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10 former bullies share what inspired them to become kinder

Change is possible.

bullying, stop bullying
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Bullying is often modeled by parental behavior.

Bullies are made, not born. Bullying traits might be picked up in a variety of ways, but violence, aggression and cruelty are most certainly learned behaviors during a child’s development.

The book “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Child and Adolescent Psychology,” co-authored by psychiatrist Jack C. Westman M.D. and science writer Victoria Costello, lists five major factors that most often lead to bullying: physical punishment, watching aggressive behavior in adults, violent television, problems with processing emotions and undiagnosed mental illness.

The underlying theme in these causes? A lack of empathy. Bullies are often taught—whether directly or subversively—that dominance and control are more vital than compassion and understanding. This results in pain for not only the intended target, but for the oppressor themselves.

how to stop a bullyHurt people hurt people. Photo by yang miao on Unsplash

But just as it can be learned, bullying can be unlearned—through supportive friendships, trusted role models and maybe even professional help. People are always capable of change when given the necessary tools to do so.

Recently, a Reddit user asked former bullies (and former “mean girls,” for as we all know this is not necessarily a gender-specific phenomenon) to share what “finally brought a change.”

The answers were inspiring. They not only showed that yes, the adage is true, “hurt people hurt people,” but also that powerful transformation can happen simply by taking accountability. Many of these former bullies admitted to growing up in less-than-ideal environments and did not know any other way to cope. But eventually they were given fresh insight, and with that were better able to choose kindness.

The world might seem like a cold and uncaring place at times, but these 10 stories are a beautiful reminder that change is always possible.


Wasn't really a bully but I wasn't nice either. I…was mean to people who I thought deserved it, and it didn't help that there were also other people who were just as mean and judgmental as I was. It got to the point that I was needlessly fighting my friends and only when I was confronted about my attitude and I got to hear my friend's perspective that I shifted.

…Took a lot of time and educated myself on how to be better. Also therapy lol. Anger management, anxiety management, etc. I couldn't erase who I was and I accept that part of me. I'm not saying I'm all perfect now…I know there's still a lot of work to do, but all in all it's loads better than before. I'm glad I had the chance to grow up and get better." – @AnxiousCrownNinja

Right after high school was the turning point for me… I was having a lot of discord with my own friends due to my attitude and it took hearing their honest feedback about how my approach was alienating them for me to start doing major self reflection. I decided I didn't want people to fear me and I certainly didn't want to alienate my own friends, so I started talking less and listening more. I made an honest effort to care more about people as individuals-I got interested in the unique strengths each person brings to the table and did what I could to start learning from others. I humbled myself a lot over the years. I worked on saying I'm sorry and admitting when I was wrong. And years later I've gotten into therapy to continue to work on myself. I'll never be warm and fuzzy as that's just not my personality, but I'm a much better person than I was when I was younger.” – @Babhak

Was essentially bullied at home by my family and I took it out on those around me. Thankfully I had some friends that let me know I was being a dick and I apologized to the people I hurt, I'll always hate myself for the way I acted and I don't think that will ever change. I still catch myself being a grumbling asshole sometimes but I will never let myself be who I used to be.” – @raikonai

I got a job as a video game tester and worked with people who were bullied when they were younger. We'd tell stories and things I found funny they found traumatic and mean. As cliche as it is, I never thought about it from their perspective or thought my behavior was bullying until then. Helped me see it from the other side, I'm much more empathic now. Pretty ashamed about my behavior when I was younger.” – @GCJallDAY

When I realized I was just like my dad, and I really dislike my dad.” – @kastawamy

what cause bullying, cyberbullying

We don't have to become our parents.

Photo by Muhmed Alaa El-Bank on Unsplash

I come from a small town where families have generational feuds. It also didn't help that my family is poor and very ghetto/redneck and very racially mixed. All of my aunts and uncles and parents are some form of addict in one way or another. I didn't have a chance. I truly didn't. The kids I went to school with weren't allowed to hang out with me and my siblings. I remember going to a friend's house and their parents asked me my last name and they told me to leave once they heard it. I was severely bullied in elementary school and teachers didn't care to help because of the family I came from. I had one teacher just be vicious to me because my mom was selling her kid weed. I was pretty much feral and didn't have manners and just in general an autistic kid.

