Getting Rid of the Old and Other Tales

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc says the world is in an upheaval right now. Even she is a little more on edge lately. I do my best to keep her focused and calm and when I asked her what was wrong she told me that many humans are feeling anxious.

I guess every person, just like dogs respond to what makes them uncomfortable in different ways. Doc’s go to response when she is feeling stressed is to stick to a schedule and focus on what she can control. I swear the planets would be getting ready to collide and she would still stick to a plan.

So guess what Doc has me helping her with? Organizing and getting rid of things we don’t need and that includes my stuff. Right after Christmas she started by ripping things out of the closet and she instructed me to do the same things with my belongings. ” Make three piles, she said. One to recycle, one to donate and one to toss.” “Really! I complained, my toys and blankets don’t even take up that much room!”     ” That’s not the point Grover, there are homeless dogs at the shelter that can benefit from the things you don’t use.” ” Ok Doc,” I responded quietly. I knew I would just sound like a butt head if I refused after she said that.

Yesterday after we were done with work and some more cleaning she told me to get in the car. I didn’t know where we were going but heck, I was getting out of the house. We ended up down at the Ohio State fair grounds and got in a line of cars. When  I asked Doc what we were doing she told me she was getting her first COVID shot. I must have looked concerned because she told me not to worry that I would not be getting one. When it was Doc’s turn she pulled up and a very nice Fireman/Paramedic asked her a bunch of questions and then gave her a shot right in the arm. I was proud of her, she didn’t even cry like I did when I got my flu shot a few weeks ago. She was then instructed to drive outside and wait 15 minutes next to the red ambulance where there were paramedic’s in case she had a reaction.  When the time was up we drove home.

By the time we got back to the house I was worn out. After I ate dinner, I jumped up on the couch for a quick snooze and fell sound asleep.  This morning Doc work me up at 5:30 am.  When I asked her how she was feeling she said all she had was a little soreness in her arm from the shot.  We then went upstairs and started doing counseling at 6am sharp. Just another day that I am feeling thankful for.  

“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” Ralph H. Blum

 

 

 

 

A Thief in the Night

Photo by Suzanne Kirk

Although I don’t talk much about the relatives, I do have a cousin named Garrett that happens to be a cat. He lives way up in Michigan and apparently the winter has become so harsh and boring that my cousin has resorted to becoming a cat burglar.

His crime spree all started when Garrett’s human mom started to notice random items like gloves and nerf darts showing up at her house. Puzzled, she just thought some kids had left them in the yard while playing and didn’t pay much attention. But over time the items increased. There were hats, seat covers and one day a watch appeared. It didn’t take her long to uncover who the culprit was. The strange thing about it was that cats usually bring home dead mice or chipmunks to their owner, but apparently Garrett had not gotten that memo. Garrett had decided that ordinary rodents were not good enough for his humans. No, he went straight to high ticket items he though his humans could use.

At first his human went door to door trying to return the items. She even made Garrett write apology notes to the people he stole from and made him swear he would stop his night time thievery. I know that Doc would be appalled if I engaged in any kind of stealing and I would have some big consequences if I even thought of trying anything like that. Apparently the cats in Michigan run wild.

So to make a long story short, Garrett continued stealing, so the only thing left to do was a public shaming. His human went to the sign shop, had his picture placed on a big carboard sign with a note that said “I borrow items from open garages and yards. Please check this bin if you are missing gloves, hats or nerf darts.” The sign is on the mailbox out by the road so that everyone can see it and check for any stuff they are missing.

I guess that’s how they resolve things in Michigan but I told Garrett not to even think about stealing any of our stuff when he comes to visit. It’s shame to think that I would need to frisk my cousin on his way out the door.

Goodbye 2020!

Photo by Angela Kirk

My deepest reflections about life often come late in the evening while I relax on the couch by the fire and last night was no exception.  I guess you could definitely call me a glass half full kind of dog but after awhile, 2020 starting getting on my last nerve.  Even with the all the upheaval the year brought us, I still have faith and hope that we will move forward and things will get better.

A clear sign of hope came over the last few days as Doc and I saw more of our current and former medical colleagues display on social media that they were so happy and relieved to have received their first COVID vaccination. Our friend Lee, a nurse practitioner said it the best; ” I feel lucky to be able to protect myself, my family, my patients and my community.”  In return we feel lucky to have people like Lee that have weathered the storm and put their patients and community first even when they were scared, emotionally exhausted and physically tired. There is now a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel that we can focus on.

