I have a little friend that I visit as often as I can. I have a picture of me
last year with him. You can't see him very well because he's behind the fence, but he is a small black dog. Through this little hole where a slat is missing in the fence in his owner's yard is how we have built our entire relationship in the past couple of years. I met him when taking a walk to the park one day.
I don't know his name but I call him "Puppy" or "Buddy". Secretly, I take him dog biscuits, toys, and the occassional towel to use as a blanket. His owner probably has no idea where these mysterious things come from. I'd probably be surprised if I ever found out his real name. For some reason, "Buddy" suits him best to me; if I found out his real name was Goliath or something, that'd be hard to wrap my mind around.
Even though our contact is limited by how far I can reach into his fence, this little guy has become an important part of my life. I know he looks forward to me visiting. He waits for me; he listens for my voice when my husband and I are out for walks. When he hears me talking, we see his little black nose stick as far out the fence as it will reach. He's always glad to see me--something I appreciate because I often feel unwanted and unappreciated-- and he always jumps around for me, greeting me with great enthusiasm whether I have cookies for him or not. He's just glad to see me. He's just glad I'm me. My husband says that if he goes for a walk without me, the puppy isn't nearly so enthusiastic about his greetings; he'll lick my husband's hand politely, but I'm the one he's looking for.
Its with this little puppy that I not only feel wanted, but I also keep my word. He is lonely and in need of company. My little gifts to him, and especially my time of talking to him through the fence and my thrice-weekly visits (more often if I can help it) mean a lot to him. And whenever its time for me to go I tell him, "I'll be back-- I'm coming back." I know how important it is to be able to count on someone to keep their word-and how devastating it is when they don't keep it. This year after someone stopped keeping their word to me, I started saying to Buddy, "I mean it-- I'm coming back. I promise." I do keep my word. Times when I wanted to give up, I remind myself: I have given my word to people to not give up. I have told this puppy I am coming back to visit him, and I must; I've told him so. He's waiting for me. He's counting on me.
I've never been able to hold this little guy or do more than scratch his tummy, but he's taught me some good lessons.
1) Show people that you're happy they are there. Even if all they can offer you is a scratch on the tummy because they forgot to bring you a cookie. So, maybe you won't go around licking people's hands, but a simple 'thanks' goes a long way too.
2) Keep your word to people. No matter what. If you say you're going to be there, be there. Don't make excuses like its raining (yes, I visit him in the rain) or I don't know what to do with you anymore or I forgot about you or well I didn't think you wanted to hear from me anymore.
The puppy is always waiting for me. I told him I was going to be there. He doesn't want to hear excuses.
3) Make time for things that other people don't notice. I think the reason this puppy loves me so much is because dozens of other people walk by his little hole in the fence every day on the path that leads to the park. But one day, I stopped when I saw this little nose sticking out. Because of that little kindness that one day, he has given me his endless love.