As many of you know from reading my past letters, I am a huge animal lover. The spirit of animals always amazes me -- they are so pure and honest. One trait I see again and again is an animal's ability to bounce back, to not hold a grudge, and to always seek and give love.
I volunteer with an animal rescue, headquartered in Houston. Houston is a tough place for an unwanted dog or cat. The spay/neuter rates are very low, the shelters are bursting at the seams, and tens of thousands of dogs and cats are euthanized every year. One day while walking the kennels at animal control, I spotted Joe Bingo. And my heart stopped. This was hands down the worst case of animal cruelty I had ever come across. Joe Bingo is a boxer (a very gentle, loving breed). Someone had not only starved this baby, but had also cut off his ears to make him look like a pit bull. I had no idea at that point if he had ever been made to fight or used as a bait dog in a fight but I knew there was no way I could leave him to die in this shelter.
I took him back to our rescue where we started him on a steady diet of TLC. Right away we noticed his outgoing, loving personality (which was a big relief to me and meant we might have hope of finding him a good, forever home). Over the next several months Joe Bingo gained weight, his coat became shiny and healthy and he thrived. We treated him for heartworms and neutered him. During it all, this boxer never showed one ounce of aggression or fear. He loved people, he loved other animals, and he was so excited to get any attention and love that came his way. His spirit shown through loud and clear -- he is one happy, fabulous dog. Even though Joe Bingo hasn't found his forever home yet, he still greets every day with enthusiasm and hope.
I tell you this story because so many times when we have had a bad day, everyone around us suffers. We rant, we rave, we pout, we withdraw and are just basically not much fun to be around. And I bet our bad days are nothing compared to Joe Bingo's bad days. What a lesson there is to be learned from him -- what if we could let go of our grudges toward people who mistreat us? What if we could see every day as a gift and life as precious? What if we could laugh and love most of the time? When I feel myself sliding into a funk or dark mood, I try to remember Joe Bingo and how no matter how horrible his life was, he still kept his wonderful spirit and loving disposition through it all. This holiday season, my wish for all of us is that we can find in ourselves that special place of love and light and can truly love to appreciate each and every day we are given.