(#451) The Conversation Starter

There are no strangers; only friends she has yet to meet.

It was a chance encounter on a pet therapy round. As Roxie and I exited a hospital office area, a woman stopped in the hallway and looked at us.

“I need to pet a dog at this moment,” she said.  She reached down as we approached. Roxie stood beside her and gently leaned into her. The woman stroked Roxie’s back with a soft hand.

In the other hand I noticed she had a clump of papers.  She looked up at me and said she just learned she had a brain tumor. She continued to move her fingers up and down Roxie’s back.

We continued to talk. Mostly, Roxie and I listened. It sounded like she was doing an initial sorting of her thoughts and emotions.

And her hand never left Roxie’s back. Roxie patiently stood.

A few minutes later, the woman excused herself for the restroom. Before she left, she raised her eyes from Roxie to me and said that she believed the universe brought Roxie to her at that point in time.

That moment—more than any other I’ve had with Roxie—reminded me of the potential an animal holds for people.  Roxie, like other pet therapy dogs I have seen, serves as the conversation starter.

There are no strangers; only friends she has yet to meet.

At the airport last week, Roxie met many new friends. And I think about the lessons she teaches.

It generally starts with someone looking at, and then, smiling as we walk by. We approach. There is a paw shake or body language welcoming an interaction.

No barking. No jumping. No rudeness. No showboating. No ugliness. No put-downs.

Just an “I’m-glad-to-meet-you-and-spend-some-time-with-you” experience.

Roxie’s new “friends” invariably talk about their pets, family, home, and travels. Roxie is the conversation starter. She does not interrupt. She does not tell them they are wrong. She does not mind what language they speak (as exhibited last week when one international couple hand-gestured to me, with huge smiles, that they would like to take photos of Roxie). Her language is love and patience.  Other than seeing a gentle stroke in her future, Roxie carries no prejudgment.

She waits.

A conversation begins.

A bond is forged. Perhaps a small piece of healing takes root. Even if for a few minutes.

Smiles linger. Moods brighten.

Roxie teaches us another lesson in civility, kindness, and community. In some ways, it is a brighter day.


Video Recommendation of the Week:

Last year I had the opportunity to record a podcast with the Reverend Elizabeth Teal. We discussed animal-assisted interventions. You can hear the entire episode on The Growth and Resilience Network® podcast channel.  In this short clip (86 seconds) we hear about facilitating a little bit of healing.


For more about community building and sustainability,
look for my new book,
Community as a Safe Place to Land.

The paperback edition is due out this week.
The Kindle version can be purchased here.
More information at www.stevepiscitelli.com.


Make it an inspiring and grateful week and H.T.R.B. as needed.

For information about and to order my most recent book, Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island, click here. A few colleges and one state-wide agency have adopted it for training and coaching purposes. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same.

The paperback price on Amazon is now $14.99 and the Kindle version stands at $5.99. Consider it for a faculty orientation or a mentoring program. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.

My podcasts: The Growth and Resilience Network® (http://stevepiscitelli.com/media-broadcast/podcast).

My programs and webinars: website (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/what-i-do) and (http://stevepiscitelli.com/programs/webinars).

©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®

About stevepiscitelli

Facilitator-Author-Teacher
This entry was posted in awareness, Civility, collaboration, compassion, empathy, intentionality, kindness, pet therapy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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