It’s been 6 months since we picked Tift out of a litter of 9 gorgeous black lab mixes from a wonderful family in Georgia. I thought this would be a great time for a reflection on the things Tift has taught me. I’m sure there are plenty of lessons I’m not even aware of too. She has been a miraculous part of my life.
What Tift Taught Me:
1. Playtime is important.
Those first few weeks, our itty bitty puppy had more energy than I thought was even possible. I couldn’t keep up with her! But as she settled down, it helped me realize that I had been missing playtime in my life because I had dove so fully into my business and my day job. Now I always find time to play with Tift each day, usually several times a day. And I make time for my kind of play (doing my nails, watching a movie, making art) too.
2. Socializing can be fun.
I’m an introvert. No way around it. But Tift needs time to play with other dogs or she gets bored (or bugs me too much). Taking her to the dog park has taught me that socializing can be fun. Sometimes I’m talking with strangers, sometimes it’s people I see there almost every day. Either way, it’s actually kind of fun. I consider this an integral part of my day, just like the playtime.
3. Everything has a lifespan.
We recently found out that after Tift and two of her siblings were adopted, the six remaining puppies contracted Parvo and passed away. I was devastated to hear this, my heart crushed for the little pups. But I’m reminded that there is a time when everything passes. People, animals, and yes – even your products and business success. We don’t have too much control over when something’s time is up, but we do have control over cherishing every minute. I try to remember to make the most of the time I’ve got with my business (and my puppy!).
4. Schedules make your life run smoothly.
It’s as simple as that. When life is a little predictable, you feel less stressed when something doesn’t go smoothly or you have to divert from your plan. Even if you can’t keep the same schedule from day to day, have something in place for each day so you know what to expect. Oh! How did Tift teach me this? She is a wrecking ball of crazy if I don’t feed her at the same two times each day or take her out to play or walk at the same times each day. It’s ridiculous, but a schedule really works.
4. How to work with no time.
With the craziness of having a two-month old puppy running around, I really didn’t have much time for my business in January and February (yeah, probably March too). And when you don’t have time, you really find that sweet spot where you accomplish the bare minimum amount of work in the time allotted. Now I know how to get things done when I don’t have time (or when I feel like I don’t have time) and I know how much time I have to have to keep up with my business.
5. Cuddling solves a bad mood.
Really. Even if you don’t have a pet to cuddle with, grab your significant other or just grab a friend! Cuddling on the couch while you gossip can instantly turn around that horrible mood you were in. With Tift, it’s almost as if my bad mood melts away the second I touch her soft fur. It’s like therapy!
6. Leaders must be firm, even when it doesn’t seem necessary.
If you want to command respect from a dog, you have to tell them “no” a lot, even when what they’re doing doesn’t really matter. The idea that you are in charge is the most important thing. Tift has learned general rules like what furniture she’s allowed on and that she can’t jump up on strangers. But she also knows she has to obey us when we tell her not to do things. And she listens. Mostly. That’s how you have to lead in business too. I wouldn’t suggest saying “no” just because you feel like it. But you have to lay down the law and position yourself as the person in charge. No one will follow you if they don’t think you’re strong enough to lead them.
7. Don’t talk to anyone when you’re tired.
It sounds silly. But if you watch dogs interacting, it starts to make sense. Even when Tift is with her best friend (yes, she has a bestie!), if she gets tired, she’ll snip at her friend. Tired dogs growl at each other and take each other’s sticks and are generally butt heads. If you’re anything like me, conversations (and written communion too!) do not go well if you’re tired, just like with dogs. I always suggest getting some sleep and getting back to work later. I’ve slept at some weird hours because of this rule. But it works! I’ve avoided some snippy conversations of my own where I could have seriously damaged a business relationship, just because I didn’t have enough sleep.
Have you learned any lessons from your pet? Post ’em in the comments! We can all benefit from what you’ve learned from your furry friends.