Snow Day!

The weather may be frightful, but I am feeling delightful because we are getting more snow! Something interesting happens when there is a prediction of a big snow event, the kids get happy and the adults start to grumble. As for me and Doc, we just go with the flow.

The snow was mixed with rain when we left for work at 5:15am this morning. Despite the catastrophic predictions from all the locale weather news meteorologists, the drive was pretty uneventful.

I know all the kids in the neighborhood were happy when they work up to find out that all the schools were closed. Doc told me she loved snow days when she was a kid because it meant a whole day of sledding and building snowmen with her friends in the neighborhood. She told me a story about a big hill very close to her house that she and her friends had named the Double Dipper because you would go down the hill, hit a bump, fly up in the air and then land back on the hill. You then picked up so much speed you felt like you were going faster than the speed of light. Over and over they would go up and down that hill until they were all so wet and tired that Doc’s dad would come outside and give a loud shrill whistle for them all to come back inside to get warm.

I am happy we are getting more snow because when I get home from work today, I can supervise while the neighborhood children play. The other day they built some impressive snow men and igloos when I wasn’t looking. In the dark, when Doc let me out before bed, those strange things emerging from the earth startled me to the point that I growled and barked to alert everyone of the impending danger that Sasquatch may have set up camp on our street. The next day, Doc took me over so I could see that the snow figures weren’t real. Boy that was a relief!

So, everyone getting hit by the snow storm today, stay safe and warm. All of you living in the warmer states can be thankful you don’t have to deal with the cold and the snow.

The Guru of Goodness

Mastering the art of rest and relaxation is not a problem for me, but lately I have taken it to a whole new level with Doc’s help.

It is only 6am in the morning at work. Doc and one other counselor are the only one’s in our building this morning and it is so quiet you could hear a mouse pass gas. A good time to focus and be creative without distractions. It’s still pitch black outside our window and Doc is working on what we will do in Stress Management group today. She starts out by reviewing a 5 minute meditation and the lady’s voice is so calming it puts me right to sleep. I even notice Doc’s body relaxing down into her office chair. Next she reviews different background music to be played during our breathing and meditation exercises. After listening to that for about a minute, I get so relaxed I fall right to sleep until about 7am when the hustle and bustle starts in the building. I awake to see our first patient entering the room. When he sees me snoozing, he says to Doc that it must be nice to be able to sleep on the job. ” I am just trying to be a good role model of Zen behavior.” I think to myself. Peace, oneness and enlightenment are my moto as of late.

I remain in this relaxed state for awhile, but as the day progresses and more is asked of me, it gets harder. That’s always that challenge of any change we are trying to make, trying to stick to it for the long haul. But you know what they say, “practice makes perfect.”

When we get to group, we do our deep breathing exercise and I go into my peaceful energy again. I get lots of pets and hugs from the patients and that helps me to feel special. They look to me for unconditional acceptance and support. Yes, it can be a burden to be the Guru of goodness, but it is a burden I am happy to accept.

Planting Seeds and Learning Patience

Although I love being a therapy dog, sometimes I wonder how much of a difference I am making. After all, I am just a dog and I don’t really understand the level of human pain that many of the people we see have experienced. On the days that I have my doubts, Doc reminds me not to get discouraged because recovering from anything is a process and it takes time for people to heal and our work is really about planting seeds.

Being present, building trust, offering emotional support, and accepting someone unconditionally are all seeds that help someone to grow, Doc says. “They are the fertile soil that allow people to feel safe enough to bloom. Change doesn’t happen overnight. ” Doc reminded me. ” Be patient Grover.”

Well that’s easy for her to say. I think it’s hard to be patient. Why, just this morning at work, Doc was talking to a co-worker and not paying attention to my needs, I first tried whining to get her attention and when that didn’t work, I admit that I got a bit miffed and barked loud enough that everyone heard me. I know I am not suppose to bark during work but heck, she wasn’t listening. She quietly turned to me, patted me on the head and said, ” Stay calm, I promise I will help you in a minute. And when she was done talking, that is exactly what she did. In that brief encounter, she reinforced that seed of trust reminding me that some seeds need extra fertilization in order to grow.

