Perseverance

Photo by Angela Kirk

With all the noise and chaos going on in the world, you may have missed a monumental event. The NASA land rover Perseverance landed on Mars last Thursday. Doc and I were lucky to catch the event live on TV and it gave both Doc and this canine goosebumps when it finally touched down safely. We cheered and clapped right along with those NASA scientists. Think about it, NASA literally shot a dune buggy into space and landed it on Mars. Wow!

What surprised me was that the first thing that the rover did after it landed was Tweet a message back to earth that let NASA know it was safe, then it tweeted: ” Perseverance will get you anywhere.” ” What a statement!” I said as I turned to Doc and she nodded back to me in agreement. That one word “perseverance” really got me to thinking about how we can move forward in our lives.

When you think about wanting to accomplish a goal you can do one of three things, get stuck dreaming about a goal and not moving forward, start making excuses and giving up, or setting a goal and taking the steps necessary to achieve it and not giving up until you succeed.  People certainly have different motivation levels when it comes to change. Change for many feels so uncomfortable that they would rather stay with the devil they know. Doc takes the “no excuses” stance for herself and me. It can be annoying at times but she’s right. She says just keep moving forward even if you’re anxious or scared because things are usually much scarier in our head than in reality.

The scientists and engineers at NASA worked for about eleven years to build Perseverance. I am almost positive that they made mistakes and missteps along the way, but they kept on going. Its inevitable that in life we will make mistakes as we journey forward but Doc says she has learned more from her errors than her successes. The most important thing is to never give up. Believe in yourself and find others that believe in you. Sometimes perfect strangers or loved ones will show up to cheer you on. It’s always helpful to have good cheerleaders in your life to lift you up when you get discouraged.

The most important thing to remember is not to let anyone discourage your dreams because perseverance will get you anywhere you want to go, even to Mars.

Winter Whallop

Photo by Angela Kirk

When Old Man Winter slaps half the country with a major winter storm , it is a big reminder that humans are really not in control of everything.

The meteorologists started predicting the coming of the storm starting late last week. You could see the excitement in their eyes as they went over their maps and talked about fronts and wind chill factors. I watched with feigned interest not realizing that Doc was quietly making a list to prepare, but now that I look back on everything it is starting to add up. She did go to the store on a day she doesn’t usually go and made sure there were logs for the fire. Then on Sunday night she started charging all the electronic devices before we went to bed.  She has often told me that she learned in Girl Scouts the it’s best to prepare in advance instead of waiting for an emergency to happen.

The storm was suppose to arrive here on Monday but were surprised when we woke up to find only three measly inches of snow. After Doc and I walked down to the park and shoveled out the driveway she decided it was time to get some other chores done. I was not happy to find out that one of the chores was to give me a bath. The only good thing about that was that she took me to my favorite pet store where they have a dog bathing area. I did my best job of acting extra pathetic while she bathed me so that she would feel guilty and it worked. I picked out the most expensive treat to take home. As we walked outside you could tell that a storm front was moving in and it looked ominous.

As the afternoon turned into evening we could hear ice pelts starting to hit the window and roof. We were surprised as they had been predicting up to 8 inches of snow not ice. At bedtime I curled up right next to Doc for comfort as the wind started howling against the house. By morning some more snow had fallen on top of the ice and what a mess that created. Luckily our nice neighbor Aaron came over with his snow blower to clear the driveway and sidewalk. Watching the news we were shocked to see the devastation from the storm to areas of the country that are not prepared for this type of weather. We counted our blessings that we had remained safe and warm.

This morning the sun is shining, but don’t be fooled, it is only 6 degree’s, enough to freeze a dogs behind off and on Thursday  they are predicting another round of snow. Who knows what that will bring, but there is no doubt that Mother Nature gets the last word every time.

The Tale of a Mamas Boy

Photo by Angela Kirk

Since Doc and I have been staying inside most of the time due to the inclement weather she has developed an annoying habit. Instead of paying attention to me, she has been spending the evenings yacking on the phone with friends and it is starting to get on my last nerve.

Just last night we were in the middle of playing with a tennis ball I happened to “borrow” from the next door neighbors yard when her phone rang and she abruptly stopped our game to answer it.  How rude! She even puts the call on speaker phone like I care about anything humans discuss. It’s usually the same boring conversations. They either talk about the weather, what they ate for dinner and then the conversation inevitably turns to discussing things they did way back in the dark ages before I was even born. To be forced to listen to these stories and have Doc’s attention and time taken away from me gets my goat, so I have started plotting a way to get her to focus back on my needs. After all I am her fur child.

