This is not a puppy story; now that Miss Alice has her own account, email address, and identity, she is hard at work on her next diary. It is a Hermit Chronicle derived partly from my observations of her and Emma’s behavior as a team since doggie daycare opened just shy of two weeks ago.

Many of you may not be specifically aware that I spent several years in the ’90s teaching classes across a wide range of demographics on subjects related to something that used to be called high-performance teams. I was a little skeptical about the whole idea, especially given that it was in a manufacturing environment run by old-school management types that held production workers to a very different standard in the workplace than what would be considered acceptable in today’s silly “woke” HR world of constraints.

My job required me to teach the top levels of management all the ways they needed to change their management approach in ways that would empower the lowest of the hierarchy to become more independent and, as they called it back then, self-directed. You can imagine the diverging levels of enthusiasm between making management give up some control and allowing the lowest ranks to take on more of it and learn to rely on each other to be successful and own their own destiny. To the former, I was an asshole. To the latter, Santa Claus.

There are a lot of reasons that I became the self-made Hermit I call myself today. Putting aside my relationship history for a separate conversation (once I have achieved maximum indifference to all the disappointment in humanity I have accumulated over the years), I will write about those things in greater detail. But watching Alice and Emma for almost two weeks now, I have been reminded of all those classes I taught on the topics of group dynamics, team building, and Collective self-direction. I mean… I know they are “just dogs,” and I appreciate they instinctively work together (siblings and pack mentality all bundled up into one), but in many ways, we aren’t all that different from dogs, and their advantage over us is their limitless capacity for loyalty and unconditional love.

I penned a quote several years ago, inspired by my relationship with Daisy, that remains as my signature in my professional email account: “If your dog hasn’t taught you things about yourself you never realized, you aren’t paying close enough attention to what she’s trying to tell you.” I bring this up here because, watching these two canines interacting with each other and watching the way the two of them work together to work with me, I am fascinated by how much more they seem to “get” me even as I am still learning from them so many things I need to do better in order to improve how I care for them.

I’ll resist the temptation to crack the joke about where our species would be if the standard greeting were mutual butt-sniffings rather than a sweaty-palmed handshake, but I welcome you to visualize how that might look. I will say, however, that much can be learned from canines about how strangers are greeted for the first time. After 20 dogs, Alice and Emma make 22, puppy or otherwise, a dog’s instinct is to love and embrace first… Until given a violent reason to feel otherwise, regardless of their age. With so much random violence, anger, and hate amongst our species these days, we’ve grown accustomed to starting off with strangers being overly cautious, skeptical, and guarded.

Picking up right where Daisy left off, continuing to learn from the dogs, and now insisting that I let them teach me things about myself I never realized, these two young ladies—almost as if they had dog telepathy—seem to routinely conspire with each other to make me focus on them, put down keyboard and microphone, and roll around on the grass with them as if all three of us were puppies. This is an offer I cannot refuse… There’s an outdoor team building session in the backyard calling our names.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here