Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Have you ever regretted not listening to your instincts? Well recently, I ignored mine when every sign told me that something was about to change, but I remained in denial until reality slapped me in the face. It wasn’t anything earth shattering, but is was a change and I didn’t like it. Quite frankly, since I am at the mercy of Doc’s whims most of the time I don’t always have a choice and that stinks.

Doc will tell you in a heart beat that people’s behaviors and body language will let you know the real truth about someone. So I should have been more observant when I saw Doc changing some things around here along with the subjects she was researching about healthy living on the internet. Duh, how did I miss it? Simple, I did not want to think the unthinkable until she came home from the grocery store and I noticed my favorite food item was missing. “Where’s the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream?” I asked thinking she must not have noticed we were almost out and forgot to get more. ” I didn’t buy any”. She replied much too casually. “I decided we would be making some healthy changes to our diet.” Who’s we? I thought to myself silently and why had I not gotten a vote?

Going off to sulk alone didn’t help, so I started to process my feelings. For awhile I remained in denial, then I became miffed and finally I felt sad. All the stages of grief. It was hard to think about what my life would be like without licking Doc’s bowel after she left me some of my favorite flavors. No more Chunky Monkey or Cherry Garcia in the evening while I watch Celebrity Family Feud. It was more than I could handle, so I decided to confront Doc. ” Why didn’t you tell me we were giving up ice cream? I didn’t agree to that.” I said with conviction. ” Well Grover, I though you knew and agreed. You never said any thing when you saw me throwing fattening foods out when I cleaned out the pantry a few weeks ago. I told you I was trying to eat healthier. I’m sorry, I thought you understood that I wanted you to be healthier too.” she said with genuine remorse in her voice. ”

For someone that communicates for a living she sure bungled this one and I told her so. ” So how are we going to sort this out and come to an agreement?” she asked. ” Well, can we just finish the two pints left in the freezer and then move on? ” I asked. ” I just need time to think this through and say a proper good by to old Ben &Jerry before I embrace eating healthier.” ” That’s fair, she said. I know it’s hard to rap your head around change but you will like what I bought you for a new snack.” ” What is it?” I asked with hope in my voice. ” Blueberries and apple slices.” she said.

After hearing that, I was relieved. I thought she might offer me some weird alpha sprout smoothie. Yuck! I actually like fruit for a snack, but let’s face it, nothing is better than your favorite ice cream after a long hard day. Maybe I’ll stash one of those pints outside in the snow, just in case and hope Doc changes her mind. After all, Doc is only human and long term changes are hard.

Winter Weather and a Shout Out to Betty White, Lover of Animals

Just when Doc and I though we would skate through winter with mild temperatures in the Midwest, Mother Nature remined us that she is in charge. Life is like that sometimes, it’s easy to be lulled into thinking that things will turn out the way we want, but the reality is we can only control ourselves and how we choose to respond to life’s events. For example, even as the meteorologists were predicting the storm, we talked smack about how many times they have been wrong in the past. Another way to avoid thinking about what may happen. Then there was the recent death of Betty White. Even though she was about to turn 100 years old, everyone hoped she would live forever, but she exited this earth just 16 days before her birthday, a big loss for those who admired her humor and her work with animals. So what does a winter storm and Betty White have to do with each other, well I will tell you.

As many of you are aware, there was a Betty White challenge to give to the animal shelters in her honor on her birthday. Doc and I thought that donating to to our local shelter would be a worthy cause. The only problem was that the snow storm was to start the night before Betty’s birthday and we didn’t know if the snow would keep us from getting to the shelter the next day. Ever the problem solver, Doc rose early even though we didn’t have to work because it was a holiday. It was still snowing at 7am, but the good news was that the snow plow had already been down our street one time. After breakfast, Doc went out to shovel the driveway. I gave support from the inside cheering her on through the window where I could keep my precious keaster warm.

When Doc had finally gotten the driveway shoveled, we waited until the news said the roads had been cleared and then loaded up the car with some old blankets, treats and I even donated some of my dog toys so the puppies at the shelter would have something to play with. Luckily we made it to the shelter without incident and they were so grateful to receive our donations and all the donations that had come in Betty’s name that day. On the way home I asked Doc, ” Since Miss Betty was such a big dog lover do you think she got to cross over the Rainbow Bridge just like all dogs do when they die?” Doc hesitated for a minute and said, ” Oh Grover I hope so, I can’t think of anyplace that would feel more like heaven to her than that, having all those dogs come to greet her.” ” Just think how many animals she helped because people cherished her and wanted to honor her by helping” ‘ It really is amazing Grover, while you are on this earth you can choose to do good and inspire others or you can just focus on yourself, its up to you what path you choose.”

