March 2022 Hope is a Cold Nose and Other Inspiring Stories

Here we are once again dear travelers sharing this quest journey with me!  A few more Xs on our map as we seek what Hope Is. 

Many of you already know the tips for how to hike the distance with me each month.  For those who have just put on your backpacks and are taking the first steps, let me offer it is not a requirement to walk all the miles at one time.  Sure, you can if you would like, yet it is also ok to walk a few miles (read one of the coordinates), pause, and then walk a few miles another day (read another one of the coordinates) and continue until you have walked the distance before the next leg of our journey (April).  In whatever way you choose to join me, my wish most of all is that you find it to be a beautiful and rewarding hike.   

Hope Is

42.48387° N, -86.08205° E

Recently I saw the title to a book by Zoe Weil: The World Becomes What We Teach.   During the past month, I had a very special privilege of spending time in person with thirteen amazing parts of the world and their extraordinary teacher who must have a vision for the world to be one of compassion, joy, confidence, kindness, authenticity, bravery, determination, resilience, inclusion, imagination, creativity, acceptance, experimentation, respect, faith, playfulness, love, and hope.   

Just to name a few elements of this teacher’s vision that I witnessed in action when I spent a few hours with extraordinary young souls. 

Hope Is Alyssandra, Valentin, Alex, Cain, Katelyn, Aleeyah, Nevaeh, Gabbi, Jaxon, Kiarah, Jacob, Garrett, Gatlin, Maydelyn, Rick, Amber, Malik, and Perla. 

Life has a beautiful way of bringing us back around in a circle, though where we come back to is not the point in which we began.  I was a guest in this elementary class being taught by a teacher who first became my friend when we were in elementary school together.   I remember my friend needing to get to campus for morning elementary ed classes when we were roommates during college.  Many years later and routinely I witness the smiles on young adult faces who once had my friend as their teacher, their smiles of gratitude for the seeds she planted within them when they, too, were once third graders to become what she had taught. 

Hope Is witnessing a lifetime friend living her calling she answered thirty-six plus years ago when she knew that she wanted to be an elementary teacher.  She knew she wanted to be there at the formative stages of young minds to not only teach a foundation in math, science, reading, and writing.  Most of all, she wanted to be one who would help each young soul build their most important foundation of all.  That of self-worth.

Before my visit, these amazing students were learning about stories from Hope Has a Cold Nose.   They were spending time thinking about the beacons of hope:  For self, for family, for school, and for our country/the world. 

Hope for Self, for Family, for School, and for Country/the World

And then our paths crossed during my quest.  Thirteen inspiring, imaginative, talented, innocently wise, and wonderful individuals shared with me what Hope Is.   Five additional inspiring, imaginative, talented, innocently wise, and wonderful individuals were not able to be at school the day the quest stopped in their class.  I think that means I will need to plan a next time to learn from each of them.  (smile)

Without further haste, it is my honor to share with you Hope Is:

Garrett shares that hope is possible when you have really cool rocket-boosters on a car that also has the ability to fly through the sky:

Garrett’s hope

Nevaeh shares Hope means what you hope for like I hope my grandma to feel better.  Hope is like a wish that hope can make you feel better.   

Nevaeh’s Hope

For Maydelyn, Hope Is me and my family.  Sometimes we paint {together}.  Not all the time.

Maydelyn’s Hope

For Alyssandra, Hope Is a new home.  Hope is stars in the sky.

Alyssandra’s Hope

Valentin shares Hope Is that my cat comes back.

Valentin’s Hope

For Jacob, Hope Is what I think hope means is wishing. 

Jacob’s Hope

Katelyn shares Hope Is something you want or something you need like a dog or like an animal or a picture or people.  I hope for a friend.

Katelyn’s Hope

For Alex, hope is helping catch someone if they begin to fall

Alex’s Hope

Amber shares hope is when people feel better.   And I hope everyone gets Christmas.

Amber’s Hope

Gatlin shares the sun is bright, but when it gets darker the hope is all we have.

Gatlin’s Hope

For Rick, hope means having faith in something or someone like family and animals

Rick’s Hope

Cain shares hope means to wish for something for yourself

Cain’s Hope

Kiarah shares to you hope just might mean something you want or something you wish for but for me hope means good things or I hope you get better.  It means kindness or helping others.  Hope makes you feel good inside.  Or makes you feel happy.   Hope can also mean to have a friend by your side or someone that believes in you.  Hope also means you have confidence, or you believe yourself.  But if you don’t have hope life might not be so happy for you.  But with hope, life can be a little more easy.   Always have hope and you will have a happy life.  Hope is a good thing so always have hope.   When you are sad, have some hope.  A puppy or a kitten can bring you hope.   That’s the end.  Hope you learned something about hope. 

