Horse Talk

Photo by Angela Kirk

It’s turning fall in the midwest so Doc thought it was a good time of year to take a group of patient’s back out to the horse farm. As you recall Doc has been using equine assisted therapy to help patient’s  enhance their emotional growth. The work we do at the farm with the horses acts a metaphor for what is going on in the person’s life and today was quite an awakening for most of the group members.

From this dog’s perspective, humans spend too much time listening to what others have to say, forgetting that it’s the behavior that always tells the real truth. Ignoring people’s behavior gets some of you in big trouble. Knowing that can be a problem for many, we worked on a exercise that would bring that to light.

First they had to pay attention to the horses body language as they approached their space. We often forget that non-verbal communication counts for about 93% in humans because you all love to hear each other talk. Since the only way animals communicate is non-verbally the group had to learn and then pay attention to their language.

All was going well with he exercise until one of the big draft horses that is still growing at age 2 decided to approach Doc when she wasn’t looking and attempted to pull the watch right off of Doc’s wrist. It was a battle of non-verbals when Doc pushed the horses head away and then that big 1800 pound baby reacted by trying to bite the toe of Doc’s boot. No harm, just a youngster trying to test the boundaries.

So at the end of the day what did everybody learn? When they respected the horses body language and their space, the horses were calmer and more willing to engage. We talked about the importance of respect as part of the communication process whether it is horse, dog or human. It’ s easy to forget sometimes especially if we are intent to get what we want or are trying to get our point across.

 

Photo by Angela Kirk ” If you constantly have to tell someone the same exact thing about how you feel and they don’t change it, understand they don’t respect you.”

— livelifehappy.com

I Hate Football Saturday!

Photo by Angela Kirk

Everybody needs to feel like they are part of a team. Whether it’s rooting for your favorite sports team or the team you have formed to help others in need or a work team at your job. It gives us all a sense of camaraderie and purpose. I get that, but what if you are a dog stuck in a family that is fanatical about their college football team and you don’t like football?

For Doc and her family, nothing is better than a football Saturday where the whole day evolves around getting all your chores done before the big game. Sometimes Doc goes to the stadium to watch the game in person and actually those days are better because I am left alone in peace. But those games where everyone comes over to the house, forget about it.

The first thing that happens that I hate with a passion is that Doc dresses me up in the team jersey. Now why on earth would a dog need to do that? But because everyone tells her how cute I look, she keeps dressing me up in those ridiculous outfits every week. Good grief!

When the family gets to the house I am happy to see everyone, but when the game starts I get ignored, so I go over to the corner and try to get some sleep. Usually just as I am dozing off the room erupts into a screaming and yelling frenzy and me being a dog I think I am being alerted to an emergency. When I jump up to see what’s wrong, all I see is a bunch of people smiling and giving each other the high five. They act like they are the ones that ran the darn ball down the field. So strange. I’m not sure if Doc could even run the length of that field.

When the game is over and depending on the outcome they are either elated or sad. If they loose, they talk smack about the coach, the referees and the bad weather conditions. They are so invested I often wonder if it is healthy. No one cares much what I think because you can bet your next pay check they will do it over again and again until the season ends.

At the end of the season everyone looks so sad that you would assume a loved-one had passed away. With no more games to play I pray that life will get back to normal , but think again. Through out the winter they follow sports to find out what new players have been recruted for fall’s team, what assistant coaches will stay or leave and what players will be in the starting line up. So obsessive! I am thankful for one thing though, for about 7 months I don’t have to wear those stupid outfits. Go Team!!!

Photo by Angela Kirk ” Your dog will never wake up one day and decide he doesn’t love you anymore.”

— Anonymous

Mistakes Can Be Our Biggest Life Lessons

Photo by Angela Kirk

The humiliation of Doc putting me in time out was enough to really make me reflect on what I had done. She told me it wasn’t the act, it was the cover up that had gotten me in trouble . On top of that she was upset because I didn’t show one ounce of remorse. So Doc being Doc, told me a story to get her point across.

Recently she had read an article written by journalist Martin Schram that had reflected on an incident with the late Senator John McCain. Mr. Schram, while working for CNN had done a commentary on TV and wrote a column strongly criticizing Sen. McCain. The criticism had to do with Senator McCain rushing to the senate floor “hellbent on not just defeating one of President Bill Clinton’s nominees for federal judge ship, but doing it in a manner more repulsive than anything Mr. Schram had seen or read.” Mr. Schram reported that the Arizona senator read aloud the confidential psychiatric profile of Clinton’s nominee, who had received psychiatric services while serving in the military.

Prior to his report, Mr. Schram alerted McCain’s press secretary about what he would be saying. Later he gave his report on CNN, wrote his column and then went home.

