Sometimes in our jobs as industrial automation specialists we forget about the things that make the job enjoyable. We forget about the small pieces that give us a feeling of accomplishment or self-satisfaction. We often get so wrapped up in thinking that money and other similar compensation is the only worth we get from our jobs that we tend to lose focus on the items that make us LOVE what we do. But, sometimes, something will happen to remind us of the importance of what we do in the most unusual way.
This is exactly what happened with my beagle Gus.
Gus, like every dog owner would say, is special. He’s a happy, playful, loving creature who is always excited to see your face when you come walking through the door at the end of the day. He is full of personality and life. Gus is an ever-vocal dog who is more than happy to tell you about his day, both good and bad. He’s the perfect dog. Yet, like all “perfect” things in life, he in fact has, well…. some problems.
For example, Gus likes the occasional five-star meal from the trash, enjoys an occasional flip-flop as a chew toy and won’t go to the bathroom in pouring rain alone (lucky me). In other words, he has a few personality traits that make a dog a dog. And, since he is a rescue dog, he has a few problems outside of the norm. He tends to fear most everything. For him it’s not “Ooooh squirrel”, it’s more like “Ahhhhhh, did you see that, what was that, it was so scary, it’s tail was so frighteningly fluffy!”
Then there is the separation anxiety which drove him to escape from a baker’s dozen of “inescapable” dog crates and pens to then destroy doors, walls, insulation, and whatever else might be in his way. Over time, and with patience (and money for repairs) these personality traits continue to improve. One thing patience can’t help is his continuous scratching. Because of this, we had to seek the help of a medical professional. To no surprise we learned that Gus is, as the vet put it, extremely allergic to poultry, (which is in almost all dog food), storage mites, dust mites, and ragweed. Lucky for him that means he is only allergic to most of the world. To combat his record-setting allergies, the vet recommended a medicine which requires one squirt under the tongue daily.
One morning after a few weeks of administering the medicine I noticed out of the corner of my eye something on the label. I yelled upstairs to my wife, “Get down here quick, I’ve got something to show you.” My wife, knowing that I am downstairs with our fur child, of course comes down in a panic. Who wouldn’t assume the worst in this moment. She asks me “What is it? What’s wrong?” That’s when I told her, “This is so crazy. We are currently doing a bunch of work in the plant where this medicine is made. See look. It says the manufacturer and location right here.” In that moment as I am holding the bottle and talking to my wife, Gus so rudely interrupts me with a small loving whimper. He reminds me of the task at hand to make sure that he can get through his day allergy-free.
So, I sat there with my perfect dog Gus in a half nelson on the floor, the medicine (that I unknowingly helped to produce in my role as an industrial automation specialist in the life sciences industry) in my right hand, and my left hand attempting to hold his tongue back. I felt an odd sense of pride for a man in my position. I had, in an unusual way, found one of those small pieces that reminds me of why I love my job. It’s not that I get to wrestle my dog, it’s that I get to be a part of something wonderful. It’s not every day that you realize that the work you do truly makes a difference. While this story about Gus is lighthearted, knowing that in some way, through my work, I help bring medicine to people’s loved ones, gives me a tremendous feeling of pride and accomplishment. No wealth in the world could bring me more worth than that. Thank you, Gus.