Around the Bend

Gayle_BozemanFamilyChristian_smallThis post by Gayle M. Irwin

Earlier this summer, my husband, the dogs, and I took a trip to Yellowstone National Park. One of our excursions was to the Yellowstone Lake area, which boasts a wide and deep lake as well as a beautiful, charming yellow hotel which was originally built in 1891 and extensively expanded in 1903. Windows of the lobby and dining area of the grand accommodations look out upon the vast blue body of water. I’ve dined at this restaurant a few times, being serenaded, along with other guests, by a fabulous piano player. It’s an amazing experience with vistas of nature, relaxing music, and delicious food. Go there if you ever have opportunity!

While at the Lake area during this summer’s trip, Greg and I took the dogs for a short walk in a picnic area. Mary, our springer/cocker mix, began barking, and we noticed another family of picnickers nearby. We shushed her and continued our little jaunt, with Cody, our 17-year-old cocker and I in front. As he and I rounded a bend in the trail, we came within five feet of a bull bison resting in a grove of trees. Yellowstone Park rules say to not be any closer than 25 feet from a bison, elk, or other large, non-predatory animal. We certainly broke that rule! (but not on purpose). The bison was camouflaged by the trees and it wasn’t until we nearly stepped on him that we saw his massive presence. Fortunately for us, he didn’t get up from his siesta, and we were able to slowly but persistently back up to the car, with me carrying an aged Cody in my arms. Mary continued her barkfest and thankfully the bull bison didn’t take her onslaught as a threat (the temperature was nearly 90 degrees, so I’m sure he thought staying in the shady tree grove was better than expending energy on a couple of tourists and their dogs!). Lesson: you never know what’s around the bend. (Second lesson: your dog may know more about what’s around the bend than you, so it may pay off to listen to and heed your dog’s vocals!)

bull  bison_Madison RiverLife’s future is a mystery – we don’t know with certainty what it holds. We can make plans and we can hope, dream, and take steps toward goals. Yet, a health problem, family situation, financial setback can offset those plans. At age 19, I planned to marry a guy I met in college; he met someone else and left me. I had to alter my plans – the future I had anticipated completely changed. I’ve had jobs that I thought would be the “cat’s meow” as they say … but something, actually someone in both cases, caused major problems for me and other colleagues and so I moved on instead of staying in a hostile work environment. We never know what’s around the bend.

Sometimes that’s true for our writing as well. We start off with an idea, plan out (or semi-plan out, depending on if you’re a plotter or a pantser) scenes, characters, plots, situations, etc. and at times the storyline takes a detour and we don’t know what’s around the bend … or, when we go around the story’s bend we discover a new path for our story’s characters. At times we encounter a great obstacle around that bend, just like that bull bison became an obstacle to us continuing along the trail (sometimes we authors refer to such an obstacle to as writer’s block… or it may be that something just doesn’t jive with our story line). And, just like my husband, dogs, and I had to back up to our car, we writers may have to back up a bit in our story and re-think where we’re going with the idea.

woman at computer2Life is that way as well. We come to a bend in the road and we may have to back up a bit and approach the situation differently. I have many friends facing unexpected events, including health issues, relationship issues, and financial issues. At times, we have to look at these problems and decide whether to move forward (and if so, quickly or cautiously?) or to pull back a bit and ponder awhile.

I attended the annual Global Leadership Summit (GLS) earlier this month and came away with several great take-aways, including: (1) Build your confidence – step through your fears; (2) Build your connections – expand your relationships; (3) Improve your competence – through education and/or mentoring; (4) Strengthen your character – read, grow, challenge yourself, make wise choices; (5) Increase your commitment – to yourself, your loved ones, your career/writing. Each of these can make us ponder the next step, think about what’s around the bend, and plan to move in a certain direction. Yet, we may come across an obstacle and so we have to back up and approach it a different way.

Blind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014I am doing that with my writing. I’m currently re-thinking some of my book writing projects. I have four WIP, and I am considering taking a different course for the remainder of the year. I’m considering writing some helpful nonfiction, such as “How to Better Care for Your Senior Dog.” My Kindle book “Help, My Dog is Going Blind: Now What Do I Do?” is reaching people around the world. Sales have dramatically increased during the past few months with minimal marketing endeavors. I plan to increase those efforts as this little booklet is very helpful for pet parents who are concerned about the health and safety of their blind furry friends, for those who, like Greg and I nearly 15 years ago, were incredibly shaken and scared when we first heard the news “Your dog is going blind.” I want to continue helping people better care for their pets, such as their senior dog, their deaf dog, their three-legged dog. Because I so earnestly believe in pet ownership responsibility, I can be a catalyst to help people care for their pets for the rest of the animals’ life by providing words of encouragement and tips for a better life for both pet and pet owner.

This is a bend in my writing road, and though I don’t know yet what’s beyond the bend, I will take steps forward to see, applying some of those “take-aways” from the GLS. If I need to, I’ll back up a bit and re-evaluate the situation. But, I am excited to continue the journey in all its mystery, including eventually finishing those four WIP! (sometime in the future…!)

How about you? How do you handle bends in the road, personally and professionally?

