Dan Carey, president and CEO of $239 million-asset VISIONBank in Fargo, N.D., has always had dogs in his life. He takes special care in training his two black Labradors, Piper and Scout, who play a special role at his bank and in his family.
I grew up with dogs. You learn quickly that your dog just wants to please you, but you have to communicate what your expectations are. Training animals is simple, because they’re very trusting—most dogs are.
I get a warm feeling from seeing my dogs interact with others. Everyone knows that [VISIONBank] is dog-friendly, so people bring their animals all the time or come just to say hi to the dogs. Our dogs have to be on their best behavior, because they are literally members of our team at the bank. They are official greeters; people love them.
Anyone can [train dogs] if they follow the basics. There are three basic commands that everything else emanates from, and they are: sit, stay and come. You never graduate from sit to stay until they master the sit command, and every step in that process is critical. Animals are intuitive, and they read your nonverbals, moods and vocal inflections, so it’s all about consistency and reinforcing those commands.
I think we could all learn from dogs. You have a lot invested in them, but they give you so much more back. It doesn’t matter what kind of day you had; you can turn around and that dog is faithfully right there with his head on your lap or looking to you for affection. They’re real family members. When you consider relationships, you only hope that you’re giving off the same type of unconditional support and love to your employees, to the people you care about and to your family that dogs do.
Emma Pitzl is an editorial assistant with Independent Banker.