I live in New York City, whose residents are often accused of “rushing to nowhere.” That’s a pretty good line, and there’s lots of truth in it.
But even in this busiest of cities, people are constantly trying to simplify and restructure their lives. Coaches often assist in that effort.
There are endless ways to go and paths to take. You can make a series of little successive changes, or you can do a cliff dive, with one big commitment that puts you on a whole new path: Accept a new full-time job. Become a full-time student. Get married (i.e., take on a full-time, probably live-in human relationship).
Or, rescue a dog. You can do it the wrong way, or the right way. I did both.
The wrong way: after deciding there was sufficient slack in my life and certainly the desire, a friend connected me with his brother’s wife who works for a New Jersey shelter. They had a dog named Lily who seemed perfect. And, they would deliver her to me (unless you live here, you have no idea how big a deal it is to get something delivered).
So Lily entered my household, and the next nine days were among the worst of my life. She was afraid of everything. She barked at anything. And, while being walked by friends trying to give me a break, she bolted.
It’s truly amazing Lily was found — after a few panicked hours — hiding under a UPS truck. The pads on her paws were bleeding from her manic dash across Manhattan’s pavement, and I spent the next two days carrying her everywhere.
The shelter’s operator asked to bring Lily in for an evaluation, admitted she was simply not a city dog, refunded all fees, and found a new home for her with a suburban family.
I felt like a complete failure, moped for a while, and resolved to do it differently: I hired Tony the Trainer to help me find the perfect dog.
And boy, did he come through. At a major holiday adoption event which completely overwhelmed me (300 dogs in one room), he walked right over to Sam — the one quiet, smiling dog in the pack. “Here’s your city dog,” he said.
Sam and I will celebrate our second anniversary in December. I describe our relationship as 90/10. Ninety percent of the time, Sam is an angel. The other 10 percent, well …. how many of the relationships in your life are 90% amazing?
Sam has brought not one, but many changes to my daily life. Unlike those with homes and yards, I can’t just open the door to let Sam exercise and pee. He’s a jock dog, and does best on two walks and one big run a day. That means I get out first thing in the morning, to the dog park later in the day, then out again before bed. The alternative is sometimes necessary, but expensive: dog walkers or day care.
Beyond the hassles and expense, what a difference Sam makes. I don’t cook for one anymore. I pay attention to my neighborhood now. It’s a rare day that someone on the street doesn’t positively respond to my beautiful dog.
And, bonus: he’s a water dog. Lakes. Rivers. Oceans. Kiddie pools during hot summers at Manhattan dog parks. Whatever; he’ll dive right in. Then come home, stretch out, and sleep more than any cat.
But he hasn’t been the babe magnet my friends expected. Isn’t that what dogs are for, they ask?
Well, no … or at least not yet.
Meantime, the single act of rescuing Sam has restructured my life. I’m better for it, and that’s the kind of outcome that helps coaches earn their wings.
J.D. “Jim” Fox, Head Coach, Next Act Coaching