Posts tagged Roots & Shoots

One Dog At A Time

Dr. Jane talking to the teenagers at the Santa Fe Animal Shelter.

I had the great honor and good fortune this morning to sit in on a session with one of the world’s most revered and respected scientists, Dr. Jane Goodall.

Probably best known for her early work with Chimpanzees, Goodall now travels throughout the world speaking and inspiring individuals to take informed and passionate action to improve the environment on earth for all living things. She is a UN Messenger of Peace and the founder of the  global nonprofit organization, The Jane Goodall Institute.

One of Goodall’s main areas of focus is youth, and she meets with young members of her Roots & Shoots program all over the world, gently teaching them by example how to be ambassadors for the change they want to see in their lifetime.

That is what she was doing today — meeting with the Youth Board of the Santa Fe Animal Shelter, an outreach group of about 10 teenagers that got started four years ago in connection with Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program. The kids spoke of their love for animals and their reasons for joining the Board, but also expressed their overwhelm about the magnitude of need for reform, education, and animal rescue.

Jane began quietly reinforcing each child’s experiences by telling them over and over things like, “You just never know how your story or what you say to just one person might make a difference. Don’t give up.” Then, in her modest and rather hypnotic style, she proceeded to tell them a few stories of her own to make her point. Like the one-dog-at-a-time story, which goes something like this.

An acquaintance of hers was stationed in Bombay, India, but after some time felt she had to request a transfer because of the horrid conditions and abundance of dogs on the street in that city. When she went to her senior advisor to request the transfer, he made one request. He asked her to go back and see if she could help just one dog before making her decision.

So she did. She took one dog in off the street, got it cleaned up, healthy and spayed and then found it a good home. Then she took another dog and did the same. A friend decided she could do that too, so she took in a dog. A friend of the friend followed suit and soon there was a very active group saving these street dogs in Bombay. The final outcome? They organized and built a no-kill shelter and basically transformed at least one area of the city’s dogs’ plight.

These ladies didn’t let the fact that they couldn’t save all the street dogs in all the cities in India stop them. They just started . . . one dog at a time.

There were many other stories, and the kids themselves realized they had a few of their own to share, and that maybe, just maybe, their experiences and interludes would have farther reaching effects than they would ever know about.

Before the meeting was over and Jane went on to her media interviews, one of the girls asked Jane if she had a favorite animal.

Jane unhesitatingly said, “Yes, the dog. Everyone always thinks my favorite animal would be a chimpanzee, but chimpanzees are far too much like humans to be my favorite!”

Jane is a legend in her own time and certainly inspired me today. Her work on behalf of our planet is immeasurable, and I felt I should at least help by spreading her message on my tiny blog.

So whether your cause is the near-extinct Booby Bluebill, the rainforest, or your kids’ diet, don’t give up! Just keep doing the work:



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