The freedom ride dogs take out of the shelter brings excitement, adrenalin, and often anxiety from dogs. They bark, show their pinchers, and take in new smells throughout the city with the window down. Their heart races as their mind exclaims, “ I’ve been picked! They picked me!” Every dog wants to work and that is where they find their freedom. I, like my dogs, always knew I wanted to work hard and lead a wolf pack. Hard work is built through consistency, drive, and earned trust between you and your employer. Everyone needs to be an employee: a being with purpose that is well trained and well cared for by their leader. How do we find all dogs owners and therefore leaders?
I fell in love with a puppy who had a malt liquor brown coat and white patches leading up from his nose to forehead shaped like a heart. When I saw his picture, I immediately named him Sherman and knew I wanted him to be my companion. You’ve seen those companions right? They sit with their owners at the park, on the patio at the neighborhood grill, or trot up and down during morning walks. As my fascination grew, I pondered how I would reach the point where my hard work would have paid off, I would have become an entrepreneur, and I could enjoy my success with my best friend sitting with me outside during happy hour. Because I projected my hopes on him, I set out to build a friendship with something I once never considered caring for. However, I learned a lot more about leadership than I ever intended to.
It would seem that all dogs work for their owners, but underneath the surface, you learn that you first have to work for them. With their earned trust, they serve you in return. Over the course of a year, I cleaned up after Sherman, ate with him on a set schedule, and trained him with treats through ongoing activities. Our bond created through snuggles at night could easily be seen in his hopeful eyes as if the highest right of passage was for us to do things together. Though a shy, submissive dog, he is part German Shepard part bulldog. He is truly all American as he comes from many lineages of dogs. His unique self made me permanently attached to him and the relationship I built with him. Against all odds, I fought for him with my landlord,put him before friends and lovers, and when I found a new adventure cities away I brought only him and a few bags.
Over another year as we both grew it seemed to suit the circumstances that I find Sherman a companion of his own. After being inspired by many rescues and heartbroken over the statistics of euthanasia, I searched for a new mate who needed me the most. His name was Frosty. Frosty was a sweet, obedient, and playful puppy. At a year old, he was a full grown, robust, pink nosed pit bull with a passionate tug on life like me. With the recommendation from the volunteers, Frosty and Sherman met in a meet and greet. After a smooth “sniff”, I proceeded to adopt Frosty in the next few days. During the ride home he smiled so big you could see he had enough teeth and strength to take down any opponent. While he looked aggressive, he obeyed commands, was already house trained, and enjoyed playing with his large, purple jolly ball I bought for him.
When we arrived in my studio apartment, it seemed to small for the three of us. I, however, felt that the size of my heart was more important than space, and if it saved Frosty‘s life I would adapt no matter what. I gave both of them bones as we we stayed inside and let Frosty smell around his new home. Swiftly Sherman grabbed Frosty’s bone saved underneath his pillow hidden. Being a once only puppy spoiled with my affection, Sherman was only grabbing what he thought was free play. Angered, Frosty growled and pounced on Sherman attacking him with his pearly whites. Panic attacked, I had never experienced a dog fight and was “dumbstruck” at what to do. I couldn’t let my new dog kill my original sweetheart, but I refused to stop fighting for my new dog after I committed to saving his life. Without a broom, a hose for water, or anything else to break up the fight, I intervened out of ignorance and basic principle to not let anything happen to either of my dogs.
After a swollen hand with a permanent scar from a pit bull bite, a 1700 dollar bill from the hospital, and many antibiotics later it hit me: these dogs are acting like republicans and democrats. They are both fighting for preference and territory, both getting angry the more they fight each other, and they are both acting on what life has previously taught them. After coming up with a title for this book I began to write, I added the idea for a movie and a foundation (which remains confidentia). I realized my journey in training Frosty and Sherman to get along was fear from over. As a person I sought out to understand more behavioral and social problems in dogs by rescuing Chloe, Jackpot, Jackson, Benson, and Chuy therefore adding more characters to the story. If I wanted Sherman to have a companion and be the best he could be, I had to be able to teach him that freedom belonged to everyone and Frosty hard to learn that he couldn’t “take” respect from others. Ultimately all of them would need to learn that respect was owed to me, the alpha of the pack.
I now seek out to finish this project by funding rescues and one day build one of my own to give dogs a second chance. As you can see, I have learned that different dogs need a varied amount of chances in order for them to be their very best. Dogs are working against prior habits just as different people have different levels of discipline that need to be guided. In order to be an effective leader one must understand how to make different kinds of people better than they once were. At the centerpiece of this project Frosty represents conservatives and Sherman represents democrats. Each one of my other dogs represents the different problems our country has and gifts that we each possess as people.
Since starting this project in 2015, I have watched and listened to what our citizens want or believe as people. I only judge based on a persons intent to actually listen and then reply while holding them accountable for accuracy in their facts. Just as dogs have natural instincts, specific personalities, and distinct histories, people are the same leading their lives prisoners to their own reality. We all have a lot to learn and can find freedom as a country through growth and coexistence.
As I have learned about leadership and the needs of individual dogs, I hope my book teaches the country to understand each other’s needs so we can each serve our country better just as dogs learn to serve something bigger than themselves. With the money made from this ongoing project, I will build a company that brings together this nation‘s warriors and ordinary citizens to save dogs and train them for jobs. Some jobs will simply be to be a better companion for families. Often a job will entail to serve those with ptsd or down syndrome. When possible, saved dogs will be trained to serve humans in capacities that serve industries. The citizens of the country will learn better ownership of dogs therefore connecting service to the idea of an ongoing trust relationship. In the end, citizens will learn how to be better owners of our country.