It’s Thanksgiving again, which means taking a minute to make note of what we’re thankful for. The feeling of obligation to do something like this is quickly being replaced every year by a feeling of wanting so badly to acknowledge the things in my life that make it possible for me to do what I do.
Last year at Thanksgiving I did a run down of the people in my life that I am thankful for. Those people haven’t really changed, so I don’t want to be redundant with a post about them again (though I love you all and I am still extremely thankful for you!). Which leaves me here thinking about what to give thanks for in this post.
Rather than material things or specific people, I am going to write about experiences from the past year that I am thankful for. I’m so early in my career that every new situation for me is a valuable learning experience. So much of what I know and what I stand for has been shaped in the last year. To think that just over fifteen months ago I was dogless, blogless, and somewhat clueless shows me how much I have to be thankful since then.
Yes, I know this is an extremely broad experience – but I can’t leave it out. Fostering Baxter was a crash course in learning about training, behavior, dog-dog interactions, boundaries, teaching, compromises, responsibility, patience and love. Baxter was all mine to help grow and then adopt out. The amount that he taught me is immeasurable, really. He helped me realize that there is a difference between just liking dogs and having the knowledge to really help them, and for that I am very grateful.
Buying a 50mm camera lens
I know I said I would stay away from thanking materialistic things, but this little lens changed my photography life as I know it. The 50mm lens is affordable and can give you the most amazing photos if you’re used to the standard issue lens that came with your camera. After buying this lens I was inspired to take a photography course and invest in Photoshop, so my skills set has grown immensely. I have also since invested in a 30 mm lens (thanks to this gal’s growing skills as a photographer!). Of course I still have tons and TONS to learn, but I feel so much more confident about my photography after all I learned this past year. I am really falling in love with photography, and I am thankful I discovered this passion.
One of the first photos I took with my 50mm. I was in love with the shallow depth of field, but still didn’t quite know how to fully utilize it.
Taking Otis back
Yes, fostering Otis was an amazing learning experience as I navigated the waters of having a nervous, confidence-lacking dog. But the actual act of accepting Otis back as my foster was a big lesson learned as well. There is a lot to be said for the realization that adopting a dog out should not be where your journey ends with that dog. Every foster/adopter relationship is different after an adoption, but I feel like it is our responsibility as the foster or rescue group to step up and help a former foster dog who is losing their home. I wanted to help so many different dogs after Baxter, but I ultimately knew I had to take Otis back for his well being. I felt guilty taking him in over a dog whose future was uncertain, but it took me accepting him back as a foster to realize that his future wasn’t certain either, and I owed it to him to find him the life he deserved. I am thankful that Otis taught me the full responsibility of having a foster dog.
Participating in Project Mickey
Project Mickey is a program started by Jasmine’s House to teach humane education to elementary school children in an under-served part of Baltimore. If that sentence right there doesn’t make it obvious why this experience was so impactful, then I’m not sure I can explain what would. I only helped for two sessions in the program, but I still got to know some of the kids, how bright they are, and their stories. It is like an entirely different world than my own – one that I can really benefit from spending a little more time in. I am thankful for the opportunity to teach these kids about caring for animals, while learning so much more myself.
Adopting Otis to his new home
In the past year I’ve learned a lot about restrictions for adopters that make it difficult to adopt animals out. When I was searching for a home for Otis, I had almost the exact mold in my mind of what I wanted for him in a forever family. The person who ended up adopting him was the opposite of many things I thought I wanted for Otis, but they are perfect for each other now. This was a blatant example to me that I should always be open minded when talking to potential adopters, even if they’re not what I originally envisioned for my dog. I am thankful that I learned this first hand.
Going to Animal Farm Foundation
Another one that should be pretty self-explanatory is my week-long stay at AFF (read all about it in its own post). The amount of not only knowledge, but also passion and motivation, that I soaked up during that week truly solidified the path I am on to help animals. I learned lots about the basics of training and canine behavior, again building on the bits of knowledge I already had. AFF was fun, exciting, extremely educational, and eye-opening. I’d consider it one of my most influential experiences of 2012. I am very thankful for the opportunity to learn and interact with such a wonderful organization.
Me and Julep during our week together at AFF. Photo credit to AFF.
Participating in B-More Dog’s Community Pit Bull Day
Another example of a world I need to spend more time in. I recently heard a speaker talk about how animal advocates spend too much time thinking they’re their own audience. B-More Dog’s CPBD really opened my eyes to the whole group of people that I can reach with spay/neuter advocacy, etc. I am thankful that I got the opportunity to see all the families who love their dogs and are trying their hardest to provide for them, and I look forward to helping as much as I can in the future.
The second year at my job
Again, another broad one. But I can’t pick out specifically one part of it that I am thankful for more than another. You learn so much about planning events on the job as opposed to in the classroom (especially when you’re an Animal Sciences major…), so my first year was spent soaking up as much information I could. I learned best practices, I learned things to avoid, I learned what would make me the best events manager I could be, and I learned how to learn from my mistakes. Entering into my second year, I feel like I’ve taken these skills and ran with them. My confidence in my abilities has skyrocketed, and all of a sudden I feel more capable than ever. I am thankful for all the experiences I’ve had thus far in my career that have set me up to be the best I can be.
A photo from our annual gala, The Love Ball, courtesy of Virgil Ocampo Photography. This was the second year I managed the event, and it felt 100x smoother.
I’m sure I forgot even the most major milestones of this past year – it’s hard to believe I can write so much about the ones above and still have more blessings.
I’m also extremely thankful for all of you who stop by every morning and show your support. I so appreciate you reading, commenting, following and sharing.
Happy Thanksgiving week (or day or month) of gratitude to you and yours – furry friends included of course :-) I hope you have a lovely Holiday among family and friends!