Puppies on the Plaza
I don’t know about you, but I love dogs. I grew up with dogs and when my son was five and my daughter was one, we got one. Her name is Ellie and she is a rescued greyhound/yellow lab mix. My daughter didn’t talk much at that age, but once we got the dog, she started saying, “puppy, puppy” and then it was a language explosion. We credit Ellie. Everyone knows that there are so many fabulous qualities about dogs – their loyalty, unconditional love, playfulness, and intelligence. You can do a Google search and find heartwarming stories about service dogs who help their owners heal mentally and physically; courageous dogs who unbelievably survive hurricanes, or find their way home after being hundreds of miles away; dogs who protect, serve, and care for others.
You may be asking yourself, why is Amy writing about dogs? Should I even bother to continue reading this (maybe you’re a cat person, so this really might not be your thing), but I’ll tell you why. Recently, I’ve noticed that quite a few EHS families have new dogs. At pick-up these last few weeks, I have seen new puppies on the plaza at dismissal. Their human parents, tired from lack of sleep, are smiling from ear to ear as they pick up their children and see the puppies’ warm greetings for and from their children and friends. It’s even affected our carpool line, because who doesn’t want to stop and pet those friendly little furry guys? It got me to wondering if this was just coincidence. Maybe, but maybe not – perhaps in this day and age where we read and hear about the extreme weather and violence that plague the news on a daily basis, it’s just the right time to have a dog at home.
Dogs provide comfort to their owners and soothe anxiety and stress. Their boundless affection and excitement upon seeing their families always brings a smile (even if you’ve only been gone for a quick errand). During Sukkot, we heard about wildfires in California, shootings in Las Vegas and devastation in Puerto Rico, Texas, and Florida. We began our daily school meeting with these words, “Ufros aleinu sukkat shlomecha (spread over us a shelter of peace)” in hope of capturing the literal and physical connection to Sukkot. Sadly, there is not much we can do to prevent the forces of nature that wreak havoc, but there is something we can do about how we treat each other. I’d like to suggest that we all try to spread peace by channeling many of the qualities that dogs bring into our lives.” Let’s try to love unconditionally, be more loyal, playful, and help others. We can bring comfort to one another by what we say and do in our homes and in our community. As the famous photographer and writer Roger Caras said, “Dogs are not our whole lives, but they make our lives whole.”
* On a related note, during Torah Hub in March I will be speaking about how schools can provide students with a sense of calm, security, and knowledge during turbulent times.