Thank you for your continued love and support. We are excited to share this journey with you.
Danise, Evi, and Louie!
Where: Wyoming Fine Arts Center
322 Wyoming Avenue, Wyoming, OH 45215
The Paul Bartel Ballroom
When: Tuesday, October 30 from 5:30 – 7:00 PM (Come and go as you please or stay a while).
Why: Because we love you!
Details: The grandmother and granddaughter duo, Danise DiStasi and Evi Sobb, will be sharing the story behind the book Love Like Louie. Middle-grade children will relate to Emi, the main character, as Danise and Evi unfold the heartwarming tale of a girl and a lost dog and the character-do-over they both experience thanks to the power of love.
Light hors d’oeuvres will be served and books will be available to purchase.
I could not let this blog go out without a tribute to a dear friend. Louie’s best friend, Mick, passed this weekend due to complications with a heart condition. Our hearts are broken and his mom is still processing life without Mick.
We have many fond memories but one, in particular, stands out. Mick, who had enough of Louie nipping at his legs, gave Lou a quick roll over on his back. Louie promptly turned to stand upright on all four but was clearly miffed. He snarled and pranced off, putting an end to playtime. By the next time he saw Mick, all was forgiven and they were quickly buddies again. Oh, that we would be so quick to forgive.
I could always tell when Louie saw “Mickers” outside. Louie would give several short quick barks in a row, reserved only for his friend, Mick, and it was their own sort of communication. I’d looked out and sure enough, Mick was outside. Often Mick would stand in our front yard looking for his pal, Louie.
Mick will be missed in our neighborhood, more than words could ever depict, and I am glad we had the time we did with him. One thing is sure, Louie will forever miss his pal as he stares out the window wishing for one last romp in the backyard, and saddened he didn’t have a chance to say goodbye.
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 email@example.com
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.
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!
Louie has slipped back into some of his old bad behaviors. He does not want any other dog to enter into our home. And he’s not too fond of humans walking in either, but he tolerates them. This behavior is displayed only in my home and it wears on me.
But then it occurred to me. I have been lax in my being a consistent Alpha to Louie. You see, 90% of the time, Louie is a very well-behaved dog, and he minds well. And for this reason, I have let some little bad behaviors slip through the crack. This creates a chain effect of Louie thinking he can get by with those bad behaviors; getting on the furniture, getting into the trash, getting on the beds. Because he sometimes gets by with that behavior and other times not, this causes confusion for Louie. And when he’s confused, he operates in fear. It’s my fault that Louie is confused and feels the need to be territorial and protective.
One of the toughest principles for me to grasp over the years since Louie first came to live with me was how to be the Alpha in Louie’s “pack,” and my trainer was clear that I was a weak Alpha. My lack of strong leadership confused Louie, forcing him into the position of having to step up and lead, and that issue still exists today.
Before Louie and I found each other, I never gave much thought to asserting my role as Alpha Dog. Consequently, my dogs assumed that role, and I let them. It didn’t seem to matter because they were small and harmless. And by the time I got home after a long day at work, I was tired of being Alpha, so I let them boss me around. But that approach doesn’t work for Louie, and it does not work for people
There is so much that goes into being a good Alpha; being consistent, providing safety, setting appropriate boundaries, giving genuine and abundant praise, and offering a necessary correction. Again, all of those things must be rooted in trust and undergirded by love.
I remember back four years ago when the trainer first met us, Louie behaved very badly, and I was at my wit’s end. The trainer described my body language as defeated. Louie responded to this with fear and confusion. The words that moved me off the dime were, “I’ve seen you do leadership seminars, now you’ve got to do what you do in those workshops. Exude confidence. He needs reassurance that you know what you’re doing.”
Really? For my dog? I had made the common mistake of assuming that he would instinctively know that I’m the boss – simply because I’m the human, I’m larger than he, and I think more “knowledgeable.” The trainer taught me that it is about my level of confidence in where I’m going and what needs to be accomplished. That confidence is in knowing what’s best for Louie, giving him firm direction, and drawing out his very best behavior.
As leaders, our assumptions about others and situations around us unintentionally confuse our team. We have expectations that are not always clearly communicated, and then when not met, cause disappointment on our part and confusion on the part of others. Ken Blanchard often refers to this as seagull management, meaning a manager who only interacts with employees when a problem arises. This style of leadership involves hasty decisions about things of which they have little understanding, resulting in messy situations for others to clean up.
Being a strong leader is about so much more than claiming an impressive title, wearing expensive clothes and appearing important. It is about:
Dogs and people need a humble leader, not a bossy dictator. I’ve committed to leading with intentionality, clear vision and goals. I encourage you to do the same – whether you’re leading canines or humans.
I am happy to say I have assumed my role as Alpha of the house. Louie needs and desires my approval much more than he wants to be alpha, and consequently, Louie is a much happier pup. I’ve had to wrestle him to the ground once or twice to make him understand submission, a method I do NOT recommend for your team. But it is clear that he understands and appreciates my love and leadership. And I now know the value of being consistent in my leadership role.
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I envy my dog Louie’s ability to just be. As I watch him looking out the window, I often wonder whether he is looking for something in particular. Is he remembering the mole he dug out of the dirt in the backyard and thrashed it about until it was lifeless (witnessed by my granddaughter Evi)? Is he thinking of the many raccoons he has run up the tree? Or is he waiting for the deer to cross his path? They would be wise to choose another route! No matter what he may be thinking, he is perfectly content to hit the pause (PAWS) button on life and just be.
