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.”

Photo by Angela Kirk ” Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

— Nelson Mandela

Going to the Fair!

Photo by Angela Kirk

How can you beat a place that you can hang out with animals, ride rides and get food that is fried up on a stick? You can’t. That is why I was so excited that Doc took me to the Ohio State Fair.

It was beautiful on Saturday, 80 degrees and no humidity. Great weather for both dogs and humans. We started by going to the chicken barn. I don’t know why, but Doc is obsessed with chickens. She literally gushes while she talks to them and tells them how pretty they are. I don’t get it.  The roosters are noisy with way too much attitude for their size. Luckily we didn’t stay long and moved on to my favorite part of the fair, EATING!!

We started with the french fries with just a touch of salt. Yummy! The smells of all the food just about put me into a frenzy. My nose was so overwhelmed I almost passed out from happiness. Our next stop was at the chicken and waffles on a stick booth. Most delicious thing I have ever eaten. Doc decided to try some deep-fried Oreos and Nutter Butters, but I could tell by the look on her face that she didn’t like those at all. I offered to finish them off for her, but Doc said no and to my horror threw them in the trash!

Deciding to take a break from eating, we saw some cows carved from butter. This year they also had the characters from A Christmas Story in butter as well. If you don’t know that movie, they play it 24 hours per day starting after Thanksgiving.

Next we hit the cow and sheep barns and saw two cute little calves that were only a few days old.  Doc had me sit quietly as we watched the sheep judging contest. After the contest, I met some of my fellow working canine friends called Border Collies that help to herd the sheep. That sounds like hard work and makes me glad I work in an office where I can nap when I want to.

It was starting to get late, the sun was setting and the lights were coming on in the midway. It was great to see all the families smiling and having such a good time. We took it all in as we enjoyed the lights, sounds and smells.

Photo by Angela Kirk

It had been a long day, so Doc said it was time to head home. When we got home I fell into a deep, blissful sleep with visions of tasty fair food in my head.

Photo by Angela Kirk To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover the prisoner was you.”

— Anonymous