Monthly Archives: February 2015

Just For Fun: Two Dogs Pick the Oscar Winners











This blog is a departure from my usual laser focus on workplace issues. Today we are going to have a little fun with the movie industry. I have the pleasure of introducing Otis, one of my Chicago-area colleagues, and together we are going to pick some of tonight’s Oscar winners. Otis is a Newfoundland, and like me, a member of a respected working breed of dog. Since I am leash aggressive, we have never met face-to-face, but based on our correspondence, I can assure you that Otis is an insightful Dog of Letters.

We want to start with a few disclosures. As dogs, we are not allowed in movie theaters and therefore, neither of us has ever seen a movie. (Fortunately, some of our Leader dog and Service dog colleagues may see the occasional flick.) Nor are we allowed on the Red Carpet. In fact, many of our kind are not allowed on any carpets. Nevertheless, we have used our innate canine investigative skills to unearth publicly available information about the movie industry to enable us to provide credible reviews of the movies, actors and actresses.

Before we get to the 2015 nominations, we each want to share our personal favorite movies of all time. For me, the choice is clear: “Rocky”. Why? It’s a love story about a Boxer who gets a second chance. Does this sound like anyone you know?? Also, ”Rocky” is the name of many of our fellow dogs and the name of my humans’ first canine partner. (Please read the tribute to Rocky, below.) Otis’s favorite movie is “Must Love Dogs”. Not only is this a sensitive portrayal of the special bond between dogs and their humans, but it is also gratifying to see a black Newfoundland get a leading role in a major motion picture[1]. And we are both huge fans of the Great Diane Dane.

Here are our picks for the 2015 Oscar Winners:
Best Picture: Two Paws Up for The Grand Buddha Pet Hotel: How can you not love a resort that offers a spiritual environment to pets? (We have heard a lot about this new movie “Fifty Shades of Greyhound”, but we can’t imagine how this topic could possibly stay interesting for 125 minutes.)

Best Actor: Bradley Coonhound in “American Sniper”. In addition to what we hear about Coonhounds’ superb performance, this movie is about a vet, and we have enormous respect for all vets.

Best Actress: Reese Withersbone, in “Wild”. Although we dogs are thoroughly domesticated, this movie sounds interesting.

Best Supporting Actor: Mark Ruff Ruff, for his performance in “Foxhound Catcher”.

Best Supporting Actress: Meryl Sheepdog for “Into the Woods”. We would love to go into the woods with Meryl!

We would also like to remember some of our past Oscar favorites. Who can forget Collie Firth’s magnificent acting in “King, Speak!”(2011). Not to mention Jamie Fox Terrier’s brilliant portrayal of Cavalier King Ray Charles(2005). And did you know that Spaniel Day-Lewis leads the pack of male actors with three Oscars? Among the winning actresses near and dear to us dogs are Sandra Bulldog in “The Hindside” (2010) , Kate Whippet in “The Retriever” (2009) , and Gwyneth Pawtrow in “Shake, Spear!”(1999). How we wish we could have seen some of the best pictures, including Slumdog Millionaire(2009), Dances with Wolves (1991) and The Hound of Music(1966).

In closing, we must warn you that we have only scratched the surface on all the puns and doggie plays on words we dug up for this year’s Oscars, and we promise to be back next year with more!

Your best friends,
Harley and Otis

A Tribute to Rocky



Rocky was the first canine partner retained by my humans. Like me, his placement was made possible by the Grosse Pointe Animal Adoption Society. He served faithfully for twelve years and was an invaluable member of the team. Although we never met, I owe him a huge debt of gratitude. He paved the way for me, opening doors and hearts. Please consider adopting your next pet from an animal shelter. We won’t let you down!

[1]Check out the Pawscar Awards the best animal performances in movies.

Growling About the Weather? Don’t Waste Your Energy Whining About Things Beyond Your Control!


Fashionably bundled up for the frigid temperatures

Fashionably bundled up for the frigid temperatures

It’s cold out there! This morning it was -6°F [1] when I tried to go for a short walk. Even though we were both bundled up[2], the cold was just too much for me and my human partner and we quickly returned home.  I miss my walks enormously. Walking is the highlight of my day and helps me manage more effectively[3].   I must admit I was feeling sorry for myself and I had a hangdog expression as I stared wistfully out the window, longing for warmer days.
But here is a hard cold fact of life: I cannot do anything to change the weather. It is out of my control. Whining and complaining accomplish nothing.   My human partner and I knew we had to get over it and adapt and so we worked to develop a coping strategy.  We decided to go for a car ride together. This got us out of the house in a way that was safe and healthy for both of us.  Admittedly, it was not as good as putting my nose to the sidewalk and managing my territory at ground level.   It helped me feel better, however, and put me in touch with what was going on in the neighborhood.

