Hello Summer, Good by Mr. Chipmunk!

Over at my house, we couldn’t be more happy that summer is almost here. Although our spring was beautiful this year, nothing beats all the outdoor activities, and the one that I look forward to the most, is trying to catch that pesky chipmunk that has been residing at our house. It lives under the patio, has been torturing me for the last three years and frankly, I have had it. This is the year Mr. chipmunk gets an eviction notice.

It knows I am not fast enough to catch it and knowing that, it has the nerve to run right past me when I am lying in the yard trying to get some sun and shut eye. It’s not even afraid of Doc! Why, just this morning Doc was a bit miffed when she found that the little sucker had dug up her mulch and left it scattered all over the driveway. As she was trying to sweep the mulch back off the driveway, she noticed out of the corner of her eye that it was sitting on a rock in the garden watching her. She told me he had the nerve to sit and stare at her like he was laughing and mocking her. I know it is said that all creatures great and small should try to live in harmony, but who ever said that obviously didn’t have to put up with a diabolical rodent. I feel like I am in the middle of an old Warner Brothers, Road Runner Cartoon where I am the Coyote and the chipmunk is the Roadrunner. We all know the Coyote never wins and I am trying to be smarter than the Coyote by using something safer than Acme dynamite and a net to catch the little sucker. After all I don’t want to blow up Doc’s house in the process.

After some thought I may need to call in my two dog buddies Frankie and Norman that live next door for backup. That little Frankie is fast and maybe he can catch it. He did catch a skunk a few weeks ago and that didn’t turn out too well at all, as he got sprayed right in the face, so maybe I should rethink my plan. All of this is making me tired. That is the great part about summer, I can think while I nap in the cool grass under the Maple tree, after all, I have all summer to deal with that chipmunk. I will keep you posted.

Sick As a Dog

In case you hadn’t noticed, it has been two weeks since I wrote my blog. There was an event that kept me so busy that I did not have the time think about anything but Doc and her well being, because after three years of the virus going around, Doc finally came down with COVID. Up until now, I think Doc was starting to think she had some kind of immunity that was keeping her from getting it, but she found out she is not invincible, and is human just like the rest of you.

She started feeling tired on a Friday afternoon and then everything went down hill after that until she tested positive the following Monday. She became suspicious late Sunday night when she noticed the peanut butter ice cream bar she was eating didn’t taste like peanut butter at all. Yes, she had lost her taste, one of the symptoms. Of course I knew she was sick long before she did. Did you know that dogs can smell all sorts of illness even before doctors and their tests can identify them? There are dogs trained to sniff out cancer cells and In the beginning of COVID, before there were instant tests, they had dogs trained to sniff out the COVID virus. Yes, we are wonderful creatures if I do say so myself.

But, I digress. It’s rare I see Doc feeling so bad that she does not want to get out of bed, but she was very fatigued and needed her rest, the problem is, she doesn’t seem to have an off button. Even with her sickness she was either putting in a load of laundry, or doing some chore between naps. She often said to me ” Here I have this time off and I am too tired to get anything done. what a waste of time.” After taking care of her a few years back after shoulder surgery, I am very aware that she is not a compliant patient, so I was on high alert and found the only way to get her back in bed was to follow her everywhere. It is certainly tiring trying to care for someone that will not follow the rules.

As COVID was not enough, on the the fifth day of her mandatory quarantine, we were watching a movie and munching on those good Snyder’s Sour Dough pretzels when I heard a crack coming form Doc’s mouth. Holly Moley! Doc had chipped her # 2 molar on the bottom side of her mouth. What else could happen? Luckily she was not in any pain. The next morning she called her dentist, explained she was positive for COVID out of quarantine, but still masking, and much to her surprise they gave her an appointment for the next afternoon. The dentist did not want to run the risk of her being uncomfortable or the tooth getting more damage. After her appointment the next day, she came home good as new with a temporary crown.

Doc was lucky, she only had a mild case and the new medicine combined with the vaccines she had chosen to get helped her to have a good outcome.. I sure am thankful for all the help that Doc was given from her dentist and the nice medical people at Urgent Care where they treated her for COVID. I could not have done everything myself. It takes a village with that woman.

We are both happy to be back at work, but I have to say I am worn out. Luckily I have a job where the staff and patients don’t mind if I nap on and off through out he day, because this dog deserves a rest.

