Oops, I Did It Again!

2014-06-27 21.33.41I know you’ve been there. Just when you think you’ve got a handle on bad behavior… BAM! You do it again, and before you know it, you’re in the doghouse!

That’s happened to me on a number of occasions. My leader mom has been pretty good with this thing she calls grace (unmerited divine assistance or favor), yet I was disheartened by something she said one Saturday afternoon. I don’t think she meant for me to hear what she said, which was, “I’m so weary of this behavior, Lou!”

My heart sank at the thought that I had disappointed her, yet it was her sigh of exasperation that really caused me pain. I wondered what I could have done to cause such a reaction. I thought everything was great between us so I was terribly confused. I wondered, “Does this mean she’s going to get rid of me? Will she find me a new home, or worse, will she take me back to a shelter? I sank into despair with worry!

I tried to remember what I might have done wrong. We went for a walk, I ate, we walked again, we came back, I went downstairs to my crate, and mom said her usual, “I’ll be right back, Louie!” I have a really nice safe place to hang out and it has a great view of the backyard. All was calm so I took a nap. Then, all of a sudden, I awoke with a start. I heard voices, and noise, and steps going to and fro in my house and I had no idea what was going on. I thought my mom was in trouble and needed my help. So I frantically pawed at the gate of my crate but couldn’t get out. The noise was getting louder, almost deafening. I was really worried that bad people were trying to take her away. This went on for hours and for every second I could, I let them know I was miffed. I warned them bark after bark that I would be getting out of my cage any minute and there would be you-know-what to pay! My mind was racing and I couldn’t escape the awful thoughts! I just knew I couldn’t let them take my mom!

Then the upstairs door opened. I held my breath and was perfectly still because I knew they were coming for me. I acted like I was sleeping but kept one eye focused the steps. Imagine my surprise when I saw it was my mom! Alive and well so I jumped for joy! But when she opened the cage, she put my leash on me. Now that’s odd! Ohhhh, I get it. They made you come down here to get me, put the leash on and that way they don’t have to deal with me…well, I’ll show them!

As best I could, leash and all, I ran up the stairs ahead of my mom (oops, big mistake—I’m not allowed to do that) and sure enough, there they were; the people trying to kidnap my mom! They were smiling and cooing at me, but I wasn’t fooled. One even said I wasn’t at all like she imagined me, based on the blog. I puffed up the hair on my back and nodded my head because I knew I scared her and that was my intent. My mom said something about being a creative writer but I ignored her and made them leave the house.

I thought my mom would be so proud that I came to her rescue. But that was when she expressed her exasperation with me. Apparently, I was completely mistaken about her kidnappers. They were actually her friends. Turns out they weren’t plotting to take her away, but rather they were all laughing and having a great time. Ohhh, my! I lowered my head and was terribly disappointed in myself.

I’m sure you know what it’s like when you get a crazy thought in your head and you just can’t get rid of it. One thought leads to another and before you now it, you’ve made some big assumptions and lost all perspective and blown the situation out of proportion. People lose friends, families sever ties, and jobs are lost all the time because one or both parties involved let their thinking get away with them. So I apologized. I was sincere and truly meant I was sorry. I also took complete responsibility for my behavior. I looked at my mom and was hopeful she could tell me what I could do to make it right. I thought maybe the people would come back. But they didn’t.

I promised I would not behave that way again. Of course, my mom forgave me. In fact, she even admitted that she did not go through our normal routine of accepting people into our house. That routine includes my sitting by the door, her slowly opening it, and allowing me to “get to know” the person coming into my home. Because this situation was different, I was much less welcoming. She, too, took responsibility for her part, and of course I forgave her.

I’m so glad my mom and I can have those tough conversations as soon as a situation arises—no guessing games. But I have a long way to go and thanks to her leadership, I am well on my way! So who would like to be my next victim, I mean guest? I’m practicing my manners at the door. It helps if you bring a dog that I like or one of the alpha pups…I like them coming into my home! And if I blow it, you get to see me practice my humblest apology!

NOTE: Be aware of what you’re thinking and capture negative or destructive thoughts the minute they occur. And if you blow it, own it! A sincere apology is one of the greatest gifts we can give to others. If you need help, Louie is happy to demonstrate the proper way to apologize in this video.

Not Everybody’s Going To Like You, Lou!

I Love LouieLouie and I hope you’ve enjoyed your summer as much as we did. Louie had a great time playing at Camp Bow Wow, relaxing, socializing with his gal pals and taking a few notes on how humans behave. He is stunned by what he has discovered!

