Snubbed by the Westminster Dog Show Again

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc tried to distract me from watching TV for the last few days and it didn’t take me long to find out why. She didn’t want me to see that all of the “purebreds” that were competing for the top dog award at Westminster. This has been a long running pain in my gluteus maximus for years now and I find the rules to be the height of dog snobbery. The bottom line, I can’t compete nor can my friends because we are mutts. Now what do you think about that?

“Here we go again.” I heard Doc say quietly under here breath. ” I heard that!” I said back to her with indignation. ” Grover, we go over this and over this every year and you won’t let it go. Ever since you filled out the paper work and received a rejection letter from Westminster, you are insufferable when this comes on TV. It’s just not healthy to do this to yourself every year. Even if you were a purebred I don’t have the hundreds of thousands of dollars it would take to get you ready to win Best in Show. Besides, you’re neutered, they don’t allow neutered dogs. End of story.”

Maybe Doc is right. It’s kind of like a beauty pageant for dogs and the rules are set. According to your breed you must have ideal structure, color, perfect ear and tail placement and good temperament.

Seeing my disappointment, Doc sat down, looked at me and said, “You know Grover, there are rules for everything. You are certified as a therapy dog and you had to pass those standards.  You should be proud of that. Let’s put it this way, many of the dogs that go to Westminster would never be able to pass the therapy dog test. Besides, do you really want a bath and blow out everyday? They also use hair spray on your dog coat to make you look poofy.” ” Oh no!” I said back to her in horror. “You know Doc you’re right. I can just work at being Best in Show as a therapy dog. Every dog and human is good at something. It’s best to focus on your own talents than try to be something you’re not.”  ” Now you understand,” Doc said as she gave me a big hug.

 

Love Is In The Air

Photo by Angela Kirk

Tomorrow is February 14, a day that is dedicated to love. Now you would think that everyone would be in favor of a day about love but I have already seen some people on Facebook trashing Valentines Day. What the heck humans! As for myself, I am all about love and to prove it, Doc is going to take me around work tomorrow to give out free kisses and hugs to anyone that needs or wants one. Now doesn’t that sound like more fun than being a hater?

Being the inquisitive canine that I am, I got to wondering how Valentines day got started. So I had Doc help me to get on the internet (it’s hard to hit the keys when you don’t have opposable thumbs) so that I could do some research and this is what I found out.

Valentine was a Roman Priest during the rule of the emperor Claudius Gothicus. Claudius persecuted the church and prohibited the marriage of young people. He based this on his hypothesis that soldiers would fight better if they were unmarried. Valentine wasn’t having any of that malarkey, so he married couples in secret because he felt that marriage was sacred and should not be prohibited.  Of course Valentine was eventually caught and imprisoned. In 269 AD Valentine was sentenced to beating, stoning and decapitation all because he laid his life on the line for what he believed. Valentines martyrdom did not go unnoticed by the citizens in Rome and now he is known as the patron saint of lovers. Not a very romantic story, but it does give you a little more perspective. The day is about more than flowers, candy and romance. It also made me think about love on a deeper level.

After I told Doc about the origins of Valentines Day I informed her that in honor of St. Valentine I will not be getting her a card or any candy this year.  “It’s  important that we honor love in its purest organic form” I said.  ” Oh really”, she responded with a note of sarcasm in her voice. ” In that case would you like to come with me to the pet store so that I can return all of your Valentine’s treats? ” I looked back at her with pure sadness until she relented.  ” Grover we can do both, she responded. Lets eat junk while cuddling on the couch and thinking of ways we can spread our love to others.”  ” Good idea, I said, I think St. Valentine would approve.”

Good Riddance Polar Vortex

Photo by Angela Kirk

As the Polar Vortex was moving out of our area mother nature had to leave one more surprise just to keep us on our toes. The weather report on Thursday night was predicting 1-3 inches of snow.  No big deal we thought, but that was not what we woke up to. When the alarm went off in the morning and Doc and I peered between the blinds there was already about 5 inches of snow and it was still coming down. Yikes! Doc grumbled under her breath when she saw all the snow, ” Why with all the dippity- do doppler radar they brag about do they have so many problems getting the forecast right?”  But with places to go and things to do, Doc would not be deterred by a mere half foot of snow.

