Dr. Deb’s Mental Health Vitamin: The underdog spirit
Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services
I’ve always had a soft spot for the underdog (in this case … literally). Let me tell you about Jimmy.
He has a sweet, scruffy face and wiry reddish brown hair. He’s a pooch of unknown origins who has had his share of struggles. He had been dumped at a shelter because he had ringworm and was sickly as a youngster. Eventually, he was rescued and began to build his strength, stamina and heartiness.
Since the domestication of dogs, people have been drawn to them (and they to us). Dogs have helped us in so many ways and expect little in return. They have hunted with us, kept vermin and pests away, served the military and police, assisted the disabled and faithfully remained our loyal companions.
In turn, we care for them and provide them with a good quality of life. I must admit, however, that I am “one of those” pet owners! You know the type and maybe you can relate – we treat our dogs like babies, spend tons of money on toys, treats and sweaters, and basically run the home for the comfort of the dog who lives there!
Back to Jimmy … in 2014, he made history! You see, at the Westminster Dog Show, the second oldest continuously held sporting event in this country (just one year behind the Kentucky Derby), an event where nearly 3,000 dogs from around the world compete for the prize, a 138-year tradition was broken.
Amazingly, before that year, only finely tuned purebreds who met strict breed standards and closely tracked lineage were allowed. Enter Jimmy — a mutt! He busted through all of those earlier barriers and circumstances to be “allowed” into the first agility trials. He fared quite well, earned high praise and made his mark in history!
I believe there are amazing life lessons:
- Did Jimmy know that he wasn’t a thoroughbred? I would hazard a guess that he did not! He trained and practiced, surrounded himself with those who believed in him, and then he SOARED!
- Did Jimmy let his past define him? No! No! No! He did not! He rose from where he was, then never looked back!
- Did Jimmy look at all the other dogs and think, “I don’t measure up!” I think the consensus would be … he did not! With the help of those who loved him, he developed a confidence and belief system that would not be denied! Confidence, composure and character — these qualities start in the head and heart!
- Did Jimmy use his past as an excuse? I would have to think … he did not! He ran the race, always looking forward … and gained the prize!
Yes, Jimmy was a mutt … but HE didn’t know that! The sky was the limit for him. The little guy broke barriers and went down in the history books. If a little mutt can overcome … WE CAN, TOO!