The Wisdom of Dead Dogs

A favorite coaching client of mine is facing a messy divorce.

“What do you want this experience to be like?” I asked him. “What do you want your memories of this divorce to be like?”

As I asked the question, I suddenly thought of my beloved dog Hector Protector. I interrupted myself to tell my client about Hector.

My big dog, Hector Protector

How I remember my big dog, Hector Protector

Hector was a Bernese Mountain Dog who died 10 years ago of the cancer that kills most Bernese Mountain Dogs.

When he was diagnosed, I knew I was going to have to put him down. It was just a question of when. I could keep him alive for a while or I could let him go when he stopped eating.

It came down to how I wanted to remember him.

My last memory of him could be as my loveable protector of a big dog who was always at my side.

Or as something else I didn’t want to imagine.

When the time came, when Hector wouldn’t eat and looked at me appalled and confused, I called the vet. She came to the house (she is a lovely vet) and we said goodbye to Hector in our living room. Would we all have a death so kind.

“You get to decide how you want to remember the death of this marriage,” I told my client. “What do you want to remember about yourself?”

“That’s a very different question than what I want to get materially,” he mused.

“Yes, a profoundly different question,” I agreed.


One Comment

  1. Brian Washburn

    I’m always impressed with the questions you’re able to come up with in order to engage your clients in critical thinking. I was having dinner with a friend a month ago who had gone through a divorce and he said: “You know, when it comes to divorce and the stories that people tell of their divorce, nobody ends up looking good.” Perhaps this is true (I hope never to find out first-hand!), but if they had access to you and some of your questions, perhaps people might be able to walk away from a divorce a little better for the wear. Thanks for sharing!

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