Who’s the Real Bird Brain?

IMG_0985  You would think that Doc could engage in some simple yard work without getting involved in a wild nature encounter, but that would be boring and would not make for a very interesting story.

It was just a normal summer morning and Doc had just finished mowing the lawn and weeding the flower beds. She decided to get out the hose and water the ferns hanging from the front porch. Everything was quiet until she got to the last fern. As the water from the hose began to spray, a baby bird started squawking and flew out of the nest on to the floor of the porch where it flopped around trying to fly away. Doc thought that it’s wings were not yet strong enough to fly back up into the nest, so she decided an intervention would be in order.

After getting on her garden gloves she attempted to pick up the bird to put it back in the nest. The only problem was that the bird wanted nothing to do with Doc. Every time she would reach down to pick up the baby bird it would start shrieking and then flap its wings to get away. I have to say, for a baby, that little sucker was fast. Doc chased that baby bird all over the porch, down the steps and across the front yard until finally she corned it in the bushes. As she gently picked up the bird and placed it back in its nest inside the fern she thought her mission was accomplished, but no, that little bird flew right out of the nest again.

As entertaining as it was to watch Doc versus nature, I was starting to feel her worry and frustration over the baby bird. I knew she was concerned that the neighborhood cat would make a meal out of it if it didn’t stay in the nest. So she herded it back toward the bushes where at least it would be out of site.

As we went about finishing up our chores, that  baby bird was still on Doc’s mind, so she decided to check on it one last time. When we came around to the front porch, we were surprised to see it back up in the fern. Now I don’t know if the mother bird had returned to help its youngster or if it had just been faking that it couldn’t fly, but I swear I saw a smirk on that bird’s face as it looked down on us.

groverpic “Animals are reliable, many full of love, true in their affections, predictable in their actions, grateful and loyal.  Difficult standards for people to live up to.”

— Alfred A. Montapert

A Total Eclipse of My Mind

ss-150330-misp-12.nbcnews-ux-1024-900 The eclipse that will happen to on August 21 is a big deal to humans. The last time there was a total eclipse that traveled coast to coast across the United States was 99 years ago. Where Doc and I live, the moon will cover 86.3 percent of the sun. Darkness will fall for as long as two minutes, 40 seconds, enough time that I can take a little nap.

Doc doesn’t understand why I am not more excited about this event. She has even gone out and bought us special glasses so that we can look at the eclipse without burning our eye tissue. “It’s otherworldly!” she says to me in a breathless voice. I guess it depends on your definition of otherworldly. Now if you told me that as the eclipse occurs that UFO’s will start shooting out of the sun and head toward earth, now that would be an interesting show. Otherwise, I am just not interested.

So, I will leave it to the humans to be excited and I promise not to spoil Doc’s fun. But for this dog, the eclipse will only cue me and the rest of nature that it is time for bed.

 

groverpic ” Birth, life, death is a cycle. And they’re all beautiful, you celebrate all of them. Animals do grieve, but they move on. That’s the lesson behind animals.”

— Cesar Millan

Duke is the Dude that I Trust

Even therapy dogs need time to just hang out with other dog dudes. Duke is my new dude. I met him one day in the parking lot where I work while I was on break. Doc set up the introduction as she knows I need to spend some quality time with other dogs. We hit it off right from the start and had a fun time wrestling, chewing on each other and just spending quality time together doing dog things. I think everybody needs a best friend. That friend should be there for you through think and thin and that includes having your back if a dog fight breaks out.

Photo by Angela Kirk

Photo by Angela Kirk

When Doc does her therapy group on Friday morning’s I am distressed when I hear that some of the patient’s no longer trust anyone to be their friend because they have been betrayed by people that they thought they could confide in. They even go as far as to say that the only one they can trust is a dog. Now that just makes me sad when I hear that. I feel privileged to be one of the ones they trust, but they also need human connection.

Doc once told me that when we are betrayed by others, we get scared. But here’s the twist, we say that we loose trust in others, but what really happens is that we loose trust in our ability to judge if others are ok. So how do you know if you can trust others? You can never be sure 100% but here are some tips; 1. Observe people over time, everyone eventually reveals who they really are, 2. If they are gossiping about others in front of you, they are probably saying things about you behind your back, 3. Are you always there when your friend needs you, but they are always busy when you need them then watch out, 4. Listen to your instincts, if something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.

