I’ve probably never told you that my dog Rocco has a stump of a tail.
It’s crooked. It’s too small for his body.
It looks a little funny.
Sometimes people point and ask about it.
I share the story.
As a young pup, he was brought to be a fighter at a dog-fighting place.
He wouldn’t fight. He was too sweet.
His tail got broken and it couldn’t grow right after that.
Someone dropped him off at an animal shelter.
When my sister went looking for a puppy, she saw his stump wagging like crazy and she fell in love. And then I did.
When I finish the story, grownups often make a pout face, let out a long awww and stare down at Rocco in pity. Sometimes there’s a hint of fear on their faces like uh oh, is he mean and will he attack me?
Can’t blame the grownups; they think like grownups. They see a damaged dog, like a dented can of soup they’d put back on the shelf.
But kids, bless their hearts — they react the opposite way. They see a friend they have stuff in common with!
“I broke my arm last summer, Rocco. Broken bones hurt!”
They pet his head.
Rocco’s stump wags so fast, his whole body shakes.
They kneel down next to him and look right into his eyes.
“My brother always wants to fight but I don’t. I know why you didn’t wanna fight.”
And Rocco licks their faces and they giggle.
“You’re funny,” they tell him.
They see his big heart through the thick fur.
He has a great life now, I tell the kids. If he’d fought as a puppy, he wouldn’t be alive today.
“Good thing he didn’t fight,” they say. “He stayed sweet, even though they were gonna be meaner ’cause he was.”
Always be yourself, Rocco tells them, unknowingly, just by being him.
He is forever my friend, one of the best – furry or not.
Luckily, the world is full of people who are like Rocco. They’re the ones who bravely stand up for what they believe in and what is right, even when it’s scary.
I hope you’re one of them. If you’re not yet, I wish for you all the courage and wisdom you need to be like my doggy with a stumpy tail.