Puppy Pandemonium

Boy oh boy, just when things are quiet and peaceful in my life, Doc scares me into thinking that a big change is coming.

It all started last Friday night. On the fourth Friday of each month, our suburb closes down the streets of the downtown area and hosts what would be best described as a big block party. There are typically lots of food trucks, street musicians, vendors selling their wares and this time there was even a person juggling fire sticks right in the main intersection. Dogs are always welcome and Doc takes me along because by now all of you know that I am always ready for a good time. We were sauntering along taking everything in when all of the sudden Doc spots something out of the corner of her eye and then exclaims loudly ” Oh! Would you look at that Grover, so sweet!” she exclaims while practically dragging me by the collar toward whatever it is she is trying to see. When I finally spy what she is cooing about I am surprised to see a whole pen full of cute, wiggly, high energy puppies vying for attention. As soon as Doc reached down into the pen they were all over her. And what made matters worse is that they were all up for adoption from the shelter that was taking care of them. ” Uh oh” I said out loud. This could be big trouble for me.

As I stood by helplessly watching Doc love on those puppies, a wave of anxiety filled my brain. What if she wants to bring one or two them home with us? Those little things have too much energy and I really don’t want to be bothered with a new baby brother or sister that will do nothing but bring havoc into my peaceful existence. Truth be said, I like being an only child. So, because I was jealous, I knew I needed to make my move to preserve my tranquil life. When I thought Doc wasn’t watching, I moved toward the pen and gave those puppies a piece of my mind in the language I knew they would understand. I looked at all of them in the eye and let out my deepest and scariest growl. It worked, they backed away immediately. ” Now who’s the big dog? I said to them proudly. My big ego moment was loudly interrupted when I head Doc’s stern voice.” Grover! What is wrong with you scaring a bunch of homeless puppies? Haven’t I taught you better than that? Now you go back over there and be nice to those little babies.”

Oh no. I was ashamed of my behavior after Doc scolded me. She was right. Those poor little puppies have been through enough and need to come to a good home like ours. I looked up at Doc and said without hesitation ” Lets adopt all five of them. I can help take care of them Doc and I will even share my toys. ” Doc looked back at me with a look of horror. ” Adopt five puppies? What are you thinking Grover, we are not even bringing one home today.” I have to admit, when she said that I breathed a sigh of relief. Then Doc being the forgiving sort, took me across the street and bought me a pup cup at the ice cream store so we could talk everything over.

So, what do I think about everything that happened on Friday night? Most importantly, this old dog learned a good life lesson . All of the drama could have been avoided if I would only have asked more questions instead of jumping to conclusions and acting on my fears. A valuable thing for this dog to remember.

Happy Birthday to Me, I Am Nine and Doing Fine!

On Thursday I will be the ripe old age of nine. Except for some more grey hairs on my back and tail I feel just fine and you would never know that I am now considered a dog in my senior years. Doc has arranged a small celebration with a few of my co-workers today and I am sure looking forward to that. I would never pass a up a good party. I sure hope some yummy dog treats are involved.

Getting older doesn’t bother dogs, we live our lives in the moment. Humans however, put great emphasis on aging. It is fascinating watching many of you try to “fight aging” with creams, dyes, injections, lifts, pills, implants and potions. The money you spend would buy enough dog treats and toys for myself and all my friends for the rest of our lives.

The other behavior I find curious is why some of you lie about your age. I will hand it to Doc, she doesn’t lie about that but I think it’s because she wants all the discounts that come once you get to a certain age. In the state of Ohio we have a thing called a Buckeye Card that you get when you turn 55. It gives you discounts at all sorts of places. She whips that thing out and shows it to the cashier like its a darn medal. Don’t tell her I told you but she’s a frugal sort of gal. But I digress. I guess the best advice I could pass on from a dogs perspective is don’t let age define you. Did you see the 82 year old ex NASA trainee Wally Funk go up into space on Tuesday? What if she would have declined the offer saying she was too old to do that. She would have missed the time of her life. I hope Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk call me to go on one of their next flights. I would be the oldest dog to go into outer space. Wouldn’t that be something!

So as long as I am blessed to be on this earth I am going to focus on each day, have as much fun as I can have, continue to work as a therapy dog, go on long walks everyday with Doc and play with my doggie friends next door. People say your life goes by quickly and I agree, so savor every moment and stop worrying about all the sags and bags that come with aging. Instead, wear your age with pride, you earned it.

Getting Over the Hump

Wednesday is known as hump day and I can’t think of a better way to describe our first regular day back at the office as we have certainly had to overcome many humps and bumps to get here. It has been over a year since we ran a face to face support group with our patients and Doc has been so excited that she started planning for the group last week. Its just an example of how things that we use to take for granted are now so much more special since we can be together again. I for one am feeling grateful and excited.

Two years ago, before the pandemic started I bet the things you were grateful for then are probably very different than the things you are grateful for now. I know my list has changed. I think we took many things for granted. The other day Doc said to me, “Who would have thought that you would be so thankful just to be able to safely hug the people you care about again?” I agree. I missed all of my co-workers, patients and and the most precious connections both Doc and I have with friends and family.

Doc often tells me and those that she counsels that there is always a life lesson to be learned. When Doc asked me what I have learned over that last year I said with out hesitation ” If you are human always be well stocked up on toilet paper and if you are a dog have extra boxes of Milk bones in the house.” Doc looked and me and chuckled. ” Well that’s practical, now what else did you learn?” she asked with a serious look. ” That this morning I was happy to hear you yell down the hall ” Come on Grover time to get in the car and go to work!” No lovelier words have ever been spoken to me.

So here we were this morning setting up for our first group like we never missed a beat. Normal has never felt so good and so appreciated.

If It Ain’t Broke Don’t Fix It

“All change is not growth, as all movement is not forward.” Ellen Glasgow

There was a time that I embraced change, but now that I am older I am not a big fan. Why fix things that aren’t broken? I just don’t get it. You can call me an old stick in the mud, but I don’t care. I like things the same.

Here at Doc’s house things run pretty much like clock work. I get the same dog food two times a day, I play with the same toys, sleep in the same bed and play with the same two dogs that live next door. What’s boring for some folks is heaven to me. Yes I know, change is inevitable and some change is good, especially if it means stopping self destructive behaviors. But I am not talking about the kind of change that improves our lives, I am talking about the kind that is not well thought out and is put in place just because someone has the authority to implement it or they are addicted to drama. Change for the sake of change is a risk that can end up in chaos not just for ourselves but also for those around us. I hate that, it’s so stressful. In a world where things can feel uncertain we need the security of a few things remaining the same. Having some predictability in our lives can be calming.

Since I was a young pup, Doc has tried to teach me and model the importance of balance because there are times that unforeseen situations will throw us headlong into circumstances where we either sink or swim. At those times we are forced out of our comfort zones and we must make a decision. What is calming to me during those times is that I still have some predictability at home with Doc. Its always good to know that there is someone or some place to feel safe when the constant flux becomes too much. In other words, we all need a safe harbor.

So before you make a decision or react without thinking things through or you are faced with new challenge, ask yourself this: will the change I am about to make improve my life and help me to grow? If the answer is no then come sit with me for awhile and wallow with me in the comforting sameness of my beautifully predictable life.