How to Become a Hero c.j. hayden
   How to Become a Hero
   You Are the Champion the World Is Waiting For

   C.J. Hayden, MCC

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The call to heroism in the howl of a dog 

In a recent issue of Inquiring Mind, I encountered the story of Pali Boucher, the founder of Rocket Dog Rescue in San Francisco. I'm always looking for what motivates people to step out of their ordinary lives and into a heroic role. In Boucher's case, it was a howling dog.

Boucher was the child of a homeless, drug-addicted mother who died when she was ten. After a short time in a foster home, she ended up on the street herself. For many years, she was in and out of jail, became addicted to drugs, and contracted HIV. But she always loved animals. As a child, she took care of pigeons, feral cats, and junkyard dogs. As a homeless adult, she visited animal shelters to spend time with the dogs there.

At the SPCA, Boucher fell in love with Leadbelly, a hound who no one wanted to adopt because he howled all the time. Learning that Leadbelly was in danger of being euthanized, she scrounged up some money, faked an address, and adopted him. After almost losing her beloved hound when she went back to jail, she checked herself into a detox program. "It was the first time in my life I realized that I wasn't just affecting myself by going out and getting loaded, that I was directly responsible for the pain of somebody else," Boucher recalls.

Ultimately, Boucher and Leadbelly rescued each other. Boucher says, "He helped me learn to take care of myself by taking care of him." After getting clean and sober, Boucher founded Rocket Dog Rescue, which saves dogs scheduled for euthanasia throughout California. Rocket Dog rescues about 150 dogs per year, and runs completely on donations with no paid staff. Boucher is a recipient of the Points of Light Award for outstanding volunteerism.

There's just no telling where a hero might encounter the call to inspired action. So keep listening -- yours is out there.

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