Because I volunteer with an animal rescue, friends and co-workers frequently give me donations for the animals. One evening, as I was delivering gifts to the shelter, I looked up to see a Pit Bull charging across the parking lot with her handler in tow. I quickly assessed the situation and bent down to greet the medium-sized Pit Bull. She lunged toward me as she stood on her hind legs and threw her front paws around my neck, showering me with kisses. I rubbed her head as her bum wiggled and her tail wagged furiously. 

“Do you know her?” the handler asked me.

“No, I’ve never seen her before.” I stood up and walked with the dog (I believe her name was Suede) and her handler into the kennel. In the lobby, where there was more light, I noticed that Suede had a lot of scars and had obviously given birth to many litters of puppies.

“Was she a fighting dog?”

“No,” came the curt reply. “She was bait.” My heart sank as Suede ran excitedly between her handler and me, asking for love from one and then rushing to the other for more.

 Every Saturday for weeks, Suede went to the adoption shows in hopes of finding her forever home. Each week, she happily greeted anyone who walked by. People shopping in the pet store stopped to play with her, or just sat on the floor and petted her as her tail wagged non-stop. She was a favourite of kids and adults alike because of her willingness to love everyone she met. Her handlers shared her story with anyone who stopped. She amazed everyone with her tremendous heart and courage to love. Suede’s scars kept some people from considering her, and others feared her breed. But one wonderful Saturday, Suede got adopted! After a thorough home inspection (they couldn’t let her go with just anyone), her new home was approved.

She is now in a home where she is safe and spreads love to everyone she meets. She will never again be abused or have reason to be afraid of people.

I think about Suede sometimes. Before she was rescued, her only interactions with people resulted in abuse. Despite that, she happily greeted every stranger she came across and still expected nothing but love. She had every reason to be angry and afraid. Instead, Suede chose love.

My challenge to myself and to you: When the divisiveness and anger of the world gets you down, remember Suede. Choose love.

Excerpted from Chicken Soup for the Soul: Life Lessons from the Dog. Check out the newest heart-warming book in the series, Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Dogs.