TSN, Try Something New

Photo by Angela Kirk

I can’t say that I was surprised when I read that 37 percent of Americans have never lived outside of their hometown with the exception of college or military service. And over half of you have never lived outside of the state you were born in. It is true that most humans don’t like change. I get it, I don’t like it much either and I have lived with Doc in the same house my whole life. It’s feels safer to have the predictability of doing the same things with the same people day after day after day. The more I thought about this, I had to ask myself if I was really experiencing life to the fullest? So I decided to start shaking some things up in my life.

Yesterday, Doc told me to get in the car to go and run some errands with her after work. I thought this might be my chance to start living outside my comfort zone so I kept my eyes open for a chance. It’s not like I was prepared to totally change my life but Doc often says it’s the little things that can make a big difference and can boost your confidence as well.  We needed to go to the pet store for some dog food so I thought I could start by asking for a different flavor. The nice sales girl told me I could pick from salmon, turkey, duck, whitefish or kangaroo kibble. Kangaroo sounded a little to exotic for my tastes so I went with whitefish. “Excellent choice.” the salesgirl said like I was ordering dinner at a high priced restaurant.  Doc asked me if i was sure if I wanted a new flavor. ” What if you don’t like it?” she asked.”You will be stuck with it.”  ” I know I will love it,”  I told her a bit too smugly.

On the way to the cash register I also took it upon myself to glance through the dog treat section and pick up my favorite bully stick to carry to the counter when Doc wasn’t looking. She wasn’t all that thrilled when she saw the cost was $10 but since I already had it in my mouth, she paid for it and we left.

It was dinner time when we were done with all of our errands and got home, so I was excited to try my new dog kibble. I hopped up and down and drooled as Doc measured out the food into the dish with eager anticipation. I dove right in and after one mouth full I almost spit it out on the floor. “Yuck!” I said as I looked at Doc in horror because I knew what she was about to say. ” New choices sometimes come with new consequences” she said.

Well after two days I am getting use to white fish kibble and it’s not so bad. The next time I will try something safer in my quest for new life adventures. Don’t let my experience deter you from trying something new, you may just try the one thing that takes your life on a whole new marvelous adventure.

The Stories of Our Lives

Photo by Angela Kirk

All of us have a story and these stories not only define what we think of ourselves but also the world around us and the people in it.

My story began when I was born on a goat farm in rural Ohio along with six siblings. I know that Doc chose me from the litter because she knew I was special and that I was cherished and well cared for by the Blacks that owned the farm and my mother, Sadie until I was ready to go live with Doc. I have heard that story over and over and it has re-enforced that I have been loved and wanted my entire life. Now imagine just for a moment that 7 years later I find out it was all a lie, that the truth was that I was found abandoned with my siblings on the side of a road thrown away like a bag of trash. How would that change the way I feel about myself, learning that everything I had been told was a lie? It would probably shake me to the core and make me question everything in my life. Why? Because everyone needs stories of belonging and it feels frightening when we find out what we believe may be wrong.

Assisting Doc in her therapy work I have learned one thing, humans don’t like it when their narratives are challenged. So what happens when our stories conflict with what we believe about ourselves, others, or even the country we live in?  It’s only human nature to push back because at the core it can be frightening when what we believe feels like it is falling apart.

Being the optimistic pooch that I am, I believe that we can learn by listening and being respectful with  others if they have a different narrative than the one we have.  When you are willing to let go of old beliefs you open the door for new people and ideas to enter, leading to a fuller life. So what is  your story?

What Do You Practice? I Choose Joy

Photo by Angela Kirk

This morning Doc and I watched a video of a little boy that asked the following insightful question, “What do you practice?” It was a reminder that when you practice something over and over again you get very good at it. This includes our views, feelings and ideas about ourselves and the world around us.

Now some views and feelings are formed very early in life and are a product of what we are taught and our life experiences, but there comes a time that you can make different choices. When Doc went out into the world and away from home for the first time as a young adult, she told me she was lucky to be exposed to different people, cultures and ideas. Her world view was expanded and she started to question some of her old beliefs and form new ideas. That’s just part of the maturity process for humans. This also applies to animals as I certainly see my world differently now as a seven year old dog than I did as a new puppy.

So part of these views include how you react to each experience you encounter. Like the little boy in the video asked,  Are you practicing joy, peace, forgiveness and compassion, or are you practicing anger, worry and being judgmental? It is true that you will get very good at what you practice every day. So, for example, if you practice complaining, you will get so good at it, you will find fault with everything. Thus too, if you practice compassion, your heart will be filled with love for others and you will get very good at that as well. It’s your choice.

So what do you practice?