Now I won’t lie, I was secretly praying for a snow day because I knew that Doc was dropping me off for a bath and pedicure that morning. The woman is obsessed with me being cleaned and coiffed.  She knows I don’t like to smell like a bunch of flowers. It ruins my street cred with the other dogs in the neighborhood for goodness sakes, yet she persists.

After breakfast we got in the car and Doc yells “Buckle up and hold on Grover!” Like a bat out of hell, she gunned the motor and took off down the snow-covered street. ” My dad taught me on days like this you need to keep up momentum so you don’t get stuck.” she hollered to me while I was holding on for dear life.  I swear I saw my life flash before my eyes. Luckily there was hardly any one on the street because everyone else was smart enough to stay home.  I know you are not surprised that we arrived to my bath appointment on time.

The waiting room at the Vets office where I get my bath was vacant. When they heard us come in the door, all the employees came rushing out to greet us like that hadn’t seen us in years. After checking in Doc left me there so she could get some errands done. I have to admit I had a nice time. I got lots of attention and doggy treats and they told me how handsome I looked. I don’t know why I fuss so much about the whole bath process. I always feel better when I am done and it’s not like they torture me.

While Doc and I were driving back home I told her, ” Thanks for taking me. I know I fuss about it, but the truth is I feel better after being pampered. Isn’t it amazing how we can get inside our own heads and take a simple thing and get ourselves all worked up about nothing?”  ” Yes I know.” she said. Please remember that the next time I tell you it’s time for a bath.

 

 

Brrrr… It’s Cold Outside

Photo by Angela Kirk

Last Friday Doc said she thought it was a good idea to stop at the pet store on the way home from work to get some more dog food. I always think that going to the pet store is a good idea. What’s not to like? They have everything imaginable that a dog would want to eat, play with or sleep on. What I didn’t expect was for Doc to break a promise she had made to me at least 100 times.

Entering the pet store I received a friendly pat on the head and a treat while another clerk went to the back of the store to get my big bag of dog food. I saw Doc look over to the right while we were waiting and then move toward a display of clothing. I was horrified when I read the sign she was staring at “Dog Coats 30% Off.” When she started touching them I though, ” Oh No, she wouldn’t do that to me.” But before the thought left my brain she had the store clerk looking for my size and putting a horrendous  pink and brown plaid coat on my body. Looking at her with pleading eyes I said. ” Doc, you promised you would never make me dress up in dog clothes, remember? You even use to make fun of dogs that wore outfits.” ” Well things change Grover”. “On January 30th the Polar Vortex arrives with -2 degrees and a wind chill factor of -25- 45. You need a coat young man!” she quipped.

Trying on the coats in front of other dogs in the store was down right humiliating. To make it worse Doc laughed when I put my tail between my legs and hung my head.  Now that was just mean and I told her so. Luckily the store clerk took pity on me and found me a more masculine navy coat with brown buttons and white fleece pop up collar. When she paid them for it at the cash register I knew it was a done deal. I sulked all the way home.

After we got home Doc took me for a walk in my new coat. As we passed my friends Norman and Bailey’s  house I noticed that they were looking at me and admiring my new coat. At that moment my tail went up and I started holding my head up high. I guess it wasn’t so bad after all. It did have a nice flip-up fleece collar and even the humans we passed told me I looked handsome. On the plus side the coat was warm.

By the time we got back from the walk I didn’t want to take it off. I finally swallowed my pride and thanked Doc for my new nice winter coat. Having someone care enough about you that they want you to stay warm is not the worse thing that can happen in your life.

Chilling During the Chill

Photo by Angela Kirk

Winter finally showed up over the weekend with a roar. The milder temperatures had lulled Doc and I into a false sense of complacency. But make no doubt about it, in the end Mother Nature will always remind you that she is the boss. The snow and the cold forced us to hunker down and hibernate even if it was for just 36 hours.

