Spreading the Love

As I am sure you are all aware, tomorrow is Valentines Day. There are a few of you who scoff at this day of love, but I for one adore it. I agree that some of the holidays can turn into materialistic events perpetuated by sales and marketing if you allow it, however I have a solution……just focus on the love.

Photo by Angela Kirk

Start by thinking about the people in your life that have been there for you. That can include family, friends, teachers, coaches or mentors as no one gets through this world alone. Next get out your pen and write those people a heart-felt letter or card thanking them for how they impacted your life. Yes you heard me, I said write, no texting. Think about how that person will feel when they go to the mailbox and receive an actual piece of mail that isn’t a bill or advertising. They will open that card and know that you took time out of your day to remember them.  I get a warm and fuzzy feeling just thinking about it.

I will end with a friendly reminder, don’t forget to give a special treat to your pet tomorrow, after all we love you unconditionally 365 days a year. Happy Valentines Day!

 

After the Flood

Photo by Angela Kirk

After staying home from work for over a week because of the flood, I was informed I could return on Monday morning. I have to admit I was glad. I was getting a little squirrely being home by myself every day. There’s only so much time you can devote to watching bunnies in the yard, political drama on TV or napping. My brain was starting to turn to mush and the day I told Doc that I thought the poodle down the street was in a cult and was spying on us, she looked at me with a very concerned expression. I guess you just don’t realize how important socializing is until it is taken away from you.

It’s easy to feel isolated in this world of communication through social media and other electronics. It gives you a false sense of connection. In fact, very smart researchers have found that when we don’t engage face to face with others, it puts many of us at risk for increased physical and mental illness. Both humans and dogs are pack animals and we need to be with others and it’s so important to personally interact.

When I was at home by myself, I started to feel lonely and didn’t feel better until Doc came home from work. When I came back to work this week, I was so happy to see everyone that I could hardly contain myself. And you know what? Everyone was equally happy to see me and told me that they missed me. It not only lifted my spirits but reminded me that I have a purpose in my life.

” Communication is merely an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of our humanity.” Sean Stephensen

 

The Big Flood

Picture by Megan Roesch

Most floods happen after water rises so high from a storm that it enters from the outside in. Well the flood we were in started on the inside and quickly moved to the outside because there was nowhere else for the water to go.

It was about 5:45am and Doc and I were already at work. Doc was getting her first cup of hot morning coffee to shake off the early morning chill and she was getting me a fresh bowl of water when we first heard the gushing sound. We both looked down the hall to see a pool of water slowly moving out onto the carpeted hallway. Doc thought a toilet might have overflowed but suddenly the gushing sound became louder and the water started flowing faster down the hall toward us. ” Holly cow!”  I exclaimed to Doc in an excited voice.” They finally took my suggestion to turn this building into an indoor pool!” ” You knucklehead, she retorted, we have a leak!” By this time the water was getting the attention of the other workers.  A pipe had broken below the shutoff valve and that is never a good thing.

Not to be deterred and after finding out the Fire Department was on the way, Doc grabbed her coffee and my water bowl and we went to higher ground.  It was way too early in the morning for Doc to face an emergency without her coffee.

After retrieving our first patient from the still dry lobby we had our first session while keeping the door cracked just enough so that I could lay and keep watch just in case there was a need to evacuate. It was rather exciting watching the firemen and the other buildings managers go by. By the end of the session, the water was starting to make its way down our hall so we had our patient safely exit out the back door.

Always the good Girl Scout, Doc whipped a pair of rain boots out of her file cabinet and we both went to see if we could help. Along the way we ran into the three nice firemen and I took some time to visit with them and then pose for pictures. It’s the least I could do for people who put their lives on the line for others. We then waded through water and went to the lobby to help patients until we could relocate everything in our other building across the street.

The bad news is that there is a lot of water damage to the building and we won’t be able to use it for a while. But the good news is that everyone worked hard so that our patients are still being served every day. The other good news is that since Doc and I don’t have a regular office space, I get to stay home this week and do things I am not supposed to do like sleep in Doc’s bed. Whoo hoo! I  am one lucky dog.

 

The F Word

Photo by Angela Kirk

Just a routine visit to the veterinarian this week turned into my worst nightmare. I am now on food restriction. Yes, they used the F word to describe my condition, they called me fat. “Grover has gained seven pounds since August, he’s too fat for his frame!” the Vet Tech told Doc after I got off the scales.  ” Oh no” I thought to myself , I knew what was about to happen.

Doc wasted no time in changing my diet. Treats are limited to vegetables  and as soon as we got to work she started warning, well actually more like threatened my co-workers not to feed me.  I started protesting immediately and even tried to get some of Doc’s patients to give me treats when she was looking the other way. Nothing worked. I even tried to go home with Joe our special duty Columbus police officer because I knew he would feed me, but Doc caught me trying to leave.  ” At least I picked a safe adult to leave with!” I told her in a frustrated tone.

