Animals have always played an important part in my life. While I was growing up, I didn’t realize how animals were actually teaching me important lessons and skills that will help me with my future. The most endearing animals in my life have been my two dogs Angel and Macy. My love for dogs really came full circle when my family got a Golden Retriever puppy when I was young. We decided to name her Angel, and she was the perfect dog. I trained her in obedience and showmanship through 4H and together as a team we won 3rd place overall in Rally Obedience at the Kansas State Fair. I could tell Angel anything and she always made me happy whenever I was having a rough day. I knew that Angel was getting old and that one day she would die. I was a senior in Highschool so I was hoping that she would just die while I was away at college so that it wouldn’t be so hard on me. However, I noticed her getting skinnier and skinnier. So we took her to the vet to see what was wrong. After many tests she was diagnosed with Kidney Failure and after a long struggle she passed away.
For a long time we didn’t want to get a new dog because we didn’t want to replace Angel’s memories. But soon enough my mom found puppies that might be the perfect fit for our family.
The lessons that Angel and Macy have taught me are:
- It is worth it to love unconditionally. My dogs always love me no matter what kind of
mood I’m in. They are always there for me and they make me smile even when I’m
having a bad day.
- Everyone has responsibilities. My dog depends on me for food each day and for
attention. If I don’t take care of it, it does without. It’s not fair to not be responsible for
- Bad things happen in life, but life goes on. When Angel died I was heartbroken. So
was everyone else in my family. We knew that it would be selfish to let her continue to suffer so we let her go. It hurt so bad, but it was the right thing to do. We will never forget the memories that Angel made with our family.
- Live in the moment. Laugh and enjoy the little things in life. Angel and Macy do the funniest things and help me live in the moment.
Living on a farm allowed me the opportunity to have other 4H animals. My pigs evoked many emotions including pride, honor, and defeat. I’ve had a lot of success showing 4H pigs. My most recent success was winning the swine division of the Little American Royal here at KSU this year. Some of the lessons the pigs taught me include:
5. No matter how much work you put into a project, an animal is unpredictable. I work with my pigs a lot at home. I walk them and teach them to go where I want them to go. I think they are ready for the fair. When I take them to the fair, they may or may not perform like I expect them to. There are noises and smells and other pigs at the fair.
Some years my pigs do just what I want them to do, and other years they run around like idiots. It’s okay. They are animals and they have a mind of their own.
6. Hard work pays off. All that time that I work with my pigs at home really does pay off most of the time. I know what to expect from the pigs and they know what to expect from me.
Meat goats were my other animal project. I learned many things each year that I showed goats but I left the project feeling like I still had lots to learn. Even though I didn’t know everything that there was about showing goats, I still grew in this project each year.
- Making money in creative ways is fun. I have enjoyed every moment of my time with my animal projects in 4H and I made money while doing it. I didn’t enjoy my “town jobs” of working at the local sandwich shop and radio station near as much. Always pick a job that you like, or it’s not worth your time.
- It’s fun to educate the community about my project and the industry. When families come to the fair and walk through the animal barns, its funny to watch their expressions but also teach them about something they’ve never seen before.
- Younger kids look up to me. I have let many Cloverbuds (young 4H members) borrow my animals to show in peewee so they can be like a big kid. I have to keep in mind that there are always little eyes watching so I have to set a good example.
- You can have too much of a good thing. One other animal that we have a lot of on our farm is cats. Baby kittens are so cute aren’t they? I think so too, but when a cat has babies, then those babies have more babies the next year, then…you know where I’m going with this. We have too many cats on our farm! Spay and neuter your pets, then you won’t have to many of them.
These lessons that I have learned from animals will be easy to apply to real life situations as I go through college and go out into the real world. I know the road ahead won’t be easy, but I look forward to learning from each situation and putting it into perspective. I’m sure I will continue to learn a lot!