Deep Thoughts

Even though technically, I am not suppose to sleep on Doc’s side of the bed, I find it is the best place to do my problem solving, philosophizing and planning. As Aristotle once said, ” The most important relationship we can have is the one you have with yourself, the most important journey you can take is one of self discovery.” I just choose to follow Aristotle’s advice in comfort, and since Doc would be outside for hours doing yard work, I had plenty of time to ponder the meaning of my life while lying on a soft pillow.

You might think it’s not very nice of me to lay in bed all day while Doc is out toiling in the flower beds, but someone in this family needs to preserve their energy. After all, I have a good view out the window into the yard and it is impressive watching her edge the flower beds and then haul around over 25 bags of mulch that she then spread all around. She is focused about getting a job done, I’ll give her that, but I did notice that she had to come in a take some breaks through out the day and she complained that she was getting sore. After all, she is no spring chicken and neither am I. That is why I leave her with the heavy lifting and I provide the verbal encouragement.

Doc caught me several times snoozing away, and I could tell she was not thrilled as she had just put clean sheets on the bed, but I think she was too tired to complain. When she was finally done gardening, and she let me outside, I was thrilled when I smelled the manure aroma of the mulch. After all, dogs philosophy is the stinkier the better.

When Doc went to take a shower, that’s when I got busy doing a little landscaping myself . However, she was not pleased when she came to the back porch, saw that the dirt and mulch under the pear tree had been dug up and I was now asleep in the new soft bed I had created. Exasperated with me she exclaimed in a tired and slightly agitated voice, “Grover, did you dig up all my hard work?” I thought to myself, who did she think did it, the next door neighbor? For a minute I thought about throwing him under the bus, but came up with a better response, so sheepishly I responded, ” I am on my journey of self-discovery, just like the great philosopher Aristotle suggested and I have discovered that sleeping in a bed of mulch and dirt is more comfortable than sleeping in your bed”. Boy did she give me “the look” when I said that.

I knew it was a lame excuse, but lucky for me she was too tired to respond, or to make me come in the house. So I stayed under the tree appreciating the relationship I had formed with myself through the day and then promptly fell sound asleep while dreaming about my purpose in the universe.

Sunday in the Park

Since the weather is getting better, we decided that in honor of Earth Day, we would start a weekend tradition of going to all the fabulous parks in our area. It’s not only good to get some exercise, but being in nature is both soothing to the soul and for this dog, there is the added excitement of new odors to sniff.

This week we started at Innis Woods Metro Garden and went on a hiking trail that was called Chipmunk Chatter. It wrapped around for a little more than 1.2 miles deep into the woods. Since it was early in the morning, there was no one on the trail, so I kept extra alert for any rogue, wild animals, like deer, fox or chipmunks that could possibly attack us. Someone had to be on alert, as Doc was walking down the trail oblivious to any danger that might be lurking near by. Isn’t she aware of all the BigFoot sightings in Ohio? No, she was too busy listening to the song birds singing and admiring all the wild flowers in bloom.

It was quiet beautiful and peaceful back in the woods as we walked past wetlands, streams and park land filled with large trees and greenery. It’s so uplifting to see everything coming to life after a long winter.

When we got back to the entrance of the trail, there were quite a few more people visiting the beautiful gardens in the other part of the park. Doc told me that dogs are not allowed in that part of the park, so we admired the flowers form afar. I bet you they made that rule after a few dogs tried to dig up the flower beds. There are always those few mutts that spoil it for everyone because they don’t know how to act in public.

After we got back home, we had a nice Sunday breakfast and then I got up on Doc’s bed to take a nap. I was already dreaming of where we would go next weekend. I think I am really going to enjoy these weekly adventures.

The King of Calm and Cool

It’s hard for most humans and even some dogs to stay calm under pressure and chaos. I don’t want to brag, but I have mastered staying chill in any circumstance and now I am going to pass my techniques on to you.

Let me just start by saying that I have observed that humans have a lot of opinions about all kinds of subjects. Not only do you have lots of opinions, but you like to express them out loud in person, in texts, on TV, pod casts and on every other type of social media. The chaos begins when other people then chime in and disagree. This leads to arguments, bruised egos and lots and lots of drama. Oy Vey! Theses opinions of course make it into counseling sessions where Doc has learned to listen quietly and then redirect the person to what is really bothering them. I assist by extending my paw, placing it on their leg or foot, to help calm them down. It can be difficult to get people to calm down sometimes, but hey, it’s my job.

