The Grover Factor

Photo by Angela Kirk

One of the perks we get from staying home to work is that we can take our daily walk in the morning. Before the pandemic we had to wait until we got home in the afternoon. As a result, we have met more nice dogs and people than we new even existed in our neighborhood. The weird things is that all of them say that they have seen us walking together for years even though we have no clue who they are. Doc calls it the Grover factor.

Apparently they have been spying us through their windows. Not in a creepy way, but in a curious way. The humans remark that they are impressed that they see us walking in all kinds of weather, day after day. Then the next thing they always ask is, ” What kind of dog is that?” Doc is use to this question by now and lets them go on for awhile as they guess. “Is he a Wolfhound, Giant Schnauzer…..?” Doc always waits patiently until they finish and then she says, ” He is part Standard Poodle and part Labrador Retriever.” Then she waits again until they incredulously say “Noooooo Really?”  ” But he’s so big and his beard and hair is so long, he’s so different looking, such a handsome dog.” And with that Doc thanks them profusely for the compliment and we’re on our merry way.

It is my observation that humans feel the need to place labels on everything. I guess it gives you a way to distinguish things and have a sense of order. At times this can be beneficial, but be careful, labels can have a downside as well.  Labels can also strip away the special qualities that make us unique by putting us all in one box and then assigning negative or positive terms based on that. As for dogs, we aren’t in to that, we just want to sniff butts and play with each other.  Our lives are so much more simple as a result.

I like to believe that we are all unique in our own way and that we should celebrate what makes us different. Life is so much more interesting that way.

 

 

Voting and Flu Shots

Photo by Angela Kirk

It’s only Wednesday and already we have knocked a lot off of our to do list. Doc loves her lists and I have to say it does help to keep us focused and leave us with a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day.

Number one on the list was to vote early at the election board and then for Doc to get her flu shot. So Monday morning we rose early and I waited patiently as I watched Doc fill out her mail in ballot that she was going to drop off. I was surprised that it took her so long, but she took the time to looked up voting records for judges on the ballot and levy’s she was not familiar with. When I questioned why she was so diligent in her choices she said it was important to know who and what you are voting for and to never take that for granted. I nodded in approval at her explanation.

After a short drive we arrived at the election board and you should have seen all the people lined up around the building to vote early. Now I wouldn’t have minded standing in the line and meeting all the people, but Doc just wanted to drive through and drop off her ballot. Some nice poll workers were waiting by the ballot box, took her ballot and said ” you have officially voted.” They then hand us a sticker that said Ohio Vote that I have been proudly showing off to everyone.

Next we went for Doc’s flu shot. When we got to the pharmacy she texted them and they came out to the car. She rolled down the window and to my surprise they gave her a shot right in the arm while we sat there. Now that’s good service! It’s been two days and I have had to listen to Doc complain that her arm is still sore. Good grief! I get shots at the veterinarian and she never hears me whining like that.  I got to thinking that if I ran the world I would set up a flu vaccine station where people go to vote. That way you could get both things done at the same place. How’s that for a genius idea?

As for today, Doc has more yard work to do this afternoon as the warmer weather comes to an end. I know I only have a few more weeks left to get all my holes dug in the yard before we get a deep freeze and the ground gets to hard.

Well that’s all I have to report for now. Stay safe and well until next time.

 

Plan for the Present

Photo by Angela Kirk

Since being laid off from my therapy dog job at the end of March, I have had to learn to adapt to a new routine. I admit that I was always curious about what the other dogs in the neighborhood did all day while I was at work. Since being home day in and day out, the proverbial cat is out of the bag. They do absolutely nothing but eat, poop and sleep except for Wednesday when they howl along with the noon tornado siren. So pathetic. I quickly realized that that would not work for me, so the question then became, how do Doc and I settle in to a new routine when we have no idea what will really happen with the pandemic or when it will end?

Quickly I realized that I knew the answer all along and that I could help Doc in the process. Stay focused in the present. Learning to let go of planning for something that we don’t really understand can be a freeing experience. Humans get caught up in the what if’s and this type of thinking can quickly escalate into fear. What dogs instinctually do is only plan for what they have in front of them and adapt based on the information at hand so that they can sustain every day. I understated that staying present focused can be a challenge to the way humans think, but think of it this way, if you use your energy to focus on getting through each day the best you can, you will  have successfully weathered the storm.

Whatever happens, I know that Doc and I will face the unknown together. We always have each other and there is nothing better than that.

