Several years back my good friend Donna called me on a cold winter’s evening. Donna happens to be the ultimate animal lover who had a pack of her own. She mentioned, “Kirst, I found this dog on the side of the highway. She looks just like Susan’s Dog Bailey. I can’t even take one more; do you want to check her out?” My husband was sitting next to me on the couch, he said, “Let’s take her.” So basically, sight unseen we had a new dog.
1.) Don’t Judge a Partner by Their Cover – My husband, a teacher, wanted to wait until his Holiday Break to bring our dog home. We made a donation to the Open Door Animal Sanctuary, so they kept her for a week and checked her out medically. I stopped by to see her and there were so many gorgeous dogs there. My first glance at Sweet Tea (Yes, I named her Sweet Tea) presented a gray looking dirty dog (lab mix) with a burnt nose. But, by then we were committed.
The day we picked her up to take her home, she was totally different. She had received a bath, a Holiday Scarf and some TLC. By far she is the best looking crème colored lab anyone could ever see. Over time, her nose healed up too. How many times have we judged an individual or a company right away based on their location, their looks or their office? Some of our very best business partners and clients may not have had the most beautiful office or facility, or perhaps the first meeting was not amazing but the relationship grew out of respect.
2.) Everyone Does Not Communicate the Same Way – It turned out that Sweet Tea was abandoned by her previous bone-head owner. She was on her own for about six months. Being a lab, her keen nose and greedy appetite led her to be very proficient at scouting out “food” (or less than desirable stuff) in areas around park picnic tables, trash cans and elsewhere. When she came home, she barely even touched her “Grade A” Expensive Dog Food. I thought she was sick or depressed. I could not figure out the problem until we had pizza one evening. She quickly scarfed it out of my hand. OH, I got it then. Who wants dry dog food when something smells and looks much better? What were we thinking? We put a little bit of human food into her bowl and bingo … she’s eating dog food and all. Everyone does not talk the same way, act in the same manner or even do business the same. That is why it is extremely important to learn how your partners communicate and try to understand them so you can work better together.
3.) During Tough Times Loyalty is Everything – Sweet Tea is not necessarily the best behaved dog. She really hates being on a leash, so sometimes when hiking I’ll let her run free. If I whistle and she is not distracted by something, she does eventually come to me. There was an incident that happened where I was alone on a hike and I needed her for safety. While accessing a bad situation, I simply wished my dog was by my side. Immediately after the thought, my normally loving and low-key dog jumped from the woods in front of me. She viciously snarled and lunged towards the dangerous figure in front of me. She looked back at me and I just ran. Soon enough she was right by my side again. She of course was rewarded with a McDonald’s Cheeseburger on our drive home. Now, during my years in business I have had the pleasure to be associated with wonderful mentors, partners and customers. Our open and loyal relationships have been extremely critical during our tough times.
I never thought I could learn from a dog but Sweet Tea proved me wrong. Partnerships cannot be one-sided; they take some time and continued effort to maintain. This relates to both business and personal relationships. Great partnerships are important in everyday life and I sure learned that from my dog.
Update on 11-19-2014 – Sweet Tea passed away on 5-16-14 and she is still in my heart- I have a new friend named Walker that will teach me something new too. You can check his story out here.