The Power of Letting Go

It is often said that in order for you to move forward, you must let go of the things that are holding you back. Human’s have many things that create barriers in their lives. These can include negative feelings, grudges against others, not being able to admit mistakes, defining who you are by your possessions, judging others and well, you get the idea. The great thing about being part of the animal kingdom is that we don’t have to struggle with any of those things. We have no ego, so we move on easily. In knowing that, we are sometimes called upon to assist humans in letting go of their burdens. And that is just what Doc, the horses and the other equine specialists did the other day.

The horses were already in the arena. The group members gathered and were then given the task to think of one word that represents what is keeping them stuck in their lives that they need to release. After being handed non toxic glitter markers, they were asked to write that word on the side of one of the horses. Quietly each group member wrote their word. Some of the words written were: fear, anger, loss, being scared of change, and pain. As part of the exercise, the horses would then be released into the field as a metaphor for letting go.

As the time came to open the gate and release the horses, something strange happened. The horses did not want to leave even though the gate was fully open. But isn’t that the way life is sometimes? You think you are ready to let go and move on, but you stay stuck because it feels familiar?

Just as we thought the horses would never leave the arena,  something wonderful happened. One by one the group members coaxed the horses out into the field. Watching the two horses from a distance as they gazed out across the field, you could get a sense that they felt peaceful being released back into nature.

” Be strong enough to let go and patient enough to wait for what you deserve.” Anonymous


Photo by Angela Kirk” The quieter you become, the more you can hear.”

— Ram Dass

Sleeping in Doc’s Bed

Photo by Angela Kirk

On Sunday morning, I like to go outside to get the newspaper and bring it in for Doc. This particular morning after spreading it open on the floor, a picture of a cute Border Collie caught my eye in the Healthy Living section. But the headline in bold letters above the picture sent shivers down my spine. ” SHOULD YOUR DOG SLEEP IN YOUR BED?” Now what kind of sick person would even think such a thing let alone write a story about it? What if our humans see this and consider putting the kibosh on nighttime canoodling? Since Doc was still asleep, I decided to do what any dog would do in my position, I hid the paper and then notified the other dogs in the neighborhood..

It wasn’t long before I heard Doc stirring in the other room. I watched closely as she came into the kitchen and starting glancing around for the paper. ” Did you bring in the paper Grover?” she asked while making her coffee.  And with a wide-eyed expression I looked her straight in the eye and told a bold-faced lie. ” No it wasn’t out there.” I said sheepishly ” The paper delivery is awful, she said. That is the second time in 6 weeks that he forgot me.” Then Doc did something I hadn’t planned on, she got on the newspaper’s web site to launch a complaint and to have another paper delivered. Now what was I going to do? I thought.  So I did what liar’s do in my position, I went and hid under the bed.

It wasn’t long before the doorbell rang and I could hear Doc talking to someone at the front door. After the door closed, I heard Doc call me in that voice she uses when she means business. ” Grover, you come here right now!” As I slithered toward her she started in on me…”Grover, that man said he already delivered the paper, now where is it? In fact, he told me all the newspapers are missing in the entire neighborhood.”

Retrieving the paper from my hiding place, I brought it in to Doc and opened it to the article that had started this whole thing. As Doc looked at the headline, she then did what I hadn’t done and read the entire article. ” Is this why you hid the paper and then lied to me about it?” she inquired. I nodded my head up and down. ” Did you even read this, or did you just look at the headlines?” she asked. ” She didn’t wait for my response. ” If you had read the whole thing then you would have known that scientists have found that it’s fine to let your dog sleep with you. That’s what happens when you just read a headline and assume the worst.”  She then asked the final question I did not want to answer, “You told all the other dogs in the neighborhood, didn’t you, that’s why everyone’s paper is missing.”

There are times in your life that you know you are dead wrong and just want to slink into the darkness , but this was not the time. I started with the man that delivers the papers, walked all the way to his house and tried my best to make amends. Then I went door to door to apologize to every dog I might have gotten in trouble by sounding a false alarm.

When I got home it was starting to get dark and Doc saw me looking in the bedroom door. ” Come on Grover, get into bed you’ve created enough chaos for one day.”

