Life is hard. Some have it harder than others, but nobody’s life is easy. Everyone goes through difficulties. We don’t lack reasons to be disheartened. It’s easy to be deceived by the lie that your suffering will amount to nothing. It’s hard to see the light and calm at the end of the storm. Your Evil Wolf wants you to lose heart and give up. Your Good Wolf wants you to see the light and persevere.
My son, Dallas, is applying for scholarships to help pay for college. He will be a Freshman at Grove City College in Pennsylvania in the fall of 2023. The below essay was written this week for one of them. He was asked to write about how growing up with a pet in his life impacted the person he is today. Our family has always had dogs. As I read his story, I was touched by the impact Bolt had on Dallas. Bolt was his Good Wolf.
My family is so proud of Dallas’ character and how he’s benefited from the fruit of perseverance. It seems like yesterday we were worried about what was wrong with him. It was hard to see how good could result from bad. We had to keep our focus on eternal things, not the hardships Dallas was going through. We are grateful, however, because Dallas would not be the young man he is today without them.
A Dog Named Bolt by Dallas Casciani
It was around the time I turned two years old my parents began to worry something was wrong. I had yet to utter my first word. They had me evaluated by multiple specialists over six months, and I eventually was diagnosed with severe speech apraxia. Speech apraxia is deemed a learning disability but it is actually a physical disability. The connections between my brain and the muscles in and around my mouth were not yet developed. From age two to age seven, I had speech therapy three times a week. Despite all the therapy, almost no one could understand me. I was teased and even the simplest interaction with any person was frustrating and exhausting.
On my seventh birthday, my parents gave me a Boston Terrier puppy. I named him Bolt. He was my constant companion, and I needed no words to communicate with him. He seemed to intuitively realize I needed him in stressful moments and never left my side. He would sit by me as I did homework and his presence kept me from getting frustrated.
As years went by, the connections between my brain and mouth finally developed and I could communicate and be understood. Bolt remained my constant companion. With him at my side, I worked very hard to get good grades, yet it was sometimes still a struggle because I had also been diagnosed with dyslexia. Bolt’s soothing energy kept me calm and composed. He never left me until my homework and studies were done. His patience eventually rubbed off on me too. Bolt’s presence and unconditional love were without question the reason I was able to push through difficult times and overcome so many challenges in my life.
One evening, I fell asleep on the couch watching television and eating popcorn. Bolt was right there with me. All of a sudden, my mom heard Bolt barking and ran to him. When she entered the room, she saw Bolt standing on my chest barking at my mouth. She put her hand near my mouth and noticed I wasn’t breathing. She then looked in my mouth and noticed popcorn stuck in my windpipe. She immediately cleared it, sat me up, and I started to breathe again.
Bolt passed away in his sleep ten years after he came into my life. A piece of my heart went with him. I realized this little ball of fur and love had dramatically shaped who I was. I will be forever grateful to have had him in my life. Thanks to Bolt, I am more patient and compassionate. Thanks to Bolt, I am empathetic to people who are frustrated. Thanks to Bolt, I am alive.
I believe the qualities learned from Bolt are the reason I enjoy serving others. He taught me love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. I especially enjoy working with children and sharing with them the story of how a dog named Bolt changed and saved my life.