“It’s not my dog!” and Random Acts…

6 Feb

  By Bruce Summers, Personal Historian, Summoose Tales and Board Member of the Association of Personal Historians

Random Acts of Kindness (RaOks) – a wee white dog ran across the street

in front of my car…

“It’s not my dog!” It’s my first day on the job, watching the kids (two young toddlers)”, she said as the mid-sized dog tugged strongly at the leash she was holding and the wee white dog scrambled back and forth across the road eluding the baby sitter and the toddlers while three cars paused, waiting to see where it would run next. I offered to hold the larger dog.

Toddler 1 – a boy – Do you know whose dog that is? [It’s yours I said]. The wee white dog ran up behind me and brushed my leg as I held the boxer-like dog. That one’s mine too, the boy added. His sister hovered nearby. Neither child looked older than about 3 years old. I remained still as the sitter slowly caught up with the wee white dog. Toddler 2 – a girl and her brother remained near. The wee white dog finally paused and allowed itself to be “caught”. The sitter put a leash on the wee white dog and said “thank you for stopping”. The sitter, the two toddlers, the two dogs, now both on leashes walked around the corner as I returned to my car and drove the last block to my home.

A presenter mentioned two words during a recent pre-retirement talk that my wife and I attended. These among many other useful words and tips shared – “Giving” and “Legacy”. I ponder now, how do these two words relate to RaOks? How often do I/ do we stop to reflect? How often does a “wee white dog” get loose and scramble across the road? I sat stopped in my car for a few minutes watching the wee white dog ramble back and forth around my car; it then across the road and back around the other two cars that had stopped. Finally the other two cars drove on.

I continued to watch and wondered; could she (the sitter) manage. Holding the boxer-like dog on a leash was a challenge, keeping her two toddler charges near – when they really wanted to chase and catch their wee white dog, was a challenge. Even when the other two cars departed, the wee white dog had no intention of stopping its romp. The sitter could not chase the wee white dog, a third challenge.

I pulled over out of the path of any traffic, and got out, “can I help”, I asked. “It’s not my dog…”. All this occurred a block from my house. It turned out I could help. The sitter’s fourth challenge… it was her first day watching the kids. A small chain of chaos had evolved quickly. I smiled to myself, sometimes we are in the right place at the right time to do RaOks; and they did teach me in Boy Scouts, “Do a good turn daily.”

My parents lost their own wee dog recently, not from it escaping and running across the street, but to a sudden sickness. Losing a dog can be life changing. My family, when I was young, lost our first dog, up in New York State, when we were visiting my grandmother. Like the wee white dog, it got loose, my brothers and I were young, though I was a bit older than these two toddlers. We advertised that we had lost our dog but no one found him and we did not see “Apples” again.

Later our second dog, “Blaze”, a large dog, a St. Bernard, would occasionally get loose. We would yell “here Blaze….!” Sometimes he would come back, and sometimes not. Often one of our neighbors would find or see Blaze rambling through their yard. They would catch Blaze or give us a call so we could come get him – their own RaOks. We, my three brothers and my parents, would be very happy to have our dog back. We were very happy we lived in New Freedom, that we had kind neighbors, and that we all looked out for each other.

As I reflect RaOks were common in my hometown. Maybe that’s why I stopped and then the other cars stopped. It could have been our dog. Sometime giving RaOks are just the sudden… right thing to do, but sometimes they are returning a favor, returning other RaOks, perhaps remembered only deep in our consciousness. We never know what impact, what legacy RaOks will have, but they are just the right thing to do.


2 Responses to ““It’s not my dog!” and Random Acts…”

  1. Al Ainsworth February 9, 2015 at 10:39 am #

    Hi, Bruce. Thanks for the post. Much of my writing (books and blog) is based on legacy through story. My wife and I have stressed acts of kindness to varying degrees to our children through the years (Our oldest of three is 20.). However, I choose to call them intentional acts of kindness rather than random acts. They may occur at unexpected times, but we try to lay a foundation with my children and my extended family that if we are looking for opportunities, they will certainly “find” us. Whatever we call them, I agree with you that they become part of who we are and part of the legacy we leave behind. Again, thanks for the post!


    • bwsummers February 9, 2015 at 11:18 am #

      Hi Al. Thank you for your comment. I like your concept of sharing legacy through story. As a personal historian I am often inspired by the stories my clients, friends, and family members share. The transfer of legacy through stories to the next generation is one of the most important parts of my work. I value your description of sharing the importance of acts of kindness as intentional acts and as opportunities that will find us. This provides much to reflect on. The Boy Scouts of America – Scout Law – asks young men to be Kind. Perhaps we all should do more reflection on what this means, there are so many opportunities presented every day. One of my first personal history clients died last year at age 104. His nurse shared that up to the day before he died, maybe even the day that he died, he said “thank you” to each member of the staff who helped him even in a minor way. Thank you for your work, I look forward to discovering your blog.


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