Giving and Getting Back

Last weekend, a young mom with a baby in a stroller approached me in the grocery store parking lot. Wringing her hands, she said she had lost her wallet and needed bus fare to get back home. I said I'd be happy to drive her home, but she said she lived about 30 miles away and that she preferred to take the bus. I asked her how much a bus ticket cost, and she said $5. I gave her $5 and asked if I could drive her to the bus stop. Again, she refused but thanked me for the money and walked away.

Even though I had my doubts about her story, I figured she needed that $5 more than I did. It doesn't really feel good to get scammed, but whatever, I decided to give her the benefit of the doubt.

Later, a friend at the dog park said that that woman is ALWAYS asking for bus fare in that parking lot. Oh well, I'd been fooled, but with the poor economy, maybe she was going through a rough time. I had driven to the dog park that day, and as I got in my car, I found a $10 bill sitting by my front tire! I thought, how cool, I helped someone out and got double back!

Also last weekend, I met Keegan and his new owner at our dog park. Keegan is 1.5 years old, half lab, half husky, and had just been adopted from a shelter two days before. His owner had a splint on her finger and told me that she had tried to walk him the day before, but her finger had gotten tangled up in the leash and was badly sprained. She realized that Keegan was too difficult for her to manage, and out of desperation, she had brought him to the dog park to let off some energy.

My heart went out to this woman who was trying to do the right thing but didn't have any experience with such a big, untrained galoot (her previous dog had been a very mild golden retriever). On the verge of tears, she said she questioned whether she should have adopted him and had been thinking of bringing him back to the shelter. Then suddenly, I had a new mission in life! I wanted to do whatever I could to help this woman work things out with this beautiful dog (although in the back of my mind, I actually thought, if she doesn't keep him, I'll take him!).

I could see that Keegan is a wonderful dog, not at all aggressive, LOVES playing with other dogs, and is eager to please. He also likes to dig in mud puddles (hence, his brown muzzle in these photos), has no training, doesn't know his name whatsoever, and is not the best dog to bring to a not-entirely-fenced dog park. The next day, I lent his owner a super long drag line, several dog training books, and gave her many training tips on using his mealtimes to teach him his name and feel content in his crate, and what tools to use for teaching him to walk nicely on leash. For several days, I also went over to her house while she was at work to give Keegan a midday walk and potty break.

Now, the owner is feeling much better about keeping Keegan. She has doggy daycare lined up for him on the days she works and has signed up for an obedience class. She has been working diligently on Keegan's leash walking and says walking him now is a pleasure. What could be more awesome and gratifying?! This time, I think I got WAY more than double back--and Cabana got a great new dog park friend.

garthriley  – (June 3, 2012 at 3:21 PM)  

That's wonderful what you did to help out Keegan's mom! Many dogs we know who are delightful now didn't start out that way. So it's great of you to share your knowledge and also just to give her support.

Martha G  – (June 3, 2012 at 4:38 PM)  

What a great post, especially the last part. I love that you played a big part in giving someone the encouragement to keep a dog!

Becky  – (June 3, 2012 at 7:45 PM)  

Very sweet -- all of it! What an example of the power of one.

Erin T  – (June 3, 2012 at 8:12 PM)  

That's pretty awesome you were able to help her!! Sometimes I think I want to be a dog trainer so I can do stuff like that all the time..

Min  – (June 4, 2012 at 11:03 AM)  

You are so kind, Mimi! Keegan is lucky you came along to help out.

Meghan  – (June 5, 2012 at 4:53 AM)  

The more beautiful people there are in the world, the better off we all are. Thank you for being one of the beautiful people.

Anonymous –   – (June 7, 2012 at 7:46 PM)  

How wonderful! It's the small things like lending a lead, offering some good advice and books that can change a whole dog's life. Amazing. Sometimes, people ask us at Bully Project, why we do what we do (offer free training classes for pit bulls in NYC), we answer -- How can we not share what we know with people to help them build their relationship with their pittie...

Such great work...pass it forward!

Lauren  – (June 8, 2012 at 9:29 AM)  

I have to let you know that I nominated you girls for the Best Cause-Related Blog at - so tell others to nominate you too!

Mimi and CC Cabana  – (June 8, 2012 at 9:50 AM)  

Lauren, you are so nice to nominate us! I don't really think I'm qualified to have a shot, although $30K would be really nice!

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