 

 

 

Grover’s Movie Reviews

Photo by Angela Kirk

By now you are probably all feeling a bit frazzled by all the politicking, divisiveness and living with the pandemic day in and day out. So as a service to you, my faithful and amazing readers, Doc and I screened two very uplifting movies (documentaries) over the weekend and I have given both of them five paws. The first movie was called A Most Beautiful Thing and the other one was titled Won’t You Be My Neighbor. Both films left us feeling uplifted because they are stories of optimism and display the best of humanity, something we need more of right now.

A Most Beautiful Thing was released in July of 2020 and is a story about the first African American rowing team that raced together 20 years ago. Many of the young men were in rival gangs from the west side of Chicago, but this sport that none of them had ever participated in brought them together and changed the course of their lives. In 2019 they got back together as a team again, but this time they invited officers from the Chicago Police Department to train and race with them. It is a powerful example about how being willing to break down barriers and come together can change the stereotypes we have about each other.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor is about my favorite cardigan – wearing Fred Rogers. Doc told me that his philosophy about the importance of teaching children about empathy and acceptance for themselves and others was a ground breaking series and ran for over 30 years. Introducing the importance of allowing children to talk about and honor difficult feelings and subjects, he not only spoke to children but also to the child that still lives inside all of us adults.

Doc has always known the importance of being careful about what we consume. Whether it be through social media, TV, or allowing negative people into out lives. What we expose ourselves to often sets the tone for what we think of ourselves and and who we become. So I will leave you with some wise words from Fred Rogers; ” The media shows the tiniest percentage of what people do. There are millions and millions of people doing wonderful things all over the world, and they’re generally not the ones being touted in the news.”

Take care until next time!

 

Oh Baby!

Photo by Angela Kirk

Last Saturday I got a nice surprise when I finally got to meet the new baby in our family. Baby Abraham is now 3 months old and already I love everything about him. Like Doc always says, ” There is nothing like a new baby in the family.”

Abraham showed up five weeks before he was due which tells me he was just extra excited to see all of us and the world. Born during the height of the pandemic, he is now thriving, happy and getting nice and chubby. When his mama put him down so I could be near him, I gave him lots of kisses and put my head in his lap so he would feel safe. He’s still so tiny compared to me I knew I needed to be extra gentle.

There is something so wonderful about a new life. It’s a reminder to us all that no matter what is happening in the world that life goes on. ” Each time a baby is born there is a possibility of reprieve. Each child is a new being, a potential prophet, a new spiritual prince, a new spark of light precipitated into the outer darkness.” R.D. Laing

News From The Neighborhood

Photo by Angela Kirk

Finally the crisp fall weather showed up a few days ago and that’s not the only thing that has changed around here. So I thought I would take some time to update you on the latest scoop.

For more than a week I was sick to the bone. I will spare you the details, but I could not keep anything in my system. Doc tried everything to cure my ailments and finally when nothing would work, she took me to my nice veterinarian. After a shot in the butt and some antibiotic I am now back to my normal self. Now that I am better and Doc is no longer worried, she balled me out the other day. She found out I got sick from eating the bunny and raccoon poop that I like to snack on in our yard. Apparently it’s not good for you and can cause bacterial infections. Who knew? Doc was a bit upset to say the least. What I can’t understand is that what is gross to her is a gourmet treat to me.

Now for the best news. Last Saturday, Doc and I got a new next door neighbor. We found out when my best friend Norman came and stayed with us while his humans went out of town to pick up his new baby brother. Doc tried to warn Norman that his life was about to change, but there are just some things you don’t understand until you experience them.

Franklin is about 9 weeks old and full of spit and vinegar for such a little thing. He is literally only about the size of my head. It’s taken Norman some time to adjust now that he is no longer the top dog in the house, but they are really starting to enjoy each other.

Life is like that sometime, you can’t always prepare for what may be ahead but you can always remains open to adapt.

Stay well and take care until next time.

Come and Sit for Awhile

Photo by Angela Kirk

As the days become shorter and we move into fall, there is nothing better than sitting on the back porch with a cold bowl of water and my favorite human. The evening is my favorite time. Having finished work and our chores for the day we can just relax and put the daily grind behind us.

There is something quite magical that happens at dusk. It’s as if the world is winding down for it’s nightly slumber. The sounds of the children’s voices in the distance as they are getting in their last game of basketball as the street lights come on combined with the katydids singing always eases my mind. During this tough time we are all going through it helps me to feel like there is still a sense of normalcy in my little corner of the world.

Last night Doc told me that from the time she was a little girl she remembers sitting on the porch almost every evening with her father during the summer. She said they didn’t really talk about much, but to this day she remembers watching the sun set behind the barn and listening for the whistle of the train as it passed the crossing a mile from their house. I guess it’s those rituals that bring comfort to our lives.

So before it starts getting too cold, get your lawn chair and your favorite person or dog and spend an evening outside.

