Writing, Travel and Tough Decisions


September 4, 2012

I haven’t been writing much, at least not much that I have shared publicly. Call it the summer slump, but between work, travel, conferences and an active schedule for my kids, writing worth sharing becomes harder to come by.

The great part of writing though, and why I love my blog, is that it is a way I can get some of the ideas out of my head and either into action or just out. My issue is that I tend to get too serious about the content from time to time and start convincing myself that I should only write about HR or leadership or innovation. The truth is that any good leader has many sides and interests and I SHOULD share that as well. I will do that more, starting today.

I spent some PTO time last week speaking at HR Florida. I attend my fair share of events and let me tell you, HR Florida is one of my top 2 favorites. I was fortunate to be a speaker in three sessions: Social Tools for a Global Organization (with my co-presenter, Steve Boese); Fifty Shades of Social (panel led by Mike VanDervort), and a panel on employee engagement led by John Hollon. I’ll be sharing information on those in upcoming posts as well as some great nuggets of information I learned at other sessions. The event is fantastic so if you’ve never been, start planning for next year’s HR Florida now. It will be well worth your time and money.

As the conference ended, my family flew to Orlando to join me for another 5 days of fun at Disney. This is where the tough decison part comes in. No, it wasn’t with the kids, it was a situation back home. I am the biggest dog lover and have three sweet furry friends who are part of our family; Daisy, Annie and Wyatt. Daisy is 13, Annie is 12 and Wyatt is our newest at 2 1/2 years old. They love when we travel because they go to the best puppy camp around. We enjoy watching them on video from our phone and seeing them play with all their other dog friends. I’m one of those dog owners that wants them treated SO well because they deserve it.

While spending the day at what is fondly known as the Happiest Place On Earth, we received some scary news. Wyatt’s back legs were suddenly paralyzed, so he was rushed to his vet. We left the Magic Kingdom and spent the next few hours waiting for information. As it turns out, he has IVDD (Intervertebral Disc Disease), a degenerative disc disease that is common in Dachshunds (he is a Dachshund/ Jack Russell mix). We learned that it is typically treatable with surgery and can have good results. Being an optimist, I prayed he would qualify for the surgery. My sister and dad picked him up from our vet and took him to a specialist in St. Louis who is well-known for performing this type of back surgery on dogs. Again, we waited for news.

After the specialists saw Wyatt, we were told that he was not only paralyzed, he had lost all feeling permantly and even surgery would not improve that. He was not a good candidate for surgery. My heart broke. My children were watching me, needing me to be strong and all I could do was cry and tell them I’m so sorry. I could hear Wyatt crying too as my sister held him near the phone. We agreed to have our sweet Wyatt put to sleep to take him out of his agonizing back pain. It was the hardest decision I ever had to make and my heart was breaking.

That’s how some situations play out. No training can specifically prepare you. After all, I’ve been through so many leadership training sessions where you’re supposed to learn how to think through tough situations and make game-changing decisions. There are checklists, graphs, ladders of inference, etc. In the end, when big moments come, you just take the information you have at hand, throw in what your heart and head tell you and make the call.

Sometimes I don’t like being the leader.

Sometimes the leader has to make a final call that is life and death.

Sometimes being the leader breaks your heart.

RIP Wyatt McFarlane. You were the best little addition to our family and your “spice” made every day we had with you better. We love you and will miss you forever.


  • End of life decisions, whether for a parent, yourself, another loved one who has intrusted you with them, or for a beloved pet who never had a voice to express their own wishes, are the very toughest that ordinary people ever make. And there is no preparation, no training, no previous experience, including having been through this before, that makes this any easier or more comfortable. All we can do is our best, and that you have certainly done.

    • Thank you Naomi. You’re right- even if you go through other loss, each time it’s like a whole new thing. No way to prepare. I certainly appreciate your kind words. They mean the world to me!

  • I’m so sorry Trish, I am a huge dog lover myself and I can’t imagine your pain. Big hugs!

    • Misty, it means so much to have the support from everyone. I honestly know that is what helps get through hard times. I SO appreciate you commenting on the post. THanks 🙂

    • Thanks Shauna. I know you’re an animal lover too. I appreciate your support during this hard time. 🙂

  • I’m so sorry for your family’s loss, Trish. I’ve had to make the same life or death call for a furry family member. It’s amazing how strong and courageous you can be when you least expect it.

    • Hi Bonita, thanks for the kind words. It means a lot to me and so helpful to know that others understand how I’m feeling. I appreciate you!

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About Trish

A former HR executive and HCM product leader with over 20 years of experience.


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