Winter Funk

Photo by Angela Kirk

The post holiday slump can get depressing if you let it. Even though some people are glad when the holiday’s are over, I think it’s easy to become a little melancholy. Unless you live in a warm sunny state, most of the United States is in the middle of winter with shorter, dreary, cold days. So what’s a dog or human to do? You can either give in to your brain telling you to eat comfort food and hibernate or you can shake things up in your life!

Doc has always been the type of person that likes to stir things up every once in a while and I am right there with her. She told me the other day that as you get older is easy to get stuck in the same old pattern and bore yourself to death. So the other day Doc signed us up at a new volunteer organization. We started last night. It will give us more opportunities to offer more therapy dog visits in different locations. We are both excited to get started and gives us a new purpose to look forward to. There happened to be a cooking class being taught in the same building our meeting was in and I told Doc I would like to volunteer as their taste tester, but she nixed that idea fast.

So get up off your duff and go do something different than binge watching all the shows on Netflix or Amazon. There’s a whole world out there with things to do. You may just have some fun and meet some new friends.




Let’s Have A Fireside Chat

Photo by Angela Kirk

January 1, 2020,  started a new decade and for many represents change. But let’s be honest only about 46% of humans follow through on the changes you resolve to make. You know why? Because you choose goals that deprive you of pleasure. Yuck! So if you are inclined to take advice from a dog, I would tell you to set goals that bring you more pleasure not less.

My advice is to act more like a dog if you want to be truly happy this year. For example, have some fun every day by running and jumping for joy, especially when you greet someone you love. Take a nap. There is nothing better in the world than a good old nap to reduce your stress. Take a walk, to meet some nice people and enjoy nature.  Just be yourself , life’s too short to spend time trying to impress others. Be loyal to those that love and care for you and you will be rewarded tenfold. If you really want something in life, keep digging until you get it and never give up. Treat yourself to something yummy to eat every so often. I love dog cones from Dairy Queen but that’s just me. The point is you need to learn to take better care of yourself and that includes asking for what you need. Life shouldn’t just be about chores, work and “to do ” lists that need completed. Have some fun this year for heaven’s sake, it won’t kill you!

So here’s my challenge to all of you, think about one new pleasure each week that you would like to do and look forward to.  Then let me know what you come up with. It should be more fun than counting calories and or getting your finances in order. Happy New Year!

Holiday Horror, Confronting the Beast

Photo by Angela Kirk

As you recall, last week Doc got into a brief tiff with our Christmas tree. I don’t know what magical change has come over her since that incident, but she has been nothing but chill all this week. It’s as if  she were worried that our Elf on the Shelf would share her evil behavior with Santa if she didn’t shape up. However she resolved her stress, this therapy dog is thrilled. So we are back to our normal routine, but nothing is normal about some of the things that people are passing off as Christmas decorations in our neighborhood and frankly some of them scare me.

We follow almost the same route every day when we take our daily walk. From January until August people’s yards have normal things in them like, tress and bushes. However come fall, strange football mascots that reach 7′ high pop up randomly in people’s yards. I have learned to deal with them, but then comes Halloween and creepy things hang from trees. I won’t lie, it freaks me out. Recently one neighbor took it to a new level with a 5′ Abominable Snow Man in the yard near the sidewalk. Doc had to explain what it was. I don’t know if these things are real or not because they move with the wind and after dark the beasts big teeth light up. I have been keeping my distance and growling at it for weeks to let it know who the boss of the neighborhood is, but yesterday Doc told me it was time to confront my fears.

My advice to you is never live with a therapist. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Doc and she is good to me, but I really could go the rest of my life without confronting the Abominable Snowman. I mean really, what’s the point? What if we go over to it and it springs to life like Frosty the Snowman, then what? But Doc wouldn’t listen and told me she had my back. I walked straight up to that snowman like I owned him and growled a little just for good measure. And you know what, he just stood stone straight staring at me and didn’t utter a word.  He could really work on his social skills.

So Doc was right after all. I guess most fears are concocted in our heads. Today I will just walk on by without even giving him a second glance. I would really like to lift my leg and pee on him for good measure, but that wouldn’t be very neighborly.



