I went through all of our 2013 photos the other week with the intention of writing a year-end round up. What I found was a little disappointing—there were so many lovely moments that I meant to share and never managed to! And how, exactly, do you round up a year like this one that has seen such major life changes including getting married and making an international move?

There were many light moments in 2013 to be sure, but I will always remember it as an intense time of  self-examination and hard decision-making. One of the stories I haven’t shared is connected to the process of staying true to yourself and making decisions based on those truths. It was by far one of the most magical experiences I’ve ever had.

Anthony took the photo above just a few days before our wedding on Lake Superior. It’s me with a dog named Luna, who we’d just met while having coffee on the rock. She’d come running full speed out of the woods and down the hill—and had made straight for us. We assumed she was with the fisherman a ways down the beach, athough she never went to him and stayed close to us the whole time as if we’d always been together.

That hour on the rocks with her was wonderful—I love dogs and had been missing my own little guy for all the years I’d been away. He’d been with my family the whole time—well taken care of and well-loved—but not having him with me every day had never felt right and was always painful.

Eventually we asked the fisherman if she belonged to him. He looked surprised—he had assumed she was with us. Realizing she was missing from her home and thinking such a lovely creature would be greatly missed by her people, Anthony called the number on her tag. Instead of expressing relief or thankfulness that she was ok, the man just said he’d be right there.

We waited with her on the beach until he showed up. She was at my side when he called her but she wouldn’t move. When he took her by the collar, she resisted. It broke my heart. I felt like I had betrayed her. She had been so happy down by the water—she had known exactly where she was going.

I know we did the only thing we could have done by calling her owner. I don’t believe he was abusive—I just think he had no connection to her—she is probably an outdoor dog locked up in a kennel, longing for the freedom of the beach, and smart enough to remember how to get there whenever she manages to flee.

If there had been a right way, I would have rescued her. But they drove away and that was that.

The experience stuck with me. I tried to shake the feeling that I had betrayed her, but I couldn’t. I still feel it. What she gave me, though, was a powerful underscore to what I already knew about myself and my life and what I needed to do.