Country Living, A Dog’s Perspective

Discovery, Good News

A long absence of personal posts = a move to the country.

Even with all kinds of ups and downs (including a chaotic renovation process) this has been wondrous time for our dogs. It’s been close to miraculous to see them to “become themselves”, to shed some bad habits, clearly gain confidence, and become very relaxed. (Note that our dogs are rescues and both Mu and T had major issues; the former with skittishness and separation anxiety, the latter with dog aggressiveness.) To our knowledge, they both have been city dogs, until this June:

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Mu and T have just arrived to the farm.

After being a tad nervous with the FedEx truck and all the renovation people around, T clearly took on the job of being the guardian of the house. But: in Brooklyn both of them used to get nervous exited with every ring of the doorbell; almost getting into a fight over who would run to the door. Here, it’s clearly T who is in charge of everyone’s safety.

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T on alert.

The countryside has also been great for T’s health. He has a broken left hip that was operated on 1.5 years ago and that will never be 100% perfect again. So T still limps, perhaps every other week, but it’s much easier to provide him with opportunities to be outdoors and to be as active as he needs to and wants to. Due to this, his hip muscles have grown back. When he’s feeling good, he can run FAST.

And, it’s clear neither of our dogs are dog-aggressive. When thinking back to the first months of T having joined us in Brooklyn, I’m not surprise T reacted anxiously, even aggressively, to other dogs. He came from the streets and his hip was broken! (It took 3 vets to diagnose that, but we also grew anxious because of T’s behaviour — and he must have reacted to that as well.) It’s amazing how well he tolerates his new pack member, the fearless bundle of energy called Indi:

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There are some problems as well. It’s not so easy to socialize the puppy when you don’t walk her in the busy city streets but in the forest. That’s why she went to the puppy class and will continue her obedience training.

Another challenge is that all three have developed an incredible prey drive (we almost lost Indi when she and T ran after a deer). No e-collar or invisible fence helped. So these three got a big dog run. It’s not the biggest hit yet (Mu hates to be apart from us), but I’m sure in time:

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This is not to say cities are not for dogs. Many dogs thrive in the active environment of a city. And in NYC, with the generous off-leash hours in Central and Prospect Park, dogs get to have an amazing time with tens and hundreds of friends. 

Still, it’s hard to imagine we’d ever bring them back to the city to live there for good. Maybe it wasn’t just the city with its sensory overload but our seemingly busy life, the continuous sense of rush (which is exciting and tiring). While country living is not perfect, for us or for the dogs, there’s now often this feeling:

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{discovery} Kota Expert Insights for Non-profits!

Discovery, Good News, ICYMI

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I’m a proud Board Member of The Kota Alliance, a NYC-based 501c3 that aims to establish an incubator space for women’s non-profits in the City.

In late Spring 2015, Kota organized an event,  #KotaDayto offer opportunities for networking and co-learning — in essence, to showcase its core mission. The day featured keynotes by Dambisa Moyo,  Economist and Author;  Lopa Banerjee, Chief of the Civil Society Section at UNWomen; and Sheryl WuDunn, Author of A Path Appears. Some hundred participants also attended 14 interactive workshops, topics of which ranged from girls’ rights and women’s in conflict situations, to fundraising and legal issues.

I did a series of interviews with some inspiring and insightful workshop leaders, featured in these blog posts. Hope you find them useful for your non-profit or related work!

How to Lead Innovation?

Friends involved..., Good News, learning

For the past Fall, and still until March, I’ve been a part of a team researching Living Lab practices and options for an innovation-education incubator organization GESCI. We have created a blog to keep notes and share insights called The Sound of the City.

