Dogs live in the present – they just are! Dogs make the best of each moment uncluttered by the sorts of complex fears and feelings that we humans have. They don’t judge, they simply take the world around them at face value. Yet they have been part of man’s world for an unimaginable time, at least 30,000 years. That makes the domesticated dog the longest animal companion to man, by far!
As man’s companion, protector and helper, history suggests that dogs were critically important in man achieving success as a hunter-gatherer. Dogs ‘teaching’ man to be so successful a hunter enabled evolution, some 20,000 years later, to farming, thence the long journey to modern man. But in the last, say 100 years, that farming spirit has become corrupted to the point where we see the planet’s plant and mineral resources as infinite. Mankind is close to the edge of extinction, literally and spiritually.
Dogs know better, much better! Time again for man to learn from dogs!
Taken in the round I don’t think I’m ageing too badly. But there is one aspect of my world that does drive me bonkers from time to time. That is a decline (and that’s putting it politely) in my short-term memory. Everything from forgetting what it was I wanted to say to Jeannie to still being unsure of finding regularly visited places in Grants Pass, our local city. To put that last point into context we moved here to Merlin, some 12 miles from Grants Pass, back in September, 2012.
Turning to the cognitive skills of our wonderful dogs it is clear to me that we can only go so far in understanding how our dogs think and how much of their world is dealing with the present supported by their memories of previous events. (Frankly, in writing the last sentence I realised how even that premise was more of a guess than a known fact.)
A recent study at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest about the memories of dogs has been widely referred to across many news outlets. So when it appeared on the Care2 site it was a natural to republish it for all you good people.
My doorbell has been broken for a few years, but every time my 9-year-old dog, Leroy, hears one chiming on a TV show, he looks at the front door.
Many pet owners have similar tales to tell about their dogs being able to remember long-ago experiences and events. And now we have proof that this really is possible. A new study found that dogs may have a more complex form of memory than most other nonhuman animals (sorry, elephants).
“Every move you make, every step you take, I’ll be watching you,” Sting once sang, and these lyrics could apply to our dogs, too. They’re not only watching us, but they’re remembering what they’re observing, no matter how trivial it may seem to us.
In the study at Eotvos Lorand University in Budapest, published Nov. 23 in Current Biology, 17 dogs were taught a training method called “Do As I Do.” The dogs would watch their owners perform an action. When the dogs were told, “Do it” and imitated their owners’ action, they were rewarded with a treat.
Next, the owners performed various actions but told the dogs to lie down instead of “Do it.” After a while, the dogs began lying down without being told to do so. The study’s authors noted that this showed the dogs had lost the expectation that they would be given the “Do it” command to imitate their owners.
Finally, the owners performed various actions, and when their dogs would lie down, the owners would wait either a minute or an hour and then give them the “Do it” command.
Some of the actions were unfamiliar to the dogs, such as their owners tapping on an open umbrella. The dogs would be led behind a partition, and a minute to an hour later would be led back to the umbrella and given the “Do it” command.
The dogs were able to remember what their owners had done, and tapped the umbrella with their paws.
“We cannot directly investigate what is in the dog’s mind,” psychologist Claudia Fugazza, an author of the study and owner of a Czechoslovakian Wolfdog who participated, told the Washington Post. “So we have to find behavioral evidence of what they expect or not.”
Remembering events in our lives is known as episodic memory. Until recently, only humans were thought to have this ability, but studies have found evidence that rats, monkeys and birds also have it, and so do dogs.
However, the researchers said the dogs don’t have full-fledged episodic memory, which would give them self awareness. Fugazza told NPR she didn’t think there was a method available to test whether dogs are self aware.
Victoria Templer, a behavioral neuroscientist at Providence College who wasn’t involved in the study, told NPR the results could be useful in helping scientists understand how episodic memory developed in humans and how it’s helped us to survive.
One interesting possibility Templer suggested is that “we evolved the ability to relive the past in order to imagine the future.”
Of course what would be a marvelous aspect of a dog’s memory is being able to take note and remember where his male human companion left items around the house!
Just before 5 a.m. on Thanksgiving, three people in a quiet San Mateo, Calif., neighborhood woke up to the sound of breaking glass — and their cat, Jackson.
He jumped up on one person and meowed until they woke up, bells on his collar jingling.
At first, everyone thought someone was breaking in. Then, they realized their garage was ablaze.
