My Bucket List

IMG_0715-2Even though it is only March, Doc and her family are making plans for their summer vacation. I am always taken aback that they never ask me what I would like to do. They just assume that I will be fine with whatever they decide. So this year, I have come up with my own bucket list of what I would like to do on vacation and I hope they don’t wait until they think I am ready to leave this world to use my suggestions.

  1. I would like to travel to the Black Forrest in Germany. (It’s called the Black Forrest because it is so dense with trees, it is really dark in there). I would run around and pee on every tree to my heart’s content, lay down, take a nap, drink more water and then do it all over again.
  2. Spend a week vacationing in a furniture/bedroom store where I could sleep on and relax on every sofa and bed in the place. Then I would rate them according to their comfort level, so that humans could take that into consideration when buying a new couch or mattress. I would invite some of my dog friends with me so that they could rate them as well.
  3. Go to every summer festival or fair and run free without restriction. I would follow humans eating junk they drop on the ground and sniff their butts without restriction as I slink through the crowds unnoticed because the humans are too busy looking for the fried Twinkie booth.
  4. Go to a secret location by myself on vacation and live a create a secret life that Doc would not find out about. I don’t yet know what I would do, but at least it would be something only I would know about. (Even dogs need some privacy).
  5. Spend an entire week baying and barking violently at each and everything I want to without being told by Doc, “That’s enough barking Grover, quiet!” What Doc doesn’t understand is that there are a lot of dangerous things in the world like rouge squirrels roaming the earth that can be a danger to those that I love.

I hope Doc and the family take my list into consideration. I would like to experience some of my list while I am still young enough to have fun.

groverpic ” Cats motto: No matter what you’ve done wrong, always try to make it look like the dog did it.”

— Anonymous

The Visit

IMG_0716My visit to the Zangmeister Cancer center must be getting close because yesterday I had my nails trimmed and I heard Doc talking about a bath. It’s important that I am clean and presentable for my visit as it is a great privilege to be able to spend time with those being treated for cancer as well as spending time with the people who support them.

On a visit not to long ago, Doc was caught off guard when a distinguished looking man we were visiting asked Doc, ” Of all the places you could bring your dog to visit, why do you come here?” No one had ever asked us that before. After a brief pause Doc said, “My parents both died due to complications from cancer and as I get older, more and more people I know are diagnosed with it. I hope that Grover brings some happiness while people are getting their treatment.” The man seemed satisfied with the answer and soon he was stroking the back of my head and talking about a dog that he had loved as a child.

When Doc picked me and decided to have me trained and certified as a therapy dog, she sensed that I had extra love to give. Just like my ancestors that were bred to work as hunters and retrievers, my job is to love humans unconditionally, giving the people we visit a chance to love back and forget their troubles and afflictions for a while.

Doc says that therapy dogs lead by example and without judgement. We approach people with loving-kindness without any thought as to what we may get out of the relationship. It is such a beautiful thing to be a part of, I don’t even think of it as a job.

Love from a dog is so uncomplicated and that is why it is so easy for us to make friends at first contact with a total stranger. With dogs, there are no emotional strings attached. With dogs it is simple, we love and give affection and ask for nothing in return. It is the best gift that anyone can give to another.

groverpic ” The dog represents all that is best in man.”

— Etienne Charlet

Westminster Snub

8468403567_a73f2c4646_b A few weeks have gone by since the Westminster Kennel Club picked its winning dog, but I’m still feeling miffed about the whole thing. Rumor, a so-called pure breed German Shepard took the top prize.

For those of you that don’t know, the Westminster Kennel Club was formed in 1877 by a bunch of men in a bar in New York City. They owned hunting dogs. Named after the hotel that they drank in, they formed the club and then bought a training area and a kennel. It wasn’t long after that the members decided to stage a dog show and in 1877, 1,201 dogs entered the first show.  Not the type of beginning that you would expect for such a prestigious club, but never the less that is how it began.

It’s history is extensive and colorful, except for one thing, it does not let dogs that they label as “mutts” compete. That includes me. The product of mixed parenting, half labrador and half standard poodle, I am excluded.

Boooo! I cry foul. You know why? Because I have it on good scientific authority that every one of the breeds allowed to compete in the show was cross-bred over and over until the breeder got the qualities they were looking for. In other words, they are all a bunch of mutts masquerading as pure breeds.

