8 Things I Learned From Angel

4. Be grateful
Don’t you just love the way your pet appreciates you after you give it a treat, or after you played with it? You can just feel the gratitude from their affection. When you are appreciated like that, don’t you feel encouraged to repeat the deed? There is nothing like appreciation to make you want to do it again. Needless to say, Angel is a very appreciative pet. One of the things I have learned from Angel is to be grateful and show appreciation. I know exactly how good it feels when Angel shows me appreciation, how much more if we show appreciation to our spouse, our parents, our kids, our siblings, our friends, and our coworkers? It would probably make their day. We sometimes take it for granted and we think they should know just how much we appreciate them. But we need to express it and let them know. Life is short. We should tell them we appreciate them, before it’s too late.

I’d like to mention another facet of gratefulness: being grateful to God. If we take on an attitude of gratitude, we open the gates for more blessings. God hates complainers. God blesses those who praise and thank Him. When we thank the Lord for all His blessings, we not only bless God but we also lead our own hearts to peace and contentment. When we are thankful to the Lord for every blessing in our life, we focus on the good things and God blesses us with more of those good things in our lives.

With the thanksgiving holiday coming up, it is a great time to remember and appreciate all the wonderful blessings in our lives. I pray that this thanksgiving we are able to express our appreciation not only for the things in our lives, but also to the people in our lives. And after that hopefully, we could learn to be grateful every day. By the way, I would like to thank you for stopping by. I really appreciate it. Thank you for reading, liking or commenting. It’s people like you who make blogging worthwhile. Thanks and I hope you have a great and happy thanksgiving!

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8 Things I Learned From Angel

3. Forgive everyday

Yes, I learned this from Angel. We can learn a thing or two from our pets about forgiveness. I’m talking about forgiving the small hurtful things that happen between us and our loved ones and our friends. Any abuse and criminal offenses are beyond the scope of this blog.
I am talking about forgiving the small stuff, which we can do.

As I was saying, our pets seem to forgive the small stuff all the time. They don’t seem to carry grudges. They don’t keep a record of our wrongs. If I neglect to take Angel for a walk, or if I get so busy that I spend less time with her, she doesn’t get resentful or vengeful and take it against me. The next time she wakes up or the next time she sees me, she is happy and loving. This is the way with our pets. They love us just the same even if we have failed them in some way. They forgive us easily.

I wish it were that easy for us humans, but I understand that we sometimes carry grudges. And over time, these grudges become resentment. Sometimes, if the offense is something that we consider really grave, we can be unforgiving. Sometimes we were hurt so deeply that we choose to carry the heavy burden of un-forgiveness. At times it could get so heavy that we feel like we can hardly move forward. We think this is the only way to protect us from being hurt again; and so we carry on with our lives keeping the anger and hatred in our hearts and minds.

But the truth of the matter is, forgiveness does not benefit the one who offended us as much as it does us, the offended ones. If we forgive, we release our own heart from the pain and the repetition of the pain. We set our own hearts free, for healing. We take the power away from the one who offended us so they could not hurt us that way anymore.

Forgive every day. Don’t go to bed with hatred in your heart. As much as possible, we need to try to forgive every day for our own peace of mind, and for our own health. Just try it. It could mean a whole lot of difference in your life.

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8 Things I Learned from Angel

2. Remember to Exercise

Autumn and winter days are days with less sun. Have you ever heard of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Some people get lonely, depressed, sleeping more in the daytime and other symptoms. Evidently, dogs experience this as well.

Cloudy days or not, our pets are tuned in to our moods. When they can’t understand what is going on, they get anxious and act up.
Cloudy days mean that we need to do something to be active. Studies show that exercise helps ease the seasonal affective disorder. During sunnier days, walking outside is more fun. Dogs just like people need their exercise. I have learned that the more you exercise, the easier it gets. After you do it for a month, it becomes a habit. After that, your body gets used to it, and you miss it when you don’t exercise.

Exercise is so good for our health. It helps our circulation and helps cleanse our bodies. It helps us get rid of excess body fat and give us a slimmer body. As we age, we need exercise to keep us agile and fit. Walking is my favorite exercise. It is an all-around great exercise that works out the whole body. Thirty minutes a day is not too much to spend for your own health. It is a great investment towards a long and healthy life. Having a pet means we have to walk our dog, and in so doing, we get the benefits of exercise as well. To those who don’t have pets, you still got to exercise. You won’t regret it.

