Lessons Learned from a Dog

by Sascha Stryker in Featured, Life on Campus on 12/16/2016

A few weeks ago, I had a Service Opportunity check-in with a staff member and friend, Lindsey Aldridge. I volunteer at the Harris County Humane Society and this was supposed to be a small time slot in which I would tell Lindsey how I was doing at my SO. It started out normal enough, with me answering her questions and assuring her I love working with the animals every week. As students at Impact 360, we are required to fill out little surveys about our service opportunities weekly and Lindsey wanted to ask me a question about one of my answers. The question was something along the lines of, “How has your service opportunity affected your daily life?”. My answer was something along the lines of, “Working with animals has taught me to have a lot more patience with people”. Lindsey wanted some clarification on that answer and it was easy for me to give.

There is a dog named Bubba at the Humane Society and I was drawn to him from the very first day. Every single dog I walked by was jumping up and down at their gate, barking and desperately wanting me to notice them. Bubba, however, was cowering in the backmost part of his kennel and would not make a single move towards me despite my efforts. The sign on his kennel read, “Bubba is really sweet. Wants to know human affection but has never had it”. Ouch, that hurt my heart. So, Luke (fellow Impact student and Humane Society volunteer) and I made an effort to spend time with Bubba each week. It started with us sitting in his kennel while he stayed on the opposite side because he was too shy or scared to come near us. Gradually, Bubba came to know us and now he rushes to his gate just as excited as the other dogs to see us, he even jumped up on me one time – it was the best day ever.

How does this story relate to having patience with people you may ask? Well, I think that many people are like the other dogs, eager and excited to let people into their lives and hearts. However, there are people like Bubba too. I’ll be the first to admit that I was one of them when I first arrived at Impact 360. These types of people are not eager to share their lives and hearts with others; they may even dread it. Patience is key with the Bubba’s of the world. Sometimes they may need weeks of you showing up dependently in their lives to feel they can let you in. You cannot do anything to rush that, or you will run the risk of them retreating again. However, the rewards you will reap from having patience with someone like this will be oh so sweet. Here at Impact 360 the people, staff especially, have shown me this patience.

The relationships and growth I have experienced as a result are priceless. I said goodbye to Bubba today knowing fully well that he may not be there when I return to my service opportunity in February. I am forever grateful for all that he unknowingly taught me this semester.

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