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just a girl and her dog

about us

Our journey started together when I picked Sora up at 12 weeks old from a Shikoku breeder a few hours from my home. 

I loved growing up with dogs and I was excited to finally be financially independent and able to care for one.

 

Dogs keep you accountable for staying active, they love you unconditionally, they help you meet new people, and you get to experience a microcosm of the human experience. Their lives are short, but we learn so much from them and ourselves in the time we share with them.

There were lots of challenges we faced through puppy-hood, but the rewards after made it so worth it. This part of my blog focuses on all aspects of Sora's life and our journeys together. 

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Meet Sora

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Sora is a beautiful Shikoku from Hachidori Sou Kennel in Virginia Beach, VA. Shikoku-ken are a rare breed that originate from the island of Shikoku in Japan. They were bred to hunt wild boar, deer, and other small game, so they have an extremely high prey drive.

Sora was born in July of 2019. Her favorite things include walking in nature, exploring new places, meeting new people, chasing bunnies, doing zoomies, and eating cheese!

the story of Sora and me

so pack up your car

year one

The first year was full of ups and downs. I was learning so much, but life was happening all around me. I was settling into my post-college career and dealing with personal losses in love and friendship. Raising Sora on my own was not easy and there were a lot of nights I maybe slept 3 hours. She came down with roundworms and was sick for a month, causing an emergency surgery called an intussusception. The recovery period was difficult and expensive. She had stitches and was on bedrest, unable to socialize or do anything (which for a 5 month old puppy you can imagine the rebellion!)

Then the pandemic happened and I spent it in isolation with her. I worked during the day, took her for a walk, worked on training, went for runs and signed up for a photography course. When the world stops, you stop, and you're truly forced to look at your life for what it is. I realized I wasn't happy in Virginia and I wanted more for Sora too. I saw a few idealistic posts on Instagram of Colorado - girls hiking, camping, and exploring on their own with their dogs; the dogs looked so blissful, and i really wanted to create a life like that for Sora.

 

I packed up Sora and everything I needed in my car and moved to Colorado. I knew no one

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put a hand on your heart

year two

I had spent most of my life avoiding my true self, constantly living in distraction, extravagant trips, etc. While it wasn't always a bad thing, I didn't really ever hit pause on my life to sit and reflect on what I truly wanted, or who I was or wanted to be.

We were unstoppable even when the world wasn't moving. Colorado was the right place for us during that time. When Sora was still a puppy we spent more time taking trips and learning how to do outdoorsy things like start a fire, set up a tent, and read trail reviews. The amount of knowledge I gained from throwing myself into this new, uncomfortable, lonely, time has been unmatched. I learn through experiences and while I did have some more losses in love, I didn't let it take my spark for life.

Year two for Sora was hard. Her reactiveness to new dogs started which presented more challenges. I ended up getting bit when I stepped between her and another dog and we started working with a behavioralist dog trainer. Slowly I managed to control her reactions and increase her threshold with other dogs, but the trainer said it would be unlikely she'd ever be a "dog" dog and that I needed to accept her as she is. It was hard to hear, but 

say whatever you feel

I started to find my groove. Sora was finally healthy for the most part; she was eating regularly and I was truly understanding her. I knew if she threw up that it was normal for her. The things that gave me anxiety beforehand were learned and understood. With her being healthier, I could start working on my personal goals more again. I decided I wanted to leave Colorado for good and move to Seattle for a more permanent base. I had a few friends there and I could enjoy a lot of the outdoorsy things of Colorado, but in a city that felt a little more me. 

I completed my first half marathon, I fell in love again with someone new, I was settling into a new life in the Pacific Northwest.

be wherever you are, who you are

year four

This year was particuarly difficult. I had some unfortunate difficulties in my personal life caused a minor depressive state, but with therapy I worked through. My job's priorities shifted to a lot of traveling and I had to make the difficult decision to fly Sora to Virginia and give her to my parents for 3 months. After 4 years together, living our daily lives in routine and comfort, I no longer had her. It was as if she was gone and my anxious mind had all the catastrophizing thoughts you could imagine. However, in between my work trips, I spent the time to work on myself again and other areas of my life. I realized just how much i've lost a little bit of myself and my identitiy in Sora. I completed an 8-week meditation course and silent retreat which worked in parallel to my struggles. I missed her everyday, but I was okay.

 

The time apart was a good reminder to enjoy the moments we do have with our pets, but to also ground ourselves because they are not here forever with us. I also did some rover jobs to pass the time before I could pick her up and 

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