In addition I have been touched by the outpouring of love and support from everyday humans that have fed , clothed and sheltered those suffering due to unsurmountable losses as a result of the pandemic.  Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood use to say that when he would see scary things as a child, his mother would tell him to look for the helpers, because you will always find people that are helping. I think this is so true. I have observed that some of the biggest issues are solved not by the people with the most power to do it, but by kind, everyday people that see suffering and address it at the grass roots level. Watching humans give from the heart gives me hope as well.

Hope is so important for all of us. It helps us to lift our head and move forward knowing better days are soon to come. So as the clock strikes twelve this New Years eve, know that Doc and I wish that the lessons of the past year leave us with a new appreciation for the people that have stood beside us through it all. Because in the end, nothing is more important than the care and love we show each other. Happy New Year!

Holiday Drama and the Hope of the Christmas Star

Photo by Angela Kirk

The chaos started in the wee hours of Sunday morning while I was nestled all snug in the bed, while visions of dog treats danced in my head.  When suddenly from the bed there arose such a clatter that I sprang to my paws to see what was the matter. When what to my wondering eyes should appear? Well, it wasn’t Santa and his eight tiny reindeer. It was Doc and she was obviously in distress.

I watched with concern as she scratched furiously all over her skin like she wanted to pull it off. “Did she have fleas?” I thought to myself. Poor thing. After she turned the bedside light on even I could see the red bumpy rash in blotches on her skin. “Uh oh, I said out loud, what are you gonna do about that at two in the morning.”  “Pray that there is some allergy medicine somewhere in the cupboard” she moaned. Luckily there was some left over and after taking it she finally got some relief and we both went back to sleep.

I slept so late the sun was up  when I awoke the next morning. As I opened one eye there was Doc sitting on the side of the bed scratching again.  Since it was Sunday, she couldn’t see a doctor unless she went to the hospital or Urgent Care, so for the rest of the day Doc sucked it up and stayed busy. She was was not the most pleasant person to be around so I avoided her like she had the plague. I know you are thinking I should have been more understanding but with COVID, not being able to work or see everyone we love, I was starting to get worried that something was really wrong with her. What if we had to cancel Christmas?

Early Monday morning she called the doctors office and talked to a nice nurse who told her to come in that afternoon but warned if symptoms got worse to got to the ER. Now I was scared. I sat right next to the desk all morning while she worked making sure she was ok until it was time for her appointment.

After she left, I waited anxiously by the front window so I could see when she drove in the driveway. Meeting her at the door I gazed up at her as she said ” I had an allergic reaction to some medication that they gave me, but everything will be ok.”  Hearing that I sighed with relief.

They gave her some steroids  to stop the hives and the itching. They not only worked but let me  tell you those steroids must be some kind of miracle drug. Doc has been zipping around all this week with the energy of a teenager.

Last night after dinner Doc told me she had a special surprise. She took me outside and told me to look into the South- Western sky. I looked toward the heavens and saw the brightest star I had ever seen in the night sky. Doc told me that some call it the Christmas star and that it has not been seen in 800 years. It had been too cloudy for us to see it on the Solstice, but it was still magnificent! As we stood there together in silence gazing in wonder at the vast universe, it really put everything into perspective. I was once again hopeful that everything would be ok and that the star was sign of hope for the new year. We could all use a little hope about now.

May you and your family have very blessed Holiday season!

 

 

 

Grieving the Past

Photo by Angela Kirk

After a  hearty Sunday morning breakfast of eggs and bacon, Doc continued sitting at the breakfast table while I waited patiently for her to give me her leftovers. Ignoring me, she was focused on reading the paper when I noticed her energy began to shift. I watched as her facial expression changed and then she abruptly arose from her seat and walked toward the bathroom without saying a word. I followed right behind her wondering what had she read in the paper that upset her so.

I found her hunched over the bathroom counter, tissue in hand as tears began streaming down her face. I sat next to her quietly, leaning into her leg so she would know I was there if she needed me. As she dabbed her eyes she looked at me and said “Lets go for a walk Grover.”

It just so happened that it was a beautiful day and as we walked toward the park I could tell that Doc was trying to process whatever it was that made her so sad. I didn’t say I word. Sometimes you just need to literally walk beside someone through their sadness.

