We Will Not Forget

Photo by Angela Kirk

Today is 9/11. Not only do we honor the 2,996 people who lost their lives on this day but we also remember the brave first responders that rushed to help and died of respiratory disease or cancer in the years that followed the attack. Although I was not yet born, Doc can tell you exactly where she was and who she was with when she found out.

She said it was one of those beautiful September days. The sky was a crystal blue without a cloud in sight. She was at work when one of her patient’s came in and told her that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. Although it was shocking she thought it must be some type of terrible accident not realizing what was about to unfold. Soon patients came in and they were crying as they found out planes not only hit both Trade Centers, but also the Pentagon and one plane crashed into a field in Pennsylvania. It was almost too much to process.

Doc stayed at work until she was told to go home as the downtown was closing, There was a concern more attacks may be planned.  When she left work there were police guarding the bridges and some of the streets. The airport was shut down and all planes grounded across the United States. While driving home there was barely a person on the road and she became acutely aware of how very quiet the world had become.

For the rest of the evening she sat on the front porch with her neighbors trying to comprehend what had occurred. The only other time the United States had been attacked was at Pearl Harbor during WWII and it almost seamed impossible that it happened again. I think that sometimes we can be lulled into a false sense of safety.

So today let us pause and remember all of the people that died that day. May we never take our lives or the people that we love for granted.

Caution, Beware of Lizard Brain!

Photo by Angela Kirk

Just because I’m a dog doesn’t mean I am not interested in higher levels of thought. When Doc watches lectures from professors on U-Tube, buddy boy I am right next to her taking it all in. How do you think I get new information on human behaviors? Well this particular day, Doc was watching a lecture by a professor at Harvard on the brain and let me tell you it was interesting. Nerd alert, since I am not stingy with my knowledge, I am passing it on to you.

Although it is not my intention to offend, I have observed some humans act as if their territory is being threatened. I have seen people get mad and defensive about politics, when driving, fighting over stuff at the store, when making business decisions or basically anything that threatens their ego. It’s like watching primates throw poop at each other. Hey guys, we aren’t competing with the neighboring tribes on the Savannah any more, be nice.  But alas your primitive physiology is still influencing your behaviors.

Then there are those humans that take it to the next level. They are so influenced by that part of their brain that they let it take over any rational thought and the scheming and the scamming begins. Survival of the fittest turns into survival of the slickest. Yikes, the times I have been exposed to people like that I hide behind Doc, I can smell their insincerity.

Alas, there is good news. Humans have a prefrontal cortex and thus you have consciousness. You can then use that consciousness to be aware and educate and control your primitive desires and fears. Our prefrontal cortex can also help you to identify the “slick” among you, helping to keep you safe. The human brain is one marvelous miracle.

So what’s the moral of this tale? Don’t let your ego imprison you. Take control of your lizard brain before it controls you. But do give in sometimes when you get that urge for some ice cream. Yum!

My Little Corner of Heaven

Photo by Angela Kirk

You can hear the thunder off in the distance now that the storm has moved past our house. It was a good soaking and needed after so many months of dry weather in July and August. I can already see the grass greening up again, loosing some of the brown that had crept in during the dry spell. Everything looks so clean and refreshed as the late evening sun makes a brief appearance before setting in the West. Since it stopped raining, Doc has let me out in the back yard where I sit in my favorite spot on the hill under the pear tree. This is where I sit in every season so that I can keep watch over the acre behind our house. Doc would call it a mindfulness exercise. Since I don’t speak psycho babble I just call it feeling at peace.

I think it’s easy for you humans to get so caught up in your lives that you forget how you are connected to the earth. Your pets are there to remind you of that lest you forget.  Many times I am able to draw Doc back to nature after a busy day if I am patient and sit very quietly. Eventually she will come be next to me on the grass and we just sit there side by side without a word being spoken between us. That is the time I feel most connected to her.

The artist Claude Monet said it the best; ” My wish is to stay always like this, living quietly in a corner of nature.”

Dog Days

Photo by Angela Kirk

We are getting to the end of the dog days of summer when sunrise coincides with my favorite star Sirius, the Dog Star. Egyptians thought that the combination of the Sun and Sirius caused the sweltering heat. Sweltering is right! I am so hot that my paws are sweating.

Doc just deals with the heat and you can find her outside in the garden happy as a clam no matter how dirty and sweaty she gets. I know dogs are supposed to be loyal to their masters but I do not feel one bit of guilt watching Doc through the window while I lounge over the cold air vent on the floor. I am waiting for her to finish so we can go swimming, but my patience is wearing thin in this heat.

Even though I complain about the heat, I start to feel melancholy this time of year knowing the summer will soon come to an end. I will miss sitting on the back porch in the evening with Doc while we listen to the frogs in the pond as the fire flies flicker in the dark. The impromptu trips to Dairy Queen for a dog cone, going on vacation, or just floating down the lazy river without a care in the world. There is something so magical about summer that it makes you want to slow down and take it all in.

