If you know me, you know I picked up this book since it has to do with our animal friends, but wow! I learned so much that I can apply to teaching high school and everyday life as well.

Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton is on the leading edge of what must be a new way of thinking about the four-legged, feathered, finned and scaled members of our family…“Mediation elevates a pet from property status to child status.” Now I know if you aren’t a pet parent, you may cringe at that, but to many, a pet is someone to hug and hug you back, someone to tell your troubles to, laugh, cry or just talk a walk with. A dog may be your protector or a cat your reason for getting up each day, so conflicts over animals are some of the most emotional disputes to be had.

With easy speak and apropos story examples, Hamilton details the differences between litigation, negotiation and mediation (as well as the different types). It all makes perfect sense in that each of us “want our day in court” to be heard, but Debra Vey Voda-Hamilton lets us know that by choosing mediation over litigation, that is exactly what we can get.

When you go to court, you are probably angry and upset meaning all synapses in your brain are not firing rationally. In litigation you are asking a third party to make a decision for you — one side will win, one will lose and the two of you will probably never speak to each other again. Especially in the case of pets, the outcome is generally not in the animal’s best interest.

Whereas in mediation, a neutral party guides you withOUT suggesting or making determinations but fairly makes sure each side gets to speak and listens to the other, respected each other’s perspective (even if not agreeing with it) and coming to the best solution for the pet – which after all is the most important party in the dispute. In mediation, you and the party with whom you are at odds CAN (may not always, but can) retain at least a cordial relationship and won’t be hit nearly as hard in the pocket book as if you go through court proceedings.

Although I hope to never have a pet-related dispute, what I learned from reading this book is invaluable. Where however I see my immediate application is in my everyday life where I will now much more consciously listen and respect someone else’s side or opinion. I don’t have to agree, but by seeing life from their side, I hope in turn they will take the time to see life from my side as well. Acknowledging and appreciating that we see things differently and knowing we can come to a mutual beneficial solution is a great way to approach these chaotic times we live in.

Hamilton’s fun mnemonics, true-life examples and reader-friendly language makes this book easy to absorb and learn so much from to help us help our pets.