The fire had just started spreading to the house.
Thanks to Jackson’s alarm, the couple and their roommate escaped outside.
The boyfriend, Chris, tried to quench the flames with a garden hose. But the water stopped and the fire started blazing through the home, up to the attic.
They searched frantically for Jackson, but couldn’t find him.
Then, the fire engines arrived, eight total, as well as ladder trucks and an air support unit.
Firefighters took 40 minutes to extinguish the fire, which had spread to nearby power lines and the side of a neighbor’s house, according to Burlingame Patch.
One rescued Jackson, who was still inside.
A 24-hour emergency vet treated the cat for smoke inhalation, and kept him for observation for at least a day.
Even a local fire chief pegs the Jackson the cat as the hero.
“In my heart, I believe that cat was trying to alert its owners that something wasn’t right,” San Mateo fire Battalion Chief Joe Novelli tells The Mercury News.
No humans were injured. But the blaze displaced them with little more than their lives.
The fire caused $475,000 in damage, displaced all three residents and gutted their home to ash.
But at least Jackson survived.
“I am happy to report that Jackson the Cat is recovering nicely and has been released from the vet—not before a hefty bill though, I’m afraid,” Shenea Strader, who started a GoFundMe page for the three to get back on their feet, told me.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
We can never have too many good news stories!
But we should also not forget that this family down in California have one hell of a rebuild hill to climb. So if you can spare a few pennies for the rebuild costs then this is the page to go to: https://www.gofundme.com/thanksgivinghousefire/
And when you go there the first thing that will smack you in the face is this photograph.
Losing one’s home to a fire has go to be simply dreadful but big hugs to all and a very special cuddle for Jackson the cat!
My post of last Tuesday week, the one about Murat Şahin feeding the dogs and cats in Istanbul, was so warmly welcomed by you.
So with your ‘Likes’ and wonderful comments still feeling like a long hug, metaphorically speaking, a week-and-a-half later I thought it would be nice to publish this today. It was seen over on the Care2 website.
Over-The-Moon Taxi Driver Saves Dog From River
Caki Bravo is becoming rather well known across Sarajevo as the man who saves dogs. The 6′ 2″ tall taxi driver is a gentle giant whose passion leads to the rescue of at least a dozen street dogs each month. Caki’s latest rescue was caught on video, and his over-the-moon reaction is something viewers can’t stop watching.
Watch Caki’s Unbridled Happiness When He Saves The Dog
(The video is not on YouTube but you may watch it by going here.)
“People said that he was pushed by a passerby, a man of about 30 years old,” Caki says explaining how the dog now named Rio ended up in the river. “We were trying to pull him up but it was really hard because he was in a panic.”
And when dealing with a frightened dog, patience is an essential element for success. Fortunately, having rescued several hundred dogs in recent years, Caki knew just what to do.
“When he was brought to dry ground, he was shaking from the cold and from the fear,” Caki explains.
But within minutes, Rio was warming to the idea of human touch and sitting comfortably in the lap of rescue teammate Edina Pasic. Rio is now adjusting very well in foster care.”
Caki belongs to a collective of rescuers in Bosnia who are caring for at least a couple thousand dogs in any given month. He and the others spent last weekend delivering bales of straw to a municipal dog pound to keep the dogs warm for winter.
The volunteer visit each Sunday includes delivering a large meal to each and every dog. Unfortunately, the town feeds the dogs only stale bread during the week. Rescuers are attempting to provide good quality food more often.
The USA-based Harmony Fund charity has just provided meals for the volunteers to deliver to the dogs throughout the month of December. The group often posts updates of the Bosnian rescue efforts on their Facebook page.
Again and again dogs show us the power of love! (And forgiveness!)
92-year-old Annabelle Weiss and her service dog, Joe, are absolutely inseparable.
At the age of 20, Weiss enlisted in the U.S. Marines, where she served for two years as a driver and plane engine inspector until she was discharged in 1946. Later, she worked as a nurse, and won a battle against thyroid cancer.
In 2013, Weiss learned about America’s VetDogs, which pairs veterans with trained service animals. They got her in touch with Joe, the yellow Labrador, and since then the two have become the best of friends.
The pair live together in their Long Island home, and fill their days with activities. Joe has been very helpful in increasing Weiss’s mobility—with Joe by her side, her daily outings are much more comfortable and pleasant.
