It’s A Thankless Job, But Somebody Has To Do It.

Photo by Angela Kirk

As we enter into the fifth month of working from home, I realized that Doc could benefit from having an on site supervisor. Left to her own devices, she may be slacking on her duties. No one is watching, so who knows what the heck she is doing all day. Up until now I have been assuming that she was upstairs in her office working while I nap downstairs in the middle of her bed, but lately I have been getting suspicious so I decided it was time to make it my business to find out.

When you are on a reconnaissance mission, the first thing you need to do is act casual. I knew she could hear my paws as I was coming up the steps. She acknowledged me with a nod, but she was busy talking to one of our patients whose voiced I recognized. I casually sauntered past her desk and acted like I was just looking out the window so I could see what was on her computer. To my surprise it was the patient’s record. I thought I might catch her on Facebook, Twitter or Tick Tock, but she was actually working. After about two hours of keeping my eye open for any indiscretion, I became bored and fell asleep on the floor beside her desk. I was aroused from my slumber when Doc woke me up after she was finished with her last patient.

“Why did you stay in the office all day today?’ she asked. “Well, I confessed sheepishly, I was trying to see if you were really working all day or if you were goofing off.” Then Doc gave me that look. “When people pay you to do a job, you do it, that’s called maturity. Besides, you know that people are counting on us and we have a responsibility to be there for them.”  “Well now I feel bad for being suspicious,” I said with a hint of shame. ” Oh Grover, it’s ok, it’s just another lesson you have learned today. You know what they say, the true test of a person’s character is what they do when none is watching.”

 

A New Kind of Therapy Dog Work

Photo by Angela Kirk

When the pandemic reared it’s ugly head and we started working from home, I became a dog without a job. At first it was nice to live what I call a “Country Club Lifestyle” of napping, eating, playing ball and then napping again, but that soon got rather boring. I missed seeing our clients, staff and visiting the patients at the cancer center. Then someone Doc knows came up with a great idea.

One day about a week ago, Doc was in the Uptown area of our suburb and one of the business owners she knows asked how I was adjusting to not being able to help people every day. ” Grover’s going with the flow, but I can tell he misses work.” Doc told her. ” Well why don’t you bring him to visit us and our customers, she said to Doc, we are feeling stressed with everything going on and could use some cheering up.” And with that a plan was hatched.

A few days later we stopped by to visit our first business. I was so happy to go and bring some cheer to  the hard working shop owners that are trying to sustain their businesses during this pandemic and their customers. Now every week we visit another place of business, or stop by the farmers market as the locale farmers are having a tough time as well. I now feel useful again. It’s not traditional therapy work, but it’s a reminder that there are many people outside our regular scope of work that need a nice kiss and cuddle from a therapy dog during these difficult times.

” The best way to not feel hopeless is to get up and do something. Don’t wait for good things to happen to you. If you go out and make some good things happen, you will fill the world with hope, you will fill yourself with hope.”  Barack Obama

A Tale of Two Donkey’s

Photo by Angela Kirk

Today I am going to tell you a story about sensitivity, intuition and the healing power of two donkeys named Eddie and Oatmeal. Eddie and Oatmeal reside on a farm in Ohio with some horses, a pig named Cupcake and assortment of nice dogs and cats. All the animals at this particular farm work as therapy animals, meaning they are trained to comfort people going through some difficult times in their lives. Doc and I know this menagerie of animals, as this is where Doc takes her patients to engage in Equine Assisted Therapy.

On this particular Saturday, Doc was at the farm to do some training. What the people at the training did not know was that a few days prior, Doc had lost her beloved Aunt Pat at the ripe old age of 93. Thinking that going to the farm and focusing on learning new therapy skills would bring some respite from her grief, she decided not to tell anyone and swore me to secrecy.

As we entered the arena to start the training, Doc was given the task to help a woman work through her fears, one of which was a fear of horses. They decided to start with donkeys as their smaller size can be less intimidating.

In to the arena sauntered Eddie and Oatmeal and before the lady could even become too frightened, the donkeys moved away from her and toward Doc. Doc tried her best to redirect the two back toward the lady, but they would not leave Doc’s side. Slowly they moved in as close as they could on either side, leaned against her and began to softly bray.  The jig was up, they could sense Doc’s sadness and were comforting her.  I wasn’t surprised when I looked over and saw Doc’s eyes glisten with tears. The lady was so astounded by the gentle beasts, that she walked over and began to stoke their heads without reservation.

After reading this tale you may be left thinking that Donkeys and other therapy animals have some magical psychic powers, but the truth is we embrace what many of you have forgotten. Silence is our super power. Only through silence will your spiritual eyes open to the world and expand your sensitivity to others. Something we could use more of right now.

