No More Resolutions

The new year is quickly approaching and I have tried to let Doc know that I am adamantly opposed to any New Years resolutions, but did she listen to my wishes? No, she certainly did not. For someone that preaches about respecting other people’s boundaries, she ran right over mine. She is trying to sell this new resolution to me as something that will improve and lengthen my life, but wait until you hear what she has cooked up for me.

I should have known something was up when I saw her reading the new book that her nephew Scott gave her for Christmas, titled; “The Forever Dog: Surprising New Science to Help Your Canine Companion Live, Younger, Healthier and Longer.” She has been consuming that book for the last few days and highlighting some of the pages and then talking out loud to me about what she is learning. I have to admit, some of it is interesting. She says this is all science based research and you know she loves that nerdy stuff, but I digress. So now she had decided to apply or should I say conduct an experiment with me, her favorite canine subject in accordance with the research in the book.

Since it is Dec 29, she told me we needed to outline the strategy for change starting today. ” Ok Grover, today we are going to focus on the importance of optimal movement. Although we walk everyday and you do zoomies in the yard, according to the research it is not enough, so today I am going to teach you how to walk on the treadmill. Doesn’t that sound like fun?’ she asked with enthusiasm. I turned my head so she wouldn’t see me rolling my eyes at her. The treadmill? I have no intention of walking on a treadmill looking like a hamster running around in a wheel. What is she thinking?

Doc kept talking and to be honest I kind of zoned out when she was going over nutrition, genetics and environmental stressors. I know, I know, it is for my own good, but don’t all of us hate change and that’s why we stay stuck in the same old behaviors? Even Doc knows that none of us change until we are uncomfortable and I am not anywhere near uncomfortable.

After it was clear that Doc was not going to let up about this, I agreed to go stand on the treadmill hoping that would appease her and she would leave me to nap, but she had more in mind. To my horror I saw her reach up to start the machine, so I did what any smart dog would do, I used passive resistance by lying down and refusing to get up knowing Doc can’t lift my 84 pound frame. Befuddled, she tried everything from pleading to bribery by holding a dog treat on a string in front of my face, but I just sat there, not moving a muscle. Exasperated, she finally gave up and went in another room.

After some time passed, I followed her into the other room. I then asked her a question that I have heard her ask her own patients many times; ” Doc. what were you expecting?” It was like watching a switch go off in her brain and she got a big smile on her face. ” Oh Grover, you are the smartest therapy dog. You are right, I had created expectations about how you would change, but forgot to ask the one person that it mattered to the most, you. I promise it won’t happen again. It will be my New Year’s resolution to always respect that.” ” That’s ok Doc, I responded, I knew you had good intentions and speaking of resolutions lets focus on what we can put on your list.” “Very funny Grover” she said as she looked at me over her glasses.

The Holiday Visitor

It’s a few days until Christmas and Doc is scurrying around like a mouse looking for the last wedge of cheese. She has lists posted all over the house to help keep her focused, but quite frankly I think it makes her more anxious to see the long lists of things that still need to get done. As for me, I am chilling on my dog bed by the fire place, resting up for my yearly visit from Santa. After all, one of us needs to remain calm and it sure ain’t gonna be Doc.

While waiting for Doc to get done with her chores I decided to take a nap and I must have slept for hours because when I woke up not only did I think someone had been quietly calling my name, but it was also dark outside. I got up and wandered around the house looking for Doc and after not finding her anywhere, I decided that she must have run to the store, so I hopped up on the couch to wait. Suddenly I saw a large shadow move across the wall toward me. Frightened, I let out my most ferocious low growl to ward off the intruder when I was interrupted by a familiar voice calling my name. ” It’s me Grover” he exclaimed with some concern in his voice. As I turned toward the shadowy figure, I was surprised who appeared. It was my friend Santa arriving a few days early this year.

” Santa !” I exclaimed with joy, “What are you doing here so early?” As he sat down on the sofa next to me to rest his weary bones he responded. ” I just needed a break from supervising the elves and when I looked in my magic snow globe that lets me watch over you I saw that Doc had stepped out and I knew we could have some special time together. So, what’s on your mind my friend?” he asked softly. “I have been noticing how extra hard you have been working through out the year taking care of everyone and wanted to see if you are ok.”

