Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Dog Gone

A Reel Leadership Article

My latest book, Reel Leadership, is now available on Amazon. If you love movies and leadership, you will love this book.

Dog Gone is a heart-warming, true story. Based on the real-life events of Fielding Marshall (Johnny Berchtold) and his Golden Retriever dog Gonker, your heartstrings will be pulled, twisted, and reunited.

While out on the Appalachian Trail, Gonker takes off after a fox. Fielding and his friend, Nate (Nick Peine), look furiously for the lost 6-year-old dog. They eventually give up for the night and head home.

Fielding knew time was not on their side. Gonker had Addison’s Disease. Without treatment, his beloved companion would die.

Dog Gone tells the story of Fielding as he searches for his dog. He’s joined on the journey by his father, John Marshall (Rob Lowe), his mother, Ginny Marshall (Kimberly Williams-Paisley), and people from around the world.

Gonker and Fielding relaxing on a couch

You may cry, laugh, and cheer throughout the film. While cheesy in spots, you’ll sit through and enjoy how Fielding changes throughout the movie. You’ll also see his father’s heart change towards his son.

And, as usual, you’ll come out of the film a better leader.

We’ll look at the leadership lessons in Dog Gone and how you can apply those leadership lessons to your life.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Dog Gone

1. Nate:

Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.

Nate was talking to Fielding. He was trying to be a true friend to his buddy.

Then, he saw Claire (Ansley Davis), Fielding’s ex-girlfriend. She was with a new guy.

Uh oh…

The conversation veered toward this Mother Teresa quote. And it rings true.

Thankfully, as a leader, we have the opportunity to change this for the people we lead. We bring our people onto a team that cares for one another.

We can make people feel less lonely. We can make people feel wanted.

Help take the feeling of poverty away from people by giving them a community to be a part of.

2. The right thing attracts people:

Fielding went to the dog pound and picked out a puppy. He was a cute Golden Retriever.

To celebrate, Fielding invited his college friends over. The house and surrounding area were flooded with people. Everyone turned out to welcome the new dog home.

Fielding had found the right thing to attract people.

Do you want to attract the right people and customers to your business? Then you’ve got to have the right thing to attract them.

This could be a fantastic offer, a great working environment, or even benefits that go above and beyond.

What you offer will either attract or repel people. Find the right thing and attract people to your organization.

3. Barriers won’t stop what you don’t want:

Fielding graduated from college and returned to his parent’s home. There, he had no job, no aspirations, and no direction. He only had Gonker.

His parents weren’t thrilled with the dog being in their home. John, his father, decided to put a shock collar on Gonker. Gonker would no longer be able to run free.

Yet, the shocked collar and underground and invisible fence barrier wouldn’t stop Gonker. Gonker saw a fox and took off like a flash. When the fox crossed the barrier, Gonker was right behind it.

Gonker crossed the barrier. He received the shock. Still, he broke through.

The barrier didn’t stop Gonker.

Barriers won’t stop everything. Your people will find ways to break through barriers.

Instead of setting up barriers, create mutual boundaries. These boundaries are things you and the employee agree upon. They set up areas that can’t or shouldn’t be crossed.

Both of you understand what they are. You both hold each other accountable to the rules of the boundaries.

The boundaries won’t stop inappropriate behavior. The boundaries will let them and you know when lines have been crossed.

4. Watch for inconsistencies:

Ginny came home one day, and Gonker didn’t greet her. This seemed strange.

Even more strange, when Ginny dropped a pie on the kitchen floor, Gonker didn’t respond. Something was wrong.

Gonker’s actions were inconsistent with whom he was.

The family took Gonker to the vet. There, Gonker was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease.

Do you watch for inconsistencies in the actions of your employees? Do you see when their attitudes change, their tone of voice is tense, or other changes?

If you do, you can notice when something is wrong.

People don’t act inconsistently when nothing is wrong. When things change, especially for the worse, that’s when you can tell someone on your team is hurting.

Take notice. Speak up. Try to figure out what has happened.

You’ll soon discover you’re helping your employees overcome the obstacles and challenges in their lives.

5. John Marshall:

This is what we’re going to do.