Buckled up and ready to be a backseat driver

Buckled up and ready to be a backseat driver

In the workplace, it is frustrating when you are confronted with things that are truly out of your control.   When that happens, how do you react? Do you long for sunnier days? Do you waste your time whining and complaining? Complaining might generate a lot of hot air which could be helpful in subzero temperatures, but it does not help resolve the challenge ahead of you. My advice is to accept that you are in a difficult climate.   Bundle up!   Fasten your seatbelt!   Get moving!   Use your energy to develop a strategy to weather the storm.

Your best friend,


[1] For my Canadian,  European and African readers, this is -21oC.

[2] The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals provides important information about protecting your pets in extreme weather.

[3] Please see my  January 16, 2015 blog Take a Walk for a more detailed discussion of the topic of Managing by Walking Around.

A Short and Sweet Reflection on Valentine’s Day

Harley valentine's day

I asked my readers what they LOVE about their work. Although I did not hear from many readers, the comments I received were pure gold!

Read this: “I’m a Peace Corps volunteer teaching English to 9th graders in Ethiopia. What I love most about my job is the look on my students’ faces when they show me excellent work and I tell them how well they did.” Here is another: “The church and school I work for has many needs, both spiritual and physical. I love being part of a loving and caring Pastoral Team who work together to meet these needs.” And: “I love that no two days are alike and each new crisis or unique situation is an opportunity for creativity and teamwork.” I chewed on this with my human partner, who added that she loves helping people and also the opportunity to learn new things. A self-employed reader enjoyed the independence and lack of meetings.

I thought about my own work experience. My responsibilities include surveillance, security and providing emotional support to my human team[1]. What do I love the most? The people side of the job: being there to meet my humans’ needs and the mutual support and friendship.

Putting all of this together, I see some common threads: people, teamwork, helping others, and continuous learning.

I wondered why more readers did not share what they LOVE about their work. Perhaps “love” is not considered an appropriate word to describe work? Not professional enough? Too personal? We dogs are very transparent when it comes to our emotions. We do not hesitate to let you know how much we care about you and when we are happy. Isn’t that why humans love having us around?

So my Valentine’s Day message to you is to follow your heart and allow yourself to unleash your feelings a little bit. Let others know how much you enjoy helping them, learning from them and being part of the team.

Your best friend and Valentine,


[1] I am occasional called upon to help clean up a food mess on the floor, an assignment I LOVE!

Everything You Need to Succeed in the Workplace, You Can Learn in Obedience School

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One of my favorite Obedience School commands is “Look”. It trains us dogs to look into our human’s eyes. When we are being taught this command, we are rewarded with a treat when we make eye contact. If I may say so without spoiling things for my younger canine associates who are still in school, it doesn’t get much easier than this! We dogs love to look our humans in the face. We connect with them and we learn so much. Are we going somewhere, or are we staying? In what direction does she want to go? Is she happy with what I am doing? And, most important, it confirms that we are paying attention to one another, reinforces our bond and strengthens our relationship.

Frankly, I am surprised that humans reward us dogs for this behavior as I find that many humans are quite poor at looking other humans in the eye. I watch them as they sit, stay and walk. They are often looking down at their electronic devices and not looking at the faces of the people with them. Many humans attend important meetings and stare at their phones, tablets or computer screens instead of looking at the person who is speaking. This conveys the impression that you are not interested in what your colleague is saying. And you will miss some things that are not communicated in words. Facial expressions can tell you in what direction the discussion is going and whether your teammates are in support of what is being said. You will miss a lot if you don’t look. Also, it is reassuring to the speaker to see that you are paying attention. You connect on a personal level. And it is just plain good manners.

I was shocked to learn that some recent college graduates think it is acceptable to text message during a job interview. Maybe colleges should be taking a closer look at the Obedience School curriculum to better prepare its students for the job market. Every rescue dog knows that maintaining eye contact is critical to getting picked for the team.

So this week, take a little advice from an Obedience School graduate and a successfully retained rescue dog: Look!

Your best friend,


P.s. Next week I will be preparing a special Valentine’s Day blog. Please drop me a note on what you LOVE about your work, or the other way you spend your day!