So I quickly learned that anger was the best shield. I bullied my bullies back. They can't catch you off guard if you're the attacker. I fought the people who came at my family with as much violence as they gave me. It bled onto kids who were friends with my bullies. They turned into essentially collateral damage. I was a bully but I was also the blood in the water in a school system that encouraged violence. It's taken me a long time to deal with [what] my home town put me through. I switched towns and changed my name. That helped a lot. I ended up in juvy after a giant fight with several family members. To say I was scared straight is an understatement. I was required to go to group therapy as part of the program I was put in to reform me. The judge knew my family and gave me a shot I took advantage of. He played a huge role in my mindset on my circumstance. I learned how to handle my trauma in a more productive way over the course of years and so much hard work. I ended up having to change my name so I wouldn't be harassed by cops and those who knew my family.

I'll definitely say this again—I grew up in a system where you had to do everything you could to survive. I can't really stomach what I did…I've left apologies in so many inboxes as an adult. I've even made friends with some of them.” – @beastgalblue

Over time and with new experiences, I stopped hating myself and my life. Then, I started seeing value in my existence and realized I actually impacted people. Happiness, for myself and others, became my reason for living. My middle school health teacher used to tell us that bullies are hurting and that's why they bully. Miss Costello, wherever you are, you were right. I've never met a bully who was happy with themselves or their life. I tell my students all the time that hurt people hurt people, and I stand by that. The fastest way to help a bully change is to show them love, kindness, and compassion.” – @mha3620

I was a mean girl. Cheer, popular, thought I was better than everyone else. During summer break in high school I went to camp. I was bullied by some of the other girls there so relentlessly. From hazing, to humiliating me, lying to get me in trouble. It was bad. After that I changed. Wish it was earlier.” – @lesbomommy

means girls, girl bullies

Learning from mistakes is all part of the human experience.

Photo by Scotty Turner on Unsplash

“I was one of those jocks who picks on the weaker kids who couldn’t really defend themselves, in order to make the crowd laugh…It was never anything too physical or over the top, so parents or others never got involved, but I know that I made life a pain for some individuals while in elementary school.

Anyhow, this PE teacher of mine took me into his office after hours one day and explained that I should try to use my authority better, and that while it might feel good to make others laugh on someone else's behalf, it feels a lot better to be an overall good guy.

Never really had any good male influence in my life before that, so that really stuck with me, and from high school and onward I tried to reach out and confront others in school that bullied others. Oftentimes we just don’t know better.” – @KingBob3922

I grew up in an abusive home and did it out of self-protection. Verbally hurt them before they could hurt you. I know my behavior didn’t make me popular or really make me feel better but I needed to lash out on the easiest targets. fast forward to having no friends in my mid 20 s and needed to figure out why.

I actually became friends with older coworkers [and] as a proxy parental influence they gently guided me. ‘Why would you say that to someone? Why would you say that about yourself? Why do you talk that way? Why is everything a fight? What's wrong with being different? What's wrong with making mistakes?’ No judgments, just gentle questions that I couldn't answer until I looked hard at myself.

I'm glad that someone took the time to see past my anger, my pushing people away, my misery and saw a young person that just needed some kindness.” – @OrdinaryPride8811

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3 organic recipes that feed a family of 4 for under $7 a serving

O Organics is the rare brand that provides high-quality food at affordable prices.

A woman cooking up a nice pot of pasta.

Over the past few years, rising supermarket prices have forced many families to make compromises on ingredient quality when shopping for meals. A recent study published by Supermarket News found that 41% of families with children were more likely to switch to lower-quality groceries to deal with inflation.

By comparison, 29% of people without children have switched to lower-quality groceries to cope with rising prices.

Despite the current rising costs of groceries, O Organics has enabled families to consistently enjoy high-quality, organic meals at affordable prices for nearly two decades. With a focus on great taste and health, O Organics offers an extensive range of options for budget-conscious consumers.

O Organics launched in 2005 with 150 USDA Certified Organic products but now offers over 1,500 items, from organic fresh fruits and vegetables to organic dairy and meats, organic cage-free certified eggs, organic snacks, organic baby food and more. This gives families the ability to make a broader range of recipes featuring organic ingredients than ever before.


“We believe every customer should have access to affordable, organic options that support healthy lifestyles and diverse shopping preferences,” shared Jennifer Saenz, EVP and Chief Merchandising Officer at Albertsons, one of many stores where you can find O Organics products. “Over the years, we have made organic foods more accessible by expanding O Organics to every aisle across our stores, making it possible for health and budget-conscious families to incorporate organic food into every meal.”

