This I Believe

Patti - Alexander, Arkansas
Entered on July 17, 2006
Age Group: 30 - 50
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

The Strength of the Human Spirit

By Patti

There was not a dry eye in the house as the crowd stood and watched as Donna’s dog Annie carried the small piece of PVC pipe in his mouth. Donna and Annie had just received their Master’s Agility Champion title (MACh). It’s the highest honor awarded to a dog and handler team in American Kennel Club (AKC) agility. The remarkable thing about this MACh, is that Donna was born with no arms. Annie, a doberman pinscher, is Donna’s service dog, trained to pick up items, open and close doors, and help out around the home, but Donna has taken this relationship to a higher level, and has trained him in agility. Together, they run through the obstacle course, with Annie taking jumps and tunnels as directed by Donna. As I stood, tears in my eyes, watching the duo take their victory lap to the thunderous applause I began to examine my own life. I was born with both arms, both legs, and 10 fingers and toes. I am able to walk, feed myself, and on occasion, play sports without injuring myself.

Donna’s performance on the agility field, and in the obedience ring is a testimony to the strength of the human spirit. She doesn’t let her handicap slow her down. I was amazed to notice that Donna was not only able to run her dog in agility, but could also drive a car, dress herself, and eat a hotdog without assistance.

As a teenager, I used to feel sorry for myself because I wasn’t taller, my hair was the wrong color, and I didn’t live in the right neighborhood. As I stood watching Donna and Annie celebrating their accomplishments, all of that washed away.

The human spirit is stronger than most people believe. It’s so easy to wake up each morning and moan about the pain in the lower back; flip through the stack of bills that came in the mail today, and wonder how they’re going to get paid. I took my life and my health for granted. I complained about what God had not given me, instead of appreciated what I had been given. Donna has taken all that life has thrown at her, and has been successful.

I believe that every life is special. It’s easy to give into the bad things that happen in life, but the true measure of the strength of the human spirit is taking what you’ve got and making it better.