 

 

I See You and I Hear You

Photo by Angela Kirk

There is a primal scream rising up from the core of humans souls.  It is like a fire that has been smoldering for decades that has finally burst into flame. I want you to know that I see you and I hear you.

It can be hard for humans to confront the feelings inside of themselves and even harder to accept that others are in pain. Humans are notorious for telling each other how they are suppose to feel or act instead of acknowledging and sitting with the person in their pain.  Statements like, “you just need to get over it and move on “or it’s not that bad” come from a place of the persons own discomfort.

Learning to acknowledge that others are hurting and accepting those emotions unconditionally can lead to self-revelation and healing. It can help us to not only understand ourselves on a deeper level but to develop compassion and love for those we see as different from ourselves. In the end we can use our life experiences to become allies or adversaries to those in need.

One of Doc’s favorite authors Maya Angelou says it best; ” Each one of us has lived through some devastation, some loneliness, some weather superstorm or spiritual superstorm, when we look at each other and say, I understand.  We must support each other and empathize with each other because each of us is more alike than we are unalike.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stinkin Mink in the Back Yard

As of this morning not only are Doc and I dealing with a pandemic and murder hornets, but now flooding has hit the area, so it was quite the surprise to see strange new species of animals showing up at our house like they are getting ready to evacuate. I guess they are just moving to higher ground.

It was about 6am and I was in the yard attending to my morning constitutional before breakfast. I noticed the usual possum strolling by as he headed to bed after working the night shift. No big deal, I see him every morning and we nod and greet each other. But just as I was turning to come back in the house the breeze brought a sent of the most foulest smelling odor ever. I spotted the critter out of the corner of my eye and he must have been frightened by my big manly dog size because he hightailed it across the back acre, but not before Doc spotted it and let out a high pitched screech. ” What is that thing?” she hollered. At first we thought it was someones pet ferret that had escaped, but after conversing with some neighbors we were told it was a mink. “Holly cow,” I said out loud. “This is one swanky neighborhood if we have mink running around.”

After some research we found out that the mink are suppose to live around here. We just never see them as they stay near the creek or the damn and after the water rose to flood stage, they wandered to areas they don’t usually go. It was a treat to see it in the middle of all this mess and Doc went outside to snap it’s picture as it was running away. “He must be camera shy, ” I said to Doc. ” Oh the wonders of nature,” Doc replied, and I nodded my head in agreement.

 

 

Everybody Needs Help Sometimes

Photo by Angela Kirk

Needless to say these are some strange times we are going through, but if ever there was a life lesson to be learned it is this…we need to support each other.

Since Doc’s nephew Zach and his girlfriend Audrey were laid off from their jobs and Doc needed some help with landscaping, a deal was struck.  As for myself, I was just excited that I was going to see someone besides Doc. I knew that they would welcome my assistance with moving the mulch and the dirt around and I also planned to proudly show them the landscaping holes I had designed under the fence in case they needed some ideas.

It was a beautiful spring day when they arrived and they worked hard for hours.The two of them did just as good of a job weeding, edging and munching all of the flower beds as professional landscapers. We even took some breaks to play “keep away” when I stole their garden gloves. It was the most fun day we had since the pandemic started and I know how much Doc appreciated their help.

I get it, not everyone has family they can count on and Doc and I know we are lucky. The good news is, if you don’t have the family you need, you can create the one you want. For example, my buddy Norman that lives next door is literally my brother from another mother. You don’t have to be blood related to be family, its the trust and the bond that define what true family is. It’s so important to have a supportive network to celebrate the good times and to walk with us through the bad, especially now.

Hopefully some good will come from the pandemic and the pause we have been forced to take. It certainly is a reminder that we rise and move forward when we lift each other up.

 

The Pandemic Blues

Photo by Angela Kirk

Many of you have inquired as to how I have been adjusting to working from home most of the time and I appreciate your concern. Well let me just say, everything is very different.

First of all, I want you to know how much I miss seeing everyone face to face. I don’t want to brag, but I am rather popular and this whole work from home thing has been quite a blow to my ego. Lets face the facts, Doc sure ain’t going to fawn all over me like the rest of you nice people do. Don’t get me wrong, she is very good to me, but not as impressed with me as the rest of you. I guess that happens in any relationship over time.

Now this whole tele therapy thing has me stumped as well. Doc has an office in the upstairs of our house. I like to stay downstairs on the couch most of the time while she works, take a snooze and protecting the perimeter from rogue ground hogs. However, I am often diverted by the voice of some familiar patient so I go upstairs to investigate. When I get to the top of the stairs I look up and down the hall expecting to see the person, but the only human I see is Doc. Somehow they know I am in the room and start talking to me, so I figure they must be hiding somewhere. I then saunter over and  look out the window wondering if they are hanging off the side of the house or something. Can’t smell them, can’t see them. So weird and confusing.

