Small things lead to big rewards
Here I am chilling out with Spartacus, a Chihuahua, at the Hillside SPCA in Pottsville, Pa, July 1. Spartacus was found as a stray on a back road, covered in blood. Very distrustful of people, I nevertheless picked him up, pet him for hours and just socialized with him. By the end of the third day, he was more responsive, and although he had a long way to go, was slowly coming out of his shell, proving one doesn’t need to do big things to be a blessing and make positive change.

After months of putting out a paper without any leave, I finally decided to kill off some of those use or lose hours piling up on my leave and earning statement and give myself a mini-vacation.

Other than the nearly 30 hours of driving, the trip was very soothing (although like all vacations not long enough). The time away from work, the Atlanta traffic (I visited rural Virginia and Pennsylvania), and moments spent with friends and Family lived up to my expectations.

But the most rewarding and relief building occurrence happened in the most unlikely place: the tucked away animal shelter on the forested hillside of the Gordon Nagle Trail in Pottsville, Pa.

I began volunteering at the shelter my senior year in high school for community service on my college applications, not knowing at the time how it would transform into a deeper passion. Ever since then, whenever I am in the area I drop in to visit, walk the dogs or cut the grass or other various works around the shelter.

While at times it can be frustrating and exhausting, it is nevertheless rewarding. I got one of those rewarding experiences Sunday before returning to Georgia in the form of one wagging tail. On July 1, the shelter brought in a pitiful looking Chihuahua.

A stray found on a back road, he was covered in blood and little gnats biting at the wounds on his back legs and chest. Obviously abused, he growled at anyone who came near him, snapping at them if they didn’t heed his warning. After a quick bath he was placed in the small dog room, where he retreated into a corner, balled up and wary of anyone, both people and other dogs.

Despite the dog’s warnings, pity moved me to ignore the nips at my hands. Picking him up, I spent nearly three hours that day just petting him until the shelter closed. I placed him in a cage with my shirt, and the next day continued the “therapy.” The next day also saw him get a walk and a name: Spartacus. After all he’d been through, it seemed like a fitting name.

Sunday was my trip home, but before leaving I stopped by to give Spartacus one last walk. After it and putting him back in his room, he followed me to the gate, tail wagging, his front paws pressed up against the fence. It warmed my heart, knowing the impact I had in such a short time.

Like Spartacus, many people are also coming from or living in a place of hurt, especially in this time of BRAC. They, like Spartacus, might give off warning signs or behave in a way that makes us want to stay away from them. But it is vital to not let those things keep us from giving help if we can.

Many of us in these trying times looking for new jobs or homes could use the encouragement and gentle pat of our hands. I hope everyone uses their remaining time here as a blessing to someone else. The heart you end up helping the most could be your own.

Page last updated Mon July 11th, 2011 at 00:00