Pet Peeves and Puppy Dog Tales

If you believe, as I do, that we tend to attract what we focus on, then you’ll understand why I decided to shift my attention.  Every time I turned on the television recently or checked my email and feeds on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram I saw and hear A LOT of disturbing things. My inbox was full of reports of ice caps melting; polar bears dying; coal ash being dumped into my drinking water; rainforests being destroyed; kids going hungry; human trafficking; holes in the ozone layer; the colony collapse of bees; cuts to education and food stamps; bombs going off; elected officials trying to pass anti-everything legislation while being caught with their pants down (literally). On the flip side, the few news organizations with their heads above water assumed I was interested in reading about the latest antics of neurotic celebrities and their ever more violent movies. If this was a reflection of my focus, then something was terribly amiss.

Enter Amy Crown and Dorothy Macik. The first, Amy, is an old friend from yoga classes in Los Angeles with whom I share a passion for good writing and dogs.  As she often does, Amy posted a plea to help a dog that had been abandoned at a high kill shelter in San Bernardino, CA. These posts are always frustrating for me because I live all the way across the country and feel helpless to do more than repost with a request that my friends in CA help. Imagine my surprise when I checked in the next day to read this update from Amy’s friend Dorothy:

“I saw this post last night and was in tears … I drove out to San Bernardino today to get her (2 hours away) she touched my heart. I got there and she had been adopted this morning. I was so happy for her.

I looked for hours to see if I could rescue another dog. I walked 15 dogs and nothing spoke to my heart. As I was leaving I walked by the quarantined dogs and saw this sweet skinny grey dog that looked so neglected and sad. I took her out and instantly fell in love. She is so sweet. I’m on my way home with her. I was not even ready for a dog but your post last night got to me. So I wanted you to know Amy you saved the lives of two dogs and gained me a family member.”

Those who are familiar with my latest project, CritterKin, will understand why Dorothy’s post brought a big smile to my face. This is a perfect example of how the stories of animals can not only touch our hearts but move us to do something positive in the world. This is the message we want to convey and encourage kids to put into practice. More importantly, stories like these focus our attention on things that are right in the world and the fact that even one small act of kindness can create endless, unforeseen ripples.

Please don’t hear me saying we should ignore the real and disturbing problems in our world. Please DO hear me saying that the way to solve them is to help one another, particularly our kids, to understand and believe those problems can be solved through empathy, compassion, dedication and creating ripples through collaboration. How do we do this? By sharing stories, giving kids the opportunity to experience and practice empathy in real world situations and by modeling the behavior we want our kids to emulate.

So…let me invite you to find, share and/or point me in the direction of stories that put a smile on your face. Let’s hear about the older woman who spent years acquiring the knowledge, skills and permits required to start Sea Biscuit Wildlife Shelter in NC to rescue and rehabilitate injured shore birds, or Rye Barcott, the U.S. Marine who started a nonprofit to support women’s health in Kibera, or the 12-year-old boy who creates and sells artwork to help veterans and dogs? I’m convinced there are as many positive, empowering and smile evoking stories out there as there are negative. Let’s tell them!

Please send your suggestions/stories to me