Never Assume That You Know the Truth

Photo by Angela Kirk

If you are like me, then you sometimes ask yourself why it’s so hard for everyone to get along with each other. We are often irritated by the most innocuous events but being a therapy dog I know it goes deeper than that. For example, let me tell you a story that I heard the other night that will show you just what I mean.

Last weekend, Doc and I were invited to a lovely party in a lovely home. It was a rather large soiree and although Doc knew the family for many years, we were not acquainted with most of the guests. No problem. Doc and I are comfortable meeting and talking to almost anyone. After speaking to the family and mingling with many of the guests by engaging in what humans call “small talk”, Doc and I decided to head out to the enclosed back porch for a while.

The patio was set up with tables and Doc and I decided to take a seat near the small band that was playing . It wasn’t long before a woman came over and introduced herself, erroneously thinking that we were by ourselves.  We tried to tell her that we came out to listen to the music but she insisted on sitting down so we wouldn’t be alone. Without missing a beat she began telling us about all the neighbors that had come and gone in the two decades she had lived on the street. Much to our surprise this included how many divorces per household, plastic surgeries that the “second and third spouses had” and a host of other assorted tales.

If that didn’t get our attention she then related a tale that was almost too wild to believe. Apparently there are rules that one must follow when living in the neighborhood and one of the new neighbors had broken one. They had committed the unforgivable sin of placing inflatable Snoopy Christmas decorations on the front lawn and then let them deflate and lay flat most of the time. “How tacky can you get?’ she remarked.  I immediately thought to myself ” What kind of sick neighborhood is anti-Snoopy?”

She related that this went on through out the entire holiday season and just when she was about to go over and discuss this with them something happened. One morning she let her dog out and heard him bark and howl in a way that made her run out to see what was going on. As she looked across the street there was a six point buck gouging Snoopy with his impressive rack until it was knocked down flat. “All this time it had been the buck she said, it just goes to show you that you never really know.” “Well imagine that!”  Doc remarked. Done with her story the woman flagged down someone she knew and bid us adieu.

” What do you suppose that was all about? ” I asked Doc.  “Well, she replied slowly, that was a perfect example of how it is easy to fall into the trap of assuming that we know about others, sadly humans often think the worst about a situation.”

I thought about what Doc said and was thankful to be a dog. Humans make their lives so complicated sometimes.

 

 

Photo by Angela Kirk ” Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: Is it true? Is it necessary? Is it kind?”

— Socrates

Feeling Thankful

Photo by Angela Kirk

Well, we made it through another Thanksgiving. Doc cooked a big 22 pound turkey and I am happy to report that she didn’t drop it on the floor this year. There we 18 family and friends present and everyone pitched in to help with the cooking. We ate and ate until we were as stuffed as the turkey had been. I even happened to get a mouth full of mashed potatoes off of nephew Cole’s plate when he wasn’t looking.

Since all the ruckus has died down and it has been quiet enough to think, I realized that I have much to be grateful for. I forgot that for a minute when Doc made me go get a bath and a pedicure the day before Thanksgiving. I hated it because I don’t think it’s normal that a dog smells better than any of the humans in the house. I complained, but all Doc said was that I needed to work on being more grateful.

I suppose it’s only human nature to want what we don’t have and get stuck dwelling on the negatives.  So after mulling things over I have decided to celebrate what I do have and what’s going well in my life. I know I have a life any dog would be envious of. I am well cared for, have a warm and safe place to live and many humans and dogs that love me. Not bad. And guess what else? A report I heard on TV today says that people who practice gratitude have less stress in their lives and are happier, an added bonus.

So I will end today’s blog asking all of you; “What are you grateful for today?” A good question to keep in mind as we go through the holiday season.

 

Photo by Angela Kirk ” The things you take for granted someone else may be hoping for.”

— Anonymous

My Ghost Adventure

Photo by Angela Kirk

It is that time of year when things go bump in the night. With that in mind, Doc loaded me in the car and took me on a real live ghost adventure to the most haunted Inn in America, the Buxton Inn.

Located in Granville, Ohio, Doc told me the Inn was built in 1812 and has had many distinguished guests including Harriet Beecher Stowe, Yo Yo Ma and even President Abraham Lincoln. Now that is all very impressive , but that’s not why we came.

As we got out of the car, the first thing I noticed was a big sign out front with a black cat on it. Can you imagine that? I think a picture of a nice dog would be better, but that’s just me. When Doc told me why the cat was on the sign, it sent shivers down my spine. The cat’s name is Major and although it is dead, its spirit is often seen roaming the halls, resting in rooms or heard softly purring in peoples ears. Creepy! After hearing that I decided to walk behind Doc as we went up the front steps of the Inn. If that cat appears, I figured it would haunt her first.

As Doc slowly opened the large front door it was if we were going back in time. The nice lady dressed in period attire from the 1800’s welcomed us and was happy to tell us about all the ghosts that reside there. Besides Major the cat, the spirit that is seen the most often is “The Lady in Blue.” A former owner and talented singer and actor for most of her life, she ran the Inn for twenty-six years. Always greeting guests in an elegant blue dress she apparently decided to maintain the same fashion into the after life. Inn staff, patrons and visitors have reported catching glimpses of her. She most often is seen in room #9 where she died, a room I won’t be spending the night in.

Other notable owners of the inn that have passed on, but not moved out are Orrin Grange the original owner who is often seen at night sneaking pie from the kitchen. It’s comforting to know you can still have pie when you’re gone. The second owner, Major Buxton, is seen as a shadowy figure that sits in the dining room. After the nice lady gave us the low down on the ghosts she invited us to walk around the building. I will admit that I was a little freaked out but Doc showed no mercy when she told me I need to be more afraid of the living than the dead.

The employees at the inn were happy to talk about the eerie footsteps they hear, unexplained whispers in the hall and shadowy figures that pass by. Seeing my discomfort, one of the wait staff bent down and said, ” Grover, don’t worry, our ghosts will never harm you.”  I looked back at the waitress and Doc and told them it was time to leave. Before leaving, we asked the nam of the nice woman that greeted us. The waitress asked us to describe her and as we gave her the description a strange look came across her face and she motioned for us to look at a portrait on the wall. ” Is that the woman?” she asked. We both shook our heads yes. ” Count yourselves lucky, you have just had an encounter with  one of our friendly spirits. Doc and I practically ran over each other trying to get out the front door of the inn, jumped in the car and drove away.

Apparently the ghosts at the Buxton Inn continue to watch over it and remain at peace there. I was just happy I didn’t run into that cat.

Happy Halloween!!

 

 

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.