Hope Is

In how young hearts see and feel the world around them.

And in what young minds are learning.

I leave this x on the map asking myself what am I teaching the world to become when my path crosses a young mind and heart? 

What are each of us teaching?

27.336433° N, -82.531136° E

https://www.embracingourdifferences.org/

41,500 students participated in a 19th annual event.

I did not have the honor of talking to those who imagined this first annual event and continued to fuel its fire for eighteen more years and counting.  Yet, I had the sacred privilege of “hearing” their voices – and 41,500 more voices – in the words read and the images seen. 

Hope Is along a sidewalk that follows a channel of water that holds a twenty-four square mile piece of Earth.     

I walked this sidewalk and found an additional 41,500 students learning what thirteen inspiring young hearts and minds were teaching me a few weeks prior through their actions I witnessed and their words I heard them speak.  Compassion, joy, confidence, kindness, authenticity, bravery, determination, resilience, inclusion, imagination, creativity, acceptance, experimentation, respect, faith, playfulness, love, and hope.  

Enjoy glimpses of this walk with me now.

27.51991° N, -82.5756° E

Hope Is

Changing the world, one dog and one life at a time for

Those visually impaired

For U.S. military veterans

For children and youth

For Gold Star military families who are now journeying with loss and grief

For families who grieve the loss of a beloved veteran who reached the end of hope (suicide)

Home – Southeastern Guide Dogs

I was given not just one extraordinary gift from the heart of a best friend.   I was given not just two gifts when I shook the hand of Sean as he warmly welcomed my best friend and myself to an organization where

Heroes are trained.

I was given an overflowing of gifts by getting to meet and spend time with Sean, Nick, Jess, Nicole, Lauren, Emily, Benny, Katie, Jingles, Krista, Maggie, Mike, Ryan, and the sweetest little hero in the make. 

Hope Is

A loving occupational therapist who works in a state of the art rehabilitation center to ensure a quality of life for senior heroes who fulfilled their callings in their youth to guide someone as a set of seeing eyes or to be ready in a moment’s signal to put their front paws against the lap of a veteran to gently remind in an anxious or terrifying moment I’ve got your back in this moment, I’m right here, and it’s ok.  I’m not going anywhere, here is my hug, and it is ok. 

Hope Is

A compassionate leader of all who tend to the puppies from conception to birth to foster placement for initial training as each hero prepares for the next stage of training in which they begin to earn their capes.   

This leader is able to give first-hand testimony regarding the powerful bond between a soul in fur and a human soul.  She witnessed the miraculous love that grew between two souls where the only communication was as an occasional oh so very soft formative kick from one and the ability to hear each other’s drumming heartbeats.  Each for the other was sight unseen for a time.   Nearly nine months to be exact.  Momma Montana the soul in fur.  The other drumming heartbeat this leader’s daughter before she was born.  Every day during this leader’s pregnancy this hero in training would lay across this leader’s belly.  Once the daughter was born, the bond with Momma Montana was inseparable.  Two hearts beating became one.

Hope Is

A caring midwife of expectant hero mothers and the soon to be heroes that will walk beside someone in need.    What a sacred gift to be shown pictures of an ultrasound displaying the tiniest of images growing inside a mother canine womb. 

Hope Is

New life. 

This midwife is someone who takes great care not only to monitor each pregnancy but who also continually checks the health of the expectant parents and the parents who would like to be expectant someday.   She does not want to put any furred father, mother, or puppy at risk of health issues later down the road.  She does not want to put any person in need of a future hero at risk of heartache if their service or guide dog experiences health issues such as hip dysplasia or cancer.  

Hope Is

Only two prescription medications per day for physical injuries, two that was once sixteen. 

Hope Is

Once feeling completely disconnected, scared, alone, isolated from…everything to now finding reason to “obey” the willing eyes ok, dad, time to get off the couch now, let’s go outside and take a walk.  Hurry now, it’s time to get moving. 

Hope Is

Once so filled with remorse and shame to see a spouse terrified and to watch a marriage careening towards a point of no longer “we” to witnessing a radiant smile again across a spouse’s face and to feel the marriage is now thriving thanks to Pellet.

Or Nick.

Or Ryan.

Three heroes in fur serving heroes who once were in uniform as service men.    

Hope Is

Now finding an ability to recognize the triggers that could cause an eruption before there is hot lava scalding everyone in its wake.  Before it was the constant tug and pull between feeling in control and out of control of the dormant lava deeply encasing the emotional pain.  It is one of the hardest things to do is acknowledge when one is hurting, especially if the wounds are the interior kind no one can typically see. 

