Leave Fear Behind

Photo by Angela Kirk

Recently Doc and I took a trip to the lake for a few days to rest and reflect. Last year was my first trip to Lake Erie and when Doc took me down to the water’s edge I became frightened by how much water there was, the noise of the waves hitting the rocks and all the birds flying so close as they were diving for fish. But after a day of being around the water and with Doc’s encouragement, I started to like it and even put my paws in the water as we walked along the beach.  As I looked out over the water today I started to think about all I would have missed if I would have let my fear keep me from having a new experience that I now love. So my question to you my gentile readers is this; How is fear holding you back from living your life to the fullest?

It’s easy to get trapped doing the same old thing every day because it feels familiar and safe, even when you wish you had the courage to do something different. Staying stuck in fear keeps us walled off from all the possibilities of living a life to the fullest. Sometimes you just have to move forward even if you are afraid. Doc often tells me that after she has done something that she was afraid of that she finds it was never as bad as she had conjured up in her mind.  She’s right and personally I would rather face whatever I am afraid of than get to the end of my life and have regrets over what could have been. I think the lyrics to the song Already Gone by the Eagles says it the best; “So often time it happens that we live our lives in chains and we never even know we have the key.”

 

Photo by Angela Kirk” Every once in a while a dog enters your life and changes everything.”

— Anonymous

Oh the Drama!

Photo by Angela Kirk

Wayne Dyer once said  “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” No truer words have been spoken. Now let me tell you about some drama that Doc and I almost got pulled in to the middle of.

Of course the problem started with the humans and then we dogs being loyal to our masters felt the need to step forward and back them up. Some neighbors were arguing over goodness knows what as Doc and I were taking a walk down the street. The kids and the dogs were front and center all eyes and ears watching and learning how adults handle conflict. From my view it didn’t look like it was going very well. Lots of yelling and thankfully nothing physical, but no one was really listening to one another. As we got closer I looked up at Doc to see what she would do, ready to jump into action if needed. I noticed the arguing got louder after they saw us, trying to pull us into the fracas. I watched as she assessed the situation and then to my surprise she just kept walking. As I kept trying to strain my neck to see what was going on Doc looked down at me and said ” Mind your own bees-wax Grover, keep walking.”

Upset that she had corrected me, when we got further down the street I asked her why she didn’t intervene. ” After all, aren’t you the queen of conflict resolution?” I ask with a snarky tone in my voice.  ” Not every conflict is our conflict to resolve Grover” she said calmly as she went on to explain, ” If someone was being physically harmed or in danger I would have made a different decision, but that was their battle to figure out and resolve. Often the more people that get involved, the more a situation can escalate.”

And you know what? When we returned from our long walk two of the neighbors were talking things out calmly and the other one had walked away. The children and the dogs were back to playing with each other like nothing had happened.

Another important life lesson…sometimes it’s better to stay out of the drama and hopefully the parties involved will work toward a peaceful resolution, forgive, forget and move on without any help from me.

Photo by Angela Kirk” Those who teach the most about humanity aren’t always human.”

— Donald L. Hicks

With Liberty and Justice For Dogs.

Photo by Angela Kirk

Since tomorrow is the 243 birthday of the United States, I decided to brush up on my United States history by reading the Declaration of Independence. On July 4, 1776 the Continental Congress declared that the thirteen colonies of America were no longer subject to British rule and were now free and united.  ” We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  After some reflection I couldn’t help thinking that Doc treats me a lot like the king of England had treated his subjects and decided it was time for a revolution. My mistake was bringing that to her attention.

Wandering into her office I found her lost in thought about a patient she had just seen and I asked her if I could have a minute of her time. “Sure Grover, what’s on your mind?” she asked with a smile. ” Well Doc, I have been reading the Declaration of Independence in preparation for tomorrows holiday and I wanted to let you know that according to this document that you are violating some of my rights. I think that it is time to follow the forefathers of this country and dissolve the political bands that have connected us. Further more it is my right as a dog to abolish the current form of oppressive government you have me living under and institute a new government to protect my safety and happiness.”  Without even hesitating she said ” Ok that’s fine.”.  I have to admit I was a little startled by her blase response and then she said, ” You know that means you will have to set up your own government, provide for yourself, live somewhere else, buy your own food, and pay your own bills don’t you?”

