Two mornings in a row last week I let my dog out before I started my workday. He’d start whining around 7:30 a.m., I’d let him outside through the sliding door for about a half hour, I’d get dressed and start making breakfast, then let him back inside. It’s a regular ritual, one that we’ve grown accustom to since the negative and single digit temperatures made it slightly unbearable to follow my puppy around the yard while he mixes bathroom time with play time. These two particular mornings, however, were different than the others.
My six month-old dog is well trained, as far as six-month-old dogs are concerned. He rarely, if ever, wanders far from the house, and always promptly responds to the two-note whistle to come inside. These two mornings, however, after a number of whistles and a couple calls by name, he didn’t pitter-patter back through the kitchen door. Two mornings in a row I donned my boots to investigate, and two mornings in a row found tire tracks indicating someone had stopped in front of my farmhouse and driven off with my dog.
To spoil the ending, my dog is home safe and sound, and in both scenarios he was returned within a few hours. The caring souls who picked him up were concerned for his close proximity to the road, despite the fact that he was in our yard and still a few feet from our house.
What struck me about these two incidents was not simply that my dog went missing, but the overwhelming support from friends I do know and neighbors I don’t know. Within minutes of sharing a few photos and a description on Facebook, my post had been shared a dozen times. By the end of the first day, after he’d been found and returned, the post had been shared over 100 times. Over the next two days the post had been shared over 200 times. These shares were mostly from people I have never met. Comments and messages of concern, encouragement, and tips have been too many to count.
But along with the gratitude I feel toward the many who made small efforts to help me find my dog, I also feel a deep sense of thankfulness. Not everyone whose dog has been picked up from their yard gets to see the beloved pet again. If readers hadn’t noticed from some of my previous columns, I’m one of the fools who places a lot of stock in New Years resolutions. Among several, one of my broader resolutions this year was to be more careful and appreciative with my relationships because they may not always be there. From family, to friends, to lovers, to pets, this is a reminder and a resolution we all need from time to time.
The first day my dog went missing I was frustrated, then relieved at his return. The second day he went missing I felt despair. Surely I wouldn’t get lucky twice. With his second return I felt not just relief, but a deep need to cherish every minute with him. Every morning whimper, every bath time, every walk at Crandell Park, movie night cuddle, every whistle out the kitchen door.
Friends and readers, imagine what it means to a family with a sick child when you simply share a Facebook post about a fundraiser, or an update on their child’s health. Imagine how one encouraging comment in the midst of hundreds and thousands feeds into the collective voice of good will and love. There’s always more that can be done in such cases, but good actions always start with good thoughts and good words.
Friends and readers, imagine what it’d be like if one of your day to day relationships, so often taken for granted, was suddenly gone. Such thoughts go beyond a guilt trip to a call to be present, nurturing, and thankful in the relationships we have. Don’t let the little moments go unnoticed. The little moments feed into the big moments, just as the small thoughts and words feed into the big actions.