Few things compare to coming home to a dog so full of love that it makes you feel like the most important person in the world.
For me that dog is Tucker.
His tail starts wagging as soon as I pull into the driveway and he sees me from across the yard. He runs up to me and immediately plops down on the ground for his belly scratch. When we’re done he heads into the house and prances around full of excitement. Tucker knows it’s treat time so he heads to the cabinet. After gulping down his prize, it’s on to the floor for some more scratching and Tucker time.
After our special time, I open the back door and let Tucker out. You see he needs to go home.
Tucker is my neighbor’s dog.
But if you had seen him when I came home, or when my wife and I take Tucker with us on our walks, you would have thought Tucker was my dog. He’s that special.
What makes us feel such a connection to pets, places or organizations? So much so that rather than saying “I attended church Sunday,” you say “I worshiped at MY church.” Or you tell people you worked out at “MY YMCA.” Or “I volunteer for MY food pantry.”
Ownership makes the difference. And I think it’s a two way street. It’s not just how Tucker feels about me, but also how I feel about him. This is true for churches, schools and non-profits too. We feel a loving obligation towards the organizations we feel ownership over.
People don’t feel ownership unless we make them feel like it is theirs to own. It’s our job to connect folks in a way that makes them feel like they are missed when they’re not there. Our warm welcome isn’t just politeness, it’s about showing our excitement that they are now part of our community. An enthusiastic thank you helps reinforce those feelings over time.
When we feel a sense of ownership to a cause, serving, volunteering and giving back are joys not obligation.
But treats help too.