The Story of Trout

Life lessons from a Cana­dian ad­ven­ture dog

More of Our Canada - - Content - By Kelsy Gi­bos, Ed­son, Alta.

We could all learn a few life lessons from this amaz­ing Cana­dian ad­ven­ture dog!

Dogs are the best. There is al­ways an abun­dance of af­fec­tion (and dog hair), en­thu­si­asm, loy­alty, and unas­sum­ing, never-end­ing and ever-en­dur­ing love when we in­vite these beasts into our homes and our beds. There’s a trade-off, though: We know when we bring their fuzzy lit­tle faces into our lives that in­evitably we will out­live them. It is such an un­fair­ness in life that they sim­ply do not live as long as we do. At least we can take com­fort in the fact that they never take a sin­gle mo­ment for granted, which is im­por­tant when you think they have to cram the equiv­a­lent of seven years’ worth of liv­ing into a sin­gle cal­en­dar year.

This is a story about how much one can cram into every sin­gle mo­ment of a dog’s life. This dog was my dog Trout, an ad­ven­ture mon­grel whose story I feel I need to share as a re­minder to live every sin­gle mo­ment, as you just never know when it might be your last.

My hus­band Travis and I adopted Trout and her brother Twigs in March 2011 af­ter they were dumped at a pound near Syd­ney, Aus­tralia. They were about four months old, rid­dled with fleas and worms, and left to their own fate with the an­i­mal con­trol sys­tem.

Our ad­ven­tures started im­me­di­ately. We dragged the pups that week­end to the in­fa­mous Man From Snowy River Bush Fes­ti­val, a cel­e­bra­tion of Aus­tralian horse­man­ship where the pups learned about horse smells, slept on old boots and nav­i­gated crowds of peo­ple. For the next three years, we toured Aus­tralia by car, kayak, ca­noe and train, al­ways with our pups in tow. Trout swam off white sand beaches, touched noses with a red-bel­lied black snake, com­peted in dogsled and ski­jor com­pe­ti­tions, floated on a steam­boat, kayaked hid­den coves, climbed the high­est moun­tain peak in the state, chased kan­ga­roos and much more.

I wish I could share all of her ad­ven­tures with you— I could prob­a­bly fill a book. What you need to know is that she was with me when­ever there was fun to be had, full of en­thu­si­asm, never ques­tion­ing why or where we were go­ing next. Trout sim­ply lived in that mo­ment and had fun as long as we were to­gether.

As our jobs wrapped up over­seas, we planned our re­turn to the Al­berta Rock­ies. Of course we couldn’t leave Twigs and Trout be­hind, so they too were packed up with our be­long­ings and shipped back across the Pa­cific. Trout took all of this in stride and found new things to chase (squir­rels!), sights to see and ad­ven­tures to have as soon as we were on Cana­dian soil.

In a twist of fate, a few months into our re­turn to Canada, we dis­cov­ered that Trout had a rare, ag­gres­sive form of kid­ney can­cer. How un­fair: She was only four years old! In­stead of feel­ing an­gry or de­feated, we pushed for­ward. Trout’s en­thu­si­asm hadn’t changed; the only thing that mat­tered to her was what ad­ven­ture we were on now. It took all that I had to push aside over­whelm­ing sad­ness that our mo­ments had be­come lim­ited. We had a surgery to try to slow the spread, and de­cided to start a bucket list.

Trout truly ex­pe­ri­enced Canada in the next 2½ years that we were blessed with. She swam in the other side of the Pa­cific, walked on a glacier, saw the north­ern lights, was a brides­maid at our wed­ding in the moun­tains, did an overnight ca­noe trip, was in a pa­rade, recorded a song, com­peted in an ad­ven­ture race, stood at the start line of one of the big­gest sled dog races in North Amer­ica…the list goes on. Just four days be­fore we fi­nally lost her, she com­peted in a ski­jor race near Cal­gary. Her pace was slow, but her spirit was as strong as al­ways.

Ev­ery­one who met Trout knew that she was ex­tra­or­di­nary— some­thing so much more than “just” a dog. She came into this world to bring me hap­pi­ness as an ad­ven­ture buddy, as a companion and as a best friend. Her body wasn’t built to last, but she al­ways gave us ev­ery­thing she had, com­mit­ting to any crazy idea we would ask her to try, up to her very last days. There is so much sad­ness in my heart, but I wouldn’t trade it for all the hap­pi­ness that dog brought me.

If only we as humans could live our lives in such a pure state as Trout did—never wor­ry­ing about what hap­pened in the past or where to­mor­row might take us, and in­stead fo­cus­ing on the mo­ment we are liv­ing in now with the peo­ple we love; per­haps we might then find what true hap­pi­ness re­ally is. ■

Left: Travis and Trout atop Mount Bo­gong in Vic­to­ria, Aus­tralia. Above: A col­lage of some of Trout’s bucket list achieve­ments.

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