I had an interesting call just the other day. A husband and wife, each on their second marriages, called because the family dog, a dachshund, was consumed by a coyote. The wife wanted to know how or if she could ever forgive her husband for this “National Geographic” moment. It seems they’ve been feuding for quite a while: he doesn’t like the dog to pee in the backyard and make the grass yellow; she doesn’t like the dog to be loose in the street to pee because he could get eaten.
While these two were fighting, the dog got eaten.
The righteousness in her presentation was astounding. It seemed she was willing to dismiss yet another marriage because she labeled her husband responsible for the dog’s demise as he let the dog out.
I asked her who the ‘alpha’ person in the dog’s life was – every dog, no matter how attached to all family members, identifies the ‘alpha’ person as its owner and “main squeeze.” She immediately jumped in to say it was just everybody’s dog. He quietly offered that she had the dog before they married. Oops!
I then told her that she was responsible for the dog’s death as she was not taking responsibility to walk the dog three or so times a day for its exercise and for it to eliminate itself where (a) it wouldn’t damage their home property and (b) she could make sure the dog was safe. That she was sad her dog was dead was reasonable; that she was looking for a cause of this event was reasonable; that she was blaming other than herself in combination with what is “nature’s way” was plainly unreasonable.
I suggested she apologize to her husband and promise, should she want another dog, to take personal responsibility for that animal.
This leads me to a recent news headline, “Icelanders irate at lenders who ruined country.” It seems that only one year after winning the United Nation’s “best country to live in” poll, with its residents rated the most contented in the world, the result of a country’s decision to swap cod fishing for a complex debt-laden economy exacted a heavy toll.
They were encouraged by the government to upgrade to a more luxurious lifestyle by buying houses and cars that were financed by 100 percent loans with extraordinarily low interest rates based not on their own money, the strong krona, but based upon a spread of foreign currencies.
According to news reports, “Icelanders are also increasingly angry, looking for somewhere to point blame for the country’s spectacular fall.” “Somebody has to take responsibility,” said one father complaining that his son has lost his savings.
It took one 21 year old print machinist, Alvin Zogu, to give the most mature response: “We can learn from what they did wrong. We can make better decisions.”
While governments and banks can offer “pie in the sky,” it takes the individual decision to gorge themselves with pie while dangling in the air to cause the ultimate fall.