After I moved over and put my head in his lap he gently patted me on the head and I poured my heart out to him. ” Well Santa, where should I start. I do feel very grateful. Doc provides me with everything I need but that’s not what is on my mind. As you know, its been a tough time for everyone over the past year because of COVID and just when things started to look better, it feels like they may be turning for the worse again. Even if you have everything you need, people are struggling emotionally because the world feels like it has been turned upside down. Although I try to comfort everyone I meet, I don’t know if I am doing enough and frankly Santa that is what weighs on my mind. I just don’t know what to do.”

Santa and I sat there quietly together for the longest time before he spoke. ” Grover, did it occur to you that maybe your biggest purpose right now is for you to take care of Doc?” It was like a lightbulb went off in my head. Why of course, it didn’t occur to me that if I felt this way, then Doc must feel that way too. ” It is so obvious Santa, why didn’t I see that?” “Because Doc has taken care of you since you were a puppy and you see her as a surrogate parent, but sometimes she needs you just as much as you need her.” Santa said with a sparkle in his eye. ” You are doing everything a good therapy dog needs to do. You are such a good dog Grover, don’t ever doubt that. And now that you know who you need to focus on, I really need to get back to the North Pole. I can’t leave the elves alone for too long or they loose focus and start playing with all the toys,” he said with a jolly laugh. Slowly, he got up from the couch, went over to our fire place, lay his finger aside his nose, gave a nod and poof, up the chimney he rose. I ran to the window just in time to see Santa in his sleigh being pulled through the night by none other than Rudolf. What a sight!

Before long, I heard Doc coming in the back door. I ran down the hall to greet her and said with excitement, ” Doc you will never guess who came to see me while you were gone! Santa Clause!” ” Oh Grover, you probably fell asleep and were dreaming again, now come on in here and eat your supper.” ” And that’s not all, I said, he told me I need to take care of you.” ” That’s sweet Grover, thank you. Now after we finish supper lets wrap some presents, after all Christmas is almost here.”

Doc and I wish all of you a joyous and peaceful holiday.

Undercover Elf

Today I made sure to ask Doc to walk me down the street so I could to check on my friend Jingle, who happens to be one of Santa’s Elves. I wanted to see if he was feeling better after his head and body got twisted around due to the high winds we had last Saturday. I imagine that kind of thing would leave you with a bad headache and he certainly doesn’t need that with all the toys he still has to make before Christmas. Besides, Doc taught me that checking on your friends is the neighborly thing to do, so off we went.

It was kind of strange how we met. He just showed up one day in the neighbor’s yard just like the Abominable Snow Man did. Jingle hangs out with a unicorn named Fred that he rode down on from the north pole. He’s kind of the silent type, but that’s ok, I don’t talk much either and its always nice to be friends with a good listener. Some of you may think I have ulterior motives befriending an elf given who his boss is, but I assure you I don’t. I just like the guy.

When I got down to the house he has been staying at, I was happy to see Jingle with his head back on straight looking like his old dapper self. He was busy wrapping some presents while Fred kept watch. ” I like to wrap up gifts while the children are in school and the adults are at work. As soon as they come home, I stand here frozen, just like a statue so that no one suspects a thing. Everyone in the neighborhood except for you and Doc just think I am a Christmas yard decoration.

Well, that made me curious, so I asked him why he was stationed in out neighborhood. “Grover, I will tell you if you can keep a secret.” Jingle said quietly. ” Of course I can keep a secret, I’m a therapy dog, I am trained to keep secrets.” I replied emphatically. With that reassurance, Jingle leaned in and said in a whisper, “There are actually thousands of elves stationed all over the world trying to keep an eye on everyone and report back to Santa. People think that the Elves on the Shelves are the real informants, but they are just decoys. The elves you see in people’s yards, they are the real operatives.” Jingle said with a wink.

Doc and I glanced at each other with a look of surprise. ” I sure would have never suspected that!” I exclaimed to both Doc and Jingle. ” But, I do have to ask, are there more kids or adults on the naughty list? ” ” Are you kidding me?” Jingle replied. “Have you not been watching how some of the adults have been acting for the last year? Don’t get me started. There is no contest. Most of the children have been angels given all they have been through. The adults could learn a few things from the kids, especially some awful woman named “Karen” that people keep talking about. But do not despair, if they embrace the season of love and giving there is always hope that they can change and get back on the nice list. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to work before everyone gets home.”

As we were walking back to the house, I looked up at Doc and I couldn’t help but ask with a chuckle, ” Being that you are an adult, what list do you think Jingle has put you on?” ” Very funny Grover”, she replied. ” I think you need to worry about your own behavior.” she said with a smile. Now lets go inside and make some cookies for Santa.

