The Importance of Goofing Off

Did you know that today is National Goof Off Day? If I would have know, I would have made a plan. The first thing I would have done was skip work. And just like the all American movie hero Ferris Bueller, Doc and I could have had a great day of doing whatever we wanted and maybe even arranged our own flash mob! But no, we are toiling away at the job, only able to dream of a day with nothing to do.

It can be easy to get stuck in the every day grind. Go to work, come home, do some chores, take care of the kids and pets, watch tv, go to bed and then get up and do it all over again. I guess days like National Goof Off Day are to remind us to mix it up sometimes, de stress and not get stuck doing the same old thing. In other words, don’t forget to inject some fun in your life.

So today, even though we are at work, I am going to let loose a little and be silly and try to cheer up my co-workers. Maybe even take a nap in the middle of the work day. ( I can get away with that) Then when we get home, I will encourage Doc to forget the chores and maybe even watch Ferris Buellers Day Off to remind us that everyone needs to let loose and have fun sometimes.

How to Get What You Need

Long ago, Doc taught me a valuable lesson. Ask for what you need. If the request is reasonable, most of the time you will get what you ask for. As usual, she was right, and that is how I ended up with my very plush new area rug for the office we use.

Since I am 10 years old and considered elderly, by dog standards, I sometimes need some extra help and care. Now don’t get me wrong I am still in good health and can do “zoomies” around the yard, but I have some trouble getting up on slick surfaces. Since there is no carpeting in the office we use, Doc noticed my back legs were sliding out from under me when I got up off the floor. To prevent any injuries in my old age, Doc started looking into some area rugs that would be easy to clean. After she looked at some on-line and got some information, she sent a message to the CEO about my predicament. After looking at some options and some discussion about what would be best for the space and what could be easily cleaned, it was decided that a rug would be just the thing to help me.

About a week went by and we ran into the CEO in the hallway and he told us the rug had been ordered and would be here soon. Doc thanked him and then she shocked me when she had the nerve to tell him that she thought a flat screen TV in our office, tuned to the Pet channel would help to keep me calm. He didn’t miss a beat and without hesitation told her ” That is a hard no!” I was relieved when I looked up and saw that smirk on her face because for a minute I thought she was serious. You never know with her, and that was a perfect example of being turned down because the request was no where near being reasonable.

The day we came back to work from vacation the rug was in the office rolled up in a corner. One of our patient’s was nice enough to help unroll it and place it on the floor. I was so excited I got on top of it even before it was rolled out all the way. Let me just say, I love my new rug. It feels magical to me. I sleep on it most of the time and even have dreams that I can fly on it across space and time. Now I am able to get up without sliding and I think the colors compliment my fur coat. Sometimes the simple things in life help the most and bring the most pleasure. I am thankful to the place I work that they take such good care of this therapy dog.

Bidding my Caretakers Adieu

Well, Doc had the nerve to go to Florida without me again, but left me in the capable hands of the staff at my veterinarians office. For 10 days while Doc was hanging out by the ocean, lying in the sun and watching the dolphins and manatees, I was being pampered, like a pooch of my celebrity status should be.

While Doc was gone the staff gave me a pedicure and daily massages, brushed out my coat, rubbed my ears and played with me in the big yard in back of the office. The only thing I didn’t like was that one of my favorite vet techs brought her dog to work and had the nerve to pay attention to it. I just whined and cried until she finally came over and spent equal time with me. She said I was acting jealous. Can you imagine? I just wanted some attention too.

I have to say it was kind of weird not going to work, but Doc says that’s what vacation is for, to vacate. It’s really important just to take some “me time” away from the job whether you are man or beast. It was nice to sleep in everyday.

The time went by so fast the I could hardly believe it when on Monday afternoon they told me that Doc was there to pick me up. As they brought me into the main office from the kennel, I was surprised how many of the staff was there to say good by. They all told me how much they would miss me and patted and hugged me on the way out. I never though much about it, but the people that take care of all the animals get stressed and need a good therapy dog around too. I hope I cheered them up while I was there.

After my farewell’s to the staff, I went around the corner and I saw Doc waiting for me. At first I didn’t look at her. The thing is, I didn’t want her to know that I had a good time as I thought she should feel at least a little guilty for leaving me behind. But she looked so happy to see me I just couldn’t help but wag my tail and go right up to her.

Soon we were home and after supper it was getting late, so we climbed in bed to watch some tv. Both Doc and I fell asleep we were both so worn out from our adventures. It’s often nice to go away, but like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz said, ” There is no place like home.” No truer words were ever spoken.

Love Stinks!

Even though Valentine’s day has passed, love is still in the air, but it stinks! In case you didn’t know, it is skunk mating season. And yes, I barely missed another encounter with a skunk on Tuesday morning.

As you will recall last summer I got into a wrestling match with a skunk in our back yard just before dawn last summer, and got sprayed in the face. So I guess statistically I am about due again. If it wasn’t for Doc’s quick actions, we both would haven gotten sprayed again this week.

