As Louie ages, I often wonder about getting him a companion. I know this is a common practice for many dog owners, but is it necessary for Louie? I’m not sure. Louie is not one for superficial relationships. And he is pretty clear about how he feels about other canines.

For example, sometimes Louie might see a dog that challenges him. The two will snarl and growl and perhaps even bark at each other.

However, the minute we walk side by side with the dog and its owner, they seem to get along. There is something about being intentional and walking alongside someone you have a disagreement with.

Louie has done this with my niece’s dog, Buddy. Those two little boys will scrunch their noses, curl their lips, show their teeth, the hair on the back will stand up, and bark in such a high pitch that people turn their heads with a look of concern. Andrea laughs, assuring everyone in sight that the dogs are actually cousins and are fine with each other. It sure doesn’t seem like it when they are facing one another.

However, as soon as we start walking, they are fine together.

Louie also behaves this way with his neighbors Mick, Claire, Harley, Mac, Rascal, Daisy, and his other cousin Noli. The list goes on and on…you get the idea!

What is it about being side by side with his supposed nemesis? I think there are several things:

  1. It is less threatening.
  2. They are on equal ground.
  3. They see the same vision of what lies ahead.
  4. They walk at the same pace.
  5. It is easier to carry the other’s burden. (Okay, this one relates to humans, not Louie.)

What if some of us intentionally walked side by side instead of duking it out? I am reminded of an article I wrote in 2005 with Ken Blanchard titled “Leading with Your Heart Takes Humility.” Although it was written several years ago, the premise holds true today: Humility is the key to excelling in leadership and relationships. Servant leaders are humble enough to walk beside someone they disagree with.

I won’t share the full article, but here are some of the highlights:

  1. Something is glaringly missing from leadership today. Sadly, many leadership programs are missing one key ingredient: the heart. Not just the heart of the issue or the heart of the matter—the heart of the people.
  2. What gets in your way? What is your motive for being a leader or leading others? Is it for selfish gain or to better others?
  3. Our ego often gets in the way and what bubbles up out of our hearts are things like pride, selfishness, and even fear. How can you push past what holds you back? In getting past the barriers, is the challenge as a leader to balance confidence with humility to fight ego issues? Whenever you make a leadership decision, are you thinking of yourself or others?
  4. Confidence does not come from being in a dominant position and leading by intimidation. Doing this will cause you to lose respect from others, and any talk about values or integrity will be ignored. Humility, however, is not something they teach us in business schools. It is a character trait honed over time with truth and love.

Our schools, businesses, organizations, and families are hungry for leadership coupled with humility. It takes commitment to make the necessary changes to have a healthy culture and humble leaders. Our world could learn a lesson from Louie about being intentional and walking side by side with others rather than snarling at them. While Louie doesn’t understand humility, his actions speak louder than his woof. He is more than willing to walk alongside others. As I watch his actions, I am convinced we humans have much to learn from our dogs.

As for getting another dog, well, I am still determining if I want to deal with Louie face-to-face with another pup 24/7. I’m still thinking! 🤔

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