Doc Versus the Christmas Tree

Photo by Angela Kirk

On Sunday morning after breakfast, Doc and I finally put up the Christmas tree. After getting it perfect in the stand we left it to be decorated for later in the day. We had Christmas shopping to do, some leaves to be raked and figured we would fit in the decorating before going to a holiday open house at 4pm. As you know, over planning and pushing yourself too hard always leads to stress. And that is exactly what happens.

Now you would think that Doc being the queen of stress management would practice what she preaches, but she does not always heed her own words. Things went fine until the tree decorating began. I could tell she was already tired from shopping and working in the yard, but she was bound and determined to tackle that tree even thought her body was telling her she needed to rest. After all, she was still recovery from a bought of bronchitis that had left her flat for a week.  So you can guess what was about to happen next.

She started by putting a garland of ribbons around the tree. She stepped back, shook her head and then took them off. She then placed them differently, shook her head and took them off again. Then she tried a different color of ribbon and once again she pulled them off the tree. Each time she went through this exercise I could sense her becoming more and more agitated until she was finally started talking to the tree in an abusive tone with some swear words thrown in for good measure.  At one point I thought she was going to throw the tree out the back door. I don’t like it when Doc’s energy becomes angry, so I finally went to another room until she was done with her tantrum. Luckily she was literally saved by the bell when I heard her phone alarm go off to remind her it was time to leave for the party.

It’s funny how a little distance and perspective can calm a person down. By the time we got to the open house, Doc had relaxed and was even laughing with friends about how out of whack she had become over something that should be fun and represent the season of peace and love. Another lesson learned.

After a night of rest and a new attitude Doc finished decorating the tree. We put on some Christmas music and actually enjoyed the experience, just like it should be. And you know what? It looks beautiful.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor


Photo by Angela Kirk

Before I was born there was a children’s television show called Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Sometimes after a hard day at work, Doc will turn on an old rerun of Mr. Rogers and for a brief time we go back to his magical neighborhood.

Mr. Rogers was both soothing and kind in the way he interacted with his TV audience and the character’s on his show.  Not afraid to talk about feelings, he often covered topics like death or divorce that most adults shy away from. He understood that children needed a safe place to explore the feelings they were having about those challenges in life. He also discussed the importance of being kind to one another, something I think we need more of today.

Being kind doesn’t really need to be grand gesture, it’s often the little things that make the biggest impact. For example, the mailman on our street not only brings the mail, but he brings doggie treats to me and my friend Norman. We then respond by giving him a big lick on the hand as a thank you and that makes him smile. Now our mailman doesn’t have to do that, but he goes the extra mile because he loves dogs and he’s a nice person.

Every day we all have opprotunities to be kind to someone. Just saying thank you or opening a door can make someone’s day.  Sometimes just sitting quietly and listening to someone if they are having troubles can make all the difference. So this is my challenge to you. As we are now officially in the holiday season look for opportunities on a daily basis to do a kind deed for a stranger or a neighbor. If we all did this, think of what a nice neighborhood we could create. The kind that Mr. Rogers envisioned.


Comfort Food for the Soul

Photo by Angela Kirk

It’s funny how certain foods can stir up memories and emotions from the past. That is exactly what happened at out house on Sunday when Doc had the family over for a down home traditional comfort food supper.

The reactions started as soon as she opened the front door and the aroma of her mom’s meat loaf and pineapple upside down cake drifted out the front door. “Wow!, they exclaimed, we could smell those wonderful aromas as soon as we walked on the front porch.”  ” Well come on in!” Doc said with enthusiasm. And in they came for the official hugs and kisses. Nephew Cole was nice enough to take me outside to play ball and to work up an appetite before the big feast. 

After everyone sat down at the table and we bowed our heads to give thanks, the eating frenzy began. It wasn’t long before the memories started pouring out as we talked about plans for Thanksgiving.  Remembering favorite meals their grandmother made turned into stories about those special days that only family experience can elicit. Laughter and togetherness kept us gathered around the table long after the meal was finished.  I have to admit that I positioned myself between the two youngest as they drop the most food on the floor. My well thought out plan resulted in some morsels of cake when everyone was talking and no one was looking. In the end everyone was happy, even me the dog.

Doc says never underestimate how the simple gesture of breaking bread can bring people together. They may come for the food, but the fond memories from the past and the new ones being created are what keep them coming back. It’s just like group therapy with meat loaf and cake. How can you beat that?