With some help from our friends at O Organics, Upworthy looked at the vast array of products available at our local store and created some tasty, affordable and healthy meals.

Here are 3 meals for a family of 4 that cost $7 and under, per serving. (Note: prices may vary by location and are calculated before sales tax.)

O Organic’s Tacos and Refried Beans ($6.41 Per Serving)

Few dishes can make a family rush to the dinner table quite like tacos. Here’s a healthy and affordable way to spice up your family’s Taco Tuesdays.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 20 minutes

Total time: 22 minutes

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 packet O Organics Taco Seasoning ($2.29)

O Organics Mexican-Style Cheese Blend Cheese ($4.79)

O Organics Chunky Salsa ($3.99)

O Organics Taco Shells ($4.29)

1 can of O Organics Refried Beans ($2.29)

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Add 1 packet of taco seasoning to beef along with water [and cook as directed].

3. Add taco meat to the shell, top with cheese and salsa as desired.

4. Heat refried beans in a saucepan until cooked through, serve alongside tacos, top with cheese.

tacos, o organics, family recipesO Organics Mexican-style blend cheese.via O Organics

O Organics Hamburger Stew ($4.53 Per Serving)

Busy parents will love this recipe that allows them to prep in the morning and then serve a delicious, slow-cooked stew after work.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7 hours

Total time: 7 hours 15 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 ½ lbs O Organics Gold Potatoes ($4.49)

3 O Organics Carrots ($2.89)

1 tsp onion powder

I can O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 cups water

1 yellow onion diced ($1.00)

1 clove garlic ($.50)

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

2 tsp Italian seasoning or oregano

Instructions:

1. Cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat until thoroughly browned; remove any excess grease.

2. Transfer the cooked beef to a slow cooker with the potatoes, onions, carrots and garlic.

3. Mix the tomato paste, water, salt, pepper, onion powder and Italian seasoning in a separate bowl.

4. Drizzle the mixed sauce over the ingredients in the slow cooker and mix thoroughly.

5. Cover the slow cooker with its lid and set it on low for 7 to 8 hours, or until the potatoes are soft. Dish out into bowls and enjoy!

potatoes, o organics, hamburger stewO Organics baby gold potatoes.via O Organics


O Organics Ground Beef and Pasta Skillet ($4.32 Per Serving)

This one-pan dish is for all Italian lovers who are looking for a saucy, cheesy, and full-flavored comfort dish that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare.

Prep time: 2 minutes

Cook time: 25 minutes

Total time: 27 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

1 lb of O Organics Grass Fed Ground Beef ($7.99)

1 tbsp. olive oil

2 tsp dried basil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 can O Organics Diced Tomatoes ($2.00)

1 can O Organics Tomato Sauce ($2.29)

1 tbsp O Organics Tomato Paste ($1.25)

2 1/4 cups water

2 cups O Organics Rotini Pasta ($3.29)

1 cup O Organics Mozzarella cheese ($4.79)

Instructions:

1. Brown ground beef in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.

2. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and garlic powder

3. Add tomato paste, sauce and diced tomatoes to the skillet. Stir in water and bring to a light boil.

4. Add pasta to the skillet, ensuring it is well coated. Cover and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

5. Remove the lid, sprinkle with cheese and allow it to cool.

o organics, tomato basil pasta sauce, olive oilO Organics tomato basil pasta sauce and extra virgin olive oil.via O Organics

Jimmy Carter at the COmmonwealth Club.

Jimmy Carter, 99, was the 39th president of the United States (1977 to 1981). Looking back on his achievements both in and out of office, it’s easy to say that he was a man ahead of his time. He was far ahead of the mainstream when it came to advocating for social justice, human rights, and the environment.

Carter famously installed solar panels on the White House in 1979, only to have them removed by Ronald Reagan.

The former peanut farmer and Navy Lieutenant from Plains, Georgia, was also far ahead of his time when supporting gay rights. In 1976, while running for president, he said he would sign the Equality Act, an amendment to the 1964 Civil Rights Act that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation. “I will certainly sign it, because I don’t think it’s right to single out homosexuals for special abuse or special harassment,” he said.


