What We’re Made Of: the pillars of A Dog’s Life

Pretty much every company comes up with some form of a mission statement and core values. And for most, that’s about as far as it goes, something nice to put on a website and make into a break room poster. Work days come and go and these ideas stay ignored in the daily grind. But the great companies do things a little different, living the values they extoll with strong teams who inherently ‘get it’ and come to work not because they have to, but because the work they do resonates with something inside and brings true fulfillment. And as that team lives their truth, embodying the brand, that message starts to resonate with others, attracting clients who share the same values, and creating a culture and community that can do wonderful things.

So when I began this brand building to discover our why and identity as a company, it started with a mapping exercise. I was asked a series of questions like: Why do the work I do? What moves me? What or who do I feel compelled to defend / protect? What gifts do I have? What gives me a natural high?  Why do I get up in the morning? What am I really proud of? etc., and had to write my answers out as one or two words in a long meandering list.  I then cut out each word or phrase and grouped them into categories, refining and eventually defining the pillars that that created A Dog’s Life:

Exploration * Joy * Beauty * Peace * Connection

My ‘Why’ Mapping

Tying these to our work and daily lives – These pillars are what brought me to this place and I bet there’s a good chance your reasons for being here as a part of this team are very similar. As you think about each one of these words, think of how they fit and relate to what drives you. As I looked at myself and what we do at A Dog’s Life, here’s how I see us embodying these every day.

“This is what A Dog’s Life stands for. These are our reasons for getting up and out there every day

Exploration – Wether it’s a new park I’m checking out, a new weekend hike destination, or the same trails we walk over and over there is always something new to explore. The woods are a living changing landscape full of discovery: seasonal changes, trail shifts, downed trees, and new growth. Our pups are always enjoying the new sights and smells and finding fulfillment in our daily explorations. Learning is also a form of exploration and we are constantly learning more about our pups every day. I love reading articles and finding new techniques, testing new theories and exploring better ways of doing things.

Joy – This one is fairly pure and simple but is a huge part of what we do. The exuberant greetings we receive every day, the wagging tails, the play bows and bouts of chase, and the massive smiles on the faces of all the pups we hike with embody pure joy. The joy in helping these pups live a happy life and the joy our clients feel knowing their dogs are out there living a life of purpose while they are at work all week. It’s undeniable being around dogs brings us joy and I’m sure all of us can easily embody this brand pillar.

Beauty – The natural beauty of the pond right now with the fall leaves reflecting their brilliant colors, the cool quiet of the snow coated trees in the winter woods, the pops of life and color as spring leaves begin to bloom, and the fields in the summer as the wild flowers take over. Appreciating the beauty around us daily is an important part of loving life. The beauty in the photos we take and share on social media, on our site and with each other; the beauty of each of our pups with their unique traits, the way their coat shines in the sun, the way they move so swift and so sure. For me, beauty is largely taking the time to enjoy and appreciate the simple wonderful world all around us and finding small pieces of that to share. I have always been creative and as I do my photography, sketch, write, sew, build, etc, it is with the goal of sharing the beauty that I see daily in this life and is a fundamental part of who I am.

Peace – I truly believe that all beings desire peace. Peace is safety, fulfillment, satisfaction, confidence. We find peace daily in the quiet moments alone with our pack, on the trail with no one else around, gazing out at the still waters of the pond, and in the pile of sleeping pups riding home snuggled up at the end of a hike. We bring peace to our clients daily lives by helping their pups expend their energy and bring peace to our dogs by allowing them to lead the lives they were meant to live.

Connection – Connection may be the most essential and most fulfilling of all our brand pillars. Connecting with our pups to truly know and understand them, to help them and be of service to them. Connecting with each other to build a strong united team working towards our united goal, communicating and supporting each other, knowing each other as human beings with strengths and weaknesses, leading full lives and bringing our uniqueness together to enjoy and celebrate. Connecting with our clients, sharing our experiences with them, building friendships and trust. And helping our clients better connect with their own pups so they can find the same fulfillment we are striving for.

And this is what A Dog’s Life stands for.  These are our reasons for getting up and out there every day.  These are the foundation of what we offer our clients and what leads us to say: At A Dog’s Life, we believe a dog’s best life is lived outside, so we help pups and their people joyfully explore, connect, and find peace through nature.  It is more than just our mission, it is our way of life, and an ideal I truly strive to live up to in everything I do.

I hope you can relate and embrace these pillars as your own, leaning on them to stay motivated, to appreciate what a great service we offer to our clients, to realize how valuable you are to this team, and to remember how wonderful it is to share our lives with our dogs.

Until next time, Happy Hiking!

-Kelly

Our Raison D’Etre: Finding Our Why