Hibernation appears to be a dirty word among humans in this ” I want it now and to be constantly entertained and stimulated” kind of world we now find ourselves in. After all, civilization is all about conquering nature. The problem is that you humans have forgotten that your bodies have been programmed to produce hormones that make you sleepy so that you rest and restore yourselves physically and emotionally in the winter. Haven’t you noticed that your pests are sleeping more in the winter? I even hear people brag about how little they rest. There really is no prize for that.

Anyhow, the bad weather placed both Doc and I into a quiet state of rest and bliss. We spent our time huddled together on the couch under a big fuzzy blanket watching great movies like 101 Dalmatians, Scooby-Doo and The Secret Life of Pets. Doc even shared her pop corn with me.The next day we both felt more refreshed. Imagine that!

So what if you learned to listen to what you body wanted and indulged yourself in some hibernation time? Try giving yourself permission to slow down and get that chatter out of your head that demands you complete a long list of tasks everyday. The world won’t end if you don’t get everything done. As for myself, now that I finished my blog I need a long winter’s sleep so I bid all of you good night.

Grover Goes to the Symphony

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc is always dragging me along to different events hoping that she will instill some culture into my being. This time she took me to the symphony. Being a dog I had no clue what I was about to experience but decided to remain open to a new adventure because that’s how I roll. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.

We were joined by some other human friends Joe and Kevin at the 10am dress rehearsal of the Russian Winter Festival featuring Tchaikovsky’s Piano Concerto. Why did we go to a dress rehearsal you may ask?  For two reason’s; It only cost $10 and you know how cheap Doc is and because we get up so darn early we can’t stay awake for the 8pm performance. Oh did I mention that Doc is cheap?

Since it was general admission we went upstairs and sat in the most expensive seats in the house, the Loge. Waiting for the concert to begin I enjoyed listening to all the orchestra members tune up and practice their instruments. It is the most wonderful cacophony of sounds. Soon the conductor entered, tapped his baton on the podium to get their attention and off they went. After stopping them a few times to correct errors I never heard, they resumed playing and it was beautiful. I especially liked the violin section. But my favorite part of the whole show was when the featured pianist Sergei Babayan came out to join the symphony. He walked out, sat down on the piano bench and played Tchaikovsky’s piano concerto like he meant business. Bravo!!! And may I add that he also had an impressive head of hair.

Often I hear Doc encourage her patients to try new things now that they are in recovery. It can feel unsettling to go outside your comfort zone, but there are many rewards in experiencing something new. For myself, I am glad I went. I have expanded my horizons and am not too proud to say I can’t wait until we go again. You know what they say ” Music soothes the savage beast.” Count this beast as one that has been soothed.

 

Don’t Harass the Alligators

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc and I decided to head down south for a break from our regular lives and the cold in Ohio. Being from the north I learned quickly that I need to be alert when traveling to a different part of the country as there are things down here that can actually eat me.

This was never more apparent when during an early morning walk we came upon a sign placed by a seemingly tranquil body of fresh water that said; “Do Not Feed Or Harass Alligators IT IS ILLEGAL” Now I have never seen an alligator in person, but I have seen them on TV and I can’t imagine that anyone needs told not to feed or harass them, but apparently they do.

Asking to end our walk early so I didn’t become a gator snack I had to ask Doc how someone might harass an alligator. “Well, she said, harassment can take on many forms.” ” Like how?” I asked. ” In general, you could scream at the gator, try to intimidate it, torment it, or try to pressure it in to doing something it doesn’t want to do.”  ” Like telling the gator his mama’s scaly and ugly and then jumping on his back?” I asked. ” Something like that, she laughed.”  “Sadly the same people who harass animals, often do the same things to people” she remarked. ” Well maybe everyone should just respect both humans and wildlife” I responded.

