This summer has been a big one for movie blockbusters, and a lot of them have involved superheroes. I admit that I’m a fan of the genre and we’ve been to our share of movies where there are a lot of capes and masks. At work, I have a lot of students who dream of being superheroes and saving the world. We tend to think of heroes as those with extraordinary powers, extra courage and incredible strength of character. My hero this week is a bit different than that.
My hero greeted me when I got home with a softly wagging tail and a happy grin. She knew when I needed a gentle lean, a happy dance or a low key easy night. My blood pressure lowered when I petted her, my anxiety drifted away and I felt calmer and happier in her presence. The benefits of sharing life with a dog are wide spread and often talked about, and I can attest from my own personal anecdotes that they exist.
Our dogs can be heroes for all of us, and for good reason. We always know where we stand with them. They don’t toy with our emotions for their own amusement or personal benefit. They enjoy our company just because we’re who we are. I’m sure most of us have felt that their dog was a lifesaver for them at some point in their life after a tough day.
The thing I’ve been thinking about lately is that we are all capable of being someone’s hero if we take those same traits that we love about our dogs and apply them to how we interact with other people. If we gave someone our full attention instead of being distracted with our technology, would we make them feel important and valued? If we simply offered the comfort of human touch, whether it’s a comforting hug, a gentle touch on the arm or shoulder, or even a genuine smile would we help ground someone else in the here and now? How often do we act as someone else’s hero and never even know that we have?
As we go into the weekend, I hope that we all can be someone’s hero. Being a hero is less about superpowers than most of us think. It’s about being present for others on a one on one basis that makes more of a difference than wearing a cape. If we take a few notes from our dogs, we just might be able to pull it off.