So savor the last days of summer….. ” Summertime is always the best of what might be.” Charles Bowden.

Photo by Angela Kirk” Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves even when we risk disappointing others.”

— Brene Brown

Home Sick

After two weeks of Doc and I being on vacation, we have finally returned to our normal routine and I for one am glad. When Doc and I came home from the lake, I didn’t realize that after a few days that she was going back for a second time and leaving me behind. The first I knew about the plan was when she packed up the car and took me over to the veterinarians office to be boarded there. You would have thought she would have discussed it with me before hand to at least prepare me. I am not just a piece of luggage you can just drop off anywhere, anytime. If I sound perturbed, it’s because I am and let me tell you the rest of the story so that you understand.

After Doc left I felt a little anxious and then to make matters worse they placed me in a kennel across from a very vocal beagle that would not be quiet. Even after I gave him the stink eye, he kept up his barking, howling and whining all day and all night. At first I tried to go with the flow but after a few days went by I started to ruminate and wondered if Doc was ever coming back. She had never left me so suddenly before and why hadn’t she taken me with her? The more I thought about it, the more I fretted and then became frightened. What if I became an orphan and had to live on my own? After a day of worry my stomach began to hurt, then I stopped eating and I even threw up.  Between my stomach and that loud mouth beagle I didn’t get any rest at all. What was I going to do?

Then just as suddenly as she left, Doc shows up to take me home all smiles, like nothing had happened. If I wouldn’t have been so relieved to see her I would have given her the silent treatment. The veterinarian told Doc that I worried myself sick and then they gave me a darn shot right in the behind to stop my nausea. Doc gave me a big hug and asked me why I was so worried. ” Grover, have I ever left you and not come back to get you?” she said with concern in her voice. ” No, I responded, but I just don’t like being away from you and thought you might not come back.” ” Oh Grover, she said, I promised you when you were just a puppy that I would always take care of you, never forget that.

When we finally got home I thought about what she had said but just to be on the safe side, I have been sticking to Doc like glue so she won’t escape without my noticing.

Photo by Angela Kirk“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

— Lou Holtz

Leave Fear Behind

Photo by Angela Kirk

Recently Doc and I took a trip to the lake for a few days to rest and reflect. Last year was my first trip to Lake Erie and when Doc took me down to the water’s edge I became frightened by how much water there was, the noise of the waves hitting the rocks and all the birds flying so close as they were diving for fish. But after a day of being around the water and with Doc’s encouragement, I started to like it and even put my paws in the water as we walked along the beach.  As I looked out over the water today I started to think about all I would have missed if I would have let my fear keep me from having a new experience that I now love. So my question to you my gentile readers is this; How is fear holding you back from living your life to the fullest?

It’s easy to get trapped doing the same old thing every day because it feels familiar and safe, even when you wish you had the courage to do something different. Staying stuck in fear keeps us walled off from all the possibilities of living a life to the fullest. Sometimes you just have to move forward even if you are afraid. Doc often tells me that after she has done something that she was afraid of that she finds it was never as bad as she had conjured up in her mind.  She’s right and personally I would rather face whatever I am afraid of than get to the end of my life and have regrets over what could have been. I think the lyrics to the song Already Gone by the Eagles says it the best; “So often time it happens that we live our lives in chains and we never even know we have the key.”

 

Photo by Angela Kirk” Every once in a while a dog enters your life and changes everything.”

— Anonymous

Oh the Drama!

Photo by Angela Kirk

Wayne Dyer once said  “Conflict cannot survive without your participation.” No truer words have been spoken. Now let me tell you about some drama that Doc and I almost got pulled in to the middle of.

Of course the problem started with the humans and then we dogs being loyal to our masters felt the need to step forward and back them up. Some neighbors were arguing over goodness knows what as Doc and I were taking a walk down the street. The kids and the dogs were front and center all eyes and ears watching and learning how adults handle conflict. From my view it didn’t look like it was going very well. Lots of yelling and thankfully nothing physical, but no one was really listening to one another. As we got closer I looked up at Doc to see what she would do, ready to jump into action if needed. I noticed the arguing got louder after they saw us, trying to pull us into the fracas. I watched as she assessed the situation and then to my surprise she just kept walking. As I kept trying to strain my neck to see what was going on Doc looked down at me and said ” Mind your own bees-wax Grover, keep walking.”

Upset that she had corrected me, when we got further down the street I asked her why she didn’t intervene. ” After all, aren’t you the queen of conflict resolution?” I ask with a snarky tone in my voice.  ” Not every conflict is our conflict to resolve Grover” she said calmly as she went on to explain, ” If someone was being physically harmed or in danger I would have made a different decision, but that was their battle to figure out and resolve. Often the more people that get involved, the more a situation can escalate.”

And you know what? When we returned from our long walk two of the neighbors were talking things out calmly and the other one had walked away. The children and the dogs were back to playing with each other like nothing had happened.

Another important life lesson…sometimes it’s better to stay out of the drama and hopefully the parties involved will work toward a peaceful resolution, forgive, forget and move on without any help from me.