Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Dog Days of Summer

My 11-year-old cockapoo, Cocoa, rarely barks and is a calm, gentle dog. That is, until there's a thunderstorm. Then he goes into a full-blown panic attack, panting, pacing, scratching, shaking — and if it's a nighttime storm, keeping us up for hours. Nothing has helped, including trying to coerce him to swallow doggie Xanax prescribed by the vet.

Recently, we found an online ad for a "Thundershirt" — a garment that gets velcroed around the dog's torso, applying constant, gentle pressure, which, according to the ad, has been proven to reduce anxiety — and bought one for our little guy. I can't say that it's a miracle suit, but it definitely has taken the edge off and we can get him to calm down with it on.

What's this got to do with Convene? It's likely that the inspiration for this garment is Temple Grandin, the autistic animal scientist, whom Executive Editor Christopher Durso interviewed two years ago for a Leading by Example profile. Grandin invented the hug machine, or squeeze box, a gentle-pressure device that has the effect of calming hypersensitive people like herself. While Grandin is not directly credited by the Thundershirt Company, its marketing copy alludes to how "thousands of people with autism [use] pressure to relieve persistent anxiety."

So what's this got to do with meeting planning? It demonstrates how you can borrow from one field to benefit another. And it's what we try to do in the magazine, by providing real-life examples of innovation in different areas of endeavor that can be applied to meetings and conventions.

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