Becoming part of the "pack" (human and dog) at the dog park has been an amazing journey. Hope and I tried out several dog parks (we are really lucky to live in an area where dog parks are plentiful) and settled on one that is close to our home. We began going almost every day at about the same time, early evening. Soon, Hope formed friendships with a few of the regulars and then so did I.
For about a year, none of us knew anything more about each other than our first names. Our conversations were very dog-oriented. Then, over time, we all began to bond in other ways, talking about work, personal life, challenges, joys. During the past four years, one of the pack got breast cancer, and we all got together to help with daily needs including care of her dog while she went through chemo and radiation. We celebrated births. We have been through deaths of loved ones and of beloved pets, and welcomed puppies. We helped out when someone had a car accident and couldn't drive for a while. We began to give and refer business to one another. We began to have parties! One of us who by day is an accountant is a drummer in a local band, so we go and dance when he plays.
We have become a really committed group of friends with the love of dogs as our core value. It just feels good, natural and comforting. We watch out for our dogs and for each other. Our daily time together in the park is when we get to leave the day behind and truly live in the now. We watch the dogs play and catch up with each other. And I know that Hope has a special place in the hearts of this group. I hear the pride in their voices when they describe her, how amazing she is, when new people come to the park and ask about her missing leg.
If you are reading this blog, you are probably involved in the nonprofit world and have no trouble understanding what I am saying. It doesn't hurt to remind ourselves that one of the reasons we do this is because we like to be around other people whose values match ours, people who care about others (human and animal) and want to make the world a better place. Through our work and our lives outside of work, we keep going forward with our commitment to change and better our communities. It's what we are about.
On that note, I would like to end this blog series with the last of my Hope-isms to add to the 13 on the previous posts.
- Climb a tree while you still can
- Live in the moment, especially if it includes a roll in the grass
- A good massage does wonders for aching legs
- Knowing when to back off is as important as knowing when to stand your ground
- Protect your friends, especially from bullies
- Jump up and run to the door when your loved one comes home, even if it takes you a few minutes to get your balance