My only living child is of the furry variety, a nine-year old 100-pound golden retriever named Mars.
Mars came to be with us in 2011. Before his arrival, our house had already been filled with a menagerie of other furry babies, and we considered ourselves to be highly experienced pet parents. Mars was to be child #5, following three cats and a dog. We had started our family with cats and so by the time Mars arrived, they had all crossed the rainbow bridge and we were feeling we needed to give our dog Daphne a sibling so that she would stay active.
Mars was a rescue, nearly two when he entered our home for the first time. He had been removed from an abusive situation and needed a lot of care to heal his wounds, some physical, some emotional.
Today, when I think about the word gratitude, I don’t think about people, I think about how Mars reacted to being with us in the early days. It was like he sensed immediately that he was going to have an opportunity to bond with humans who would be nice to him, and he did nothing but respond in a positive way to that. Most important, in what seemed like 5 seconds, he sized up my husband and said “you’re good”, and they’ve been practically inseparable since.
I have never been jealous of their bond. For one thing, Mars likes me too; it’s just that he doesn’t look at me the same way as he looks at John. He reveres him. It is like he is a symbiont. I call my husband Mars’s Dad, however according to Mars he is his best friend. They seem to share alpha responsibilities equally, but readily concedes that my husband is the smarter of the two, and takes direction when he is confused about what to do. The only time that I really notice that I am the third wheel in the relationship is on trail, because if I come along, the two of them are in constant conversation, and I essentially have to take up the role of caboose (which is fine because I’m slow and I like to take pictures).
Mars’s personality isn’t dramatically unlike other goldens you may know. In human terms, he is a regular Keanu Reeves, and he has earned his nickname of Dude. If you’re wondering where the name of his Facebook site comes from, it is because he is “the Dude”.
So up to this point I’ve mostly written about Dude, but since it is Father’s Day weekend, I think I need to write more about Dude’s Dad. This is the thing. Damaged souls like Mars’s need to trust that your love for them is unconditional and omnipresent. I don’t know if in the beginning Dude’s Dad believed he had it in him to always be like that, but he has stepped up to the challenge enthusiastically. But it goes beyond that. Dude’s Dad has known from those first five seconds that to have the privilege of having such a symbiont, you have to be steadfast in your commitment to the other. Mostly, great dog/people experiences are predicated on ensuring that there is a sense of lightness, play in fun, all the time. Our home has that in spades.
For the past 20 years, I’ve been using this blogsite as a way of connecting to the world of employment, typically though trying to connect to others through life experiences. In the context of employees, as a leader, are you behaving like Dude’s Dad, creating a fun, emotionally safe environment, where those employees can thrive? If not, maybe you should take a page from Dude’s Dad, because Dude is doing awesome.
Think you’d like to follow the adventures of The Daily Dude? Then please go to http://Facebook.com/marsthedailydude