Tuesday, August 5th is Work like a Dog Day. Work like a Dog Day honors and recognizes the hardest working people among us. The fact that the day is celebrated on August 5th suggests that we just might be working like a dog after returning to work after a glorious long weekend. Not to mention that businesses tend to be a little light on staff in August as it is the second most popular vacation month of the year. Everyone likes to get away on the hottest days of the year that are often called the ‘dog days’ of summer.
‘Every dog has his day’. August 5th will be when employers acknowledge and show their appreciation for all of those who carry more than their load. The people that work like a dog tend to display their inner grit and determination – characteristics often demonstrated by canines.
Workaholics vs. Work like a Dog
How do we distinguish Work like a Dog Day from the July 5th Workaholics Day? I believe that most people associate the label ‘Workaholic’s with those individuals who are addicted to their work. Workaholics may always be working but that does not necessarily mean they are working hard. Unfortunately the Workaholic personality can ‘give a dog a bad name’ and end up ‘in the dog house’ at home.
People that work like a dog are very different. They do not work non-stop; they work in a much more focused manner – preferring task and project oriented work. These people may dig in relentlessly and seldom take a break until they have completed their work. Like the Energizer Bunny, working dogs keep going and going until they have reached their goal. People that work like a dog have another common denominator – working hard gives both dogs and their human counterparts great pleasure.
Work like a Dog Idioms & Studies
There are plenty of dog idioms – ‘it’s a dog’s life’, ‘like a dog with a bone’, ‘can’t teach an old dog new tricks’, ‘the tail that is wagging the dog’, ‘throw (someone) to the dogs’, ‘sick as a dog’, etc. that all have a connection to dogs that work. Dogs have been man’s best friend for 30,000 years and now scientists believe they know why. There are similarities in how both the human and canine brain use emotional intelligence – both species have the ability to pick up on moods as well as accurately read body language.
A recent study published in the journal Current Biology found that canine’s share the ‘voice region’ that helps us tune in to emotions. They also use similar brain mechanisms to that of humans to process social information. In Hungary researchers captured both dogs’ and humans’ brain activities while they listened to 200 dog and human sounds. The study proved that canines’ brains are as sensitive to emotions and respond to voices in the same way that we do. This may account for why there are so many ‘working’ dogs today.
The Best in Show & Leader of the Pack Dogs
The book “From Wags to Riches: How Dogs Teach Us to Succeed in Business and Life,” written by Robert Vetere and co-authored by Valerie Andrews, observes canine-like qualities such as sharing responsibility across pack members and tuning into each other’s needs and emotions. Pack members observe facial expressions and body cues that dramatically improve their individual effectiveness and ability to lead.
The new role model for business leaders today has moved away from the corporate superstar to become the family dog. Research conducted on the relationships humans have with dogs provides an intriguing model for teamwork in the corporate world. Vetere describes the Portuguese Water Dog as highly intelligent, an energetic and determined guardian that builds consensus rather than attacks. He suggests these traits correspond very well with President Obama who owns two of these terrific canines.
What other breeds represent CEOs that Work like a Dog?
Golden Retriever – good-natured and people-oriented, these natural leaders excel in sales positions. Best of Breed: Former President Bill Clinton.
Terrier – these scrappy, independent thinkers eagerly take on bigger and stronger competitors. Best of Breed examples: Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg and media mogul Rupert Murdoch and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Border Collie – a natural CEO, this breed knows how to derive the best from others. These top dogs excel in helping companies and people adapt to change. Best of Breed: Media mogul Martha Stewart and Walmart founder Sam Walton.
Rottweiler –these top dogs value tradition and work hard to protect the company’s legacy. Best of Breed: Former Xerox CEO Anne Mulcahy, and former Herman Miller furniture company CEO Michael Volkema, who said, “Leadership is about doing the right thing, not the easy thing.”
Bloodhound – these dogs sniff out ideas that transform the marketplace, moving far beyond traditional boundaries. Best of Breed: Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. Author Vetere says that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are great examples of other canine leaders, but they also display bloodhound traits
Poodle – these elegant but aloof leaders inspire others with their overarching vision. Best of Breed: New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates.
Husky – Huskies are known for their stamina and perform well without much direction. They use independent thinking and dogged perseverance. Best of Breed: Steve Jobs of Apple.
Why not plan on having some fun with Work like a Dog Day next Tuesday?
How about a lunch hour game of ‘Putting on the Dog’? Start by having participants write their name on a slip of paper (identifying themselves as one of the hardest working dogs in your company). Next, fold and place all the slips in a bowl or box. Pull each name out, one at a time, and either call out the name or write it on your white board. Now the fun begins! Everyone participates by naming a breed and providing supporting thoughts on why that is the best partners for the ‘hard working dog’. Have some laughs because no one is allowed to be ‘meaner than a junkyard dog’.
Think about it – maybe it is a really good thing if your company ‘goes to the dogs’. Realistically we have to remember that sometimes you’re the ‘lucky dog’ and sometimes you’re the hydrant.
Is it time to ‘call off the dogs’?
George Allen, American football coach said “For a good life: Work like a dog. Eat like a horse. Think like a fox. And play like a rabbit.” And the infamous Charles M. Schulz, American cartoonist best known for the comic strip Peanuts said “All his life he tried to be a good person. Many times, however, he failed. For after all, he was only human. He wasn’t a dog.”
If you aren’t too ‘dog-tired’ by now, here are three interesting YouTube videos to enjoy –
- Heroic Working Dogs that have saved people
- Hardworking Dogs that have had cool jobs
- Ten Hardest Working Dogs and why