” This evening is as brief as the twinkling of an eye yet such twinkling is what eternity is made of.” Fred Rogers

COVID and Colonoscopies

Photo by Angela Kirk

Healthy dogs like myself get taken to see the veterinarian about once a year but if you are older than dirt like Doc, apparently there are all sorts of medical exams and tests they like to run on you. In the past few weeks Doc has been catching up on her medical check ups and exams that were postponed because of COVID. She has had her eyes examined, her ears and nose checked out and  her teeth cleaned, but this Friday she is having the mother of all exams called a colonoscopy. Apparently there is a lot involved in preparing for this test and after Doc explained it to me I am sure glad dogs don’t have to do this.

As we are in the middle of a pandemic, part of the preparation was a request by the doctors to be tested for COVID prior to the actual procedure. Since they were sending Doc to a outdoor testing site, I got to ride along. When we arrived we pulled up in our car and nice smiling nurses all dressed up in their PPE  approached the car and after checking Doc’s ID to make sure she wasnt’s using an allias she was instructed to tilt her head back and grip the steering wheel very hard apparently so that she could brace herself for what was about to happen. Then one of the smiling nurses gingerly stuck a very long swab that looked to be about 2 foot long up each nostril. As we we were driving away all Doc would say was ” it felt like they were probing my brain.”

Thursday is the game changer and the day I am not looking forward to as the prep for the testing will start. She has to be on a clear liquid diet that I know will make her grouchy and leave me without table scraps. Then at about four in the afternoon she will start of drinking what looks like a few gallons of some awful mixture that Doc says works like an atomic cleaning fluid for your colon. She says this prep will go on for hours, so I have decided to play it smart and lay low over at my friend Norman’s house until it’s over.

On Friday morning Doc’s nephew Scott will come and drive her to the medical clinic. Doc says columnist Dave Berry described it best when he said that basically they wheel you into the procedure room where an anesthesiologist puts you to sleep and then the doctor puts a 17,000 foot tube up your behind. I’m not sure what they are looking for but just hearing about it is enough to make me faint.

Hopefully when it’s over the doctor will tell her what a nice looking colon she has. Then we can all get some rest and look forward to not having to do this again for another 5 years.

Finding Solitude

Photo by Angela Kirk

My early morning walks with Doc are my favorite part of the day. Nature is waking from it’s slumber and it is peaceful and still in the world. When we are out in nature at that hour it reminds me of the quote that Doc likes to repeat from Henry David Thoreau, ” Live in each season as it passes; drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.”

It is so easy for you humans to get caught up in the frantic rhythm of life. The cacophony of sounds that fill your days and bombard your senses are only a distraction. I have also noticed the stress that it brings into your lives. Please explain to this dog how engaging in all the popular rantings of the day through social media and television help to resolve anything. Because I care, my advice to you is if it agitates you, disengage. It’s your choice what and who you allow in to your life.

This morning as we walked down the hill toward the park, I noticed the fog rising off of the pond in the distance. I couldn’t image any where else I would rather be. Maybe it’s your time to refocus and embrace the solitude of nature. Doc and I both guarantee that you won’t be sorry.

It’s A Thankless Job, But Somebody Has To Do It.

Photo by Angela Kirk

As we enter into the fifth month of working from home, I realized that Doc could benefit from having an on site supervisor. Left to her own devices, she may be slacking on her duties. No one is watching, so who knows what the heck she is doing all day. Up until now I have been assuming that she was upstairs in her office working while I nap downstairs in the middle of her bed, but lately I have been getting suspicious so I decided it was time to make it my business to find out.

When you are on a reconnaissance mission, the first thing you need to do is act casual. I knew she could hear my paws as I was coming up the steps. She acknowledged me with a nod, but she was busy talking to one of our patients whose voiced I recognized. I casually sauntered past her desk and acted like I was just looking out the window so I could see what was on her computer. To my surprise it was the patient’s record. I thought I might catch her on Facebook, Twitter or Tick Tock, but she was actually working. After about two hours of keeping my eye open for any indiscretion, I became bored and fell asleep on the floor beside her desk. I was aroused from my slumber when Doc woke me up after she was finished with her last patient.

“Why did you stay in the office all day today?’ she asked. “Well, I confessed sheepishly, I was trying to see if you were really working all day or if you were goofing off.” Then Doc gave me that look. “When people pay you to do a job, you do it, that’s called maturity. Besides, you know that people are counting on us and we have a responsibility to be there for them.”  “Well now I feel bad for being suspicious,” I said with a hint of shame. ” Oh Grover, it’s ok, it’s just another lesson you have learned today. You know what they say, the true test of a person’s character is what they do when none is watching.”