My fourteen year old niece lost out on getting a medal for swimming despite her relentless efforts and was absolutely crushed. My brother, in effort to console her as she watched all her friends get the coveted award, assured her she was indeed a champion to him to wit she replied “How can I be a champion if I didn’t win?”
This got me to thinking on the very real difference between champions and winners.Although the terms have become interchangeable with each other, the truth of the matter is that they couldn’t have more opposite meanings.
Last Spring, I received a call about a dog in a home. It seems that the elderly gentleman who lived in the apartment had died and the family had him removed from the home and subsequently proceeded to make all the necessary arrangements for sale, tidied up, stopped the mail delivery and locked things up tight. Unfortunately they forgot about the dog: a big, copper colored Chow.
A month passed and a neighbor recalled that he never saw the dog taken from the home. He called animal control who contacted a nearby shelter who contacted Irving House. It was with great trepidation that I attended the rescue effort - I was certain that on arrival we would surely find a dead dog.
The animal control leader pushed open the front door and it made an eerie squeak that made me jump. We entered somewhat cautiously, each of us harboring the same silent fear, none of us wanting to be the one to make the guresome discovery. We split up in different directions and I soon found that beautiful animal lying beside his empty bowls on the cold kitchen tile floor. It was all I could do not to cry when I knelt beside him and placed my hand on his furry chest. I couldn’t feel a heartbeat but from out of the corner of my eye I saw the very tip of his tail wag. At that point I couldn’t help but openly weep.
We acted to quickly and carefully lift him and take him from the home. I'd learn later that one of the other volunteers found both toilets were empty of water and the bathtub had a steadily dripping faucet.
A month long stay at the vet revealed that while he had suffered severe kidney damage that would require med’s and fluids to be administered daily for the rest of his life, he would indeed have the rest of his life.
People say he’s a winner but in truth he is a champion and herein is the difference: while a winner is sometimes suffered to a struggle he is always victorious, while a champion doesn’t always know victory but remains relentless in the struggle… Champ ~the copper colored Chow, and Jacquie ~ my beautiful teenage neice...two of the greatest champions I know.