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.

 

 

Everybody Needs Help Sometimes

Photo by Angela Kirk

Needless to say these are some strange times we are going through, but if ever there was a life lesson to be learned it is this…we need to support each other.

Since Doc’s nephew Zach and his girlfriend Audrey were laid off from their jobs and Doc needed some help with landscaping, a deal was struck.  As for myself, I was just excited that I was going to see someone besides Doc. I knew that they would welcome my assistance with moving the mulch and the dirt around and I also planned to proudly show them the landscaping holes I had designed under the fence in case they needed some ideas.

It was a beautiful spring day when they arrived and they worked hard for hours.The two of them did just as good of a job weeding, edging and munching all of the flower beds as professional landscapers. We even took some breaks to play “keep away” when I stole their garden gloves. It was the most fun day we had since the pandemic started and I know how much Doc appreciated their help.

I get it, not everyone has family they can count on and Doc and I know we are lucky. The good news is, if you don’t have the family you need, you can create the one you want. For example, my buddy Norman that lives next door is literally my brother from another mother. You don’t have to be blood related to be family, its the trust and the bond that define what true family is. It’s so important to have a supportive network to celebrate the good times and to walk with us through the bad, especially now.

Hopefully some good will come from the pandemic and the pause we have been forced to take. It certainly is a reminder that we rise and move forward when we lift each other up.

 

The Pandemic Blues

Photo by Angela Kirk

Many of you have inquired as to how I have been adjusting to working from home most of the time and I appreciate your concern. Well let me just say, everything is very different.

First of all, I want you to know how much I miss seeing everyone face to face. I don’t want to brag, but I am rather popular and this whole work from home thing has been quite a blow to my ego. Lets face the facts, Doc sure ain’t going to fawn all over me like the rest of you nice people do. Don’t get me wrong, she is very good to me, but not as impressed with me as the rest of you. I guess that happens in any relationship over time.

Now this whole tele therapy thing has me stumped as well. Doc has an office in the upstairs of our house. I like to stay downstairs on the couch most of the time while she works, take a snooze and protecting the perimeter from rogue ground hogs. However, I am often diverted by the voice of some familiar patient so I go upstairs to investigate. When I get to the top of the stairs I look up and down the hall expecting to see the person, but the only human I see is Doc. Somehow they know I am in the room and start talking to me, so I figure they must be hiding somewhere. I then saunter over and  look out the window wondering if they are hanging off the side of the house or something. Can’t smell them, can’t see them. So weird and confusing.

Now I know I shouldn’t gossip, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. Since Doc’s patients can’t see her, you should see some of the strange things she wears to work in. Today she is sporting some neon yellow multi-printed leggings bright enough to blind you, slippers and a hoodie. She did take a shower, but that’s about it. I sure hope these new fashion choices don’t last post pandemic.

Yes, things are different, but we are lucky. Doc is still working, we are safe, healthy and blessed. Here’s hoping you are all doing well too. Hang in there, we are getting through this together.

Happy Earth Day!

Photo by Angela Kirk

Today the 50th anniversary of Earth Day arrives at a time when we are focused on a global pandemic. Now more than ever we need a sign of hope and for me focusing on caring for the earth gives me a reason to look forward.

Since the time Doc was young, her parents taught her to care for and respect the planet. Her family was recycling things long before it was a “movement”.  As a result Doc has learned to reuse and repair rather than throw away. On our daily walks she has even drug other people’s trash home to clean up and repurpose. Many times it’s her frugality that drives her behavior, but oh well, it still helps. Just yesterday I saw her reuse some old nails she pulled out of some rotten fence posts. I just shook my head in amazement.

The objects we don’t reuse or can’t be placed in our regular recycling bin are put aside until they can be taken to the proper recycling facility. (Did you know some grocery stores will recycle any type of plastic packing material or bags?) It may sound hard, but it’s not. It’s just like anything, if you get in a habit it becomes second nature.

Since the pandemic, Doc and I have been looking at the NASA satellite images that show the decreases in pollution since people have stayed home and power plants and industrial facilities have shut down. The reduction in the emission of nitrogen dioxide has made an astounding difference. I know I am breathing a little easier.

As I sit in the back yard under my favorite tree listening to the birds I ponder how man, dog and nature are all connected and need to care for each other. Yes, I am a deep thinker, but Dr. Jane Goodall, primatologist and conservationist says it best, ” Every single person matters and has a role to play every day.”

Happy Earth Day!

Time Out

Photo by Angela Kirk

A few weeks ago when many of the governor’s issued their stay at home orders, it occurred to me that it kind of felt like being placed in “time out.” Granted, it didn’t happen because anyone was in trouble, but it has drastically changed our daily lives and no one likes that. This is the first time I have ever witnessed almost an entire nation of adults and children being asked to stay put and I have to admit it is quite interesting to see how humans respond.

Thankfully, most of you are doing a great job and that keeps all of us safe, but there are some that need to be redirected over and over again. Their behavior reminds me of myself sometimes whenever I get in trouble with Doc. It is usually because I have something in my mouth that I am not supposed to eat or play with. After she directs me to “drop it”, she sends me to my bed to calm down and think about my behavior. Just like humans, I don’t really care for consequences, so as soon as she leaves the room I sneak away until I am caught and we start all over again. I guess it’s only natural that we don’t want someone restricting what we want to do, yet sometimes that is just what we need to be safe.