“He changed my life, he really did,” Wiess told TODAY. “Without him I would be at the house a lot. Now people call me and I’m never home!”
Weiss lives by herself, but she’s by no means alone thanks to Joe’s loyal company. At home, Joe opens and closes doors, picks up fallen items, and acts as a brace for when Weiss gets up from a chair or climbs stairs. He also fetches the phone, and opens drawers with cloths attached to the handles.
The two relax at home in the morning, and then spend their afternoon out on the town.
“In the house, he’s a dog,” Weiss said. “When he’s outside, he has his vest on, and he’s on the job like a cop.”
When the two go out on car rides, Joe enjoys laying down for a nap in the back of the car.
One of Weiss and Joe’s favorite spots is the Lindenhurst Memorial Library, where the two like to pick out good reads together. Joe is friendly to the library staff, and puts his paws on the desk while Weiss checks out books. The two attend a reading club at the library, and Weiss calls Joe the unofficial mascot.
Incidentally, the library has a display honoring veterans, in which Weiss’s name is proudly featured.
When lunchtime comes around, the Lindenhurst Diner is their go-to place. They eat at the diner once or twice a week, and Weiss says all the workers—including the owner—treat Joe like one of the regulars.
While Weiss eats, Joe settles down under the table for a nap, but not before checking for crumbs to make sure his spot is clean.
Weiss recalled an occasion when she explained to a worker at the diner just how much Joe means to her:
“The first time I brought Joe in, there was a young man cleaning the tables — he doesn’t speak English; he speaks Spanish — and he saw me with the dog, and he said, ‘Oh, perro.’ I corrected him and said ‘hijo!’ I speak a little Spanish. I told him, ‘He’s not my dog, he’s the son I never had.’”
As the day winds down, Weiss and Joe go on a walk in a park near their home—Joe loves the park so much, they visit almost every day! He enjoys being around birds, even if they might be afraid of him.
Rain or shine, indoor or outdoors, Joe stays faithfully by Weiss’s side as her helper and friend. He inspires his owner to stay active and together the two go on small adventures and seize each day to the fullest.
Weiss loves having Joe around, and says “He’ll follow me to the end of the earth.”
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I want to close today’s post with this poem that was found on the ‘web’.
A million stars up in the sky
one shines brighter I can’t deny
A love so precious a love so true
a love that comes from me to you
The angels sing when you are near
within your arms I have nothing to fear
You always know just what to say
just talking to you makes my day
I love you honey with all of my heart
together forever and never to part.
That saying from the lips of Henry David Thoreau, the American essayist, poet and philosopher, reminds us that we must be that change before that change comes along.
Thus whatever you or I, or anyone else, thinks is wrong with these times, so eloquently expressed by George Monbiot in his essay republished in this place yesterday, bringing about the changes that you or I, or anyone else, want has to start with the individual.
That, inevitably, requires many to chose which path to follow.
Last Saturday, Sue Dreamwalker of the blog Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary, published a post that truly couldn’t have been better written in terms of following on to yesterday’s post.
Here it is republished with Sue’s kind permission.
I felt the need to post something deeper again today, and I could find no better words to write than I have already written as my thoughts go out to the many places around our globe in conflict right now.
I know there are many new subscribers here to Dreamwalker’s Sanctuary this year who may not have read this post.. I thank all in advance for their contributions..
If I am slow getting back to you, it’s because I want some time to paint this weekend and walk out in nature..
So look after each other and choose your Pathway well..
Love and Blessings
Much is happening with our Earth Plane at this time of transformation, the Mayans called it
“ A crossroads of time of Great External Changes and Major Internal Upheavals”.
We have seen around the globe how many nations are starting to change, we are also changing ourselves internally through our awareness and intuition and I see many withdrawing into themselves as they seek peace as they set about clearing the debris of our emotional bodies, myself included as we adjust to the vibrations around us.
At times all that is thrown our way is too disturbing to cope with, so we withdraw within our inner sanctuaries finding solace within Nature and our meditations..
I have to remind myself daily of the GOOD in this world as we get constantly bombarded with the BAD… So many things which are UGLY in this world which led me to revisit a post first posted in 2012.. The Good Bad and Ugly.. in which I used the Mayan quote above..
Everything in this world mirrors everything else, and everything is part of everything else, as difficult as that is to comprehend. So while we react with outrage, our rage is joining the tide of Anger already out there which is foaming back and forth in the sea of discontent.