He continued to advocate for gay rights as president. In 1977, the first gay delegation visited the White House. He also campaigned against California’s Proposition 6, which would have barred gays and lesbians from teaching in the state’s schools and was the first Democratic president to endorse gay rights in the party’s platform in 1980.

It may seem unusual for Cater, a confessed born-again Christian, to be a staunch advocate for gay rights. But he has publicly said that he believes that being pro-gay is wholly aligned with the teachings of Jesus Christ. Carter’s advocacy is in the spotlight once again after a meme featuring his thoughts about Christ and homosexuality from 2012 went viral on Reddit's MadeMeSmile forum on April 8, 2024.

Jimmy Carter
byu/PR0CR45T184T0R inMadeMeSmile

The viral quote was taken from an interview with the Huffington Post in 2012, during which Carter promoted his book, “NIV, Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter.” At the time, LGBTQ rights were the subject of heated debate in Washington, and President Obama had just “evolved” and began publicly supporting same-sex marriage.

"A lot of people point to the Bible for reasons why gay people should not be in the church or accepted in any way,” the interviewer Rev. Paul Brandeis Raushenbush said. But Carter responded by correctly noting that Jesus Christ never said anything about homosexuality.

"Homosexuality was well known in the ancient world, well before Christ was born and Jesus never said a word about homosexuality. In all of his teachings about multiple things—he never said that gay people should be condemned. I personally think it is very fine for gay people to be married in civil ceremonies,” Carter said. "I draw the line, maybe arbitrarily, in requiring by law that churches must marry people. I'm a Baptist, and I believe that each congregation is autonomous and can govern its own affairs.

"So if a local Baptist church wants to accept gay members on an equal basis, which my church does, by the way, then that is fine. If a church decides not to, then government laws shouldn't require them to,” he continued.

Three years later, Carter shared the same sentiments in another interview with the Huffington Post, this time shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. “I think Jesus would encourage any love affair if it was honest and sincere and was not damaging to anyone else and I don’t see that gay marriage damages anyone else,” Carter said.

Jimmy Carter’s belief in gay rights stems from his faith as a Christian, but it’s also in complete alignment with his values as an American. Carter believed that the United States was a “beacon” for human rights, and in his 1981 presidential farewell address, he reminded the nation that the job was an ongoing struggle.

“The battle for human rights – at home and abroad – is far from over,” Carter said. “If we are to serve as a beacon for human rights, we must continue to perfect here at home the rights and values which we espouse around the world: A decent education for our children, adequate medical care for all Americans, an end to discrimination against minorities and women, a job for all those able to work, and freedom from injustice and religious intolerance.”


This article orignially appeared on 4.9.24

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Viewers can't stop watching as woman cuts two foot fingernails

There's something about seeing something out of the ordinary, be it a strange animal, an accident or even an argument between strangers. Humans are naturally curious beings and seeing a random argument between your neighbor and her teenage son will have some people outside taking their goldfish for a walk just to gawk.

So it's not surprising that thousands of viewers tuned in when Ayanna Williams, the Guinness World Record holder for the world's longest nails went to have them all cut off. Williams had her record breaking nails for 29 years but decided it was finally time to bid them adieu and the entire thing was filmed. It's a monumental moment for the record holder after having lived with the 24 foot nails for decades.

Most of us would simply need to grab a pair of fingernail clippers and get clipping, but for Williams the process was a bit more complicated.


The record holder couldn't just head to her nearest nail salon for a fresh manicure. She had to have her nails trimmed by Dr. Allison Readinger at Trinity Vista Dermatology, where the dermatologist used a special hand held circular saw. Williams disclosed the two foot nails were causing her joint pain and one of her thumbs was extremely tender so she was relieved to lose the weight of the nails. The nails are now on display at Ripley's Believe it or Not! Museum in Orlando, Florida.

Viewers couldn't look away from this re-shared video of Williams said goodbye to her long nails. Some comments were supportive while others...not so much.

"I’m so happy she was able to finally make this decision! I love it," one person writes.

"Wooww! It's a incredible it's been a 29 yrs," another says.

"Oh gosh so satisfying. Can't even have mine passed my finger tips. Ouf," someone exclaims.

According to Guinness World Records, Williams went through over two bottles of nail polish and gave up 20 hours of her time with ever nail polish change. If nothing else, cutting her nails will be a money saver and whether you support her nail growth or not, there's something satisfying about watching them be cut off.