Now I know I shouldn’t gossip, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. Since Doc’s patients can’t see her, you should see some of the strange things she wears to work in. Today she is sporting some neon yellow multi-printed leggings bright enough to blind you, slippers and a hoodie. She did take a shower, but that’s about it. I sure hope these new fashion choices don’t last post pandemic.

Yes, things are different, but we are lucky. Doc is still working, we are safe, healthy and blessed. Here’s hoping you are all doing well too. Hang in there, we are getting through this together.

Happy Earth Day!

Photo by Angela Kirk

Today the 50th anniversary of Earth Day arrives at a time when we are focused on a global pandemic. Now more than ever we need a sign of hope and for me focusing on caring for the earth gives me a reason to look forward.

Since the time Doc was young, her parents taught her to care for and respect the planet. Her family was recycling things long before it was a “movement”.  As a result Doc has learned to reuse and repair rather than throw away. On our daily walks she has even drug other people’s trash home to clean up and repurpose. Many times it’s her frugality that drives her behavior, but oh well, it still helps. Just yesterday I saw her reuse some old nails she pulled out of some rotten fence posts. I just shook my head in amazement.

The objects we don’t reuse or can’t be placed in our regular recycling bin are put aside until they can be taken to the proper recycling facility. (Did you know some grocery stores will recycle any type of plastic packing material or bags?) It may sound hard, but it’s not. It’s just like anything, if you get in a habit it becomes second nature.

Since the pandemic, Doc and I have been looking at the NASA satellite images that show the decreases in pollution since people have stayed home and power plants and industrial facilities have shut down. The reduction in the emission of nitrogen dioxide has made an astounding difference. I know I am breathing a little easier.

As I sit in the back yard under my favorite tree listening to the birds I ponder how man, dog and nature are all connected and need to care for each other. Yes, I am a deep thinker, but Dr. Jane Goodall, primatologist and conservationist says it best, ” Every single person matters and has a role to play every day.”

Happy Earth Day!

Time Out

Photo by Angela Kirk

A few weeks ago when many of the governor’s issued their stay at home orders, it occurred to me that it kind of felt like being placed in “time out.” Granted, it didn’t happen because anyone was in trouble, but it has drastically changed our daily lives and no one likes that. This is the first time I have ever witnessed almost an entire nation of adults and children being asked to stay put and I have to admit it is quite interesting to see how humans respond.

Thankfully, most of you are doing a great job and that keeps all of us safe, but there are some that need to be redirected over and over again. Their behavior reminds me of myself sometimes whenever I get in trouble with Doc. It is usually because I have something in my mouth that I am not supposed to eat or play with. After she directs me to “drop it”, she sends me to my bed to calm down and think about my behavior. Just like humans, I don’t really care for consequences, so as soon as she leaves the room I sneak away until I am caught and we start all over again. I guess it’s only natural that we don’t want someone restricting what we want to do, yet sometimes that is just what we need to be safe.

Doc has told me many times that most things in life are about perspective. In other words we have choices about how we react to events and the circumstances we are in. The author Wayne Dyer sums it up best; ” As I look back at the entire tapestry of my life, I can see from the perspective of the present moment that every aspect of my life was necessary and perfect. Each step eventually led to a higher place, even though these steps often felt like obstacles or painful experiences”.

As always, stay safe and well until next time.

That’s Just Not Normal

Photo by Angela Kirk

When Doc was a teenager and would grumble about getting out of bed to go to church on Sunday, her dad would say, ” You can’t get to heaven on an inner spring mattress.”  It turns out he was wrong. On Sunday Doc and I watched church services streaming live over the internet while laying in bed.  During this pandemic, what use to seem strange is now becoming the new normal.

It’s now normal to practice; ” social distancing” and be chided by strangers if you don’t,  wear masks in public, douse your hands in sanitizer, stay home and isolate, wear PJ’s all day, binge watch Tiger King on Netflix and order most of your things on-line. Not to mention all the cleaning rituals you have to go through every time you touch anything. I have never seen Doc wash her hands and scrub down surfaces so much. She’s even taken to bathing me more often and I hate baths. But what’s a domestic dog to do?  It’s exhausting!

When the pandemic passes, and it will eventually, I wonder how many of the changes we have been going through will become incorporated into our culture? It is nice to see all the families playing outside together on nice spring days. I also notice humans are watching out for each other by checking in and offering to help those that need it. A crisis can bring out the best in most humans.

Now that the pace of life has slowed down we can reflect upon what we are learning from this pandemic. Doc says there is a lesson in everything if you are open to look for it. It will be interesting to see if we learn and change, or just go back to the way things were. Until then, stay safe and well.