Once when I had a foot injury, I could not walk or run. I started gaining weight. And then I met a therapist that showed me how I could still exercise while lying down. How happy I was then to be able to be able to exercise again. It also helped heal my foot injury. Exercise is really great. Yes, my Angel taught me that!

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8 Things I Learned From Angel

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1. Remember to Rest and Relax

In our busy schedules, we sometimes tend to go on and on with our tasks and activities. We could go non-stop just like the energizer bunny. This is not always the best for us. It could lead to burn out or to stress build-up; and neither of the two is desirable. Stress build up is detrimental to our health. Many diseases are exacerbated if not caused by stress. Some of these diseases are auto-immune disorders like psoriasis, eczema, lupus, etc. Diabetes, cancer, heart disease are usually associated with high stress levels or are said to worsen with stress. We need to take breaks, whether we work at the office or at home.

Stress is part of life, but continuous stress is bad.  We cannot totally eliminate stress in our lives, but we can learn to manage it.  Taking a break will stop the stress for a little time, and help the body go back to normal. We can take a ten minute break from whatever we are doing or whatever we are thinking. Relaxation can come in the form of a nap, some meditation time, listening to some calming music, or even just going outdoors to sit under a tree. When we are stressed or overworked; moments when we walk away for a few minutes can be powerful in recharging our energy. Maybe that’s why they call it a “power nap”.

After working for a long time, we need to rest. It is very important to get enough rest, it replenishes our strength and restores our energy. It relaxes our muscles and our mind. If we get a restful sleep, people sometimes comment that we are glowing. Maybe that’s why they call it “beauty sleep”.

Take time to rest and to relax, every day and every few hours in a day. Yes, just like Angel. And maybe, we will be more youthful, healthier and happier.

Copyright by Karen Galarneau 2013

Fun-Loving Angel

Having a pet really makes a difference in one’s life. Studies have shown that people with pets are healthier than those without pets. Having Angel has made a tremendous impact in my life. She is so playful and energetic and just loves to have fun. It is amazing to see the transformation of Angel into this wonderful awesome loving pet. When my husband Scott first got Angel, she was a scrawny, timid little one and a half year old dog of about 25 pounds with a long scar along her back. The former owners said that Angel had crawled out under a chain link fence and that was how she got the scar. They could not bring her to the vet for stitches so the wound healed by second intention and it has left a big scar.

The other amazing thing about Angel is if you see her today, you wouldn’t know that she had such a past full of hunger and pain. She is so loving and adoring of everyone. She loves to kiss everyone she meets. She’s one of those dogs they say “can’t hold her licker”. Angel is now 59.8 pounds, not scrawny anymore. And you can tell she has confidence now. She is gorgeous. My friend Malou, also a veterinarian, says she’s just healthy, she’s not fat. I believe Angel is happy with us and has forgotten any bad issues she had in the past. I have been putting betadine on her scar and half of it has been overgrown with hair and now looks like a long cowlick. But the other half is still obvious.

If we have made a difference in her life, I can say that Angel has made as much an impact in our own lives. Her constant and loyal companionship has helped us a lot. For my husband, Scott, Angel has become a perfect pet. Angel goes to greet Scott in the morning to be petted as if to say “Good morning, Daddy”. Angel loves to ride in the truck with Scott. He takes her with him riding in the truck and she just loves it. She rides really well and is no trouble at all that she is such great company for Scott when he goes to the hunting club. Scott is really proud of Angel, how well behaved and how loving she is. He enjoys their time together and how Angel is such a love sponge and just loves to be petted. And as for me, it has made all the difference to have Angel. It is like having a friend with me all the time, and such a loyal adoring friend. Just the kind I needed. I am just so thankful for her, that having her, I could focus on her and not on myself or on negative thoughts. The paradox of a dog’s love is that it is unconditional and they are relentless in wanting to be loved back. Yes, a dog loves unconditionally. To dogs, nothing matters but that they know they love you and they want you to know it. And yes, they are relentless in wanting to be loved back. No matter what your mood is, your dog will constantly love you and try to earn your approval. Their kind of love assures us to no end that we are loved no matter what, and that we are needed. We who have dogs are really blessed. And in this sense, our dogs can be real angels, because they save us from sadness and loneliness. Their cheerful company can pull us out of that rut and keep us from falling into the deep abyss of depression, self-pity and self-absorption.

If you have a dog, you have to get up every morning because you have to feed your dog- your baby. You have to take it for a walk. You have to play with it. You have to pet it. Yes, yes, yes, you just got to love it. If you have a dog, you can’t sleep all day and be depressed. And even when you are sad, if you have a dog, you won’t be sad alone. Your pet will be right next to you, to kiss and lick your sadness away. Soon enough, she’ll be doing something that will just crack you up and cheer you up. And you forget your sadness.

