Musings From the Lake

As it is important to have balance in our lives, Doc and I are practicing what we preach, and taking a break by the lake.

My favorite part of the day, are the early morning walks along the lake. Every morning is different. Yesterday it was quiet windy and there were lots of white caps as the water was being churned around. As the water hit upon the rocks, sometimes we got splashed, not such a bad thing on a hot summer day.

This morning it was quiet hazy and overcast and you could barely make out Perry’s monument in the distance on the island of Putin Bay. As we got closer to the where the Kelly’s Island ferry makes it’s crossing, we could see people waiting for it to dock so they could board. Back on the mainland, we never think about how different island life is for the people that live there year round. The ferry transports not only people, but cars, supplies and the people that work on the island. I’m not sure about how I would feel about going to work on a ferry everyday, especially when it gets cold.

The pace of lake life is much slower and both Doc and I like that. When we go for our walks we meet lots of nice people and dogs. Since we aren’t in a hurry and neither are they, we stop and talk about all sorts of things. The number one question she gets about me is ” What kind of dog is that?” That’s always a good conversation starter.

Well, that’s all for now. After walking for over two miles, I am ready for a nap. I hope later on, Doc lets me jump in the lake. I would love to catch her one of the Perch or Walleye she loves to eat.

On The Road Again

Doc left me last weekend and headed just over the Ohio river to the West Virginia. Pennsylvania border to see Willie Nelson in concert. At the age of 90, he is still out performing. I admit, I was kind of ticked that I wasn’t invited to see the iconic troubadour, but after I heard what happened at the concert, I was glad I stayed home.

Doc said that other than some weather delays that the concert was going well and when Willie came out on stage everyone stood up to give the applause a 90 year old iconic musician deserves. After a rousing rendition of “Mama Don’t Let your Babies Grow Up to be Cowboys” and “On the Road Again,” the first fight broke out. Doc said two women started slapping each other in front of her and then after the police took care of that, some young males started jumping over seats and punching and yelling at each other a few rows back. Good grief, someone must have gotten up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. I thought to myself.

Now Doc would say in her psychology speak that those people lacked emotional regulation skills and poor impulse control, but from a dogs perspective, I would say that they were acting primal. Like a pack of angry dogs. I also guessed correctly that the actions were most likely fueled by alcohol. Another reason I don’t advise drinking. Doc teaches her patients that sometimes the best thing you can do when you experience strong emotions is to walk away.

In case you were wondering, Doc was not hurt or even phased by the incident, but it did put a damper on things. Their actions could have put people near then at risk, including people that brought their children for an enjoyable evening. A reminder that the choices you make don’t just affect you.

As for Willie Nelson, Doc said he just kept right on playing his guitar. I’m sure that’s not the first fight that broke out at one of his concerts. Doc is thinking of writing a country western song about the whole event titled; ” I went to a Willie Nelson concert and a fight broke out. I suggested when she done, she could send it to Willie and maybe he will record it. You just never know.

Working Like a Dog

For the second year in a row, I had the honor to go over to our booth at the Ohio State Fair to help my co-workers give out important information about our organization. In addition we gave out over 430 free boxes of Narcan, and information about recovery and sexually transmitted diseases. All important things to know about. My job was to be cute and lure people to our booth so Doc and the others could strike up conversations with the people that walked by. I know it’s not polite to brag, but I was a big hit and a big help.

There are many things I like about the Ohio State Fair. Of course number one is the fair food, and some of the vendors were nice enough to slip me some morsels for free. But my very favorite part is all the nice people I get to meet at our booth. A nice little girl that was showing her pig at the fair for her 4H project spent a good long time petting me and telling Doc about her pig. Now that was interesting. Then we met one of the many queens that walk around the fair. We met Miss Independence who had on a beautiful sash and a very big and heavy crown that she said was hurting her head. I guess that’s the price you pay when you are royalty. She told us all about how she got the title, something neither of us knew. I wonder if they let dogs compete? I would love to be State Fair Queen next year. Then of course we were able to talk to and listen to the stories people shared with us about loved ones dealing with opioid use disorder. I hope we offered them some small comfort just listening.

When we were done with our shift, Doc let me go and visit some of the horses and also stop by and meet the new baby calf’s that were only about a week old. Boy were they cute. I spent some time loving on them, licking their ears and really didn’t want to leave them but it was time to go home. I would have loved to bring one home but Doc said farm animals aren’t allowed in our neighborhood.

As all good things must come to an end, when Doc and I got to work this morning, they were busy taking down all the rides and booths across the street at the fair grounds. I’m glad I don’t have that hard job. I am going to miss all the hustle and bustle the fair creates, but there is always next year to look forward to.

Meet Me At The Fair

It was still rather overcast from the overnight storm when we took a walk down the street on Tuesday to see if the Ohio State Fair was ready to open. Even though it was still kind of wet out, there was plenty of hustle and bustle as they were doing the last minute preps for opening day. It’s always impressive to watch how they put everything together.

