This holiday season I have been thinking about loyalty – loyalty to family; loyalty to friends; loyalty to co-workers and teammates, and loyalty to

I know what you are thinking, “Steve usually writes about human and leadership behavior, so why pets this time?”

About two weeks ago Gordon, a brilliant and close friend of mine and many others in Portsmouth, passed away at the wise old age of 87. He lived alone out in the country and walked every day through his woods with his loyal black lab, Molly. That last day Gordon died of a massive heart-attack while out walking in the woods with Molly. Sadly, Gordon was not discovered for two days.

But his loyal dog, Molly, never left his side. She stayed and watched over him until a neighbor found them. (Molly is okay.)

That is why I am thinking about loyalty today.

As I thought about it, here are five reasons why I think our dogs like Molly are so loyal to us.

We Feed and Nourish Them. Dogs appreciate how we really serve and take care of them. They know we are the ones that provide them food and, unlike cats, they appreciate it! We practice “servant leadership.”

We Pet and Stroke Them. We are the ones that show them kindness by petting and stroking them. We say, “Good boy or girl” when they do things well. We show appreciation for their good behaviors.

We Teach and Reward Them. Dogs love it when we teach them new things that might be a stretch. And they like it when they are rewarded for learning and doing these new things.

We Play with Them. Every day when I come home our dog, Nico, brings me his throw-toy so I can play with him. And when I play with him it makes him very happy.

Dogs are Naturally Wired to be Loyal. I have had an abundance of dogs and cats over my lifetime and, frankly, dogs seem to be naturally wired to be loyal. They want to be on your team and part of your life.

This short list of my reasons why I think dogs are so loyal made me think – dogs are just like us! As leaders what do we do to build loyalty among our team members? How do we behave?

Maybe these loyalty tips from Molly and other dogs can help us appreciate this holiday season even more. Have a Happy Holiday!