Comfort Food for the Soul

Photo by Angela Kirk

It’s funny how certain foods can stir up memories and emotions from the past. That is exactly what happened at out house on Sunday when Doc had the family over for a down home traditional comfort food supper.

The reactions started as soon as she opened the front door and the aroma of her mom’s meat loaf and pineapple upside down cake drifted out the front door. “Wow!, they exclaimed, we could smell those wonderful aromas as soon as we walked on the front porch.”  ” Well come on in!” Doc said with enthusiasm. And in they came for the official hugs and kisses. Nephew Cole was nice enough to take me outside to play ball and to work up an appetite before the big feast. 

After everyone sat down at the table and we bowed our heads to give thanks, the eating frenzy began. It wasn’t long before the memories started pouring out as we talked about plans for Thanksgiving.  Remembering favorite meals their grandmother made turned into stories about those special days that only family experience can elicit. Laughter and togetherness kept us gathered around the table long after the meal was finished.  I have to admit that I positioned myself between the two youngest as they drop the most food on the floor. My well thought out plan resulted in some morsels of cake when everyone was talking and no one was looking. In the end everyone was happy, even me the dog.

Doc says never underestimate how the simple gesture of breaking bread can bring people together. They may come for the food, but the fond memories from the past and the new ones being created are what keep them coming back. It’s just like group therapy with meat loaf and cake. How can you beat that?

 

 

 

 

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Mending Fences

Photo by Angela Kirk

It’s funny how watching someone perform a simple weekend chore can become a metaphor for life. On Saturday morning as I watched while Doc and her nephew Scott replaced a rotting section of the wooden picket fence in the back yard I couldn’t help thinking about the fences we need to mend in our own lives.

You humans can be complicated. As you know dogs deal with canine issues in the moment and then move on. I can’t even image getting so mad at my best friend Norman that I never speak to him again, let alone talk trash about him on Facebook or my blog. Nope, dogs like the direct approach without any drama.

People on the other hand can be pretty thin-skinned sometimes. Then instead of talking to the person they are mad at they will tell everybody on the planet they are upset except the actual person they are ticked off at. If things really fester like a big boil on your backside, they will stop talking to each other completely. And because they have both dug in their heals and won’t try to work things out an emotional fence goes up between the two. You know what happens to fences over time? They start to rot. I thinks that’s what grudges do over time, rot you on the inside making you feel bitter. It’s never good to give that much power away to another human.

It may be the person the you are mad with is too toxic to trust or be around again and in those cases you need to keep yourself safe. But even in those situations I have head Doc tell her patients that the forgiveness is really not for the other person, it is for you. It doesn’t mean you let that person hurt you any more, it’s meant to set you free so you can move on.

As Thanksgiving approaches, think about those in your life that you are angry or holding grudges toward and need to extend the proverbial olive branch of forgiveness to.  Just like Doc and Scott’s fence repair job, it may not be a perfect attempt but it starts to fix the damage that was created over time.

 

The Witch In My House

Picture by Angela Kirk

You think you know someone after living and working with them for seven years but boy was I wrong. I guess that’s what I get for snooping around in Doc’ s attic. I guess humans keep some of their biggest secrets hidden in the attic and boy did I uncover a doozy. I will give you the evidence I uncovered and then you can decide for yourself.

On Saturday Doc was putting up some more Halloween decorations on the front of the house to make it look extra spooky for Trick or Treat. She kept going up to the attic to retrieve more stuff. That attic has always been a mystery to me. She has never allowed me in there. “What could be that important?”  I said out loud to no one in particular and you guessed it, curiosity finally got the best of me. I waited until she left the house to go to the grocery store and decided that I was going to see for myself what kind of things she kept up in that darn attic that were so special.

After climbing the stairs, I slowly pushed opened the squeaky door with my paw. She had left the light on so I could see all sorts of decorations for every holiday, stacks of unopened boxes , furniture she didn’t use any more and then something in the corner caught my eye. Sitting all by itself in the back of the attic were some items that made the hair on my back stand up. Sitting in front of me was a pointed black witch hat, a broom and some instructions on old parchment paper . Shocked by what I had uncovered I picked up the paper and began to read.  The Covenant of the Witch is sacred and each time you summon the power remember that those that do not respect it can become addicted and harm will come to themselves and others.  Yikes! reading that gave me the shivers. Could Doc have been a witch all along and been casting spells on me? Just then I heard the attic door close behind me. Now I was stuck until Doc got home and I knew she would not be happy when she found me. As I nervously lay their awaiting her return I started thinking about Doc in this new light. Was Doc secretly a witch? She did bring home that little black kitten a few weeks ago. It was all starting to add up.

