When my husband and I first talked about getting married years ago, we agreed that we would get a dog. Life and job prohibited this for many years. However, because we are both working at home due to the pandemic, it seemed like a perfect time to get a puppy! In particular, we decided to get a Bernese Mountain Dog, which I have become totally enamored with.
In March, we found a breeder who loves her dogs, passed her extensive interview to qualify, and then we waited for our girl to be born. With our breeder, she sent us 30-second videos of the possible puppies, and you choose your puppy in the order in which you sent in your deposit.
Selection day in July was very stressful! We knew we wanted a female, and fortunately there were seven available. I was sure we had a good draft pick because we had been waiting for so long; however, we discovered we were fourth on the puppy list. We rushed to see the remaining puppy videos and faced a conundrum.
One of the things that I love about these dogs is the brown fur around their eyes, which gives them such a kind look. When we saw the remaining four puppies, one had these classic marks and symmetry on her face, and the other three had faces that were half-white without the brown markings around the eyes on one side.
At first, I assumed we would pick the classic symmetrical puppy, but when I saw the video of her, my heart fell. In my gut, I was not thrilled and felt disappointed. Somehow, she was not cute, and she did not speak to me. One of the half-white face puppies, however, was adorable, and I could feel the excitement for her in my gut.
This was a strange position for me, and I found myself confused about what to do: which puppy should I pick? I battle perfectionism, as I am sure many of you do. I like things to be symmetrical and look good. It is important to me that I look nice and “put together” when I go out. I also often value being right and doing things in the “right” way. Somehow this choice was highlighting several of the things that I struggle with in my ongoing work to let go of the perfect and to enjoy life in the moment, with all its imperfections.
Additionally, as embarrassing as this is, I was worried about what people would think or say about a puppy with asymmetrical markings. Would they make negative or critical comments? Would I have to keep defending her uniqueness as a positive attribute? I talk to clients all the time about empowerment that comes from within, and that is not centered in the opinions of others – and here I was worried about how my potential puppy looked to the outside world!
The main question became: should my husband and I choose the dog that “looked right” or should we go with our hearts?
This decision was one we thought about and talked about a lot, and we slept on it overnight. In the morning, we knew who our Penny was. We went with our gut and our hearts, which life has taught me is always the right direction in which to go. She has asymmetrical coloring on her face, - but she is adorable – our perfectly imperfect puppy - and we love her!
I was so honored and excited to be part of this important and relevant SHRM panel discussion that focused on work, racism, inclusion, and uncomfortable conversations.
Over 1300 people registered to attend, and the conversation was rich. Each panelist came from a different background and looks at DEI through a different lens- as an HR professional, as an attorney, as a DEI consultant. I was able to discuss how DEI is a wellness issue, both for an individual's mental and physical health and also how improving inclusion in an organization improves retention of employees. The more employees feel included and valued in an organization and also that they can bring all of themselves and their experiences to work, we all win and improve the well-being of all. And the more we recognize how discrimination in all forms can impacts us personally or vicariously, the better we can work to understand and work to improve equality and inclusion.
Register here if you would like to view the panel discussion in its entirety: