A good lesson: Dogs and sports are both worth the effort

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I don't feel like writing about sports today. That's because our family dog died last week.

Before you feel too sorry for me or my dog, you should know that Matty -- we named her after Hall of Fame pitcher Christy "Matty" Mathewson -- was about 17 years old. So she lived a long, happy dog's life before she got so sick that we had to put her to sleep.

I have to admit that when we picked up Matty in Virginia at a rescue center for West Highland white terriers (Westies), I did not want a pet. But Matty turned out to be a terrific dog. Loyal, friendly and full of personality, Matty was a big part of our family life for years.

That's a good lesson. Sometimes things don't turn out the way you thought they would. They turn out better.

See if this sounds familiar. You join a sports team. After a few practices or games, you discover you don't like the team as much as you thought you would. Maybe you don't like the coach or the other kids.

You want to quit. But your mom and dad say you have to at least finish the season. They say you made a commitment to the team.

You don't want to, but you stay with the team. And, surprise: Things get better. You make a friend or make a few good plays. Maybe the coach tells you you're going to be a good player.

The same thing happens with kids and music lessons. Practicing the piano or trumpet every day is tough. Lots of kids want to give up. But the kids who stick with a musical instrument get a chance to play in bands and orchestras. That's pretty cool.

Most kids and adults are pretty sure they know exactly what they want. Just the way I was positive years ago that I didn't want a dog. But life is full of surprises. We change as the years go by. That's why it's important for kids to try new foods, new hobbies, new sports.

So try that new sport. Or stick with the one you've been playing even though it's a struggle. You might find a sport that you love. Or you might find that a 15-pound West Highland white terrier that you were sure you never wanted comes into your life and steals your heart.

Fred Bowen is the author of 18 sports books for kids that combine sports fiction and sports history.


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