Friday, March 26, 2010

Guest Blogger: My Human! Dogs: Blessed are the Peacemakers

Abbie has generously allowed me to guest blog tonight. Thanks Abbie! Now please get off my lap so I can type!

Dogs: Blessed are the Peacemakers
(Inspired by Dogingham and her Black Bean Burger at Rojo's on Highland)

In 1989, I moved to Highland Avenue in Birmingham. I was 19 years old and ready to take on the world.  I moved into a small apartment complex located off Hanover Circle.  I had no fear of living by myself although my mother certainly did her best to instill some fear in me with random statistics of the dangers of living in an Urban area. She failed miserably. Those were incredible years of my life.

I worked fulltime for a marketing firm while trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. For a non-degreed, non-trained 19 year old, my job paid the rent, utilities (most months) and gave me enough money to purchase ramen noodles and the occasional beer (or Boones Farm), sold to me by a very unattentive clerk at the Western Supermarket.  I guess I looked two years older or she was simply tired to ask for ID.

The apartment complex was filled with every kind of person I had never been exposed too.  My neighbor, Mr. Mendelstien, was an elderly, Jewish widower. As I was moving my coffee table (made from a old barrel) and my sofa, compliments of the thrift store, into my apartment, he asked me if I was going to play that rock music.  I smiled. He almost passed out when he saw the contents of my aquarium contained a small garden snake.

My neighbor upstairs was a medical student who worked part time at a research lab. His job was to take fecal samples from different cats at the lab and test them for contents. He was a brillant guy who had a crappy job. (pun intended)  I wonder where he is today and can only hope and imagine that his job is much more fulfilling.

All and all, the residents in that small complex were black and white, straight and gay, American nationalists or visiting foreigners.  We came from all backgrounds, places, and experiences.  We were different in religious or philosophical thought, cultural influences, etc.   Like snowflakes, no two humans are alike, but the one thing that united us together: OUR DOGS!

We ALL had a dog (or two, or three).

When you have a dog and you live in a small Urban area, you are forced to walk beyond the front door, into a world of grassy areas, sidewalks, and cultural differences.

I had a small poodle that I had inherited from my beloved Grandfather. Bebe was a round, yappy ball of white fluff. She was spoiled. Her world had been completely turned upside down when my Grandfather died.  My world had been completely turned upside down when I decided to leave suburban East side to live on my own.  We had a lot in common. We knew this was our chance to start a new life.

My favorite time of the year was (and still is) April through September.   The days were longer and the afternoon walks were perfect ways to end the day with Bebe.  It was through these walks that I met my neighbors.  When I would walk Bebe along Highland Avenue, life just seemed right.  I would smile at other dog owners and they would smile at me. Truly peace does begin with a smile.

I learned that Bebe was not picky about who she would approach, be it a Lab, Greyhound, Corgi, or Heinz 57.  She seemed to like them all.  I found that her genuine friendly attitude was something I could simply not avoid.  She opened up my heart and mind, one simple yap or butt smelling at a time. No, I didn't practice her greeting method, a wave with my hand usually produced the same results.  Rhodes Park was a haven for friendship building.  Once our routine was established, Bebe realized that she could freely run with the big dogs, while I laughed with my new friends.

We can learn a lot from dogs. I learned that if I stepped out beyond my front door, my dog would lead my heart and help me build relationships that formed a lasting foundation of how I see people. 

There is no difference in ourselves or each other that should prevent us from accepting each other and being friends.

Dogs: Blessed are the Peacemakers

Now, if Abbie will allow me to guest blog again, I have some awesome stories to share in the future.