Growing Older Together

Photo by Angela Kirk

Who would have guessed that an 8am knock on the door would lead to an emergency veterinarian visit in the late afternoon? But that is exactly what happened in a round about way, all because of a broken air conditioner.

The three installers arrived promptly in the early morning to replace Doc’s dying air conditioner.  I liked all of the men right away especially after they told Doc what a handsome dog I was.  As they busily went to work, they were nice enough to let me come down in the basement to watch and that was much more interesting than being with Doc while she worked upstairs. They were quick with the installation and within two and a half hours they were done. In fact, they were done so quickly that they had time to play with me before they went to their next job. Let me tell you, I haven’t had that much fun in a long time. They played ball with me, wrestled and chased me in the yard. By the time they left I was pooped, so I got on to Doc’s bed and took a nap.

It was afternoon when Doc woke me up. When I got out of bed I noticed that I had a pain in my leg but nothing too serious.  I followed Doc out the door to take our usual walk when she suddenly looked down and asked, “Grover are you limping?” In fact she was right, I did have a slight limp, so much to my disappointment we turned around and came home. Thinking all I needed to do was rest my leg, Doc put me back to bed.

At around 5pm she woke me up to give me supper and we were both shocked that I could now hardly bear any weight on my leg at all and it was painful. ” That’s it, Doc said with concern, we are going to the vet”. She helped me into the back of the car and off we went.

When we got to the office we texted them that we had arrived and what my symptoms were. Bless all the workers at the veterinarians  office, in about 10 minutes the doctor and the vet tech came out to the car and started to examine my leg. They lifted me out of the car and on to the pavement and had me walk  around.  Much to Doc’s relief I did not have a broken leg, but both of us were surprised by the diagnosis. Dr. Ritchie looked at us and said ” Grover has arthritis and all the playing and running around this morning caused a flair up. Now that he is an older dog this may happen from time to time. We will give him some anti-inflammatories and he can go home and rest. No jumping or running around for a few days Grover.”

After we got back in the car I  said to Doc that when Dr. Richie had referred to me as an older dog and I was surprised because I had not thought about myself that way. ” It just kind of sneaks up on you Grover, she responded. But the good thing is we all have choices about self care as we age, so what are you going to choose my sweet puppy?”

This morning when I woke up my leg was feeling a little better and I started thinking about what it means to get older and decided that it’s ok. I am going to choose to take good care of myself, keep moving and of course continue working as a therapy dog. One thing I do know is that as long as I have Doc, we can have fun getting older together.

The Drama Continues

Photo by Angela Kirk

The Red-tailed hawk that comes to our back yard is still causing issues in the neighborhood.  Like an annoying relative that won’t leave after spending hours at your house, he is not getting the message that he has outstayed his welcome. The good news is that I now have some unexpected help in my mission to keep him from eating my little furry friends.

Late Sunday afternoon, Doc and I were in the backyard when we heard a ruckus from above.  We watched in amazement as two crows chased the male hawk from tree to tree and even dove in and pecked at it while it was trying to get away. I have to admit that I was anxious for those crows because they are not as big or as powerful as that hawk but it was very apparent that they were on a mission. The one thing I do know is that crows are smart, so I just had to trust they knew what they were doing.  Before long their tactic worked and the hawk flew away. We thought that the crows were probably protecting a nest and that after that mobbing that the hawk would not be back, but we were wrong.

The next day the hawk reappeared. I noticed him before Doc when I was looking out the window from our home office.  He was sitting in the tree proudly preening his feathers in the morning sun and didn’t notice the crows sneak attack coming from behind. Bam! The crows dove into him beak first and were relentless in their pursuit. I have to hand it to the hawk, he held his ground in that tree for a good hour until he figured it wasn’t worth the trouble any more and flew away.

Later, Doc remarked that she really doesn’t think that humans and animals are all that different when they are feeling threatened. “Grover, your intention in chasing the hawk last week was to protect your animal friends and the crows were trying to protect their babies, much like humans do when they or their loved ones are threatened.  I think humans sometimes forget how alike we all are to other species. The lessons from nature are so clear if we are open to what is unfolding right in front of us.”

