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I was just 8 years old when I made my first trip to the animal hospital with my new puppy. I felt inspired by Dr. Tuck; he was kind to me and my new dog “Scott”. I was fascinated and I was struck by this gentle doctor’s professionalism. I knew right then that I wanted be a veterinarian.
Scott was this boy’s best friend but my parents got fed up with his indoor urination mistakes and took him to the shelter. Kindness had no place in the discussion. I missed that little guy but I stuck with my plan. I was going to make a difference.
There were clear triggers for Kipper, the Catahoula, to lunge and snap at his boy’s mother. So I made a suggestion. I told Mom that by talking to her young son in quieter tones she could reduce the risk of Kipper perceiving a threat to his boy. This good lady was willing to make whatever change was necessary. She set her ego aside. Over several months new habits developed. She now reports that Kipper has stopped his aggressive lunging. She’s happier when I see her with Kipper and her son. Her kindness toward them both has improved everybody’s wellbeing. Mine too.
It was a good thing that Kipper’s family kept him. Had they gotten rid of him they would have missed an opportunity to practice kindness. Their children might have come away believing that challenging relationships are best abandoned. The kindness that their mother showed Kipper will help them become better adults.
Pets are excellent models for kindness because they never grow tired of us and they’ll never leave. They forgive our mistakes and give us a second chance. Pets can set a pretty good example.
I’ve often pictured the ancient Greek philosopher and storyteller Aesop with a cat in his lap, a small child by his side, or just a random adult nearby, somebody saddled with emotional wounds, when the old timer said, “No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.”
For help with behavior problems, you can sign-up for a Zoom Group Conference on my website, drjeffnichol.com.
Dr. Jeff Nichol is a residency-trained veterinary behaviorist. He provides consultations in-person and in groups by Zoom (505-792-5131). Each week he shares a blog and a Facebook Live video to help bring out the best in pets and their people. Sign up at no charge at drjeffnichol.com. Post pet behavioral or physical questions on facebook.com/drjeffnichol or by US Post to 4000 Montgomery Blvd. NE, Albuq, NM 87109.