While Christmas is already upon us and soon we’ll be ringing in the New Year, I have to look back over 2017 and ask with astonishment, “What happened?” It’s not my typical thought, “Wow, this year went fast.” That is because this year was different.
On December 18, 2016, I had an accident and had to have surgery to repair a femur that was broken in two places and a full hip replacement. “Give yourself a year,” the surgeon said during a follow-up exam in which the details were extremely fuzzy. His prediction of a year to recover seemed to hit a nerve for me. No sooner were the words out of the surgeon’s mouth than I boldly shrugged and said, “Who needs a year? I’ll be fine!”
The process of recovery was grueling and I barely remember Christmas last year other than spending it at the home of my daughter and son-in-law with the two cutest nurses ever. But I did recover and was pleased with how well I was able to move around. It helped that it was a pretty mild winter last year so that I was able to get outside and walk.
Many were amazed at how well I recovered physically, including me. But I have to be honest; the incident literally and figuratively knocked me off my feet and knocked the wind out of me for almost the entire year. The surgeon was right: it would take every bit of a year. And over the months, I stopped to pause many times.
There’s a word in the Old Testament that I’ve grown to cherish over this past year: Selah. Although some debate the meaning, I’ve learned that its definition is “Pause and reflect on this.” While it may have been written centuries ago, it is still a good reminder for our world today to pause every now and then and reflect. Yet sometimes, we may need a little help hitting the pause button. I would say that my accident certainly helped me to pause and reflect on my life.
Of course, I would never wish such an injury on anyone, but I will admit that I am a better person for having gone through it. I enjoy life more, love more deeply, listen more emphatically, notice people in need more often, laugh more heartily, and celebrate more joyously.
And I am not the only one who has changed. I have seen a complete transformation in Louie over the past year. Because he’s had to slow down with me, he is more patient. I can tell he is more trusting of friends, he is more engaging when we visit schools and nursing homes. And he is even more loving and playful with Evi and Mea and houseguests.
I am grateful for a blessed life and—although I am not sure how this could ever be possible—I love God, even more, each day. And I am grateful for you too! Thank you for reading our Louie blog over the years. We are excited about some news we will be sharing in the first quarter of 2018, thanks to the many words of encouragement and feedback we have received from Louie’s followers. You’ll soon be the first to know.
In the meantime, during this wonderful season, do what Louie does—hit the PAWS button. And in doing so, be thankful for all the many things you have to be grateful for.
God bless you and your family! Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.
Louie and I were walking down the street toward our home. A neighbor was getting into her car and stopped to stare at Louie as he proudly pranced by. We exchanged hellos, and she smiled at Lou and said, “He’s such a good boy.” I just laughed and nodded.
He looked at me and I at him, and I thought, “He is a pretty good dog.” But then I continued that conversation in my head: “Well, most of the time. I mean, sometimes, he can be a bit, well, let’s just say mischievous.” Quite honestly, he is a totally different dog than he was during our first few months together.
Louie’s transformation was no accident—I was very intentional in making changes in my life and my leadership style, and it took a lot of work.
THE ONE THING
But the most transformative power in our journey together was my decision to be a loving person and to pour love into little Louie. I saw a significant difference in his behavior a few months into our time together and continue to see today, four years later!
Sadly, the word “love” receives eye rolls and shoulder shrugs. The word gets tossed around frequently these days in every circle that wants to claim it is the most loving. We see countless hateful Facebook posts and counter posts on how we need to love. Over four years ago, in my first Louie’s Leadership Lessons blog post, I took a chance and wrote about showing Lou unconditional love, knowing how the world viewed the “l-word”, especially in the workplace. Yet as we conduct more and more LOUIE speeches and workshops, one thing that is always consistent is the total misunderstanding of the word love.
A few months after my blog post on love, Harvard Business Review published a study demonstrating that employees perform better when they feel loved. The study made a distinction between friendship love and romantic love, mainly that friendship love is based on warmth, affection, and connection rather than passion. The study revealed, “It is the small moments between coworkers—a warm smile, a kind note, a sympathetic ear—day after day, month after month, [Danise’s Note: on a consistent basis] that help create and maintain a strong culture of companion love and the employee satisfaction, productivity, and client satisfaction that comes with it.”
STOP IT AND WHY!
So here’s my challenge to you today: stop training and coaching your staff in hopes of seeing change. Be the leader who genuinely loves! Unless you’re capable of showing authentic love to others, you will most likely cultivate a very toxic culture within your organization, family, and community. Don’t confuse being nice with demonstrating love. They are two different qualities. Love is a heart issue!
On the flip side, my observation has been that bosses who try to manufacture these qualities but demonstrate behavior to the contrary engender fear and mistrust among their employees.
May I be so bold as to take this a step further? I think it is virtually impossible to feel joy or experience peace in your life if you’re incapable of true genuine love. Most of us do not understand love. So let me help you. Here’s the tip of the iceberg of what I’ve been learning over four years of studying and blogging about Louie and love:
There’s no way you can be patient with others, show kindness, have integrity, be faithful to your word, be gentle, or exhibit self-control without love. All of these excellent characteristics are rooted in love. And as leaders, we must be people of love, not just doers of nice things. Check your motives and your hearts.
WHERE TRANSFORMATION TRULY BEGINS
It wasn’t easy for me to show consistent, genuine love to Louie. And it has been even more difficult to show love to people who are unlovable, demanding, or different from me—or those who have disappointed me. But I know what true love is, and I stand amazed that God so loves me! Who am I to withhold that love from people who may need it most?
I chose Louie, difficult personality and all. Granted, we usually do not get to choose those we are commanded to love in the workplace. But people in your space could be transformed because you choose to love them.