Greetings.  On her last weekend with us Ella was treated like the most revered of royalty.  And, it should be noted without hesitation that, rarely has such treatment been so well deserved.  For the past eight years she had charmed all of us with her remarkable energy, playfulness, caring, loyalty and keen sense of how to make us smile, laugh and forget our own troubles.  And now, as she struggled to get on her once steady feet or to breath with lungs that used to run and swim for hours on end, we huddled around her in one last collective show of thanks as we tried to figure out how to say goodbye.

We began by trying to make her as comfortable as possible, creating a very soft and inviting bed by filling a plastic children's swimming pool with just the right amount of water and our fluffiest towels.  It was our best attempt to recreate all of the warm and seemingly unavoidable streams and lakes that she had discovered throughout the years.  And, as it turned out, it was a safe and comforting place to shower her with affection as she quietly surveyed her world and those who loved her for the final time.

Then we decided to create a veritable festival of her favorite foods–items that she had previously received only as scraps from our plates now adorned her bowl with smells and flavors that most dogs only dream of.  Fluffy scrambled eggs whipped to perfection.  Pan-fried trout and catfish dipped in whole buttermilk and wrapped in a fusion of spices from every corner of the globe where water dogs might gather. Crunchy peanut butter biscuits bathed in mounds of creamy peanut butter.  Warm pumpkin bread just out of the oven.  And her favorite frozen doggy yogurts as the perfect end to every meal.

It was a modest tribute to the one family member who had never ever made any of us mad or sad.  The one family member who never asked for more than two meals and two walks a day, and was always grateful for whatever attention she received …though it was generally a lot given that we were all simply smittened with her from the very first moment when we laid eyes on her tiny and furry little puppy self. And who, in the next eight years, would do nothing to change our opinion of her.

Years of arthritis had not dampened her desire to run, swim, retrieve and bark affectionately at all the squirrels, cats and deer who crossed our yard.  Neither had they slowed her desire to welcome us each day with unrestrained love, or to catch more tennis balls than all of the court attendants at the U.S. Open.  But now her love of life had met its match.  And a fast spreading cancer told her and us that this was the weekend to say goodbye.

Ella Photo 

I try to find a business and life lesson in everything I write about.  Lessons about innovation, or unlocking genius, or connecting with colleagues and customers in new and much more compelling ways.  Lessons about appreciating the unique and remarkable potential in everyone.  And now, as I cope with saying goodbye to Ella, I'm left thinking about the power of her irrepressible spirit and irresistible joy and how it made great days even better and difficult days a lot easier to deal with.

And I'm left with one essential idea…

We win in business and in life when we decide to care deeply.  And when we try our best to be energetic, playful, loving and loyal beyond belief.