A Vacation of a Different Kind

fullsizerender-11As the unseasonably warm temperatures of fall in the midwest come to a close, I have been thinking about how I will spend my winter. It occurred to me that it was time to plan some “me time” away from Doc. Now that she is back on her feet again, I won’t feel the need to keep my eye on her every minute of the day. It just so happens that I came across a web site the other day called AtlasObscura.com that listed some very unusual travel destinations, so I thought I would share them with you to see what you think.

Since Christmas is around the corner, the first place that caught my eye, is an elf school in Iceland. While learning about the seven types of elves, they also offer study about other little creatures like fairies and gnomes. Who knows, some of the things I learn could lead me to a part-time gig with Santa over Christmas break.

After finishing elf school, I though I would come back to the US and make a stop in Midland,  Michigan to check out a school for the Santa’s that help out the real one when he gets too busy. Here I will learn about the history of Santa Clause, reindeer habits, and they even have flight lessons, all important things to know if you are Santa. I was thinking I might fill in for Rudolf if he needed to call in sick. CBS dubbed this school as the Harvard of Santa schools, so I know it is good.

After finishing my elf and Santa classes I will probably want to spend some time at the beach so I can relax before heading home. If I go down to Tampa, Florida, not only can I get in some beach time, but I can also attend the Gasparella Pirate Festival. This will be the 101st  year that they have celebrated the last of the buccaneers, pirate Jese Gaspirillo, who terrorized the southern part of Florida all the way down to Cuba. My favorite part of this adventure is that everyone is expected to dress and act like a pirate. I am already thinking of some costume ideas and am excited for some of the events that will include; walking the plank, how to overtake another ship, capture their jewels and draw a correct treasure map.

After the pirate festival it will be time to head home as it will almost be Christmas and I will probably be home sick anyway. I know I will come back with some good stories to tell and will learn a lot on my adventure. Until then, I hope this sparked your curiosity about some places off the beaten path that you would like to explore. They could be far away or right near your back door, you just never know.

 

 

 

 

groverpic ” You might be a redneck if your front porch collapses and kills more than three dogs.”

— Jeff Foxworthy

Boycotting Black Friday

img_0485 After filling my belly with turkey, some stuffing and a little bit of gravy that Doc let me have, I settled down for a nap while listening to the family discuss Black Friday shopping. Since Doc’s arm is still in a sling from her surgery, we all decided it was not a good idea for her to tackle what can be the unruly crowds trying to shop. She was too tired after hosting Thanksgiving, so I don’t think she wanted to do anything but rest on Friday anyway. Some of the family was going to the zoo the next day, so I decided to tag along and boycott Black Friday.

After venturing out of the house, we found heavy traffic and lines everywhere, even at the zoo. I was surprised that when we came to the penguin exhibit, even they had formed a line like there were mark-downs on fish that day. It made me wonder what motivates people to leave the comfort of their homes and family to seek out bargains on stuff that they either think they need for themselves or want to give to others.

There was a very funny comedian named George Carlin that said “The meaning of life is trying to find a place to keep your stuff. Your house is just a place to keep your stuff, so that you can go out and get more stuff.” I agree with George, humans love their stuff and they especially love it when they can find “stuff” marked down, which brings us back to Black Friday.

Everybody gets stressed out during the holiday season trying to buy things for others and many times they overspend to the point of going in to debt. Now I am just a dog, but I don’t think that’s very good for you to be fretting over such things. It’s my advice that we all need to take a step back and really think about what is important during the holidays. For me, that is spending time with Doc, and keeping the real meaning of Christmas in my heart by giving to those that are really in need of help. Now doesn’t that sound better than fighting over marked down flat screens at Target?

groverpic “Adventure might hurt you, but monotony might kill you.”

— April Vokey

Pre -Thanksgiving Mayhem

fullsizerender-12The reason I am writing this is to plead with all of my dear readers to talk some sense into Doc as I think she has finally lost all her marbles. As you know she recently had shoulder surgery and her arm is still in a sling 24/7. Would you believe that she still plans to have the whole clan over to her house for Thanksgiving?

Since close to 18 relatives and friends come for the holiday my first question was how was she going to pick up  a 20+pound turkey at the grocery store and get it home, let alone prepare it and get it in the oven with one arm. That woman has an answer for everything. She has already asked someone to take her to the store to buy a turkey and knows where she can get them for 79 cents a pound.

Her nephew Tom was no help when he suggested she pick up the turkey like a football and carry it under her right arm and then drop it in the roaster. Then I heard her tell Jim, her physical therapist that she was trying to think of how she could make a lift for the turkey that had a sling and she could place the turkey on the sling and slowly lower it in to the oven. She has been watching too many episodes of MacGyver.

