When our yellow lab died, I tried to live without a dog. But I found myself at one of our association conferences down in Florida going on the Internet searching for pictures of dogs in every spare moment instead of paying attention to the presentations! When I got home, I jumped on a small ad in the Boston Globe: high-performance black field lab 18 months. We went out to visit and came home with Lili. The high-performance should have been a tip-off, along with the fact that two of her other families had returned her to the breeder, but I was blind with need for that which only a dog can give!
Now there are a lot of words I could use to describe Lili, and high-performance is definitely one, but another few are: highly dog aggressive, fearful of dogs, needing extraordinary amounts of exercise each day (even now at 8), out-of-control, and physically powerful!
So, a major problem: how to exercise her and survive encounters with other dogs so that they didnt get hurt. From Lili I learned several valuable lessons about how to do my work.
1. Exercise Discipline. Without a full half-hour walk in morning and afternoon we get hyper dog who flips tennis balls at us all night. I realize, in my work, if I have a goal such as wanting to extend my brand through social media - I have to devote a specified time EACH day to that task.
2. Be Resourceful. When I first started walking Lili, I thought a chain collar would be all I would need to keep her under control, since all the dogs around seem to be on leashes. It worked until we encountered one who wasnt: a golden retriever. Anyone who knows the breed knows that coming up close to sniff at a snarling, maniacal, foaming-at-the-mouth, scary-as-hell animal isnt out of character for a golden. I knew I had real trouble, that Lili could easily have savaged that dog. So in addition to a chain collar I put Lili in a muzzle. In my work, once I realized that my old pay-for-advertising methods werent working anymore for my business, I experimented and found a new marketing strategy that brings me great prospects.
3. Have Courage. Braving the civilized world with a killer dog even in a muzzle is daunting to someone who feels deeply that politeness is the general rule of social intercourse! In work, I have learned to risk putting my thoughts out there in an eBook and in blog posts and take a chance that other peoples reactions might be either positive or negative.
4. Play the Cards Youre Dealt. One day, as we were passing a man with a nice, calm, obedient dog, he took a look at Lilis overwhelming aggression and said Thats a problem. So, right, Ive got a problem and everyone sees it. But I knew that I had Lili under control with her muzzle and chain collar and that I could keep her head within inches of my knee. I did everything I could about our problem and would just have to put up any with criticism and negative reactions from others. In my work, as the recession hit and many of my target market were out of work and methods of finding work had changed, I needed to be sure that my executive resume clients knew how to be successful. I revised my eBook on strategy to include social networking and gave it a priority among my offerings. I did what I could to give my clients the strategies and tools they would need in the new environment, even though I wished job search could have been easier for them.
5. Be Grateful for the Good Stuff. Have I told you that when Lili is in the house and well-exercised she is devoted, affectionate, smart and sweet? Its true. Once we knew her problems, we knew that we would simply have to deal with them as best we could. We tried one-on-one training from 2 different trainers, going to a dog shrink, and trying many other techniques, all to no avail. We felt that we had made a commitment to Lili and that we couldnt return her to her breeder for her to face another loss and an uncertain future. So we try to remember the good with the bad and appreciate her good and special qualities. At work, when I am feeling pressured, frustrated, pulled in too many directions, or uncertain about marketing in a recessionary economy, I try to remember that I am so happy to be running my own business, that I love to write resumes that help people get jobs, that I love having control over my time and my working destiny, and that I truly feel I am doing what I am meant to be doing in the universe at this time.
If any of you out there have learned things from your creatures, your "familiars," Id love to hear them. (And if you have a magic bullet that cures dog aggression, let me know about that too!). Peaceful, happy holidays to you all.