I know this may sound bitter, but I think humans love to make rules about what is considered acceptable, they even project it on to the dogs that they own. Doc asked me why I even worry about it, but you know what, no one likes being excluded because of a stupid label. The one consolation is that when I had my free annual physical that Med Vet gives to all therapy and service dogs, the orthopedic doctor told Doc that I had the bone structure and stance of a champion show dog. “Take that Westminster!”

Until Westminster changes the rules, I will have to watch the dogs on TV, reminding myself that those dogs may have miserable lives having to perform in dog shows all the time. I bet it’s stressful having to be perfect all the time. Maybe I’m luckier than I realize.




groverpic ” Dogs come when they are called; cats take a message and get back with you later.”

— Mary Bly

Sweet Dreams


Photo by Mrs. Black

There is nothing better than a good nap. Although others try to shame me by telling me I am too old for naps, I disregard their words and float off into blissful dreamland. The only downside of sleeping during the day is that you may miss something important. Like the other day for instance, a large package arrived and I slept through the whole thing, including getting to see my favorite UPS man.

When I awoke, Doc told me there was a package delivered with my name on it. I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself while Doc helped me open the box. Inside all of the bubble wrap was a single picture frame. It had been sent by someone that had adopted one of my brothers. With a wide grin on her face, Doc lowered the picture so that I could see it. Gazing upon the photo, my eyes filled with tears. It was a picture of my mother and all of my brothers and sisters after we were first-born on the farm. Emotions bubbled up that I had not felt in a long time. As I sat gazing at the picture, Doc asked me if I missed my first family. ‘In a way, but there comes a time when you need to grow up and move on, I am happy to live with you Doc,” I told her as I nuzzled up next to her hand and gave her a soft lick.

If you are lucky in life, you have parents and extended family that prepare you to go out into the world. Unfortunately that doesn’t always happen for everyone. Hopefully someone will come along, either a teacher, neighbor, grandparent or mentor that will pull you up and cheer you on. I was lucky. I had good mother that cared for me until I was old enough for Doc to adopt me. Now here I am safe and sound in a good home with a wonderful job where I comfort people when they need support.

After all of the excitement of my package arriving and reminiscing about the past, I started feeling tired, so Doc sent me off to bed. Just as I was falling asleep, Doc bent down and placed the picture beside my bed, so it was the last thing I saw before I drifted off to sleep. Feeling safe and loved is the best thing in the world.

groverpic “It’s just the most amazing thing to love a dog isn’t it? It makes our relationships with people seem as boring as a bowl of oatmeal.”

— John Grogan

“Liar, Liar , Pants On Fire!”


Photo by Angela Kirk

One night while Doc and I were watching the nightly news, I was surprised when Doc exclaimed in a loud disgusted voice ” It’s too bad that liar’s pants don’t actually catch on fire, then we would all know who was being dishonest!” I lifted my head up off of her lap and looked her in the face. She was mad. I have to admit the thought of dishonest people running around with their pants in flames, made me giggle, but I didn’t let Doc know, not with the mood she was in.

When Doc counsel’s her patient’s she often talks about the importance of honesty in recovery. The disease of addiction is filled with deceit, keeping those in the grips of it hiding in the dark. Slowly as people heal, they must form a new relationship with the truth. They soon find out that all those lies were just a burden anyway.

Sadly, there are quite a few people in this world that maintain a loose relationship with the truth. They rationalize their actions, blame others, or will even try to convince you that they are being victimized because you don’t understand them or their message. I just roll my eyes when I hear human’s use those excuses because I know they are trying to divert you from confronting them. Even worse, they think you are naive enough to believe their con. What a bunch of hooey. I am only a dog, but I know the difference between the truth and a lie.

The first time Doc caught me lying, I was a mere pup. While she was out shopping one day I got bored and starting chewing on one of her shoes. I just meant to chew on a small corner and stop, but before I was done I had chewed a big hole in it. Knowing I was about to get in trouble, I drug the shoe out on the porch and when Doc found it, I blamed the whole thing on the backyard squirrel. When Doc told me she was going to trap the squirrel and release it in the country where it would never see it’s family again, I became horrified and told on myself. Of course their were consequences, but I learned my lesson.

I read an anonymous quote recently that sums it all up. “One lie is enough to question all truths.”

groverpic ” You can always find hope in a dogs eyes.”