Over the next few days I tried a variety of stunts to get her attention. On Sunday night when the phone rang I quietly went back to Doc’s bedroom, jumped up on the bed and the first things I did was push all the pillows on the floor. The I used my teeth to strip off the comforter and sheets and pulled them to the floor. One by one I drug everything into the living room and boy that got her attention, but not in a good way. On Monday I went into the kitchen as soon as she started talking and was able to get to tray of biscuits she had cooling on the counter and ate two before she caught me. By last night she was on to me and kept an eye out until she became lost in conversation and I went over to confiscate her favorite throw and drag it across the floor. I stopped dead in my tracks when I heard her tell the caller in a irritated voice, ” I need to go, I have a jealous dog on my hands.”

“What is wrong with you Grover?” she asked sternly. That question stumped me because I didn’t think I was the one with the problem and told her so. ” It’s you! I said, you don’t pay any attention to me when your friends call and I think that’s wrong.” She was silent for a moment and I could tell she was thinking. “Grover, I can’t pay attention to you all the time, I need time for myself to do the things I like to do and you need to respect that. Let’s talk it out and come to a compromise ok?” So after some negotiating I agreed to respect her boundaries of having her own space and she would respect my play and cuddle time with her. I also had to admit to myself and Doc that I’m just a big old hairy mama’s boy.

Cheers to Punxsutawney Phil !

Photo by Angela Kirk

On Ground Hog day I anxiously awaited for that little rodent Punxsutawney Phil to make his prediction about spring and was happy when he saw his shadow and predicted six more weeks of winter. For those of you that hate winter, I can just imagine all the collective groaning and grumbling but all the big dogs and children are rejoicing with an Alleluia! I don’t get it, who doesn’t like a good snow day? So before passing judgement, give me a moment to state my case.

Our latest snow storm arrived late Friday night while Doc and I were sleeping. When I woke up and looked out the back door, the ground was covered. I threw back my head and howled with delight. I could hardly wait for breakfast to be over so we could go outside. Doc got all bundled up and even helped me on with my coat. When we opened the garage door I was excited to see the kids next door and my puppy friends Franklin and Norman sporting new winter coats. They were all running around, throwing snow balls and I even helped supervise the  building of snow man in our front yard.  They used strawberries for the eyes that looked so yummy I tried to eat them but Doc caught me and said it was time to go inside to get warm. We continued to have fun the whole weekend.

By Tuesday afternoon the sun came out and Doc and I decided to trudge down to the park.  As we came closer we could hear both adults and children squealing with laughter as they flew down the big hill on their sleds. When we came around the bend of the trail I heard some children call out my name and abandon their sledding to run down the trail and greet me with big hugs and kisses. It’s fun being a celebrity. We then walked a few miles and felt happy to stretch our legs after working all day.

It’s Tuesday evening as I write this and I hope I have convinced you to get outside and have some fun. Remember when you were a kid and a snow day meant no school and a whole day with your friends?  Doc says those were some of her her fondest memories. As soon as they would announce school was cancelled she would call her buddies and they would spend the day sledding and skating on her Aunt Pat’s pond. If you just can’t bring yourself to be out in the cold then at least appreciate how beautiful and clean the world looks covered in snow.

Today I challenge you to embrace that inner child again. Surprise yourself and take the time to play. It’s so good for the soul and we could all use a break from reality right now.

 

A Moment In Time

Photo by Angela Kirk

 

A cold misty fog hovered close to the ground as we took our early morning walk.  It is quite peaceful in the park at this hour as few venture out on cold, grey mornings leaving us to take in all the critters that inhabit the park.

Both Doc and I were lost in our own thoughts when we rounded the corner where the pubic swimming pool is fenced off.  We approached the fence and longingly looked over at the water slide and the lazy river drained of water with leaves floating in puddles at the base.  You could imagine hearing the children squealing with laughter as they shot down the water slide.” I wish it was summer and we could go swimming, this weather stinks and I’m sick of the pandemic.” Doc said with sadness in her voice. I was also thinking about summer and swimming in the pool, when I surprised myself by responding ” Lets just  do the best we can and enjoy right now!” Doc snapped her head around and said, “You are so right Grover, what a smart pup you are.” Blushing at the compliment, I reminded Doc it was my job to keep her focused in the here and now.

As we resumed our walk and went farther down the path, Doc and I decided to go over by the pond. As we peered over the bridge we were surprised to see a lone crane standing on the ice. He moved a few steps when he saw me but deciding I meant no harm, he remained still. Doc and I stood and watched the crane for quite awhile just enjoying the solitude and the beauty of the moment. It was a great reminder of  what we can miss in this world when we aren’t living in the present.

Photo by Angela Kirk

Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.” Thich Nhat Hahn

 

 

 

 

How Cookies Saved the Day

Photo by Angela Kirk

January leaves us with shorter days, grey sky’s and cold weather. It can easily affect your mood if you allow it and before you know it you have a case of the blahs.

