Our puppy Karu continues giving me fabulous insights into life.  Although, still very much a puppy, he is growing fast. A couple of weeks ago, he taught me something about visions, action plans, engagement, and perseverance.

When we got Karu, back in October, I had visions of my son playing for hours with the dog, and us going for long walks on the fabulous Guincho beach close to where we live. The dog would run, have fun in the water, play with other dogs, and retrieve balls for hours on end as every Labrador Retriever loves doing.  A dreamy, energetic yet peaceful picture. As the weeks passed, reality hit me: before such visions came anywhere near reality, there would be a lot of learning – about dogs, about training dogs and about training our son to train a dog. Not to mention learning how to manage all these learning processes. Clearly, I needed an action plan, otherwise this vision would turn into a nightmare. I started seeing an unruly dog ignoring my instructions, attacking children, running into the street, getting hit by cars, eating books, and chewing up sofas. No dog of mine would be like this!

The first part of the plan was house training. This went smoothly bar a few books, pens, boxes, and lots of our food being ‘stolen’. There is still the occasional hitch, but I can confidently say that we have it under control and Karu has been amazingly cooperative. Walking him however, was another challenge altogether. My second action plan kicked in with all three of us enrolling in a puppy class. We all looked forward to it not only for what we were learning but for the fun of seeing our pup playing with other puppies under supervision and in a safe area.  As for Karu, he went along happily so long as there was playtime. We learnt something every week and applied (some of) it or found variations on the suggestions.

Recently however, I had a wakeup call, or rather, a shakeup call. One very windy night I took him for a walk only to find myself being pulled in every imaginable direction. Wherever there was an interesting smell or a leaf or flower flying into the air, he was there… with me in tow. The dog was walking me, not the other way around. And boy is he strong! I realised that although we had made a lot of progress, one major component was not getting enough attention. I saw my vision crumble. Somewhere along the way, I had become disengaged, happily focusing on our progress and not on what still had to be achieved. I needed to get back on track and address the missing component – in this case, getting the ‘puppy’ to follow rather than lead. Training classes have now become individual ones focused on lead walking. Every day I make a point of taking him out and I am training him to learn that I am the boss! It is work in progress, but we are making headway.

This experience with Karu has made me realise how the same thing happens with anything we want to achieve in life. Whether it is losing weight, working on relationships, making a career shift, or creating a business. Having a vision is important but it is really the easiest part. The action plan is a bit tougher but our enthusiasm is often enough for us to draw up a basic plan. We start energetically but all too often, for whatever reason, we lose momentum and stop. We content ourselves with the first small steps and then need a wakeup call to shake us back into action.

Let us stay focussed on our vision and create action plans that are dynamic and adjustable when needed. More importantly though, let us be alert, remain engaged and persevere. This will maximise our chances of reaching our goals and turning our visions into reality.

Thank you Karu for taking me on that walk!