Watch the captivating video below:

This article originally appeared on 10.5.23

Health

Artists got fed up with these 'anti-homeless spikes.' So they made them a bit more ... comfy.

"Our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable."

Photo courtesy of CC BY-ND, Immo Klink and Marco Godoy

Spikes line the concrete to prevent sleeping.


These are called "anti-homeless spikes." They're about as friendly as they sound.

As you may have guessed, they're intended to deter people who are homeless from sitting or sleeping on that concrete step. And yeah, they're pretty awful.

The spikes are a prime example of how cities design spaces to keep homeless people away.


Not all concrete steps have spikes on them, but outdoor seating in cities like Montreal and Tokyo have been sneakily designed to prevent people from resting too comfortably for too long.

This guy sawing through a bench was part of a 2006 protest in Toulouse, France, where public seating intentionally included armrests to prevent people from lying down.

Of course, these designs do nothing to fight the cause or problem of homelessness. They're just a way of saying to homeless people, "Go somewhere else. We don't want to look at you,"basically.

One particular set of spikes was outside a former night club in London. And a local group got sick of staring at them.

Leah Borromeo is part of the art collective "Space, Not Spikes" — a group that's fed up with what she describes as "hostile architecture."

"Spikes do nothing more than shoo the realities of poverty and inequality away from your backyard — so you don't have to see it or confront what you can do to make things more equal," Borromeo told Upworthy. "And that is really selfish."

"Our moral compass is skewed if we think things like this are acceptable."

charity, social consciousness, artist

A bed covers up spikes on the concrete.

assets.rebelmouse.io

The move by Space, Not Spikes has caused quite a stir in London and around the world. The simple but impactful idea even garnered support from music artist Ellie Goulding.

"That was amazing, wasn't it?" Borromeo said of Goulding's shout-out on Instagram.

books, philanthropy, capitalism

Artist's puppy books and home comforts.

assets.rebelmouse.io

"[The project has] definitely touched a nerve and I think it is because, as a whole, humans will still look out for each other," Borromeo told Upworthy. "Capitalism and greed conditions us to look out for ourselves and negate the welfare of others, but ultimately, I think we're actually really kind."

"We need to call out injustice and hypocrisy when we see it."
anti-homeless laws, legislation, panhandling

A message to offer support in contrast with current anti-homeless laws.

assets.rebelmouse.io

These spikes may be in London, but the U.S. definitely has its fair share of anti-homeless sentiment, too.

Spikes are pretty obvious — they're a visual reminder of a problem many cities are trying to ignore. But what we can't see on the street is the rise of anti-homeless laws that have cropped up from sea to shining sea.

Legislation that targets homeless people — like bans on panhandling and prohibiting people from sleeping in cars — has increased significantly in recent years.

For instance, a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty that analyzed 187 American cities found that there's been a 43% hike in citywide bans on sitting or lying down in certain spaces since 2011.

Thankfully, groups like "Space, Not Spikes" are out there changing hearts and minds. But they need our help.

The group created a video to complement its work and Borromeo's hoping its positive underlying message will motivate people to do better.

"[The world] won't always be happy-clappy because positive social change needs constructive conflict and debate," she explained. "But we need to call out injustice and hypocrisy when we see it."

Check out their video below:

This article originally appeared on 07.24.15

Melissa Pateras explains how dry cleaning works.


Have you ever wondered what happens at the dry cleaners? Or are you like me, who just assumed the people at the dry cleaners were wizards and never questioned their magic? Turns out, dry cleaners aren't magic and there's actually a pretty interesting explanation of how they came to be and what they do.

Melissa Pateras is known on Tiktok for her laundry knowledge. Seriously, her ability to fold laundry is hypnotizing. This time, she created a video explaining what actually takes place at the dry cleaner and the internet is aghast.

Before Pateras explained what happens in the mysterious world behind the counter of a dry cleaner, she asked a few of her friends what they thought dry cleaning was. Their answers were...interesting to say the least.

One friend surmised, "You put it in a box, right...and then you let some wind, really fast wind, blow around on your clothes and it wipes off all the dirt." The friend, whose username is @unlearn16, continued with her working hypothesis, saying that the clothes are then blasted with infrared heat to sterilize the garments. While that is certainly an interesting theory, that's not what happens.


