They say a dog is a man’s best friend. That truly hits home for our veterans.

When Shari Duval’s son Brett returned home from serving two tours in Iraq, he wasn’t the same person. Brett Simon, a veteran K-9 police officer, worked as a contractor for the U.S. Army as a bomb dog handler.

k-9s for warriors“He [Brett] has PTSD. His mom [Shari] had the idea to get him a service dog and then decided to take it to a greater scale and use service dogs as an alternative treatment for so many of our veterans who have PTSD. For her, it started as a much more effective way to get appropriate attention than simply telling these vets to so sit on a therapist’s couch. Now, it’s grown into an amazing organization helping vets across the U.S.,” said Samantha Epstein, Education Manager for K9s For Warriors.

Today, the nonprofit K9s For Warriors in Ponte Vedra, Florida has rescued over 800 dogs and helped over 370 veterans. In fact, it’s the nation’s largest provider of service dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury and/or military sexual trauma as a result of military service post- 9/11. And we’re so lucky to have them as a client.

These lovable creatures provide such great comfort for veterans, but they can also teach us all a thing or two about business.

Loyalty

Loyalty is an obvious characteristic of dogs. As Epstein explains, “It’s so funny, sometimes the dog and its veteran take on the same personality traits.” Can’t get much more loyal than that!

Here’s why it’s so important for business owners to take seriously as well.PTSD - dogs helping warriors

Business loyalty-

When you establish and maintain great business relationships, the benefits are two-fold. Referrals from other businesses are ideal as they help to establish your credibility.  

Make loyalty within your business relationships a top priority by being open and honest about the relationships, establishing healthy communication habits like a monthly call and remembering to say thanks.

Customer loyalty –

We know that word-of-mouth marketing is still very real, especially on the small business spectrum. Satisfied customers are likely to spread the word about your products or service. Loyal customers will stick with you through thick and thin. As we know, a small business can have lots of thick and thins.

Also, they’ll spend more. Being a loyal customer means they’re going to come back and thus, spend more money.

At K9s for Warriors, they also witness the loyalty from the veterans who have gone on to do great things after graduating from the program.

“It becomes a win when you look at a veteran who has gone through our program and a few months later – they’re excelling. They are going back to school to get degrees and get jobs and advocate for us and other veterans. It’s definitely inspirational,” said Epstein.

Treat your relationships in business just as Rover treats you. Never waiver or burn bridges and be loyal to those who are loyal to you.

Patience

what dogs can teach us about businessAs the keys jingle and the door knob slightly adjusts, you open the door and find your dog grinning, panting and wagging his tail ferociously in excitement for your arrival home. Can you blame him? He’s been patiently waiting since you left him last.

In business, patience really is a virtue. You have to ensure an opportunity is just right before making the leap into business ownership and, well, pretty much any other decisions you make. Just because you launched some grandiose marketing plan for your small business, for example, doesn’t mean you’re going to reap the benefits tomorrow. Great things take time and how you handle the process says a lot about your character.  

I love this advice from Dr. Sherie Campbell in Entrepreneur Magazine on how practicing patience can increase your capacity for success. The benefits include:

  1. Positive rewards
  2. Smart decision-making
  3. Reputation building
  4. Self-possession
  5. Tolerance
  6. Hope
  7. Positive team culture
  8. Excellence

Don’t those sound like great qualities you’d like to instill into your everyday business life? While patience does take a conscious effort to perfect, it’ll be worth it in the end.

Be bold

While you should practice patience in certain scenarios, you wouldn’t get to where you are today if you didn’t do something bold. Maybe the fact that you started your own business was bold. Maybe your sales goal for 2018 is bold.

dogs helping warriors heal after warWhat K9s For Warriors is doing from a governmental standpoint is definitely bold.  

There’s currently legislation in the works that would basically require Veterans Affairs to fund service dogs. An average of 20 veterans died from suicide every day in 2014. The facts are staggering and the PAWS Act would prove just how impactful service dogs can be. You can read more about it here.

In conjunction with Purdue University, K9s For Warriors has been working hard to gather the scientific piece behind why service dogs actually work.

“This is something we’re really excited about. Our supporters and followers will be hearing more and more about this once it makes its way through the House and into the Senate,” said Epstein.

Sometimes, you just have to take things into your own hands. That’s probably why you come home to find trash scattered in your living room because your pup got so hungry he just had to root through it.

There’s a great saying that couldn’t be more true when it comes to pursuing your business dreams: If not now, when?

Be loyal, be patient, be bold. Thanks to our four-legged friends for not only warming our hearts, but caring for our veterans and for teaching us invaluable lessons we can all stand to practice in business…and life.

Click here to learn more about K9s For Warriors.

In what ways have dogs impacted your business life?