After an adventure on the Appalachian Trail with Nate and Fielding, Gonker took off. He chased after a fox and didn’t come back. Time was ticking for Fielding to find his dog.

Fielding returned to his parent’s home. He woke his mother and father. He let them know what happened.

John didn’t freak out. Instead, he woke up and calmly devised a plan.

What do you do when an employee comes to you with a problem? Do you freak out? Do you tell them to figure it out on their own?

Maybe, just maybe, it’s time you helped them.

You’ve got the experience to know what to do in a situation like this. You can calmly walk them through the steps you might take in a similar situation. You can help them craft their own solution.

Another thing you do is keep calm. By not freaking out, you help the employee stay calm and rational.

6. John Marshall:

Because I believe it.

John said over and over again that they would find Gonker. Everyone questioned his attitude.

How could John know they would find Gonker? John kept saying this because he believed they would.

John’s belief kept him going. His belief also kept others going.

Your belief is powerful. When you truly believe something is doable or achievable, keep working at it. Keep believing. Keep saying it.

The more you believe, the more your belief will carry over to those you lead. Eventually, you will accomplish what you believe.

7. People help when things are personal:

Ginny began reaching out to everyone she could. This included newspapers.

When one newspaper reporter returns her call, she’s willing to pay to run a missing dog ad in the paper. The reporter turns down her offer.

Instead, the reporter tells Ginny he wanted to run the Marshall’s story… for free.

The story wasn’t just a feel-good story. Their story was personal to the reporter. He knew the love of a dog owner. He wanted to help them because he could feel and understand what they were going through.

Throughout the rest of Dog Gone, we see this personal connection to pet ownership. Everyone they met while searching for Gonker seems to have a pet-related story. The search was personal.

Think about the ways you can make things personal to their employees.

There are plenty of ways you can do this. You can share your personal experiences with your team. When they hear what you’ve gone through, they may connect your story to theirs. Maybe they see you as human.

Make your story personal. Make the organization’s mission personal.

8. John Marshall:

If you live in a bubble, you’ll eventually suffocate.

On their search, John saw a group of bikers. He suggested they talk to the bikers to see if they might have seen Gonker.

Fielding was hesitant. He thought the bikers looked like they wouldn’t be willing to help.

Fielding was shocked when they did. John helped Fielding break through his bubble by showing him people aren’t always as cold or hard as they look.

Who have you judged or discriminated against because they’re different than you? Maybe the person interviewing for an open position has too long or wild of hair. Perhaps it’s the wrong color. Or maybe their language is a bit rough around the edges.

Our bubble limits us to the amazingness of the people around us. Break out of the bubble.

Allow interesting, new characters into your life and organization. You’ll discover they’re there to help you!

9. Get off the trail when it’s your time:

The Marshalls meet a little commune of young people. They’re living their best life.

One young man tells John he’s not ready to get off the trail yet. He ponders the question of what’s the difference between 53 or 54 years in the workforce. It’s a valid question.

We think we have to hustle and push ourselves to the extreme. We have to be on the go or doing something constantly.

We don’t.

As the young man put it, get off the trail when it’s your time. That may be entering into the workforce or, even, exiting it.

You don’t have to follow the same path as everyone else. Figure out what is right for you and your family in that regard.

10. John Marshall:

I take pride in your character.

Fielding constantly felt as if his dad was embarrassed by him. After all, Fielding didn’t have a job, lived at home, and was struggling. This is a thought many people in a similar situation have.

John’s answer was comforting to Fielding. He saw Fielding as more than what he did. He finally understood why Fielding was doing what he was doing.

Plus, John saw Fielding’s character. He wasn’t a lazy person. He wasn’t unethical. What Fielding was was a man of character.

Character matters in our world. You may not have been taught this but think about it.

Who do you want to work for you? Someone with or without character?

I’ll choose character every time, even over skilled employees.

A person with character will do the right thing, regardless of the cost to himself.

Look for those with character.

If you enjoyed this Reel Leadership article, you may enjoy our collection of Reel Leadership articles eBook. You can get this eBook for free by signing up for updates by clicking here.
Follow Me