Hope Is canine intuition and a tension ice breaker in the form of a fur coat and padded feet.  Someone who will intuitively sense things are getting serious or uncomfortable and will immediately turn on his impersonation of the character Goofy.  Like Ryan has done for his veteran when sitting through a church ceremony. 

Hope Is

Listening to that inner whisper that sounded so far away when it initially urged reach out and ask about this healing modality.  See if a canine could help you on your journey with P.T.S.D.  It might feel like it’s a scarlet letter you start wearing if you get paired as a service team.  But, hey man, look, don’t you already feel like your sudden bursts of frustration with strangers is a flag you wave noticeably.  Go ahead, reach out.  What do you got to lose?  The worst case is you stay alone, scared, frustrated, and heck, that is already worst since it is so familiar to you.   Go ahead, reach out.  See what they say. 

Hope Is

Becoming a canine service team certainly.  And hope is reestablished comradery.  It is gaining a sense of brotherhood and sisterhood again after active duty.   Reaching out via email was met with a returned personal phone call.  Ninety minutes later included an invitation to meet for breakfast with some of the service dog teams.   That breakfast day including a helping of understanding, inspiration, and belonging. 

Yep, self, you were right when you nudged “go ahead, reach out.”   If anyone thinks I’m wearing a scarlet letter, well, I guess I have only one thing to say. 

Hope Is being an inspiration to others by proudly wearing a scarlet letter for all to see. 

Because there might just be someone who sees me with Ryan and they listen to that inner voice saying go ahead, reach out, it will be ok. 

I will gladly wear this scarlet letter if it means a life is saved.

Hope Is

An exceptional animal whisperer of first zoo life, then dolphins, and now heroes in fur coats, a trainer of the guide and service dogs like dear Benny.  My best friend and I go to meet Southeastern Guide Dogs very adorable – and incredibly trained – ambassador, Benny.  We were shown how someone is helped in finding a sense of groundedness if they are experiencing anxiety.  We were shown how hugs are given and how a service dog will sit close to keep a safe distance and barrier from any external stimuli less than soothing to the person they are serving.  We observed mobility assistance.  We observed Benny’s unconditional loving eyes and his pure joy in being the hero he has been trained to be.     

Hope Is

Additional beautiful and extraordinary souls that are also a part of the Southeastern Guide Dogs team who each honored their inner whispers to live a life of service for both canines and humans in need of the healing dogs can bring.   One has witnessed the support that can be given for someone who is autistic or for someone who is mobility challenged.  One has witnessed the power of canines in bomb detection.  Both followed their hearts to SE Guide Dogs where they then sat next to me with Jingles and Maggie by their sides, two additional heroes I had the privilege to meet.

When I talked with these wonderful hosts and hostesses about what led me to writing Hope Has a Cold Nose, I was saddened to learn a fear I had was a reality.   I feared that twenty-two was a mispresented statistic.    I learned it is more accurate to say thirty-one.   

Hope Is

The Southeaster Guide Dogs organization and the heroes with cold noses who focuses like the little boy on the beach with the starfish at his feet.   As my favorite parable says

But for that one I made a difference.

And for every one in which a difference is made, the number does not become thirty-two.

47.411293° N, -120.55627° E

Hope Is

Someone who believes that you are worthy.

That you are enough just as you are.

That your life is worth saving.

And then gives you a chance to be a change the world needs.

My quest led me to an incredibly inspiring organization full of determination, grit, reverence for Mother Nature, life-giving dignity, exceptional throwing arms for fetching toys {smile}, and hope.   

For our planet.  And for the most valued members of the Rogue team who

Walk with pawed feet, wear a coat made of fur, and have the most powerful, beautiful, brave, intelligent cold noses!

https://roguedogs.org/

Hope Is

Rogue Detection Teams  

Rogue Detection Teams gave me a sacred gift.  The gift is they shared from their heart what the heart of Rogue Detection Teams is.   When a heart is shared, it is not my place to alter it in any way.   I am honored to share with you on behalf of this amazing organization that Hope Is:

A conservation detection dog program based in Washington state, USA, with operations around the world. We advocate for adopting fetch-obsessed dogs from shelters that might not otherwise be adopted into a home environment, and we teach these supposed unwanted, last-chance dogs how to search for data on endangered species. Our rescue dogs work alongside their bounders, our name for our canine handlers. Our work is non-invasive, meaning we never handle or collar the animals we are seeking data on, which is also a win-win for wildlife who might otherwise be stressed by these activities. In this way, we hope to be a resource for wildlife, shelter animals, and researchers who require data on rare or cryptic species in the wild.

Hope can mean many things. It can be something to look forward to, a desire for something to happen. It can also be something or someone in which hopes are centered. In our case, it is all of the above and it all centers around our dogs.

