Lots of good things went on behind the scenes of my business in 2014. Taking a break allowed me to get back to the heart of my brand strategy, refocus my vision for this blog and hone down my client list until I’m only working on the projects that give me the highest ROI.
This post is not about any of those things.
This post is about puppies.
The Best Thing I Did All Year
On the bookshelf in our living room are framed photos of two dogs who were temporarily in our care last year. There’s one of Charlie, an adorable little foxy-faced thing called a Korean Jindo, and one of Baxter, a doofy-faced Standard Poodle who looked very much like a big, lanky Muppet.
Both were in dire straights when we got them.
Charlie’s military owner brought him back to the U.S. only to find he didn’t get along well with the small children in the family. The SPCA was told Charlie had “aggression issues,” and he certainly seemed to. He spent the first couple days we had him growling any time someone so much as looked at him and hiding in corners of rooms we weren’t in. When my husband woke up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, he found Charlie planted in the middle of the bathroom rug, snarling so ferociously he was afraid to step through the door. The dog seemed straight-up unadoptable.
But several weeks later, after being in a home where people respected his boundaries, Charlie was jumping into strangers’ laps without invitation because he’d revealed himself to the biggest cuddlebug you’ll ever meet. You could not sit down on a piece of furniture without him nudging up to you immediately. Turns out he just needed to know people respected his personal space (which I’m guessing small children did not). I still get texts from his new forever family telling me how much they love him and sharing pictures of him curled up with his new brother (another Jindo, as luck would have it).
Baxter was rescued from a situation so bad it made the local news: a grooming and boarding facility had been reported on charges of animal neglect, and when Animal Control raided them, they found several animals in cages in states of filth, malnutrition and illness. Baxter was a skeleton of a Poodle when the SPCA got him, his coat so dirty they thought he was a tan dog until they shaved his fur and realized he was white.
While Baxter’s owner was on trial, he couldn’t be listed for adoption, and he wasn’t doing well in the kennels. He seemed anxious and skittish (who knows how much of his life had already been spent in a cage). The first couple weeks we had him, he cowered when you reached out to pat his head, as if bracing for a strike. He peed on everything. He didn’t know how to go up and down stairs, which was tricky since he needed to navigate them to get out into our backyard to do his business. He seemed like a sweetheart, but you could tell he was just waiting to see what awful thing was waiting for him next.
But every day, we watched his tail wag just a little bit more than it did the day before. He learned stairs. He learned schedules. He learned people weren’t all bad. And soon he learned to stand on his hind legs and give us full-frontal hugs on request. (Which is the picture we have of him on our bookshelf.) When his owner lost custody and he was able to go up for adoption, it wasn’t long before he was scooped up. He is hopefully hugging his new forever family as often as possible.
This — fostering behaviorally challenged and at-risk dogs for the SPCA — is something new my husband and I picked up last year over the hiatus I took from being a blogger and entrepreneur. And it is easily the best thing I did all year, if not for the last several years.
I’ve always wanted to do more for animals. I adore dogs. I’d keep a whole posse of them if I had the money and a ranch on which they could roam. But we don’t have much money, and hustling as much as I need to pay our bills doesn’t leave much time for things like volunteering outside the house.
But bringing a troubled pup into our home, and giving them all the love and attention we can possibly give? We can totally do that. And I’m now addicted to it.
There’s More to Life Than What We Entrepreneurs Tend to Talk About
This isn’t the sort of thing hustlers usually discuss on their blogs. They share their daily schedules, their new project acquisitions, their favorite products which are often just affiliate programs in disguise, but they rarely talk about the things that make them stupidly happy just because — the things that bring in zero monetary value but oh, so much life value.
Fostering dogs, when we already have two furballs of our own, is not “productive” in the billable sense of the word.
It does nothing to build my brand, boost my revenue or increase my bottom line.
In fact, it’s made me worse at being a hustler, because with each new puppy comes new reasons to go outside in the yard and take extra walks and generally dote over cute furry things when I “ought” to be getting something business-y done.
But I feel like it’s made me a better human.
It’s made me more patient, more joyful, more purposeful.
It’s made me feel like my life has wrought some good in this world, beyond just getting the bills paid and the to-dos checked off.
It just plain makes me smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
When friends and family asked me at holiday get-togethers what had happened in my life since we last met, I didn’t want to talk about my business strategy or my client list or the fact that a major magazine might be featuring a quote of mine in an upcoming article; I wanted to talk about Charlie and Baxter. Because that was the best news of all the news I had to share, in my estimation. That was the one thing that made 2014 a unanimous success for me. And the promise of more pups to foster in 2015 is one of the things that make me the most excited to get up in the morning.
I’m afraid none of this will help you rock your biz or quit your day job. But it just might help make your life (you know, that thing your biz and your job are supposed to let you enjoy more) a little more awesome.
So, I have a simple question for you…
When was the last time you did something just because it made you smile and feel all warm and fuzzy inside? (Tweet!)
Image: J E Theriot / Flickr
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