Finally I heard the garage door open and the back door slam. I started barking so Doc would know where I was. When I heard here come up the stairs and finally open the door I was so relieved to be free that I didn’t notice she was upset with me. ” Grover I told you not to come in this room.” she said in a stern tone.  ” Are you a witch? ” I blurted out. ” I found all your witch stuff in the corner.” Let me tell you Doc was not amused. She told me to go down stairs and then gave me a lecture on respecting other people’s space. As she told me to stay in the room to think about what I had done she narrowed her eyes, looked at me and said ” If you ever do that again Grover, I will turn you into a frog.” Then she turned on her heals and left me to take it all in. I can’t be sure, but I swear I heard her laughing in the other room.

So tomorrow night on Halloween if you look up in the sky and see a dark-haired woman on a broom in the light of the moon, it might be Doc. Now doesn’t this story make you wonder what dark secrets the people in your lives may be hiding?  Happy Halloween!

Fall Frenzy

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc said she couldn’t believe another week had already gone by and I agree. We work hard and play hard so the time seems to fly by, but I don’t think we would want it any other way. So let me get you up to speed on everything that’s happened since last week.

The day after the Debating Democrats left Otterbein University we thought all the media had gone with them, but we were wrong. Doc and I stopped at the farmers market in Uptown to get some potatoes for dinner and spotted a big ABC truck with a satellite attached. Not far from the truck was a camera man and reporter getting ready to go live. Doc remarked to one of the farmers that she hoped this doesn’t become a permanent thing or we will all have to travel with our own glam squads to be camera ready like those reality TV stars on the BRAVO network.

Because I know you all want an update on the little kitty we found, I am happy and relieved to report that he is doing fine in his new home. He is gaining weigh, acting frisky and very loved.

Since it’s getting close to Halloween, Doc and I decided to take her niece and nephew to the Ohio Village for their All Hallows Eve celebration. They depict how Halloween was celebrated in the 1800’s in Ohio and there are actors in period costume that tell the stories of characters that lived during that time.

In the first house we came upon a widow in her parlor with some friends mourning the recent death of her 25th husband. Yes I said #25! His body was laying right there in the coffin next to her. Her story, if you believe it, is that she and her husband were out for a nice Sunday drive. He got out of the carriage because he wanted to see if something was in the road when the carriage suddenly lunged forward and ran over him.  She hadn’t even buried the poor man and was already scanning the room for husband # 26.

Next we stopped to get a bite to eat at the food wagon. Because there were no tables around, Doc had us plop down to eat on the grass right in the middle of the cemetery. Kind of creepy if you ask me, but it was quiet. While we were eating we watched them dig a grave that we assume was for husband #25.

After supper we went to the local Undertaker as they were advertising for professional mourners to be part of the funeral procession for the widow’s husband. Doc is a good fake crier and got hired right away. Her niece was kind of freaked out by it all (she’s only 8) and decided to stay outside. All in all we had a really good time and when we got home we went right to bed because we were ready to meet the Sandman.

Sunday was a beautiful fall day so Doc worked in the yard. She kind of made me nervous when she got out the ladder to climb up and change the flood lights on the back of the house. She said not to worry, if she fell all the neighbors were out and someone would eventually see her lying there and come to see if she was still alive. I didn’t think that was a bit funny.

So now we are back to work and ready to see what will happen next. What are you willing to embrace in life to create new adventures for yourself?

Abandoned and Afraid

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc misunderstood what I wanted when I started whining right after we got to work. It was only 6:15am and she thought I needed to go outside to use the bathroom. What I really wanted to do was   find out where that crying noise was coming from outside. Doc couldn’t hear it inside the building but I could and I knew whatever was making that noise was clearly in distress.

As soon as she opened that back door we both heard it. “Meow, meow, meow!” It was loud, constant and sounded like a baby.”  ” Is that a kitten crying? ” she asked one of her coworkers. “Yes, he said and look, its chasing Grover!” When we turned around we saw a little black kitten running across the parking lot toward us. Now I have to admit, even kittens make me a little nervous because they hiss and chase me, but even I knew that this baby needed help. Just as Doc reached down to grab it, it ran and hid under a car. It was still dark out and you know how hard it is to find a black kitten in the dark.

As more people showed up for work we tried working as a team but to no avail. That little sucker was too fast. But you know Doc, she was not about to give up. Finally one of the patients saw us and came to help. While I stayed on one side of the car showing the humans where the kitten was our helper got underneath the car with a flashlight. As the kitten moved toward me, he grabbed it. Success!

