It was an ordinary cold day in February. I was heading down to the barn to feed the goats for the night before a nasty ice storm hit. When I reached for the barn door, I spotted a shadow to my right that startled me. The shadow bolted off and I followed. There I spotted a blue heeler running away from me, scared, with its hackles standing up. That night I thought I’d never see that dog again, however he showed back up the next morning. With an inch and a half sheet of ice on the ground and frigid 15 degree temperatures, I knew I needed to give him a place to stay to survive. After about 30 minutes of chasing the dog, my neighbor and I finally got him corralled into my goat pasture. 

He was weary… you couldn’t get within 30 feet of him or else he would startle. I decided to build him a lean-to bedded with straw and a heating pad for him to stay in due to his wild nature. Next to the shelter I left a plate of canned food and a bowl of water. After I backed away, he scarfed the food as if he had not eaten in a century.

For the following 3 days I went to check on him every 2 hours and break up the ice in his water. However, each day the once wild dog got better. I could get within 5 feet now, instead of the 30 once  before. The next day a miracle happened. As I walked into the pasture, he immediately gravitated towards me and jumped on me. He was now my new best friend.

Ever since that day I’ve had my number one partner in crime and my side kick. Ruger and I go everywhere now; from work to cruising around with our heads hanging outside of the window. He has been the ultimate gift of responsibility.

The ultimate gift of responsibility is something that requires a lot of work, however it brings the greatest of joy. When thinking about difficult tasks, we often think about how much effort it will take. Instead, what if we think of it in a different way? 

The harder the task = the greater the fulfillment and the more we will grow. 

Oregon FFA, I am beyond excited to serve you this coming year. As we look at challenges, let’s  focus on the growth and gifts they bring and face them together. Let’s embrace the challenges and find the underlying blessings!

With excitement for the upcoming joys and challenges,

Dale Nelzen

2024-2025 Oregon FFA State President