It seems as if our very Earth Mother feels that anger as she too is rumbling ever louder in the bowels of our planet as we have seen how devastating her energies can be in Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions which are now becoming more active again around our globe..
We have to be careful not to be taken down the road of Fear.. Lest it trap us into engaging in giving out more fear by our failure to see how we are all quick to judge and use our own prejudices in labelling that which we are not in alignment with. Whether that be in our politics, beliefs, or idealisms. None of us is perfect.
We are now ‘Shifting’ from duality to Unity Consciousness, this was brought home again to me on how many of us are thinking similar thoughts even here on WP we see similar themes as we link into the Mass Consciousness as we join together our thoughts as we link subconsciously to the Cosmic web of thoughts..
We need to be aware of the Power of our thoughts and how we can assist in raising our planets vibration and our own collective Consciousness..
Much has been spoken upon Ascension, but first we need to ascend through our own layers as we climb ever higher, leaving behind the things that no longer serve us.
We do that by not getting swept up in conflict.. by being more loving and tolerant and being compassionate rather than being judgmental holding hate and anger.
We need to put the Care back in the world and if we embrace and choose Love over fear and we stop looking who to blame, but start to set examples of living in harmony and unity, then the true magnificence of who we really are can begin to manifest that ‘Golden Age’ which was once prophesied to bring about Peace..
But it’s up to us to pledge to change our own lives,and when we each start bringing back that peace within our own Lives, It’s up to each of us which road we want to take. And what dominant energy we want to prevail.. I choose Love.
You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.
So said Jim Rohn, the American businessman who died in 2009.
We all could easily be drinking in ‘the last chance saloon’.
After I published my book, Learning From Dogs, last December I was invited to a number of book signing events. In each case I gave a short talk of about 20 minutes in which I explained the philosophy behind the book. Perhaps no better articulated than by Dr. Jim Goodbrod’s Foreword to the book. Take this paragraph, for instance, from that Foreword:
Dogs represent to me that innocence lost. Their emotions are pure. They live in the present. They do not suffer existential angst over what they are. They do not covet material wealth. They offer us unconditional love and devotion. Although they certainly have not reached the great heights of intellectual achievement of us humans (I know for a fact that this is true after having lived with a Labrador Retriever for several years), at the same time they have not sunk to the depths of depravity to which we are susceptible. It could be argued that I am being overly anthropomorphic, or that dogs are simply mentally incapable of these thoughts. But nevertheless, metaphorically or otherwise, I believe that dogs demonstrate a simple and uncorrupted approach to life from which we all could benefit.
During my opening talks on each occasion I would ask the audience: “So raise your hands if you are someone who is not worried about the future?”
The combination of automation, complexity and climate change is dangerous in ways we haven’t even begun to grasp.
By George Monbiot, published in the Guardian 23rd November 2016
Wave the magic wand and the problem goes away. Those pesky pollution laws, carbon caps and clean power plans: swish them away and the golden age of blue-collar employment will return. This is Donald Trump’s promise, in his video message on Monday, in which he claimed that unleashing coal and fracking will create “many millions of high-paid jobs”. He will tear down everything to make it come true.
But it won’t come true. Even if we ripped the world to pieces in the search for full employment, leaving no mountain unturned, we would not find it. Instead, we would merely jeopardise the prosperity – and the lives – of people everywhere. However slavishly governments grovel to corporate Luddism, they will not bring the smog economy back.
No one can deny the problem Trump claims to be addressing. The old mining and industrial areas are in crisis throughout the rich world. And we have seen nothing yet.
I have just re-read the study published by the Oxford Martin School in 2013 on the impacts of computerisation. What jumps out today, to put it crudely, is that jobs in the rustbelts and rural towns that voted for Trump are at high risk of automation; while the professions of many Clinton supporters are at low risk.
The jobs most likely to be destroyed are in mining, raw materials, manufacturing, transport and logistics, cargo handling, warehousing and retailing, construction (pre-fabricated buildings will be assembled by robots in factories), office support, administration and telemarketing. So what, in the counties that voted for Trump, will be left?
Farm jobs have mostly gone already. Service and care work, where hope for some appeared to lie, will be threatened by a further wave of automation, as service robots – commercial and domestic – take over. Yes, there will be jobs in the green economy, more and better than any that could be revived in the fossil economy. But they won’t be enough to fill the gaps, and many will be in the wrong places.
