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Sunday, November 29, 2015

Following Willie's Canine Habits Could Make You a More Effective Human

Like many of us, I have always been a lover of dogs. My wife and kids tell me I prefer hanging out with dogs more than people. It is hard for me to argue. Each dog I have been close to has had a dominant personality trait that defined his or her character. Peggy, the dog I grew up with, was loyal. My first dog as an adult, Sandy, was a natural hunter, Charlie a cuddler, and Hank stubborn.

Two years ago this week, we lost Willie. Willie was a miniature dachshund, 12 pounds soaking wet. However, he was a “master of results.”
I didn’t just love Willie; I admired him. I admired him because he taught me that I could be a more effective human being by being more like him.

Here are Willie’s behaviors that I found admirable:

  1.        Willie was unequivocal on his goals in life. First was food, second comfort, and third play. There was no fourth.
  2.        Willie was focused. If he thought there was food to be eaten, he was laser focused on getting it. It didn’t matter if it was a breadcrumb or juicy slice of beef. His focus was complete. Needless to say, he oftentimes enjoyed food that was not meant for him.
  3.     Willie was an avid explorer. He saw the neighborhood as a potential smorgasbord of worms, lizards, and other treats just lying on the ground.
  4.      Willie knew his priorities and was single-minded in his pursuit of them. He was tireless in his quest for food. Only when he concluded there was no possibility of getting food would he seek comfort. He would play hard when he was well rested. 
  5.     .Willie was purposeful.  Even when he played, he was serious. Retrieving a toy seemed to be more about getting in shape for his explorations than pure fun.
  6.     Willie was fearless. He would take on much larger animals if he thought they threatened his circumstances.
Although I miss Willie, I feel good that he lived his life to its fullest. He knew what he wanted and never wavered in his priorities. For example, when we lived in Ohio, Willie did not like the cold weather – it made him uncomfortable. Consequently, he would sometimes take care of business in the house. He didn’t care that he would be punished because pleasing humans was not on his list of priorities. He knew the punishment of being confined to his crate was a consequence of his actions and just accepted it. He had no fear.

Imagine what more we could be accomplishing in our lives if we had Willie’s (1) clarity and priority on what’s important, (2) laser focus on achieving our goals, (3) courage to explore, and (4) conviction. If Willie could have talked, I’m sure he would have told us he lived the life he wanted to live and had no regrets.  

If you have stories about your favorite pet that can teach us humans something please share!

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