In the summer of 2009, we really wanted to get a new dog. Ours had passed on the previous year at an early age. The sticking point? We had a toddler and a baby at home, so we were busy, busy, busy. We figured that adding a puppy into the mix was probably not wise.
A couple of months later, we learned that Canine Companions sometimes looked for families to take dogs who were training but for some reason, not a good fit for the program. Shortly after getting on the list, we received a call that an 18-month male was available. Did we want to meet him? We knew that Rudy was our dog within the first 5 minutes when he rolled over on his belly to let baby Allison crawl on top of him.
For 12 years, he was an important member of our family. My kids, now teenagers, have no recollection of a home without a dog. Rudy enriched our lives beyond measure because of who he was. As I work through the loss of our beloved boy, it occurs to me that some of Rudy’s ways are also the ways of great leaders.
Leadership Lessons from Rudy:
Understand that each person needs something different from their leader. Rudy flexed to accommodate our needs. He left me alone when I was in my home office, as he knew I was working and wouldn’t be paying much attention to him. But at night, I wanted to cuddle him while watching Better Call Saul, so he would jump up on the couch to lie next to me. Joey always wanted him around when he was playing X-Box. Rudy was happy to accommodate.
Be authentic and treat people with kindness. I was not always a dog person. I didn’t grow up in a dog family. Rudy was a friend to everyone he met, and, over time, he charmed every one of my family members into loving him. At least two other families adopted labs after spending time with him.
Set expectations. Each morning, Rudy would get up, eat, and proceed to follow my husband around until he got a walk. He was crystal clear about what he expected, and he held us accountable.
Take a break. Now and then, Rudy would roam “off-campus.” But he wasn’t running away. He would meander back home after sniffing around a little while. He needed a little breather.
Learn from your mistakes. When Rudy ate three American Girl doll shoes and some Shopkins, it didn’t go over too well with his sister or his tummy.
Listen to your body. In his last few months, Rudy slept most of the time. He knew that he needed rest so that he could eat eggs and take his daily walk. Likewise, to effectively lead, we need to care for ourselves first.
Rest in Peace, my sweet boy. You made this world a better place.