My Dog Taught Me

Match the dog

Two years ago, I adopted Match from a local animal shelter. Travel sized with soft, floppy ears, a wonky foot and giant gray eyes, this 14 pound, four-legged, ball of energy is not only our company mascot, but he’s also become my best friend.

If you were to take a look at my web browser’s reading list, you’re sure to find a number of articles from business leaders and skilled professionals who are willing to share their secrets. Little did I realize that the furry creature, curled up on my lap was going to teach me a few important lessons about life, work and unconditional love.  Here are a few that may help you as much as they’ve helped me:

1. Show people you’re happy to see them. Whether I’ve been gone for a couple days or twenty minutes, I return home to find Match filled with joy and excitement, ready to give me a giant hug. 

Let’s face it - everyone wants to feel appreciated and welcome, especially at work. Take the time to show people that you are sincerely happy to see them, no matter how long it’s been since you saw them last.

2.Set clear expectations & follow up. 7:00 AM - it’s time for a walk. It doesn’t matter how late I was up the night before, Match will wake me with kisses and transform the bed into a bounce house at a 6 year old’s birthday party until I slip on my shoes and take him outdoors.

3.Be flexible. Each week we take a trip to the dog park. Sometimes Match is the boss, sometimes he’s an equal and other times he’s happy to follow. He’s role in the pack is never concrete.

4.Share a goal. Training Match was not always easy. I quickly learned that if we were on the same page we were both happy; if not, we are both frustrated by the other. At work, the same is true - if everyone understands and works toward the same big goal it’s much easier to work together.

5.Be excited about every project. Sometimes we’re headed to the dog park; other times to the vet. No matter what, when that leash comes out, Match is excited for the adventure. If we were to embrace every new task with the same enthusiasm, we end up less stressed & happier.

6.Don’t let others dictate your capabilities. Shortly after bringing Match home I realized that his front right paw is askew. Clearly, no one has told Match that he’s any less capable than any other dog. He’s determined to outrun and outlast any other dog that tries to keep up. He doesn’t mope or cry about it. He just goes on to enjoy the experience.

7.Get some rest. After a long walk or an active game of fetch, this little guy needs a nap. As soon as he’s awake, he’s ready to go again. I’ve learned that it is sometimes better to take a break, step away from the desk and come back refreshed than to try to power through a project with less energy than it demands.

8.Say what you want and be persistent. Whether he wants a taste of my dinner or to cuddle on my lap while I work, Match lets me know. Sitting quietly next to the dinner table with eyes that plead for mercy or with a nudge to my leg as I sit at my desk - he’s unrelenting. And, more often than not, he wins. It’s important not to give up, to have a goal and to be persistent. Legend has it that Walt Disney was turned down by more than 300 banks before he found the funding necessary to open Disneyland.


This article was written by Fire Starter Brands’ Stephen Ekstrom.


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