Learning to Let Go and Move On

Photo by Angela Kirk

During the many counseling sessions that I co- facilitate with Doc I hear the same old response from patients when discussing the importance of letting go. ” If I forgive them then they win.”  Doc always responds with the same statement, ” Learning to forgive is for you as well as the other person, so that you can move on.  It doesn’t ever mean that you don’t have boundaries with that person, it just means that you take back your power.”

In my six long years on this earth, I have learned that conflict is just a normal part of relationships. As much as Doc and I love each other, we can get upset with each other sometimes. Both of us are stubborn, but Doc can get pretty bossy and  get on my last nerve, but what good would it do if I held a grudge? Grudges  weigh you down. It’s like dragging around a 50 pound bag of junk that you really don’t need or want.

It’s the same with friends. Inevitably you will have a disagreement. Just last week I noticed my buddy Norman was not playing with one of his favorite toys, a big green bone. Without asking, I picked it up and took it into my yard to play with it. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but when Norman saw me with his toy, he had a fit! Then he got me in big trouble by telling Doc what I did. He was mad at me and I was mad at him. After both of us pouted for awhile we forgot what we were mad about and starting playing again.

So now I am going to give you some helpful tools to deal with conflict when it rears its ugly head. 1. If your feathers feel ruffled, take some time to cool down before you talk about what you’re angry about, 2. Be mindful of your body language (don’t roll your eyes at the other person or use nasty hand gestures), 3. No name calling, 4. Listen and really hear what the other person is saying, 5. Focus on the things you can control and let go of everything else, 6.Take responsibility for your part in the conflict, 7. Be willing to compromise and 8. Forgive.

It’s like Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

Photo by Angela Kirk ” Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

— Nelson Mandela

Going to the Fair!

Photo by Angela Kirk

How can you beat a place that you can hang out with animals, ride rides and get food that is fried up on a stick? You can’t. That is why I was so excited that Doc took me to the Ohio State Fair.

It was beautiful on Saturday, 80 degrees and no humidity. Great weather for both dogs and humans. We started by going to the chicken barn. I don’t know why, but Doc is obsessed with chickens. She literally gushes while she talks to them and tells them how pretty they are. I don’t get it.  The roosters are noisy with way too much attitude for their size. Luckily we didn’t stay long and moved on to my favorite part of the fair, EATING!!

We started with the french fries with just a touch of salt. Yummy! The smells of all the food just about put me into a frenzy. My nose was so overwhelmed I almost passed out from happiness. Our next stop was at the chicken and waffles on a stick booth. Most delicious thing I have ever eaten. Doc decided to try some deep-fried Oreos and Nutter Butters, but I could tell by the look on her face that she didn’t like those at all. I offered to finish them off for her, but Doc said no and to my horror threw them in the trash!

Deciding to take a break from eating, we saw some cows carved from butter. This year they also had the characters from A Christmas Story in butter as well. If you don’t know that movie, they play it 24 hours per day starting after Thanksgiving.

Next we hit the cow and sheep barns and saw two cute little calves that were only a few days old.  Doc had me sit quietly as we watched the sheep judging contest. After the contest, I met some of my fellow working canine friends called Border Collies that help to herd the sheep. That sounds like hard work and makes me glad I work in an office where I can nap when I want to.

It was starting to get late, the sun was setting and the lights were coming on in the midway. It was great to see all the families smiling and having such a good time. We took it all in as we enjoyed the lights, sounds and smells.

Photo by Angela Kirk

It had been a long day, so Doc said it was time to head home. When we got home I fell into a deep, blissful sleep with visions of tasty fair food in my head.

Photo by Angela Kirk To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”

— Anonymous

Marking Your Territory

When Doc and I are out and about on our evening walks, I like to leave little messages along the route. This is most often accomplished by lifting my leg and leaving what I refer to as “Pee- Mail” on a tree, pole or the typical fire hydrant. This allows any mammal that comes along to read my message and leave their own response if they choose to. Human’s refer to this as dogs marking their territory, but I can testify to the fact that dogs ain’t the only ones.

People like to mark their territory as well, in a million subtle and not so subtle ways. It starts when they are small after they learn the word “mine” and then it escalates from there. Before you know it they have grown into adults that think battling for the arm rest in the movie theatre or saving seats with coats is akin to planting their flag on new territory they have discovered. But nothing compares to how Doc marked her territory the other night.

