Thankful

Anne Swayze
Just over a week ago, Mac, my 13-year-old golden retriever, could not rise from his bed and could not walk. His cries, which woke me in the early morning hours, were partly due to pain, but they also represented fear and panic.
Just over a week ago, Mac, my 13-year-old golden retriever, could not rise from his bed and could not walk. His cries, which woke me in the early morning hours, were partly due to pain, but they also represented fear and panic.

Over the past four years, he has found almost every garbage can on campus and has walked from the house on the hill down to the school buildings. He has rambled past campus to visit with the neighborhood dogs (sneaking inside their homes on the prowl for treats), and he has always welcomed and protected new family members. 

But this morning, his body was letting him down. 

The good news was after multiple calls to emergency vet offices and driving in the early morning hours, a caring staff of professionals met us. The diagnosis was geriatric vestibular vertigo which seems to find its way into the lives of older dogs. He moves slightly slower, leaning to the left, and always has his eyes on my whereabouts.  One week later, Mac is improving, albeit still unsteady on his four paws. He may always have a slight, endearing tilt of the head - port side - but he stretches in the morning, knows the sound of the treat jar, and maintains a steady rhythm of snores at night. I wasn’t sure, a week ago, if he would still be alive.

I share the following story as a reminder of how precious moments in our lives are and how important it is to reflect on what is possible rather than find ourselves looking at life through a narrow lens. In the world of education, as teachers, it is our responsibility to be present and attentive to our students. We must remember how hard our students work daily to achieve success. We can support them by sewing together the pieces of their ‘achievement blanket’ and ultimately creating a  fabric with richness, strength, and safety. 

Likewise, we must care for the educators, our colleagues, who bring creativity, patience, knowledge, and a deep commitment to their classrooms. During vacation times when the campus grows quiet, each of us finds our own way to recharge and ready ourselves for the next chapter in our teaching year—bringing our best to each day, nurturing individual strengths, and embracing a sense of family molds us into a community steeped in honesty, compassion, and kindness. 

Live in the moment, care deeply for others, respect our unique diversity and give your four-legged friends a warm pat on their heads. We are stronger when we work together.
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