Photo by Angela Kirk “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.”

— George Bernard Shaw

Greetings From the Lake!

Photo by Angela Kirk

Dear Mom and Dad,

I haven’t written in awhile but Doc said now is a good time to drop you an e-mail since I am on vacation and not busy working. Hope you and everyone else are ok at the goat farm. I heard that you have both retired. Good for you! Sometime I think about those days and I get to feeling a little melancholy, but not to worry because I have a great life and Doc takes very good care of me.

This year Doc surprised me by taking me on my first week-long vacation. She rented a house that allowed one dog and you guessed it, I was the lucky dog. She tried to describe where we were going but since the farthest I’ve been is Dayton, Ohio I had no idea what she was talking about.

The night before we left she packed up the car with enough stuff to last a month. She even had a suitcase for me with my food, favorite toys, treats and my dog bed. We drove for a few hours and finally pulled in front of this cute little house where we were going to stay. As soon as we got settled Doc took me across the street to see the biggest body of water I have ever seen. She looked down at my surprised face and said “Welcome to Lake Erie, one of the great lakes!”

I don’t need to tell you that I was taken aback by the sounds of the water hitting the rocks, all the seagulls diving for fish and the new smells. It was a little over whelming at first but after about a day I got used to the new house and surroundings. We had a great big screened in porch that looked out at the lake and gave me a view of everything going on. You know how nosey I can be so this was like heaven.

Family, friends and even some old neighbors from back home showed up at the house to visit. It was fun spending such a relaxing week with everyone. The only bad thing that happened is that one night I fell right out of bed onto the hardwood floors. It made such a racket it scared Doc have to death and woke everybody up . Luckily I didn’t hurt myself.

My favorite part of the vacation was taking a long walk along the lake every morning with Doc. It was so quiet and peaceful and sometimes we would sit on a bench watching the Kelly’s Island ferry cross over to the island loaded with cars, supplies and people. It was nice having Doc to myself every morning.

As all good things must come to an end, eventually we had to pack up and go home. I admit that I was sad to leave. Doc’s Aunt Pat used to say that vacation means to vacate and she was right. Everyone needs to get away, rest and get a different perspective on life, even this dog.

So mom and dad, everything is good so don’t worry about me. You knew what you were doing when you let me go live with Doc. I am one blessed dog. Give my best to everyone at the farm.

Your loving son,

Grover

Photo by Angela Kirk ” It’s all about quality of life and finding a happy balance between work and friends and family.”

— Philip Green

It’s the Little Things That Matter

Photo by Angela Kirk

Late last evening Doc and I went for a nice leisurely walk around the neighborhood. After visiting all my favorite places and stopping to talk to the neighbors we headed into the house for the night. It was getting late and I heard Doc let out a heavy sigh as she sat down to take off her tennis shoes. It had been a long hard day for both of us.

As Doc turned on the TV to watch the news, I quietly went into the bedroom to retrieve what I was looking for and without a sound placed it next to Doc’s chair. She never even noticed. Then I went back to my place on the couch and waited.

After a while I noticed Doc slowly rise from her chair and as she turned toward the kitchen, she came to a halt as she looked down on the floor. A surprised look came upon her face as she glanced over at me and said “Oh Grover, you brought me my slippers, what a sweet dog you are!”  Then she came over and as she kissed me on top of the head she said ” Thank you for taking care of me.”

Now personally I didn’t think it was any big deal but Doc corrected me. “It’s the little things we do ever day for each other that have the biggest impact. Every time we hold a door open, say thank you, or help someone without being asked, we are recognizing the person and showing respect. You just never know when a kind gesture can turn someone’s day around. You are especially good at making people feel special Grover. When you go over and greet a patient, give them a gentle lick, or bring them one of your favorite toys, you provide comfort. Every human should be as giving as you.”

Thinking about what Doc said, I thought to myself, what would the world be like if we all took the time to perform small acts of kindness everyday?

 

 

Photo by Angela Kirk ” Humankind would improve if we concentrated less on being human and more on being kind.”

— Ashwin Sanghi

RESPECT for the Queen of Soul

The first time I heard the angelic voice of Aretha Franklin I was still a puppy. Doc would put on her CD’s on Saturday mornings while she cleaned the house and sing along with the Queen at the top of her lungs. When Doc told me that she passed away I felt that not only had we lost a beautiful voice, but that a force of nature had left the earth.