Mending Fences

Photo by Angela Kirk

It’s funny how watching someone perform a simple weekend chore can become a metaphor for life. On Saturday morning as I watched while Doc and her nephew Scott replaced a rotting section of the wooden picket fence in the back yard I couldn’t help thinking about the fences we need to mend in our own lives.

You humans can be complicated. As you know dogs deal with canine issues in the moment and then move on. I can’t even image getting so mad at my best friend Norman that I never speak to him again, let alone talk trash about him on Facebook or my blog. Nope, dogs like the direct approach without any drama.

People on the other hand can be pretty thin-skinned sometimes. Then instead of talking to the person they are mad at they will tell everybody on the planet they are upset except the actual person they are ticked off at. If things really fester like a big boil on your backside, they will stop talking to each other completely. And because they have both dug in their heals and won’t try to work things out an emotional fence goes up between the two. You know what happens to fences over time? They start to rot. I thinks that’s what grudges do over time, rot you on the inside making you feel bitter. It’s never good to give that much power away to another human.

It may be the person the you are mad with is too toxic to trust or be around again and in those cases you need to keep yourself safe. But even in those situations I have head Doc tell her patients that the forgiveness is really not for the other person, it is for you. It doesn’t mean you let that person hurt you any more, it’s meant to set you free so you can move on.

As Thanksgiving approaches, think about those in your life that you are angry or holding grudges toward and need to extend the proverbial olive branch of forgiveness to.  Just like Doc and Scott’s fence repair job, it may not be a perfect attempt but it starts to fix the damage that was created over time.


The Witch In My House

Picture by Angela Kirk

You think you know someone after living and working with them for seven years but boy was I wrong. I guess that’s what I get for snooping around in Doc’ s attic. I guess humans keep some of their biggest secrets hidden in the attic and boy did I uncover a doozy. I will give you the evidence I uncovered and then you can decide for yourself.

On Saturday Doc was putting up some more Halloween decorations on the front of the house to make it look extra spooky for Trick or Treat. She kept going up to the attic to retrieve more stuff. That attic has always been a mystery to me. She has never allowed me in there. “What could be that important?”  I said out loud to no one in particular and you guessed it, curiosity finally got the best of me. I waited until she left the house to go to the grocery store and decided that I was going to see for myself what kind of things she kept up in that darn attic that were so special.

After climbing the stairs, I slowly pushed opened the squeaky door with my paw. She had left the light on so I could see all sorts of decorations for every holiday, stacks of unopened boxes , furniture she didn’t use any more and then something in the corner caught my eye. Sitting all by itself in the back of the attic were some items that made the hair on my back stand up. Sitting in front of me was a pointed black witch hat, a broom and some instructions on old parchment paper . Shocked by what I had uncovered I picked up the paper and began to read.  The Covenant of the Witch is sacred and each time you summon the power remember that those that do not respect it can become addicted and harm will come to themselves and others.  Yikes! reading that gave me the shivers. Could Doc have been a witch all along and been casting spells on me? Just then I heard the attic door close behind me. Now I was stuck until Doc got home and I knew she would not be happy when she found me. As I nervously lay their awaiting her return I started thinking about Doc in this new light. Was Doc secretly a witch? She did bring home that little black kitten a few weeks ago. It was all starting to add up.

Finally I heard the garage door open and the back door slam. I started barking so Doc would know where I was. When I heard here come up the stairs and finally open the door I was so relieved to be free that I didn’t notice she was upset with me. ” Grover I told you not to come in this room.” she said in a stern tone.  ” Are you a witch? ” I blurted out. ” I found all your witch stuff in the corner.” Let me tell you Doc was not amused. She told me to go down stairs and then gave me a lecture on respecting other people’s space. As she told me to stay in the room to think about what I had done she narrowed her eyes, looked at me and said ” If you ever do that again Grover, I will turn you into a frog.” Then she turned on her heals and left me to take it all in. I can’t be sure, but I swear I heard her laughing in the other room.

So tomorrow night on Halloween if you look up in the sky and see a dark-haired woman on a broom in the light of the moon, it might be Doc. Now doesn’t this story make you wonder what dark secrets the people in your lives may be hiding?  Happy Halloween!

Fall Frenzy

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc said she couldn’t believe another week had already gone by and I agree. We work hard and play hard so the time seems to fly by, but I don’t think we would want it any other way. So let me get you up to speed on everything that’s happened since last week.