So what do I do that helps me to stay calm? It starts with having your home be your sanctuary. Luckily, it’s quiet at Doc’s house and she has a very strict “no drama” rule. She even tells our patients the importance of having a place that is a sanctuary, even if it’s just one room in the house that you can go and have some peace and quiet. She also keeps our office at work a safe space not only for the patient’s but also so I can get a nap without being interrupted. Next, I don’t allow myself get involved in drama either with people or the dogs in the neighborhood. I have four dog friends I play with that are chill and the other ones that have that wild, aggressive energy and like to gossip are not on my friend list. I also get enough sleep, that’s important. You can’t make good choices when your brain is tired. As for social media, I only look at my own blog and have a strict rule that I don’t write about the negative. Only hearts, flowers and feel good stories on this page.

My advice to the humans is to take time and disengage sometimes. Turn off the tv, stop being pulled into the drama on social media and don’t allow yourself to be pulled into power struggles with those that don’t have any intention of listening to any point of view but their own. Life its too short. Be like a dog, spend some time outside on these beautiful spring days, rolling around in the grass without a care in the world.

Goodies from the Uptown Bakery

There is something comforting about going to the family owned corner bakery to get your goodies. In a world of corporate chains, it’s nice to see friendly familiar faces that take pride in what they sell and how they treat the neighbors that they serve. And besides, who doesn’t like the smell and taste of some delicious baked goods?

Scheneider’s Bakery opened in 1954 in the basement of a grocery store by two brothers and moved to its current location in 1957. In 1987, when Mr. Schneider was ready to retire, one of the employees, Jeff Hamler bought the bakery. Thirty years later, in 2017, when Mr. Hamler wanted to retire, a Westerville native and former professional basketball player Shaun Stonebrook purchased the bakery. You can go in the bakery today and see 6’7″ Shaun ducking to get through the doorways, hands covered with flour, working along side his other employees. The recipes remain the same and that is what keeps it such a special place to visit.

Doc and I recently made our own visit the Thursday before Easter to order some goodies for dessert. Boy oh boy were those a big hit with the family, eliciting oohs and ahhs along with memories about all the years they have been going to this same bakery. Doc always remembers to get everyone’s favorite pastries. Nephew Scott, while biting into his orange iced pastry roll, told the story about going to the bakery in the wee hours of the morning after delivering the morning newspaper as a kid. Saving up his paper route money for the weekly treat. Niece Debbie covets the cream horns that Doc would always stop and get for her because they were and still are her favorite. It’s interesting to this dog how food can illicit so many good memories.

In a world that can sometimes be filled with chaos, it’s nice to know that you can still go to the corner bakery where you have gone your whole life and buy a sweet treat filled with memories.

April Showers, Baths and Spring Cleaning

It’s been so rainy and windy lately where we live, I though Doc and I were going to have to build an Ark. It’s so wet that just the other day I was sitting in the driveway, minding my own business when I swore I saw a worm floating on a big leaf in a puddle just to stay dry. With more thunder storms in the forecast today we decided to enjoy the one day of sunshine that we got on Tuesday. What I wasn’t expecting was that Doc’s idea of enjoyment was to give me a bath.

Have I told you how much I hate baths? Why are humans so obsessed with cleaning everything including their pets? Don’t they know that animals like their stink? Once again I got tricked into thinking Doc was taking me for a walk, but as soon as we went through the garage I spotted the hose, bottles of shampoo and conditioner, a blow dryer and a big towel. It was too late to escape so I just hung my head in shame, as the dogs in the neighborhood watched me being hosed down. Luckily she is quick about it, so when she was done I slunk into the back yard where I could be alone with my bruised ego. The only bright spot was that she let me continue to dry out in the yard where at least I could admire the tulips, daffodils and our big pear tree blooming.

While I was outside dying off, Doc went inside and started cleaning out her home office. When I was finally dry and allowed to come back in, she had a big box of paper work to be shredded and a bag of trash to be recycled. She loves spring cleaning saying that it makes her feel good to get things in order and clear out the clutter. I guess I understand. Spring makes us all want to start anew as the winter subsides and nature blooms again in all its glory.

Today we will hunker down for more storms later in the day. In the afternoon Doc will take me to the veterinarian’s office to have my nails clipped. I hope that is the last beauty regiment I have to endure for awhile.