Walking with my Angel has also improved my health tremendously. I have lost maybe 15 pounds from the regular exercise of walking at least 30 minutes a day with my dog Angel. We also used to walk with my friend Ms. Peggy. Angel loved Ms. Peggy and she would give her sugar ( a kiss) on the chin whenever we said goodbye. But since school started and Ms. Peggy has to go to work, it’s mostly me and Angel walking together. Except when my friend Malou was here for a visit, then we all three (Malou, myself and Angel) walked together. Angel also loved Malou. She would walk next to Malou and liked to look up at her. After Malou went back to the Philippines, it’s just me and Angel again. I think Angel loves our walks, and I love our bonding time on these walks. I love also that I am able to pray-walk (that is, praying while I am walking) if it is only me and Angel walking. Having thirty minutes to one hour of communion with God, enjoying the open air and a beautiful day is just “priceless”. In that one hour, I give everything to God, and there is no need for worry. Once, at the end of one hour of walking, Angel let me know by sitting on the ground and refusing to get in the car that she wanted to walk one more lap. I couldn’t blame her, though, it was a beautiful day- cool and breezy, not hot at all. It was just gorgeous outside. And so I started to walk her again for another lap. She turned and licked my hand, and looked at me with those winking eyes, with her mouth open like she was smiling. As if she was saying, “Thank you, Mommy, don’t you just love walking on this gorgeous day?” I pet her once again and think,”thank you, Angel!”

Angel

My dog and my friend

You are loyal till the end

You make me laugh

You make me smile

You make each moment

Worth the while

So quiet and so kind

Such a sharp mind

I know you love me

I thank the Lord for thee

I love you my friend

I love you till the end

© by Karen Galarneau 2013

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Of Sleep and Angels

Angel loves to sleep. I read that dogs can sleep from 12 to 18 hours in a day. So I guess Angel is normal. She sleeps when we sleep which is from 8 pm til 4 am. She gets up for maybe an hour when we get up in the morning, but wilfully goes back to sleep at 5 am. Then she wakes up again at 7 or 8 am. And, if I am asleep at that time, she wakes me from my nap so we could go walking. She sleeps again intermittently during the day. After her exercise, she naps for about two or three hours. Then she gets up again and then wants to play, eat or drink. She might want to go out to the backyard to use the bathroom (usually 15 minutes after waking up from sleep, dogs would need to pee) and also to play with Larry, our other dog, a Beagle.

Dogs, just like humans, experience rapid eye movement or REM sleep. I often watch Angel during this type of sleep, and her eyes though closed are moving rapidly and her legs are jerking and she seems to be making quiet noises. I know then she is dreaming. What stuff are dog dreams made of? I think that Angel dreams of running and playing in the backyard possibly with Larry or playing fetch with me. Sometimes, when her noises get loud and she is whining or starting yipping noises louder than usual; I think she is having a bad dream. Then I would call her name gently, to wake her and say ‘it’s just a dream, Angel’. She awakens and gets quiet for a bit. She seems to be comforted by my words, and I think she goes back to sleep. I can tell because she starts to snore softly. Usually, after this, the bad dream is gone, and we are all happy.

If there is a bad dream, what is a good one? I would imagine it would be like a dog food commercial I saw a long time ago, wherein the dog wakes up in something like dog heaven: blue skies with white billowy clouds , and very green pasture. In the dream, the dog is running and being happy in this pasture, in this dream. In Angel’s case, maybe she is running and playing with her favorite toy- a green rubber ball, or with the beloved human (that would be me or my hubby Scott or our daughter Heather). Another good dream for Angel maybe running towards her favorite food – any 9 lives cat food in can, she just loves that! If you pan out of the dream scene and look at the sleeping dreaming dog, you would see its eyes are moving rapidly, its mouth moving as if barking yet no sound comes, and its leg muscles and paws are moving and contracting as if it was leaping or running or jumping. End of dog food commercial.

Sleep is important for growth and repair of the body not just for animals, but also for us humans. Humans are supposed to get at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep a day. Some of us need as much as 12 hours sleep or more per day, while others only need 5 to 6 hours. Still, we need sleep to replenish our energy and keep us healthy both physically as well as mentally. Power naps of ten to fifteen minutes, actually boost our energy levels and increase our level of alertness. For dogs, naps are so quick and easy to get in and out of. I thought it was only Angel, but I read that all dogs are adapted such that they can be awake when they need to be active.

