100: A Little Magic

100: A Little Magic

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Volunteering & Giving Back

A Little Magic

A little magic can take you a long way.

~Roald Dahl

Magic was a four-year-old German Shepherd about to be euthanized at the animal shelter along with hundreds of other dogs, at least that is how I remember it. I was editing a news promo for WNBC/New York. The reporter announced that the dogs and cats would be put down if no one came by the end of the day. My friend Rosie and I left work and rushed to the pound to save whoever we could. She got a cat and I asked the shelter worker for the biggest dog they had. His name was Magic.

I was single, self-absorbed, and without responsibilities. I went to rock concerts, hung out with friends at bars, and worked hard. Just a twenty-something who didn’t realize I was missing family and community. I had tried volunteering once but the guy on the phone said he needed people to stuff and lick envelopes. That didn’t turn me on. In hindsight, it was a blessing. My gluten allergy would have made me a Seinfeld episode. You know the one, where Susan, George’s fiancée, dies from licking envelopes?

So I brought Magic home. When I stepped out of the elevator, my neighbor smiled and said, “You did a mitzvah!”

“A what?”

“A mitzvah! You did a good deed without asking for anything in return. It’s a good thing.”

There wasn’t a lot of trust at first. Magic would take the food out of his bowl, bring it in front of me and eat it one nibble at a time. My co-workers were pretty sure I was crazy and that this would be a huge mistake. But slowly Magic and I got to know each other. We became best friends. For the first time, my apartment felt like a home. We walked together through Central Park every morning and night.

My friends invited me to parties, but I just wanted to be home with Magic. Our lives were happy. For the first time, I was content. Unfortunately, Magic didn’t like being left alone during my working hours. To remedy the issue, I tried doggie day care, a dog therapist and running to tire him out. In the end, I realized he was lonely.

Enter Whiskey. She was a pit bull/boxer mix, scarred from the dog fighting streets where guns and hate were rampant. Her name was Kissy, but that wasn’t working for me. So I renamed her Whiskey. Magic and Whiskey fell in love and our home was complete. At least I thought so.

The neighbor below did not agree. He worked nights and had a loft bed. The pitter-patter of their feet and playing irked him. And, it turned out, my landlord did not allow dogs. Paying $1,600 for a studio apartment on the Upper West Side with duct tape holding the plumbing together suddenly lost its appeal. I didn’t realize it but my “babies” and I had grown out of our home—and essentially New York City.

Since the age of seventeen I had dreamed of heading out west. Land to hike, spacious homes and thoughts of friendly people filled my head. I was discontented with my job, my lack of social life and the constant noise of the city. I made plans to leave.

I took a trip to Arizona and fell in love. It was perfect. I was at peace. Deadheads, hippies and Allman Brothers music playing at the outdoor bar on a sunny day in Flagstaff made me complete. So Magic, Whiskey and I moved away.

My friend helped me drive across the country, and I found a place near a cousin of mine. It was a three-bedroom house for a few hundred dollars a month in Bullhead City, Arizona. The sunsets blew me away. I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t stopping on the side of the road as the sun went down, releasing an array of colors that painted the sky pink, orange, blue, purple, yellow and red.

I began working at a domestic violence shelter. I wanted to help others. It lasted for a while, but it wasn’t enough. I started to travel more, taking odd jobs around the country. Magic and Whiskey came with me everywhere. A friend from Arizona was heading back to Kansas. The Midwest sounded interesting.

A small town in western Kansas became my home. Small towns always need volunteers. And someone who had no obligations besides work was an easy target. I helped at everything—the county fair, the alumni lunch, a local church…. It was social, community-oriented work. And I loved it! It was gratifying. I came home tired yet satisfied. I helped people enjoy themselves. Funny enough, I enjoyed it more than if I had been a guest.

A couple of years later I volunteered for Relay for Life in my area and met my husband. A few more years after that I volunteered at a substance abuse treatment center where I met a woman who later became pregnant and wanted me to adopt her child (a story for another time).

Volunteering has brought me dogs, a wonderful husband and an amazing daughter. And it all started with a little Magic!

~Michele Boy

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