Too Hot To Handle

Photo by Angela Kirk

After a stretch of almost 10 days in the 90’s I would say it is officially the dog days of summer. The ancient Greeks believed that after Sirius the dog star rose, it’s bright light radiated extra heat toward the earth, making it hotter. All I know is that Doc and I are miserable and all of this heat is turning me into a mad dog.

Luckily we can get out in the early morning and the late evening for some activities outside, but the rest of the day forget about it. Doc takes me for a one mile walk every morning around 6am. Its cool in the morning but still so humid it gives both Doc and I a bad hair day as our wavy hair turns into a big frizzy mess. After that walk I am done for it and get in the middle of Doc’s bed right under the paddle fan for a long morning nap while Doc goes to work doing tele therapy with her patients. (Someone has to pay the bills). I use to stay with her all day, but since working from home since March I have decided to live what I call a Country Club Lifestyle. Hey, don’t judge, it works for me.

Although this summer is certainly different with COVID still among us, I have adapted and decided to focus on the things I can control. I feel safe right here at home with Doc and look forward to the evening when the sun goes down and we go out on the back porch. Nothing is more soothing to me than listening to the frogs croaking loudly in the pond while the full moon shines off of the water.

So my advice for now is stay cool, don’t sweat the small stuff and slow down. This too shall pass.

 

A 4th of July Like No Other

Photo by Angela Kirk

The 4th of July is just three days away and it feels strange that we will not be celebrating in the traditional way. Fire works are cancelled along with parades and big family gatherings. So how’s are we suppose to honor this important American Holiday? It’s just one of the things that have been on my mind lately and I bet you all have been thinking about it too.

On top of everything else, I went for my annual physical at the Veterinarian on Monday and once again the doctor said I need to loose weight. The doctor tried to make me feel better by saying it could be a low thyroid issue, but I know the truth. Since Doc and I have been working from home I have been napping and snacking most of the day. So now more diet and exercise are on the agenda. Yipy Skippy!

Some days this pandemic feels like it has sucked all the fun out of everything. If I sound a little melancholy it’s because I am.  Doc says that’s normal considering all that we have had to endure lately but the good news is that we can learn to adapt and make some new choices. So starting today instead of focusing on what we can’t do, I have decided to focus on what I can do.

I will leave you with a quote from Abraham Lincoln ” Most folks are as happy as they make their minds up to be,” Ain’t that the truth. Doc and I wish all of you a safe and happy July 4th!

 

TSN, Try Something New

Photo by Angela Kirk

I can’t say that I was surprised when I read that 37 percent of Americans have never lived outside of their hometown with the exception of college or military service. And over half of you have never lived outside of the state you were born in. It is true that most humans don’t like change. I get it, I don’t like it much either and I have lived with Doc in the same house my whole life. It’s feels safer to have the predictability of doing the same things with the same people day after day after day. The more I thought about this, I had to ask myself if I was really experiencing life to the fullest? So I decided to start shaking some things up in my life.

Yesterday, Doc told me to get in the car to go and run some errands with her after work. I thought this might be my chance to start living outside my comfort zone so I kept my eyes open for a chance. It’s not like I was prepared to totally change my life but Doc often says it’s the little things that can make a big difference and can boost your confidence as well.  We needed to go to the pet store for some dog food so I thought I could start by asking for a different flavor. The nice sales girl told me I could pick from salmon, turkey, duck, whitefish or kangaroo kibble. Kangaroo sounded a little to exotic for my tastes so I went with whitefish. “Excellent choice.” the salesgirl said like I was ordering dinner at a high priced restaurant.  Doc asked me if i was sure if I wanted a new flavor. ” What if you don’t like it?” she asked.”You will be stuck with it.”  ” I know I will love it,”  I told her a bit too smugly.

On the way to the cash register I also took it upon myself to glance through the dog treat section and pick up my favorite bully stick to carry to the counter when Doc wasn’t looking. She wasn’t all that thrilled when she saw the cost was $10 but since I already had it in my mouth, she paid for it and we left.

It was dinner time when we were done with all of our errands and got home, so I was excited to try my new dog kibble. I hopped up and down and drooled as Doc measured out the food into the dish with eager anticipation. I dove right in and after one mouth full I almost spit it out on the floor. “Yuck!” I said as I looked at Doc in horror because I knew what she was about to say. ” New choices sometimes come with new consequences” she said.

Well after two days I am getting use to white fish kibble and it’s not so bad. The next time I will try something safer in my quest for new life adventures. Don’t let my experience deter you from trying something new, you may just try the one thing that takes your life on a whole new marvelous adventure.

