SHD’s Best Friend

Remember Nelly? The Shitty House Dog, SHD, with body love and a problem with authority? Well Nelly’s back with a best new friend. Recently my partner and I decided that our hearts were too big and our bed was too empty to not rescue another, hopefully less shitty, house dog.

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In December, after following a Facebook page where people gave up their pets left and right with no real intentions of picking one out anytime soon, we saw a dog that sparked our interest. “Axel” now Moose was in need of a home. His owners had four other dogs, had paid too much for what they thought was a purebred Husky, and had no time for a 9 month old puppy that just wants your attention. Overall, it was a rough situation.

On that day we decided to be irresponsible young adults and grab ourselves a new fur baby.

Here is where Moose’s story begins and Nelly’s life as an only child ends.

Introducing the dogs at first with the full intentions of “if this doesn’t work out we will find him a much better home” was everything we expected. You can say Nelly “likes” other dogs. She likes to lick them, sometimes play with them, steal all of their toys, and then destroy them. She was protective of me. She needed reassurance that if and when the time came to pick one of them to pet it would be her. We did our secret handshake and she decided to adopt her new forced friend.

Lessons Learned

The addition of Moose taught me more than I had ever anticipated. I have learned about balancing. Balancing petting, balancing while trying to tie a shoe because both dogs want to lick my face, balancing partner and puppy cuddles, balancing being strict and letting them run wild, and balancing myself. I’ve continued to learn from Nelly over the year but the addition of Moose has created a whole new world to live in.

Be kind.

Sometimes Nelly loves Moose. Sometimes the thought of Moose disgusts her. Sometimes I experience those same feelings. A personal moral principle of mine is kindness. A bad first impression or interaction, a ruff (LOL) day, or some stressor I’ve put on myself can cause me to retract instead of interact. Choosing to be kind and rewind, instead of turn on auto pilot and fast forward is challenging. Puppies are much like every human being. They make mistakes. Sometimes they know better and sometimes they don’t. Remembering that at the end of the day it isn’t that big of a deal helps kindness thrive.

Include.

Another driving factor for my life is to include. One of the worst things on this Earth is standing in or near a group and being either shut out because someone steps in front of you, or someone doesn’t move to invite you into the circle. Being part of the pack is important. Allowing everyone to come to the table so they too can be heard not only adds to the conversation but also gives them value. Nelly, Jake, and I were our own pack. Adding Moose to the house gave us the opportunity to step to the side and learn from another being.

Someone is watching.

Remember that Santa Claus song, “he sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake?” More often than not, there are eyes on me. This sounds creepier than it really is. You don’t know creepy until you roll over and see two sets of eyes watching you. I often find myself rolling over to a wet nose plopped on the bed waiting patiently for me to wake up. In my current role there are also usually a set of eyes on me. Those eyes belong to students in panic mode because they didn’t pass a class or they don’t understand how to register as a guest student for the summer. An administrator watching you because funding is tight and am I really that important? Colleagues making sure our office is serving students to the best of our ability. Feeling like all eyes are on you isn’t a negative thing. It’s a positive thing. This means that mistakes can be caught and feedback administered to heal the problem. You are putting your best and most vulnerable self forward because when we are surrounded by the media, you don’t always know what is real. All eyes on you also means that all of the crumbs are accounted for and calories don’t count when they’re shared with others.

Woof Woman

Animals mean just as much to me as humans do. A life is a life and it is not mine to take. Due to that belief, I find myself learning from all animals, not just humans. Be kind, include others, and others eyes can be your biggest cheering section. Who would have thought that my personal ethics could have been solidified by a Shitty House Dog and her less shitty counterpart.

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Ignite Leadership Cohort

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For four weeks in March and April I had the privilege to spend two hours each Thursday night with my 2015 Ignite Leadership Cohort. The Ignite Leadership cohort is designed for the most senior student leaders at Central Michigan University.  This program, based on the Leadership Challenge curriculum, utilizes the Student Leadership Practices Inventory (sLPI) to help student leaders assess their leadership abilities and develop a personal growth plan.

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Each week we looked at a different component of our Leadership Practices Inventory and how we can improve in those areas. I filled out this inventory my freshman year for my Leadership 100 class. It was exciting to see how I had changed and developed as a leader. I learned how to use these practices more in my life. We also used the two hours to talk about what we are passionate about and discuss our daily life development. I found these conversations to be extremely powerful and inspiring.

This experience inspired me so much that I applied and received the Ignite Leadership Coordinator position for 2016. I cannot wait to continue developing the program and meet other inspiring campus leaders.

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Alternative Break

The Alternative Break program is one of the most awarding programs I have been blessed to be a piece of. I was lucky enough to click on ‘Youth Advocacy’ at  7:30 am back in October of 2013. The break didn’t set sail until March of 2014. Not only did I pick a topic that interested me, I also met 11 other amazing CMU students. During the week we worked at the Charleston Youth Development Center. The CYDC is an emergency shelter that takes in children who need a place to stay. Children are then either returned to their families through social service intervention or are able to stay at the shelter. We spent a week organizing their storage center while the children were at school. When the children came home was when the real fun started. We tutored the students until dinner time. Tutoring usually consisted of racing to finish homework so we could hang out. We sat around laughing, learning about them and just enjoying the children’s company. If you have the opportunity to give back to the world, I suggest you do it.

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Ted Talk

Drew Dudley presented on Everyday Leadership. His speech was about why we revere leadership as such a high and mighty quality to have. He talked about how leadership isn’t something we’re going to eventually get it. He also addressed that we don’t appreciate each other enough. We don’t tell those who are important to us how much they truly mean to us enough. We’re all born with it, it just depends on how and/or if we ever end up expressing it. He shared a story about when he was working at a university. He gave a lollipop to a new freshman boy and told him “Give this to the most beautiful girl in the room.” He ended up handing the lollipop to a girl who was extremely close to dropping out. That event kept her at the university.

The reason he created this speech was because he was touched by the fact that this woman found out he was leaving the university soon and she wanted him to know how much he had touched her life. He’s actually unable to recall that event. I think it’s relevant to student leadership. He didn’t do something unbelievably impressive. All he did was use an icebreaker to make the boy branch out a little bit more. I agree that we need to let the people that have made changes in our lives how much they’ve touched us.

I already try to do this. I’m not a touchy or expressive person. I don’t tell people I love them or hug them very often. Sometimes saying things like that are like pulling teeth for me. Since I don’t tell people how important they are to me very often I like to send cards to my friends every once and a while. Everyone loves mail and it’s usually a great little surprise.

Click here for a link to the video.