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!
I’ve noticed lately I no longer enjoy my walks with my rescue pup, Louie. It saddens me to share that publicly, but it is the truth—a truth I had to take time to explore and understand.
I love to walk because I enjoy the outdoors and because it’s an excellent way for me to exercise. I also enjoy seeing my neighbors and getting a chance to catch up with them.
Click the link below to read more…
Love Like Louie Book Clubs…
Has your child and their friends read Love Like Louie, or are a group of you interested in reading the book together?
Louie and I would LOVE to speak to your little book club about the book and the lessons learned 🐶
For more information on how to schedule a session with Louie and Danise, email us at email@example.com #lovelikelouie #kidsbookclub
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I knew this day would come. I had been dreading it for some time, yet I knew it was near. Louie’s sweet little friend, Ellie, recently passed. Those who loved her, especially her mom, Lynne Ruhl, are devastated.
I met Ellie some time ago when she was just a pup while visiting with Lynne at her home. Ellie needed to be in my lap, next to me, by my feet, sitting right next to my chair—anywhere in close proximity. I wanted to believe I was special but as I grew to know Ellie, I realized she treated everyone pretty much the same. She just loved humans.
When my dear friend Lynne moved into my neighborhood, I was thrilled. Not only to have a close friend nearby, but also because of Ellie. I was able to spend more time with Ellie, walking her, having her visit with us. Louie loved her and often sought her advice, very much like I do with Lynne. [Blog Post; Addressing Conflict; with Ellie Ruhl]
When her little face would pop up in the door window, I knew Lynne wasn’t home. That gave me an opportunity to steal my little Ellie away and spend time with her doing our favorite pastime—walking. She was such a joy to walk. She pranced, like the princess she was. But the funniest part of walking her was when she would see a human. She was convinced that the person needed to see her, and she pranced right over to them. The person would light up when they saw Ellie, whether or not they were a dog person.
When she saw a dog, she would react the same way, convinced the dog was very much interested in making her acquaintance. When the dog showed signs of not wanting her near, she was shocked and unconvinced. I had to laugh at her desire to know everyone. She knew if she loved all created beings, then all created beings would love her.
Oh, my sweet Ellie, if only that were true. If only our world loved as easily as you did.
Ellie broke her foot shortly after moving into their condo. She was running in the backyard and her foot caught in a grate. I thought she would lose her prance, but she seemed to spring right back. There were many long walks and fun times with that precious girl.
And then over the last year or so, I noticed her decline. She slowly stopped jumping high in the air when she saw people, her pranced slowed — a little at first, and then a lot– and her long hesitation before hopping onto a step was noticeable. My heart was sad, and I looked for any sign of the precious little Ellie that I knew and loved. I usually witnessed an ever so slight indication, which thoroughly convinced me she was fine.
That was until I took her outside for the very last time. In fact, I knew it would be the last time I’d see her. I helped her up the step into the house. As she oriented herself, I knelt beside her. Not wanting to upset her with my display of emotion, I quietly whispered, “Ellie, you are loved. Thank you for loving me and Louie and everyone you came in contact with.” That was all I could get out. The sadness was overwhelming.
I saw Lynne when she arrived home from Ellie’s last visit with the vet. My heart broke for her because I know that pain all too well. Losing our pets is very difficult. Losing Ellie was heartbreaking for Lynne.
Honestly, I doubt I will ever meet another created being who could make someone—anyone—feel as loved as Ellie did. She exuded love and never cared who you were, what you did, or how you looked. If you were breathing, she loved you. Imagine our world if we treated others as Ellie did. And as much as I know many people love Louie, I’m being truthful when I say he is a bit more reserved about showing love to others.
To our little Ellie; thank you for bringing such love into our world. You are sorely missed, little one. And you will always be loved.
“You, LORD, preserve both people and animals.” Ps: 36:6
NOTE: Louie and I will resume our blog in September. We are feverishly working on our newest project, Love Like Louie.
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
I’ve noticed something a bit different lately about Louie, my rescue pup. He really enjoys it when we walk side by side during our walks. What’s different about that, you might ask?
He’s always enjoyed our time together and is usually all over the place when we walk. To get him to walk right next to me (as we’ve been taught during dog training), I usually have to make him heel. What’s different now is that he heels without me giving the command. Now he walks right next to me, many times for the entire walk, enjoying every step. It’s like we’re BFFs just hanging out. Well, maybe we are, but this change in our walks together gives me paws to think about leadership.
Louie walks next to me with confidence and joy because I, his leader, am walking with confidence and joy. This time last year I was still recuperating from a terrible accident. And, needless to say, this winter, though I was out walking, I walked with extreme caution. Now that the weather is turning warmer, there’s a bit more spring in my step and I am back to walking confidently and fast. And Louie is reaping the benefits.
