Friday, August 7, 2009
This Wednesday, August 5th, I lost one of my best friends with whom I shared many of my greatest memories and best character-building moments. Hans, my 13 year old dalmatian, passed away after a brief illness. While I am sad that he is no longer with me, I am happy to reflect on the ways that he touched my life and made me in to the person I am today.
Like my mother said shortly before the good old dog passed, Hans taught me the invaluable lesson of how being patient and persistent has the potential of yielding great rewards.
An avid participant in the 4-H dog project, I spent many frustrated training sessions embarrassed by Hans' misbehavior which included any combination of barking, humping, pooping, running away, tugging and jumping. Imagine how ashamed my 12 year old self was upon being asked to leave a training session because my dog was being too rowdy. These dogs were at obedience training solely because they lacked training, and my dog went above and beyond any level of normal misbehavior (other than being mean, he never growled or bit anybody or any dog EVER) and got himself kicked out of a training session. However, I recognized the challenge and continued to train Hans, despite the negative experiences that occurred week after week.
Slowly, Hans began to learn. Through practicing every day, I taught him several commands including off-leash obedience. It was very rewarding to take such a unruly dog and turn him into a little gentleman.
Soon, the big dog show approached. To my astonishment, Hans put on his game face and was the portrait of an obedient dog. He perfectly listened to every command and impressed both those who knew his disobedient past and those who were seeing him perform for the first time.
When the results of the show were announced, I received an award especially given to the human student who had the best attitude despite having some of the worst experiences week after week. I was and continue to be impressed that the program recognized my struggles so positively. Generally, the people who receive this award have no chance of getting any other recognition at the dog show because their dogs perform so poorly. However, imagine my astonishment when I was also awarded a first place trophy for high point. Hans didn't only receive a first place award, but had the closest thing to a perfect score out of every dog there! The awards portion of the show literally showed how he had gone from being the worst dog ever to the best dog in attendance in seven short months of obedience training.
Well, in my opinion, Hans was always the best dog ever from the day he was born until the day he went to doggy heaven. Thanks for teaching me so many lessons and being my best friend, Hans!