Unsolved Mysteries, The Case of the Left Over Turkey

The one thing that I have learned in my nine doggy years on earth is that you cannot always predict what will happen next. A text Doc received on Sunday evening reinforced this and led us down a path that felt like a TV episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

As fall is coming to an end, Doc and I decided to take advantage of the warmer temperature’s this last weekend to get the rest of the outside chores done. After a weekend of supervising Doc raking leaves, washing outside windows and cleaning up the flower beds, we were both pooped. We had only been relaxing on the couch for a short while when the text came through on Doc’s phone. I didn’t pay much attention until I saw the look on Doc’s face and then I glanced over to see the picture of a turkey leg with the meat pulled off and lying on the side was a small shiny metal object. Under the picture the text message said, “Look what we just found in the turkey leg you brought over.”

Now I am no expert on weaponry, but I was thinking the same thing as Doc and watched as she typed ” Is that a bullet? Poor Doc, she had been trying to take care of her relatives by bringing them left over Thanksgiving dinner after they could not come over on Thanksgiving day and now this happens. After a few more texts and posting and getting feedback on Facebook, it was decided by the majority that it was a bullet casing. Doc felt terrible and she was also concerned. How on earth did a bullet casing get into a store bought turkey? Should we call the turkey hot line and report it? ” I didn’t see a bullet hole in the turkey when I was preparing to roast it, how did that get in there? ” Doc said out loud.

After watching many episodes of Dateline and other mystery shows, my mind started wandering and I started to wonder if something nefarious was going on. Did I really know Doc at all? Was she trying to do her relatives in? Or was this a plot by vegans to save turkeys by sabotaging the turkey industry? Since I have watched lots of crime shows I decided that this sounded like a job for my very well honed detective skills.

After observing Doc’s behavior for awhile and considering all the evidence, I ruled her out as a suspect. So I moved on, and just as I had started putting together the evidence and matching it with other likely suspects Doc yelled out ” I know what it is!” She jumped off the couch, ran into the kitchen, opened a drawer and pulled out her meat thermometer and there was the answer in plain sight. Doc remembered that she had stuck the meat thermometer in the turkey to make sure it was done and when she pulled it out the mental tip must have gotten stuck in the turkey. “What a relief!” she said.

After a call to her family members and a good and hearty laugh about the whole thing, we settled back down and watched TV and just like clockwork a rerun of Unsolved Mysteries was coming on. As I was watching the show I couldn’t help but wonder, the smartest criminals know how to cover their tracks and Doc is no dummy. Was it really the tip of a meat thermometer? I decided just to be safe, I would never eat any of Doc’s Thanksgiving turkey again.

The Abominable Snow Man Returns

Although Thanksgiving was enjoyable, I am exhausted and need to rest up for the next part of the holiday season. I admit I probably ate too much and played too hard with the youngest member of our family that is a toddler, but that’s what keeps this old dog in shape. The only thing I am concerned about moving forward, is the obsession some of the neighbors have with putting life like decorations in the yard that I am sure come to life at night and frankly scare the bejeebers out of me. Isn’t the holiday season suppose to filled with joy and not terror?

For example, just this morning as Doc and I were out enjoying our midmorning walk we came around the corner and I was startled to see a large familiar figure that I thought had moved out of the neighborhood over a year ago. But no, it was back looming over the sidewalk ready to snatch Doc and I up and chew us to pieces with it’s snaggley teeth as soon as we got close enough. To my surprise and concern, Doc did not seemed fazed at all, so I sprung into action hoping I would scare the monster into leaving and then it would never come back again. As soon as we got close enough, I lunged forward while growling in my deepest voice and started barking for good measure. Doc looked at me out of the corner of her eye and said ” Are you scared of that thing Grover? It’s not even real.” ” I don’t care what you say”, I replied with conviction, That thing is creepy, it shows up once a year out of nowhere and I don’t like the way it looks at us. In fact, I think you should ask the neighbors to get rid of it.” After I made that remark, I could tell by the look on Doc’s face that we were going to have a talk when we got home.

I was right, after we got home Doc reassured me that she would never let anything hurt me but that I also needed to know that the neighbors had the right to put that in their yard, so I needed to get use to it. So later on in the afternoon, I found the courage to go back to see the Abominable Snowman figure all by myself. I sniffed it with great care and realized it was not a threat.

So What did I learn? Face your fears, most of the time things are not as scary as you think they are in your head. No matter, I still think that thing looks creepy.