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Let Me Be Perfectly Frank: Breathing New Life into Old Dogs

STORY BY
PHOTOGRAPHY BY
‘‘

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ave you ever reached a tipping point with those obnoxious young people at your place of business? You know the type. The smart, energetic change agents who bludgeon you with questions about the old days while they secretly harbor visions of your retirement party and try to envision your office walls covered with their posters and your shelves covered with their tchotchkes. After all, what do they bring to the table but youth and inexperience? Still, they are the darlings of the home office set, bound to be praised as the mascots of the entire corporate team, because they what? They contribute to the bottom line? Unimaginable. They boost morale? Unlikely. They’re cute and cuddly, and who doesn’t love a puppy? Indubitably.

What? Did you think I was still talking about your office? Of course not. I moved on to mine, the corporate headquarters and global epicenter for the magazine you so enjoy, the one you’re enjoying at this very minute. And I’m here to tell you that my oath to protect and defend the upland lifestyle from all enemies, foreign and domestic—an oath I take very seriously, but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that— is being tested daily and vigorously by an ungainly and overzealous beast who goes by the name of Sage, even though Seize might be more appropriate, since he seems hell-bent on seizing all that is true and good about our publication’s civility and chewing on it. And the sense of entitlement is unbearable. If Purdey made a chew toy, Sage would have to have one. And given those puppy dog eyes and that shameless cock of the noggin, he would probably get it. But am I bitter? I despise labels, but I might go so far as flummoxed. Was the office ecosystem out of balance? Bordering on boring? Threatening to capitulate to abject literary lethargy without the infusion of new blood, new barks, and new bellyrub requests from the peanut gallery? I reached out to senior management for answers, but I got nowhere. They were too busy tending to every whim of the intrusion that will go unnamed.

Okay, so let’s agree that evolution is good for an organization. That may or may not be true, but work with me here. Rationalization may be my only friend at the end of this thought experiment. So, if evolution is a positive thing, and change is difficult but necessary for survival, why is the recognition of these truths so easy, yet the reconciliation of them with my personal status quo so difficult? I mean, on a relative scale, I live the life every dog dreams of. I am the voice of a generation, the guiding spirit of an upland lifestyle magazine, and the tip of the philosophical spear when it comes to canine curiosity. Why on earth would I feel threatened by the introduction of a newer, younger, fresher perspective to our brand narrative? Does such an introduction not fortify my position as an elder statesman in the upland tradition? Is it not petty that I would be concerned about the security of my share of the kibbles, my access to the bits?

Of course it’s petty, but it’s human nature. And since most readers think I’m human and not canine, I’m comfortable adopting that nature as my own, though with certain limitations. I don’t plan, for example, to celebrate midlife with a fancy convertible or a fling with my secretary. Nor do I tend to obsess over the details of life after death, though I recognize that obsession as foundational to the human experience. You were granted, after all, the capacity for reason and critical thought. And opposable thumbs. Having none of those, I simply can’t get a grip on such topics. But I have a better nose than you’ll ever evolve into, and I enjoy the freedom to engage bodily functions in the great outdoors—the first and second order— without the slightest hint of shame or self-doubt. But I digress.

Back to this Sage issue, which is no doubt rife with nuance. Like most things, internal organizational success depends on how change is introduced, how it is perceived by the staff and the stakeholders. As the elder statesman and guiding spirit of the magazine, it is my duty to package change in a way that benefits the organization, even if my personal interests must be held in check. And so it goes.

It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Sage to the team. If I am to continue as the mind of our great endeavor, then let Sage be the face. Let his effervescent countenance shine upon those who find that sort of thing attractive, let his accidents on the corporate rugs be forgiven (as they no doubt will), and let our words and images be with him as he flies like Icarus across the horizons of this lifestyle. And don’t worry. He won’t fly too close to the sun. He’s just a cocker spaniel.

