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.

 

Stay At Home

Photo by Angela Kirk

Well, here we are looking at each other day in and day out without much to do but eat, sleep and sometimes get on each other’s nerves. The Governor of Ohio has ordered us to shelter in place and to not leave the house unless we need important thing like dog treats. We both understand the orders are important to help stop the spread of the virus. Doc’s mom use to tell her that before she made a decision in life to also consider how her choice would affect others as well. It seems now is an excellent time to apply that advice.

The lucky thing is that Doc and I still get to work most days from the safety of our home. We only go in to work one day per week when Doc is the on site crisis counselor. We have continued to do counseling and check in with our patients through tele therapy. The common theme for almost everyone is that this is a scary time because there are still a lot of unknowns. It feels surreal and why wouldn’t it? Our lives changed drastically in a short period of time.

The most important thing that Doc stresses with her patients and other that are anxious is that this will not last forever. So for now, do the best that you can to care for yourself and your loved ones. And don’t forget to thank the people who continue to go to work every day so that we have health care, groceries, gas, transportation, and deliveries. They put themselves at extra risk so that we can have what we need. Until next week, please stay safe and well.

 

The New Abnormal

Photo by Angela Kirk

It is a strange new world. Starting this week, Doc and I are alternating between working at home and working in the office. On Tuesday we were the on site crisis counselor and we will go back and do it again on Thursday. We only talk to our patients through tele therapy now. It feels quite strange and sad for both of us. Doc and I miss seeing and interacting with our patient’s face to face, so it was a happy meeting when Doc took me outside yesterday morning and one of the patients hollered and waved at us from their car. What use to be such a normal occurrence that we took for granted is now a treasured and happy meeting. For just a few moments everything felt normal again.

There is no doubt in my mind that we will get through this together. I know that humans get frightened when they realize that they can’t control everything. That is why it is so important to do your best to stay in the moment and focus on what you can control. In other words, try your best not to let anxiety rule your thoughts.

As I am finishing this blog, I am stationed next to Doc, watching the magnificent sunrise right outside our window. It is a reminder that nature is sorting everything out as we speak. The day will soon come when all of this will be over and we will rejoice and appreciate what it is to feel free again.

Taking Care of the Pack

As of this writing, Doc and I are still going to work.  As part of a large team of medical and mental health professionals, we are making sure that our patients are being taken care of.  Many of the patients and staff are anxious, so I am here to help calm and comfort, it is just the natural way that dogs take care of their pack.

Doc told me she has been proud of how I have been comforting everyone. She said my behavior is a good reminder that we are all connected and should watch out for each other during these difficult times.  It’s easy to get lost in your fear, but don’t despair as this too shall pass.

Any time there is uncertainty, the worst thing you can do is dwell on it 24/7. Doc and I have been spending a great deal of time outside when we are not at work. We take our daily walks, visit with the neighbors from a distance and check on our family and friends. Doc also spent part of Sunday counting our roles of toilet paper. We have 40 rolls. Don’t judge, she didn’t just go out and purchase these recently, she has been hording toilet paper since I have been alive. It’s a thing for her and now this pandemic has just reinforced that weird behavior. She is now smugly telling me that she always knew it would come to this one day and she would be prepared.  I was proud that she offered the neighbor some of our stash when they told her they were running low. But I digress.

Relax, take a deep breath, wash your paws and watch some old reruns of your favorite sitcom. Until then, stay tuned.

 

Springing Forward Under the Light of the Full Moon

Photo by Angela Kirk

Last night as Doc and I went outside to bask in the light of the super moon we could hear a coyote howling in the distance. It’s mating season and all of nature is waking up from the long winter.

The first full moon in March is called the Worm Moon because the ground is soft enough for the earth worms to appear signifying the beginning of spring. Earlier in the day we noticed the flower bulbs that Doc planted last fall pushing up through the brown earth. The first signs of spring always give me hope that warmer days are ahead .

Spring is really a time of renewal. It’s time to take stock of our lives and move forward with positive intentions. For example; What do you need to purge from your life? This could be anything from getting rid of clutter to ending or distancing yourself from relationships that have become toxic . Recently Doc and I got rid of many of my dog toys at work by giving them to dogs at the shelter. All I have left is my favorite ball and my bone. And do you know what, that’s all I really need to be content.

A few years ago Doc and I made a decision that every spring we would go through a rebirth of sorts. We reevaluate our lives and let go of the things that are weighing us down. Here’s hoping that you give this some thought by challenging your beliefs and opening the door to new possibilities.

 

March Came in Like a Lamb and Other Superstitions

You all know the old saying if March comes in like a lion it goes out like a lamb and vise versa. Well March 1st was a beautiful mild sunny day and I for one enjoyed it immensely without worrying what the 31st will bring.  As a dog I am not one who believes in humans superstitious tales. I just take things as they occur. Doc who has read up on all these kinds of tales told me that humans find some comfort in trying to predict what may happen. Simply put, it gives people a sense that they have some control over a situation.

About half of the population has some superstition they believe in. Don’t think you have any superstitions? Well I bet you probably say “bless you” when someone sneezes. Did you know that human ancestors said that in case the devil showed up to steal the sneezers soul?   Many buildings and hotels don’t have a 13th floor because people would ask for a different floor to  rent or stay on. Check out the buttons the next time you are on an elevator.  How about walking under a ladder? Are you ok with that? The saddest one of all is that people don’t want to adopt black cats or dogs. Doc told me when I was older that myself and my litter mates were adopted at a lower price because many people don’t want black dogs. How awful!

The bottom line is that if you believe in yourself and your own abilities you don’t need superstitions, magical thinking or Jedi mind tricks. You have the power inside of you to conquer your fears and succeed. But if you ever want to borrow my rabbit’s foot I’ll Be happy to lend it to you.