I sat there is silence for a moment and said, “Well I guess I never thought it all the way through Doc.” ” How about a compromise? she asked. You tell me the changes you would like to see and we will come up with a plan. That’s how democracy is supposed to work she said. Remember Grover, it’s always important to tell me how you are feeling. I am not a mind reader you know. Now let’s go home and get ready for our 4th of July cook out.” And with that my little revolution ended before it even got started.

Happy Independence Day!

 

Photo by Angela Kirk” Solutions are not found pointing fingers they are reached by extending hands.”

— Aysha Taryam

Just Chillaxing

Photo by Angela Kirk

Lets face it, we all have busy and sometimes stressful lives. Luckily Doc knows the importance of relaxing and having a good time. You can often hear her preach on the importance of having balance in your life. So that is just what we did on Saturday night, Doc practiced what she preached by taking me to see a jazz concert at the outdoor amphitheater in the park.

It was a perfect summer night. No humidity and not a cloud in the sky. Doc placed her folding chair on the hill as I laid in the cool grass beside her. As we were listening I could feel the stress leave my body. What does a dog have to be stressed about you may ask?  Plenty. Doc had me doing some chores in the morning like going with her to the pet store and getting the car washed. The car wash always freaks me out. Too much water and too many spider-like things rubbing all over the car. Then there is the left over stress from the work week as I do have a job trying to make people feel better. So like the kids say it was time to chillax.

It’s easy to get frazzled from too much worry, overwork, and lack of self-care. Sometimes it sneaks up on us without us even realizing it and hits us right between the eyes. The father of Stress Management, Hans Selye explained that stress causes wear and tear on the body. That’s why we get sick and fatigued. When we get out of balance, out body keeps count.

So what ‘s a person to do? Prevention is the key. Doc said she had to learn the hard way in her youth and suffered the consequences of getting burnt out. Now she makes sure she manages her stress ever day by doing at least one thing a day that she looks forward to, we both get plenty of sleep, don’t over schedule ourselves, stay away from junk food and my favorite, taking a daily walk. Self care needs to be your #1 priority. You can’t function or help others if you are exhausted. It really is ok to have some fun in your life, you deserve it.

Photo by Angela Kirk” Self-care is how you take your power back.”

— Lalah Delia

A Lesson in Tolerance

My friend Norman stopped by the other day to spend some quality time together. We played and hung out but he started getting on my last nerve when he was trying to get Doc’s attention every time she came into the room. After all, she is my human mother and he has his own family that will pay attention to him. I noticed he was using his cuteness to get Doc’s attention. I don’t want to accuse him of being manipulative but you know how the saying goes “If it quacks like a duck…”

After Norman left I decided to have a conversation with Doc about how I was feeling. She sat quietly and listened as I went on and on about how I wasn’t happy about Norman’s behavior.  When I was finished Doc  looked at me and said, ” psychiatrist Carl Jung once opined that everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ” What are you saying? ‘ I asked Doc. ” When some other human or dog’s behavior irritates you, use it as a mirror. Maybe you are judging Norman so you don’t have to look at your own insecurities, anxiety or whatever it is that you are really feeling. Only you can figure that out by being honest with yourself” she said as she walked out of the room.

Doc may be right, but I hate it when she points things out and then I have to go and think about it. After some reflection I realized that I was jealous of poor little Norman and the attention Doc was giving him. It just stirred up my insecurities and fear that Doc would end up loving another dog and replace me. I know that’s not even close to true because I know Doc has enough love for many animals and that I am always her #1 but that’s what fears often are, irrational thoughts.

Later in the day I went back to Doc and told her I had figured it all out. “When I learn to understand and accept myself including all my flaws and feelings it will also help me to tolerate and allow others to be themselves too” I told her with a smile. “Grover, she said, you are one smart puppy!”

Photo by Angela Kirk” Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”

— Thomas Edison