By Sunday after a few dark days, our mood began to match the weather. We were laying around like two big lumps and were starting to get on each others nerves, when Doc said loudly  ” I’m sick of this!” She then abruptly arose like a phoenix from the bowels of the couch and before long I heard the familiar sound of baking sheets, bowls and spoons being banged around in the kitchen.  Knowing Doc would need my expert supervisory skills I got off my duff  and went to her aide.

When Doc is baking its almost like she zones off into another world. With the precision of a chemist she carefully measures the ingredients and puts everything in the mixer until it is the consistency needed. I know better than to disturb her during this process, so I lay quietly near by watching in case something drops on the floor and I need to lick it up with my tongue.

After everything was mixed she put 12 perfect round lumps of cookie dough on each baking sheet and placed them in the oven. The aroma was intoxicating and I drooled as I waited for the cookies to be done.

Doc ended up baking for most of the afternoon. We had with so many cookies you would have thought the Keebler Elves had broken into our house.  We had dozens of oatmeal raisin , peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies cooling on wire racks all over the kitchen.

When Doc finally stopped  and took a breath she looked around with a pleased look on her face. I gazed back up at her and said, “What do you plan on doing with all these cookies, we can’t eat all of these!” She looked back at me with a puzzled look. “Well, she said, I guess I will give them away.” So she immediately got on the phone and she started calling people to either come over and pick up cookies or arrange a time we could drop them off.  You want to be popular with people? Make them fresh baked goods.

Now we did keep about a dozen cookies for ourselves, but by Monday we had given away all the rest.  And guess what else we got rid of in the process, our winter blahs. Maybe you can bake your blues away.

Getting Rid of the Old and Other Tales

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc says the world is in an upheaval right now. Even she is a little more on edge lately. I do my best to keep her focused and calm and when I asked her what was wrong she told me that many humans are feeling anxious.

I guess every person, just like dogs respond to what makes them uncomfortable in different ways. Doc’s go to response when she is feeling stressed is to stick to a schedule and focus on what she can control. I swear the planets would be getting ready to collide and she would still stick to a plan.

So guess what Doc has me helping her with? Organizing and getting rid of things we don’t need and that includes my stuff. Right after Christmas she started by ripping things out of the closet and she instructed me to do the same things with my belongings. ” Make three piles, she said. One to recycle, one to donate and one to toss.” “Really! I complained, my toys and blankets don’t even take up that much room!”     ” That’s not the point Grover, there are homeless dogs at the shelter that can benefit from the things you don’t use.” ” Ok Doc,” I responded quietly. I knew I would just sound like a butt head if I refused after she said that.

Yesterday after we were done with work and some more cleaning she told me to get in the car. I didn’t know where we were going but heck, I was getting out of the house. We ended up down at the Ohio State fair grounds and got in a line of cars. When  I asked Doc what we were doing she told me she was getting her first COVID shot. I must have looked concerned because she told me not to worry that I would not be getting one. When it was Doc’s turn she pulled up and a very nice Fireman/Paramedic asked her a bunch of questions and then gave her a shot right in the arm. I was proud of her, she didn’t even cry like I did when I got my flu shot a few weeks ago. She was then instructed to drive outside and wait 15 minutes next to the red ambulance where there were paramedic’s in case she had a reaction.  When the time was up we drove home.

By the time we got back to the house I was worn out. After I ate dinner, I jumped up on the couch for a quick snooze and fell sound asleep.  This morning Doc work me up at 5:30 am.  When I asked her how she was feeling she said all she had was a little soreness in her arm from the shot.  We then went upstairs and started doing counseling at 6am sharp. Just another day that I am feeling thankful for.  

“There is a calmness to a life lived in gratitude, a quiet joy.” Ralph H. Blum

 

 

 

 

A Thief in the Night

Photo by Suzanne Kirk

Although I don’t talk much about the relatives, I do have a cousin named Garrett that happens to be a cat. He lives way up in Michigan and apparently the winter has become so harsh and boring that my cousin has resorted to becoming a cat burglar.

His crime spree all started when Garrett’s human mom started to notice random items like gloves and nerf darts showing up at her house. Puzzled, she just thought some kids had left them in the yard while playing and didn’t pay much attention. But over time the items increased. There were hats, seat covers and one day a watch appeared. It didn’t take her long to uncover who the culprit was. The strange thing about it was that cats usually bring home dead mice or chipmunks to their owner, but apparently Garrett had not gotten that memo. Garrett had decided that ordinary rodents were not good enough for his humans. No, he went straight to high ticket items he though his humans could use.

At first his human went door to door trying to return the items. She even made Garrett write apology notes to the people he stole from and made him swear he would stop his night time thievery. I know that Doc would be appalled if I engaged in any kind of stealing and I would have some big consequences if I even thought of trying anything like that. Apparently the cats in Michigan run wild.

So to make a long story short, Garrett continued stealing, so the only thing left to do was a public shaming. His human went to the sign shop, had his picture placed on a big carboard sign with a note that said “I borrow items from open garages and yards. Please check this bin if you are missing gloves, hats or nerf darts.” The sign is on the mailbox out by the road so that everyone can see it and check for any stuff they are missing.

I guess that’s how they resolve things in Michigan but I told Garrett not to even think about stealing any of our stuff when he comes to visit. It’s shame to think that I would need to frisk my cousin on his way out the door.

Goodbye 2020!

Photo by Angela Kirk

My deepest reflections about life often come late in the evening while I relax on the couch by the fire and last night was no exception.  I guess you could definitely call me a glass half full kind of dog but after awhile, 2020 starting getting on my last nerve.  Even with the all the upheaval the year brought us, I still have faith and hope that we will move forward and things will get better.

A clear sign of hope came over the last few days as Doc and I saw more of our current and former medical colleagues display on social media that they were so happy and relieved to have received their first COVID vaccination. Our friend Lee, a nurse practitioner said it the best; ” I feel lucky to be able to protect myself, my family, my patients and my community.”  In return we feel lucky to have people like Lee that have weathered the storm and put their patients and community first even when they were scared, emotionally exhausted and physically tired. There is now a proverbial light at the end of the tunnel that we can focus on.

In addition I have been touched by the outpouring of love and support from everyday humans that have fed , clothed and sheltered those suffering due to unsurmountable losses as a result of the pandemic.  Fred Rogers of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood use to say that when he would see scary things as a child, his mother would tell him to look for the helpers, because you will always find people that are helping. I think this is so true. I have observed that some of the biggest issues are solved not by the people with the most power to do it, but by kind, everyday people that see suffering and address it at the grass roots level. Watching humans give from the heart gives me hope as well.

Hope is so important for all of us. It helps us to lift our head and move forward knowing better days are soon to come. So as the clock strikes twelve this New Years eve, know that Doc and I wish that the lessons of the past year leave us with a new appreciation for the people that have stood beside us through it all. Because in the end, nothing is more important than the care and love we show each other. Happy New Year!

Holiday Drama and the Hope of the Christmas Star

Photo by Angela Kirk

The chaos started in the wee hours of Sunday morning while I was nestled all snug in the bed, while visions of dog treats danced in my head.  When suddenly from the bed there arose such a clatter that I sprang to my paws to see what was the matter. When what to my wondering eyes should appear? Well, it wasn’t Santa and his eight tiny reindeer. It was Doc and she was obviously in distress.

I watched with concern as she scratched furiously all over her skin like she wanted to pull it off. “Did she have fleas?” I thought to myself. Poor thing. After she turned the bedside light on even I could see the red bumpy rash in blotches on her skin. “Uh oh, I said out loud, what are you gonna do about that at two in the morning.”  “Pray that there is some allergy medicine somewhere in the cupboard” she moaned. Luckily there was some left over and after taking it she finally got some relief and we both went back to sleep.

I slept so late the sun was up  when I awoke the next morning. As I opened one eye there was Doc sitting on the side of the bed scratching again.  Since it was Sunday, she couldn’t see a doctor unless she went to the hospital or Urgent Care, so for the rest of the day Doc sucked it up and stayed busy. She was was not the most pleasant person to be around so I avoided her like she had the plague. I know you are thinking I should have been more understanding but with COVID, not being able to work or see everyone we love, I was starting to get worried that something was really wrong with her. What if we had to cancel Christmas?

Early Monday morning she called the doctors office and talked to a nice nurse who told her to come in that afternoon but warned if symptoms got worse to got to the ER. Now I was scared. I sat right next to the desk all morning while she worked making sure she was ok until it was time for her appointment.

After she left, I waited anxiously by the front window so I could see when she drove in the driveway. Meeting her at the door I gazed up at her as she said ” I had an allergic reaction to some medication that they gave me, but everything will be ok.”  Hearing that I sighed with relief.

They gave her some steroids  to stop the hives and the itching. They not only worked but let me  tell you those steroids must be some kind of miracle drug. Doc has been zipping around all this week with the energy of a teenager.

Last night after dinner Doc told me she had a special surprise. She took me outside and told me to look into the South- Western sky. I looked toward the heavens and saw the brightest star I had ever seen in the night sky. Doc told me that some call it the Christmas star and that it has not been seen in 800 years. It had been too cloudy for us to see it on the Solstice, but it was still magnificent! As we stood there together in silence gazing in wonder at the vast universe, it really put everything into perspective. I was once again hopeful that everything would be ok and that the star was sign of hope for the new year. We could all use a little hope about now.

May you and your family have very blessed Holiday season!