My Dog Is Not A Rock Star – Does Your Employee Have To Be?

Gypsy, the pit bull-lab-rottweiler-who know what else-mix

Yesterday I took all four – yes, four – of my dogs to the vet for routine care, like vaccines and wellness exams. They each weigh around 40 pounds and the bill was enormous.  During the exam, the vet asked the same kind of questions your doctor does during a routine physical, trying to determine if there are any issues or problems that need to be addressed.

During the exam of Gypsy, who was rescued from an abandoned crack house in an ugly part of the city of Detroit, it occurred to me that she has never had any physical problems at all.  She has never thrown up on my carpet or floor, never had kennel cough (despite plenty of exposure in closed quarters to other dogs), and never has ugly gunk running out of an eye.  I will admit that she had a genetic defect (luxating patella) when she was very young, which had to be surgically repaired, but that knee has never given her, or me, a stitch of trouble since. Even her teeth looked the best of the pack, per the vet, even though she is the second-oldest.

My other dogs are Border Collies.  BCs, as we are fond of calling them, are premier athletes.  They play silly dog games like agility, disc dog, and flyball (my game of choice).  They are considered the smartest breed of dog in the world.  They are rock stars of the doggie world.

These rock stars can have health issues, though.  Vomit, kennel cough, eye infections, torn or ripped pads and toenails – my dogs have had or done them all.  One dog has a mysterious arthritic condition in his spine that required two MRI tests and means monthly visits to the chiropractor.  Don’t even ask about the costs.

Gypsy doesn’t play flyball or any other silly doggie sport, but she is loving, energetic, and devoted – the perfect companion dog.

So, to the recruiters and HR pros of the world who might read this, I ask a favor:  The next time you need to hire an employee, think about whether you REALLY need to hire a rock star.  I know the market is buyer friendly right now, so you can get big talent for less money.    Rock stars can do amazing things, but at what cost – particularly in the long term – to you and your organization?

Non-rock stars need and deserve good jobs, too. They may come from humble circumstances without a fancy degree, and they may need a little coaching or patience in the beginning as they find their way in your organization.  The long term return on investment will be substantial, though, and you will find yourself with a rock-solid, devoted employee.

Or would you rather have an employee that burns more brightly for a shorter period of time, with substantial upkeep costs thrown in?

Ike the Border Collie playing flyball
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Competition Is Not a Four Letter Word

This past weekend I played in a flyball tournament with one of my dogs.  Flyball is a sport or game in which teams of four dogs compete against each other for speed and accuracy in a combination relay/drag race.

During a flyball tournament, or at a practice/training session, or even at a flyball club Christmas party, I often hear the human handlers say (in a snobbish or haughty voice), “I don’t care about competition.  I only play flyball to have fun with my dog.”  These people speak as if the idea of engaging in a competition with a dog was somehow negative, and “having fun with a dog” the only lofty goal.

Who are these people kidding?  If they only want to have fun with their pet, why don’t they take him/her to a park or an open field somewhere and play fetch or frisbee flying disc?  Alone – without anyone counting wins and losses?

I think you know why.  The people that claim they don’t care generally do so right after their team has lost a race, or they have made a human handling error, or their dog isn’t properly trained and has made an error (or consistently makes errors).  Instead of admitting, building on, and learning from their mistakes, though,  these people choose to ignore them, pretending that  the “competition” is somehow beneath them or irrelevant.

But if you are not going to try your best and work hard to succeed, why compete in the first place?

This is not my flyball club, but it’s a cool video, and at least I did compete at this tournament.  Just in case you don’t have a clue (like most of the world), what flyball is. :-)