Saturday, August 20, 2011

Advocacy Lessons From Our Furry Friends

If you've known me for, say, five minutes, you'll know that I'm just a little enthusiastic about dogs. Some would say obsessed but I think they're being unreasonable. That's why I was really touched by this CNN article about a dog in Afghanistan named Giselle who has befriended some U.S. soldiers. In fact, she apparently befriends ALL U.S. soldiers she meets. Some people might have a name for that, but I just think it's sweet.

Her story reminded me of a tip sheet article I wrote many years ago after the demise of our beloved dog Xena Warrior Princess Dog about the advocacy lessons we can learn from the smart dogs in our lives. I won't reprise the whole thing here, but one of the main tips was to make the ask. At the risk of sounding weird by quoting myself, here's what I had to say:

"People don't know what you want unless you ask. Above all things, Xena Warrior Princess Dog excelled at making the ask. Whether she wanted a biscuit, a belly rub or a bite of her dog dad's dinner, Xena asked for it, frequently and without reservation. In fact, every once in a while it bordered on begging. Now I'm not suggesting that advocates resort to begging for what they want, but it is essential that you ask for something specific. Too many people try to "educate" their elected officials on the issues. They put all their time and energy into explaining the tragedy of situation X, while assuming that support for their preferred solution of policy Y would be obvious. It's not. Believe me, Xena never tried to get me to understand the tragedy of a biscuit-less life. She just told me she wanted a biscuit."

If you want to see the whole article, you can view it here (yeah, I know it's weird that it's on someone else's site. Thank goodness SOMEONE saves this things!)

In the years since I explained Xena's outstanding advocacy techniques, I came to recognize the one thing that works every time in effective advocacy, and that is big, melting brown eyes. Xena had them. Our current dog Ozzie has them. Both eventually got to the point where they didn't even have to ask for biscuits. They just got them.

No comments: