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Recent Posts by Grover

Planting Seeds, One at a Time

In the spring, Doc loves to get out in the yard and work in the flower beds planting, cleaning and mulching. Doc has an understanding of what plants will help to nourish the birds, the bees and all the little critters in the environment. With that in mind, the other day when I was sitting on the back porch taking in the glorious scent of our lilac bush, I noticed the bees pollinating the flowers and it dawned on me the importance of planting seeds. When we plant seeds we not only end up nourishing what is in our own yard, but it ends up spreading to the gardens around us as well because we are all connected. I think this applies to the seeds we plant in our own lives as well.

As a therapy dog I have observed that humans either choose a path of planting good seeds by living and doing things that are a blessing to others, or they plant seeds trying only to reap the harvest for themselves. If you reap everything for yourself, it may lead to a temporary feeling of happiness, but in the end you have a bounty and no one to share it with and you are left feeling empty. Then you get caught in the rut of trying to fill that void with more and more stuff, but it never works. What a sad life.

You know it’s funny, most of the good humans I know aren’t even aware of all the seeds that they plant and the ripple affect that they have on others. They just go through life with the daily intention of being kind and helpful and remain humble about the many seeds they plant through out their lives. They never win any awards, they aren’t rich, you don’t read about them in social media or in the press but they make an impact in others lives and they are rich beyond belief because being kind and giving always leaves you feeling full. Doc often tells people struggling with emptiness, ” If you want to be happy in life, be of service to others.”

So go forth today and plant your seeds. Don’t let others try to discourage you or tell you that one person can’t make that big of a difference in the world. You never know until you try. Remember, out of one small oak seedling a forest grew.

” They tried to bury us. They didn’t know we were seeds.” Dinos Christianopoulos

It’s Ok To Ask for Help

In case you weren’t aware, May is Mental Health awareness month. This is the month put aside to raise awareness about mental illness, fight the stigma and advocate for more services. Since the pandemic, there has been a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. The pandemic was tough on all of us, even this pooch, because everything that had been normal in our daily lives suddenly changed and we are still adapting to change.

When the numbers for COVID rose in 2020, we were called into a meeting at work to talk about sending us home to work remotely. There would be no more in person counseling and all sessions would be done through tele health. At the time, no one could have predicted how long the virus would last. As the days drug on to weeks and then months, we soon found ourselves on lock down and only essential businesses were open. At first it was fun being home with Doc all the time but soon the fun turned to boredom and then I just fell into a funk. I didn’t know what to do with myself all day. After all, I had been training and working as a therapy dog since I was 5 months old. I missed my co-workers, the patients and as winter set in, it didn’t feel safe to spend time with family and friends indoors. We all became more and more isolated.

Doc was the first one to notice that I wasn’t acting like my regular cheerful self, and to be honest, Doc was having problems adjusting as well. Both of us trying to serve the patients the best we could by being supportive from our home was a challenge but we all did the best that we could. One day Doc sat down beside me on the couch and asked me, ” Are you ok Grover? I notice you have been sleeping more and that you haven’t even wanted any treats. Are you feeling depressed?” As I moved over and placed my head in her lap for comfort, she gently stroked my head and I admitted to her that I was feeling down. ” It’s ok Grover, she said, I know that it has been tough for you, but I am here for you.” Just feeling Doc’ s support and being able to talk about it was such a relief. I had not wanted to burden her with my sadness, but she told me it is so important to talk to someone you trust when you feel down.

After that day we decided we needed to figure out a better way to move forward, so we decided that we would take a walk everyday down to the park. And you know what, being out in nature and getting some fresh air helped and I started feeling a little better. It still wasn’t the same, but my mood improved and then when the stores opened back up in our suburb, the owners asked Doc to bring me in to visit and that gave me back my sense of purpose.

Today we are back at work seeing patients three days per week and able to visit family and friends, so things are better and I am my happy tail wagging self again. But lets face it, these are some tough times we are still working through, but I learned that sometimes even the helpers need help and that its ok to ask. I understand that people can feel embarrassed to ask for help because of the stigma attached, but mental illness, just like any other medical issue should be treated, not shamed.

If you or anyone you know needs help with a mental health issue, please contact the National Alliance of Mental Illness Helpline at 1-800-950-6264 or SAMHSA at http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov for a referral in your area.

Looking Beyond the Weeds

The other night when I was in the field in back of our house, I was taken in by how pretty all the yellow dandelions and purple violets looked against the back drop of the green grass while the setting sun cast its golden glow. It reminded me of a story Doc had told me a few years back about when she was a child and how children see things so much more clearly than adults.

Doc grew up in the country on three acres and their house was surrounded on three sides by a beef cattle and horse farm. Back in those days no one put chemicals on their laws or fields, so the farm land where the animals grazed were filled with wildflowers native to Ohio. In the summer, Doc would pick the wildflowers that she found and bring them to her mother as a present. She said she especially liked the bright yellow color of the dandelions, thinking they were the most beautiful flower of them all. Her mother always acted pleased when she got the flower arrangements and then put them in a vase, placing them in the middle of the dining table like they were an expensive bouquet from the florist.

It wasn’t until years later that Doc found out the flowers she considered so beautiful were considered weeds and today are the blight of proud suburban lawn owners who spray to keep their lawns free of them. When Doc and I take our daily walks, all we see are laws of perfectly manicured green, not one wildflower in sight. The funny thing is that even though people now consider dandelions as weeds, they really are not. Dandelions are part of the daisy family, are edible, have health benefits and are a rich source of nectar for bees. It just goes to show you how negative rumors can be started and believed, not only about people, but plants as well.

This is a perfect example of why Doc always reminds me to look below the surface and get the facts before making a judgement about anything. It’s important not to believe rumors or opinions just because someone told you what they think is true, or we could miss out on the truth and the beauty below the surface. As a child, Doc only saw the beauty of the dandelions that she picked for her mother so long ago. Maybe we all need to embrace the innocence of childhood once again before we had any preconceived ideas about life.

” Childhood means simplicity. Look at the world with the child’s eye-it is very beautiful.” Kailash Satyarthi

I Hate Spring Cleaning

Every spring as soon as the weather gets warm, Doc starts on a cleaning frenzy. First she makes a list of everything needing done, then goes to the garden store for mulch and spring flowers, starts cleaning off the porch and the outdoor furniture, edges and cleans the flower beds and cleans the winter scum off the windows. I get tired just watching her. I should have know when the weatherman said that the weekend would be in the 80’s that I would be the next thing on the list to be cleaned, but somehow I am always surprised, and not in a good way.

It’s rather humiliating to be hosed down in the front driveway for all the neighbors and my doggy friends to see. Even Mason , the boy next door looked like he felt sorry for me as he watched the whole ordeal while he played basketball in the driveway. Don’t worry, I sought revenge. When the bath was over, what did I do but find the wettest and muddiest spot in the yard to park my behind. ” That will show her. ” I said out loud to myself. But that only led to Doc looking at me with exasperation and hosing me down again. I growled and grumbled under my breath, ” Curses, foiled again!” ” I heard that!” Doc said to me. ” Why do you always act like I’m trying to kill you? It’s Just a bath. No one likes a stinky dog accept other stinky dogs. In this house, when we stink, we bath so we can stay acceptable in decent society.” A very dramatic diatribe in response to my complaints I thought to myself.

After I got over my hissy fit from the bath we moved on to other things that needed done. While I was helping Doc by putting my doggy toys away in the basket, I thought about how sometimes life is a balance of doing things you need to do like chores, things you hate to do, like baths and then rewarding yourself with something fun, whatever that may be. Balance is important for a happy and healthy life. So at the end of our day of chores and baths, we unplugged and it was warm enough to spend a glorious evening on the back porch watching the sun set and remembering to count our blessings. A perfect ending that took my mind off of a not so perfect day.

True Confessions of a Guilty Pooch

Did I feel any remorse for what I had done? To be honest no, not at first. I had no feeling about it at all, that is until I got caught. I had done what I did because that is what dog’s do. We live in the moment and don’t really worry about consequences. If it suites our needs or brings us happiness we go for it. I suppose that makes me sound rather self-centered, but dogs don’t really get diagnosed with such things. We are just dogs acting in the way our animal instinct drives us, and what I did the other day is a perfect example.

Doc has a wooden picket fence that goes around our back yard. It is about twelve years old, so some of the pickets have gotten weathered over time and Doc has been replacing them as needed. Well she missed one that was rotting and that is where this story begins. I was playing over by the fence and I must have leaned against it, when snap, the bottom of one of the pickets broke off. It was just about that time that my doggie friend Frankie, came outside. As he ambled over to the fence and noticed that I had broken it, we looked at each other like we both had the same plan. I guess great minds think alike, so we started digging furiously. There was dirt flying everywhere. We knew the gap at the bottom of the fence would be big enough for little Frankie to slip under if we just dug a little deeper into the earth. It didn’t take long at all and Frankie was able to wiggle his way under and into my yard. We must have played a good fifteen minutes before Doc noticed from inside the house. As she came outside she looked confused, not understanding how Frankie had gotten in the yard, when she looked over and saw the damaged fence and the hole in the ground. She did not look happy.

Frankie got sent home and I had to go back in the house while Doc surveyed the damage. I didn’t really feel guilty until Doc came in and told me that she would have to replace the picket and fill the hole. More work added to a long list of things needing done she said with exasperation in her voice. I felt a little guilty but knew the fence wasn’t my fault so I let that go. But digging a hole and letting my friend in the yard without permission, well that was another story. I went over and hid behind the couch laying nose to tail trying to get my 82 pound body as small as possible hoping Doc would not see me. While she went outside to fix the fence and fill the hole, a wave of remorse came over me. I tried to shake it off, but it didn’t work. Soon I fell asleep.

The next day I was still feeling guilty and decided to make amends. I found Doc in the kitchen getting breakfast and asked if we could have a heart to heart. ” Sure” she said. So I sat down in front of her and told her I was feeling guilty about causing her more more work and wanted to know how I could make it up to her. ” Think before you act the next time”. she said. “Dogs and people get themselves in trouble by not thinking things all the way through before they make a decision.” I forgive you Grover, now you forgive yourself as well. It’s time to move forward.”

No amount of guilt can change the past and no amount of worry can change the future.” Umar Ibn Al-Khattabb

Should you Consider Spending the Day in Bed?

Doc actually read me an article on the internet the other day that said humans need to stop pushing themselves so hard and think about spending the day in bed. I was suspicious at first thinking this must be written by a company trying to sell more mattresses, but it ended up being legit. The article said humans need to stop exposing themselves to all the anxiety provoking news on television and social media, slow down, shut everything off and stay in bed. Doc and I being open to trying new things decided we would give it a shot and see if it worked to reduce our stress. Lets just say things didn’t work out exactly like we had hoped.

It all sounded so luxurious, just laying around in bed all day like a couple of rich movie stars. The problem was that rich people have staff to do things for them and keep all their balls up in the air. On the other hand, working stiffs like ourselves our responsible for getting our own stuff done, so we decided the best course of action would be to get our chores completed ahead of time. That meant packing all our chores into one day. So exhausting! As we were working so hard to get everything accomplished for our day of rest, I thought to myself that maybe that this was just a big set up. After all the work we were doing, we would need a day in bed to crash, so what’s the point? Yet we persevered and went to bed reveling in the thought that the next day we would do nothing.

One of the luxuries of having a day with nothing to do is that you can sleep in. There was just one problem with that, I go to the bathroom outside and can’t open the door myself. So I had to wake Doc up fairly early to let me out. After that we went back to bed. About an hour of relaxing my stomach started growling and since I don’t have opposable thumbs, I had to wake Doc again to get my breakfast. Then it was time to go outside again to sniff around the yard to see what creatures of the night had left their scent. Doc was wide awake by then, so she got up, got dressed and made her own breakfast. Then she did the dishes because there is no maid to help her. Later in the day I needed my walk, some treats. Well you get the idea, I am high maintenance.

We really tried hard to lay down and relax after all the activity but it was a nice day and too good to waste being inside. After all there was yard work to do and it was just nice to be outside in the warmth after the winter we endured.

There is kind of a happy ending to this diatribe. After a few hours of Doc cleaning up the flower beds and me supervising, we were a good kind of tired. So Doc came in, took a shower and we finally both laid down on the bed. The rest of the afternoon was spent watching some good old movies and one even had a dog as the star. We lazed around until the sun went down and then it was time to sleep.

Maybe we just aren’t the kind of people that can unplug all the way but we did learn that we need some balance in our day. Nothing in this world is just black and white, so I encourage all of you to find what brings you peace and then set aside time to do it. After all, balance is the ultimate goal.

April Showers, the IRS and Mower Issues

After complaining about the dark and the cold for months, now Doc has switched to complaining about new issues that spring has brought forth. She is not the only one, so I guess this is just a thing that humans do and I have to bare my cross by acting interested and concerned, when to be honest I would rather just take a nap.

For what ever reason, humans have to fill out long forms every year for the IRS, to declare how much money they make and this makes them very grouchy. Then the government checks those forms and either gives you some of your money back or asks you for more. When I asked Doc why we give them the money we worked hard for she said because if you don’t give it to them they will cause you big trouble. When I asked what they did with the money, she said that some of that is even a mystery to her. She guessed some of it goes to programs to repair roads, help with schools and good things like that and then some of the taxes go toward and I kid you not, for NASA to study How Religious Groups Would Respond to Aliens, and to the National Science Foundation to find out If Dinosaurs Could Sing. (They couldn’t.) I asked Doc if they could send me some money and I would let them study me. She just gave me “the look.” when I asked that question.

Next on the list of grievances was how the April showers were making the grass grow too fast. She went out in our back yard yesterday to look closely at the grass and then shook her head and said, ” All this stupid rain is making the grass grow too fast. I am going to have to start mowing in about another week.” She acted so perturbed about the whole thing that I knew not to confess that I had been helping the grass grow by watering it as well.

Trying to be prepared for the inevitable, she went straight to the garage to check the lawn mower that had been shoved way in the back behind some outdoor lawn furniture. After pulling it out she checked to make sure there was gas and pulled the handle. Not a sound. After a few more tries she gave up. It was dead. Luckily, Doc knows how to fix stuff, so we went over to one of the big hardware stores and I got to go too. That place is almost as interesting as the pet store and lots of people stop and pet me when we go up and down the aisles so I like that. After Doc got a new filter, spark plug and some oil, we headed back home. It wasn’t long before she got everything done and even sharpened the blades and after just two pulls it started right up. She was relieved and so was I because it put her in a better mood for the rest of the day.

Now its Tuesday and all I have on my list for today after work is a mani-pedi over at the vets office. After all since spring is here I will be showing my paws more and I want them to look nice. Since I am a famous therapy dog I need to stay camera ready for my fans. That’s the least I can do.

Happy Spring!

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

Have you ever spent time at an airport, shopping center or other event just watching people? It’s fascinating. Doc and I try to figure out where they are going, what the relationships are with the people they are with and other wild tales we concoct in our heads. This is all done with minimal information of course. Did you know scientists have estimated that we form impressions of others within the first 30 seconds we meet someone? So think about how those initial impressions impact the way we treat others. Then take it a step further and think about how we were treated growing up and later as adults, and how we have absorbed those stories others created about us. Then, ask yourself if the story you believe about yourself is true and how it may be limiting you from living up to your full potential.

” I’m the black sheep of the family.” the patient said out loud in our weekly group counseling session. I knew exactly what Doc was going to reply when he said that and she did not disappoint me. ” What makes you the black sheep? ” she asked him quietly. ” Well because of everything I have done since I was little, that’s what my family calls me even to this day.” Doc looked him right in the eye and asked ” Did you ever think that your family might be wrong? That’s just a label they gave you. Is that really who you are deep down inside, a black sheep? ” The poor man looked so shocked, as I don’t ever think he had even considered that his family may be wrong. He had owned this label into his adult life to the point that at times it had become a self-fulfilling prophecy. ” Labels belong on cans, not on people. Doc said. Now tell me more about who you really are.”

I am not sure why humans feel the need to assign labels, they even do it to different dog breeds. It’s as if some are uncomfortable just allowing others to develop and be themselves. Because in reality, we are all unique with our own set of special talents.

Doc understood that about me from the beginning. She had a vision that as a therapy dog, I would help children that were struggling with reading by sitting quietly while they practiced reading a book to me. The only problem was that I thought it was a game and I would steal the book so the kids would chase me. That certainly didn’t work out like she had envisioned, so instead of trying to force me to do what she wanted, she worked to find out what I was best at. That turned out to be working with adults in recovery and with cancer patients and I am very happy doing that.

It just goes to show you that everyone has a unique path they should follow, but that will only happen if we let go of the stories that limit our potential and stay open to what our heart leads us to do.