Then, this morning, when Doc arrived to work, everything was ready to open at 10am. The sad thing is, Doc is so rude, she dropped me off at doggy day care this morning, and she is going to the fair without me. Even though I will be going at a later date to work at the CompDrug booth, I still would like to have been included. I guess the life lesson is that you can’t always do everything you want. I will suffer in silence at Doggie day care with my canine friends as we relax in the swimming pool they have to keep us cool on hot days. I know you feel my pain living the country club lifestyle that I do.

In any event, I will keep you posted on all my adventures at the fair. So stay tuned, you never know what may happen or who we may run in to . There is always something interesting going on at the fair.

A Birthday Surprise!

To tell you the truth, I had forgotten about my birthday until I noticed that Doc was whispering to the humans at work about some kind of party. That was the first clue to me that something was going on. So I kept my big floppy ears open to make sure I didn’t miss a thing, but even I didn’t suspect that the party was for me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t have any hang ups about getting older. I don’t feel the need to run to the doggy plastic surgeon for a jowl lift or to have my gray hairs dyed. Dogs just don’t mark time the way humans do. Honestly, my days are spent waiting for the next meal or snack time, but I am always up for a party and so I was happy to be remembered.

Doc decided to have my Birthday party as part of the Stress Management group, so that the patient’s that I work with could be part of the happy celebration. Doc went all out with Birthday napkins, party hats, fresh pastries from the bakery and a doggie cake for me. What better way to relieve stress than a happy celebration with yummy pastries to eat?

I was polite and still acted surprised when they sang Happy Birthday, and a good time was had by all. I feel lucky to have so many people that love me. I couldn’t think of a better way to usher in my 11th year of life.

Asserting My Independence

While everyone in England had to go to work yesterday, Doc and I were thankful to have the day off. Back in 1776, because most colonists no longer wanted to be under British rule, a resolution for independence was adopted, and on July 4th the Continental Congress formerly adopted the Declaration of Independence.

I can relate to to wanting your independence. Now don’t get me wrong, most of the time Doc is very good to me, but there are other times I know how the colonists must have felt being under Britain’s tyrannical rule. So I decided to adopt my own declaration that outlined what I will and will not put up with moving forward.

Just like Thomas Jefferson, the first draft of my declaration took awhile, but after some consultation with my next door doggie friend named Franklin, (after Benjamin Franklin) I had my final document.

Feeling somewhat nervous about how Doc would respond, I approached her with cautious assertiveness. She respectfully read over my demands to be free, then looked at me over her glasses and said, ” I will grant you your independence Grover, but just like the colonists, you will now be totally responsible for taking care of your own needs. No more free housing, a soft bed to sleep in, pup cups from Dairy Queen, veterinary care, dog toys, treats, vacations to the lake or food. You will totally be on your own. But I will grant your request if that’s what you want.”

I was shocked and shivers went down my spine. Apparently I had not thought this through and quickly decided to rescind my request. Maybe for this dog independence wasn’t all it was cracked up to be. Luckily Doc agreed and we did what any red blooded American would do on the 4th of July, we went to the parade and then came home and had hot dogs for dinner.

What Makes You Happy?

It’s just after 6am and we are already at work setting up for our 9am Stress Management group. I don’t think it ever occurred to Doc that using your brain and body that early in the morning may be causing us stress, but oh well, I am just along for the ride at this hour. She likes to get things done before the other staff and patients start arriving because there are less distractions. what I didn’t know, was today I was going to learn my own very important lesson.

While Doc sets up for group, I sniff around for crumbs left on the floor that the cleaning crew missed the night before. As I glance over the top of the table I notice the hand out for todays group. The cover sheet has a quote by Catherine Pulsifer that says, “Being happy is something each of us determines, it is not something we find outside ourselves, it is within us and our choice.” Now that made me pause and think, until I said out loud to Doc ” I am responsible for my own happiness? ”

Doc stopped dead in her tracks and with a puzzled look on her face said to me, “Who did you think was responsible for your happiness? ” ” I thought you were responsible! ” I said with surprise. ” Oh Grover, she said with concern, have you learned nothing after all these years of being in counseling sessions with me? Yes, I am here to make sure you are taken care of because you are a dog,, but you and only you are responsible for your own happiness.” Then she went on to explain. Often, we get stuck thinking we will be happy when someone comes into our lives and make us happy, or getting a new car, or winning the lottery, you get the idea. Or in your case, getting a giant steak bone. ” That would make me very happy, I responded.” All of those are nice things to have happen, but they are only short term fixes.”

” Well, I said, what can we do different? ” “You can start by no longer comparing yourself to others and look inside to see what really brings you contentment. You can also start looking at decisions you have been putting off making, like ending toxic relationships, or making a job switch to something more fulfilling. Of course if you feel stuck, you can also talk to a counselor that will help you sort things out. ” “Or a therapy dog, I am a good listener too. ” I added. ” In the end, you have to take action to live a more joy-fulfilled life. Sometimes it starts by just counting your blessings.” Doc responded.

