Becoming Guardians of Our Animal Companions with Hersch Wilson

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Dogs are the best kind of teachers because they teach us just by being themselves. No artifice, no theories; they pass on wisdom just by being. Here we talk to Hersch Wilson who refers to himself and his family as dog-centric. For many decades he has picked up advice and wisdom by the inclusion of dogs as part of his family. He describes the undiluted love of a dog when we come home after an absence, “You can have a stressful day but having a dog greet you just changes everything.” He also reminds us, “One of the most important lessons that dogs teach us is to get outside of your apartment or house. Even if it's just to go around the block or to a city park, it’s vitally important, not only for the dog’s sake, but for your own health. We're born to be outside, we evolved to be outside, we evolved to walk, we evolved to run. Our dogs motivate us to keep doing that.” Having dog and cat companions have much to teach us if we take the time to pay attention and open ourselves enough to listen and learn. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)


Hersch Wilson is an organizational consultant, pilot, former professional dancer, newspaper columnist, and 30-year volunteer firefighter—EMT. He is also a consultant who has worked extensively with leadership teams from a variety of organizations including IBM Japan, the US Postal Service, and the CIA, to name a few. He writes a monthly column on dogs for the Santa Fe New Mexican. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico with his wife Laurie, a daughter, and two dogs, a Great Pyrenees and a Chihuahua-Terrier mix. 

Hersch Wilson is the author of: 

  • Play to Win!: Choosing Growth Over Fear In Work And Life (coauthor with his late father, Larry Wilson)(Bard Press; Revised Edition 2004)
  • Firefighter Zen: A Field Guide To Thriving In Tough Times (New World Library 2020)
  • Dog Lessons: Learning the Important Stuff from Our Best Friends (New World Library 2023) 

To learn more about Hersch Wilson go to

Topics explored in this dialogue include: 

  • What is means to be guardians of our animal companions rather than their owners
  • How dogs have been companions with humans for 100,000 years
  • What does the 8th century BC Greek myth of Ulysses coming home report on his dog Argos
  • What do studies report on the oxytocin levels between dogs and humans
  • The number one most important thing to a dog is to be together with their human companions
  • Why we need to consider restructuring our life if we invite a dog into our family
  • Why, in order to have a healthy relationship with our dog, we should pay attention to how long we leave it by itself
  • How having an animal companion is a lifetime commitment
  • What we can do to mitigate the healthcare expenses for our animal companions
  • What are the benefits of having children grow up with dogs and cats and how to introduce them to one another
  • How dogs motivate us off our couch and out into nature
  • How to decide to get your dog or cat from a breeder or a shelter
  • How to work with bad behavior with your pet: punishment or reward
  • How we must prepare ourselves in advance of natural disasters and pre-plan for evacuations with our pets
  • How our animals reflect our emotions and we need to be calm to help them be calm 

Host: Justine Willis Toms   Interview Date: 9/11/2023   Program Number: 3797

Music Playlist

From Album: Breathing Rhythms
Artist: Glen Velez
2000 Sounds True #MM00120D

Opening Essay: Track 01 Lunar Tides
Music Break 1: Track 02 Higher Calling
Music Break 2: Track 04 Secret Messenger
Music Break 3: Track 03 Farewell Wave