The Tail, er, Tale of the Three-Legged Dog.

by Alton Gansky

Lessons come in the
strangest places and at the oddest times. I slipped from the office early to
get a haircut and buy one of those gooey-frosty-juice-things with names like “Melon
that are supposed to be good for me. The haircut went fine with no ears injured
and the juice was everything I hoped for. As I drove through the parking lot,
my mind on the day’s work and a straw of tasty juice permanently glued
to my lips, I had to slow for a dog trotting over the asphalt—a
dog with three legs.
Now, I’ve seen three-legged dogs before. I even tell a joke about
a three-legged pig (I’ll spare you), but the image of the dog stuck with me
through the day. First, the dog appeared as happy as any I’ve seen. He didn’t
mope across the macadam, he moved with brisk motion as if he were late for an
appointment (maybe he was out for a haircut too).
Second, he trotted as if he had all four legs, apparently
unperturbed by the missing limb. Whatever cost him his leg hadn’t taken away
his doggy-zeal for life.
Last, he used what he had and used it well.
“If only . . .” Have you ever heard the phrase? “If only I had
more time. If only I were younger. If only I hadn’t wasted my youth. If only I
had chosen a better college (or any college). Many people utter this phrase,
allowing it to become their mantra of failure. Budding writers say, “If only I had
more time.” Hesitant entrepreneurs mumble, “If only I had started sooner.”
“If only . . . if only . . . if only . . .”
What does the three-legged dog do? He keeps moving forward as if
nothing was missing.
That is a wise dog. Such a good boy.

Alton Gansky is an author, podcaster, teacher, and a man
willing to learn about life from a three-legged dog.