Well, that conversation gave me a lot to think about ways to improve my happiness and I decided I would start with a nap. Naps make me very happy.

The Importance Of Serving Others

Even though I work full time with Doc as a therapy dog, Doc says it’s still important to volunteer for worthy causes and that is exactly what we did on Tuesday afternoon. So, after some lunch and a brief nap, we headed over to Dublin, Ohio to the conference center where the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence was having their annual conference.

We were there to talk to the participants who came from all over the state, about how therapy dogs can help people that have been traumatized by sexual violence. Sadly, Doc and I hear these stories from out patients, way too often and so Doc was able to give first hand accounts about how I have helped. She also encouraged those that were interested, how to have their agencies train and get dogs certified for the places they work.

I don’t want to brag, but I was a big hit. There were two other dogs there, but I think I was the most popular, especially with the ladies. I know it’s not nice to gossip, but there was a big St. Bernard there and as soon as I walked in the door, he lunged and barked at me. How rude! He did that a couple times when I walked by, so Doc decided we better sit away from him at a another table. If you ask me, I think he was jealous. Well, you know how it is in life, not everyone is going to like you, so you just move on.

To be able to come to a conference and interact with such nice people that do some very hard work is an honor. There were people that work in the court system helping to advocate for those who are sexually abused, first responders, counselors, social workers, and people that worked on the rape hot lines. I was so happy to try to cheer them up today and bring them some joy for just a little while. a small thankyou for the hard and emotionally taxing work that they do.

The Neighborhood

If you are as blessed as I am, you are lucky enough to live in a place with nice neighbors. Since the weather became warmer, everyone is outside, either sitting on their porches or working in the yard. But of course, watching the children play, is my favorite past time.

Just the other evening after the rain moved out, an impromptu game of volleyball broke out in the yard in back of my house, and I had a birds eye view. It was nice to see the big kids let the little ones play, and other than the net falling down through out the game, all of them were laughing and having a great time. The best part for me, was when the ball rolled over to our fence. Who ever retrieved the ball, would lean over and pat me on the head. I feel protective of the children, as I have known most of them since they were born and I do my best to watch over them.

As Doc and I were watching the volleyball game, Doc remarked that there is truly something magical about summer and children. They are out of school and have the freedom to just be kids. Doc says she likes watching them play just as much as I do, because it always reminds her of her own childhood summers. ” I always felt like summer break would last forever and that I didn’t have a care in the world, I miss that feeling.” she said.

After thinking about what Doc had said, I reminded her that even thought she has adult responsibilities, she can still take some time to sit on the porch, slow down and do nothing just for a little while. That, I think, is the best thing to heal your weary soul after a long hard day of work.

Who’s the Real Boss?

The humans think they are in charge of me at work, but even a casual observer would know that’s not the case. But don’t take my word for it, I will lay out the facts of the case and you make your own decision about who the real boss of this operation is.

As I dog, I like routine, so since Doc and I are one of the first ones at the office, I start the day by going from office to office to make sure there is nothing left in the trash cans from the day before. If there is something left, I feel it is my obligation to eat it. After all, I am a giver and believe my co-workers should be able to start their day with a clean trash can. Much to Doc’s horror, even as a senior dog I do not have a discerning palate and have been known to eat Kleenex and other delicacies like bunny poop I find in the yard.

The next stop is to go visit the receptionist to see what she is munching on for breakfast. Just last week, she made the mistake of turning her back for just a minute. Thinking she was done eating her snack, I grabbed her turkey jerky right off the desk and ate it in one bite. So yummy! Doc was not happy to say the least and offered to buy the poor woman more jerky, but she was not upset at all, in fact, she gave me a pat on the head and told me how cute I am.

By 7:30am, most of the staff is here and once again I go in the offices as they are eating breakfast, sit patiently by their side and stare at them until they relent and give me some of their food. Now you don’t need to have studied Psychology 101 to know that behavior and reward go hand in hand. It’s interesting to see how all of these people trained in mental health have fallen for my manipulations.

After helping myself to the staff’s food, it is time for me to start working. When the first patient arrives, I greet them like I have been trained and then I tap my paw on Doc’s desk drawer when I know she keeps my Milkbones. After all, hard work should be rewarded. Then I push up next to the patient where they can pet my and rub my back through out the counseling session. If they stop petting me I let out a little sad whine to let them know not to stop.

About mid morning, i am worn out from keeping all the humans in line, so I take a nap i my favorite spot in the office behind the chair on my dog bed. even though I am dosing, I keep one ear open to make sure everything is going ok. You see, it’s also my job to make sure everyone is safe.

When the work day is over and we get home from work I still like to keep Doc on schedule for walks, meal and play time. If She is late, I let her know. Doc says I have turned into a cantankerous old dog, but I don’t care what she says because she can get grouchy herself.

The comedian Jerry Seinfeld explained the relationship between dogs and humans beautifully when he said, “Dogs are the leaders of the planet. If you see two life forms, one of them is making the poop, and the other is carrying it for him, who would you assume is in charge?” I rest my case.