Luke is a Beanie Baby keychain (sorry Annie!) that comes with me wherever I go. He like chicken and guard duty (his "job" is guarding my keys"), car rides, riding on the Vespa, and running through the grass. Often he escapes my pocket and decides to go for a walk on his own - or so he "says".
Many people ask me what a grown adult is doing with a stuffed animal. I look at them and say "Why don't you have one?". Here's the thing: this little dog helps me get out of my own head. Suffering from anxiety, I often need to look outside myself to realize I'm worrying over nothing and need to stop the cycle. At the same time, sometimes you need to escape to help yourself to see a solution to a problem that you're facing.
For example, I was recently working on a new weighted scoring model for work. Instead of thinking about it from my perspective, as a member of the design team, I put myself into Luke's place as a scorer. By thinking that way, I designed a scoring model for the leader of the design team to present that met the needs of the scorers so that the solution would work, rather than just be "designed". Yes, it might be silly to think of a stuffed dog as using a scoring model but the concept is better than just telling someone to abstractly think of the end user - this way gives them something identifiable to use and makes the concept more concrete. You don't want to disappoint a cute little doggie! How would he feel if you designed something that didn't work? This little dog has made it much easier for me to think outside the box and put myself solely into the role of an end user in many of my projects, and that's a valuable skill to have.
Adults too often lose the skills that we develop as children. Sometimes you need to hold onto those to make yourself a better adult, and that's what makes me thankful for a silly little dog named Luke.