Random Acts of Kindness

Do one small good deed a day, is a resolution I made to myself many years ago. Just a moment or two of unselfish kindness, maybe help a stranger lift a heavy package, give an unexpected compliment, or take the time to personally direct someone to the place they’re seeking when lost.  Tiny good deeds.  Small acts yes, but if we all did a few small things for each other, the world would feel kinder.

My husband, on the other hand, is more sporadic. He doesn’t think small, he thinks big.  Every now and then he gets the urge to do a random act of kindness and he’s impulsive about it.  The kind deed might be something straight forward such as plant a group of trees. It might also be something, a little more labor intensive that requires my time and skills as well as his that honors someone’s legacy or helps someone find a new position.   And that’s okay because he’s trying to help someone out and it is generally a short term commitment.

This is the season, right?  That time of year when you hear about someone putting a $100 in the Salvation Army red donation kettle or the stranger who pays the entire bill of the person ahead of her in the grocery line.

How about—take care of someone’s dog? My husband overheard a member of his Rotary Club lament that she had no one to take care of her dog during the time she was going to be away for eight days on a mission to Honduras to help provide clean water and sanitation to a needy community.  Immediately, my husband volunteered to take care of her dog.

“It’s a trained Golden Retriever,” he told me. “A good dog. You know how we like Goldens. He shouldn’t be a problem.” I had plenty of advance notice, plenty of time to back out but I already felt he’d made a commitment.  The time of year was not optimal. The first week of December is a busy time of the year: end of the year accounting, shopping, decorations, parties etc..; but that was when help was needed.  A small good deed or a bigger one, it was time to step up to the plate.

We do love Golden Retrievers. We like large dogs. The question I was asking myself, however, was would our eleven-year-old Labradoodle Chloe want a housemate? Sociable with other dogs, she is accustomed to being the “Queen Bee.”

Our house guest Tucker is only two-years-old. He needs more exercise than an eleven-year-old dog. Our first full day with Tucker and it was a rainy mucky day—not a good day for outdoor play.

Curious. Hungry. Ready to investigate. My response was to vigilantly keep the doors to all rooms and cabinets closed. In deference to Chloe’s seniority, she gets fed first and receives first dibs on any suitable plates to lick. Her guest, two-year-old Tucker, goes to me to try and curry favor, knowing I’m the one to make decisions in the household when Peter isn’t present.

He did wake us up in the middle of the night, when he heard a neighbor’s dog barking. But he was in a new place and I guess trying to be a watchdog.

Having Tucker around reminds me of another Golden, Augie, the father of our previous dog Grace’s pups. Grace a lovely Golden Retriever, was my daughter Alex’s dog and the mother of nine pups. When Alex was at school, Grace was my responsibility. Leading up to the impregnation, Augie spent some time at our house. Looking for attention, he’d follow me around and try to put his chin on my lap. Maybe male dogs are needier than female dogs.   When I am on the move doing tasks Tucker follows my every move. Currently as I write this, Tucker is asleep. He sleeps at my feet while I’m eating lunch or working on the computer.

Yesterday when the sun was shining, I decided it was time he learned how to properly retrieve. His owner told us he liked to chase and play with balls, but didn’t retrieve. He is a golden retriever and food motivated, so I sensed he wouldn’t be that difficult to teach.

Chloe is a well accomplished retriever.  Initially, she may be reluctant to drop the ball from her mouth, but hold out a treat and she will drop the ball in a flash. She lives to chase the ball and while she can be too tired to walk, she is never too tired to run if a ball is rolling away from her. Tucker observed as I repeatedly praised Chloe and gave her treats, which he attempted to steal. I used several balls at one time, to give both dogs equal opportunity. Eventually he got the idea!

Today, unfortunately rain is falling again so no prolonged play outside. Gradually Tucker is getting familiar with our routines. And before we know it, the week will be over.

Who knows what the next Random Act of Kindness will be. This one has long golden fur and big brown eyes.  Happy December to all and don’t get too tangled up in the holiday madness.

Writing Prompt: What if…. you were asked to do a small favor? Write a scene where you or your character is asked to do something unplanned or expected. How do they react? What happens next? What Random Act of Kindness might take someone out of their comfort zone?

Published by Nadja Maril

Nadja Maril is a communications professional who has over 10 years experience as a magazine editor. A writer and journalist, Maril is the author of several books including: "American Lighting 1840-1940", "Antique Lamp Buyer's Guide", "Me, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat", and "Runaway, Molly Midnight; the Artist's Cat". Her short stories and essays have been published in several small online journals including Lunch Ticket, Change Seven, Scarlet Leaf Review and Defunkt Magazine. She has an MFA in creative writing from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine. Former Editor-in-Chief of What's Up ? Publishing, former Editor of Chesapeake Taste Magazine a regional lifestyle magazine based in Annapolis, and former Lighting Editor of Victorian Homes Magazine, Maril has written hundreds of newspaper and magazines articles on a variety of subjects..

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