I often look at my canine companion Coco and think, that the saying ‘it’s a dog’s life’ is way off the mark. I mean, she has it all – a loving family, plenty of toys, good nutritious meals, visits to the vet when she is not well in a pet parent-driven car and a housing complex filled with people who worry if she is not out with me. But I realise that her life is good because of her perspective and attitude towards life and the challenges that she faces as a sole dog in a house filled with humans.
Coco inherently knows that there are no problems…only solutions and deals with issues quite differently than we humans do. If there is a puddle of water on the morning walk path – no issue – she just looks at it and changes the direction of her walk slightly to avoid getting her paws wet and continues. She knows the art of problem solving – without having read any self-help or management books!
When her ball rolls under the sofa, she gets excited and tries various options to retrieve the ball. Each time this happens, she finds new ways to solve her dilemma. She is persistent. As a human, we most probably get frustrated if we cannot solve an issue immediately and look for easy short-term solutions rather than looking at the big picture.
What I learnt from her is that a dog approaches a problem with an open mind and engages in possibility thinking. As humans, many of us approach it with annoyance and a negative attitude, thinking of it as a hindrance rather than an opportunity to learn and grow. We set ourselves up for failure even before we begin. I’ve shared my observations with other pet parents and it appears their pet friends do the same. So, I am convinced that my dog is not a prodigy but has something that other canines know as well.
Problem solving is not only a valuable skill; it is also an art and Coco has taught me that the following subset of skills that are required as translated for the human mind. The first skill is creative thinking. You can call it thinking out of the box. The ideas will flow if you engage your imagination during a brainstorming session.
The second step is to check each option for sound reasoning and weed out unachievable options. Like a canine, be objective in your approach. The third and most important step is to approach each problem that you encounter with an open mind and positive attitude. That is the only way you will not only find solutions but better ones that work… just like Coco does!
–Vatsala Shukla, Delhi