Doc has told me many times that most things in life are about perspective. In other words we have choices about how we react to events and the circumstances we are in. The author Wayne Dyer sums it up best; ” As I look back at the entire tapestry of my life, I can see from the perspective of the present moment that every aspect of my life was necessary and perfect. Each step eventually led to a higher place, even though these steps often felt like obstacles or painful experiences”.

As always, stay safe and well until next time.

That’s Just Not Normal

Photo by Angela Kirk

When Doc was a teenager and would grumble about getting out of bed to go to church on Sunday, her dad would say, ” You can’t get to heaven on an inner spring mattress.”  It turns out he was wrong. On Sunday Doc and I watched church services streaming live over the internet while laying in bed.  During this pandemic, what use to seem strange is now becoming the new normal.

It’s now normal to practice; ” social distancing” and be chided by strangers if you don’t,  wear masks in public, douse your hands in sanitizer, stay home and isolate, wear PJ’s all day, binge watch Tiger King on Netflix and order most of your things on-line. Not to mention all the cleaning rituals you have to go through every time you touch anything. I have never seen Doc wash her hands and scrub down surfaces so much. She’s even taken to bathing me more often and I hate baths. But what’s a domestic dog to do?  It’s exhausting!

When the pandemic passes, and it will eventually, I wonder how many of the changes we have been going through will become incorporated into our culture? It is nice to see all the families playing outside together on nice spring days. I also notice humans are watching out for each other by checking in and offering to help those that need it. A crisis can bring out the best in most humans.

Now that the pace of life has slowed down we can reflect upon what we are learning from this pandemic. Doc says there is a lesson in everything if you are open to look for it. It will be interesting to see if we learn and change, or just go back to the way things were. Until then, stay safe and well.

 

Stay At Home

Photo by Angela Kirk

Well, here we are looking at each other day in and day out without much to do but eat, sleep and sometimes get on each other’s nerves. The Governor of Ohio has ordered us to shelter in place and to not leave the house unless we need important thing like dog treats. We both understand the orders are important to help stop the spread of the virus. Doc’s mom use to tell her that before she made a decision in life to also consider how her choice would affect others as well. It seems now is an excellent time to apply that advice.

The lucky thing is that Doc and I still get to work most days from the safety of our home. We only go in to work one day per week when Doc is the on site crisis counselor. We have continued to do counseling and check in with our patients through tele therapy. The common theme for almost everyone is that this is a scary time because there are still a lot of unknowns. It feels surreal and why wouldn’t it? Our lives changed drastically in a short period of time.

The most important thing that Doc stresses with her patients and other that are anxious is that this will not last forever. So for now, do the best that you can to care for yourself and your loved ones. And don’t forget to thank the people who continue to go to work every day so that we have health care, groceries, gas, transportation, and deliveries. They put themselves at extra risk so that we can have what we need. Until next week, please stay safe and well.

 

The New Abnormal

Photo by Angela Kirk

It is a strange new world. Starting this week, Doc and I are alternating between working at home and working in the office. On Tuesday we were the on site crisis counselor and we will go back and do it again on Thursday. We only talk to our patients through tele therapy now. It feels quite strange and sad for both of us. Doc and I miss seeing and interacting with our patient’s face to face, so it was a happy meeting when Doc took me outside yesterday morning and one of the patients hollered and waved at us from their car. What use to be such a normal occurrence that we took for granted is now a treasured and happy meeting. For just a few moments everything felt normal again.

There is no doubt in my mind that we will get through this together. I know that humans get frightened when they realize that they can’t control everything. That is why it is so important to do your best to stay in the moment and focus on what you can control. In other words, try your best not to let anxiety rule your thoughts.

As I am finishing this blog, I am stationed next to Doc, watching the magnificent sunrise right outside our window. It is a reminder that nature is sorting everything out as we speak. The day will soon come when all of this will be over and we will rejoice and appreciate what it is to feel free again.

Taking Care of the Pack

As of this writing, Doc and I are still going to work.  As part of a large team of medical and mental health professionals, we are making sure that our patients are being taken care of.  Many of the patients and staff are anxious, so I am here to help calm and comfort, it is just the natural way that dogs take care of their pack.

Doc told me she has been proud of how I have been comforting everyone. She said my behavior is a good reminder that we are all connected and should watch out for each other during these difficult times.  It’s easy to get lost in your fear, but don’t despair as this too shall pass.

Any time there is uncertainty, the worst thing you can do is dwell on it 24/7. Doc and I have been spending a great deal of time outside when we are not at work. We take our daily walks, visit with the neighbors from a distance and check on our family and friends. Doc also spent part of Sunday counting our roles of toilet paper. We have 40 rolls. Don’t judge, she didn’t just go out and purchase these recently, she has been hording toilet paper since I have been alive. It’s a thing for her and now this pandemic has just reinforced that weird behavior. She is now smugly telling me that she always knew it would come to this one day and she would be prepared.  I was proud that she offered the neighbor some of our stash when they told her they were running low. But I digress.

Relax, take a deep breath, wash your paws and watch some old reruns of your favorite sitcom. Until then, stay tuned.