Life lessons seem to be everywhere if you're looking for them. I feel that I've learned more through charity work than I could ever repay the, people, animals, or the organizations for. These are some of my adventures and snippets of what I've taken from them.
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I arrived at One Of A Kind Pets today, walked in the door and said, “who needs some exercise?” I was instantly pointed towards Faith again. After a few laughs, we hooked up the leash to the mini-tornado and took off towards the park to get in some exercise and bonding time.
Faith definitely didn’t disappoint me with her level of enthusiasm for being outside in this wonderful weather. Put this dog on a treadmill and I’m pretty sure that she could power a small town…..like Chicago. Just like last time, we made lap after lap around, over, and through the park in whatever direction her nose took us. We had an absolute blast together as we had no purpose or direction other than to let off some steam.
While we were running around, Faith would occasionally grab onto the leash with her mouth and yank it along in a wonderfully playful manor. This puppy was out, and able to be a puppy which was a ton of fun to see. Occasionally, like any youngin’, play mode went into overdrive and became a bit much for the adult in charge to handle. (Yes, hard to believe, but the “adult in charge” is me.) A tug on the leash only encouraged her more. A “no” or a “hey” didn’t cut the mustard either. I started wondering how long before my arm gets longer like Stretch Armstrong.
As she tugged, played, and whirled around, I bent down towards Faith and pondered offering her a treat. It turns out, I didn’t need the treat to change what was happening. As soon as I started to get down to her level, she went from “play like a wild animal” mode to “cuddle” mode light a switch was turned. Almost instantly she was sitting next to me and begging for scratches and attention. I was blown away. You knew it was the same dog as she had the same playful, loving look, but her actions were completely different It was almost uncanny.
Of course we had to snuggle, have scratches, and petting time, but I kept in mind that this is a puppy and we still needed to burn off a fair bit of energy! Time to run!!! We took off in a flash across the park again only to come to a sudden stop as we found a stick that looked like a lot of fun to play with.
Besides me, do you have a friend that does things that may not make sense, but they do it just to prove that they can? Yeah…..that’s this dog. She picked up and carried this stick/large chunk of a tree around for 5 minutes and had a blast doing so. Everytime she picked it up, I was given a look like “See. I’m impressive, aren’t I?”. Yes…...Yes she is. The whole time, we both grinned from ear to ear.
Walk quickly and drag along a big stick
It was easy to see what Faith was trying to teach me tonight. When I stood there and said things, she pretty much ignored me. It’s like I was just an anchor at the other end of the leash. As soon as I got to her height, things changed instantly. It’s not that we were on different levels. That’s not it at all. What I realized is that it helps to have an association. Stand there like a post, and you’ll get treated like one. Don’t expect things to come to you. Get involved with people and animals where they are comfortable, and they will love you for it.
Running, smiling, and changing directions with a bad photographer yields this result.
Meet Faith. This little girl is what everyone wants in a puppy. She’s spunky, curious, active, fun, and super affectionate…..and super cute! (my photography is not) I’m pretty sure that we covered every square inch of that park this evening as we ran in pretty random patterns looking for the next thing to catch our interest. Sometimes it was another dog. Other times it was a bird or squirrel. Sometimes is was even just the trail of a good smell. I use my phone to log my mileage and when I looked at the GPS of where all we went, it looked like a 2 year old that does not know how to color inside of the lines got their hands on the map and a blue crayon. It’s funny how in looking back at the map, I realized the first thing that I was being taught tonight.
As a younger dog, Faith is super curious about everything. She wants to go everywhere. It’s the two words “curious” and “everywhere” that really struck me in all of that. If you stay in one spot, or on one path, you’ll see one thing, or just one path. In some cases, that’s just fine. I realized that as beings, we have to stay curious. It’s how we learn. It is the difference between “alive” and “living”. This dog is definitely living it up, even in a less than ideal circumstance which is absolutely awesome.
If you want to see a prime example of determination, put something that Faith wants to sniff or check out just out of her reach and see what the dog does. This dog has a drive like no other. The 170 lb. boat anchor attached to the other end of her leash (me) wasn’t going to stop her from seeing what she wanted to see. Even as I pulled her away from things, she dug in and pulled and pulled to see what it was that had her interest. That’s solid determination. That’s grit. That’s absolutely awesome!
There were points where I had to play “bad guy” though and keep her away from something she wanted to see. Rolling in mud may have been one of them….. If I let her know it was time to move on, she did…which was amazing also. She didn’t want to give up going to see what she wanted to until I let her know it was time for something else. To me, that’s one of the things that makes dogs so special. Driven, but also driven to serve. I don’t believe that you should be so determined in something that you should never quit. I do believe that the level of determination that Faith has is perfect. She goes right up until the point where it’s blatantly obvious that it’s time to head in a different direction. It’s determination with a dash of crazy, and a pinch of great judgement. Super intelligent for someone that hasn’t been on the planet very long.
We spent a few minutes watching the world from a bench. We had treats (she ate, I served). We snuggled, wrestled, and played. All with the walking and running in the space of an hour. The time flew by, but we still seemed to manage to squeeze so much into it which was great.
A final thought: Leaving the shelter is always difficult. Every dog I’ve walked I’ve wanted to bring home with me. I leave knowing that I made someone’s day, and they have made mine. I learn from every dog that I walk. Irving still teaches me things all of the time even and still hasn’t run out of lessons after almost 4 years. The dogs at the shelter practice their educational skills on me while they wait for someone that they can help on a daily basis to come along. It’s never easy, but I’m glad I’ve had these opportunities as it’s changed me as a person and how I think about things. Learning is a process, and there’s plenty of willing teachers out there. The best ones never say a word.