Louie noticed that humans often say one thing but then do the opposite. They are very concerned with their images, and nowhere is this more evident than in the world of social media. Interestingly, most humans share only positive information about themselves in an effort to convince everyone else how great they are!

This is all very foreign to Louie because with dogs, what you see and smell is what you get. This obsession with image is only found among humans. Dogs don’t try to be something they aren’t – although Lou does puff up his hair to make himself look bigger, but that’s less about image and more about self-protection!

Rather than try to explain it myself, I’m going to let Louie share his perspective and perhaps the best place for him to start is with his own story.

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My life changed dramatically a year ago. I was roaming the rolling hills of Appalachia, searching for what I didn’t know I was missing. My training and discipline were harsh, instilling fear and lack of trust. Sadly, when I ran away, no one even knew I was missing nor did they search for me.

I thought my life was over when I was put in a cage and taken many miles to an unknown destination. It was very confusing, and the way I coped was just to hold my head up and stare straight ahead. There were so many cages and car rides I lost count. One day, we took a short ride and settled in a place where people paraded in front of us. The dogs around me were doing back flips and trying to get noticed, but I was so weary; I didn’t even care. Finally, when they opened my cage, I thought I would make a beeline for freedom. But I looked up, and there she stood with big brown eyes and an even bigger smile. At that moment, I realized what I had been missing all my life.

While I may not have been as terribly abused as many of my canine friends, I never really experienced genuine love or affection. Lack of love and attention is one of the worst abuses a dog can suffer. But the minute my eyes connected with this special person, I knew I had a chance to be loved and was hopeful I would never be lonely or neglected again.

So, our journey began. Because of my past, my master had to engage a trainer to teach me the balance of disciplining with loving. Apparently, my new human needed training too! Who knew learning to balance discipline with love would be so challenging. But the training paid off, because now we make a great team. And my leader even learned a few things about leadership, which she has written about in her blogs and in a book, aptly titled Louie’s Leadership Lessons. I like that she’s always willing to learn. This is the hallmark of a good leader.

Yet, in this journey I had a few setbacks. I’ve had some tough lessons to learn – perhaps the toughest was realizing that not everyone liked me. Because my leader lavished love on me with just the right amount of discipline, I learned to be very happy-go-lucky. And because she so easily loved me, I thought everybody would just love me—Not so!

With my history, I’m pretty used to getting bullied by bigger dogs. I don’t like it, but I’ve learned to run away instead of fight because I am much faster than they are! But recently, I met a cute little dog with whom I fell for immediately. She was spunky, walked with authority and exuded self-assurance. I like that in a gal pal!

When I tried to get to know her, however, she didn’t respond the way I’d hoped. I saw her walking one day and decided it was my chance to get to know her. Our leaders knew each other, so it was an easy introduction. She is much smaller than me, so I wanted to be careful not to overpower her. But in a second, my world turned upside down. I threw all caution to the wind. My tail wagged; I offered loving licks; and my plaintive voice said, “Hi, I just met you, and I love you.” The love was met with snarls, growls and flashing, white sharp teeth.

Though we kept walking, I just could not enjoy our time together. I hung my head low and wondered the entire time, what just happened? Why would she not like me? What have I done to get that kind of reception? And my leader, in her infinite wisdom, said, “Louie, not everyone’s going to like you!”

That was hard to believe! But I decided to take some time to ponder this news. I observed a few other doggie interactions, and alas, my leader was correct: Not everyone likes me. There is no rhyme or reason for it; there is no way around it; and one might not be able to make sense of it. But one thing is certain: I will not let rejection get the best of me or ruin my day or week or BEST YEAR EVER!!

What helps me to have this focus is to keep my eye on my source of joy! I relish in my master’s love and character, and I let her guide me to the relationships worth pursuing and those I need to avoid. She has never led me astray, and I doubt she ever will. I see her model this with her relationship with her Master, her Creator and loving God. I can’t go wrong following a leader who has this kind of servant heart. While you may know her as Danise, leader, businesswoman, consultant, friend or sister, I now know her as Mom (Thanks, Marisa, for sharing her).

 

Snickers, who would not let Louie in the photo!

 

NOTE: Thanks for your patience as we adjust to our new blog site. If you’d like to see Louie’s previous posts, please visit:  http://louiesleadershiplessons.blogspot.com