Have you ever been new before? It’s kind of terrifying and at the same time exciting. You build yourself up to meet new people, learn new rules and just try to get a lay of the land. After all, basically every new thing has some sort of social rules that you have to navigate. There are cultures and sub-cultures, not to mention so many different personalities to navigate.

This is where some confusion seems to happen. There are parts of the puppy community that think it’s the newcomers job to introduce themselves and ingratiate themselves upon the old-timers. Well…it’s not.

To the old-timers in the community, it is YOUR responsibility to find these new people and help them. It is not their job to prove their worth to you.

There are some folks and even groups out there that look at new people as needing to pass some sort of test. The only test there is to pass is showing up. And they’re standing right there in front of you! Getting up enough courage to go to a completely new place is enough of a test for anyone.

New folks don’t know the social rules, expectations, personalities, or events that take place during most activities. Unless they’ve been lucky enough to be educated by a mentor. They deserve to be welcomed as they are, and shown to a place within the community where they can thrive. They don’t know where they thrive. Sure, they probably have a decent understanding of their skill set and what they do and don’t enjoy doing. So find a place for them! The folks that have been there for a while know who to introduce them to, what committees to get them on, what activities to invite them to, and whatever else would help them feel welcome, and not just that, but important.

I’ve been made to feel welcome before, but it’s difficult to help someone feel important. There are times when I still feel like I need to scream at the top of my lungs to even get any sort of attention. There are skills that I have that are wasted. And because I’m stubborn enough, I continue throwing stuff out there, to prove that I’m worth keeping around and eventually, I get asked to participate in things or help with something.

There are so many other puppies who aren’t like me, and don’t have my stubborn nature. They come into the community with wide eyes and bushy tails. They’re ready to get their paws dirty and dig in. We have so many helpers in the community! And sometimes they don’t see a place for themselves because of the social order of things. They can’t see how they can contribute because there are so many personalities and people to navigate. So they may have been welcomed with wide open arms, but without helping them feel useful, they burn out and they leave.

It’s a shame when they leave. We lose unique characteristics, viewpoints and personalities when someone leaves. I don’t look at them as not trying hard enough, I look at them as not being helped into feeling useful.

Do your part to help other people feel like they can contribute. It’s hard. And it’s worth the effort. Do your part to help other people feel useful. Committee and organization members should be actively helping and should foster a spirit of community building. I’m sure they would love a helping hand with certain things, as many of things are just swamped with the amount of things to plan. So go out and ask for help from the pups! You know them! Encourage them to bring their talents forward. They can then pass that on to others.