The Stories of Our Lives

Photo by Angela Kirk

All of us have a story and these stories not only define what we think of ourselves but also the world around us and the people in it.

My story began when I was born on a goat farm in rural Ohio along with six siblings. I know that Doc chose me from the litter because she knew I was special and that I was cherished and well cared for by the Blacks that owned the farm and my mother, Sadie until I was ready to go live with Doc. I have heard that story over and over and it has re-enforced that I have been loved and wanted my entire life. Now imagine just for a moment that 7 years later I find out it was all a lie, that the truth was that I was found abandoned with my siblings on the side of a road thrown away like a bag of trash. How would that change the way I feel about myself, learning that everything I had been told was a lie? It would probably shake me to the core and make me question everything in my life. Why? Because everyone needs stories of belonging and it feels frightening when we find out what we believe may be wrong.

Assisting Doc in her therapy work I have learned one thing, humans don’t like it when their narratives are challenged. So what happens when our stories conflict with what we believe about ourselves, others, or even the country we live in?  It’s only human nature to push back because at the core it can be frightening when what we believe feels like it is falling apart.

Being the optimistic pooch that I am, I believe that we can learn by listening and being respectful with  others if they have a different narrative than the one we have.  When you are willing to let go of old beliefs you open the door for new people and ideas to enter, leading to a fuller life. So what is  your story?

What Do You Practice? I Choose Joy

Photo by Angela Kirk

This morning Doc and I watched a video of a little boy that asked the following insightful question, “What do you practice?” It was a reminder that when you practice something over and over again you get very good at it. This includes our views, feelings and ideas about ourselves and the world around us.

Now some views and feelings are formed very early in life and are a product of what we are taught and our life experiences, but there comes a time that you can make different choices. When Doc went out into the world and away from home for the first time as a young adult, she told me she was lucky to be exposed to different people, cultures and ideas. Her world view was expanded and she started to question some of her old beliefs and form new ideas. That’s just part of the maturity process for humans. This also applies to animals as I certainly see my world differently now as a seven year old dog than I did as a new puppy.

So part of these views include how you react to each experience you encounter. Like the little boy in the video asked,  Are you practicing joy, peace, forgiveness and compassion, or are you practicing anger, worry and being judgmental? It is true that you will get very good at what you practice every day. So, for example, if you practice complaining, you will get so good at it, you will find fault with everything. Thus too, if you practice compassion, your heart will be filled with love for others and you will get very good at that as well. It’s your choice.

So what do you practice?

 

 

I See You and I Hear You

Photo by Angela Kirk

There is a primal scream rising up from the core of humans souls.  It is like a fire that has been smoldering for decades that has finally burst into flame. I want you to know that I see you and I hear you.

It can be hard for humans to confront the feelings inside of themselves and even harder to accept that others are in pain. Humans are notorious for telling each other how they are suppose to feel or act instead of acknowledging and sitting with the person in their pain.  Statements like, “you just need to get over it and move on “or it’s not that bad” come from a place of the persons own discomfort.

Learning to acknowledge that others are hurting and accepting those emotions unconditionally can lead to self-revelation and healing. It can help us to not only understand ourselves on a deeper level but to develop compassion and love for those we see as different from ourselves. In the end we can use our life experiences to become allies or adversaries to those in need.

One of Doc’s favorite authors Maya Angelou says it best; ” Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other and say, I understand.  We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stinkin Mink in the Back Yard

As of this morning not only are Doc and I dealing with a pandemic and murder hornets, but now flooding has hit the area, so it was quite the surprise to see strange new species of animals showing up at our house like they are getting ready to evacuate. I guess they are just moving to higher ground.

It was about 6am and I was in the yard attending to my morning constitutional before breakfast. I noticed the usual possum strolling by as he headed to bed after working the night shift. No big deal, I see him every morning and we nod and greet each other. But just as I was turning to come back in the house the breeze brought a sent of the most foulest smelling odor ever. I spotted the critter out of the corner of my eye and he must have been frightened by my big manly dog size because he hightailed it across the back acre, but not before Doc spotted it and let out a high pitched screech. ” What is that thing?” she hollered. At first we thought it was someones pet ferret that had escaped, but after conversing with some neighbors we were told it was a mink. “Holly cow,” I said out loud. “This is one swanky neighborhood if we have mink running around.”

After some research we found out that the mink are suppose to live around here. We just never see them as they stay near the creek or the damn and after the water rose to flood stage, they wandered to areas they don’t usually go. It was a treat to see it in the middle of all this mess and Doc went outside to snap it’s picture as it was running away. “He must be camera shy, ” I said to Doc. ” Oh the wonders of nature,” Doc replied, and I nodded my head in agreement.