Furry volunteer offers comfort to humans in need
BY ANGIE FENTON | PHOTOS COURTESY LORI JONES
In the last issue, I share this verbatim in my editor’s letter:
For more than two years, I’ve repeated these same words to my now-3-year-old daughter every morning on the way to preschool: “Olive: You are smart. You are kind. You are important. You are beautiful inside and out. Everyone matters. Treat people with kindness.”
It’s my adaptation of a scene in the novel-turned-movie, “The Help,” but it’s also a more poignant version of what I’ve told myself for decades. And depending upon where I’m at in life, some phrases resonate more than others.
Lately, this one means the most:
“Everyone matters. Treat people with kindness.”
Despite the constant barrage of social media and news outlets asserting the contrary, I believe most of us care about our neighbors and complete strangers and are willing to make people feel like they matter by inserting small acts of kindness into our everyday lives – holding a door, letting someone slide in ahead of us in traffic, simply saying, “Thank you” or “I’m sorry,” or offering a helping hand. These minor moments matter. And, sometimes they can affect others far more than we ever imagined.
Olive, my daughter, is old enough that she now speaks our daily affirmation without prompting. She recently said it in the grocery store and brought a fellow shopper nearly to tears. As rewarding as it was to see the fruits of my labor, my heart hurt: Shouldn’t kindness and the acknowledgment of its power be the exception and not the rule? Listening to a toddler as she looks at a complete stranger and says with complete confidence, “You are kind, you are smart, you are beautiful,” should evoke a smile, not tears — at least not tears of despair. But, the woman at Kroger explained her reaction: “You just don’t see this anymore.”
Maybe she doesn’t – and I pray she sees more – but I do, and I know many of you do, too.
Then, I requested to hear from readers of Extol, asking that interested participants submit acts of kindness you’ve witnessed or played a role in. Lori Jones responded with the following message and photos:
I am hoping that your Kindness Challenge doesn’t just relate to the two-legged variety, but also to our furry friends. If so, I’d like to tell you about my dog, Rudy, who is the furry definition of kindness.
About 6 and a half years ago, Rudy and I went through the training to be a Pet Therapy team. Since then, he — and I, but I am just the chauffeur, so I don’t count — has been visiting a local nursing home and University of Louisville Hospital on a weekly basis.
We visit dementia patients, oncology patients, lock-down psychiatric patients and so many more. He enters a room on his own volition, puts his paws on the side of the bed so he can look directly at the person lying down in the eye or sidles up to their wheelchair, and waits for them to notice him. The reaction of the patient/resident is heart-warming.
If the hospital patient has a dog at home, they pet Rudy and tell him how they miss their dog(s).
A NICU nurse bent down, hugged Rudy and told him how she had lost a patient and baby in delivery earlier in the day. Rudy licked her tears as she vented to him.
An employee at the nursing home was in tears when Rudy put his head on a dementia patient’s lap and patiently waited for her to pet him, which she did. Apparently, it was the first time since she had arrived weeks before that she had engaged whatsoever in her surroundings.
When Rudy puts on his Red Cross vest, he becomes the kindest being in the world (so long as a squirrel doesn’t cross his path). He doesn’t have a voice of his own, so I would like to speak for him when I say that he perfectly embodies your daughter Olive’s mantra, “Everyone matters. Treat people with kindness.” Rudy expects nothing in return except for a few ear-rubs or booty-scratches, and he leaves everyone he meets at work in a better place than they were before he came into their day.
Lori Jones (Rudy’s mom)
So, here’s my challenge again: Send me your accounts of acts of kindness – yours or others. Big and small. They matter. Email me at angie@extolmag. com or find me by searching @angiefenton2 on Facebook. Let’s keep the kindness going, and the Extol Team will continue working to let others know and spread the good – kind – news.