—Frank

Let Me Be Perfectly Frank: Breathing New Life into Old Dogs This article is published in the issue.
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Let Me Be Perfectly Frank: Breathing New Life into Old Dogs

h

ave you ever reached a tipping point with those obnoxious young people at your place of business? You know the type. The smart, energetic change agents who bludgeon you with questions about the old days while they secretly harbor visions of your retirement party and try to envision your office walls covered with their posters and your shelves covered with their tchotchkes. After all, what do they bring to the table but youth and inexperience? Still, they are the darlings of the home office set, bound to be praised as the mascots of the entire corporate team, because they what? They contribute to the bottom line? Unimaginable. They boost morale? Unlikely. They’re cute and cuddly, and who doesn’t love a puppy? Indubitably.

What? Did you think I was still talking about your office? Of course not. I moved on to mine, the corporate headquarters and global epicenter for the magazine you so enjoy, the one you’re enjoying at this very minute. And I’m here to tell you that my oath to protect and defend the upland lifestyle from all enemies, foreign and domestic—an oath I take very seriously, but I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that— is being tested daily and vigorously by an ungainly and overzealous beast who goes by the name of Sage, even though Seize might be more appropriate, since he seems hell-bent on seizing all that is true and good about our publication’s civility and chewing on it. And the sense of entitlement is unbearable. If Purdey made a chew toy, Sage would have to have one. And given those puppy dog eyes and that shameless cock of the noggin, he would probably get it. But am I bitter? I despise labels, but I might go so far as flummoxed. Was the office ecosystem out of balance? Bordering on boring? Threatening to capitulate to abject literary lethargy without the infusion of new blood, new barks, and new bellyrub requests from the peanut gallery? I reached out to senior management for answers, but I got nowhere. They were too busy tending to every whim of the intrusion that will go unnamed.

Okay, so let’s agree that evolution is good for an organization. That may or may not be true, but work with me here. Rationalization may be my only friend at the end of this thought experiment. So, if evolution is a positive thing, and change is difficult but necessary for survival, why is the recognition of these truths so easy, yet the reconciliation of them with my personal status quo so difficult? I mean, on a relative scale, I live the life every dog dreams of. I am the voice of a generation, the guiding spirit of an upland lifestyle magazine, and the tip of the philosophical spear when it comes to canine curiosity. Why on earth would I feel threatened by the introduction of a newer, younger, fresher perspective to our brand narrative? Does such an introduction not fortify my position as an elder statesman in the upland tradition? Is it not petty that I would be concerned about the security of my share of the kibbles, my access to the bits?

Of course it’s petty, but it’s human nature. And since most readers think I’m human and not canine, I’m comfortable adopting that nature as my own, though with certain limitations. I don’t plan, for example, to celebrate midlife with a fancy convertible or a fling with my secretary. Nor do I tend to obsess over the details of life after death, though I recognize that obsession as foundational to the human experience. You were granted, after all, the capacity for reason and critical thought. And opposable thumbs. Having none of those, I simply can’t get a grip on such topics. But I have a better nose than you’ll ever evolve into, and I enjoy the freedom to engage bodily functions in the great outdoors—the first and second order— without the slightest hint of shame or self-doubt. But I digress.

Back to this Sage issue, which is no doubt rife with nuance. Like most things, internal organizational success depends on how change is introduced, how it is perceived by the staff and the stakeholders. As the elder statesman and guiding spirit of the magazine, it is my duty to package change in a way that benefits the organization, even if my personal interests must be held in check. And so it goes.

It is with great enthusiasm that I welcome Sage to the team. If I am to continue as the mind of our great endeavor, then let Sage be the face. Let his effervescent countenance shine upon those who find that sort of thing attractive, let his accidents on the corporate rugs be forgiven (as they no doubt will), and let our words and images be with him as he flies like Icarus across the horizons of this lifestyle. And don’t worry. He won’t fly too close to the sun. He’s just a cocker spaniel.

—Frank

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