Puppy kindness

Kathryn Crawford Saxer A Little Kindness

“I rescued a lost dachshund!” an executive coaching client told me, her face alight.

As she told the story of finding the frightened dog in her neighborhood, and the joy and relief of all parties once owner and dog were reunited, I thought about the power of small kindnesses.

As I may have mentioned once or twice in this column, I have started fostering puppies rescued from two-day kill shelters in Texas. The latest batch of puppies was four large, energetic, lab/hound mixes that almost destroyed my house in the two weeks they stayed with us.

The puppies came from a small town in Texas, born to a mama dog chained by her neck in the hot sunshine of a dusty backyard. When a roaming neighborhood dog impregnated her, her owners planned to take the pups to the local shelter, where they would be euthanized if they were not adopted within two days.

The family’s young daughter stamped her foot and said, “No way!”

She raised such a fuss that her parents eventually contacted the rescue organization that bundled them into a van and sent them north.

The first puppy, a lanky, brindle-coated, athletic dog (who jumped over my 30-inch puppy playpen at will) was adopted by a young couple who loves to trail run, hike and camp in the wilderness.

A couple from Oregon drove up to pick up the second puppy — the sweet runt that her litter mates picked on. They sent me a photo that evening of her stretched out, legs akimbo and tummy exposed, as they picnicked on the grass.

The third puppy, the alpha female, was beautiful, with tawny, brandy-colored fur and bright eyes outlined with kohl. Small but fearsome with her siblings, she nestled on her back in her new owner’s arms and promptly fell asleep.

The last puppy, a big, floppy, golden-coated male, nestled under my chin as soon as I opened his crate when he arrived. The sweetest, kindest dog I have ever met, he went home with a middle-aged couple, an elderly three-legged terrier and four cats.

I waved goodbye to those puppies from my front porch with a smile on my face and tears in my eyes. I imagine the joy they will spread into the lives of their new families. I imagine them as they welcome home new babies and attend weddings and wait for school buses. I imagine them curled up next to their humans, their heads on laps, comforting and reassuring.

All that goodness because a girl in Texas took a stand.

Her “no way” rippled across the country, up from Texas to the Pacific Northwest, bringing joy into the lives of these families for years and years to come.

Her small kindness matters.

“When I think about my career, it’s the care of other people that has mattered,” my dachshund-rescuing client told me. An attorney/teacher/executive, she said it is the small moments of helping — a student with an assignment, an employee with a problem — that stand out in her career.

“When I think about fulfillment and success, it has nothing to do with my title or my salary,” she said. “It’s about those small kindnesses that matter so much to the people around us.”

She’s the one who took the golden puppy home. She got the sweetest, kindest dog ever.

First published in The Seattle Times. Read my archive of Seattle Times Explore columns.