Living through Covid-19 and all the talk about getting back to normal reminded me of a time not so long ago. In December of 2016, I experienced a terrible fall on ice, which resulted in a fractured hip and femur. Louie was as traumatized as I was, through the journey of falling and consequent surgery. He had to adjust to my being gone for two weeks; friends coming and going, walking and feeding him, playing with him; all while he constantly watched the door with the hope I would walk through it any minute.
Once I was home, he learned to trust my erratic movements with a cane and settled back into some interesting habits: growling at people who come to my door (even his dog walkers) and jumping on the couch to sit directly across from me (better to watch me, he said).
One evening, a friend came by to take Louie for a walk. After they finished and she came in to sit with me for a while, he ran through the house, checked on me, and then ran upstairs, where he ran the length of the hallway several times. Then, I heard a big commotion, and from where I was sitting, I could tell what that little rascal was doing. He was getting into my clothes basket in my bathroom and taking all the clothes out of it, having no consideration whatsoever for the amount of time it took me to get the clothes into that basket.
But this was not surprising. When it took all my energy to walk from the living room to the kitchen, disciplining a dog was not high on my list, especially since we’ve been through this before. The pressure was off of Louie to behave well—and when the pressure is off, he reverts back to his old habits.
That is so like us. When the pressure is off, we revert to our old behaviors. I reflected on what this meant after that fall and getting “back to normal.” When I was able to drive, I finally had a sense of life getting back to normal. Getting off medication, walking better, and looking forward to some normalcy were great goals for recovery. But did I really want normalcy to be my goal? After my fall, I was clear I did not want to go backward. And coming out of this pandemic, I challenge each of us to do life differently.
Be intentional about breaking past the norm. Life is too short and too easily interrupted for us to stay stuck in the status quo. And you are never too old to take that first step to crash through the “same ol’, same ol’.”
As for Louie, we will always have work to do. I suppose being intentionally kind will be continual with little Louie DiStasi!
My granddaughter always corrects me when I say Louie is a bad dog. She says he is not a bad dog; he just has a few bad behaviors.
OK, I understand the change in wording. But honestly, Louie is making my life somewhat difficult.
Louie is a superstar when we walk around the neighborhood, when I take him to visit clients, or when he accompanies me to speeches and workshops. And those of you who have had him visit your business will be shocked by what I am about to say.
Louie still reacts strongly when people come into my home. Even though he is only 40 pounds, he is all muscle, and he has a huge mouth. His bark is very deep, and his growl is deeper, and he acts like he wants to kill you. Let’s be clear: Louie does not want you in my house. Don’t bring a dog into my house or even onto my driveway, because the hackles go up and the teeth come out. Yes, I am describing Louie, the same dog many of you believe is so sweet, the one with big brown eyes and an adorable face.
Now I know Louie well enough to know he’s not being mean but has some misguided notions that I need protection from friends of mine who come to visit. I appreciate that, but it can be quite a hassle to make him settle when I have company. And it would not be helpful to let his bad behavior continue and just ignore him.
Those friends brave enough to risk Louie’s wrath have learned to allow the time and needed discipline, knowing eventually he will settle down.
His bad behavior was front and center this past weekend when my sister-in-law came to Cincinnati for a reunion and stayed with us in our home. She came in Friday evening, texted me to let me know she had arrived, then knocked softly on the door. Complete mayhem broke out. I kept Louie in the kitchen behind a gate and paid little to no attention to him while we said our hellos. I did my usual routine of discipline and he settled pretty quickly. Then we let him join us. He sat right at my feet as Agnes and I visited, but the minute she moved, the loud barking began, and he tried to make her stay in her place. He must have some basset hound in him because his bark is so deep. His Corgi side tries to herd everyone in my house. And the beagle side? Well, let’s just say thank goodness for that silly funny beagle side of him.
By the next morning, he was sitting by her door, waiting patiently for her to come out. They had become fast friends, and by the time she left on Monday, he was very sad to see her go. I reflected on their relationship as compared to a human relationship.
Most people would write off Louie as a nuisance or would be fearful of him. They wouldn’t give him much hope of ever developing a relationship because, well, he’s just a bit abrasive. And when he startles my company with a very quick reaction to them, he is stepping out of line, and who needs that?
But Agnes persevered and overlooked Louie’s many quirky behaviors. She talked sweetly to him, and his low growls and loud basset barks subsided. The rest of my family has learned to love on him as well, making it a bit easier to have an Italian family who loves to get together—crazy dog and all.
How many people do we write off as a nuisance or are we fearful of because of their “bark”? Many times people may have a quirky behavior that’s different than what we’re used to, and yet, given time and love, they may be as warm and loving as Louie under his tough bravado act.
Is it easy to love people who seem unlovable at first? No, of course not. It’s hard to do and it takes time. But if someone is in your life, they have come across your path for a reason. Don’t waste time judging their quirkiness. Loving others is not an option; it is why you are on this
Now that Louie and Ag are BFFs, maybe he’ll be nicer to people coming into my home. I won’t count on it, though!
Louie and I are taking a break over the summer to finish our work on a very special project. Click on the link below for a sneak peek and let us know what you think!
For more information on Love Like Louie email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
In the last Louie’s Leadership blog, I shared the episode of Louie, my adopted pup, having surgery to remove a growth on his paw. It was a pretty quick decision, with some uncertainty about what the growth was and how he would handle the recuperation period.
He survived the surgery well, and the growth was a papilloma, a wart. The biggest issue we had was keeping him away from the stitches. Louie is like Houdini; he can get out of any bandage or covering that I put on him to prevent him from chewing on his paw. I was amazed at how many times I found his bandage on the floor somewhere.
