My wife didn’t grow up with dogs. She had a dog named Patchouli as a child. (My wife is Polish, and I like to say that I’m “Polish by marriage! LOL!”) But Patchouli and she weren’t exactly buds. One doesn’t make friends with a dog by trying to push peas up his nose during dinner! Dogs do not like having a child’s unwanted vegetables forced up the ol’ schnoz!
No, my wife didn’t really like dogs until after we met.
When we were looking for our first house she said to me, “Honey, if you buy me a house, you can have a dog!” For someone who wasn’t exactly experienced with dogs, this was a big concession for her and was some how equal to my obligation to pay for a 30-year mortgage. . . an equal trade in HER mind!
Before we bought our first house, I remember her being tepid about having a dog. Dogs make messes, chew shoes, bark at all hours of the night, and eat postal carriers for lunch! That was her view. But she wanted a house, and if letting hubby get a dog meant she got a house…well, I guess that was the price she was willing to pay.
To ease her trepidation, I remember telling her that dogs were a reflection of their owners and that dogs smiled and were loving. Since my wife, during dating, labeled me as “Bob, the nice guy” and “Bob, the Good Deed Doer!”, perhaps she hoped that whatever dog we adopted would not be like Patchouli, the dog who did not like peas.
She thought I was nuts and would exclaim, “what do you mean, dogs smile?”
For someone who never really cared for dogs, the idea that a dog could smile or be kind and loving was just a foreign concept to her. But after we bought our first house, we found and adopted Jackson. My wife learned first hand that there was genuine truth that all us dog lovers all know: Dogs can and do smile! She learned that first hand and came to just get giddy when she’d come home and seek Jackson greet her at the door with a smile on his face. She learned to treasure Jackon’s kind soul. To be honest, they shared a special bond and I think that was a turning point for her and her understanding of rescue dogs.
There’s powerful magic in a smile. We all know this. It’s a universal truth. A smile can uplift someone’s spirit when they are feeling down. A smile can give a neighbor an emotional lift when they are feeling blue. A smile can bring joy to others and to ourselves! Smiles have magic in them!
Do you know how much a smile costs? Nothing. Giving a smile to someone else costs us absolutely zero. Zip. Nada. Bupkis. But a smile can be priceless to the one it is given to.
There was a co-worker that I worked with for five years. I will call her ‘Chrissy’ for now because I don’t want to embarrass her. She knew the power of a smile and she wielded that magic like a powerful and wise wizard.
‘Chrissy’ would greet me everyday with a smile. I’m not kidding you, that smile she had was ear splitting and it was like Harry Potter’s magical spell being cast. Expecto Patronum! The room would light up, darkness would dissipate, and my spirit would instantly rise from the doldrums and gloom to the height of happiness in an instant.
‘Chrissy’ knew how to use her smile to help to make others feel so good. Her smile had POWER!
Today, our current dog, Keebler is sixteen years old. We adopted him from Joyful Rescues years ago. We were headed to the Erie County Fair one day eleven years ago on our annual excursion to enjoy experiencing the agricultural, farm animal, and horticultural exhibits. (Well, to be honest, we also went for the great food & drink, too!)
As we were walking around at the Fair, I spotted Keebler, sitting on the asphalt, looking up at me with this adorable smile! He was out front at the Joyful Rescues exhibit space. I knew when I saw that smile that I needed to give him a forever home.
Keebler, we learned upon adoption, turned out to be part Basset Hound and some other mix that the vet thinks maybe Dalmatian. Keebler has this way of smiling and looking at you that, like ‘Chrissy’, just makes you happy! It’s powerful magic!
In our neighborhood, everyone knows “Keebler the Crazy Dog!” All the kids love him. He’s always walking around greeting everyone with a big smile as if to say, “hey…you! Come here! I’ve got something for you!”
And he gives them a smile.
One of the tenets of The Way of the Crazy Dog is tenet #1: “Be Kind and Loving.” Out of all of the seven current tenets, this one is the most important and has the greatest power to help one to “live life better.”
Over the years, I’ve learned that freely giving out smiles to those around me is such a powerful tool that is easy to practice. As I noted earlier, it costs nothing. But it can mean so much to those who are receiving your smile.
Will everyone appreciate your smile? In today’s culture here in America and around the world, it seems that people have pulled back…withdrawing from connecting to those around them. Our society today seems to have a hardness to it. Not everyone will smile back today and very few will actually smile at you.
But I believe that even the simplest acts such as just giving a simple smile to someone else without expectation can make a difference. . . more than you know. And if we just remember that there are those around us who may be experiencing hardships, loss, health issues, or job loss…they may be in such a need for even a brief moment of kindness from you.
If we all just tried even a little bit to be kind and loving…if we just tried to even smile to those around us…it really can make a difference.
So be like Keebler and freely give a smile to those around you. Be like Jackson and smile for those who you see on the streets or in your neighborhood or in your own home. Be like ‘Chrissy’ at work and just smile when you walk in the front door.
As I close this little inspiration, let me leave you with the words from Charlie Chaplin’s song, Smile. There are many great renditions out there, My personal favorite is by Natalie Cole. Just remember…there’s powerful magic in a smile, magic that can even help to heal you when you’re feeling down as well as those around you.
Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it’s breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
you’ll get by
If you smile through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You’ll see the sun come shining through
Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear may be ever so near
That’s the time you must keep on trying
Smile what’s the use of crying
You’ll find that life is still worthwhile
If you’ll just