When we adopt, we adopt for life and our dogs retire with the bounder they have bonded with the most in their career. We currently have 14 dogs in our program, ranging in ages from 1.5 years old all the way to 18. They are of all different breeds, be this lab mixes or cattle dog mixes. They are large, and small, have long tails or nubbins. We even have a Schipperke mix in our program, named Beckett. The one thing they each have in common is an obsessive need to play fetch. This need transcends all other needs for our dogs, and some won’t even eat or drink without an outlet to play fetch. In this way, these dogs did not make great home pets. Their obsession made it hard for them to connect with people, and without the constant ability to play fetch, some of their behaviors became undesirable and manifested either as aggressive or destructive. Before our dogs came to us, many were scheduled to be euthanized.

Our first hope is to be that last chance stop for many of these misunderstood, misfit, rogue dogs of the shelter world. They are not destructive. They do bond with people. But they need an outlet, they need a job, they need a purpose, and we hope to be that for them, through the work we do alongside them for wildlife conservation.

The dogs are our teachers, our colleagues, our equals, our best friends. When we first adopt our dogs, many have fear, most do not trust, they have anxiety, and some are even afraid of the outdoors, of leaves crunching under their feet, or of stumps that maybe look like wild animals to them. But once we provide them another outlook on life by teaching them that when they sniff an odor for us in the wild, they get to play fetch for finding it- their big scary world turns into a wonderful, fulfilling game working alongside their bounder.

We also have hope for wildlife in our work. Although our bounders love dogs, it’s not a love of dogs that led most of us into this career path. Instead, it was wildlife conservation and the desire to assist our wild places and spaces for future generations of people, animals, and habitats. How do we do this? By collecting data on understudied or endangered wildlife. It is our hope that our work highlights how every species has a special and unique role to play in our ecosystems. If we learn to respect, care for, and preserve a species as tiny as an endangered Oregon Silverspot butterfly larvae to a giant orca in the ocean, then we are making the connections between the importance of biodiversity to human health.

We also hope to be a resource to the science community, to highlight that this non-traditional technique may be able to assist in their research with a method that causes little to no stress to the species they are researching.

We hope to inspire youth from all walks of life to believe that they can pursue a career in the science field. This field isn’t closed to only those with special degrees, and even though the path to get here is challenging, we hope that our dogs are ambassadors to those who may doubt they have a place in science.

And as this method grows, and many are seeking to purchase dogs, or pursue special dog training regimes, we hope to be a resource to highlight that dogs of different backgrounds and different breeds can do this work. People of different backgrounds can learn to become bounders, too, if they stop to listen, and remain open to the lessons each of our conservation detection dogs have taught us.

So, hope comes in many forms for us. And because we have so much hope, we founded a program centered around it, the Rogue Detection Teams. Ultimately, it is our hope that this methodology grows and develops with the welfare of dogs and wildlife everywhere so that more researchers believe in the abilities of the detection dog teams for wildlife conservation.

Since this March quest discovered an additional theme related to teaching and education, I would also like to share with you a sub link for Rogue Detection Teams related to education.   As they share on their web page:

We developed the Rogue Education Outreach Program to encourage students to think differently about science, and just like our RogueDogs do things differently, our hope is to inspire diversity in this fascinating and unique field.

Education — Rogue Detection Teams (roguedogs.org)

31.462734° N, -99.33304° E

I had the privilege of taking part in an interview for Books On Air Podcast with Suzanne Harris to share about Hope Has a Cold Nose

On behalf of the twenty-three co-authors of HHCN, for thirty-one lives per day, for

Hope

42.38337° N, -85.95741° E

On behalf of Ginger and Kutana, may peace be in your heart.    May you always remember that making a difference for one is still a very big difference to make. 

People who really want to make a difference in the world usually do it, in one way or another. And I’ve noticed something about people who make a difference in the world: They hold the unshakable conviction that individuals are extremely important, that every life matters. They get excited over one smile. They are willing to feed one stomach, educate one mind, and treat one wound. They aren’t determined to revolutionize the world all at once; they’re satisfied with small changes. Over time, though, the small changes add up. Sometimes they even transform cities and nations, and yes, the world. – Beth Clark

Sincerely,

-Christine

P.S.

If you have enjoyed this month’s message, please pay it forward to others.  They can also subscribe to future emails by visiting www.christinehassing.com.   Encourage others to share what Hope Is.   I welcome sharing their input in future messages!   

P.S.S.  You can also find the links to Southeastern Guide Dogs and Rogue Detection Teams on my webpage HOPE LINKS – Christine Hassing

Namaste.’ 

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