After we got back to the condo I ask Doc if she would help me drawn a new sign. ” What do you want it to say Grover?” she asked with a puzzled look on her face.  I then told her to write;  Do Not Harass Wildlife or Humans. ” A big smile came over her face as she said, ” Now those are words to live by.”

test

The Resolution

Photo by Angela Kirk

On Monday in group counseling, Doc decided that a good way to wrap up the year was look at the things in life we need to let go of so that we can focus on what we want to accomplish in 2019. It’s funny how stuff from the past can bog us down both emotionally and physically, robbing us of the energy we need to move forward. The patient’s liked the exercise and were all able to identify what they need to let go of like guilt and grudges. They also came up with new goals to focus on along with a plan of how to implement them. Discussing all of this in group got Doc to thinking and that is when that uneasy feeling came over me knowing that somehow she would drag me into whatever she was planning.

Doc feels like we should practice what we preach, so instead of having fun and relaxing on New Years Eve like most normal people, Doc got out pencil and paper and began to make a list. I was lying on the couch trying to watch the festivities on TV when Doc looked at me and said ” Grover when you went to be groomed last week and they put you on the scale I noticed you had gained a pound in one month.” ” So what’s your point?” I said as I munched on some of Doc’s pop corn. ” The point is, that we could both work on getting healthier”  she exclaimed. “What’s this “we” business?” I retorted.  But as soon as the words came out of my mouth I knew it was futile to resist. In case you don’t know by now, when Doc gets focused on something she is like a horse headed for the barn. I just nodded, hoping she would forget about it by the next day.

Yesterday when we went back to work, I resumed my regular door to door rounds looking for treats from the staff members that always feed me. When Doc caught me she didn’t say a word, she just turned on her heals, went back to her office and emerged with a sign in hand. She bent down and attached it to the bandanna around my neck. The sign read…Grover has been fed, do not fall for his manipulations. Although the sign thwarted my usual plan, it worked. In one week when Doc weighed me I had lost the one pound I had put on. I have to admit I do feel better now that I’m off the junk food and Doc is eating healthier too. Sometimes it’s good to make some changes even if you are dragged into them kicking and screaming.

Happy New Year!

 

Waiting for the Jolly Old Elf

Photo by Angela Kirk

It’s Christmas Eve and the house is so still

as I glance out the snow kissed window sill.

It’s that special night, I wait for all year,

for my friend in the red suit to appear.

Doc is sleeping and snug in her bed

when I hear the faint sound of sleigh bells overhead.

In a matter of seconds I look up to see

Santa Clause staring at me.

He pats me gently on top of my head,

then looks at me very seriously and says,

“Grover what are you doing up all alone?

Does Doc know you’re downstairs all on your own?”

” Yes Santa, Doc knows I’m not asleep,

she said I could wait up to see you if I didn’t make a peep.

As Santa begins to place the presents under the tree,

he looks over and motions to me.

” Grover, come and tell me what you’ve been doing all year,

are you still helping people and bringing them cheer?”

” Oh yes Santa, I try to do my very best each day,

to help people’s hurt and pain go away.

But sometimes I wonder if I’m doing enough,

the people I help, their lives are so tough.”

Then Santa paused and quietly said,

” Grover the love that you give is unconditionally true

and that healing power comes from deep inside of you.

Never doubt your ability to heal

the pain and suffering that your patients feel .

A gentle lick on the hand or your head in their lap,

can bring them the happiness and comfort they lack.”

And as Santa placed the last present under our tree,

once again he looked up at me.

” How would you like to take a ride in my sleigh?

We’ll leave a note for Doc so she knows you’re away.”

And before I could finish nodding my head,

I was in Santa’s sleigh flying overhead.

We went down chimney’s and dropped off toys,

to all the good little girls and boys.

Soon I was tired so Santa took me home to bed,

after he tucked me in next to Doc he stood there and said;

“It’s time for me and the reindeer to take flight,

as there are many more children to see tonight.

But I promise you I will be back next year

to visit and check on you Grover my dear.”

Then he was gone as fast as he came,

up on the roof calling the reindeer by name.

But Santa exclaimed as he drove out of sight,

“Merry Christmas Grover and Doc and to you a good night!”