Nothing is worse than having to change old behaviors even when you know they will make you healthier. Especially changing your diet. Food tastes so good, it’s like having a party in your mouth. But what’s a dog to do when your human controls your life?

Doc finally explained the importance of me shedding a few pounds. “Dogs can become diabetic and the extra weight can also cause your hips to hurt, I just want you to have a long healthy life Grover.” So together we came up with a plan I can live with. More exercise by going to doggy day care to play with my buddies and extra long walks.  That way Doc gets some extra exercise as well when she walks  me in the park. Hopefully before too long my slim figure will return, just in time for bathing suit season.

Winter Funk

Photo by Angela Kirk

The post holiday slump can get depressing if you let it. Even though some people are glad when the holiday’s are over, I think it’s easy to become a little melancholy. Unless you live in a warm sunny state, most of the United States is in the middle of winter with shorter, dreary, cold days. So what’s a dog or human to do? You can either give in to your brain telling you to eat comfort food and hibernate or you can shake things up in your life!

Doc has always been the type of person that likes to stir things up every once in a while and I am right there with her. She told me the other day that as you get older is easy to get stuck in the same old pattern and bore yourself to death. So the other day Doc signed us up at a new volunteer organization. We started last night. It will give us more opportunities to offer more therapy dog visits in different locations. We are both excited to get started and gives us a new purpose to look forward to. There happened to be a cooking class being taught in the same building our meeting was in and I told Doc I would like to volunteer as their taste tester, but she nixed that idea fast.

So get up off your duff and go do something different than binge watching all the shows on Netflix or Amazon. There’s a whole world out there with things to do. You may just have some fun and meet some new friends.

 

 

 

Let’s Have A Fireside Chat

Photo by Angela Kirk

January 1, 2020,  started a new decade and for many represents change. But let’s be honest only about 46% of humans follow through on the changes you resolve to make. You know why? Because you choose goals that deprive you of pleasure. Yuck! So if you are inclined to take advice from a dog, I would tell you to set goals that bring you more pleasure not less.

My advice is to act more like a dog if you want to be truly happy this year. For example, have some fun every day by running and jumping for joy, especially when you greet someone you love. Take a nap. There is nothing better in the world than a good old nap to reduce your stress. Take a walk, to meet some nice people and enjoy nature.  Just be yourself , life’s too short to spend time trying to impress others. Be loyal to those that love and care for you and you will be rewarded tenfold. If you really want something in life, keep digging until you get it and never give up. Treat yourself to something yummy to eat every so often. I love dog cones from Dairy Queen but that’s just me. The point is you need to learn to take better care of yourself and that includes asking for what you need. Life shouldn’t just be about chores, work and “to do ” lists that need completed. Have some fun this year for heaven’s sake, it won’t kill you!

So here’s my challenge to all of you, think about one new pleasure each week that you would like to do and look forward to.  Then let me know what you come up with. It should be more fun than counting calories and or getting your finances in order. Happy New Year!

Holiday Horror, Confronting the Beast

Photo by Angela Kirk

As you recall, last week Doc got into a brief tiff with our Christmas tree. I don’t know what magical change has come over her since that incident, but she has been nothing but chill all this week. It’s as if  she were worried that our Elf on the Shelf would share her evil behavior with Santa if she didn’t shape up. However she resolved her stress, this therapy dog is thrilled. So we are back to our normal routine, but nothing is normal about some of the things that people are passing off as Christmas decorations in our neighborhood and frankly some of them scare me.

We follow almost the same route every day when we take our daily walk. From January until August people’s yards have normal things in them like, tress and bushes. However come fall, strange football mascots that reach 7′ high pop up randomly in people’s yards. I have learned to deal with them, but then comes Halloween and creepy things hang from trees. I won’t lie, it freaks me out. Recently one neighbor took it to a new level with a 5′ Abominable Snow Man in the yard near the sidewalk. Doc had to explain what it was. I don’t know if these things are real or not because they move with the wind and after dark the beasts big teeth light up. I have been keeping my distance and growling at it for weeks to let it know who the boss of the neighborhood is, but yesterday Doc told me it was time to confront my fears.

My advice to you is never live with a therapist. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Doc and she is good to me, but I really could go the rest of my life without confronting the Abominable Snowman. I mean really, what’s the point? What if we go over to it and it springs to life like Frosty the Snowman, then what? But Doc wouldn’t listen and told me she had my back. I walked straight up to that snowman like I owned him and growled a little just for good measure. And you know what, he just stood stone straight staring at me and didn’t utter a word.  He could really work on his social skills.