Left Behind But Not Forgotten

Well she did it again. Doc left me in the cold and snowy mid- west while she flew to sunny warm Florida to hang out with her friends. I knew something was up when she got out her suitcase, her bathing suit, shorts and sandals. But as usual, I stayed in denial until the last-minute when she said good-by at the veterinarians office where she boards me. I could tell she felt a little guilty, but not enough to take me with her. The reality is that I have a secret, I actually had a good time while she was gone.

Being that it is February, there are not many dogs being boarded and the few that were there were nice and quiet. I don’t want to brag, but I am popular with the staff and they think I am just about the  most perfect dog. The nice vet techs that take care of me gave me treats, hugs, extra belly rubs and played with me outside every day. What more could a dog want? They even took selfie’s of me and posted them on my Facebook page with the caption, ” We absolutely adore him!” It’s enough to give me a big ego if I’m not too careful. Now I know what famous people go through with all their fans.

Before I knew it a whole week had gone by. Doc showed up as soon as her plane landed to take me home. I have to admit I was so happy to see her that I ran over and sat on her feet so she wouldn’t leave. She gave me a big hug and a kiss on the head in return.  When you live with someone it’s easy to get on each others nerves sometimes and you can even fantasize about what it would be like without them. Time apart can help you gain some perspective and appreciate what you love about that person. I think it is true when they say distance makes the heart grow stronger.

Just for good measure, I have not allowed Doc out of my sight since we have been home. You never know when she could slip out the bathroom window with out me knowing it.

 

Spreading the Love

As I am sure you are all aware, tomorrow is Valentines Day. There are a few of you who scoff at this day of love, but I for one adore it. I agree that some of the holidays can turn into materialistic events perpetuated by sales and marketing if you allow it, however I have a solution……just focus on the love.

Photo by Angela Kirk

Start by thinking about the people in your life that have been there for you. That can include family, friends, teachers, coaches or mentors as no one gets through this world alone. Next get out your pen and write those people a heart-felt letter or card thanking them for how they impacted your life. Yes you heard me, I said write, no texting. Think about how that person will feel when they go to the mailbox and receive an actual piece of mail that isn’t a bill or advertising. They will open that card and know that you took time out of your day to remember them.  I get a warm and fuzzy feeling just thinking about it.

I will end with a friendly reminder, don’t forget to give a special treat to your pet tomorrow, after all we love you unconditionally 365 days a year. Happy Valentines Day!

 

After the Flood

Photo by Angela Kirk

After staying home from work for over a week because of the flood, I was informed I could return on Monday morning. I have to admit I was glad. I was getting a little squirrely being home by myself every day. There’s only so much time you can devote to watching bunnies in the yard, political drama on TV or napping. My brain was starting to turn to mush and the day I told Doc that I thought the poodle down the street was in a cult and was spying on us, she looked at me with a very concerned expression. I guess you just don’t realize how important socializing is until it is taken away from you.

It’s easy to feel isolated in this world of communication through social media and other electronics. It gives you a false sense of connection. In fact, very smart researchers have found that when we don’t engage face to face with others, it puts many of us at risk for increased physical and mental illness. Both humans and dogs are pack animals and we need to be with others and it’s so important to personally interact.

When I was at home by myself, I started to feel lonely and didn’t feel better until Doc came home from work. When I came back to work this week, I was so happy to see everyone that I could hardly contain myself. And you know what? Everyone was equally happy to see me and told me that they missed me. It not only lifted my spirits but reminded me that I have a purpose in my life.

” Communication is merely an exchange of information, but connection is an exchange of our humanity.” Sean Stephensen

 

The Big Flood

Picture by Megan Roesch

Most floods happen after water rises so high from a storm that it enters from the outside in. Well the flood we were in started on the inside and quickly moved to the outside because there was nowhere else for the water to go.

It was about 5:45am and Doc and I were already at work. Doc was getting her first cup of hot morning coffee to shake off the early morning chill and she was getting me a fresh bowl of water when we first heard the gushing sound. We both looked down the hall to see a pool of water slowly moving out onto the carpeted hallway. Doc thought a toilet might have overflowed but suddenly the gushing sound became louder and the water started flowing faster down the hall toward us. ” Holly cow!”  I exclaimed to Doc in an excited voice.” They finally took my suggestion to turn this building into an indoor pool!” ” You knucklehead, she retorted, we have a leak!” By this time the water was getting the attention of the other workers.  A pipe had broken below the shutoff valve and that is never a good thing.

Not to be deterred and after finding out the Fire Department was on the way, Doc grabbed her coffee and my water bowl and we went to higher ground.  It was way too early in the morning for Doc to face an emergency without her coffee.

After retrieving our first patient from the still dry lobby we had our first session while keeping the door cracked just enough so that I could lay and keep watch just in case there was a need to evacuate. It was rather exciting watching the firemen and the other buildings managers go by. By the end of the session, the water was starting to make its way down our hall so we had our patient safely exit out the back door.

Always the good Girl Scout, Doc whipped a pair of rain boots out of her file cabinet and we both went to see if we could help. Along the way we ran into the three nice firemen and I took some time to visit with them and then pose for pictures. It’s the least I could do for people who put their lives on the line for others. We then waded through water and went to the lobby to help patients until we could relocate everything in our other building across the street.

The bad news is that there is a lot of water damage to the building and we won’t be able to use it for a while. But the good news is that everyone worked hard so that our patients are still being served every day. The other good news is that since Doc and I don’t have a regular office space, I get to stay home this week and do things I am not supposed to do like sleep in Doc’s bed. Whoo hoo! I  am one lucky dog.