Jose, the Divorce Therapy Dog by Lori D. Becker, Bloomfield Hills, MI

by Guest Blogger December 12, 2012

I adopted José, a 10-pound Chihuahua, at the “Meet Your Best Friend at the Zoo” pet rescue/adoption event. I initially brought him into the office for the day because he had not yet integrated with the other dogs I had at home. However, his first day at the office led to the discovery of his unexpected gift of serenity for my clients.

During a Collaborative 4 Way Legal Meeting with two attorneys and both spouses, this little dog found his way into the laps and hearts of husband and wife as they worked on their settlement. I was shocked to witness both husband and wife soften in their tone each time they took turns holding the dog. By the end of the meeting, the couple was able to find some peace and reach a resolution. This is when I realized that José has a wonderful gift of instilling a sense of calm and breaking tensions whenever he is in the room. He has since worked with numerous other clients and has been developing his new role as a “Divorce Therapy Dog”. I know this sounds very corny but you should see him in action! José’s life was saved when he was adopted and I have witnessed him repaying the favor by bringing affection to others who find themselves in their own trauma (of divorce).

While I am not advocating that dogs become a staple of the Collaborative Team (though that would certainly be interesting), José did make me realize the importance of keeping an open mind and thinking outside the box. In our practices, we often settle into what we are used to and what is comfortable and forget to look outside the familiar process, often shutting out possibilities to enrich the Collaborative experience—both for the clients and the professionals on the Team. In order to continue to evolve as a community and to provide our clients with the best possible outcomes and the least painful process, we must be willing to try new things and embrace new ideas that at first glance, may seem uncomfortable. I am reminded of a very pertinent quote: “Begin challenging your own assumptions.  Your assumptions are your windows on the world. Scrub them off every once in a while, or the light won’t come in.”

Comments (1) -
kevin@scudderlaw.netUnited States
2/11/2013 9:02:12 PM #

Welcome to Collaborative Practice, Jose'!!

When you talk about scrubbing off your assumptions, remember to scrub Jose down once in awhile.  

My Collaborative Therapy Dog is Willy, a miniature Australian Labradoodle.  

I had the same experience.  I asked permission of the PTO and clients for him to be at a five way and when the Husband cried, Willy went to him, leaned against his leg and licked his hand.  When the Wife cried, he did the same for her.

A wonderful experience.


View my profile on

Add comment

  • Comment
  • Preview


The Bigger Conversation

Be a part of the conversation! Learn about the latest thoughts, trends and developments in Collaborative Practice from IACP’s Brain Trust, and then join the discussion with other members across the globe. This is your opportunity to be heard; share your experience, knowledge and insights with the rest of us. We’ll all benefit.

Our Featured Bloggers will rotate over time. If you are interested in becoming a Featured Blogger and posting regularly, please contact us at We also welcome periodic submissions from Guest Bloggers. If you have a post to share as a guest, please send your post to us at



Month List