On Tuesday morning, when Doc opened up the garage door, there under the moonlight, was a rather mature Pepe` Le Pew staring right at us with his beady little eyes. Now my instinct was to lunge forward because apparently I never learn my lesson when it comes to skunks, but Doc was quicker and pulled me back into the garage by my leash while the black and white striped stinker ran way. Luckily, the love he was searching for did not look like an 82 pound Labradoodle.

Doc was relieved, but looked at me and shook her head. ” What is wrong with you Grover? Aren’t you tired of being sprayed by skunks?” What she doesn’t know, is that dogs love to chase skunks, it’s our prey instinct and except for being sprayed, it’s fun. But I knew it would be of no help to try and explain that to her. Being a therapist, Doc is all about the lessons we learn and since it was obvious I had not learned mine, that was all we talked about on the 20 minute ride to work. I hate it when she right. Yes, even dogs have egos, but that didn’t mean I would swear off skunk wrangling forever. I still have the rest of winter to have another encounter while they troll around our yard looking for love. My big advice to Doc is to keep plenty of her de-skunking potion on hand just in case.

The Shake Down

I am not one to gossip, but today I am making an exception. Did you ever notice that no matter where you work that there are certain personalities that seem to make up the group you work with? As the therapy dog, I have all day to observe, size people up and then look for opportunities that may benefit me.

You know that one co-worker that always leaves their dirty dishes in the sink? At least you could put them down on the floor where I would be happy to lick them clean. Or what about Suzie Snacker.? As soon as she leaves the office, I sneak in to eat whatever she has dropped on the floor. But my favorites, are the fellow employees that keep snacks in their desk drawers. I know this because my smell is so acute that I can smell food from clear down the hall.

Why, just this morning after I heard one of my favorite co-workers, Von come into his office, I ran down the hall to see what food he had stashed in his drawer today. Doc was in the other end of the building and did not know I had escaped from our office. When she noticed I was gone I could hear her asking people if they knew where I was. Von responded saying” Grover’s in here trying to shake me down for snacks.”

Knowing I am not suppose to beg for food, I tried to act all innocent when she came in to the office, like I was just visiting. But she is hard to fool and Von was more than happy to let her know I had been eating potato chips. He even told her that he had to show me that the bag was empty of all chips before I would leave him alone. Well, you never know when someone may be holding out on you. Doc was not happy and told me to stop begging. I can’t help it if I’m so cute that everyone wants to feed me.

After I got caught, Doc made me go back to the office where I fell asleep. I knew I needed to get some rest before lunch time, when the staff is heating up their food in the microwave. That is when I really get some tasty eats! I really do have a wonderful life.

I Need a Sick Day

Did you ever have one of those mornings when you don’t feel like doing anything? I was in the middle of a fabulous dream about finding a secret room filled with dog treats, when I heard Doc’s alarm go off. I don’t care what anyone says, 4:40am is too early to get up and go anywhere, especially to work, but I Don’t make the decisions around here.

While Doc was getting dressed I decided to come up with some excuses so that I could stay home. As soon as she came into the kitchen I told her I couldn’t go to work. “Why not?” she asked with some suspicion in her voice. I started with my top excuse. ” I feel too grouchy because I did not get enough sleep. It would be better for the patient’s if I stayed home. No one wants to be around a grouchy therapy dog.” I said with all the sincerity I could muster. ” Besides”, I stammered on, I think I may be getting sick.” ” With what? ” Doc asked. ” ” I think I might have that sleeping disease Trypanosomiasis. Look how exhausted I am,” I pleaded. ” ” Nice try, Grover, but that disease is only found in Africa, you haven’t even traveled outside of Ohio. Now get up, eat your breakfast and lets go to work. No more excuses.”

I did what Doc asked me, but I was not happy about it. When we got to work, I just decided to stay in my dog bed and stew about not getting my way, when suddenly I had a thought. Since I am a full time employee I have my rights too and came up with a plan. I decided to contact that nice lady Margaret, in human resources to let her know that Doc was creating a hostile work environment for me. But while I was plotting my revenge, I must have tired myself out thinking and I fell back into a deep sleep and didn’t wake up until a patient entered the room and said to Doc “Grover sure has it easy, it must be nice to be able to sleep on the job and get fed treats all day.” And with that, I knew no one would come to my defense as a witness. Sometimes you just need to let go and move on.

What a Nice Surprise!

Monday morning I was in the break room at work, quietly checking the contents of the kitchen trash, when I was interrupted by someone calling my name. I heard them tell someone that Amazon had left me a package. ” For me? ” I thought to myself. “That has never happened.” So I rushed down the hall as one of the psychologists was coming toward me with a fairly big box. Doc was in another office with a co-worker and upon hearing about the package, everyone’s interest was peaked. As we all gathered around to see what it was, Doc’s co-worker pulled out the scissors to open it. As I peered over the desk I could see another package inside the box all wrapped up in plastic and smooshed down flat. ” What in the heck is that? ” I thought to myself as we all curiously looked inside. There is nothing like a good mystery to start off a Monday morning.

