Sunday, March 27, 2011

The Grace in Giving: A lesson from my dog

I've mentioned before that I am the human half of a visiting therapy dog team, along with my gal, Tigger. She has been part of our family since we adopted her from a rescue organization when she was a puppy, 6 years ago.

Tigger and I have been members of Caring Canines for almost 4 years now. We tend to select therapeutic visits with kids and teens, as Tigger loves the more interactive visits over the more sedentary visits with an elder population.

We were at a facility for at risk teen girls today, bringing the kind of organic therapy that Tigger is a natural with. Really, it's just unconditional love and acceptance, the joy of earning a treat, in scrambling after a tennis ball, in a belly scratch, that reminds all of us to stay present.

The girls at this facility--they are there because of some difficulty in their lives. I don't know the details. I don't care to know. It's not important for me to know. It's hardly even important that *I* am there. What is most crucial is on the other end of the leash and the way that Tigger pulls an essential innocence from these girls. An innocence and gentleness I doubt they have much of a chance to experience in many other settings.

People often praise me for doing this. As if it's some great sacrifice. As if I deserve something for it. What is it that I really do? I take an hour out of my day, a few times a month, and drive my dog somewhere. And for that negligible amount of work, I get filled with a sense of joy, of purpose, of optimism.

It hardly seems like a fair exchange. I know I receive far more than I give.
Tigger in full tennis ball mode, summer 2006

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