What Doc forgets is that she is supposed to be taking it easy. I guess taking it easy for her means she only makes two pies instead of 4 and takes a nap in between. I have to hand it to her she is starting to sort it all out and call in the troops to help, but it’s still stressing her out. She doesn’t really like to ask other people for help, because she’s too impatient to wait. If I ever wanted to set Doc over the edge, all I would have to do is tell her she can’t be in control or do anything for one week.

I think it’s hard for her because she has always been so independent and a caretaker for most of her life. I tell her she needs to take some of her own advice that she dolls out to her patients, but she just gives me that steely eyed look and I know she is thinking I should mind my own business. I hope she doesn’t drop the turkey on the floor like she has in the past.

Well, I guess it will all work out. No sense fussing at her and adding to her stress. Doc wouldn’t be herself if she let something like surgery get in the way of the holiday. As for the rest of you, I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving and don’t forget to sneak some left over turkey to the family dog.

 

groverpic ” I feel sorry for people who don’t have dogs. I hear they have to pick up food they drop on the floor.”

— Anonymous

Post Election Stress

GroverTrumpDear Grover,

As you know, the humans just elected a new president of the United States. I need your advice, as I have never seen the people I care about so stressed. Can you give me some advice on how to help them calm down? They are so out of sorts, I am getting ignored as well. I will appreciate any advice you can give me.

Respectfully,

Baily in Buffalo

Dear Baily,

Don’t despair, I know how to help. First of all, never underestimate the power we have as dogs to help our humans get calm and back on track. One of the things that always helps Doc when she is stressed is to get her outside to focus on nature. For example, on Monday morning, I woke her up at 6:30am to get her outside so that she wouldn’t miss seeing the big beautiful super moon among all the stars. It’s hard to look at something so spectacular and not be reminded how small we really are in the universe by comparison. It puts things in perspective.

Another thing you can do to help, is divert your humans attention. If trying to get them to play with you doesn’t work, you can always resort to acting up. Every time they turn on one of those 24 hour political news channels, or start arguing with one another you can steal one of their shoes or favorite items and start destroying it in front of them. That will re-focus their attention. I know that may sound radical, but all this emotional chaos requires radical measures.

The most important thing you can do, is to be a good listener. (You would be surprised the things Doc tells me.) The great thing about talking to a dog is that we don’t talk back and give our political opinions. Just look at your human like they are the smartest and most interesting person in the world. You will be surprised how much that will help.

Finally, the one thing I have learned from being a therapy dog is that everyone can do their part by reaching out and helping others. Remind your humans that the smallest gestures can make a difference. We can all engage in kind deeds even if we don’t like the like the president elect.

Watching all of this fusing between humans makes me happy that I am a dog. So hang in their Baily, you never know who the next president may be four years from now. Personally, I  think President Grover has a nice ring to it, don’t you?

Best wishes,

Grover

 

groverpic ” A dog doesn’t care if your rich or poor, smart or dumb. Give him your heart…and he’ll give you his.

— Milo Gathema

It’s Hard To Say Goodbye

img_0598There is a rhythm to life if you stop and notice. The  rituals and tasks you perform and people who you encounter on a daily basis become part of your world and you assume they will always exist. Then one day that rhythm is disrupted and a change occurs. It leaves a void in your life that you can’t describe, a feeling of loss because that person or event is no longer present. A sudden change occurred like that for me recently, when Judy, one of my favorite staff members retired after 18 years.

Judy was our receptionist and I met her for the first time when I was only 9 weeks old the day Doc took me to work to meet my co-workers. She welcomed me with open arms and I responded by giving her puppy kisses and curling up in her lap for a short nap.

Over the past four years our relationship developed into a warm friendship. Every morning, I would go to the front of the building where Judy worked and she would always have a treat for me (tasty gourmet treats, not the cheap kind Doc feeds me) and a warm pat on the head. I would sneak into her lunch bag and if I was fast enough, score an extra morsel. Even though Doc would be mortified and offer to buy her another lunch, Judy would only laugh and tell Doc not to worry about it.

As our receptionist, Judy was often the first person that people talked to when seeking addiction and mental health services. She greeted people on the phone and at the front door and I observed over the years that no matter who she talked to or encountered, she treated everyone with the same warmth and respect. I often saw her lend an empathetic ear to anyone that needed it and that included Doc sometimes.

When Judy decided to retire after many hard years of work we were surprised. But, her move to another state to be with her children and grandchildren is her reward for a job well done as she starts the next phase of her life.

It still feels sad in the early morning hours when the agency is quiet and I look down the hall for Judy’s smiling face. I hope she is having fun and relaxing in her retirement, but that doesn’t keep me from missing her.

 

groverpic “Dogs have so many friends because they wag their tails, not their tongues.”

— Proverb