After taking the bag out of the box, we had to open that one as well. The anticipation was starting to feel like torture as we tried to see what the gift was. I did my part by sniffing it to see if it was something tasty to eat, but it wasn’t. As Doc grabbed the thing and expanded it, it started to look like a big hamburger bun with lettuce on the top. At first I was a little leery, but when Doc explained that it was a toy to hide treats in and I would have to sniff them out, I was all on board. But the very best part, was the note included in the box from one of Doc and my patient’s that thanked me for helping them and being such a good support pooch, comforting them when they needed it.

I was so touched I teared up a little. Everyday I go to work with Doc with the intention of helping the patient’s we serve, not looking for any thanks. It was so nice to be remembered.

The rest of the day I kept Doc busy hiding treats in my new toy. Anything that includes treats is a winner in my book!

Snow Day!

The weather may be frightful, but I am feeling delightful because we are getting more snow! Something interesting happens when there is a prediction of a big snow event, the kids get happy and the adults start to grumble. As for me and Doc, we just go with the flow.

The snow was mixed with rain when we left for work at 5:15am this morning. Despite the catastrophic predictions from all the locale weather news meteorologists, the drive was pretty uneventful.

I know all the kids in the neighborhood were happy when they work up to find out that all the schools were closed. Doc told me she loved snow days when she was a kid because it meant a whole day of sledding and building snowmen with her friends in the neighborhood. She told me a story about a big hill very close to her house that she and her friends had named the Double Dipper because you would go down the hill, hit a bump, fly up in the air and then land back on the hill. You then picked up so much speed you felt like you were going faster than the speed of light. Over and over they would go up and down that hill until they were all so wet and tired that Doc’s dad would come outside and give a loud shrill whistle for them all to come back inside to get warm.

I am happy we are getting more snow because when I get home from work today, I can supervise while the neighborhood children play. The other day they built some impressive snow men and igloos when I wasn’t looking. In the dark, when Doc let me out before bed, those strange things emerging from the earth startled me to the point that I growled and barked to alert everyone of the impending danger that Sasquatch may have set up camp on our street. The next day, Doc took me over so I could see that the snow figures weren’t real. Boy that was a relief!

So, everyone getting hit by the snow storm today, stay safe and warm. All of you living in the warmer states can be thankful you don’t have to deal with the cold and the snow.

The Guru of Goodness

Mastering the art of rest and relaxation is not a problem for me, but lately I have taken it to a whole new level with Doc’s help.

It is only 6am in the morning at work. Doc and one other counselor are the only one’s in our building this morning and it is so quiet you could hear a mouse pass gas. A good time to focus and be creative without distractions. It’s still pitch black outside our window and Doc is working on what we will do in Stress Management group today. She starts out by reviewing a 5 minute meditation and the lady’s voice is so calming it puts me right to sleep. I even notice Doc’s body relaxing down into her office chair. Next she reviews different background music to be played during our breathing and meditation exercises. After listening to that for about a minute, I get so relaxed I fall right to sleep until about 7am when the hustle and bustle starts in the building. I awake to see our first patient entering the room. When he sees me snoozing, he says to Doc that it must be nice to be able to sleep on the job. ” I am just trying to be a good role model of Zen behavior.” I think to myself. Peace, oneness and enlightenment are my moto as of late.

I remain in this relaxed state for awhile, but as the day progresses and more is asked of me, it gets harder. That’s always that challenge of any change we are trying to make, trying to stick to it for the long haul. But you know what they say, “practice makes perfect.”

When we get to group, we do our deep breathing exercise and I go into my peaceful energy again. I get lots of pets and hugs from the patients and that helps me to feel special. They look to me for unconditional acceptance and support. Yes, it can be a burden to be the Guru of goodness, but it is a burden I am happy to accept.

Planting Seeds and Learning Patience

Although I love being a therapy dog, sometimes I wonder how much of a difference I am making. After all, I am just a dog and I don’t really understand the level of human pain that many of the people we see have experienced. On the days that I have my doubts, Doc reminds me not to get discouraged because recovering from anything is a process and it takes time for people to heal and our work is really about planting seeds.

Being present, building trust, offering emotional support, and accepting someone unconditionally are all seeds that help someone to grow, Doc says. “They are the fertile soil that allow people to feel safe enough to bloom. Change doesn’t happen overnight. ” Doc reminded me. ” Be patient Grover.”

Well that’s easy for her to say. I think it’s hard to be patient. Why, just this morning at work, Doc was talking to a co-worker and not paying attention to my needs, I first tried whining to get her attention and when that didn’t work, I admit that I got a bit miffed and barked loud enough that everyone heard me. I know I am not suppose to bark during work but heck, she wasn’t listening. She quietly turned to me, patted me on the head and said, ” Stay calm, I promise I will help you in a minute. And when she was done talking, that is exactly what she did. In that brief encounter, she reinforced that seed of trust reminding me that some seeds need extra fertilization in order to grow.

After giving all of this some thought, I have come to the conclusion that as I therapy dog I am planting seeds as well. Seeds of joy, love and light that can be passed on and on, making a difference in more than just the one person I showed up to help in that moment. It can take time to see the fruits of your labor. I just need to be more patient.

The days you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. Be patient and stay the course.” -Fabienne Fredrickson