Once, rather idealistically, I rescued a dog. I didn’t have dog food, or a dog carrier, or a place to put him, or even a home for myself. I was living in the residence halls of my college, and I was never, under pain of enormous amounts of complaining, to bring another stray animal home.
For about a week or so, I fed him, watered him, petted him – and refused to let him shower with me. All the kennels around us were full, but eventually, a friend’s sister adopted him and renamed him Goliath (I’d been calling him Padfoot; yes, I am that Harry Potter fan.) I dropped him off with her, and for over three years didn’t see the little guy.
Recently, when I went to visit Megan when she was visiting up here in Youngstown (I know you all know Megan – it’s her sister who now owns Goliath), I heard the barking and rustling of the dog pack coming at me, and instead of the “you’re a stranger” greeting I expected…
Goliath greeted me like an old friend, with attention hogging and nudging and showing me his belly.
No one else in the room was shocked that he remembered me and the kindnesses of attention, food, and shelter I’d given him for that one short week.
I won’t lie and say it was the allergies that had me a little fogged up in that living room.
It started me thinking about kindness and the way that we’re remembered. If a dog can remember something that was to me so trivial… Why can’t I be remember and react to those who are kind to me as well?
It can be easy to make a list of the small nice things that happen every day. A door gets held, a coffee on the house, a smile from a passing stranger, or a partner’s understanding hug. Remembering insult and embarrassment is much easier than remembering the good things people have given you, sure – but which is more productive? Which makes you smile more?
I spent a week conducting a little experiment on myself and the people I work with: I made a list of the people in my life who annoy me the absolute most and at the most frequent intervals, and made myself look for something good. Their act didn’t even have to relate to me, but I found that this helped. It made it easier to smile at them, to work honestly with them and with a lighter heart, too.
I’m not usually the animal-whisperer type, but this time, I think the dogs have it.
Rudi Whitmore is a girl who’s learning with everyone else how the world works, and in particular, how it works for her. She writes, loves, dances in the kitchen, and does nothing professionally. Yet.