|I'm not sure the caption on this will be legible, it reads:|
This is a dog, he does not hate you because of your gender,
your appearance, your ethnicity, your sexuality, or your religion.
He loves you unconditionally, and always will.
It was from a woman I had known as an undergraduate at Kansas State University. She had ran across my name several years ago and had looked me up on the internet and found my blog thanks to the magic that is Google. She emailed me a while back to say that my friendship had had a positive impact on her life, had given her the self-confidence she needed at a time when she needed it. She remembered me as being smart, funny, and a real wise-ass, so I'm not entirely sure she's got the right guy, but she also said, and I quote, "Some times you don’t know when you are making a difference."
I was, and still am, blown away by this. I went through high school and college like most everyone else of that age, rather self-centered, never looking ahead, stumbling along towards adulthood without a care or a clue as to what I was doing or how I was perceived by others. On those rare moments when I now look back on myself in those years, there's a lot of things I don't like about my former self and would like to have changed, but worrying about that would be a complete waste of time I don't have.
It is good to know that I had some positive affect on someone, although I take no credit for it as it was an absolutely unintended consequence because I was completely oblivious to seemingly everything around me. However, it's a good reminder that our daily actions and interactions with other people may have consequences and reactions down the road that we can never contemplate or predict. A kind word or even a smile to a dejected looking stranger might tip the scales in a troubled mind. That's probably an overly dramatic example, but more likely is that a small action will beget another small action and set in motion a chain of events that has far-reaching effects, hopefully for the better.
That's sort of my attitude towards rescue. Saving one dog doesn't change the world, although it obviously does for that one dog. However, that one dog may grow into a stellar ambassador for his breed and change hearts and minds of many people in the course of his life. That's the way I've always felt about our first rottie, Jack. Adopting a dog to someone may cause them to get involved in rescue, in a small or large way, that may save many other dogs down the line. Getting a dog to someone may give them a spark of humanity that they were lacking, teach them to love and care about something other than themself. Maybe the right dog will teach someone about unconditional love when their child comes out of the closet, or how racism is stupid because looks don't define an individual. Now, admittedly, plenty of complete assholes have dogs and are dog-lovers, so it's no guarantee of success, but I have to believe that any positive influence we can have in any aspect of our lives is a good thing.