Photo by Angela Kirk “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

— Maya Angelou

Napping Nellie

Photo by Angela Kirk

Although the snow had not entirely melted from the ground, it was a sunny day and the early signs of spring were beginning to emerge. As we came out of the horse arena we glanced over to see one of the mares sprawled out on the ground. Basking in the warmth of the sun, it was obvious she didn’t have a care in the world. I could tell by the look on Doc’s face that she was a little envious of the mare.  “What would it feel like to feel so free that you could enjoy every moment?” she said with a sigh to no one in particular. Hearing her say that made me realize that she felt more stress lately than I even realized.

Knowing it was time for an intervention I moseyed over next to her and leaned into her body in an attempt to comfort her. “Doc, you need to practice what you preach.” I said while tilting my head up so that I could see her face.” ” Easier said than done.” she replied. ” At that point I put on my own psychologist’s hat and said to her in a stern but loving voice. ” No excuses!”  A big smile spread across her face as she threw her head back and began to laugh. ” Are you mocking me?” You know that’s what I always say to others.” ” Just giving you a little bit of your own advice. ” I said with a smirk.’

Then she turned toward the field as if deep in thought.  When she looked back at me she looked happier, like a great burden had  been lifted. ” You are so right Grover, it’s easy to let duties, people and your own inner voice take you down anxiety road if you let it.  No more should have, would have, could have. Time to take my foot off the breaks and get going.”

Who would have guessed that a horse napping in the sun would be the wake-up call that Doc needed to move forward.


Photo by Angela Kirk ” You don’t drown by falling in the water. You drown by staying there.”


The Importance of Gratitude

Photo by; Jacquelyn Arora Photography

They say you can never have too many friends in this life. If that is the case than I am truly blessed. Not only do I get love from Doc and from the people where we work, but I also get attention and love from my neighbor Norman the puppy and the kids in the neighborhood.

Doc told me that when I go outside, Norman and the kids run to the back porch to watch for me in the yard. That simply warms my heart.

Marcel Proust once said, ” Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy, they are charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  These words are so true and I fear that sometimes we are not always grateful to those in our lives. We often assume they will always be there and this thought can lull us into complacency about our relationships. It is a sad fact of life that sometimes we show more respect and appreciation to mere acquaintances than to those that are there for us everyday. Let us not forget to nurture these relationships by showing our gratitude in many simple ways.

So for today I will spend some time with my little buddy Norman and the kids next door so that they know that I appreciate their friendship. I never want there to come a day when I glance over to the porch next door and they are no longer waiting for me to come out to play.


Photo by Angela Kirk “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

— John F. Kennedy

Barn Rules

Photo by Angela Kirk

Every Thursday, Doc takes a group of patients that she works with out to a farm for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Doc and many others feel that interacting with horses and other animals as part of their treatment helps to enhance their healing.

One of the first things that they learn is what the barn rules are when interacting with the horses. Since the group has come to horses territory, they need to be able to show respect for the animals. The rules of the barn are;  Mosey- Horses move in a leisurely, aimless manner and this directs the group members to slow down their pace and be in the moment.  Breath- Focusing on breath calms down the system and helps the horses to feel safe. Speak Quietly- The horses respond best when approached with soft voices. Being that they are prey animals, loud aggressive noises startle them and set off their response to flee the situation. After learning the barn rules, the group members came up with a 4th rule they wanted to add to the list. Respect- this included with each other and the horses.

It’s wonderful to observe how gentle the group members are with these large animals. As a result they are seeing the importance of how the lessons they learn from the horses can be applied when interacting with the humans in their lives. It’s also interesting to watch what happens when they don’t follow the barn rules and how the horses resist by leaving the area or refusing to move. Like Doc always says ” Dogs and horses act as a mirror of what your energy is in the moment.”

Slowly but surely, the patients are starting to understand how their reactions and interactions  with the horses act as a metaphor for how they are with others and what negative thinking patterns they may be stuck in.  Not always easy lessons to learn. But this dog has faith that they will stay on the journey and take away some valuable lessons from this experience.





Photo by Angela Kirk ” A person who has never owned a dog has missed a wonderful part of life.”

— Bob Barker