At lower risk is work that requires negotiation, persuasion, originality and creativity. The management and business jobs that demand these skills are comparatively safe from automation; so are lawyers, teachers, researchers, doctors, journalists, actors and artists. The jobs that demand the highest educational attainment are the least susceptible to computerisation. The divisions tearing America apart will only widen.
Even this bleak analysis does not capture in full the underlying reasons why good, abundant jobs will not return to the places that need them most. As Paul Mason argues in Postcapitalism, the impacts of information technology go way beyond simple automation: it is likely to destroy the very basis of the market economy and the relationship between work and wages.
And, as the independent thinker Paul Arbair notes in the most interesting essay I have read this year, beyond a certain level of complexity, economies become harder to sustain. There’s a point at which further complexity delivers diminishing returns; society is then overwhelmed by its demands and breaks down. He argues that the political crisis in Western countries suggests we may have reached this point.
In the same video address on Monday, Trump announced that he will withdraw America from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). He is right to do so, for the wrong reasons. Like TTIP and CETA, the TPP is a fake trade treaty, whose primary impact is to extend corporate property rights at the expense of both competition and democracy. But withdrawal will not, as he claims, “bring jobs and industry back to American shores”. The work in Mexico and China that Trump wants to reclaim will evaporate long before it can be repatriated.
As for the high-quality, high-waged working class jobs he promised, these are never handed down from on high. They are secured through the organisation of labour. But the unions were smashed by Ronald Reagan, and collective bargaining has been suppressed ever since by casualisation and fragmentation. So how is this going to happen? Out of the kindness of Trump’s heart? Kindness, Trump, heart?
But it’s not just Trump. Clinton and Sanders also made impossible promises to bring back jobs. Half the platform of both parties was based on a delusion. The social, environmental and economic crises we face require a complete reappraisal of the way we live and work. The failure by mainstream political parties to produce a new and persuasive economic narrative, that does not rely on sustaining impossible levels of growth and generating illusory jobs, provides a marvellous opening for demagogues everywhere.
Governments across the world are making promises they cannot keep. In the absence of a new vision, their failure to materialise will mean only one thing: something or someone must be found to blame. As people become angrier and more alienated; as the complexity and connectivity of global systems becomes ever harder to manage; as institutions like the European Union collapse and as climate change renders parts of the world uninhabitable, forcing hundreds of millions of people from their homes, the net of blame will be cast ever wider.
Eventually the anger that cannot be assuaged through policy will be turned outwards, towards other nations. Faced with a choice of hard truths or easy lies, politicians and their supporters in the media will discover that foreign aggression is among the few options for political survival. I now believe that we will see war between the major powers within my lifetime. Which ones it will involve, and on what apparent cause, remains far from clear. But something that once seemed remote now looks probable to me.
A complete reframing of economic life is needed not “just” to suppress the existential risk that climate change presents (a risk marked by a 20°C anomaly reported in the Arctic Ocean while I was writing this article), but other existential threats as well – including war. Today’s governments, whether they are run by Trump or Obama or May or Merkel, lack the courage and imagination even to open this conversation. It is left to others to conceive of a more plausible vision than trying to magic back the good old days. The task for all those who love this world and fear for our children is to imagine a different future, rather than another past.
On my desk in front of me is a small booklet of business quotations that was published by Speedwing Training Ltd, part of the British Airways Group of Companies. I have had it for years. I randomly opened the booklet and there on page 7 is this quotation (and the emboldening is mine):
Our task is not to fix the blame for the past, but to fix the course for the future.
John F. Kennedy
Mr. Monbiot speaks for the millions of people who need that course for the future NOW!
Chilled-out canines experience a moment of utter calmness
Australian animal photographer Alex Cearns remembers the first Zen dog image she ever captured, a Shar-Pei named Suzi.
“During her photo session, I caught a shot of her with her eyes closed, and a big smile on her face. I called the image ‘Zen Dog,’ and when her owners saw it, they immediately fell in love with the vibe of the image and with Suzi’s relaxed and happy pose,” Cearns says.
“With such positive feedback, I became keen to capture the emotion and moment of being a Zen dog for other dogs who visited my studio.”
Cearns tries to take at least one Zen-like image for every dog photo session she conducts at her Houndstooth Studio, even if the process takes time. She has compiled 80 of these images of meditative canines in her new book “Zen Dogs.”
