When I first met Son, he struck me as an intelligent, empathetic boy who had an unusually well developed combination of empathy and leadership skills.
Later, when I learned that he had a long history as a gang leader, I was initially surprised, although I probably shouldn’t have been. All of the qualities that served him so well in the Blue Dragon shelter – his ability to get along with others, his can-do attitude, his integrity – ensured his success out on the streets.
Son was 15 then, and is now a terrific 19 year old young man. He works in a bar, he lives in a rented room, and Blue Dragon is helping out just a little as he transitions to full independence.
He’s also one of the lucky kids who has found his passion in life: dogs. Son has undertaken a dog training course and has been raising several dogs, including his own and those of some friends. In fact, the story is that he landed his job in a bar when, during the interview, the bar owner’s dog walked into the room and leapt straight onto Son’s lap. The dog almost never takes well to strangers, but instinctively knew that Son was trustworthy – so the owner offered him the job on the spot!
Son’s love of dogs has filled the void left from his old gang days; working with dogs gives him an important role to play, and uses all of his natural talent for leadership and decision making.
And even more than that: the dogs give him an unconditional love, as any dog owner will know. I have two dogs myself; Tuesday marks the 11th year since one of the two dogs first joined my family, and my other dog is a year older again. So I totally get the joy that Son finds in working and playing with his dogs, and why he dreams of building a career around his love for them.
Talking to people about Blue Dragon’s philosophy of caring for children, I often make the point that every child should be the centre of somebody’s universe.
For Son, holding the responsible position of a dog owner means that he also has the unbound love of a 4 legged friend to remind him daily of how important he is. Perhaps that’s something we all need.
Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation rescues kids in crisis.