Gayle & Mary outsideGayle M. Irwin is writer, author and speaker. She is the author of several inspiring dog books for children and adults, including Sage’s Big Adventure, Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned with My Blind Dog, and two dog devotion books: Devotions for Dog Lovers: Paws-ing for Time with God and Devotions for Dog Lovers 2: Sage Advice. She is also a contributing writer to five editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul. She’s also authored a guidebook for owners of blind dogs, available on Kindle. She has a passion for pets and volunteers for and donates a percentage of her writing revenues to several animal welfare organizations. Her speaking engagements include presentations for children and adults about the lessons people can learn from pets. Visit her website at

SageBigAdventureFront-small  SageLearnsShareFront-small  Dog Devotion Book_Cover_Final  Dog Devotions 2 Book Cover Sage Advice CoverBlind Dog Ebook Cover_updatedMay2014


19 thoughts on “Around the Bend

  1. Some great advice. W had a dog that went blind and he taught us a lot about how we see things and what we see as opposed to what he saw. Our next dog we decided to teach her her left and her right. That way if we faced the same situation we could direct her better. So here we are almost 13 years later and she is going deaf. So now she is teaching us how hand signals work.
    I think all of our everyday lives are about adapting to that bend in the road. How we handle those bends tells us a lot about ourselves. Thanks for sharing.


    1. Hi, S.J. — thanks for stopping by and for letting me know about your dogs. We do have to adapt, and we do learn things, for the creatures that share our lives. I believe you help teach lessons YOU learn from the wildlife you photograph, and I always enjoy learning from you! 🙂 We adopted a 10-year-old dog while our blind one was still alive, and he is still with us at more than 17 years of age — he is deaf and is now going blind, so that’s a challenge: a bit “Helen Keller-like” and gentle touch is working fairly well with him. I think many of us with WW&W are experiencing “bends in the road” in some form or another; like our blind and deaf dogs, it’s a matter of adaptation, adjustment, and attitude. Thanks for stopping by, reading, and commenting!


  2. Well said, Gayle. Life does present challenges that sometimes seem to have to solution. Still, taking some time, even when others are pushing to hurry, may be the best courese. There has to be some faith that things will work out as they should, you just wish it would hurry up. Smile. Doris


    1. Thank you, Doris, and I totally agree! Life throws zingers at times, as I know you know, and it’s not always easy to “motor along.” Yet, faith, friends, and fortitude help us get around the bends we experience. I appreciate your comments … I appreciate YOU!


  3. Great column, Gayle. Those blind curves sure can hold some surprises. I’ve not had a blind dog or cat, but did have Tessir-cat, my diabetic kitty. You sure learn responsibility… no cheating on diet, no racing out to engagements and forgetting insulin shots.


    1. We learn so much in so many different ways, Mike, and yes, life throws us many, and at times great challenges. How we respond to those curve balls determines many things in our lives: career, family, etc. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!


  4. Gayle,
    You seem to be handling the bends fairly well. When encountering a major bend I usually retreat until I can get a handle on the new circumstances. As much as I know I grow from the bends, I still don’t like them.
    My dog Seymour is 6 and has healthy eyes (knock wow) but it’s good to know someone has my back in the future with books like yours.
    All the best –
    – Stephen


    1. Thank you for your encouraging words, Stephen. Everyone handles challenges, curves, and bends in different ways — I admit, I don’t always handle them well! But, yes, I’ve got your back (and Seymour’s) if you ever find need! 🙂


  5. Thanks Gayle. I was nervous for you around the Bison. I was thinking of writing a non-fiction book, but can’t think what I could write about. Bice pulli g it together. Cher’ley


    1. That big guy sure caught me off guard, I admit, Cher’ley! Many people have been injured by bison in Yellowstone this year — sure glad we weren’t a statistic! That what happens when we hit bends in the road at times — SURPRISE! 🙂 Thanks for reading and for commenting!!


  6. I wonder if you should coin the phrase “Dogsense” for cautious people who know what’s behind the corner and the rest of us don’t. Life always has a way of throwing curveballs. Its good to stay in the batter’s box and keep swinging away.


    1. Great comments, Travis! Yes, life throws us curveballs and we don’t know what’s around the bend; neither do our dogs and yet they are often so resilient! We can learn a lot from their “sense,” as you said. Thanks for reading and commenting!


  7. I love how you tied your unexpected encounter with the bison to writing as well as caring for dogs. When I write, I’m a “pantser” but in life, I like to plan everything. I have to constantly remind myself that unexpected things happen. I do get anxious when things happen out of the blue, but having my dog, Hana, sure helps me. She’s 13 now and her eyesight is definitely deteriorating. She’s not blind yet but I know that day will come. I will look your book up for sure. Thank you for a wonderful post, Gayle.


    1. I appreciate your insights and sentiments, Sarah! I know how frightened and concerned I was when Sage first went blind. But, like most dogs, she adapted and was such an inspiration to me and to many other people. I, too, prefer life to be planned out, but reality dictates otherwise. I’m glad you have Hana to give you comfort and friendship, and should you ever need the tips found in my book, I hope you find them helpful. Blessings to you and Hana! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I empathise totally with your post, Gayle and do believe that when life throws a ‘wobbly’ it may take some time but you can get round it and onto a straighter path. There are usually plenty of compensations for having gone onto that new pathway.


  9. I like Abbie’s comment, (as well as everyone else’s) about batting at the curves. I think we all do that. Great post Gayle and easy to relate to by everyone. You are growing as a person and writer all the time as I see it.


  10. Definitely can relate to this post. I never thought that, at age 51 (less than two weeks until 52), I’d be divorced and living with my parents. It wasn’t part of the plan by any stretch, but it’s worked out. We’re all making the best we can of the situation.


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