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The gentle people among us

Lead Summary
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

One seldom makes headlines unless they are doing something exceptional or extraordinary. Extraordinary seems to work very well if headlines are your goal. For everyone else, you will find they go to work (if allowed to do so these days), take care of their families and quietly go about their business.

My estimate is that the extraordinary crowd in this country is fewer than 3 million people; these are the ones who steal the headlines in print and online. If there are 330 million people in the country, give or take a couple million, that means 3/330, or fewer than 1 percent are making the headlines affecting the rest of us.

Seems like a much bigger crowd than that, doesn’t it?

One of our dogs, Broc (there will never be another dog like Fred, the only dog to ever write a column for The HCP, a poem, no less), demands all the attention in our house. Broc, a Shih Tzu, is loud and demanding. Broc rules the house and me. Broc does not do stairs. He must be carried up and down stairs in our three-story house. He reminds me of the extraordinary people. He is so attention-demanding that you have two choices – acquiesce to his demands or get rid of him.

Broc was a rebound dog. Our vet usually has a couple of dogs around he calls “house dogs.” These are dogs other people have abandoned, but the vet does not want to send them to a shelter where they will likely be euthanized. When we had to put Fred down three years ago, we were complete basket cases. That was on a Thursday. On the next Tuesday, after a long weekend of sadness, we went back to the vet’s to get Fred’s ashes. We brought Broc home that night. It felt a bit sacrilegious, bringing home Fred’s ashes and a new dog at the same time, but we did it. Hence, Broc, with all his eccentricities, joined us permanently.

Then, there is Cotton, another rescue dog that joined us in the fall of 2019. An old boy, he is a Welsh terrier coming to us the same way, as a house dog. Cotton is pretty quiet, and conveniently, does climb stairs, even with his arthritis.

So, counting Laura, me and the two dogs, we have a 25-percent attention-demanding factor in our house. Yet, we will live with it, because 75 percent of the household is “gentle people.” (Have I told you what a great wife Laura is?)

In the country as a whole, thinking the way we do in our home, we are 99 percent gentle people. You would never know it if you followed contemporary news. Yet, 327 million people get up every day and go about their business. Working if allowed, getting by if they are furloughed, but not being extraordinary in any way in their behavior.

Recently, I have been spending more time with Cotton, giving him belly rubs, scratching his ears and so forth. Broc gets attention because he demands it (and is lovable in his own way). Cotton gets attention because he deserves it. So, as you are out and about, I recommend you give some attention to the gentle people. Give them a smile (I don’t recommend belly rubs in this case).

You just may get a smile back as you help someone get through their day.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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