By Rev. Dallas Teague Snider // Photo by Liesa Cole
Over the years as I have reconnected with friends and colleagues, often the question arises, “How have you been? How are the kids?” In the beginning an awkward moment would ensue as I responded, “Well, thank you. By the way, I don’t have any children.” To say that this was a bit uncomfortable is an understatement.
Suddenly the epiphany happened. I do in fact have children. Any pet parent would agree that my dog Belle and my cat Lulu, although they speak a different language and belong to a different species, are definitely my children. At least they think so.
It’s no surprise that when I learned of Ms. Naomi Abe and what she was doing as a volunteer to make a difference at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, I was touched by her heart to share her humanly love with some of creation’s most vulnerable.
What do you think of when you think of being an everyday hero?
An everyday hero to me is anybody who expresses compassion to others by deeply understanding their sufferings and trying to help relieve their sufferings no matter the extent. As an elementary school teacher I know that the administrators, teachers, and support/office staff at my school are wonderful examples of everyday heroes who deeply care for our students and their families. Also, at the Greater Birmingham Humane Society, where I volunteer, I see everyday heroes all the time in their passionate caring.
What do you do in your unique way to impact the lives of others?
I started my volunteer work last January, and am still a novice volunteer who has a lot to learn from all the wonderful staff and veteran volunteers. Giving all the animals in the shelter first-rate care is an enormous task. I know how hard the staff works to save their lives and find forever houses for them, so I am hoping to do my part as a volunteer whenever I can.
Are there any particular challenges you have faced or experienced that have changed your perspective to consider others and make a difference?
The older I get, the more essential “being here and now” or “living each moment mindfully” becomes. When I started focusing on what is most important in my life at the present moment, among my “things I feel most passionate about” list was the promotion of humane treatment for animals. I realized that even though I had been thinking and talking about promoting the humane treatment of animals, I had not put that in action, and that it’s no good to wait for “the right moment” to start doing something about it.
Any setbacks? If so, how did you overcome these challenges?
The number of abandoned, surrendered, or stray dogs and cats is staggering. Sometimes I feel that what I am doing is a drop in the ocean and not making a dent. At such a time, I try to remind myself of the words of Mother Teresa, “If you cannot feed a hundred people, just feed one,” and get back to what I can do—taking care of one canine friend at a time until he/she can find a forever home.
#ThinkLoveFirst is a global human rights initiative that I am launching.
How do you #ThinkLoveFirst in what you do?
I fully agree with the #ThinkLoveFirst initiative to promote respect for diversity as well as its vision to create awareness of unity as human beings. Putting love first in my thoughts, words, and actions is my goal. The message is particularly crucial in the present divided society and world if we really want to achieve a peaceful world.
What advice would you give others about being that light they are destined to be?
I believe the ThinkLoveFirst movement starts with showing compassion toward all the other living beings through deep listening and loving speech. My advice to anybody is to listen deeply to what others are saying and to speak kindly to all beings. I keep telling myself to follow this advice whenever my mind starts to go off “ThinkLoveFirst,” and it works!
To learn more about #ThinkLoveFirst visit www.thinklovefirst.org