To get her canine subjects to relax, Cearns makes sure they are authentically calm and happy. Her studio is small, quiet and without many distractions.
“During my photo sessions, I realized that some types of dogs are more likely to close their eyes than others,” Cearns says. “Dogs who were fairly laid back, or who liked to lie about were easier to photograph in a Zen state, whereas dogs overly fixated on toys or treats wouldn’t close their eyes for a second, should the toy or treat disappear. They kept their eyes firmly on the prize.”
Although it might look like the dogs are zoned out or even sleeping, that’s not the case; Cearns has skillfully caught a restful moment with her camera.
“The images capture a split second blink of my dog subjects, freezing the moment in time,” she says. “Sitting only a foot away, I’m able to watch each dog subject carefully to pick up on their blinking pattern, and take a series of images just before I predict their blink.”
The book “Zen Dogs” includes photos of a wide range of breeds, interspersed with Zen-inspired quotes by Gandhi, Buddha, St. Francis of Assisi and others with thoughtful, meditative words to share. There’s this one, for example, from “Unknown”:
If you’re always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in?
“As soon as a dog visits my studio, I aim to genuinely make friends with them and ensure they are comfortable and feel secure,” says Cearns. “I try to find out what they love most — a certain type of treat, or a particular toy — and then use that knowledge to win them over.”
Don’t know about you but I have been incredibly stressed out these last few weeks. So that saying: If you’re always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you’re in? really speaks to me.
Twenty-one things my dog taught me about being a better man.
June 7, 2010 by Olivier Blanchard
We had to put our golden retriever to sleep this weekend, our friend of fifteen years, our family’s faithful guardian and companion, and one of the kindest, most loyal and giving souls I have ever met. True to her breed, Sasha was courageous, tender and selfless until the end.
I was trying to figure out how to give her a worthy send-off here on The BrandBuilder blog, and settled on some of the things she taught me over the years. Or rather, the things I didn’t realize she had taught me until this past week, much of which I spent caring for her, as she could no longer take care of herself. She and I had some long chats, in our own way, and the old girl was much wiser than I gave her credit for.
Are there business lessons in this list? Yes. There are. But all are deeply human lessons at the core. If being human can make a business better, if it can fuel its soul (or even simply give it one), then yes, let these be business lessons. But don’t ever forget that what makes a business truly great isn’t technology or design or a fancy logo. Those are expressions of something deeper. Something more visceral and powerful and true. What makes a business great, what makes it special, worthy of a connection, worthy of trust and loyalty, admiration and respect, even love, always starts with a beating heart, not a beeping cash register. (One is the cause, and the other one of many effects. Don’t lose sight of that distinction. Horse before cart: Soul drives love. Love drives business.)
It’s so easy to lose sight of what’s important in our lives. And this isn’t me being overly sentimental because I just lost my dog. I mean, yes, sure, okay… But there’s also something to this: That sentimentality, that emotion, these things that make us connect with other souls is at the heart of EVERYTHING this blog has been about these last few years: Business, design, marketing, social media, communications, corporate responsibility, best practices… No company can ever be great unless it can tap into the very essence of what makes us want to connect with each other, and no executive or business manager or cashier can ever truly be great at their jobs unless they also tap into the very thing that makes genuine human connections possible. If ever there was a secret to successfully building a brand, a lovebrand, the kind that people will fight for and whose mark they will tattoo on their bodies, it is this. The rest is merely execution.
If you only walk away with one bit of wisdom from this post, let it be this: You cannot build a better business unless you first become a better human being. Everything that strips you of your humanity, of your empathy, of your ability to connect with others is bad for business. It’s bad practice. It is doomed to fail in the end.
As my good friend John Warner noted yesterday, “If more people were as loyal and loving as dogs the world would be a better place.” (source) And he’s right. How do you become a better human being then? Well, that’s up to you, but if you had asked Sasha, she might have given you a few pointers of her own. Granted, she was never a Fortune 500 C.M.O. She didn’t design the iPad. She didn’t invent the internet or write a book. She never presented at a conference. All she did was hang out with me and Chico. We went on car rides. She watched me work. She lived the simple life of a dog, uncluttered by Twitter followers and Hubspot rankings and the drive to publish and present case studies. She was a dog, and so her perspective is a little different from what you may be used to. At any rate, here are twenty-one she and I discussed at length last week. I hope they will be as valuable to you as they now are to me.