After giving all of this some thought, I have come to the conclusion that as I therapy dog I am planting seeds as well. Seeds of joy, love and light that can be passed on and on, making a difference in more than just the one person I showed up to help in that moment. It can take time to see the fruits of your labor. I just need to be more patient.

The days you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. Be patient and stay the course.” -Fabienne Fredrickson

Throw Out the Old

And in the blink of an eye, the clock struck twelve and 2023 was upon us. Another transition of letting go of one year and embracing the new one.

Humans make a big deal out of it, but it’s just another day for this dog. I know you are suppose to re evaluate your life and make some resolutions to do better, but I can’t see that I need to change anything, I am fine with the way things are. Now Doc on the other hand, did decide to make some changes specifically to reduce her stress level. She has started to take time in the morning and at night to meditate. Just last night when she was listening to her guided meditation, I got so relaxed I fell asleep and started snoring right next to her, interrupting her concentration for a moment. I also got so relaxed I started farting and Doc told me that was too much, so I had to go to another room until she was done. Now what do you think about that?

Since Doc and I took some time off over the holidays, it was quit a shock to me when Doc woke me up on Tuesday morning at 5:15 am to get up for work. When she leaned down to touch me to see if I was awake, I swatted her hand away with my paw so she would leave me alone. I had gotten use to sleeping in for the past ten days and wasn’t ready to get up so early again.

It’s kind of a let down after the holidays. The relatives and the leftovers are gone, the packages have all been opened and the Christmas music is done. On Monday, when Doc went outside to take down the Christmas lights, I felt kind of sad, especially when she came in and took down the tree. A reminder that another season has ended.

Life is full of transitions. When one is over, we make way for the next one. Some can be more difficult than others, but it is good to keep in mind that transitions can offer an opportunity for discovery.

So, Happy New Year! Here’s is hoping that all your transitions are positive ones.

Countdown to Christmas

There is a lot of hustle and bustle going on around the house as Doc and I get ready for the holiday. Elmer the Elf, is still hanging around and I have to say he is starting to grow on me. I was even surprised when I found myself asking Doc if he could live with us forever. Although she told me no, because he needs to leave with Santa on Christmas Eve, I realized I learned a valuable lesson about giving others a chance before judging them.

Not having preconceived ideas about someone can be hard. Doc told me that a study from Harvard showed that we judge a person within a few seconds after meeting them. After Doc told me that, I complained loudly, ” Well that doesn’t seem very fair!” But I quickly realized that I had done that very thing with poor Elmer, and I had been wrong.

This morning as I was reflecting on what the holiday means to me and how Elmer has affected my life, I have decided to move forward and try not to judge people so quickly, and getting to know them and their story before I form an opinion. After all, I would hope others would give me more than a couple seconds before they judged me.

Sadly, Christmas Eve is only a few days away and Elmer will be leaving. I have already promised I will stay up late with him to wait to see Santa, a visit I look forward to every year.

Whatever you may be doing over the holiday, Doc, Elmer and I wish you peace and joy.

Elf On My Shelf

To say that I was startled to wake up this morning and find a stranger asleep in my bed is an understatement. To open your eyes and the first thing you see is a little short being in a red suite huddled up next to you, is a terrifying thing to encounter at 5am. So I did what any normal dog in my predicament would do, I growled and barked at the thing until Doc came running into the room to see what all the ruckus was about.

Thinking Doc would be afraid too, I certainly was surprised when she so nonchalantly said to me ” Oh I guess I forgot to tell you that we will have a visitor until Christmas. This is Elmer, and he is an Elf on the Shelf in training. Grover, since I am so busy, I need you to keep an eye on Elmer and keep him out of trouble.” ” Really? I responded, it would have been nice if you would have asked me first, but ok, I will do it.” After all, How much trouble could an Elf less that a foot tall be? I was soon to find out.

The first thing I had to learn about Elmer is, for a little guy, he gets himself into a lot of trouble. He’s quiet and quick, a bad combination. We were only at work for about 30 minutes when he had his first encounter with trouble. I had only gone down the hall for a few minutes in search of snack and when I came back to the office he was trying to hack into our blog and change the story about him saying he didn’t like how he was being presented to the public. I had to tell him to step back from the computer and howled for Doc to take care of that one.