Finally we came to the special place by the pond that Doc loves so much. I jumped up on the rock so I could look her in the eye and that is when she bent down and began to speak. ” I am sad because I read in the paper the my childhood friend has died. He lived next door and I can remember us playing together from the time I was 4. He was a year older than me, but always patient and kind even though I was younger and could be bossy sometimes. We remained best friends until his family moved away when we were in grade school.  The last time I saw him was in junior high but for all these years I have held him in my heart. Children’s love for each other is so special and pure Grover and today I feel a piece of my heart is missing with his passing.

We walked back to the house in silence and when we got home I asked her, ” Can I share this in my blog this week? I think there are many people especially during the holidays that are silently grieving over loved ones that they miss.”  ” Of course,” she said. “People need to know they are not alone in their loss and that it is ok to talk about their pain.”

So for all of you that have lost someone you love, may you find some comfort in the special memories that you hold so dear during this holiday season.

Holiday Panic

Photo by Angela Kirk

“Oh my!” I heard Doc exclaim loudly when she realized that Christmas is only two weeks away. She was all in a tither because she had only bought a few presents and had many more to purchase. Of course my main concern was to make sure that she got me a gift, after all who knows if Santa will show up and risk getting the rona. That’s when I started to worry right along with her.

After living with Doc all these years I should have know better than to be concerned. Right after lunch she got to work on her list. Don’t you just love a human with a plan? She started by writing everyone’s name down that she needed to buy for and then started sending out texts to see what people wanted. It’s amazing how fast humans will respond when you tell them you would like to buy them a present.

Next she opened up her lap top, logged into Amazon and started clicking like a maniac. Within an hour, she had half of her list completed. As I peered over her shoulder and marveled at her efficiency I noticed one important thing, my name was nowhere on the list. I even checked it twice to no avail. I felt so dejected I went over in the corner, curled up in a ball and sulked. Doc was so preoccupied she didn’t even notice until much later. After a while I fell sound asleep.

I was in the middle of a dream about finding a lump of coal in my stocking where I felt Doc gently nudge me. ” What’s wrong Grover?’ she asked quietly. ” I didn’t see my name on your gift list and I’m afraid Santa won’t come this year.” I replied without trying to sound too sad.” Doc bent down, hugged me tight and said ” I din’t have your name on the list because I din’t want you to see what I was getting you. And as for Santa, don’t you worry, I happen to know that one of Santa’s supper powers is that he is immune to all illness. You will get to visit with him Christmas Eve just like you do every year, you’ll see.”

Feeling reassured I fell back into a deep sleep and starting dreaming about getting lots of dog bones and new squeaky toys for Christmas. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

The Rush Before the Storm

Photo by Angela Kirk

After the double Thanksgiving disappointment of the turkey being so small I barely got any left overs and not being able to spend the day with the family because of COVID, I became verklempt. Let me tell you that using Zoom to see the ones you love is just not my cup of tea. If I can’t smell and lick the humans I love, what’s the point? Doc comforted me the next day when she shared her turkey sandwich with me and then it was time to get to work.

We had exactly three days of nice fall weather left before the temperature would drop and the snow would move in.  Out of the garage came the Christmas decorations and lights for the outside of the house and after about an hour we had the front of the house looking festive. Next it was a mad rush over the next few days to finish all the outside chores. We cleaned out the flower beds, raked the rest of the leaves, put the porch furniture away, touched up the picket fence with white stain and even swept and straightened up the garage. It was a good kind of tired at the end of each day because it was a sign that we had really accomplished something. Sunday after noon we took some time to savor the end of the mild weather by taking a little nap in the sun on the back porch. It was one of those moments where you try to memorize what it feels like to have the warm sun on your face knowing it will be awhile before you experience that again.

On Monday morning when I woke Doc up at 5am it was raining. By 8:30am it had started pelting wet snow. Being the hardy souls that we are we went for our mile walk anyway and came back wet and cold but refreshed.  During the night the snow really began to fall and when we woke up, the ground was covered and it was still snowing. I went outside and made dog angels in the snow by rolling around to my hearts content.

Last night Doc and I put up the Christmas tree and then sprawled out on the couch resting from all of our hard labor over the last few days. This morning the sun was glistening off of the snow and the world looked beautiful again. In spite of everything going on, Doc and I always try to remember to count our blessings.

