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Learning Persistence From my Dog


Every day my dog wakes up with a mission: to catch a squirrel.

Day after day, he sits at the back window watching them.  They dart around the yard, up the trunk of the big oak tree, into the treehouse.  They leap from rooftop to treetop to trampoline like little stunt men practicing parkour moves for an action film.  Their newest habit is to jump on – and swing from – the climbing rope in the oak tree.

And all this drives my dog crazy.

perisistence, motivation, commitment, dogs, squirrel, oak tree

He scratches at the window pane, whimpers at the back door, and begs to be let out.  Because he wants to catch that squirrel.

This drill has gone on for years, ever since the oak tree matured enough to make acorns.  The squirrels, with their sharp senses, are alerted to his presence immediately.  They know just how high to ascend to be out of his reach, and from that height they usually sit and taunt him.

But he chases them anyway.  Every day.

I’ll never know if he doesn’t realize that he can’t outrun a squirrel, or if he’s forgotten that this effort has been a failure every other day he’s tried it.  Or if it matters.

What I do know is that every day he believes that today will be the day.  Every time I open that door he bolts into the yard with a conviction that can only come from knowing his mission will be successful.  Every day.

I want to face my days with conviction like that.  I want to wake up every day thinking – no, believing – that today is the day I’m going to get it all done.

  • Today is the day I’m going to wake up early enough have uniforms laid out and breakfast on the table when the boys come downstairs.
  • Today I’m going to fold all the baskets of laundry in my bedroom.
  • Today I’m going to give my work my undivided attention.
  • Today all the emails will get replies, the pile of papers on the kitchen counter will get sorted, and the bags of old clothes brought to Goodwill.
  • Today I’m going to have a snack and drink in the car when I pick the kids up, and I won’t get on Facebook until all the homework’s done.
  • Today I’ll cook a healthy dinner, and won’t start doing the dishes until everyone’s finished.
  • Today the evening will be pleasant, there will be no yelling about showers, and all school bags will be packed the night before and waiting at that back door.

And when it doesn’t turn out the way I expect, I want to keep my cool like Perro* does, and wait for the next day, when I get another chance to get it right.  I want to wake up eager to catch that squirrel.

Inspiration is everywhere.  You just have to be open to recognizing it when you see it.

*Yes, my dog’s name is Perro (Spanish for “dog.”  My kids thought that was clever.)

Read more from Lisha Perry Fink on her Blog, The Lucky Mom

Lisha Perry Fink

Lisha began her writing career in New Orleans in the 1980s, when she entered the glamorous world of writing corporate newsletters and ad copy. Her words – which have appeared on everything from utility bill stuffers to beer bottle labels and annual reports – finally found a home in 2010 when she launched her first blog, The Lucky Mom. Today she chronicles her experiences on The Lucky Mom's successor, She is currently writing her first novel.

Kate Reynolds

Monday 11th of November 2013

Hi Lisha! I enjoyed your post about Perro (I agree with your kids - it is a clever name) and can relate to learning from our dogs. My dog (Malcom) models important life lessons for me every day - living in the moment, asking for what you want but not pouting if you don't get it, getting plenty of sleep and more.

I love the idea of believing every day that today's the day! And you know, one of these days he might be right. You might want to have a few squirrel recipes on hand. :)

Thanks for sharing!

Lisha Fink

Tuesday 12th of November 2013

Kate, we joke all the time about what will happen when he finally catches one. It will probably be a disappointment to him, because once it stops moving it won't be any fun! As for recipes, I'm half Cajun and half Redneck, so I'm pretty sure I can figure out what to do with it. :-D


Monday 11th of November 2013

I was at your house when Perro did this. It was real cute. I have many of those list. We all hope to get it all around To do it all. I wish I had his persistence and energy to get all my life things done. But when u take care of family that doesn't always work that day or time. I ask god to give me the strength .


Lisha Fink

Tuesday 12th of November 2013

My friend, the fact that you have taken on the responsibilities for your mom and sister put you in a whole different category. Getting it all done in your world means serving others, not accomplishing your own goals. Not for now anyway. Your sacrifices speak volumes to your character, my friend.


Sunday 10th of November 2013

So True. Ever Day A Brand Spanking New Opportunity To Get It Right

Lisha Fink

Tuesday 12th of November 2013

Yes. The baggage from the previous day is discarded, and each day starts a new. Wonderful philosopher, isn't he?


Saturday 9th of November 2013

LOVE IT....You always yield a good read.

Lisha Fink

Saturday 9th of November 2013

Thanks, Jane! Inspiration is all around us.

Stacy Wheat

Saturday 9th of November 2013

Love it. It's so true. Perro will never catch that squirrel unless he tries. If we follow his example and keep our goals in sight, then we have a chance of hitting our mark even though we have fallen short time and time again. Maybe today is the day! Thanks for a great read!!

Lisha Fink

Saturday 9th of November 2013

You're welcome, Stacy! I watched him at the foot of that tree today, looking up, making his plan. I'm going to stop thinking of my goals as unattainable, and greet each day with renewed enthusiasm. And if I don't get it right, I'll try again.

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