I believe dogs can teach friendliness. I have always been shy. During recess in elementary school I would sit by myself and read rather than play with other children. I did not want to make the first step towards being social and I was afraid of looking stupid if I joined in a game. Then Derby taught me a lesson.
I had had Derby since I was a baby. Maybe that is why I am so comfortable with dogs. Derby loved to play fetch. She didn’t care who was over; she just wanted to play. By the time I was in elementary school she was twelve and blind with cataracts, but she would bring whomever was around a tennis ball to throw. Then she would chase after the ball, even though she could not see it. She looked ridiculous, but nothing, not even blindness stopped her. That is the lesson she taught me, even if I did not learn it until after she died. After I moved to a new home, I got a call to play stickball. I agreed to go. I stunk. I could not hit the ping-pong ball with the dowel, and my pitches always hit the person at bat. I looked ridiculous, but I actually had fun. I doubt Derby’s ghost came to me, but now I strive to be more social. When I get call to play basketball, football, or stickball I accept, even though I will look ridiculous. And I come home smiling.
Still, I had to learn to take the first step in being social. When I brought home my new dog Holly from Alabama, she looked scared. She was separated from her mother and surrounded by four strange people. As soon as we got home though, she ran to everyone licking and greeting us. She was part of the family. Every afternoon after I moved, I would walk Holly around the neighborhood to meet people. One day I saw Ben and Sarah talking. I was nervous about meeting them, but I let Holly lead us up the driveway to say hello. We began to talk and became friends. That weekend Ben called me to come over. Because I made the first step in being friendly, instead of just sitting by myself, I have made more friends and I am happier. Holly’s example about being friendly showed me how important it is to take the first step towards meeting people.
My mom always says, “I want to come back as a dog.” One reason why is they are always happy to see people. While I may not “come back as a dog,” I am learning from them. The world is always changing and I will have to meet new people in new places. I had to learn to be social. When I am in new places with new people I will know what to do because of those lessons. And I learned those lessons from my dogs.
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