Each year, seniors at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School deliver a speech to their peers on a topic of their choosing in the Newhall Auditorium. Often equal parts clever and moving, emotional and personal, each speech offers a glimpse into the lives, experiences, struggles, and triumphs of SSM seniors.
Throughout the 2017-18 school year, we will share these speeches with the SSM community and hope that you enjoy the humor, wisdom, and powerful reflections conveyed by our senior students.
“The love of my life is my Rottweiler Reina. She’s a year and a half and eighty pounds of happy craziness. Reina is black and mahogany with the warmest brown eyes that see the world in a different way. My dog has taught me several important life lessons over the past year. In fact, I could say that the five most important things I have learned in my life were taught to me by my dog.
“First: Greet people with a smile and a warm welcome. This summer I left the house at eight thirty to go skate and came back around two. When I opened the front door, she’d be right there with the biggest smile and her tail wagging. She’d run around me and put her paws on my shoulders and give me her kind of hug. It was as if my coming home was the best thing to ever happen to her. When I greet people, I hope a warm smile and a nice hello might make their day a little better, too.
“Second: Do what makes you happy, even if it annoys a few people. Reina has a favorite orange and blue rubber ball. I’ll throw the ball and she’ll chase it until her tongue is dangling and she’s breathing so heavily I can hear her two rooms away. Then she chews it, still panting. This ball makes a wheezing sound as she bites it. The chewing and the wheezing and the panting can last twenty minutes. Then she picks up the ball and starts all over again. It’s really annoying, but Reina doesn’t care. She knows she isn’t hurting anyone, and working that ball is what makes her happy. Now when I am walking places, I might play my music and sing because I really enjoy it and it makes me happy. Sorry if you get annoyed.
“Third: Respect the importance of rest and know when you need alone time. Sometimes Reina will be going to sleep and I’ll want to pet her and cuddle up next to her. She’ll give a soft growl saying, “No, get off me, mom.” I have to respect that. She is a Rottweiler, after all. It’s important for me to know when I need time to myself as well. At Shattuck, there’s so much going on all the time. It can be physically and mentally draining. When I start wearing down and I need some time to myself, I growl, too. I have to make sure I take care of myself, relax, and recharge.
“Fourth: Be curious about the world. We take my dog on the boat when we go fishing. She is so curious about the boat, the water, and any fish we bring in the boat. She’s also curious about what’s in the water as well. Once she jumped right into the lake and went after a log that was floating by. My dad had to pull her back in. Now I try to have curiosity and excitement about the world, but to also have someone spot me just in case.
“Fifth: Lift others up. Sometimes I get sad, whether it be from a bad day at skating or a disagreement with a friend. I’ll curl up into a ball on my bed, and Reina will know something is wrong. She’ll nuzzle her head up next to me and slowly begin to dig her way underneath me. It’s like she’s trying to lift me up. It always makes me feel better. I feel we can all try to do this for each other. The simple act of being there for a friend to listen and give a hug can help in a major way.
“My dog has taught me to greet people warmly, do what makes me happy, remember to rest, be curious, and lift others up. Thanks to her, I’m learning to see this busy, complicated world more through the warm eyes of my dog.