Sep 25, 2017

By Janet Ready, Instructor

Last Sunday afternoon I took my eleven year old dog Murphy to Capilano park for a hike.


It had just started raining after a long summer of no rain -- it is amazing to hike in the west coast rainforest just as it starts pouring after a long time of dry – the smell is contentedness itself. Murphy and I hiked – for about an hour on a great trail and I felt fulfilled and content and in my happy place – just me and my dog. Hiking in the Westcoast rainforest in the rain….it was a total facebook moment…..until it wasn’t….

On the way back Murphy suddenly took off into the bush and I couldn’t see her anymore – I called her back and she didn’t come….called her again and she didn’t come….called her again….and then I started climbing into the bush off trail to see if I could find her…when…she came running back….with poop on her face…. I don’t even want to know what kind…it’s on her face, her head, her right ear….and I’m mad.

At the same moment, one of Stephen Covey’s Leadership Concepts in his book, “The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” (that I happen to be teaching to the RECR 2361 Recreation Leadership Students currently) pops into my head….the concept of Stimulus and Response – that there is a space between Stimulus and Response where we have the choice in how we are going to respond. That gap between Stimulus and Response creates an opportunity to intentionally choose to be the people we want to be – our best selves.
So my dog is covered in poop and I am standing in the gap between stimulus and response. What do I value – who do I want to be? I value learning and a sense of humour. So how can I respond with those values – how can I learn from this – and is there a humorous side to it?

I decide this situation is a very human moment, I value human moments and I don’t think in our facebook culture we share enough “unfacebook” human moments, and isn’t this “stimulus” kind of a reflection of life? You are hiking along in life -- blissed out, content, fulfilled – and something crappy happens and you are snatched back to the human moment….And isn’t that kind of what makes life interesting? If it were all facebook moments….Where would the challenge and the learning be? In these human moments where we can choose how to respond…don’t we learn more about ourselves?

I called my husband from the parking lot and asked him to put the shampoo, gloves and a towel outside the back door because I was bringing Murphy straight to the backyard and the hose. He came out when I got home and he helped me hose down Murphy while my daughters were Murphy’s personal cheerleading and sympathizing team – letting us know when she was getting soap in her eyes and feeling sorry for her although she brought it on herself….twenty minutes later Murphy was sleeping on the carpet smelling like Dove Shampoo…..

Dogs can be good teachers…..thanks Murphy for creating an opportunity for me to clearly experience Covey’s concept of Stimulus and Response.
Next time something happens to you – stop in that gap between stimulus and response and intentionally think about what you value and who you want to be. Then go there.

Here’s to some good human moments in your practicing.