Life Lessons From Mr. Pickles

There’s nothing like a new puppy to give you a new perspective.  When Mr. Pickles came into our life, we weren’t sure we were ready to open our hearts to another dog – and certainly not sure we were ready for the demands of a puppy.  But there he was, looking sad in his cage at the shelter and a wriggling bundle of love when they let us hold him. A ten pound Chiweenie – half chihuahua, half daushund.

His full name is Dillon Pickles, Jr. – Dill Pickles for short – or Mr. Pickles when we are being formal.  He doesn’t mind that he was given a silly name.  He only cares that he has found a warm home, with plenty of food, walks, and toys – and lots of love and attention from two humans.

But I sense human characteristics in Mr. Pickles.  I like to think he was reincarnated from a human to a dog, destined to live out another lifetime to teach humans some lessons.  I try to picture him as a human – a man small in stature, with the hint of a mustache that never completely grew in.  I think he was a mid-level businessman – perhaps a department manager.

What lessons have we learned from having Mr. Pickles in our life over the last few months?

Bloom Where You Are Planted and Live With Joy

Although I like to think we are providing an outstanding home for a dog, I’m pretty sure that Mr. Pickles would have found joy in any home that he went to.  A dog bounces out of bed in the morning full of gratitude for just having a life.  As the old saying goes, if you can’t change your circumstances, change your attitude.  Mr. Pickles embraces his circumstances.

Humble Yourself 

Mr. Pickles has no ego – he is here to please us. The success of his “pack” depends on him taking ownership of his place in it.  If he makes a mistake, he promptly turns up on his belly and asks for forgiveness. It’s a lesson we could all learn, to promptly admit our mistakes.  But we can probably skip turning up on our belly.

Why Worry?

Dogs have a wonderful lack of worrying.  Yes, they might be at the door when we get home looking like they have spent the day fretting about us in our absence, but you know they were really sleeping in our favorite chair all day until they heard the car turn in the driveway.  Worrying doesn’t accomplish anything, but it seems we humans can’t help but do it.  This is one lesson that I particularly need to work on.  As the saying goes, “Every problem has it’s price, but if you worry you pay double.”

Self-Care Should Come First

Dogs are amazing at making sure they take care of themselves.  Play time, meal time, nap time – all done when they are needed.  Mr. Pickles can’t be the loving family pet without enough sleep.  We humans push ourselves to put other’s needs first.  But like the oxygen mask on the airplane, if we don’t put our mask on first we are not going to be able to help anyone else with theirs.

Sometimes It Is Better to Ask for Forgiveness Than Permission

Mr. Pickles knows he is not allowed on the human beds in the house, but sometimes he just can’t help himself. He wants to embrace every wonderful thing life offers, so sometimes he just has to go for it.

I aspire to be more like Mr. Pickles.


Lee Ann Pond is the founder of Engaging Leadership, which provides training and support for business leaders, with a focus on employee engagement.  She has an MBA, 15 years “C” suite experience in finance and HR, and is a certified executive coach.