Kelty, the Black Swan
Written: 04-07-2017

The other day I wrote a post about waiting on serendipity, and that it can be an ineffective approach to living. Waiting on serendipity can be a romantic narrative, but unless one has the emotional ability to manage the swings, it can be a challenge. The other lesson, from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance was that the classical and romantic understandings are not able to mutually exist. Therefore, it’s also valuable to understand which type of understanding you lean towards.

I was thinking about another fairly important character in the storyline of my life, my dog Kelty. If truth be told, she’s probably been one of the central beings in my life. I was thinking about her introduction into my life in terms of randomness versus intentional action. She was a clear result of taking an intentional action, both on my part and her rescuer’s, Nikki. The reason that this story is worth sharing is that my intentionally made efforts were not in an attempt to adopt her, but in an effort to discourage her adoption.

It’s almost painful to write that, as I think about it today.

At the time I was just getting started on my first ‘real’ job post graduate school. Living in a small one bedroom apartment in Divide, Colorado working for the Teller County Public Health Department. Nikki was living in Lexington, working on finishing her masters degree. The hope I had at the time was that Nikki would be moving to Colorado as soon as she finished. I do not remember the timeline accurately, but the condensed storyline is that I thought adopting a dog made that transition harder. Nikki thought otherwise and adopted her.

I don’t have a list of cons I had for adopting a dog, but here were a few that I can recall:

  • It will limit the ability to travel, because it will need someone to watch after it.
  • If it travels with us, we will be limited to activities that could happen while it was in the car.
  • My landlord doesn’t allow dogs and it’s hard to find one who does. It’s impossible in Divide (given I lived in the only rentals there).
  • It will require a ton of attention and effort to train.
  • It will cost a lot of money to feed, take to vet, etc.

I probably had a lot of other reasons I would share when discussing the issue, but those were the big reasons why I didn’t want a dog. It’s always nice to be able to look back and realize that you are wrong, especially when you were wrong and the outcome was very positive. Here’s what ended up happening:

Nikki and Kelty moved to Colorado. Nikki ended up living with a co-worker of mine in Woodland Park, while Kelty came to live with me. My landlord never knew and for the most part, it was never an issue. Kelty took nearly zero training, as she was already house broken. She had some anxiety when she first lived with me, but after a short period she grew to be more relaxed. I worked in an office that was under my apartment, so I’d often see her looking out the window at me as I walked around the building and into the office (or she could have been checking out the beautiful views of Pikes Peak I had out my sliding glass doors?). We also started going for daily runs together at the Divide Park across the highway. It was an open field with an approximately 2.5 mile trail and unobstructed views of Pikes Peak. I’d run a couple laps, while she’d run circles around me the whole time. She acclimated to the 9,200 ft. elevation in a much better way than I did! On weekends, we would find trails to run together. I think her favorites were at the Crags which were not that far away, but presented wonderful views once you reached the summits.

Kelty was a great runner, which might be one of the reasons we got along so well, so quickly. My hard lined opinion about not having dogs, especially a ‘house dog’ quickly melted away during these early days. I remember being certain I would never let a dog sleep in a bed that I was in, however it took a few short weeks before she found her way to overcoming those objections also. As she’s aged, she can no longer run. However we’ve had a lot morning walks to get coffee, which provide much of the same opportunities to bond.

The past six months it has been sad to watch her age. There are times that she doesn’t even seem to be herself. However, having tried nearly all the anti-anxiety meds the vet suggested, we finally found that SAM-e gave her some since of peace. There are moments that she’ll act like a 3 year old puppy again, with energy and vigor. Though most of the time our lunch-time walks are limited to 30 minutes, where we make it 4 or 5 blocks.

The clear result of Kelty becoming a part of my life is nothing but positive.

I see the adoption of Kelty as a Black Swan event within my life’s narrative. Here’s a summary of the three characteristics of a Black Swan from Nassim Taleb:

I stop and summarize the triplet: rarity, extreme impact, and retrospective (though not prospective) predictability. A small number of Black Swans explain almost everything in our world, from the success of ideas and religions, to the dynamics of historical events, to elements of our own personal lives.”

I can rationalize the events of her adoption, piece together the storyline to make some sense of it. But it’s mostly a storyline that is artificial, created to give myself some context to share with others when they ask. The truth is that her introduction into my life is one of those random and wonderful events that happened.

I concluded my previous post with: “For the time being: live intentionally, yet remain aware and open to the randomness life provides”. That seems like a pretty excellent way to end this post also.