Friday, July 14, 2017 will remain etched in my memory for a long time. At 12:30pm, my family and I bade goodbye to a family member, our 13-year-old beagle.
We brought Anya home with us when she was just two months old. Since then, she has been a great joy and an “annoyance”. Through spending many moments with her, I have learnt two key lessons.
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1. To be good company…
Whenever I was out in the garden or the patio, she would slowly but surely walk up and plonk herself nearby. Simply saying, “I am here.” And if I were to get up or shift a bit, she would be alert and follow suit. She would tweak her ears, or turn to look at me when I made the slightest noise.
In this age of connectivity, it is not an uncommon sight to see families or friends sitting down together for a cup of coffee or a meal, but each would be glued to his/her own smart phone. It makes a mockery of the invitation “let’s meet up for coffee/have dinner together to catch up!” But with Anya, she was always “all here”.
“Life is now in session. Are you present?” – John C. Maxwell
Be a good listener.
I have had many nice “monologue conversations” with her. I would just ramble on about things, and Anya would listen. She would just be present and listen, never interjecting (barking!) with her thoughts and views.
In our human interactions, often times we interrupt conversations with our views and opinions. Occasionally this gives rise to arguments and conflicts for having failed to hear out the other person, for being too quick to judge or comment. But with Anya, she would always “hear me out”, even if it was nonsensical chatter!
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway
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2. To achieve…
Be resolute and focused.
Anya was very determined to get what she wanted. Food was her primary focus; filling her “bottomless pit” stomach was her single mission in life. She would bark incessantly until she got what she wanted.
How many times have we started on a project but gave up not too long later when the going was tough, when there was silence all round, not a whimper of encouragement? Anya has taught me the meaning of staying focused, staying on track and battle on for the reward. And mind you, she always got what she set her mind on!
“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.” – Alexander Graham Bell
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Be on schedule.
Her life revolved around an invisible schedule. I do suspect she has an in-built alarm clock in her stomach. She knew exactly when her meal times were. Breakfast and dinner were her two main meals. And she never failed to let us know when it was the hour. Out of the blue, in the stillness of the day, she would start to bark and bark. By that, we knew that madame has to be fed. Her priority (meal) and schedule (meal time) were top-notch!
Often times we have lamented that we are overwhelmed, that we do not have sufficient time to get done the important things in a day. I used to work with a chief executive officer (CEO) who was (and still is) a strong believer in prioritising and scheduling. His work and personal life are scheduled.
Because of this discipline, despite having a perpetual choc-a-block calendar, he always managed to get things done, and was always on time. Perhaps we could take a leaf out of Anya’s life and that CEO’s discipline, and start working on prioritising and scheduling. We could accomplish so much more, I believe.
“The key is not to prioritise what is on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” – Stephen Covey
Thanks, Anya, for the life lessons. You have been a great blessing to us and we miss you much! Sleep on, my best buddy!