Freo, my golden retriever, recently turned 13. He’s old for his breed.
As he got older, our relationship changed. These days, it’s me who wakes him up every morning excited for the new day; on walks, it is he who lets me go on a leash and wander around while he watches me closely and awaits my return.
What hasn’t changed is that he continues to give me lessons. While discussing this with my family recently, I realized that these lessons were not limited to the animal kingdom; they apply to my financial life.
I’m not saying – to paraphrase the title of a book on poplar from the mid-2000s – that everything I learned about investing came from my dog, but I will say that the techniques I learned to handle, train and live with my dog come in very handy when applied to my investment life.
A note here: having been mutilated by a neighbor’s dog as a child, I only had one in my family about 15 years ago. The childhood experience inspired me to work closely with my first dog – who died at just 5 years old from cancer – and then with Freo, so that I could develop faith, trust and confidence in the relationship.
In this way, working with dogs and investments begins to highlight similarities. Many investors still feel like their portfolios have been attacked by the bursting of the dotcom bubble, the 2008 financial crisis or the bear market that accompanied the onset of the pandemic; while they are still investing, they are doing so in a tenuous fashion despite the long standing bull market. Like someone who has had a bad experience with a dog, he finds it hard to trust the market.