On the occasion of National Puppy Day, we thought we’d republish a letter from our Executive Director, Robin Reagler, celebrating all that we love and learn from our pets. It was originally published in the WITS newsletter, A New Leaf, in 2001.
My dog Jake is not a great writer, and yet he has managed to teach me a few important things about how to live my life.
Jake is a foundling. I found him in June on a Sunday afternoon. People were playing baseball in the park. He’d been hit by a car and was limping. He followed me for miles. Maybe I am the foundling. He did find me, in a sense. I was chosen.
That week I was sitting in a 3rd grade classroom in our summer camp. They were sharing news of the day and practicing description. I described (poorly, so as to receive some student assistance) my new puppy.
The next day I received a note from a student in that group, Chelsea, who wrote, “Dear Ms. Robin, Take good care of your puppy.” I have tried my utmost.
As a steadfast puppy observer (severely biased by parenthood) I have abstracted a few wisdoms that I suspect to be the guiding principles of Jake. But first, let me provide a few vital statistics:
Memorable features: polka dot eyebrows, floppy right ear flops, missing the right hind leg
Age: almost 3
Likes: peanut butter, bones, people food, treats, running like wind, swimming in the bayou, assisting in household chores as the sous chef in the kitchen, jr. gardener in the yard, laundry boy, etc.
Dislikes: taking a bath, his sister Moriah the cat
Nicknames by loved ones: Jacob, J-Chamber, Glow dog, Poco, Poky, Pokemon, Jakomon
Nicknames by strangers: Tripod, Troika, Lucky, Hopalong
And now, Life according to Jake:
- If you don’t know what something is, smell it. If you still aren’t sure, taste it.
- When you want something, but someone else has it, ask for it. If that doesn’t work, beg. If THAT doesn’t work, do some tricks.
- When someone makes you nervous, keep moving. When you have a good feeling about someone, strike up a friendly conversation. If they ignore you, keep moving.
- Every decision is an everyday decision. If you make a mistake, keep moving.
- If your people are sick, give them a kiss and stick close by for a while.
- Joy is everywhere. It is not hiding. It is ours for the taking.
So by the grace of a dog, I keep my eyes and ears open. I try to pay attention to the wonders on either side of my path. The classroom is everywhere.
All my best,