We got home safely and decided to call it a day. After getting under a warm blanket by the fire, Doc read me a quote by Martin Luther King Jr, another person that chose to inspire and that we also honored on Monday. “ Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Hidden Treasures

To fight off the winter blahs around here we try to stay busy and stick to a schedule. I guess it’s Doc’s way of powering through the cold, dark winter and the pandemic at the same time. Her motto is, stay focused, stay busy, and get your daily exercise outside even if the air is so cold that it hurts your face. So far this plan has worked and today I thought I will would fill you in on one of the exciting things we have been focusing on in case you need an ideas to ward off your own winter blahs.

Humans have a strange ritual of accumulating a lot of stuff and then complain about how much stuff they have. I find this odd as everything I own could probably fit in a small garbage bag. Anyway, Doc is now on a kick to get rid of the things she no longer needs or wants. So every day after work she chooses a closet or drawer to clean out and I thought it would be kind of boring to watch until I started seeing the things she was pulling out of the drawers and closets. It was kind of like a treasure hunt and I think even she was surprised by what she found.

Yesterday, after looking at and throwing out your standard accumulation of old cards, paperwork and receipts that were in a drawer she was tackling, she was tickled to find two twenty dollar bills she quickly stuffed in her pocket. That was the find of the day until she found a manila envelope at the bottom of the drawer that had been buried under some old paper work that she had forgotten about. As she slowly opened the folder, I saw the expression on her face change and I moved in closer to see what she was looking at. Inside was an 8×10″ picture of a dog that I had never seen before. ” Who is that dog? ” I asked Doc. ” That was my dog Blake. ” she said with a hint of sadness in her voice. ” He was my dog before you came to live with me Grover. He got sick with cancer very suddenly, was in pain and I had to have him put to sleep so he would not suffer anymore. It was one of the hardest things I ever had to do. He was a sweet dog and I was sad for a very long time. After about six months I knew it was time for me to move on and I decided to adopt you and I am so very glad that I did. You bring joy to me and everyone you meet. ” I didn’t know what to say so I leaned over and gently licked her hand and stayed next to her while she kept on cleaning out the drawer.

Later that evening, after thinking about everything Doc had told me about Blake, I just had to ask her. ” Will I die one day too? ” Doc looked at me and replied, ” Yes Grover, one day you will die too, we all have our time. But I don’t want you to worry, I will be by your side when it is your time and I will never forget you. You will always live in my heart just like Blake and all the other animals that I have been blessed to have in my life.” Every one of you has brought something special into my life, just as you have. So for now, we will enjoy our time together. I am so glad I found this picture. Now lets put Blake’s picture up where we can see it everyday.”

Doc ended up placing the picture of Blake up on a shelf where we can see it. I think both of us are glad Doc found that picture today because it is comforting to feel like Blake is watching over us. You just never know what treasures you may find.

The Power of Forgiveness, Letting Go and Moving Forward

Things have certainly quieted down around here since the holidays are over, so it has given me plenty of time to think and reflect. Since Doc and I have been back to work, I can’t help but notice that the same issues has been coming up with some of her patients, and it has to do with forgiveness.

Forgiveness can be a tricky thing sometimes, because it not only means letting go of old grudges, hurt and anger but it can also mean forgiving ourselves. From this dogs perspective, it seems like humans have more problems forgiving themselves than forgiving others. Even after someone has felt remorse, taken responsibility and apologized, many people still don’t feel like they deserve to be forgiven and here in lies the problem. They are stuck in the past because they don’t know how to differentiate one’s self from one’s wrongdoing. Doc and I have a pact. If we do something that hurts the other and we talk things through, we move on, but some people find that difficult.

So what is the best way to let go of guilt and shame? Start by forgiving yourself by practicing self-compassion and acceptance and then work on letting go of labeling yourself as a bad person. We all make mistakes, say things without thinking, do things we later regret. This will take some practice as you have to learn how to talk to yourself in a loving, positive way rather than beating yourself up over your mistakes. It can also be hard if the person you are trying to make amends to is not willing to forgive you. Remember, you can’t control how others will react, you can only offer your sincere apology.

As for those of you that have a hard time forgiving others, don’t get stuck in thinking that if you forgive someone you are letting them off the hook. You can still move on by setting new boundaries with that person.

Whether it is for ourselves or others, forgiveness sets us free. Grudges and guilt can be heavy burdens to carry through life. So lets start the new year by letting go of the past, learning from our mistakes and moving on.

” To forgive is to set a prisoner free and to discover that the prisoner is you.” Lewis B. Smedes