The day after the Debating Democrats left Otterbein University we thought all the media had gone with them, but we were wrong. Doc and I stopped at the farmers market in Uptown to get some potatoes for dinner and spotted a big ABC truck with a satellite attached. Not far from the truck was a camera man and reporter getting ready to go live. Doc remarked to one of the farmers that she hoped this doesn’t become a permanent thing or we will all have to travel with our own glam squads to be camera ready like those reality TV stars on the BRAVO network.

Because I know you all want an update on the little kitty we found, I am happy and relieved to report that he is doing fine in his new home. He is gaining weigh, acting frisky and very loved.

Since it’s getting close to Halloween, Doc and I decided to take her niece and nephew to the Ohio Village for their All Hallows Eve celebration. They depict how Halloween was celebrated in the 1800’s in Ohio and there are actors in period costume that tell the stories of characters that lived during that time.

In the first house we came upon a widow in her parlor with some friends mourning the recent death of her 25th husband. Yes I said #25! His body was laying right there in the coffin next to her. Her story, if you believe it, is that she and her husband were out for a nice Sunday drive. He got out of the carriage because he wanted to see if something was in the road when the carriage suddenly lunged forward and ran over him.  She hadn’t even buried the poor man and was already scanning the room for husband # 26.

Next we stopped to get a bite to eat at the food wagon. Because there were no tables around, Doc had us plop down to eat on the grass right in the middle of the cemetery. Kind of creepy if you ask me, but it was quiet. While we were eating we watched them dig a grave that we assume was for husband #25.

After supper we went to the local Undertaker as they were advertising for professional mourners to be part of the funeral procession for the widow’s husband. Doc is a good fake crier and got hired right away. Her niece was kind of freaked out by it all (she’s only 8) and decided to stay outside. All in all we had a really good time and when we got home we went right to bed because we were ready to meet the Sandman.

Sunday was a beautiful fall day so Doc worked in the yard. She kind of made me nervous when she got out the ladder to climb up and change the flood lights on the back of the house. She said not to worry, if she fell all the neighbors were out and someone would eventually see her lying there and come to see if she was still alive. I didn’t think that was a bit funny.

So now we are back to work and ready to see what will happen next. What are you willing to embrace in life to create new adventures for yourself?

Abandoned and Afraid

Photo by Angela Kirk

Doc misunderstood what I wanted when I started whining right after we got to work. It was only 6:15am and she thought I needed to go outside to use the bathroom. What I really wanted to do was   find out where that crying noise was coming from outside. Doc couldn’t hear it inside the building but I could and I knew whatever was making that noise was clearly in distress.

As soon as she opened that back door we both heard it. “Meow, meow, meow!” It was loud, constant and sounded like a baby.”  ” Is that a kitten crying? ” she asked one of her coworkers. “Yes, he said and look, its chasing Grover!” When we turned around we saw a little black kitten running across the parking lot toward us. Now I have to admit, even kittens make me a little nervous because they hiss and chase me, but even I knew that this baby needed help. Just as Doc reached down to grab it, it ran and hid under a car. It was still dark out and you know how hard it is to find a black kitten in the dark.

As more people showed up for work we tried working as a team but to no avail. That little sucker was too fast. But you know Doc, she was not about to give up. Finally one of the patients saw us and came to help. While I stayed on one side of the car showing the humans where the kitten was our helper got underneath the car with a flashlight. As the kitten moved toward me, he grabbed it. Success!

Luckily Doc still had my old dog crate inside the office, so we put kitty in there for the day. Doc then called the Vet and made an appointment for later in the day. Let me tell you that little kitten was the star of the day and everyone pitched in to care for him Using my therapy dog skills, my job was to lay by the crate because that was the only thing that would stop him from crying.

The next morning we got good news from the veterinarian. All the testing showed he was healthy but only weighed 2 pounds, poor skinny thing. After giving it some thought I told Doc that kitten made me nervous and that I didn’t want him to live with us. Luckily Doc said she knew a co-worker that wanted to adopt him.

So this story has a happy ending. Kitten went to live with his new family on Saturday night and he is loved and taken care of. What makes me sad is to think of all the other animals that are either lost or abandoned and never found. So here’s my speech, please neuter and spay.

Before kitty went to his new home I saw Doc look him in the eye and say, ” Every living thing deserves to feel safe and loved and you are going to a wonderful forever home.” Too bad that’s not always the case I thought.