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Shawna Schuh

How a 3-Legged Puppy Made Me a Happy Leader

During tough times, we must remember not to feel sorry for ourselves, to instead live life like a wild thing.

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YOU’VE HEARD THE expression, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”

As a leader in the pet space, you may be experiencing abundant times, worrisome times or even those tough times — and likely issues you never expected.

One thing is for certain, though: You control your attitude.

Recently I “failed” for the first time with a foster pup. His name is Mason, born with a deformed right front leg and an especially sweet heart. He was at the local shelter where I volunteer, but held back by staff so they could do more to help him.

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Weeks passed as I came and went, fostering other puppies and dropping off supplies. During these times, I would check in on Mason. He is memorable, he is adorable, and his leg was unusable.

Adopting a three-legged pup was not on my agenda, not something I had ever contemplated, and something that scared me a little. Mason, because of that leg and the eventual surgery, had lived his first four months in a shelter, never touching grass, never experiencing rain, never navigating stairs — all of which are abundant in my environment.

But a good thing for us all to remember: Just because we haven’t done something, that doesn’t mean we can’t, regardless of the circumstances.

D. H. Lawrence once said, “I never saw a wild thing sorry for itself.” This is a powerful reminder.

The lesson I want to convey to you as a leader is this:

  • Feeling sorry for yourself is wasted time.
  • Feeling sorry for your team is wasted time.
  • Feeling sorry for the circumstances you find yourself in is wasted time.

Mason spends his time, like most dogs, sniffing around, looking for treats, getting into things he shouldn’t, and attempting to make his big and much larger brother play with him.

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He has taught me something valuable to remember during uncertain times, odd and argumentative times, fearful and fraught with conflict times. It’s up to me (and you) to decide to be happy, and you can’t be happy if you feel sorry for yourself, others or the way things are.

As you traverse your leadership role, remember that you are a wild thing, a wonderful thing and you do indeed control your attitude. If you want to be happy, then simply decide to be and your team will follow.

Shawna Schuh is a certified speaking professional, an executive coach, master neuro linguistic programming practitioner and president of Women in the Pet Industry Network. Email her at shawna@womeninthepetindustry.com.

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