walked her on her leash. No reaction. Then I started riding my bike towards her and around her. Then I clipped her leash around me and rode my bike around the parking lot. So far, so good. Surprisingly she didn’t show any signs of fear.
Once she built up some confidence we started working on recall. We worked at it every single day. Then we added the 3 D’s. Distance, Duration, Distraction. Still a work in progress but she is one smart pup. Rarely does she not come back when called.
Finally, the day had come. I loaded her up and headed to the trailhead. I clipped her leash around my waist, then connected it to her harness. Off we went. She did really well for her first time. Trotted right next to my bike the entire time, only pulling away once to greet a playful golden retriever puppy.
We kept at it. Starting out with short two-mile rides and slowly building up to longer ones. Then the leash came off. I am so proud of her. She stayed between me and my husband the entire time! A few times she started to wander, usually when I stop. She looks at me as if to say, “I want to run, we gotta go Ma” As soon as I say “Let’s go!” she comes back obediently.
Our rides are still pretty mellow until my ankle heals a bit more, but even our short rides make her so happy. She gets excited every time she sees me grab my FiveTens.
I’ve become a bit obsessed with her. She’s even got her own Instagram page!
Never underestimate the amount of happiness a furry companion can bring. Stella has saved me from diving head first into depression. I call her little girl even though she’s 55 pounds at 7 months. She’s my best friend and adventure partner.