The simple act of kindness can take us far. By reading a long-forgotten piece of American history, I was reminded of the benefits of showing kindness to animals and people. This summer, I read the book “Beautiful Jim Key,” the story of a horse and his owner that shook America during the 19th and early 20th century.
To summarize, “Beautiful Jim Key” was an Arabian-Hambletonian stallion purported to have the ability to read, spell, make change, act, and answer various questions. Jim and his owner, Dr. William Key, swept Americans off their feet by performing acts thought to be unbelievable, only to be found valid again and again by critics. When asked how Dr. Key trained Jim over the years, the answer was simple. Kindness.
Some claimed that Dr. Key must have hypnotized Jim or been working some other magic on him. But, to the great disappointment of newspapers, Dr. Key had no secret. He had always been kind to Jim. He raised him from a sick, wobbly colt into a marvel of equine mental ability. Jim was even named by President William McKinley to be “the greatest object lesson of the power of kindness that he had ever witnessed.“
Where does this all fit into our lives as prospective veterinarians? I think that it shows us that sometimes it may be useful to step back and look at the way we conduct ourselves, in class, in clinics, at work, and with our family, friends, and pets. It may be useful to step back and think about being kind to everyone, all the time. We are all guilty of snapping at another person or an animal at some point. It is natural to feel varying emotions in response to stress. But, we may find it useful to always remind ourselves that kindness is what will take us the farthest in our lives. We do not need to aim to work large miracles like Dr. Key and Jim, but we can aim to work small miracles all the time. These can come in the form of quieting the room and petting a fearful patient that is trying to escape our grasp as we try to draw blood. We could also take the extra time to listen to a client’s needs on the phone, even though it may be after our scheduled work hours.
In every interaction we have in our lives, kindness is always an option. It all depends on how often we choose to use it.