My husband and I are more alike than one would think. Yes, he’s a physicist, science and math geek and software consultant. I’m more sociology and psychology, lobbyist, non-profit consultant and volunteer leader.

We do agree on leadership. Train your people well. Let them do their jobs. Check in to make sure everything is OK. If not, your day will be spent running the gauntlet to allow them to accomplish the task at hand. You’re the trainer, scout, supervisor, but mostly you get obstacles out of the way so your teams can be successful.

He can buy them a beer after a tough day. With a poor non-profit we had feral cat spay/neuter clinics behind vet offices in the parking lot on a Sunday and we’d handle, back then, up to 200 per day on a monthly deal as volunteers. It was a grueling process and day and with great principles and practices which I enhanced with training and procedures for “recovery.” On my own, I trolled the front of the strip mall before we started and found the best spot.

I bought a soda and they asked what on earth was going on out back? I told them, thanked them for the soda and left. Three sentences. Strange questions answered. No request for contributions. When they asked “how many volunteers?” I knew it was in the bag. Fifteen minutes later they all came out with food and soda for everyone. Thanks, Aunt Dee. That was part of my never-known contribution for our peeps, all of them. As for me, once I touched a cat there was no soda, I only drank from the quart bottle of water I brought with me.

It was hot out there most of the time. One time there was a deluge and all our tents threatened to break. We found lawn and leaf bags and cut holes in them for our arms. Volunteers went to their cars for umbrellas and we used them to transport the cats from surgery to the waiting room at the vet clinic and found extra heaters, even hair dryers to keep the anesthetized cats warm and dry indoors. Volunteers paired, one umbrella over the cat, two volunteers. No-one died that awful day. Well, I had a school bus yellow pair of Van’s that died overnight of mildew from the flood. We all made do. Teamwork.

Let them do their jobs, do not micro-manage. I had many volunteers and could fire them at will and never had to do so but did re-arrange a few, usually at their request. They were motivated by the tasks at hand and by their leader, moi. “Go home, now, while you can get out of here! Great job! I’ll stay on ’til the last cat is picked up. Really, see you next time. Thanks so much.”

Pick the right team and let them do what they’re good at. Loosen the leash. My husband has a 16′ leash with a computer chip silk Martingale collar I bought him. He lets the dog go to the end and is on the phone all the walk. Zoe sometimes finds nasty stuff to eat and throws up on our bed (a day’s work for me) but she is a good girl and keeps me safe when he is away on business.

I keep her on a 6′ braided leather leash and don’t bring my cell on walks but spend a few moments with her outdoors and indoors meeting her/our friends. We have several Martingale collars, one will be put on immediately. She’s now in Scottish tartan, it will be Irish green for St. Paddy.

If you ever think about getting a herding dog, know that they herd. You are their cattle, goats or sheep. They will follow you everywhere, watch and stand by the door when you go to the grocery store, and sleep on your bed. Everything is “routine” once they do something and like it (taking my husband to work) so it must be done.

Our Zoe knows how to manage people, especially us. She has a different style, staring us into submission. She does make it up to us by being kind to us and others, and very complacent at home, sleepy one…. Like a child, she does not micro-manage, just lets us know what she needs. And unlike a human, she never lies. If she needs to go out, get your coat on and go.

Life and old dog Zoe have trained me well. Dee

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