 

Building Bridges

Photo by Angela Kirk

Since I was a young pup, Doc has told me that as I journey through my life, stones will be placed in my way and it will be up to me if I choose to use the stones to build a bridge or a wall.

In my early years, I was not sure what that meant. I was immature and protecting my ego by proving I was right. That was more important to me than listening to and respecting other’s opinions. Shutting my doggy friends down by barking louder and often using my size to intimidate them left them feeling defensive and over time, no one wanted to play with me anymore. The walls I built left me feeling lonely. Through it all Doc gently tried to guide me and allowed me to tell her how I was feeling without judgement. “Some things you just have to learn from experience, putting your ego aside can be hard” she said. It took time but I finally learned my lesson.

Right now we could really use some more bridges in this world. The disagreements and arguing over the pandemic and politics have driven a big wedge between some family and friends. The sad thing is that we all really have more in common than we think and thats always a good place to start. With Thanksgiving approaching, it might be a good time to extend the proverbial olive branch toward building those bridges again.

” Bridges symbolize change and flexibility! They show us this simple philosophy: When you are on one side, you can easily move to the other side.” Mehmet Murat ildan

 

 

Post Election Exhaustion

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc told me not to stay up all night watching the election results, but I didn’t listen. She told me had a 6am patient in the morning and that we needed to be rested, but I ignored her and now I am paying the price.

I was already tired to the bone from playing with my buddies at doggie day care all day. We didn’t get home until after 4pm and after I took a nap, went outside for while and Doc fed me some supper, I asked to turn on the news. After all, they were saying this was the biggest election turn out in US history and I wanted to know what was going on. Now don’t get me wrong, Doc was interested. she told me she never misses an election because she votes in honor of her grandmother that did not win the right to vote until she was in her 30’s. But Doc wasn’t on the edge like I was. Heck I can’t even vote and I have been waiting for this day to get here so I could find out who would end up being the top dog in the White House.

At exactly 9pm, Doc turned the lights out and went to bed. She was sound asleep in about 10 minutes. I don’t know how she could be so calm while I was biting the nails on my paws I was so nervous. I laid on the couch in the family room and watched the TV so I would not disturb her. As I anxiously watched the colors of the map turn from red to blue and then back and forth again, I finally became blurry-eyed and fell asleep before I even new the outcome.

At exactly 5:30am this morning I was awakened by the sounds and smells of Doc brewing her morning coffee. She came in the family room, patted me on the head and said in a much too cherry voice, “Get up Grover, it is time to get ready to work.” Groggily I opened my eyes, lifted my head and asked “who won the presidency?” ” No one yet she said, they are still counting the votes. Now you’re exhausted because you didn’t go to bed on time.”

What a let down. Doc can be so annoying when she is right.

Boo!

Although 2020 has already turned out to be scarier than anything that could happen on Halloween, Doc and I are still looking forward to one of our favorite holidays. With the pumpkins on the porch, skeletons, witches and bats standing at the ready, we will greet the little beggars with candy and other treats.  The spirit of All Hollows Night will persevere, not even a virus can mess with that.

Doc already bought a boat load of candy and tonight we will start putting the candy in individual sandwich bags to pass out to the children. We have some Halloween themed masks to wear and Doc will put on her witch costume and keep her flying broom nearby just for fun. This holiday comes complete with a full moon and Doc likes to tell the little ones that she just flew in for the occasion. You should see the look on their faces as they warily take the candy and scurry off to the safety of their parents. One year a little seven year old boy looked her straight in the eye and said to her defiantly ” I ain’t scared of no stinkin witches.” In response, Doc told him with a big grin to come back later and she would take him for a ride on her broom. His eyes got bigger as he backed away. The poor boy is probably still having nightmares over that one.

Rituals and holidays are so important for us to engage in. Not only does it give us something to look forward to, but it hopefully brings back some good memories. Doc says Halloween helps her feel like a kid again. It reminds her of how she planned her costume for weeks, went to haunted houses, listened to ghost stories her grand father would tell, watched scary movies and went trick or treating with her friends. I just like greeting all the kids!

So however you are celebrating this year, stay safe and don’t eat too much candy. And if you happen to be outside at midnight, if you look up at the full moon, you might see Doc and I flying by on her broom.