If I had to think about myself one more time, I was going to rip my skin off and throw it into a fire.
All day, every day: My life was too much about me. Hey, I love myself, but after a lifetime of ME, I started to get really sick of thinking of myself, and I started to feel beyond the scope of self-centered. I needed something else to focus on and care for, or I was going to drive myself crazy.
Then came Wacha. I had been thinking about adopting a dog for a while, and thank God I did. Wacha has completely changed my world. There were the regular things you’d expect to change when you first get a dog, but I wasn’t expecting Wacha to open up my heart.
After rescuing Wacha from a shelter in West Virginia, I couldn’t help but think about all the other adorable dogs who also needed a forever home. I knew I had to do something, and that’s when Wacha changed my life again.
While researching how I could help other dogs like Wacha, I came across the Purina ONE Difference Initiative — Purina ONE’s effort to prove how a single, small change can make a huge impact in the life of a dog. Having grown up in St. Louis, I was aware of Purina, which is based in the city, so I immediately wondered, “Is it possible that these were my worlds colliding in a way that would help cynical Andy do something … good?”
When I started working with Purina ONE, Wacha was in the middle of taking the Purina ONE 28 Day Challenge launching in partnership with Mutt-i-grees, a K-12 curriculum that brings shelter dogs to the classroom to teach students lessons on emotional competence and social awareness. Wacha and I joined Mutt-i-grees and started to go to N.Y.C. classrooms to teach these important lessons to students.
The first time Wacha and I taught a Mutt-i-grees class together, I was a little skeptical about how he would react to a classroom full of kids, but he loved it as much as they did. Their eyes lit up the minute Wacha walked into the room. It is incredible to see how these kids respond when a dog is in the room – it’s almost like they don’t want to let the dog down. So cute!
I couldn’t think of a more perfect way to give back than with Wacha. Not only do we help impact the lives of shelter dogs, who often get adopted through this program, but we impact the lives of kids.
You know the old adage about who saves whom? I knew when I rescued Wacha I was saving him, but didn’t know just how much he’d be saving me. He’s completely enriched my life and helped me give back in ways I didn’t think possible.