Tag Archives: leadership

Grieving for a pet

Don't weep for me gravestone

Today I have been thinking a lot about pet loss and grief.

It’s just been one of those weeks – a few older dogs who are clearly reaching the end of their lives and one client in particular who seems to be on the verge of needing to make an end-of-life decision for their aging dog….

Most pet owners have experienced grief at the loss of a beloved animal.  I know I have.  And even when you know that your dog is reaching the end of its life, the loss is still shocking when the end finally arrives.

And then I read this Wall Street Journal article, decidedly focused on US employment and employers, about the decisions employees face when grieving for a lost animal.  It’s a little shocking (but not surprising) to know that employers have asked employees who are euthanising their pets to report to work before/after the event.

When I used to be employed in a large public sector organisation as a senior manager, I commented on a proposed bereavement policy.  I suggested that managers should be able to use their discretion and grant a day of bereavement leave based on the loss of a pet.  Managers would know the circumstances of their employee and the role of their pet in their lives because they were expected to know their staff well.

I also saw it as a leadership issue – large employers have the ability to support staff with benefits that smaller firms may not.

The CEO declined (actually, he never declined he just ignored the submission). I found out later from someone in HR (because I asked) that the CEO felt he ‘had to draw the line somewhere.’

Despite the growing research-based evidence of the role our dogs play in our emotional and physical health, owners are not supported through the inevitable grieving process that follows their life-long commitment.

It’s sad.

I’m very proud that I support my clients in assessing quality of life and I follow up with them after their dog passes; many have stayed in touch as colleagues and friends long after their dog has gone.

My only hope is that our workplaces and their policies catch up on what it means to be truly family-friendly.

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

Izzy learns something new

I ‘commissioned’ a new toy for Izzy this Christmas – it was not a new or innovative design and there are many videos circulating with dogs using similar ones.  It’s made of wood and re-used drink bottles.

And until a couple of days ago, Izzy didn’t understand it was for her.  All she managed to do was to chew on the wooden frame and screws that held it together a few times.

But then, Izzy had a play date with her friend, Helga,  who is a Bernese Mountain Dog.  And Helga showed some interest in the toy with the addition of a little peanut butter at the top of one of the bottles.

Izzy and Helga take a break from playing together

Izzy and Helga take a break from playing together

Helga went home and, within minutes of her leaving, Izzy started to engage with her new toy.  Best of all, I caught it on video:

Clever girl, she just needed a little doggy leadership to show her the way!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

What Dog Sled Teams Can Teach Us About Leadership

Sled dogs

Dr Ivan Misner, founder of BNI, an international business networking organization, wrote this really interesting piece on leadership.  For where you work now, ask yourself – who are the leaders?

SuccessNet Online – What Dog Sled Teams Can Teach Us About Leadership

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, Canine Catering Ltd, Christchurch, New Zealand

The leader of the pack

Dogs’ paths during group walks could be used to determine leadership roles and through that their social ranks and personality traits, say researchers from Oxford University, Eötvös University, Budapest and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

The research team tracked the movements of six Vizsla dogs and their owner using high-resolution GPS harnesses during fourteen 30-40 minute walks off the lead.

Photo credit: Zsuzsa Ákos

Photo credit: Zsuzsa Ákos

The dogs’ movements were measurably influenced by underlying social hierarchies and personality differences.

‘On individual walks it is hard to identify one permanent leader, but over longer timescales it soon becomes clear that some dogs are followed by peers more often than others. Overall, the collective motion of the pack is strongly influenced by an underlying social network.’ said study author Dr Máté Nagy of Oxford University’s Department of Zoology.

Dogs that consistently took the lead were more responsive to training, more controllable, older and more aggressive than the dogs that tended to follow. Dogs that led more often had higher dominance ranks in everyday situations, assessed by a dominance questionnaire.

One possible use of the technology would be to assess search and rescue dogs to see which dogs work best together.  The results have been published in the journal PLOS Computational Biology.

Source:  University of Oxford media release