Although Duke and I have hit it off, it will take time to trust him with all my doggy secrets. Hopefully we will have a friendship that lasts a long time.

groverpic “You can judge a man’s true character by the way he treats his fellow animals.”

— Paul McCartney

Meet Norman

Photo by Angela Kirk

Photo by Angela Kirk

After a relaxing weekend with Doc and the family at the lake, the last thing I expected to find when we returned home was that I was no longer the top dog on the street. It just goes to show you that you can’t be off your game for even a minute or a cute little puppy named Norman will move in next door when you aren’t looking. How I am supposed to compete with a 10 week old puppy for goodness sake? At the ripe old age of 5, I now feel like a has been. What’s an old dog to do?

Feeling betrayed even by Doc as I watched her gush over Norman, I found myself entering into a dark place. I moped around for a few days feeling sorry for myself as I watched the attention shift from me to the new guy. I knew Doc noticed, but she didn’t say a thing. She just watched me in that therapeutic way and I knew she was observing, but not intervening. I have to admit even that started making me mad. She’s a therapist, why isn’t she trying to help me work through this?

Then last evening, after Doc came home from running errands, she called me to come outside. There was the next door neighbor with Norman and he was trying to stick his little fluffy head through the slats in the fence. His tail started wagging when he saw me and he hopped up and down with excitement. I had to admit that he was a cute little bugger. The neighbor explained that after the veterinarian found out that I was Norman’s next door neighbor that she told them “Grover will be the perfect dog to help socialize Norman in the canine world, especially with big dogs.”

At that moment everything turned around for me and I felt so proud to be asked to help raise Norman. I just had one question for Doc, ” Why didn’t you ask me what was wrong when you saw that I was so distressed over the Norman thing?” “Because, she said, sometimes you just need the space to work through your feelings on your own. You are old enough and wise enough to do that now. If you get stuck, I am always here to listen Grover, all you need to do is ask for help. Besides, I knew you would figure out that your new role is help raise this puppy, a job only you can do.”

After all of the excitement, I was tired and decided to go to bed. As I drifted off to sleep I realized that I was indeed an adult now and I feel proud of my new role as teacher.

groverpic “if having a soul means being able to feel love and loyalty and gratitude, then animals are better off than a lot of humans.”

— James Herriot

Deep Thoughts

Photo by Angela Kirk

Photo by Angela Kirk

There has been a lot of excitement this summer especially with my 5th birthday, family vacation, swimming and all the outdoor concerts and activities Doc has taken me to. As we get into the last half of summer, I thought I should take a moment to settle down and reflect on what is going on in my world as all the fun can be distracting. Besides, a little introspection never hurt anyone.

Now I know what you’re thinking, what’s a dog got to be introspective about? Well you just might be surprised. When you think we are napping, we are actually thinking deep thoughts and most of them are about the humans that we live with. Part of the reason we chose to live with you (yes, we chose you), is to help you out in your lives. So even though part of our nature is to get you to have fun, our job is to also watch out for you. A kind of a guardian dog if you will.

For instance, part of my job with Doc is to make sure she has the right balance in her life and I do that by not only helping her at work, but bringing the ball and dropping it by her feet so she will get up to play and have some fun. As I observe what she needs I come up with a plan and get her to engage in it. Now don’t get freaked out, we aren’t using mind control, just good old observations skills.

You may then ask, “Why does my dog act out sometimes, that’s not helpful?” Oh but it is my faithful human. Those are just more messages to you about what you need to change in your life. When you don’t get the first hints from us we take more drastic measures to get your attention. Chewing up  your favorite shoes? Just letting you know they are ugly and out of style and we don’t want to see them on your feet again. Peeing on the wall? My way of telling you it’s time to update that horrid paint color from the 90’s. After all I have to live here too. Well, you get the idea.

You must be surprised that we take such an interest in everything, but remember we have to co-exist with you. That means having to put up with all your moods, decor choices, your nasty habits and some of the strange outfits you want us to wear. So the next time you see your dog sleeping, think again.

groverpic “He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”

— Immanuel Kant