Gift of the Christmas Dog
Full Contact Project Management
The first time I met Kingsley, he was standing just inside my front door on Christmas morning 2009. My kids knew we were thinking about getting a second dog – a big dog – to be a companion for our golden retriever, Olivia, so they brought one to us! A Great Pyrenees, Kingsley definitely met the definition of a big dog – our Christmas Dog! He instantly became a part of our family, and we gave him his forever home.
In his too-short life, Kingsley’s actions spoke volumes to me, and I think they will for you. He and I once did a public service video on YouTube, which you can still watch if you search “Kingsley the Marketing Dog.” We urged people who have horses or any kind of pets to take responsibility for them, to provide the care they deserve. Too many so-called, pet owners simply abandon them when things get difficult. Kingsley was a very big dog that came into our lives from someone who no longer wanted him. He didn’t come to our family from a “rescue” organization, but traveled the long road of neglect. We guessed his age then to be about 3 or 4.
In a way, he’s the perfect model for a contractor: independent, but caring. He had the sweetest personality imaginable, but was fiercely protective of his home. His huge front paws could quickly dig through hard dirt, making it fluffy and comfy for him to nap on. He loved his role as protector, but he also fancied himself as a lap dog – all 100+ pounds of him – and he wasn’t shy about invading your space. Kingsley demonstrated unconditional love for his family and took seriously his job as guardian. But that wasn’t all.
He loved to go outside with me. When I’d put on my “Coach Gary” hat, he’d jump up and check to see if he was invited. And, if I showed him his leash or just said, “Want to go for a walk,” he got excited. His two favorite activities outside were going for a ride in my car or for a walk. In fact, during our walks, he would often pull me over to the left rear door of my car and wait for us to go somewhere.
As he grew older and suffered from arthritis, it became more difficult for him to get to his feet. Sometimes, when I called to him, he didn’t get up – except for when he saw me get my hat and hold up his leash. That just inspired him to not give up, but our walks became shorter and shorter.
Our last outdoor walk was on a Sunday night in late-August. He had hardly moved that day, and I wanted to encourage him to eat, drink or move around a bit. All to no avail as he just continued to lie outside. So I tried one last idea as dusk settled in. I put on my hat and showed him his leash. True to his heritage, he struggled to his feet, walked inside our house and waited at the front door for me to attach his leash. We went outside for our shortest walk ever – only a couple of hundred feet – and then he needed to lie down, right where he was. I had to phone my wife to come and help me bring him back inside. Karen and I knew his end was near but, even as worn out as he was, he still had that big, beautiful grin on his face.
Kingsley left us on Tuesday morning, about 6 a.m. I found him moments after, lying down near our front door, exactly where I first saw him six years ago this Christmas. He was still warm.
Sounds crazy, but that dog inspired me. His presence always encouraged me. The healing effect from loving an animal is amazing, so our plan is to adopt another dog and, perhaps, also provide foster care for one. We think it’s a way to honor Kingsley. There are rescue organizations and shelters everywhere. Thousands of pets are counting on you, so don’t quit on them. Kingsley never did.
My wish for you and your family is that you find real meaning this holiday season. May a very special gift and blessing enter your home, and – just maybe – walk on in to your heart.
About the Author
Gary Micheloni is a working project manager, speaker, author, consultant and coach. He has severals years of industry experience, including a background as a licensed general engineering contractor. For further information and insight on the Full Contact Project Management approach, write Coach Gary at FullContactTeam@gmail.com.