Some of you may not know that Lisa’s and my first dog, Koa, passed away in our arms in August. He was 11 and a half and had led a full and joyous life full of adventure. A dog’s passing has always been viewed by humans as more emotionally impactful than a human passing and it absolutely is. This post is about the past, the present, and the future from a human perspective.
Our dogs do not live in the past or future; they live in the moment. So, when people continue to grieve and not move beyond what is painful, we are creating a dog’s present in an unstable way. Malu was a part of the event, but he (on his own) gave a deferential amount of space and respect, especially the last day; he just seemed to know. When Koa had passed, we loaded him into the vet’s van for his final ride to a crematory. Malu approached Koa’s head, spent a couple of seconds sniffing, and calmly turned and walked away. Finality. He knew he was gone, and the pack continues forward. Survival is not living in the past, it is experiencing what’s next.
As hard as it was emotionally, we had to continue our ritual with Malu. So we went on a walk at the beach, and the next day he and I spent the day hiking. We also must remember to enjoy and celebrate the time we have with our pups without wasting it living in the past. I tell clients to create the present that you want to live in. And we did that.
Koa touched hearts from across the world much more than I knew. His legacy of Aloha transcended the fact that he was a dog. His teachings, including helping Malu become a gentle dog with new and small dogs was invaluable. We participated, but Koa drove it.
We have been asked many times since then if we were getting a new dog and the answer was always yes, but not right now. Even as I’m writing this, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Hawaiian singer Israel Kamakawiwoole came on my headphones… the first song that played as I turned on a Hawaiian station and sat with Koa on his last day. It’s still hard. But as my eyes began to tear up today, I turned to see Malu laying at my feet in my office; I never saw him come in. This is exactly what I am talking about. His message is clear: “I’m with you, but let’s move on.”
Which brings me to the real reason for this post. We are picking up our new Ridgeback puppy in a couple of weeks. His name will be Pono, which in the Hawaiian culture has a plethora of definitions revolving around the same idea: balance, righteousness, credibility. In Hawaiian, if a person is living pono, it means that they have struck the right balance in their relationships with other things, places, and people in their lives. It also means that they are living with a continuous conscious decision to do right by themselves, by others, and by the world in general.
Essentially, pono is a state of existence that is characterized by integrity and a feeling of contentment when everything is good and right. The idea behind this word and this way of life is that moral behavior leads to happiness for the doer and for everyone around them.
His teachers will be Lisa and me, and Malu. It will start day #1, minute #1. All of the contacts we ever have during his life with us (good or bad experiences) will also form his reality of his world, and we will guide him as Koa would – and Malu will – to disregard what we don’t need to address and we will enjoy to the fullest everything we SHOULD address.
We’ll be chronicling his life and progress with the emphasis on everything my clients deal with that can be frustrating. But leadership is not frustration or instability. It is focus. It is structure. It is timeliness (immediately upon meeting). It is moving together through life with the sense of adventure and wonder that our dogs/puppies experience. It is Pono.
We can’t wait to introduce you.