MOUNT AIRY, N.C. (WJZY) — Sometimes it’s four paws or two feet, but those visiting Roxane Cann’s shop in downtown Mount Airy may only notice the obvious – at first.

“It’s not just about dogs and cats; it’s about interacting with owners, too,” Cann smiled.

She’s owned The Dapper Hound for a year. It’s a place that sells all kinds of pet supplies, but something small and significant is placed all over her store.

“Some of my best rocks that I had, I gave away,” said Cann.

Look for them in small corners, tucked away from eyesight. They are custom and free.

“I’ll pick up a rock and be like, ‘What do you want to be today? What do you look like?”’ said Cann. “I think I’m going to do sunshine.”

While starting on her latest painted rock, her necklace hangs over. It’s got a thumbprint and a letter “V” charm.

“This was Vincent’s 5-year-old fingerprint,” said Cann, touching the necklace.

A stuntman. Musician. Dog lover. Vincent is her youngest son.

“I always refer to Vincent in the present tense to me because he’s still here,” she said.

After dealing with bullies for years, Vincent died in 2017 when he was 14. That was six years ago.

“I miss his smile; his smile was just so bright,” said Cann.

When Vincent died, Cann was devastated. After saying a prayer, a message came to her.

“This overwhelming warmth just came over, and in that quiet moment, I just heard these voices that said, choose kindness,” said Cann.

The kindness she chose is small enough to fit in in the palm of your hand. 

She started a nonprofit, Kindness Rocks, in honor of Vincent’s Legacy.

“Sometimes on the rocks I do myself, I put a heart on them, then it’s almost like I know my own work,” said Cann.

There are rock gardens in a dozen different places all over the country. Each rock is hand-painted with encouraging messages for anyone to take.

The closest rock garden to Cann is just about a block from her Mount Airy store. It’s where she goes to talk to Vincent.

“When you say something three times, you really mean it. So I usually always say, ‘I love you. I love you. I love you,’ so he knows I really do,” said Cann.

The rocks are small but stand out because of Vincent’s legacy. Maybe someday, those rocks will fill up a garden or the world with kindness.

Cann speaks at schools and works with kids and families in crisis. Her charity’s website can be found here.

If you are struggling or know someone who is, text or call 988.