I am the very proud principal of the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center (HACTC). And I have a confession to make.
I am not a good human.
Well, not when compared to my dog, Clarabelle.
But I suspect no human is a good human when compared to his/her dog.
It is just the way it is.
It is less about the flaws of humans and more about the awesomeness of dogs.
My Clarabelle is a Golden Retriever.
Who does not retrieve.
Preferring the chase to the return.
And she is a good dog.
A good, good dog.
And also, as implied above, a good human.
When measured by ‘good human’ standards:
All on display daily.
Especially when walking past the warming shelter residents of The Upper Valley Haven.
(Thank God for The Upper Valley Haven and the people that work there).
And greeting them as they sit and wait at the Advanced Transit stop.
After the beds have been cleared at the shelter.
And they simply try to get out of the wind.
And the snow.
And the cold.
No judgement of them from Clarabelle.
Clarabelle does not recognize their well-worn clothes.
Or their body odor.
Or their sunken shoulders.
Or their eyes.
Staring constantly at their feet.
Their shuffling feet.
Shuffling, I think, in embarrassment.
Or some other emotion I do not understand.
Given my good fortune.
Clarabelle only recognizes love.
And with that recognition come the wiggles.
Clarabelle wiggles when she meets good humans.
Despite their appearance.
Or other traits.
Traits I notice.
But she does not.
No need to notice.
No need to judge.
Clarabelle has taught me they are good humans.
Because they are human.
And seeing all.
Including how others meet them.
And look at them.
And talk to them.
So when they meet Clarabelle, they raise their shoulders.
Just a bit.
And their eyes.
And a smile rises on their face.
Because they know.
Clarabelle does not care about how much money they have.
Or do not have.
Or where they slept last night.
Or their mistakes.
Or anything about their mistakes.
They know she just sees a human.
A good human.
And a friend.
Who will rub her ears.
And give her treats.
Purchased with the last dollar.
Well worth it.
To see her wiggle.
And sit on their feet.
But not judgement.
Thank God for that.
And for me.
Because if Clarabelle judged me, she would not walk with me anymore.
Because I am a mess.
A constant mess.
Of faith struggles, husband struggles, father struggles, work struggles, and mistakes.
But Clarabelle does not care about any of that either.
To her, like her friends at the Advanced Transit stop in the morning, I am just a human.
So she gives me love.
For being so.
And I am better for it.
She just gives me love.
And sits on my feet.
So I can rub her ears.
Teaching me what a good human should be.
And how a good human should act.
Despite my struggles, judgement, mistakes, and flaws.
Clarabelle would be the greatest principal.
But I guess that is covered under being a ‘great human’.
Bless you Clarabelle.
Just like the others before you.
Maude. Lacey. Honey. Cooper. Boomer. Topper.
You all were the best kind of humans.
And taught me more about life and love than any others.
Despite me having to relearn those lessons with every walk.
And every hug.
Someday I will get it.
And will make you proud of how I treat others.
Like you would treat them.
With no judgement.