I mulled over what Doc had just said and decided that she is much too deep and philosophical for 7am on a week day. All I know is whatever the crows and I did, the hawk has yet to return but I will stay on the look out as I have a strong feeling that he will be back.

Guarding My Flock

Photo by Angela Kirk

By  8:42 am on Tuesday and I was already worn out from trying to keep everybody safe in my yard. Spring has presented itself with new challenges and responsibilities all because of a Red-tailed Hawk or as Doc calls it “that chicken hawk” that sits on the fence waiting to find a tasty meal. The problem is I don’t want him dining on the little woodland creatures from our yard. No sir, I am not going to let him, not on my watch. I have become attached to them and feel it’s my duty to protect them.

When I see him eyeing a little critter, I charge toward him growling and barking with my chest puffed out and he gets scared and flies away. No one is happier than me that he’s intimidated by me because that is a big bird with sharp talon’s. I guess he figures I am too much trouble at 84 pounds to mess with. Now I get it, everyone needs to eat, but he should to be smart enough to strike up a relationship with a human that will feed him. That’s what I’ve done and it’s much easier that hunting for your food every day.

Of all the creatures in the yard I worry about Miss Bunny the most. She comes in the yard to eat at dawn and dusk. In the early morning when Doc lets me out, she is usually there and feels safe enough around me to stay in the yard if I keep my distance. Two years ago she trusted us enough to have 6 little baby bunnies in our yard. I think she is in the family way again because Doc found a hole in the ground that looks like she has prepared a nest. Those baby bunnies are cute but both Doc and I were nervous wrecks trying to keep them safe from the hawk last time and I don’t know if I can stand the pressure of being a step dad again.

Doc knows I have been working hard lately and feeling a little stressed, so she scheduled me a spa day at the Vet’s office this morning. I will get a bath, blow out, massage, mani-pedi and then get some time to play with the nice staff that takes care of me there.  Even therapy dogs need some me time.

So what’s the point of this whole story? Although it’s important to protect and take care of those you love, it is equally important that you take care of yourself. I am always surprised that many of you think it is ok to put yourself last. Like Doc always says, if you don’t take care of yourself, you won’t have the energy to take care of anybody else.

The Power of Empathy and a Little Ingenuity

Photo by Angela Kirk

Did you know that there is a helicopter named Ingenuity flying around on Mars right now? And did you also know that a piece of the Wright Brothers 1903 Wright Flyer I is on that helicopter to honor them ?  All of this boggles my mind. It makes me realize that I need to up my game if this dog wants to accomplish anything major in life and go down in history like Lassie or Scooby-Doo. I realize there no time like the present so I got to work coming up with a plan.

I fussed about this all through the day and then while lying on the back porch with Doc last evening, I was talking out loud to myself. I kept racking my brain trying to figure out what wonderful invention I could come up with that could change the world or at least Ohio.  My head started hurting from thinking so hard. Doc listened to me quietly mumble and then she suddenly interjected. ” Grover, what are you fussing about?” ” I have been inspired by how Orville and Wilbur Wright figured out how to fly a plane and because of that we are now flying helicopters on Mars. I want to do something fabulous like that!” I pouted. ” Oh for heavens sake Grover, you already are doing something fabulous. ” she said sweetly. ‘ I am?” I asked with surprise.”

Doc then went on to tell me that being a therapy dog, helping to comfort people when they are feeling sick, cheering them up when they are having a bad day or laying quietly with my head in the lap of  someone that is crying is just as important as going to Mars. ‘It is?” I responded. Doc went on to explain that when I help someone to heal from their pain that it not only helps them, but has a ripple affect on everyone that person comes in contact with. The kindness and unconditional  love that you give is your very special gift to the world. It takes both empathy and ingenuity to be aware of how others are feelings and then come up with just the right way to help them.” she said with a smile.

As I lay there quietly taking in everything that Doc had said to me I realized what she was saying was true. We all have our special gifts and we don’t need to fly to Mars to make an impact on the world.