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Barry and I have a delightful family hobby of raising a litter of Golden Retriever puppies every year or so. We've owned and loved Goldens since 1970 and are dedicated to bringing only the highest quality dogs into the world. The entire family comes together for this project, and we have so much fun with the puppies, raising them with as much love as we can.

As part of this hobby, we used to march in our town's parade (Aptos, CA) each July 4. We invited as many of our former puppies and their owners as possible to march with us. This is definitely a small-town parade, with children on bikes, antique cars, local bands, dancing troupes, and seven or eight dog groups. Although blue ribbons are given for the best entry in each category, we are totally unattached to winning.

This particular day, the dog groups all gathered in the parking lot of the local veterinary clinic. Our family and three of our four dogs arrived first and waited for the other Goldens and families (we leave home one senior dog who is not fond of parades).

Beauty vs. Love

Right next to us was a group of Bernese Mountain Dogs. These are beautiful large black, brown and white dogs. The woman in charge of them told me that all of her dogs were famous champions, well known in the show circles. They participate in parades all over California. I looked at her elaborate set up, with signs, flower harnesses for the dogs, a small fire engine for them to pull, and each dog immaculately groomed.

I looked over at our three dogs and saw Barry and our children brushing away at our dogs, trying to remove the weeds and dirt that had collected in their fur from living in the country. No, they were never going to look immaculate. I thought to myself, "Surely this woman with her fire engine, signs, harnesses, and champion dogs will win the prize this year."

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The next group of dogs to arrive was the Pugs, all 25 of them. They were being pulled in wagons. They were followed by the Dachshunds. Each little dog had a darling costume on. They looked cute, but didn't seem so happy about the clothing.

Eventually, eighteen Goldens were ready to march. None of them had costumes or decorations, just the pure love in their hearts to offer the crowds of people gathered along the short parade route. Instead of marching down the middle of the road, we encouraged the owners to go from side to side, letting their dogs greet the crowds, which they loved to do. And yes, the oohs and ahhs were plentiful, as golden love was exchanged by all. When we passed the judges' stand, the Goldens all wiggled up to them to give their love. The parade was fun.

The next day, we were called and told that we had won first prize in the pet division. I could hardly believe it. Our dogs didn't have any of the special things the other groups had: elaborate costumes, wagons, accessories, championship show-ring status. The only thing they had was love and enthusiasm, and in the end that was why they won.

Love Wins

All that day, I felt how this is so true of life. In the end, it's our love, pure and simple, that wins. As humans, we often think that we are not enough just the way we are. Thoughts such as, "If only I had more money, a better degree, more possessions, better clothes, nicer hair, thinner or stronger body, more experience, or a better job. If I had these things or even some of them, then I could be happy and live the life I want. Then I could help other people." But we ignore the power to love within each one of us, a gift we received at birth.

There is a true story of a woman who was dying in the hospital. During the day her friends and family came and brought her loads of flowers, candy, and balloons. They ignored the fact that she was dying, pretending that she would come back home soon. They filled the time at her bedside by telling jokes to one another, discussing politics and in general ignoring what was really going on. The woman grew more and more unhappy.

One night, the old cleaning woman, Margaret, noticed her and came into her room and sat down. Margaret was in her seventies and had been cleaning the hospital floors at night for fifty years. She had seen death many times. She knew the woman was dying and she knew how to love her best. She reached for her hand and merely said, "I can see that you are suffering. Do you want to talk about it."

Love Is More Than Enough

Night after night, the woman poured out her heart to Margaret, who merely sat quietly and listened. Margaret wasn't a trained therapist, doctor, nurse or social worker. She didn't even have a high school education. She couldn't afford to bring this woman any flowers or presents. All she did was listen to and love the older woman. In the end it was dear Margaret's love that helped the woman the most, and helped her to die in peace.

The love in our hearts makes us more than enough. We don't need all the other trappings of life to reach out to another. In the end, it is simply our love that wins the prize blue ribbon of life.

* Subtitles by InnerSelf
Copyright 2019, 2024. Excerpted from the book:
Heartfullness by Joyce and Barry Vissell.

New Book by this Author: A Couple of Miracles

A Couple of Miracles: One Couple, More Than a Few Miracles
by Barry and Joyce Vissell.

book cover of: A Couple of Miracles by Barry and Joyce Vissell.We write our story, not only to entertain you, our readers, and certainly you will be entertained, but more so to inspire you. One thing we have learned after seventy-five years in these bodies, living on this earth, is that all of us have lives filled with miracles.

We sincerely hope you will look at your own lives with new eyes, and discover the miraculous in so many of your own stories. Like Einstein said, “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”

Click here for more info and/or to order this book. Also available as a Kindle edition.

About the Author(s)

photo of: Joyce & Barry VissellJoyce & Barry Vissell, a nurse/therapist and psychiatrist couple since 1964, are counselors, near Santa Cruz CA, who are passionate about conscious relationship and personal-spiritual growth. They are the authors of 10 books, their latest being A Couple of Miracles: One Couple, More Than a Few Miracles.

Visit their website at for their free weekly 10–15-minute inspirational videos, inspiring past articles on many topics about relationship and living from the heart, or to book a counseling session on-line or in person.

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