When I say, “Leader, you must walk with confidence,” it may conjure up a lot of different thoughts and feelings about leadership. Many leaders walk with confidence because of pride issues, others put on airs and act like they’re confident. I believe the leaders who truly are confident provide a safe place for employees to flourish. Those leaders are confident not in their own abilities but in the abilities and strengths of those they lead. They can walk with confidence because they have a team around them they believe in, one they have encouraged and affirmed, and they work well together.
Walking with confidence is not about you, it is about those you lead, those you’ve empowered to be who they were created to be. It’s not about you puffing yourself up, it’s about those who choose to follow you and the confidence they have in you to be an excellent leader. Take the challenge and walk with confidence, but be sure it is because of the outward focus you have on the strengths and skills of others on your team.
As for Louie, well, I’m pretty sure if he were writing this it would be all about his confidence and how he walks next to me to make sure I am protected. Way to go, Louie! Such a good boy!
Louie had to say goodbye to his cousin, Perry, a couple of weeks ago. We’re so glad we had time to cuddle that sweet boy the week before. Mark, Agnes, Bernadette and Christian and all the DiStasi kids will miss him.
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!
I’ve noticed Louie has an odd habit when we walk. He walks on the street curb like he is walking on a balance beam. And he’s quite good! In fact, many times he will run on the curb and not miss a beat. I joked with our trainer, Zig, sometime back that we should get Louie into agility training. Zig kindly reminded me that Louie would need more obedience training before he could handle an agility class.
It was wise advice, but curiosity got the better of me. I looked into a place that has an easy-to-use obstacle course where dogs chase a lead through tunnels and over bars, and they don’t need prior training. So my granddaughter, Evi, joined Louie and I as we checked out this fun adventure.
It was evident from the start that Louie would have nothing to do with chasing a silly lead on a wire aimed at getting him to jump or run. I’m sure if the lead had a treat on it, he might have been persuaded, but that was not part of the plan. So Evi jumped into the ring and started running with him, and the two of them had a blast. That lasted one cycle until his attention went elsewhere. Evi tried to get him to chase her, but Louie was done. He clearly was not going to jump through any more hoops and in fact, desperately tried to find a way to escape.
And escape he did. He found a small opening in the fence and took off running through the outside area that didn’t appear to be enclosed. My trainer told me never to chase Louie if he gets loose because he’ll think it’s a game. But I was afraid of what could happen if he ran into the busy street. As Louie’s ears flapped in the wind and his tongue hung out to the side, the chase was on. I jumped over a small fence and ran at high speed to tackle him and bring him safely back into the ring. I did all this while yelling at Evi to stay put because I didn’t want to worry about her as well. But she was too enthralled by the sight of my running and jumping that she wasn’t going anywhere.
As we were driving home, I asked Louie, “Why do you run away from us? Do you realize if you run away I will not be behind you? You’ll be lost! Don’t you remember what it was like being on the streets all alone?” Evi chimed in with a sad face, “Yeah, Louie, that was scary. Don’t ever do that again!” I smiled as I looked at my pup through the rearview mirror, his tongue still hanging out and a big smile on his face as though he had achieved a major accomplishment. But I said, “I can’t blame you, Lou! I don’t like to jump through hoops either.” Louie sat regally staring out the window as we drove in silence toward home.
As I reflected on that incident, I realized that Louie was not going to jump through hoops or run around a path and, like most humans, he looked for the quickest escape route. I was reminded of an organization I once worked with that was one of the most toxic cultures I had ever experienced because the leader expected the employees to jump through hoops on a continual basis. What made it so toxic was that the image portrayed to the public was completely different than that of the actual culture. Every employee walked on eggshells out of fear of the employer, and they knew that if they spoke the truth, they could be out of a job.
Over the years, I have witnessed and heard about many toxic workplaces. How do you know when a culture is toxic and a leader is self-serving? It is not so easy to determine just by observing. It takes experiencing the culture and often, by the time the determination is made, the damage is done. But here are some signs:
I could go on, but I’m sure you get the picture. Many wonderful leaders have a servant’s heart and care more for others than themselves. And because they are servant leaders, their businesses continue to enjoy sustainable growth, and employees are recognized for their part in the success. Their employees enjoy going to work in the morning instead of getting that knotted feeling every Sunday evening because of what they have to face on Monday. The best servant leaders are those who have removed their egos, are authentic and focused on others. Be intentional about being a servant leader.
As for Louie…well, we’ll work on his agility and obedience training!