I Love You Just the Way you Are

” When you love a person, we except him or her exactly as is; the lovely with the unlovely, the strong with the fearful, the true mixed in with the facade and of course the only way we can do it, is by accepting ourselves that way.” Mister Rogers

Everybody probably has that one friend that you love, but they can get out of hand sometimes and work your last nerve. For me that is my furry friend next door named Frankie. He’s a bit hyper to say the least. If patience is a virtue, I need to keep working on that with him. For example, the other day Doc was nice enough to take him on a walk with us as his owners were out of town and the lady taking care of him could not handle his energy. Boy did that turn out to be a wild adventure.

For a little guy he is strong and for whatever reason he does not like to be on the leash. First he pulled to the right and then to the left. When he wasn’t trying to pull us down the street he was inappropriately trying to sniff my privates, trees and any human or dog that passed by. Who does that? After about two minutes of him trying to control the walk both Doc and I had had enough and we started setting some boundaries. I tried to set the example, but Frankie follows to the beat of his own drum. As a result, Doc shortened the leash so he could only go so far and I gently put my paw on top of his head when he got out of line. And you know what? He started acting like he had some sense and stayed right next to Doc the entire walk. We looked like a professional dog walking team coming down the street. By the time we got home poor little Frankie was all tuckered out. I guess it was exhausting for him trying to behave.

The next morning Frankie came over to play and was back to his old wild self again. I guess a good nights sleep helped him to recuperate. When I told Doc he was acting like a wild Tasmanian devil in our yard and that I didn’t want to play with him until he could straighten up, you know what she said? ” Guess who use to act like that Grover” she said looking me straight in the eye. ” What? I responded. I haven’t always been perfect? ” I was astounded as she told me about my younger out of control self. ” Just like I was patient with you, you need to set an example and be patient with Frankie. That is what a good friend does.” she said with conviction.

So of course she was right. I don’t want to be a fair weather friend and I do love the little guy, so I promised Doc I would remain patient. Maybe Doc could send me to school with the Dali Llama. He seems pretty chill from all that meditation and could probably give me a few pointers. Until then I will love my little friend just the way he is, hoping he will grow out of this wild stage soon as this old dog can’t hang like I use to.

I Don’t Want to Spring Forward

What human had the big idea that we should change the clock twice a year? And why does an entire nation go along with it like you are captive to the rule? I’ll tell you one thing, messing with all of our circadian rhythms would never be a thing a dog would come up with. It just makes no sense., especially when I have to rise an hour early to use the bathroom in some snow that fell overnight. The humans are grouchy, and I am too. Loosing an hour of sleep is never a good idea. They say this was originally done to help the farmers, but have you ever seen a cow or a goat wearing a watch? The only thing that I can figure is that this stupid rule has to be part of some bigger conspiracy and this dog is going to get to the bottom of it.

The only thing that appeased me was that I did get my breakfast an hour early and that woke me up enough to think about who could be behind this plot to mess with people’s sleep schedule. The first thing I did was call one of Doc’s relatives that is heavily into conspiracy theories, hoping he would help me find some answers. Walter, ( not his real name) answered the phone on the first ring but was too nervous to answer my questions in person. ” The phone could be bugged, he said in a low whisper, meet me in the park.” So about an hour later I arrived at the park and was surprised to learn from Walter that interstellar Lizard people are running the government and have secret societies that control everything, even the time change. Why they would want to control the time change he could not explain, but is was an interesting conversation none the less and I did get some exercise.

Back to the drawing board, I decided to do my own research and came up with a more probable reason than Lizard people. This time I called one of the history professors Doc and I know. Even though his explanation was not as interesting as Walter’s, it sure made more sense than the extraterrestrial theory. The professor said that the first real use of Daylight savings time came about during WWI and then was used again during WWII thinking it would help save fuel for the war effort. It did not. After the wars were over we went back to standard time. It wasn’t until 1966 that it was reintroduced as the Uniform Time Act. As of today, no one I know likes it, including the farmers and so we are back to the original question. Why do you allow yourselves to remain captive to a rule nobody likes. Rise up people!

Reminding myself that Doc has always told me that you can only control your own behavior I have decided that I will no longer follow this asinine rule that no one seems to agree with. And if Doc keeps offering me my dinner an hour early now that we have sprung forward, I will protest and not eat it early. Wait who am I kidding? Have you ever know me to pass up a meal?

Breaking News! Yesterday the senate approved the Sunshine Protection Act making daylight savings time permanent. If approved by the house the president can then sign it in to law and will start in 2023. I must not have been the only one to complain.

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