We have just launched a series of Expert Insights for the blog. The first Expert I interviewed is a dear friend, Sari Virta (PhD Candidate in Media Management at University of Tampere, Finland; Team Leader). At present, she is researching how innovation can be managed in creative organizations. Before, and in parallel to, her academic career, Sari has had a long career in innovative media organizations, as well as a team leader in multi-stakeholder contexts. I highly appreciate the way she condensed some hot topics related to managing creativity and innovation, so cross-posting her views here:

Sari’s Top 5 Recommendations for Effective, Empowering Innovation Leadership

  1. Understanding of the true nature of innovation, as work. Creativity and the resulting innovations are complex mix of different aspects, hence, conflict-driven work. Leaders of innovative organization need to realize that and carry the related responsibility.
  1. Innovation and creativity in organizations need to be understood in different levels: Not only as organizational but also as individual, groups within the organizations, and even in terms of the broader networks around the organization. The dynamics of these levels might be very different and have to be skillfully managed.
  1. Understanding of how the work/organizational environment can lead to, and support, creativity and innovation. Mere individual creativity, let alone, is not enough.
  1. Innovation is often prohibited or hindered by the existing ways of being and doing. Leaders need to examine and question plenty of old routines.
  1. Understanding of different stages of projects and processes. Managing the brainstorming stage will most likely needs to be very different than the final steps of the execution.

Thoughts? Comments? Please post them below!

{discovery} The Power of the Pack

Discovery, Good News

Mr. Tee’s story continues. Raymond (in the red fleece) socialized him for 2 months. Invited by Raymond to join a ‘playdate’ this morning we witnessed, for the first time, the great fun T and dogs like him can have together. Also, I learned a great deal about the power of the pack.

The pack at home, or, our 2 dogs are polar opposites.

I have known it in theory, but it finally hit home when I saw Tee playing rough with 4 dogs at a time — running, chasing, play-biting, performing roll-overs (to show that he’s means well and fun). This went on non-stop for an hour, and would have continued, had the off-leash hours been extended. Mu, in contrast, only plays one-on-one, 5 minutes at the time — and it took her at least a year to come to that point. He’s bold, confident, rough young rascal who wants to play with every dog; she is a gentle, dignified and even shy, well-mannered, human-focused lady. His biggest problem is over-excitement; hers was fear and separation-anxiety.

It’s been a learning curve to realize that we need 2 very different sets of skills to have a balanced pack. But it’s also clear that Mu and Tee teach one another. She has started to play much more (in the age of 10); he listens to her and gives her space.

The pack in the park, or, the healing power of those alike.

Raymond told us a few months back that there are few dogs who couldn’t be off-leash, given that their owners/handlers understand the circumstances. Today he proved it. Saturday mornings are the craziest in Prospect Park, hundreds of all kinds of dogs off-leash. However, the area is big enough for monitoring the play and retreating  from dogs that don’t seem to match one’s own.

Also, witnessing a group of 8 pits (as well as a few other very athletic, bold dogs) playing together was an eye-opener to how dogs that are alike can help one another to socialize and be nice. That just looks different than play by Yorkies.

And Raymond taught me something even more important. He noted that we all should form an informal group and meet (those who can) in the mornings for play at the same spot. He stressed that as pit owners, we have the responsibility to provide our dogs with right ‘friends’ to play with, and to advocate for the breed by keeping them from harm’s way. He rightly pointed out that dogs are animals and conflicts, even fights, will happen sometimes. But we, as a pit owner group, will learn to know the dogs in our group, so we can understand them all better, as well as in a case of an incident solve it without drama, as a learning experience.

Lucky,2014-10-18 12.13.10 lucky us for Raymond and for our new Prospect Park posse. Also, lucky me to have such a brave, fun, and active, strong dog who was able to learn and rehabilitate himself, with the help of the packs.

PS: This is Mr. Tee, after a total of 2 hours of walk, and 1 hour of non-stop play.

{discovery} Appreciative Inquiry Aug 6

Discovery, Good News

8/6 – the 2nd day of the 21 of A.I.

Screen shot 2014-08-05 at 8.15.40 PM[See the introduction on why this post, here.]

I’m grateful for the fantastic NYC summer weather. Yet to experience a muggy day this summer! In addition, I’m happy our dogs seem to be sorting out their quarrels, as at this morning. And, thankful for HONY Going MDGs! My course on global digital communities (St. John’s University, online this Fall) just found its main case study and theme.

I wrote an intro message, putting a good colleague/friend in touch with a great neighbour/real estate broker. Wishing for good things coming out of that connection.

The most meaningful experience: The play between Mu & Tee. I worry about them. I want them to be balanced and happy in each other’s presence.