Sales and Sales Management Blog

November 16, 2010

Do You Measure Up to a Dog?

Filed under: Client Relationships — Paul McCord @ 12:24 pm
Tags: ,

I’ve become a hater.

The other morning I told my wife that I hate her.

This new found hate came on quickly—literally overnight.

Last Thursday evening Debbie insisted I watch a movie with her.  “It’s supposed to be really, really good,” she said.  “It’s about a dog and his owner.”

I’ve really mellowed in my old age and have become quite sentimental, and since I love dogs, I figured a couple of warm and fuzzy hours would be time well spent.

It was horrible. 

I ended up not sleeping that night thinking about that dog, Hachi.  I’ve thought about him ever since.  Haunted by sadness and humbled by a depth of love, loyalty and commitment I honestly cannot image.

We in sales talk a lot about being loyal to our customers, about putting our customer first, about being committed to excellence, about sacrificing our wants and needs to our client’s.

The story of a dog demonstrates how little we really know about loyalty, commitment, and sacrifice.

Let me briefly relate the story (if you get a chance and don’t mind being overwhelmed with sadness, you can find the movie, Hachi, on the Hallmark channel.  I’m sure it will be on again sometime this month).

The producers have changed the location and time of the events although it is based on a true story.  The events actually took place in Japan in the 1920’s.  The move moves the location to the US and the timing to present day (I assume they felt it would sell better this way).

A college professor acquires the dog as a puppy and raises him.  They become extremely close.  The professor has to take a subway train to campus everyday and walks from his home to the train station.  The dog walks with him to the station and then returns home.  In the afternoon, the dog goes back to the station and sits on a concrete wall each afternoon waiting for his master to return.  They then walk home together.

This routine goes on for a few years until one day the dog’s master doesn’t return.  He never returns as he dies of a heart attack while at work.

That night the dog waits until long into the night for his master to return.  The next day Hachi returns and takes his usual place and waits.  He returns to his spot and waits from early morning until late at night every single day for over 10 years.  For over 3,650 days he never misses a single day.

Ever hopeful that today will be the day, he sits through scorching heat, freezing snow and sleet, drenching rain.  Nothing can keep him from being there when his master returns.  He knows his master would not abandon him.  He knows his master will return and he’ll be there, waiting faithfully when he disembarks the train.

Today there is a statue on the spot where he sat faithfully waiting for over 10 years, erected in his honor by the men and women who witnessed his incredible devotion and loyalty during his vigil (that statue was melted during World War II, but  a second statue was created after the war and is still standing today), and each year, to this day, a ceremony is performed at the location to honor the dog. 

Although both a terribly sad and inspiring story, ultimately the question is what can we learn from this magnificent dog?

Loyalty has a price.  We talk a lot about being loyal to our customers, to our company, to our profession; yet when things get a little dicey, when loyalty is no longer easy, we bail.  Our loyalty tends to be fair-weather.  We may be willing to sit through one snow storm; we might even be willing to go through a hot summer also, but 10 years of sweltering heat and bone chilling cold?  Nope, it costs too much.

There’s dignity in sacrifice.  Hachi earned the love and respect of those who knew him not because of his success, but because of his willingness to sacrifice for what he believed in.  He literally sacrificed his life to be faithful to his master.

Sometimes we win even when we lose.  Hachi’s hope was never fulfilled.  His tremendous loyalty and faith were never rewarded.  His master never came back.  Hachi died as he lived, faithfully waiting for his master’s return.    Even so he won the respect and honor of millions.  That, of course, was no consolation for him.  He never knew the impact he had on the humans around him.  He wouldn’t have cared anyway.  What was important to him was his commitment to his master.  He wasn’t seeking honors or rewards, just the love of his master.  Yet by putting his master first, he earned honors beyond what most of us will ever earn—there are

How do you measure up to a dog?  When you speak of being loyal, of being committed, to sacrificing for your client, are you really?

Maybe we don’t have to go to the lengths that Hachi did, but so often what we claim to be loyalty, commitment, and sacrifice are nothing more than words we use to sell our services and make us feel good. 

Yep, I told Debbie I hate her for making me watch a movie about a dog that makes it perfectly clear, I don’t measure up.

I think most of us have a lot to learn from a dog.



  1. Dogs are incredible with their commitment to us, that’s why I always grind my teeth when listening another story of a dog attached somewhere to the tree during the summer vacation. No, we usually can’t even compare to them. And it’s not only about dogs.

    Let’s just ask ourselves: for who would we wait a month in one place? For who would we go through all fav places of that person if (s)he was missing and how long we would do that?

    … and I hope your wife is not very unforgiving 😉

    Comment by Andrzej — November 17, 2010 @ 1:44 pm | Reply

    • Debbie’s fine. In fact she’s hating on her mom who was the one who told Debbie it was such a great movie. And her mom’s mad at Debbie’s sister who was the one who told her it was so good. The movie got everyone in a sad funk. But it’s all OK as everyone is coming to our house for Thanksgiving so I’ll have ample opportunity to get even :).

      Comment by Paul McCord — November 17, 2010 @ 2:38 pm | Reply

  2. Hello Paul,

    There is a saying… “Someday I hope to be the Man my Dog thinks I am”.

    Really enjoyed this post. Thank you.

    Comment by John Halter — December 4, 2010 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

    • Yep, I hope to someday live up to the standards my dogs, Mr. B. J. and Ms. Chloe, have set. I have a close friend who mentioned the other day that I talk about B.J. as though he were human. I told John that in fact, B.J. and Chloe were more human than many humans I’ve known. And to your saying, they both are far more forgiving than most humans–consequently, they quckly forget my transgressions but remember my kindness forever. As you say, if only I could live their view of who I am.

      Comment by Paul McCord — December 4, 2010 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

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