Savoring the Joys in Life

Photo by Angela Kirk

There is nothing better than a best friend and I am lucky to live next door to mine. When I see Norman looking under the fence to see if he can come over to play, I do a happy dance. We run around chasing the tennis ball or hang out in the yard and just chill. Doc says she has never seen two dogs that act so joyful when they are together. I told Doc it’s because we can be ourselves when we are together. There is a lot of comfort in someone accepting you for who you are. Doc’s remark about us being so happy got me to thinking about why some of us are happier than others. The answer came sooner than I expected when Doc ran a group counseling session that talked about the very thing I had been thinking about.

According to Jaime Kurtz, PhD, happy, joyful people do the following things; They see the world in a positive, hopeful way, they savor small pleasures and experience gratitude, they prioritize their physical and mental health, they have meaningful social relationships, they have rewarding work and hobbies and they experience purpose and meaning in their lives. Luckily I checked all the boxes. I love my life, have a great job working with Doc,  good friends, I make sure I exercise, eat right and talk to someone if I am sad or upset. I have many hobbies that include digging holes in the yard and chasing squirrels and at night before I go to sleep I remember to count my many blessings.

Now I understand that not everyone has been fortunate enough to have been raised in a positive environment and that can surely have an effect on how you view the world. But here is the good news, you have the power to make some changes, You can start by listing the things that you are grateful for. Since some of Doc’s patients don’t have a stable place to live, every night we remind ourselves that we are thankful for clean sheets and a safe and warm place to sleep.

It’s easy to get tunnel vision and only focus on the negative when you are going through a tough time in your life. But the good news is that each of us has the power to make choices that will either make things worse or improve the situation.

Photo by Angela Kirk ” When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is.”

— Unknown

Super Grover the Crime Dog

Photo by Angela Kirk

It’s easy to be lulled into the complacency of our daily routines. There is a certain comfort in predictability. You aren’t really prepared when something jolts you into a new reality, especially in the wee hours of the morning.

It started out just like every other day. Doc let me out at about 5:15 am just like she always does. As I was out in the yard doing my business, Doc was inside getting our breakfast ready before work. After awhile Doc came and opened the back door and called for me to come in. As I was meandering up the back steps I stopped right in my tracks when I heard a noise over by the fence.  I knew right away something wasn’t right so I turned around. I saw something moving so I immediately went into high alert growling and barking as I ran toward the fence. Doc couldn’t see what I was barking at because it was too dark, but I saw him. There was a man in the yard that didn’t belong there. As I shot through the dark toward the stranger the man became so frightened that he fell right into the weeds trying to get away from me. By this time Doc was aware that we had a trespasser on our hands.

I swear Doc doesn’t use the good sense she was born with sometimes. She stood on the back porch watching the man go through the back acre until he reached the street light where she could see him. Later she told me she wanted to get a good description and see where he was headed.Now most normal people would call the police at this point. Not Doc, she said we had to get to work. Luckily one of the  police officers we work with told her to go file a report. Duh!

After work we drove to the police station and met a nice officer that took our information. Of course I had to go along as I was the main eye-witness. The police asked me what I saw and then asked Doc what she saw. Then the police and the other staff gave me some good belly rubs.  One of the officers even asked Doc if he could take me home with him. Of course she told him no. It just so happened that a man fitting the description we gave them had been breaking into cars and had tried to break into woman’s garage that morning.

Later that day we got word that they saw him walking down the street and arrested him. Even though that man shouldn’t have been doing what he was doing we both hope he gets the help he needs.

Doc told me should couldn’t  have been prouder of me. I told her I was happy to protect her, after all we work as a team. Isn’t life is so much better when you know someone has your back?

Photo by Angela Kirk ” Animals are born who they are, accept it, and that’s that. They live with greater peace than people do.”

— Gregory Maguire

A Lesson In Patience

Photo by Angela Kirk

Just when you think you have conquered the life lesson of learning patience, something happens to remind you that you haven’t. I don’t mean to tattle, but Doc is a kind of hurry up and do it now kind of person. Let’s just say patience is not her virtue. I will have to hand it to her though, she realizes that about herself and tries to do better……..but let’s just say she has more work to do than she realizes.

On Christmas she received two flower bulbs. One was a  paper white (Narcissus) and the other an Amaryllis. She placed both of them in front of the window so that they would get plenty of light. The paper white grew fast and furious and within a few weeks was in full bloom. The Amaryllis bulb, well that was another story. We watched it and watched it for weeks on end until Doc thought it might be dead. Just when she was getting ready to throw it out she noticed that the leaves were starting to get longer. Every day we saw new growth, so she watered it, talked to it and it began to thrive and grow. It took almost 10 weeks, but over the weekend we came home to find that the flowers were starting to open. A few days later all of Doc’s nurturing and patience resulted in four big beautiful red blooms.

You know there is a lesson in all of this or I wouldn’t have told you this story. But the lesson is not only about the virtues of patience, it is also a metaphor for life. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to sit back, be supportive, nurturing and allow ourselves or someone we care about to grow without judgement. Now that can be hard to do as we all have opinions about how humans should live their lives, including oursleves.  But just likes Doc’s flower, if we create an environment that allows growth, beautiful blossoms will eventually appear.

Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than you have in mind.” David G. Allen


Photo by Angela Kirk ” Let your hopes, not your hurts, shape your future.”

— Robert H. Schuller

Love Stinks

No one informed me that it was skunk mating season, but I should have guessed because I had been smelling what skunks consider their sweet perfume in the air. Let me tell you there is nothing sweet about it, it stinks. But to each his own, who am I to judge? Dogs like to smell each others privates to get in the mood for goodness sakes. But let’s get down to the meat of this story. You may recall that a few years ago I was sprayed in the face by a skunk that wandered under the fence. Did I learn from that experience? I will let you, my faithful readers be the judge.

Sunday morning I spotted my neighbor in his back yard with a long string attached to one of his trash cans. I watched as he slowly lowered it down into a window well. He would then pause and slowly try to raise it up. Being the nosy neighbor that I am. I couldn’t figure it out, so I called Doc over so that she could shed some light on the matter. Both of us stood there watching him for quite a while. Doc thought he may be bailing out some standing water due to all the melting snow and rain we have had lately. Soon we got bored and went on about our business.

After a while I was walking past the window and saw the trash can sitting in the yard and the neighbor was gone. ” How strange” I though to myself and then I saw the trash can move. Using my super canine vision I spotted a black and white hairy creature moving very slowly like it was stunned. I immediately started barking and growling to notify Doc and everybody else in ear shot that an alien invader was in our midst.

” What on earth is the emergency? ” Doc asked as she ran into the room.  I pointed toward the trash can. ” Its a skunk!” she hollered like we were in mortal danger. ” Let me out!” I begged. ” No way”, she said. “Didn’t you learn your lesson the last time you got sprayed? ” There I stood frustrated as I watched the skunk slowly make its way out of the trash can and into the yard. It finally meandered around the side of the house out of sight, but not before it sprayed the side of the house as a warning.

Disappointed I looked up at Doc. ” I didn’t let you outside because you would have gotten sprayed, obviously you didn’t learn anything from the last time you got skunked.” she said.  Doc right, she knows some of us are so hard-headed that we need to learn the same lesson over and over until we finally get it. I guess it’s like Doc tells me sometimes; ” There is none so blind as those that do not learn from their mistakes.”

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

— Immanuel Kant