“The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away” -Pablo Picasso
Happy Saturday everypawdy!
Let me begin by saying that when I signed up for this therapy dog gig, I had NO IDEA I would be so busy! Between dog school (yes I am still taking classes because I LOVE to learn new things), library visits, going to school with my mom, family happenings and special end-of-the-year events at school, I am one busy dog! I have been going to school with my mom on Fridays and every Friday there is a theme and I do my best dress accordingly. From holiday themes to Disney and even color-themed days (yes I proudly wore PINK), I try my best to fit in. My favorite spirit day was crazy sock day….my mom’s teaching partner Ms. Rachel brought me some crazy socks to wear and the kids really found it amusing. One Friday a month there is a whole school assembly and my mom and I always sit in the back. The assembly is led by our amazing music teacher and the kids celebrate special things that happen throughout the month. From playing homemade instruments to singing together as an entire school, everyone looks forward to the assemblies. At the end of the assembly, Mrs. Brandyberry shows a slideshow and always includes a few pictures of me. When the kids see me they all yell my name and turn back to look at me. My mom says she gets choked up each and every time. What a lucky dog I am to have so many wonderful people, big and small, who love me!
Being a “cool dog, school dog” is RUFF! The kids all know I am there on Fridays and they start asking about me on Wednesdays. I’ve received some really special letters in my mailbox and on the days I am not at school, my mom says the kids all ask how I am. When students write letters to me, I always write them back. We now have an entire binder of letters from students! I even have a few regular pen pals who write to me almost every week. One of my mom’s groups was asked to visit the senior citizens at their monthly meeting at the nearby recreation center and do you know what? They asked if I could come with them because I help them feel more confident! I’ve also been asked to attend some special events before and after school and I was even on the news again! I’m no stranger to the news now. I was on the news back when I was found (I call those the “dark days”), I was also on the news when I was adopted and AGAIN when the Natural Pet hosted my benefit and we raised money to help other injured strays like me. A nice man from the local news came out and followed my mom and I around school one morning to show everyone what I do and how I help students. My mom and I were both a little nervous but the kids really enjoyed sharing how they feel when I am at school. The best part of the day was when I got to do an interview with the principal Mr. Kostyack….I was allowed to sit on the couch next to him! He said with my celebrity status, I should start wearing sunglasses. When my story aired, it was a proud moment for both my parents and me. (Click to watch click to watch . I am thankful each and every single day that I have found my purpose and am able to return the same kindness and support that was once given to me.
“Because dogs live in the present. Because dogs don’t hold grudges. Because dogs let go of all their anger daily, hourly, and never let it fester. They absolve and forgive with each passing minute. Every turn of the corner is the opportunity for a clean slate. Every bounce of the ball brings joy and the promise of a fresh chase.” (from Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley)
As the school year quickly comes to an end, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. My first year as a “cool dog, school dog” has been a success and I look forward to a fresh start to a new year in the fall. Some of the fourth graders I work with have been asking if I will be there on the last day of school. They will be off to the middle school next year and one student even said that he was sad to think that we wouldn’t see each other again. I reassured him that we would probably run into each other at some point and that he can always send letters to me at school. I’m a dog so I live in the moment but I’ve been doing some thinking lately. The fourth grade students I met this year (and will only know for a year) will probably never forget me. Whether I work with them directly or just greet them in the hallway, they will always remember me and my story. That’s a pretty big accomplishment for a dog who was once lost and has now found his purpose. What happened in my past is something I will never forget but it has changed me for the better. I may only have three legs, walk with a limp, and still have some fears of my own to conquer but I am an optimist. If there’s one thing I hope kids learn from me it’s that mistakes and challenges you face in life only build character. I am a much different dog now than I was in the past and the right people have helped me learn to trust and to stay positive. A lot of the kids still say that they feel bad for me because I only have three legs. My mom reassures them that the tough times I went through only helped me get to where I am today. I am lucky to be surrounded by so many people who care about me and have helped me along the way. They looked beyond my wounds and saw something in me that I didn’t even really know I had. I was given the opportunity to forgive and forget and I took that opportunity and ran with it. Maybe if people were more like dogs and knew their purpose then the world would be a better place. There would be no grudges, no anger, no violence: just lots of tail wags and belly rubs and treats….lots of treats (hopefully they are banana-flavored treats).