Twenty-one things my dog taught me about being a better man:
1. Be true to your own nature. There’s no point in faking it. A golden retriever isn’t a chihuahua or a pug or a greyhound, and for good reason. Being comfortable in your own skin is 90% of the trick to rocking out your life. Not everyone is meant to be Rintintin or a seeing-eye dog or an Iditarod racer. It’s okay. Find yourself and embrace your nature. That’s always a great place to start.
2. Be true to the ones you love. Your friends, your family, your tribe, your pack. A life lived for others is a life well-lived. Selfish pursuits aside, ambition often grows hollow when turned inwardly instead of outwardly. It’s one thing to want to be pack leader, but there is just as much value and honor in serving than in leading. When in doubt, see item number one.
3. Never say no to a chance to go on a car ride. When the days grow short, I guarantee you’ll wish you’d have gone on more car rides.
4. Leashes are the enemy. Avoid them at all cost.
5. People are strange. So much potential, yet here they are, doing everything they can to complicate rather than simplify their lives. It’s puzzling.
6. Belly scratches.
7. The end isn’t pretty, but if you can face it with dignity and grace, none of your body’s weaknesses will matter. Your heart, your courage, your spirit is what people will see and remember. This isn’t only applicable in your last days and weeks. It’s applicable every day of your life. Adversity happens. It’s how you deal with it that matters.
8. Forgiveness is easier for dogs than for humans, but humans have opposable thumbs and the ability to speak, so it all balances out in the end.
9. Your bark is your own. No one has one quite like yours. Own it. Love it. Project it.
10. Trust your instincts. They rarely steer you wrong. The feeling in your gut though, that’s probably just something you ate.
11. Just because you’re meant to live on land doesn’t mean you can’t feel at home in water. Play outside the safety zone. Swim in the deep end. Dive in. We’re all designed to do more than the obvious.
12. Play more. The game is irrelevant. Just play. Tip: Exploring is play. Having adventures is play. Finding out what’s behind the next hill is play.
13. Your body growing old doesn’t mean you can’t be a puppy at heart. Actually, the first should have no impact on the latter. If you find that it does, take a step back, regroup, and restart. Always be a puppy at heart.
14. Humans aren’t all bad. But they aren’t all good either. Choose yours wisely.
15. Always keep that 20% wolf in you. If you ever give it up, you’re done. A dog without a little wildness in the blood isn’t a dog. It’s a furry robot. The beauty of a great dog doesn’t lie in its obedience but in its loyalty. Loyalty is a choice. Dogs choose to be dogs and not wolves. That’s what makes them so special.
16. Running full bore across a field in the rain.
17. There are no mysteries. Take cats, for example: Half rat, half badger. Crap in a box. Eat rodents. Where’s the mystery in that? If you look hard enough, you can figure most things out for yourself. The world isn’t as complicated as it sometimes seems.
18. Sometimes, you have to back up your growl with a bite. Go with it. Some people like to test your bark-to-bite ratio. With those “inquisitive” types, a little education goes a long way. As much as it sucks to have to go there, it is sometimes necessary. (It’s what the fangs are for.) Your territory, your space, your safety… They’re worth defending. Make a show of it once, and chances are you’ll never have to teach anyone a lesson again.
19. Being alone is no way to go through life. We’re pack animals. Humans, dogs, same thing. We need others to make all of this worthwhile. As an aside, if we live through others, why not also live for others, even if only a little bit? It isn’t that much of a stretch.
20. When you chase the ball, CHASE the fucking ball. Two reasons: a) It’s a chase. You don’t half-ass a chase. You go all out. It’s what you do. It’s the point. b) You don’t want some other mutt to get to the ball before you and slobber it all up, do you?
21. In the end, you will revisit your adventures, your battles, your chases, your voyages and all the excitement of your life with bemused pride, but it’s the quiet moments with loved ones that your mind will settle on. The comfort of those days when all you did was spend lazy hours with them, your head on their lap, their’s on yours, taking in the afternoon sun and the hundreds of fleeting stories carried like whispers on the breeze, those are the memories that will stay with you to the end and beyond.
Never give up on your thirst for life, on the beauty subtle moments, and on chasing that ball as hard and fast as your legs and heart will carry you.
Shortly after completing today’s post, I read the following. It seemed appropriate to include it today.
When you talk, you are only repeating what you know,