For the few years after my husband and I got married, friends, family and acquaintances would ask us, “when are you going to have children?” They would tell us stories about how wonderful it is to have children, how they “complete your life” and how “you’ll experience love like you’ve never known.” While we completely understood where these friends were coming from, our funny response was always that we have a dog who is like our child, and that’s good enough for us.
Sadie is an energetic, yet patient and loving canine. We first met her at a shelter in Boston after deciding to visit her on a whim. When we got to the shelter, Sadie was the only dog sitting quietly in her crate. She was sad, lonely and looked like she had given up on life. Now, we could have just been anthropomorphizing this animal out of our love for dogs, but it really didn’t feel that way. Out of empathy and curiosity, we decided to take Sadie out of her crate. The shelter staff allowed us to taker her outside in a play area designated for the adoptable dogs.
When we walked outside with Sadie, she became a completely different animal. She cried out in excitement and was overjoyed to have the opportunity to meet us. Outside in the enclosure we started to toss around a tennis ball. Sadie looked confused and wasn’t sure what to do with the ball. She had never been taught to play! When we sat on a bench inside of the play area, Sadie jumped up right in between both of us and quietly sat with us. She looked at us with the question in her eyes of, “what’s next?”
Ever since taking Sadie home that day, she’s had the same attitude. Expectantly awaiting her next adventure, her mind full of questions. Yet, despite her sense of adventure, Sadie knows how to go with the flow. She has an ability to read her humans, she can tell when we need some love and when we need some space. She proceeds with caution when it comes to new experiences, but the key is that she proceeds. Sadie can be very stoic and regal, but she also has a humorous side, a softer side. We know that she is strong, but she chooses to be gentle.
We accepted Sadie just as she was and she accepts us just as we are. We are pretty sure that she knows she has been given a second chance and has chosen to live out that second chance to it’s fullest. Over the five years that we’ve now had her, Sadie has taught us many lessons in life. We’ve learned about patience and humility. We’ve learned that sometimes life doesn’t go as planned. What’s truly interesting about these lessons and the life of Sadie is that in many ways, I want to be more like her. Clearly I have no desire to become a dog, but what would happen if I was more like Sadie?
I believe that we all should be more like dogs. I’m sure this sounds funny and odd, but what if we all approached life with the same openness as Sadie? What if we learned to be patient and live out second chances to their fullest? If we all had the sense of humor a dog has? What if we, as teachers, all took this approach? If we woke up excitedly each day asking “what’s next?”