The next morning Mr. Schram received a call from Senator McCain. Bracing for a dress down from the senator he was surprised when instead Senator McCain said to him softly that ” he had watched the commentary and read my column then he thanked me for it. He said I was absolutely right to criticize what he had done. Said I made him see how wrong he had been. Added he was “ashamed” of what he had done-but that what I’d written would make him a better person.”

After finishing the story Doc looked me in the eye and said; ” Grover everyone makes mistakes and does things wrong, that’s just a normal part of life. It’s how you handle your mistakes and what you learn from them that matters. It’s not a sign of weakness to admit you are wrong and ask for forgiveness. It actually shows strength and courage.”

Slowly I lifted my head, looked at Doc and told her what I had learned and asked for her forgiveness. She smiled and accepted my apology. Just one more lesson learned in this dogs life.

Photo by Angela Kirk “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

— George Bernard Shaw

Greetings From the Lake!

Photo by Angela Kirk

Dear Mom and Dad,

I haven’t written in awhile but Doc said now is a good time to drop you an e-mail since I am on vacation and not busy working. Hope you and everyone else are ok at the goat farm. I heard that you have both retired. Good for you! Sometime I think about those days and I get to feeling a little melancholy, but not to worry because I have a great life and Doc takes very good care of me.

This year Doc surprised me by taking me on my first week-long vacation. She rented a house that allowed one dog and you guessed it, I was the lucky dog. She tried to describe where we were going but since the farthest I’ve been is Dayton, Ohio I had no idea what she was talking about.

The night before we left she packed up the car with enough stuff to last a month. She even had a suitcase for me with my food, favorite toys, treats and my dog bed. We drove for a few hours and finally pulled in front of this cute little house where we were going to stay. As soon as we got settled Doc took me across the street to see the biggest body of water I have ever seen. She looked down at my surprised face and said “Welcome to Lake Erie, one of the great lakes!”

I don’t need to tell you that I was taken aback by the sounds of the water hitting the rocks, all the seagulls diving for fish and the new smells. It was a little over whelming at first but after about a day I got used to the new house and surroundings. We had a great big screened in porch that looked out at the lake and gave me a view of everything going on. You know how nosey I can be so this was like heaven.

Family, friends and even some old neighbors from back home showed up at the house to visit. It was fun spending such a relaxing week with everyone. The only bad thing that happened is that one night I fell right out of bed onto the hardwood floors. It made such a racket it scared Doc have to death and woke everybody up . Luckily I didn’t hurt myself.

My favorite part of the vacation was taking a long walk along the lake every morning with Doc. It was so quiet and peaceful and sometimes we would sit on a bench watching the Kelly’s Island ferry cross over to the island loaded with cars, supplies and people. It was nice having Doc to myself every morning.

As all good things must come to an end, eventually we had to pack up and go home. I admit that I was sad to leave. Doc’s Aunt Pat used to say that vacation means to vacate and she was right. Everyone needs to get away, rest and get a different perspective on life, even this dog.

So mom and dad, everything is good so don’t worry about me. You knew what you were doing when you let me go live with Doc. I am one blessed dog. Give my best to everyone at the farm.

Your loving son,

Grover

Photo by Angela Kirk ” It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.”

— Philip Green

It’s the Little Things That Matter

Photo by Angela Kirk

Late last evening Doc and I went for a nice leisurely walk around the neighborhood. After visiting all my favorite places and stopping to talk to the neighbors we headed into the house for the night. It was getting late and I heard Doc let out a heavy sigh as she sat down to take off her tennis shoes. It had been a long hard day for both of us.

As Doc turned on the TV to watch the news, I quietly went into the bedroom to retrieve what I was looking for and without a sound placed it next to Doc’s chair. She never even noticed. Then I went back to my place on the couch and waited.

After a while I noticed Doc slowly rise from her chair and as she turned toward the kitchen, she came to a halt as she looked down on the floor. A surprised look came upon her face as she glanced over at me and said “Oh Grover, you brought me my slippers, what a sweet dog you are!”  Then she came over and as she kissed me on top of the head she said ” Thank you for taking care of me.”

Now personally I didn’t think it was any big deal but Doc corrected me. “It’s the little things we do ever day for each other that have the biggest impact. Every time we hold a door open, say thank you, or help someone without being asked, we are recognizing the person and showing respect. You just never know when a kind gesture can turn someone’s day around. You are especially good at making people feel special Grover. When you go over and greet a patient, give them a gentle lick, or bring them one of your favorite toys, you provide comfort. Every human should be as giving as you.”

Thinking about what Doc said, I thought to myself, what would the world be like if we all took the time to perform small acts of kindness everyday?

 

 

Photo by Angela Kirk ” Humankind would improve if we concentrated less on being human and more on being kind.”

— Ashwin Sanghi