So Doc was right after all. I guess most fears are concocted in our heads. Today I will just walk on by without even giving him a second glance. I would really like to lift my leg and pee on him for good measure, but that wouldn’t be very neighborly.

 

 

Doc Versus the Christmas Tree

Photo by Angela Kirk

On Sunday morning after breakfast, Doc and I finally put up the Christmas tree. After getting it perfect in the stand we left it to be decorated for later in the day. We had Christmas shopping to do, some leaves to be raked and figured we would fit in the decorating before going to a holiday open house at 4pm. As you know, over planning and pushing yourself too hard always leads to stress. And that is exactly what happens.

Now you would think that Doc being the queen of stress management would practice what she preaches, but she does not always heed her own words. Things went fine until the tree decorating began. I could tell she was already tired from shopping and working in the yard, but she was bound and determined to tackle that tree even thought her body was telling her she needed to rest. After all, she was still recovery from a bought of bronchitis that had left her flat for a week.  So you can guess what was about to happen next.

She started by putting a garland of ribbons around the tree. She stepped back, shook her head and then took them off. She then placed them differently, shook her head and took them off again. Then she tried a different color of ribbon and once again she pulled them off the tree. Each time she went through this exercise I could sense her becoming more and more agitated until she was finally started talking to the tree in an abusive tone with some swear words thrown in for good measure.  At one point I thought she was going to throw the tree out the back door. I don’t like it when Doc’s energy becomes angry, so I finally went to another room until she was done with her tantrum. Luckily she was literally saved by the bell when I heard her phone alarm go off to remind her it was time to leave for the party.

It’s funny how a little distance and perspective can calm a person down. By the time we got to the open house, Doc had relaxed and was even laughing with friends about how out of whack she had become over something that should be fun and represent the season of peace and love. Another lesson learned.

After a night of rest and a new attitude Doc finished decorating the tree. We put on some Christmas music and actually enjoyed the experience, just like it should be. And you know what? It looks beautiful.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

 

Photo by Angela Kirk

Before I was born there was a children’s television show called Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Sometimes after a hard day at work, Doc will turn on an old rerun of Mr. Rogers and for a brief time we go back to his magical neighborhood.

Mr. Rogers was both soothing and kind in the way he interacted with his TV audience and the character’s on his show.  Not afraid to talk about feelings, he often covered topics like death or divorce that most adults shy away from. He understood that children needed a safe place to explore the feelings they were having about those challenges in life. He also discussed the importance of being kind to one another, something I think we need more of today.

Being kind doesn’t really need to be grand gesture, it’s often the little things that make the biggest impact. For example, the mailman on our street not only brings the mail, but he brings doggie treats to me and my friend Norman. We then respond by giving him a big lick on the hand as a thank you and that makes him smile. Now our mailman doesn’t have to do that, but he goes the extra mile because he loves dogs and he’s a nice person.

Every day we all have opprotunities to be kind to someone. Just saying thank you or opening a door can make someone’s day.  Sometimes just sitting quietly and listening to someone if they are having troubles can make all the difference. So this is my challenge to you. As we are now officially in the holiday season look for opportunities on a daily basis to do a kind deed for a stranger or a neighbor. If we all did this, think of what a nice neighborhood we could create. The kind that Mr. Rogers envisioned.

 

Comfort Food for the Soul

Photo by Angela Kirk

It’s funny how certain foods can stir up memories and emotions from the past. That is exactly what happened at out house on Sunday when Doc had the family over for a down home traditional comfort food supper.

The reactions started as soon as she opened the front door and the aroma of her mom’s meat loaf and pineapple upside down cake drifted out the front door. “Wow!, they exclaimed, we could smell those wonderful aromas as soon as we walked on the front porch.”  ” Well come on in!” Doc said with enthusiasm. And in they came for the official hugs and kisses. Nephew Cole was nice enough to take me outside to play ball and to work up an appetite before the big feast. 

After everyone sat down at the table and we bowed our heads to give thanks, the eating frenzy began. It wasn’t long before the memories started pouring out as we talked about plans for Thanksgiving.  Remembering favorite meals their grandmother made turned into stories about those special days that only family experience can elicit. Laughter and togetherness kept us gathered around the table long after the meal was finished.  I have to admit that I positioned myself between the two youngest as they drop the most food on the floor. My well thought out plan resulted in some morsels of cake when everyone was talking and no one was looking. In the end everyone was happy, even me the dog.

Doc says never underestimate how the simple gesture of breaking bread can bring people together. They may come for the food, but the fond memories from the past and the new ones being created are what keep them coming back. It’s just like group therapy with meat loaf and cake. How can you beat that?

 

 

 

 

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