Freo, my golden retriever, turned 13 recently. That’s old for his breed.
As he has aged, our relationship has changed. These days, it’s me waking him up every morning excited for the new day; on walks, it’s him letting me go off leash and wander while he keeps a close eye on me and awaits my return.
What hasn’t changed is that he is still teaching me lessons. Discussing this with my family recently, I realized that those lessons aren’t limited to the animal kingdom; they apply to my financial life.
I’m not saying — to paraphrase the title of a poplar book from the mid-2000s — that everything I ever learned about investing came from my dog, but I will say that the techniques I learned in handling, training and living with my dog come in pretty handy when applied to my investment life.
One note here: Having been mauled by a neighbor’s dog as a child, I only came around to having 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 due to cancer — and then with Freo, so that I could develop faith, trust and confidence in the relationship.
In that way, working with dogs and investments starts highlighting similarities. Many investors still feel like their portfolio was attacked by their bursting of the Internet bubble, the financial crisis of 2008, or the bear market that accompanied the start of the pandemic; while they are still investing, they do it tenuously despite the long-running bull market. Like someone who has had a bad experience with a dog, they find it hard to trust the market.