Silly Dog Tricks, Billionaires, and Making New Friends

Way back when I was attending the University of Kansas, my roommate's Uncle Kenny had one drink too many at a hunting auction and came home with an adorable Labrador retriever puppy. I wrote his stories here if you're interested. A week after the fact Uncle Kenny realized that a puppy probably wasn't the best idea at that point in his life. One thing led to another and the next thing you know I had a Labrador retriever puppy.

Everyone thought a college student having a puppy is a bad idea. You're always on the move; You study a lot; There's lots of partying... not a great environment for a dog right? Nah, it was a fabulous environment for a dog. That dog got more love than a keg of shitty beer at a frat party BECAUSE there were so many people around with no serious responsibilities. I made a lot of friends because of that dog. Hell, people would come by randomly just to take him out for a walk. Not to mention all the frisbee golf, hikes, tailgaters, etc. The biggest thing though was that I had basically unlimited time to train the little guy, so he ended up as a pretty well-trained dog.

As an example one day he got into the trash and spread it everywhere in the house. This pissed me off, so I taught him how to pick up trash... and he helped me pick up every last piece (it also turned out to be a handy trick for picking up Christmas wrapping paper).

Another time, in the middle of winter, I had to go turn off the lights in our drafty old victorian in my boxers. Not pleasant. So I spent the next day teaching my dog how to turn off the lights.

Everyone's favorite trick of course was the dream of most college students. I taught my puppy how to get me a beer from the fridge using a towel tied to the fridge door (AND shut the door behind him).

All said and done he ended up being a well-trained little guy with a nice set of parlor tricks, and I had a few more friends because of it.

*Fast-forward a few years...*

I go to visit my grandparents and I show my grandfather a video of my silly dog tricks, and he thinks it's the greatest thing since America Online.

My grandparents live in Appalachia, which has a small professional community (business owners, doctors, lawyers, etc). Because it's so small everyone knows everyone and they all hang out, and it's not uncommon for say a family doctor and a CEO of a manufacturing company to be friends, whereas in other places in the country they would be in completely different tribes.

By virtue of geographic isolation, my grandfather happens to be golfing buddies with a billionaire who owns a beverage company. He insists that I run down the next day and show his buddy my videos, thinking that they might make a commercial out of it or something. So I did.

The meeting itself wasn't particularly eventful. Mr. Billionaire-Golfing-Buddy was a nice guy and got a chuckle out of my dog bringing me a beer from the fridge. We talked for a little bit, then I headed off to do whatever it is I was doing at that time. It was a generally pleasant conversation, and great to meet the guy.

Making New Friends

Now if this was a Buzzfeed article the headline of this story would probably read something like: "Man trains dog to generate meetings with billionaires" or some other gibberish... but that's obviously not what it's about. I wanted to tell this particular story because I think it says a lot about creating new friends and new interactions.

My silly dog tricks were interesting to people and they gave us something to share, talk about, etc. Doing fun, unusual activities helps build friendships. Being the kind of person who's willing to do some weird stuff gets people out of the humdrum of day-to-day life - people want to be around people like that... people also want to introduce you to other people. It doesn't matter if you're a billionaire or a broke college student.

As a sub-context, my grandparents made a diverse group of friends in Appalachia because there aren't a lot of people that are extremely similar to them, and they are fairly isolated from the major Metros. That isolation brings people together who might not come together in other places... but it also shows that by being willing to live where they live ... they perhaps share similar values.

Lastly, I can't recommend enough getting a Labrador puppy, just make sure you train it well.

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