Luckily Doc still had my old dog crate inside the office, so we put kitty in there for the day. Doc then called the Vet and made an appointment for later in the day. Let me tell you that little kitten was the star of the day and everyone pitched in to care for him Using my therapy dog skills, my job was to lay by the crate because that was the only thing that would stop him from crying.

The next morning we got good news from the veterinarian. All the testing showed he was healthy but only weighed 2 pounds, poor skinny thing. After giving it some thought I told Doc that kitten made me nervous and that I didn’t want him to live with us. Luckily Doc said she knew a co-worker that wanted to adopt him.

So this story has a happy ending. Kitten went to live with his new family on Saturday night and he is loved and taken care of. What makes me sad is to think of all the other animals that are either lost or abandoned and never found. So here’s my speech, please neuter and spay.

Before kitty went to his new home I saw Doc look him in the eye and say, ” Every living thing deserves to feel safe and loved and you are going to a wonderful forever home.” Too bad that’s not always the case I thought.

Waiting for Anderson Cooper

Photo by Angela Kirk

Just to keep you up to date on my daily activities I am letting you read an e-mail that I sent to Anderson Cooper this week.

Dear Mr. Cooper,

When Doc told me that you were coming to our Ohio town on the fifteenth of October to moderate the Presidential debates, I became verklempt to the point I almost fainted from excitement. I thought to myself why not drop him a line and see if we can get together while you’re in town. So here’s your invitation.

I was just a little puppy when I saw your show for the first time. As soon as I heard that soothing voice of yours, it immediately calmed down my wild puppy energy and put me right to sleep. My human mother that I call Doc, noticed the positive effect you had on me right away. From that day forward at exactly 8pm every night Doc puts me in bed, turns on your show Anderson Cooper 360 and waits until I am snoring away in dream land. When I told Doc I was e-mailing you she told me not to tell you that your show makes me sleepy as you might take offense, but I assure you I mean it in the very best way possible. Mr. Cooper, simply put, your voice is comforting.

Since I am fully awake during the day I thought we could meet when I get home from work in the early afternoon. I have made a list of things we can do. I know you only have a few hours to kill before that debate thing you’re here for but don’t you think it’s important to relax before the show?

Because I am your biggest fan, I happen to know that even though you don’t have a tattoo that  you secretly want to get one. Well you are in luck because we have a great tattoo parlor in town called Thrill Vulture Tattoo. It’s in walking distance of Otterbein University where the debates are being held, so it’s very convenient.  I would be happy to sit next to you and provide comfort like a good therapy dog while they drill that needle into your skin. I’m thinking a likeness of me on your arm would be perfect for your first tat. Doc says that’s creepy and I shouldn’t even bring it up, but why not? After that we should probably go for some ice cream at Graeters. They have pup cups and we could sit on the benches outside and watch the people go by. That’s always entertaining.

Even though I am a famous therapy dog with a blog I wouldn’t be too upset if you asked to get a selfie with me. It would be a nice reminder of the fun you had in Ohio. Well, I hope you can squeeze in some time with me next Tuesday. I will be waiting by the CNN Credentialed Parking sign for you. You’ll know me by my bushy eyebrows and tail. Take care and have a safe trip to Ohio.

Love, Grover

Too Much To Do!

Photo by Angela Kirk

Yikes! Doc and I have been so busy lately we almost forgot to write todays blog. Thanks to me, Grover the Wonder Dog I reminded Doc right at the last-minute by casually opening up her lap top after our morning walk and pointed to the key board. Now let me tell you what we have been up to lately in spite of the freakish 90 degree fall weather.

Last week Doc gave a presentation to some fellow staff members about Healthy Boundaries, her favorite subject. Although many people have problems saying “no”, Doc does not and I think it is her favorite word. But I digress. After finishing out the work week, we hopped in the car Saturday morning and drove to Kentucky to see Doc’s cousin get married. It was a beautiful wedding, we had a great time and it was a reminder of how important family and friends are.

Driving back early Sunday morning on a rural farm road in Ohio, we were fortunate to spot an eagle fly across the highway and land in the soybean field. Doc was so thrilled I thought she was going to drive off the road while watching it. Let me tell you that Eagle was huge and this bird dog would ever get close to those talons and beak.

So far this week we have been taking it kind of easy as Doc and I have taken some time off of work to get some chores done at home. As you know, there is always something to fix when you have a home and I am still working on that hole by the fence that I started in the spring. Hopefully I will be done before the ground freezes, so my buddy Norman and I can go back and forth as we please.

It’s almost time for us to leave to go to the cancer center to visit patients and my favorite nurses. It always feels like a blessing to hopefully bring some joy to others while they get their medical treatments.  Like Doc always tells me ” If you want to be happy in life, be of service to others.”

