This is Daisy. She’s about 5, but we’re not sure because she’s a shelter dog. When she was surrendered, they left her with two dirty dishes and a skinned tennis ball. They didn’t leave any documentation or notes from her past. When I saw her at the shelter, she was in an outside run, covered in mud, and smelled so bad. I’m pretty sure my husband thought I was nuts when I said I wanted her. We’ve had her for three years now, and she keeps teaching me more and more about life.
She came to us fully trained, she knows the basic and fun commands, she’s crate trained, and doesn’t beg for food. Everyone she meets loves her. She’s epileptic, which we didn’t know when we adopted her, and when she seizes she loses consciousness. It’s terrible to watch, but after a few minutes, which can feel like hours, she’s back to her normal self. She’s allergic to grains and can’t process dairy, so she eats special food. She also has other random allergies. Because of her special needs she has to take pills, and she gets her ears cleaned regularly. She takes it all like a champ. We visit the vet so often, they know me and my animals as soon as I call. She loves going for walks, and bathing in the sunlight. She can be so funny that even after a really frustrating day, she brings a smile to my face. I’ll get home, distracted and ready to finish whatever needs to get done, and she’ll patiently wait for me to notice her, sitting with her ears perked up and tail wagging away.
She makes me think that those of us working in Higher Education should be more like her. Bad things can happen, budgets get cut, long hours are worked, and students can make bad decisions. But, there are still always good things. We can get our “treats” if we let ourselves look for good moments in the tough times. We get to watch students succeed, and really, what is better than that? The students who have so many questions, or walk into our offices frustrated, are empowered by the knowledge we can give them. We can open that door and let them have some sunlight.
We don’t always know a student’s background, where they came from, or what special needs they might have. As we find out about those identities, we can connect with them and help them find people and resources to allow them to flourish. Some might need extra help, but those can be the sweetest victories. Even the small connections, for example a student worker offering you a ride to the airport, is a precious treat.
What’s your favorite part of working with students? Have any of them surprised you with an insight or connection they’ve made?