Why You Should Clean Up After Your Own Dog And Other Lessons In Business

Have you flown recently? If not, you’re missing out on the latest and greatest fad: people bringing their pets to the airport and flying with them. No, I’m not talking about people who require an assistance animal because of a disability or illness.

I was walking through the airport recently, seeing an airport crew cleaning up after someone’s pet. The cleaning crew was none too pleased. And they had every right to be upset.

Have you flown recently? If not, you’re missing out on the latest and greatest fad: people bringing their pets to the airport and flying with them. No, I’m not talking about people who require an assistance animal because of a disability or illness. I’m talking about people who must have their dog/cat/zebra with them at all times, and that includes on a plane. (One woman recently tried to take her emotional support peacock on the plane with her but was denied boarding. Sadly, I heard that peacock later died.)

The airlines recently have been clamping down on this practice. And I’m glad to hear it. Once, several years ago, I was aboard a cross-country flight when a large, non-assistance dog relieved himself in the middle of the aisle. I’m here to tell you that at 35,000 feet, there’s nowhere to escape from that unpleasantness, even after it’s cleaned up.

Back to the airport: I’m lingering at the scene of the potty crime a little bit, just long enough to hear the airport crew voicing their displeasure over having to clean it up. And I think of a story about President Ford. Back in the 1970s, after President Nixon’s resignation, Ford took office. He never planned to be president and he wasn’t the kind of person who ordered people to do things he wasn’t willing to do himself.

In the Oval Office, as the story goes, Ford’s dog relieved himself. Someone working in the White House quickly ran to clean the mess up, but President Ford stopped him, reportedly saying, “No, I’ll get that. No one should have to clean up after another man’s dog.”

Think about that for a minute. Arguably the most powerful man in the world standing in the most powerful office in the world and he goes out of his way to clean up after his own dog. Didn’t he have other things to do? Of course, and probably much more important things.

But Ford was projecting a mindset some business leaders need to adopt: I’m not too big to get my hands dirty. In fact, some businesses would improve if they better understood the jobs employees are doing. (That CBS show “Undercover Boss” offers great insight into this.)

Maybe the dog owner at the airport was in a rush to get to the gate and cleaning up would have made them late. But they were hanging around during the cleanup, so that probably wasn’t the case.

If you’re unwilling or think you’re above cleaning up after your pooch out in public, leave the dog at home.

Mark Phillips loves dogs but doesn’t fly with them.

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