What have I gotten myself into agreeing to watch Elmer? I promised Doc I would help, and I will hold up my end of the bargain, but this is going to be a challenge as Christmas is still 11 days away and I don’t know how I will survive. So stayed tuned to see if I survive.

When you Are Forced to Wear the Harness of Shame

When you can still bounce back from the aches and pains of aging, that is something to cheer about. Helping Doc every day at work gives me something to look forward to, makes me feel needed and motivated me to get better. So, I was so happy to hear what the veterinarian said when we went to visit her for a re-check on Monday, but I did have a bone to pick with her during the appointment about something she had Doc buy for my rehabilitation.

Even though I don’t like all the prodding and probing, I still like my veterinarian. She is kind and caring and had good news for me today. After examining my neck, she was happy to report that the muscles were no longer tight, I had good range of motion and Doc told her my pain was gone All good news, but I did want to question her about this stupid harness she told Doc to make me wear. It’s embarrassing. I know, I know, it’s suppose to take the pressure off my neck so I don’t hurt it again, but it just looks and feels stupid. This is the kind of apparatus they put puppies in to teach them how to walk and not pull on the lead, not for a distinguished, grown therapy dogs with perfect behavior! In exasperation I said to Doc, ” Why don’t you just put me in a wheel chair and push me around? ” She just told me I was being dramatic and that I would get use to it after a while. With both Doc and my veterinarian teaming up against me, I knew I would not win, but I still felt I needed to make a stand.

Life can be challenging at times. Learning to accept changes in your life, letting go of your ego so you can do what is best for yourself and realizing that the choices you make don’t just affect you, but also affect everyone that cares about you.

So. I will be compliant for now, but as time goes on and I am back to my old self again, I will renegotiate with Doc about this harness, and if that doesn’t work, I will go over her head. Yes, this old dog still has a few tricks up his sleeve. Our medical director Dr. Agra, really likes me and I bet he would have a word with Doc on my behalf. So until next week, everyone take care of yourself I am on my way over to have a talk with Dr. Agra, give him a few extra doggy kisses and tail wags to see if he can help me out.

When Life Becomes a Pain in the Neck

It has been said that aging is not for wimps and now that I am a senior dog I am gaining first hand experience about what that really means.

It all started with a ear infection. For those of you that don’t know, floppy-eared dogs get a lot of them. So when Doc suspected I had one, she took me to the veterinarian, got me diagnosed and treated. Twice a day Doc gave me medicated ear drops, and once a day she washed out my ears with an anti-bacterial wash. I tolerated it, but didn’t like it as it caused me to shake my head a lot trying to get that stuff out of my ear canal. It just felt uncomfortable.

About week after my treatment started, I woke up one morning and I had a hard time moving my neck it was so painful. I hurt so much I didn’t even want to eat, and let me tell you Doc was worried and so was I. Back to the doctors office we went on Monday morning where I got to see one of my favorite vets, Dr. Balazs. She has known me since I was a puppy and I knew that she would figure out what was going on and help me.

As we waited in the exam room, I could tell Doc was anxious even through she tried not to show it. She knows as we get older that anything can happen. so I laid right up against her so she wouldn’t be so afraid. Soon Dr. Balazs came in the room and just like I expected, it didn’t take her very long at all to figure out what was wrong. After thorough examination she said that I had strained my neck from shaking it so much. She said she could feel the tightness in my muscles in my neck and by the way I was holding my head. After some more consultation a plan of treatment was discussed. It was a relief to know that with medication and rest I would be ok, and the good news was that my ear infection was gone. The doctor also gave me permission to go back to work in the morning as long as I took it easy.

Now that I am back to work, you know that I have been getting lots of sympathy and I have been eating that up. Today I am going to go see Heather, one of my favorite nurse practitioners for a visit in our other building and tell her my sad story about all that I have been through. She keeps special treats for me in the drawer of her desk and I know she will show me great sympathy and feed me. I am not ashamed to say that I have sat outside of her door and whined even though I knew she was with a patient because I wanted her to give me some of those tasty treats. She is so nice that if she misses me when I stop by that she will bring the treats to me later when she has time. What a great co-worker to have.

Yes, it can be difficult dealing with the aches and pains of aging, but when you have so many people like I do that care for me and love me I am left feeling nothing but grateful.