She usually goes gaga over the deer that come through our yard. She especially oohs and ahs when there are fawns with a mother doe. That is until recently. She had planted hostas in the spring, watering and fertilizing them until she ended up with big beautiful plants. The first time she noticed her plants had been nibbled on was a few weeks ago. The next day half of the leaves were missing. She caught the deer red-handed one morning when she let me out the back door. I bravely chased the big thing out of the yard, but I can’t be on guard all the time because I am busy meeting my obligations as a big celebrity therapy dog. After telling Doc we needed a plan B all she said in a low whisper “Coyote urine.” “What !” I thought to myself. How on earth was she going to get those coyotes I have seen down the road to pee in a cup?

Let me tell you, Doc never disappoints. She left the house for a while and came home with the most vile smelling liquid I have ever encountered. And you guessed it, the label read 100% Coyote Urine from a company called Predator Pee. The directions said to spread around the “pee-rimeter.” So spread we did.

The original problem is solved, no more deer, but now we have a new one. Not only do the deer stay away, but the odor is so putrid that the neighbors stay away as well. So much for marking your territory.

 

 

 

Photo by Angela Kirk “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”

— Dr. Seuss

The Porch People

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc officially joined the Porch People in the spring after she moved into her first home that was built in 1907. The lemonade front porches with their rockers and hanging swings are what attracted her to the neighborhood. The Friday night gatherings on the front porches are what kept her there for 18 years.  Although this happened before I was born, I can tell by the way Doc talks about it that those neighbors and experiences will always be embedded in her heart.

The weekly gatherings centered around discussing the events of the week with a cold beverage, a lot of laughter and emotional support when needed. Neighbors out for an evening stroll would often stop for a moment to chew the fat and catch up on the latest news.

Doc told me that her neighbors supported her through her Ph.D, the death of her parents and almost every good and not so good experience of her life.

Most holidays were celebrated on one of those porches as well. Doc’s favorite was always Halloween when the neighbors gathered out front in the cool fall night waiting for all the ghosts and goblins to arrive. Then it was off to the neighbors for sloppy joes and cider when trick or treat was over.

Even after Doc moved, she would go back to the neighborhood to sit for a while on warm summer evenings. As all good things must come to an end, it was with a feeling of melancholy that Doc sat on the porch across the street from her old house for the last time. Her good friends Joe and Marie had sold their house. As the sun set and the lightning bugs began twinkling in the dark, they reflected on all the good times they had in that neighborhood, knowing the new owners would be welcomed there. Doc couldn’t help thinking about all the people who sat on those same porches for over a hundred years and how that will continue for more generations.

We may live in a fast world of technology and communication, but I think it is the simplicity of the front porches of this world that will keep us bonded together if we just take the time.

Photo by Angela Kirk ” You cannot find peace by avoiding life.”

— Michael Cunnigham

Celebrating At Mutts Paradise!

Photo by Angela Kirk

If you have never been to a dog birthday party, then you don’t know what you’re missing. The place where Doc and I work planned the best doggie extravaganza I have ever attended. And to think it was to honor my upcoming birthday. To tell you the truth, I became a bit verkclempted when I saw all my doggie friends and co-workers.

This place had it all, acres to run with my friends and a big pond to swim in. It was dog heaven.

A few of my old dog friends Eddie and Cash showed up and I met some new dogs as well. I got tickled by a younger dog named Chase. You know how there’s always that one dog at the party that’s a little out of hand? Well that was Chase. Half way through the party he got stuck in the paddle boat by himself and couldn’t get back to shore, but he let out a bark and we all went to his rescue. I have to hand it to the little guy, he was quite content to chase butterflies through the fields alone. He’s a dog that is easily entertained, an asset really.

My favorite part of the day was the nice Birthday treats my friends brought me. I was happy to share and even confiscated a donut from the box on the picnic table that was calling my name.

As the time drew near to leave, the humans attempted to get us together to pose for pictures by luring us with goodies. It was actually quite comical as they tried in vain to organize us together. If they would have asked we could have told them that was a bad idea as we all tried to get to the treats at once.

All and all it was a great day for this dog. Just a thought for you uptight humans out there….anytime you have a chance to go out and get wet and muddy with your friends go for it, it is pure nirvana.

 

Photo by Angela Kirk “The reason I love my dog so much is because when I come home he’s the only one in the world who treats me like I’m the Beatles.”

— Bill Maher