 

 

The Whiskey Wars at Corbin’s Saloon

Picture by Angela Kirk

Doc has taken me to some interesting places, but where we went last Thursday ranks near the top. We started out at the Anti-Saloon League Museum in Westerville, Ohio. Doc had signed us up for a walking tour of a Temperance Timeline of Events that took us to all of the places involved in prohibition from 1893 to 2006. All of it was quite interesting, but my favorite part of the tour was the story about the Whiskey Wars at Corbin’s Saloon.

Henry Corbin ran the only saloon in Westerville, Ohio. Being that his neighbors were anti-alcohol they blew up the saloon in 1875. Apparently Mr. Corbin was not easily intimidated by his non-drinking neighbors, so he built another saloon in 1879 and you guessed it, the prohibitionists blew that one up too. In 1920, Prohibition became law across the entire United States so that was the end of legal alcohol sales for a while. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933 Henry Corbin started selling beer out of his downtown Westerville pool hall. The problem was that by now people were afraid to go into his establishment to buy it. They were probably afraid they might get blown up!

Eventually Corbin’s Saloon was rebuilt and still stands today at its original site. If Henry Corbin were still alive I think he would be surprised to know that Westerville did not allow alcohol to be served again until 2006. Today many establishments in Westerville serve alcohol although some residents still don’t approve. Doc told me there was even arguing and resistance in her own family. Her fathers’ side of the family were strict Methodists and thought alcohol to be the root of all evils. It is said that Doc’s great-grandmother after finding out that the local bartender served her son alcohol went down to the bar with a horse whip and threatened the bartender. you can bet that man never gave her son another drink.

So what do you think? I would love to hear your opinions both pro and against about Prohibition.

We Will Not Forget

Photo by Angela Kirk

Today is 9/11. Not only do we honor the 2,996 people who lost their lives on this day but we also remember the brave first responders that rushed to help and died of respiratory disease or cancer in the years that followed the attack. Although I was not yet born, Doc can tell you exactly where she was and who she was with when she found out.

She said it was one of those beautiful September days. The sky was a crystal blue without a cloud in sight. She was at work when one of her patient’s came in and told her that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Although it was shocking she thought it must be some type of terrible accident not realizing what was about to unfold. Soon patients came in and they were crying as they found out planes not only hit both Trade Centers, but also the Pentagon and one plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. It was almost too much to process.

Doc stayed at work until she was told to go home as the downtown was closing, There was a concern more attacks may be planned.  When she left work there were police guarding the bridges and some of the streets. The airport was shut down and all planes grounded across the United States. While driving home there was barely a person on the road and she became acutely aware of how very quiet the world had become.

For the rest of the evening she sat on the front porch with her neighbors trying to comprehend what had occurred. The only other time the United States had been attacked was at Pearl Harbor during WWII and it almost seamed impossible that it happened again. I think that sometimes we can be lulled into a false sense of safety.

So today let us pause and remember all of the people that died that day. May we never take our lives or the people that we love for granted.

Caution, Beware of Lizard Brain!

Photo by Angela Kirk

Just because I’m a dog doesn’t mean I am not interested in higher levels of thought. When Doc watches lectures from professors on U-Tube, buddy boy I am right next to her taking it all in. How do you think I get new information on human behaviors? Well this particular day, Doc was watching a lecture by a professor at Harvard on the brain and let me tell you it was interesting. Nerd alert, since I am not stingy with my knowledge, I am passing it on to you.

Although it is not my intention to offend, I have observed some humans act as if their territory is being threatened. I have seen people get mad and defensive about politics, when driving, fighting over stuff at the store, when making business decisions or basically anything that threatens their ego. It’s like watching primates throw poop at each other. Hey guys, we aren’t competing with the neighboring tribes on the Savannah any more, be nice.  But alas your primitive physiology is still influencing your behaviors.

Then there are those humans that take it to the next level. They are so influenced by that part of their brain that they let it take over any rational thought and the scheming and the scamming begins. Survival of the fittest turns into survival of the slickest. Yikes, the times I have been exposed to people like that I hide behind Doc, I can smell their insincerity.

Alas, there is good news. Humans have a prefrontal cortex and thus you have consciousness. You can then use that consciousness to be aware and educate and control your primitive desires and fears. Our prefrontal cortex can also help you to identify the “slick” among you, helping to keep you safe. The human brain is one marvelous miracle.

So what’s the moral of this tale? Don’t let your ego imprison you. Take control of your lizard brain before it controls you. But do give in sometimes when you get that urge for some ice cream. Yum!