” Age is not how old you are, but how many years of fun you’ve had.” – Matt Maldre.

Count Down to Turkey Time

Doc could hardly believe it when she looked at the calendar and saw that Thanksgiving was next week already. I think of all the holidays, Thanksgiving is my favorite. What’s not love? It’s the one day of the year the humans stuff themselves without guilt and when they are done I get all the leftovers. I start drooling just thinking about it. Of course the focus of the day is to count our blessings and that is the most important thing to remember, unless you know a secret about a past Thanksgiving and that is what I will tell you about today.

Doc says the holidays always bring back memories for her of all the family gatherings from childhood to present and that is what makes the day special for her. As she was going down memory lane with me, she reminded me of a story she told me about before I was born about the biggest Thanksgiving mishap that she ever had and to this day her family doesn’t let her forget about it.

Many years ago, Doc got up at the crack of dawn on Thanksgiving morning, while her family was still asleep upstairs. She had to get the big 20 pound turkey ready and put it in the oven so it could cook all day. After she buttered and seasoned the bird, she picked it up to put in the roaster and that bird slipped out of her hands, landed on the floor and slid a good ten feet before it came to a halt against the stove. She was mortified and let out a few choice words you would never say in church. Trying to decide what she would do as the turkey had picked up some dirt and a few dog hairs, she didn’t miss a beat. She got a paper towel, cleaned off the bird the best she could and put that sucker in the oven thinking the germs would all be killed in the cooking process. She told herself she would never say a word about what happened and since there were no witnesses, she was in the clear.

Later that day, the family arrived, sat down to dinner and ate that turkey while Doc kept the secret to herself,. The family praised her for a great meal and no one suspected a thing. It wasn’t until the next Thanksgiving that Doc confessed to what had happened. Although everyone was a little shocked, no one was so bothered that they left the table and to this day they talk about that and have a good laugh.

Besides the glorious food, listening to the family talk about all the memories is one one my favorite parts of Thanksgiving. I hope all of you have some good memories to share and many things to be thankful for this year.

Tricks Are Better Than Treats

On Monday we celebrated one of my favorite holidays, Halloween’s Trick or Treat. I love seeing all the children in costumes, helping Doc hand out candy and seeing both adults and children having a good time. What I didn’t expect was for Doc to try and play an innocent trick on some poor unsuspecting children.

The weather was beautiful as we sat on the front porch passing out candy. Hordes of children ran up and down the street through the autumn leaves in anticipation of what goodies they would score. Doc has learned over the years to stock up, so that she never runs out of treats. We saw children dressed in every character imaginable and even a gorilla made a visit that was having problems navigating his new large gorilla feet as he walked between the houses. I bet he never wears that costume again. I tried to sneak some treats, but Doc caught me with a Tootsie Roll Pop in my mouth and put the nix on that quickly.

It was about half way through the night when we saw four very energetic and small boys dressed like Ninjas going house to house at a rapid pace. Right before they landed on our door step, Doc and I both noticed that when they were across the street at our neighbors house that they tried to dump much of the unguarded candy from the bowel on the porch into their bags until they got caught and then they ran toward our house.

As they bounded on to the front porch Doc asked them with authority in her voice, ” What do you want, a trick or a treat.? ” These poor unsuspecting lads did not know what web they were being drawn into and answered in unison ” A Trick!” So now that the bait was set, Doc said to them, ” I know I don’t look like one, but I am actually a witch with special powers and I have the ability to turn one of you into a frog. Now, which one of you wants to be a frog? I watched with amusement as their eyes got bigger than saucers and was surprised when all of them pointed to the same boy in the group. ” Him!” they yelled. For a moment, the poor boy looked like he was going to faint, but then Doc let out a laugh, filled their bags with candy and told them to be on their way and to behave themselves for the rest of the night. Those poor boys couldn’t get off our porch fast enough. I bet they couldn’t wait to tell their parents that they met a real witch in the neighborhood on Halloween. What fun! That is what Halloween is all about.

The time passed so quickly and at 8pm we got the last knock on the door from some young ladies and so Doc gave then most of the candy that was left over. They sure seemed happy. As for me I was worn out and jumped into Doc bed only to dream of witches and ghosts and monsters that creep through the night.