Aretha never allowed the bad things that happened to her define her. In spite of her mother leaving when she was only six and being a survivor of domestic violence she followed her vision with courage and grace. A self-taught pianist, she used her voice to uplift others and inspire those struggling with their own problems. Supporting the civil rights movement was one of her passions and she used her gifts to advocate for racial equality.

In spite of being a high school drop out, she earned 12 honorary degrees. She performed at three presidential inaugurations, held 44 Grammy nominations and eighteen wins, was the first female to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of fame and was the proud mother of three children.

Even though I am sad she is gone, Doc says her symbol of empowerment will live on through future generations. I know her spirit will continue to live on in our home every Saturday morning when Doc cranks up the music and sings along loud and strong “R-E-S-P-E-C-T , Find out what it means to me.”

 

 

Photo by Angela Kirk We all require respect, man or woman, black or white. It’s our basic human right.”

— Aretha Franklin

Sleep, Blissful Sleep

Photo by Angela Kirk

There is no better way for this dog to spend his down time than sleeping. What’s not to like? It’s relaxing, I get to shut down my mind and go into a blissful state of dreamland where I can chase dozens of squirrels. So it was surprising to me to find out humans are sleep deprived and the effects it is having on your health. As your therapy dog, I feel I need to tell you in a firm but loving voice……….GO TO BED!

More than 80 million Americans now sleep less than seven hours a night. That is two hours less than a century ago. Nothing is more important than getting enough sleep and here is why; sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system, to regulate our moods, recover swiftly from injuries and may be more essential than food. Steven Lockley from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston found that animals will die of sleep deprivation before starvation. It may also reduce your risk of developing dementia.  Now that’s serious stuff!

So why aren’t you humans sleeping?  Well is complicated. You can partially blame evolution and the modern world. Humans worry about things dogs don’t and that triggers our brain to stay awake. Artificial lights that light up the dark, cell phones, tv and computer light keep Melatonin from being released and making us sleepy.

So in the evening when you should be going to bed and you don’t, just remember this; anyone that sleeps less than six hours per night is at risk for depression, psychosis, stroke, and a higher risk of obesity. In other words, sleeplessness messes up the whole body.

So, take a deep breath and relax, turn off the TV, put down your cell phones and after you have read my blog and liked my Facebook page go to seep. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Photo by Angela Kirk ” Dogs are very comforting when your world has exploded.”

— Robin McKinley

Learning to Let Go and Move On

Photo by Angela Kirk

During the many counseling sessions that I co- facilitate with Doc I hear the same old response from patients when discussing the importance of letting go. ” If I forgive them then they win.”  Doc always responds with the same statement, ” Learning to forgive is for you as well as the other person, so that you can move on.  It doesn’t ever mean that you don’t have boundaries with that person, it just means that you take back your power.”

In my six long years on this earth, I have learned that conflict is just a normal part of relationships. As much as Doc and I love each other, we can get upset with each other sometimes. Both of us are stubborn, but Doc can get pretty bossy and  get on my last nerve, but what good would it do if I held a grudge? Grudges  weigh you down. It’s like dragging around a 50 pound bag of junk that you really don’t need or want.

It’s the same with friends. Inevitably you will have a disagreement. Just last week I noticed my buddy Norman was not playing with one of his favorite toys, a big green bone. Without asking, I picked it up and took it into my yard to play with it. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but when Norman saw me with his toy, he had a fit! Then he got me in big trouble by telling Doc what I did. He was mad at me and I was mad at him. After both of us pouted for awhile we forgot what we were mad about and starting playing again.

So now I am going to give you some helpful tools to deal with conflict when it rears its ugly head. 1. If your feathers feel ruffled, take some time to cool down before you talk about what you’re angry about, 2. Be mindful of your body language (don’t roll your eyes at the other person or use nasty hand gestures), 3. No name calling, 4. Listen and really hear what the other person is saying, 5. Focus on the things you can control and let go of everything else, 6.Take responsibility for your part in the conflict, 7. Be willing to compromise and 8. Forgive.

It’s like Nelson Mandela once said, “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”