Business leader's book explores how dogs make us better humans

Bea Bohm-Meyer has combined her success as a business mentor and coach with her "crazy love of dogs" to write a book called How Dogs Make Us Better Humans.

The self-published book, which achieved best-seller status on Amazon, was born when Bohm-Meyer's consulting work dropped off at the beginning of the pandemic, and like many others, she suddenly had more downtime.

"I was sitting and watching my dogs play outside. They came in and I was a little bit sad, and one of them just came to hug me. I was thinking how happy they made me and all of the things that they taught me throughout my life," she told Taproot.

"So I started writing what I felt about them and some of the stories around loss and learning and I thought ... these dogs really have taught me so much about life and how to show up in the world."

As Bohm-Meyer began reflecting about her own dogs and gathering stories about others, she quickly found that there was no shortage of tales to tell. On a survey she put out to owners through her partner's business, The Leash Team, the overwhelming answer to "What do you think a dog's purpose is?" was "unconditional love."

That's a feeling she has experienced with all of her dogs, including an eight-year-old rescue named Buckley and a Great Pyrenees-Maremma named Eddie, who helped her recover from the loss of her border collie Charlie.

One of the stories Bohm-Meyer shares in her book is about sports psychologist John Dunn, who talks about never punishing your dog for the sake of learning.

"(Dunn) had a service dog that he took with him everywhere. He was late for meeting and he went out and called his dog, and his dog wouldn't come. And it was because (Dunn) was upset," she explained. "He realized that, so he calmed himself down and went out and his energy was great, and his dog came right away."

Bohm-Meyer's work focuses on building corporate cultures through compassionate leadership, which she quickly realized is closely linked to what she's learned from her dogs. While she didn't want to tell people exactly how to show up in the leadership world, Bohm-Meyer includes a summary at the end of each chapter that has a subtle lesson about how to be a better human being.

"So it dances between our love of dogs and how they make us better. And if we're really present, they help us become not only better human beings but better leaders."

A smiling Bea Bohm-Meyer cuddles with her dog Eddie

Eddie is one of the dogs that inspired Bea Bohm-Meyer to write How Dogs Make Us Better Humans. (Supplied)

Bohm-Meyer plans to use her book, which launched on Jan. 27, as a tool in her leadership work going forward.

"I'm just really all about having meaningful conversations with leaders and trying to understand how they want to show up in the world. Part of my work is helping leaders see the world through the eyes of others, because if you understand what's going on with your staff and your teammates, you see the diversity and you start to understand better," Bohm-Meyer said.

"It's not about telling but it's about honouring the story and asking what people see in it and what they want to learn from that."

The local business coach is not surprised that the book has been popular so far, as many in Edmonton and beyond are looking for levity as COVID-19 wears on. Pandemic pets have become a way for people to stay healthy and add joy to their lives.

"I'm so grateful that people went out and bought the book, but a large reason for that is because it was about dogs and I think anybody would want to learn from dogs," she said.

Bohm-Meyer still has a backlog of dog stories as even more continue to flood her inbox, so she's thinking about writing another book in the future.

But in the meantime, she'll keep learning from her own.

"I'm a crazy dog lady, and I just am so in love with them."

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the sports psychologist Bea Bohm-Meyer spoke with was John Gottman. It has been corrected to reflect that it was John Dunn.