Today is National I Want You to be Happy Day! How cool of a day is this?

There are many definitions of the word happy but it really comes down to a feeling of contentment and peace, like you don’t need anything else.

You would think that growing up one of eight children in a two-bedroom, one bath home there would have been many reasons to be unhappy. We had so little I look back and it’s laughable. I never had a dresser or a closet! We hung our clothes on a rack from the Goodwill and my mom got the large Tide Detergent boxes, cut them down, and added a paper bag inside and that was my dresser. Not making this up. The list goes on and on about we did not have, and it was lengthy compared to what my friends in school had, but the list was even longer measuring what we did have when compared to others with more money, bigger houses, more stuff. We had family who because friends, the opportunity to learn to cook and clean and sew, something other children did not do but I’m so glad I learned, we had laughter and music, an emphasis on education, and kindness. I look back and realize that what made me happy was my community, my having a purpose even as a very young child, and my desire to make others happy.

When we moved here two years ago I was not happy. I’d left my community in Hawaii. 4,192 miles for a very unhappy and painful reason. That’s how far it is from Honolulu and Oshkosh and the odds of going back to see my family and friends frequently aren’t that high. I was feeling anything but content or filled with peace.

Little by little, one step at a time, I’ve been building community here in Wisconsin. I have a handful of friends thanks to the book club I attend. My music with the Oshkosh Chamber Singers has added another level of contentment. Turning our house built in 1875 into a home has also brought me joy.

Even then, I felt empty. The headaches persisted the depression, the anxiety. And then I found Coconut. Who knew this little scamp would key in on my every mood and effortlessly make me happy? Through him, I found a purpose at NEW PAWSibilities. I’ve found more friends, a new and different community.

My dog, Coconut is one of my favorite beings on the planet. Not only does he calm me and make me happy but because of him, I am meeting people. Coconut is a social facilitator. No matter how angry or depressed their facial expressions before they encounter Coconut strangers and acquaintances alike instantly change when they see him. As they stroke his soft fur, laugh at his desire to lick and love on them, I see them calm down and smile and then laugh. Conversation flows and the genesis of community happens. I have found that I am enjoying doggy people more than I ever thought possible. I think it’s because if someone is willing to invest time, money, and emotion into caring for a dog they are the type of people would want to invest those same things into their community.

I am sure you can think of all sorts of special ways to celebrate National I Want You to be Happy Day. How many can you think of involving your dog?

The best news is that we have dogs! If you are thinking of getting a dog, or you know someone who is, today might be that day. When you adopt a rescue dog you are 100% sure of making someone happy. I guarantee that your new dog will finally be content and filled with peace and have everything he needs. We feed or dogs, give them clean water, exercise them, and give them vet care. But we can’t give them what they crave. Dogs need a community that starts with their person. They need a home of their own.

Making someone happy always boomerang backs and makes you happy. Funny how that works. Why not come in today or later this week so see if there is a dog who you can make happy, who will make you happy, and who will help you build a community?