Compare only to who you were yesterday

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Two months after Daniel the Beagle survived the gas chamber he was entered into the American Humane Association’s Hero dog competition. There were several thousand dogs entered in 2011 and Daniel was one of 8 finalists after months of voting.

Our closest friend during the competition was Gabe, a military dog who had an impressive record saving many soldiers lives. Daniel and Gabe met for the first time almost a year later before the final ceremony. This is a memory I will have for a lifetime. Daniel went up to Gabe to say hello, and yes I know he is a dog, but he did not have that intimidation some would get when meeting such an impressive individual. Most notably, like all dogs, Daniel did not compare himself to Gabe.

This encounter really started me thinking about how our youth, and adults, do so much comparing to others. This leads to an unhealthy pattern of lack of self-esteem. The most obvious situations of comparison involve famous people but I must say I hear more stories lately about teens comparing themselves to other teens. As a substitute teacher in a middle school not a day goes by I do not hear students talking about how they need to be more like someone else.

In my presentations I provide illustrations about how dogs are never caught doing this and have a nice sense of self-appreciation, hero dog or not. However, I also provide them with a personal example. I was working my way up the weights on a triceps machine and had progressed from 75 pounds to 125 pounds. Along came a gym friend who asked to work in.  He promptly moved the pin from my 125 pounds to 250 pounds! My first thought was a feeling of being deflated, until I realized my only comparison should have been my own progress.

In the last assembly I had the pleasure of speaking at, many students thanked me for providing this inspiring lesson.

Since students gravitate so much to my therapy dog Shelby I think I will give an example about her as well. When Shelby tested for becoming a therapy dog, she had to walk by a Great Dane, who was a veteran and quite large. Shelby walked by without the need to look at him in awe. Since that day Shelby has distinguished herself as an incredibly compassionate therapy dog.

I will be expanding this important theme for my Fall presentations and workshops as part of my Prosper With The Pack program.

Please contact me at or 973-284-0107 to have a phone conversation about possibilities for your school