A much needed wake up call

16 Aug

Well, I’m afraid this is going to be another long post. It’s a much more serious topic, though, so I’m hoping whoever reads this will stick with me.

Today I was once again reminded of how important it is – and how good it can feel – to help others. This reminder came to me in two parts:

1. Early this afternoon, I went to Kohl’s with my mom and sister. As we were pulling out of the parking lot after we finished our shopping, we noticed a man standing on the corner with a cardboard sign reading something along the lines of  “Please help, my wife and I are trying to make ends meet. I work part time, may God bless you and your family.” You know the signs. I was taught never to give money to these people because you never know if they’re going to spend it on what they say they need: food, clothes, etc.  Needless to say, I was a bit surprised when my mom handed me a five dollar bill and told me to give it to this man. I wordlessly did as I was told, and he looked us in the eyes and said,

“Thank you so much. God bless you.”

Something told me that he would be spending that money on something he and his wife needed. It wasn’t what he said. It was the way he said it. Sincerely. I smiled back at him, feeling downright sheepish in my SUV, air conditioner blasting and him standing in the sweltering heat. The light had changed, so I quickly turned, trying not to just lose it altogether and break down crying. I always get sad when I see people holding signs like that. Actually directly giving money to someone in need like that was a whole different level of emotions. I was glad I was able to help him, sad he was in that position, feeling guilty that I had things he didn’t and wishing I could give him more.

Usually, I see people holding these signs near interstates or in downtown areas of cities. Seeing someone standing in a middle class suburban commercial area was new to me. It was a pretty sobering experience because it made me realize that there were people like this in my very own community. I always knew that, but I never saw them. Anything I ever did to help was indirect, like raising/giving money to people to give to them, or donating food or clothes via organizations that would then distribute them to those in need.

I’m not going to start giving money to every single person I see with a cardboard sign, but I’m not going to completely write every single person off, either.

2. I guess I should probably preface this story by talking about one of my dogs, Lena. Lena is a greyhound, and we adopted her almost exactly two years ago to the date.

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We got her from a greyhound rescue program in the area. She was born in Oklahoma, and because she was too small and too slow to race, she was in danger of being killed. The greyhound racing industry is a cruel and disgusting practice to make money at the expense of these beautiful, kind animals. To find out more about how awful this industry is and how you can rescue/adopt a greyhound, I recommend this website and this website.

Thankfully the wonderful people at GAO were able to save Lena and her sister Maddie. She is such a sweet dog, and she has brought so much happiness to our lives, especially my dad’s.

Anyway, when you adopt a greyhound from GAO, they encourage you to volunteer at various events they hold in the area. This weekend they had a “Canine Fun Days & Greyhound Reunion” at a big park, and my mom signed up herself, my sister and me to help out. When we got there, the entire park was filled with all different breeds of dogs. I would say greyhounds held the majority, though.

We watched the straight course for a little bit, which is when they time a sighthound chasing a toy down a field. It was pretty warm today, and we learned later that a greyhound unfortunately died today from being overheated after this race. The owner said he died doing what he loved, but the story still broke my heart.

Later, my sister and I helped out with the adoption part of the event. GAO brought seven of the greyhounds they had at their shelter, and we each got a dog to stand with while the owner of GAO described them to a crowd of people. It was so sad to hear these stories, and I have to admit I got attached to Pixie, the dog I stood with. I was really glad I was able to help with this, though, and I hope every single one of those dogs goes to a loving home. When I got home, I went straight to Lena and gave her a huge hug. I honestly believe she is one of the most beautiful dogs I have ever seen, and we are so lucky to have her in our lives.

I think everything that happened today needed to happen. Lately, I had been feeling pretty down about things, only thinking about what I didn’t have and not focusing on what I have. I have so much to be grateful for, and I am so lucky to have the life I have. Today made me realize that.

Okay, shorter post next time. I promise.

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