We came home with a very nice, pliable, see-through cone that was to be placed over his head to keep him from chewing his stitches. I was hesitant to use it because of the look he gave me when I tried to put it on him. First, it was a look of defiance (gee, I’ve never seen that one before), and then he’d look as though I was trying to kill him. And finally, I’d get the puppy dog big brown eyes that captured my heart the very first time I met him.
I attached his collar and slid the cone over his head, stating in a serious, parental tone, “This is for your own good, buddy.” He hated it! And he was mad at me. He decided the best thing he could do was trot out of the room and go to his happy place to look out the window and be away from me. Except he ran into the doorframe and stopped. He looked back at me with a look of “Are you kidding me?” Then he set himself back on track, maneuvered the cone to clear the doorframe, and walked out of the room.
Next, he hit the doorframe going into the room with a view. Again, he stopped, looked back at me, and shook his head. Again, he set himself back on track and maneuvered the cone so he could walk into the room, clearing the doorframe. I could hear him trying to jump up on the seat to look out the window, but because the cone got in the way, he fell back down. He tried again, missed again, and fell back down.
I resisted the urge to jump in and help. I knew he could do it; he just needed to adjust himself a bit to clear the seat. And so he did, finally, and then positioned himself as close to the window as possible so that everyone could see him and would feel sorry for him. And they did.
I learned a few valuable leadership lessons thanks to the cone of shame:
Louie soaked in the attention for as long as he could. As time passed and his stitches were removed, I realized the overarching lesson of this entire experience. While we must take time to heal from some of life’s tough lessons, deep down inside, we know we can adjust and adapt. And in that perseverance, we may actually learn to enjoy life more.
Thank you, Eastside Rotary, for inviting us to speak to your fabulous members!
Every year, March 20, we celebrate Louie! While we’re not sure of his actual birthday, we decided the first day of spring was a perfect day to celebrate his new life! Louie is somewhere between 5-6 years of age. Celebrate with us and wish this little guy a happy birthday! Thank you!
For some reason, this winter has made the ground in our neighborhood very susceptible to moles. You can’t walk in a grassy area without walking over a tunnel dug underground by a mole. And of course, Louie, my adopted pup, is keenly aware of his nemeses lurking just under the surface everywhere he steps.
As we were enjoying one of the unseasonably warm days recently, I noticed Louie had a little extra spring in his step. He was ready to pounce at any given time to expose a mole—or several, if need be. After all, this is what he was created for, and it was his duty to rid our community of as many moles as he could. His fans were counting on him to fulfill his calling.
And pounce he did—several times, in fact—and chased away one or two of the little critters. As we got closer to our home, he found a mound that was especially inviting. He dug and dug and snorted and pulled away clumps of grass with his mouth, and nothing was going to stop him from his responsibility.
Then along came Louie’s friend, Mick—his Goldendoodle pal from across the street. Louie pulled his head out of the dirt and ran over to play with Mick. Then Mac came along, and the three of them jumped and played; it seemed the role of the mighty mole hunter was all but forgotten. That is until Mick got a little too close to the molehill and Louie gave him a firm warning. “That’s MY molehill, buddy,” Louie seemed to snarl. Then Mac stepped a little too close to the molehill, and Louie had all he could take. He made it clear he did not want anyone stepping any closer to the molehill because he had put so much work into digging that hole and possibly finding his treasure.
The humans laughed and shrugged it off as one of his many quirky behaviors. Once Mick and Mac left, Louie went back to digging, clearly not willing to share the findings, should any be uncovered.
As I pulled him away to finish our walk, I shook my head at how possessive and territorial he can be sometimes. I mean, to snarl at his friends just because they were a little too close to the molehill he was working on so diligently? And yet, this gave me great pause. Isn’t that just like us regarding our businesses?
Many people in business today are no different than Louie. They safeguard their information like a child who wraps his arms around his dinner plate making sure no one in the family has an opportunity to steal his food. I do understand the delicate balance of sharing and yet maintaining the quality of intellectual property, but many people, especially in the business-consulting circle, believe they have the market cornered when it comes to their particular information and design.
I have great news! There is nothing new under the sun, and there is plenty of business to go around. While cooperation is essential for teams within organizations, how well do you collaborate with other businesses? I have been blessed with excellent collaborative partnerships throughout the years and have found that working together is much better than competing against one another (I know, competition is good to a certain point).
What I have learned through collaboration is the following:
I’ve enjoyed learning from the best: Lynne Ruhl (Perfect10 Corporate Cultures), T. D. Hughes (former CEO and chair of the board of LaRosa’s), Bob Pautke (LEAD Clermont and SOAR Consultancy) and Ken Blanchard (author of The One Minute Manager).
I am still in partnership with The Ken Blanchard Companies and enjoy maintaining a connection with Ken and meeting with Michelle Shone (business development agent, The Ken Blanchard Companies) on a regular basis. I learned a valuable lesson from Ken many years ago. When he shares the wisdom he’s learned from someone else, he always gives that person credit and honors his or her name and calling in life by doing so. He has done this for the 18 years I have known him, and he still does it today.
I know all too many people who take credit for work, material, and ideas they had nothing to do with bringing to fruition. Yet, they never give people the proper credit and are perfectly happy with allowing people to believe they are the originators. This is stealing, not collaboration. And it fosters a sense of insecurity and negative response, exactly the way Louie behaved.
Although it would have taken me awhile to get Louie to understand that had Mick and Mac joined in the hunt for the mole, the three of them might have been successful in finding one or two moles. Instead, we have a big hole in the ground, a very messy dog, and no mole.
Look for ways to collaborate with others, even those who may seem to be fishing in the same pond as you. It will foster a sense of cooperation and accomplishment—and you may learn a thing or two. Just remember to give proper credit where credit is due.
I could not resist adding a few pictures of my favorite girls with their hero, Fiona the Hippo