Another friend guessed, "Dry cleaning is when they take all of your dirty clothes into this big dryer with a clean sheet that sticks all of the dirt to it from your dirty clothes." This friend was also incorrect, and Pateras finally explained why after her friends dug deep into their brains for their best guesses.

Turns out dry cleaning was invented by accident when Jean-Baptiste Jolly spilled a kerosene lamp on his tablecloth, which dried cleaner than it was previously, according to Pateras.

The laundry guru explained that while it was dangerous, the practice of cleaning things with kerosene continued until a less flammable method was discovered. But even the safer method is still fairly harsh, which is why dry cleaners take buttons off of clothing before running them through, she says.

This prompted one commenter to ask, "They really take the buttons off of every shirt?" to which Pateras replied that it only occurs if the buttons won't withstand the chemicals.

If you've ever been curious about what happens at the dry cleaner, watch the video below. She takes you through each step.

@melissadilkespateras

What is dry cleaning #laundry #laundrytok #drycleaning #funfacts @Tracy Taylor @Unlearn16 @Ana Pac @Ashley Mathieu @Li

This article originally appeared on 5.10.23

Joy

Watch a timid shelter dog named 'Venom' transform with some tender care and a new name

Rocky Kanaka knew "Venom" wasn't a fitting name for this sweet girl, and he sat with her to earn her trust.

Venom was unsure at first but warmed up after a while.

Dogs are a man's best friend, as the saying goes, but that's only true when humans treat them as they should be treated. When someone neglects, abuses or otherwise mistreats a dog, their sense of trust in human companionship gets disrupted and doesn't come as naturally as it should.

It's common to see issue with dogs who end up in shelters. They might be timid, suspicious or fearful, and living in a kennel in a shelter away from everything familiar doesn't help. Even if a shelter is better than the unhealthy situation they came from, it's certainly not ideal, which is one reason Rocky Kanaka goes to visit and sit with shelter dogs. If he can help a dog feel safe and convince it to to trust him, he kick-starts the process of repairing the dog-human bond.


One dog Kanaka sat with was a 3-year-old black Shepherd mix named "Venom." She was curled up in the corner of her kennel and wasn't too keen on having him coming into her space. She wasn't aggressive, but guarded. Her self-protective instincts seemed on, so Kanaka took it very slow.

He began by turning his back to her and squatting down, not interacting with her other than to speak soothingly, just to let her get used to his presence. He brought some treats, which he shared with her before sitting down. She kept looking at him with a mix of curiosity and trepidation, and Kanaka respected her space.

He found out she had been at the shelter for 10 days, which Kanaka said was bad because if a dog is still in this kind of nervous state after 10 days in the shelter, it's harder for them to get adopted. Soon, he got her to take treats from his hand, which enabled him to move a little closer to her—the goal being to eventually get her to approach him.

Then Kanaka got her story, including that her name was Venom and this was her second time in the shelter. The first time, her owners were on vacation, The second time a good samaritan brought her in, and the shelter couldn't get a hold of the owners. When they were finally reached, the owners said that she had not been behaving well with their smaller dog and they didn't want her anymore.

Kanaka didn't cast judgment on the owners for giving her up, but he was totally taken aback by her given name.

"Come on. Venom? She is anything but that. It should be like, Honeysuckle, you know? Or something sweet. Something sweet like Honey. I think that's her name, Honey."

Watch how this sweet puppers slowly warms up to Kanaka and begins to trust him:

Watching her eventually melt into a state of relaxation as Kanaka scratched her head was so rewarding. You can tell that she's a good girl who's been through some rough times, and she'd be an incredible dog for someone who took good care of her.

"Her eyes and brows are so expressive. You can read the concern in her face," wrote one commenter.

"That poor baby is heart broken. She knows she was left and lost family. I feel you baby," wrote another.

"What a sweet little fluff," shared another. "How could anyone just abandon her and not think she's worth the fee will baffle me for all of time. And to call her 'Venom' is not only an insult to her, but an insight into the life she could have previously had and how her last 'owners thought of her. Can't wait for her to find her forever home and finally get all the love she deserves."

Thankfully, according to an update on Kanaka's website, Honey was adopted on March 8, 2024. So hopefully, she did find a forever home with people who will appreciate and nurture her naturally sweet disposition and give her the life she should have.

You can follow Rocky Kanaka for more "Sitting with Dogs" videos on YouTube and on his website rockykanaka.com.


This article originally appeared on 4.9.24