The Importance of Gratitude

Photo by; Jacquelyn Arora Photography

They say you can never have too many friends in this life. If that is the case than I am truly blessed. Not only do I get love from Doc and from the people where we work, but I also get attention and love from my neighbor Norman the puppy and the kids in the neighborhood.

Doc told me that when I go outside, Norman and the kids run to the back porch to watch for me in the yard. That simply warms my heart.

Marcel Proust once said, ” Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy, they are charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”  These words are so true and I fear that sometimes we are not always grateful to those in our lives. We often assume they will always be there and this thought can lull us into complacency about our relationships. It is a sad fact of life that sometimes we show more respect and appreciation to mere acquaintances than to those that are there for us everyday. Let us not forget to nurture these relationships by showing our gratitude in many simple ways.

So for today I will spend some time with my little buddy Norman and the kids next door so that they know that I appreciate their friendship. I never want there to come a day when I glance over to the porch next door and they are no longer waiting for me to come out to play.


Photo by Angela Kirk “As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.”

— John F. Kennedy

Barn Rules

Photo by Angela Kirk

Every Thursday, Doc takes a group of patients that she works with out to a farm for Equine Assisted Psychotherapy. Doc and many others feel that interacting with horses and other animals as part of their treatment helps to enhance their healing.

One of the first things that they learn is what the barn rules are when interacting with the horses. Since the group has come to horses territory, they need to be able to show respect for the animals. The rules of the barn are;  Mosey- Horses move in a leisurely, aimless manner and this directs the group members to slow down their pace and be in the moment.  Breath- Focusing on breath calms down the system and helps the horses to feel safe. Speak Quietly- The horses respond best when approached with soft voices. Being that they are prey animals, loud aggressive noises startle them and set off their response to flee the situation. After learning the barn rules, the group members came up with a 4th rule they wanted to add to the list. Respect- this included with each other and the horses.

It’s wonderful to observe how gentle the group members are with these large animals. As a result they are seeing the importance of how the lessons they learn from the horses can be applied when interacting with the humans in their lives. It’s also interesting to watch what happens when they don’t follow the barn rules and how the horses resist by leaving the area or refusing to move. Like Doc always says ” Dogs and horses act as a mirror of what your energy is in the moment.”

Slowly but surely, the patients are starting to understand how their reactions and interactions  with the horses act as a metaphor for how they are with others and what negative thinking patterns they may be stuck in.  Not always easy lessons to learn. But this dog has faith that they will stay on the journey and take away some valuable lessons from this experience.





Photo by Angela Kirk ” A person who has never owned a dog has missed a wonderful part of life.”

— Bob Barker

Finding Joy From Helping Others

Photo by Angela Kirk

She did it again. I knew as soon as Doc took her suitcase down off the closet shelf that she was going to pack up and leave me. I have to admit that for one hot minute I thought I might get to go along. That thought vanished quickly when I saw her putting my dog food in plastic bags and my dog bed in the car. Oh well, what’s a mutt to do but go along with the humans agenda?

Early the next morning, I stood by helpless as the suitcases were zipped up and placed by the back door. Submitting to the inevitable I decided to bring along my favorite toy for comfort. Holding the toy  securely in my mouth, I obediently got into the back of car.

After a short ride, we arrived at the veterinarian  where I would stay for what I understood to be at least 7 dog years. While waiting for the vet technician to come out and get me, I tried one last-ditch effort to stay with Doc by parking my 82 pound bony behind on her two feet so that she wouldn’t leave without me. No use, she just slipped those two feet out from under me, kissed me on the forehead and went out the door without even glancing back at me.

After pouting in the kennel for a while, I gave up and fell sound asleep. The next morning after breakfast the nice ladies that work there asked me if I would help them at the front desk.  I was more than excited  and not only did I keep them company, but I got to greet an array of cats, dogs and any other creature that needed to see the doctor. It was nice to be needed and I soon found out that even though I missed Doc, it was nice to be needed and to help out.

The days went by quicker than I realized and one evening after supper they came back to tell me that Doc was there to pick me up. Doc looked happy and rested and I told her all about how I helped out while she was gone. ” I loved helping at the front office.” I told her. “Some of those animals looked so scared when they came in, I just reassured them it would be ok and that the doctor just wanted to help them feel better.” What a nice thing for you to do.” Doc said. ” It didn’t even feel like a job”. I remarked. Doc looked at me in the eye like she does when she is going to say something serious and said; ” We always feel happier when we are being of service to others.”

She was right. Feeling content to be home, I stretched out on the couch beside Doc, put my head in her lap and drifted off into a peaceful sleep.

Photo by Angela Kirk ” There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.”

— Soren Kierkegard

Dairy Cattle Don’t Like Willy Nelson

 The other day while I was perusing on-line, an article popped up about dairy cattle having a distaste for country music, but specifically Willie Nelson. This may be hard to believe but someone actually did research on this. They found that milk production went down when the cows had to listen to his songs like “On the Road Again.”

Poor Willie. I kind of like his tunes and hope he is not taking this too personally, but many of the farmers report that when they play a Willie Nelson song the cows get all riled up. It turns out those heifers prefer producing their milk to music that is more of a slow jam like Barry White. In fact, it raises milk production by 3%. I can certainly see how Barry White would put those female cows in the Moo-d. 

It’s kind of ironic that the cows don’t like Willie, because he happens to be a big advocate of the Animal Legal Defense Fund that advocates for humane treatment of cows. I wonder if that would change their minds? Maybe not, life can be strange that way sometimes. Every man, woman and cow has their own opinions about what matters to them.

As for myself, I am neutral when it comes to most music.  I guess those cows have a right to make the farmers play the music they like to listen to, after all what udder things do they have to look forward to while working?

Photo by Angela Kirk ” We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals.”

— Anonymous