Everybody Needs Help Sometimes

Doc told me it’s important to practice what we preach. Since we preach the importance of getting mental health counseling when we need it, that is exactly what I did and made an appointment to talk to a very nice counselor named Brent about some things that had been bothering me lately.

Now you may wonder why I just didn’t have counseling with Doc or one of my other colleagues? Well there are ethical guidelines that prohibit that. That’s a good thing, because you need someone that has a unbias perspective. After all, what if I needed to talk about a problem I was having with Doc or a co-worker?

You may be wondering what kind of problems that a very handsome, popular and smart therapy dog would have? Well you might be surprised. Just because everything looks good on the outside, doesn’t mean that I don’t have issues just like everyone else. There is no shame in admitting that, in fact it takes courage to be vulnerable. Just like going to the doctor if you have a medical problem, self-care also means taking care of your mental health.

When I arrived at my new counselors office, I have to admit I was a little anxious, since I was the one that was use to doing the therapy, not receiving it. I soon found out that I had nothing to worry about. As soon as I climbed up in the chair and he looked at me and smiled, I felt right at ease. As the counseling session went along it became easier to talk about my problems. And I have to admit that by the end of the session, I was feeling more hopeful and had a plan to work on the things that had been bothering me.

After the counseling appointment, Doc put me in the car and drove me home and she asked how it went. I told her I was glad that I had gone, that talking to someone helped to ease my mind. Then she said, ” I am proud of you for asking for help when you needed it Grover.”

If you or anyone you know needs help or support, you can contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-6264.

The Importance of Goofing Off

Did you know that today is National Goof Off Day? If I would have know, I would have made a plan. The first thing I would have done was skip work. And just like the all American movie hero Ferris Bueller, Doc and I could have had a great day of doing whatever we wanted and maybe even arranged our own flash mob! But no, we are toiling away at the job, only able to dream of a day with nothing to do.

It can be easy to get stuck in the every day grind. Go to work, come home, do some chores, take care of the kids and pets, watch tv, go to bed and then get up and do it all over again. I guess days like National Goof Off Day are to remind us to mix it up sometimes, de stress and not get stuck doing the same old thing. In other words, don’t forget to inject some fun in your life.

So today, even though we are at work, I am going to let loose a little and be silly and try to cheer up my co-workers. Maybe even take a nap in the middle of the work day. ( I can get away with that) Then when we get home, I will encourage Doc to forget the chores and maybe even watch Ferris Buellers Day Off to remind us that everyone needs to let loose and have fun sometimes.

How to Get What You Need

Long ago, Doc taught me a valuable lesson. Ask for what you need. If the request is reasonable, most of the time you will get what you ask for. As usual, she was right, and that is how I ended up with my very plush new area rug for the office we use.

Since I am 10 years old and considered elderly, by dog standards, I sometimes need some extra help and care. Now don’t get me wrong I am still in good health and can do “zoomies” around the yard, but I have some trouble getting up on slick surfaces. Since there is no carpeting in the office we use, Doc noticed my back legs were sliding out from under me when I got up off the floor. To prevent any injuries in my old age, Doc started looking into some area rugs that would be easy to clean. After she looked at some on-line and got some information, she sent a message to the CEO about my predicament. After looking at some options and some discussion about what would be best for the space and what could be easily cleaned, it was decided that a rug would be just the thing to help me.

About a week went by and we ran into the CEO in the hallway and he told us the rug had been ordered and would be here soon. Doc thanked him and then she shocked me when she had the nerve to tell him that she thought a flat screen TV in our office, tuned to the Pet channel would help to keep me calm. He didn’t miss a beat and without hesitation told her ” That is a hard no!” I was relieved when I looked up and saw that smirk on her face because for a minute I thought she was serious. You never know with her, and that was a perfect example of being turned down because the request was no where near being reasonable.

The day we came back to work from vacation the rug was in the office rolled up in a corner. One of our patient’s was nice enough to help unroll it and place it on the floor. I was so excited I got on top of it even before it was rolled out all the way. Let me just say, I love my new rug. It feels magical to me. I sleep on it most of the time and even have dreams that I can fly on it across space and time. Now I am able to get up without sliding and I think the colors compliment my fur coat. Sometimes the simple things in life help the most and bring the most pleasure. I am thankful to the place I work that they take such good care of this therapy dog.