Creating a Culture of Care: Life Lessons from Millie and Henry

Creating a Culture of Care: Life Lessons from Millie and Henry

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About 3 ½ years ago I adopted two Basset Hounds, Millie and Henry, from the Humane Society. Henry has always been the louder of the two. He barks and runs around me with excitement when I get home, when he wants to play, or when we are heading out for a walk.  Millie trots up at a much slower pace with her tail sweetly wagging back and forth but only howls (in true hound dog style) when truly necessary. Their personalities are very distinct.

The two are also very bonded. Millie often grooms Henry and they like to lay close to or even on top of one another. Where one goes the other frequently follows.

When no human being is home, Millie and Henry spend most of their time on my bed. They sleep up there with me at night too. I sneak out for my early morning workout and they rarely move a muscle. But as soon as I’m home and they hear the garage door open, they excitedly jump off the bed and wait at the bedroom door for me.  We head out to the backyard to take care of business, then I feed them both breakfast. It has been a pretty well-oiled machine until recently.

These last few weeks, Millie has remained up on the bed once I arrive home while Henry still darts outside as fast as possible. I can only assume my girl is simply slowly waking up her body, mind, and spirit trying to prepare for the day ahead.

My new routine is to let Henry outside then come in to check on Millie.  She’s still lying on the bed not quite ready to get moving. Henry at this point is sitting at the back door to be let back inside and his expectation is for breakfast to happen ASAP. He often begins barking or whining and I sometimes begin to fear he is going to wake up the rest of my house because he can be so loud.

Trying to quiet Henry’s voice, I try to coax Millie off the bed so I can get her outside and then feed them both at the same time. But sometimes getting Millie off the bed can take five or ten minutes. She stares at me with her big droopy eyes and wiggles around on her back just as a human would begin their day with a big stretch. All the while Henry is barking and whining and my anxiety is growing about waking up others.

But in the last week or so I decided to focus my energy on Millie instead of Henry. Listening to the quieter voice instead of the louder voice.

I’ve taken my time to give Millie lots of belly rubs and snuggles while she is slowly waking up.  I stare into those big droopy eyes and wonder what she might be thinking. It’s become therapeutic to slow down for those few minutes and intentionally focus on Millie. I stop and take the time to feel peaceful and be present with her. She always rewards me with lots of love and warmth! Focusing on her quieter voice has given me beautiful moments with her I had been previously missing.

There have been times in my life where I’ve wanted a loud, booming voice or neon sign of some sort to tell me the next direction to head or help me make a big decision in my life. I can get stuck thinking whatever answer I’m searching for should be obvious or very loud and clear in my thoughts. But for me, that simply hasn’t been my reality.

The biggest successes and periods of growth in my life have been because I’ve listened to my gut instinct. I’ve listened to the quieter voice. It can feel like butterflies in my stomach or just an aching feeling. I’ve learned to trust it. To know I don’t need further proof or evidence and simply trust that my gut feeling is enough. To believe and trust that because this voice is quieter and not pounding at the door doesn’t mean it isn’t also worthy of my attention or the right choice for me in that moment.

Millie has proved this idea to me again over the past week. The quieter voice is so worthy of our attention. And when we listen to it, we are often rewarded in many, many ways.

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 Stevie Cromer is the Cultural and Enrichment Manager for LUNA Language Services. Stevie regularly provides engaging content to LUNA’s team to encourage a culture of care within our own LUNA family. For more suggestions and resources about how you might build a culture of care throughout your organization, please reach out to Stevie at