Sleep is one of life’s greatest gifts. Every day, because of sleep, our brain and body systematically power down to get to a level where our body and mind can get to serious business of recharging. One of the things I have learned from Angel is the love of sleep. This is a good thing, because we need sleep to relax, to rest, and to recover. During sleep, certain organs of the body are said to release some hormones that help the body grow and repair the body’s organ systems. We need sleep to rest our mind and our spirit. When we sleep, our mind and spirit stop thinking about problems that occupy us during our waking hours. When we sleep, the stress of worry and anxiety is able to cease, giving us the power to heal during the night. This is much like that feeling you get that you wake up with the solution to a problem that was on your mind when you went to bed.

Well, Angel is sleeping now, which reminds me it’s time for me to hit the hay as well. Sleep tight my human and canine friends. I hope you dream only good dreams.

“Angel of God, my guardian dear,

To whom God’s love commits me here,

Ever this night, be at my side,

To light and guard, to rule and guide”

Like I said before, I believe in angels. I believe that unlike my Angel, our guardian angels don’t have to sleep, they are constantly watching over us. I close my eyes and sleep comes so easy.

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Dancing Angel Part 2

I don’t really know anymore how it happened or exactly how we did it. Maybe some dogs are just meant to dance. The idea was born from watching a video of the dancing dog on “Britain’s got talent”.  I know. It was a silly idea. But thankfully, Angel was into it. And so, we started with the basic “sit” and “lie down” commands.  We did great! I remember thinking, “Now, if we could just teach her to dance”.  Like I said, Angel was really into it and it really didn’t take much to coach her. She just wanted to have fun. Either that, or she just loves watching us do funny stuff, and then copies us. Yeah, it’s okay, you can laugh.

Anyway, treats are very important tools in this process. Actually they are the secrets to success. Angel will dance, turn around, shake hands and lie down, for her treats. Oh, and yes, that is our simple little routine: “dancey-dancey” (which is like swaying to the left and to the right), “turn around” (which is her cue to make a complete turn), shake hands (left and right paws), followed by “lie down”, and the great finale – “roll over”.

Sometimes, when I hear a favorite song, I start to dance to it, and guess what, Angel will get up from where she is lying down and start to follow me as a I dance, so I just let her do the routine. And there we are dancing to our hearts’ content. I can’t begin to describe the joy that such a moment gives me. I don’t even have to give her a treat.  She just wants to dance with her Mommy. And when the dance is done, I just pet her, and hug her, and I praise her, and tell her I love her.  It is so awesome, dancing with my Angel. It is, as they say, “priceless”.

So go ahead and try teaching your doggie to dance. Just try it, play your favorite dancing music and dance. And I am pretty sure, if that dog of yours loves you as much as I think it does, it will try its best to dance along with you.  You might just discover that your dog’s got talent!

In this post, I am sharing a precious video. Here’s my loving husband Scott, dancing with our Angel. I am the videographer.  I hope you like it.

copyright by Karen Galarneau 2013

My Dancing Angel

You can teach old dogs new tricks. We taught Angel her new tricks only this year (she’s now three years old). I believe she can still learn more tricks in the future. They say that some dogs love to have tasks, they love to help. And just as much, they love to do tricks because they know they get their treats for doing them. I have a feeling that another reason is they can feel their tricks make us happy and they love to please us.

My husband Scott and I taught Angel to dance. I saw a youtube video of the winning dancing dog on the British Got Talent show. That gave me the initial idea to teach Angel how to dance. What we taught her is not a complicated routine. It’s simple really but she has learned it and we have a lot of fun with it. Angel loves to perform and she does it even when we have guests. She is a natural entertainer and we are very proud of her. She used to be shy about it but over time she has found her confidence and her rhythm.

I remember when I was very young, I liked to go to dog shows at the veterinary college. My mom was the pharmacist at the vet college hospital pharmacy and we lived on campus so it was easy to attend these dog shows. I was interested in dogs and wanted to be a veterinarian so my mom really encouraged me to go to these events. This is where I first learned from veterinary students how to teach your dog to sit, lie down, come, roll over, and stay.

There are many books on training dogs and also there are obedience schools that would teach your dog for you. But if you have the time and interest, you can try training your dog yourself. The process will be definitely fun and memorable for both you and your pet. The key is to use one syllable words. Also be sure to teach one trick at a time, keep on it until the dog gets it, before moving on to the next trick. This way the dog doesn’t get confused. You just need to be patient, it will be worth it in the end.

Deciphering Angel’s Dog Talk

I wish I could interpret everything Angel was trying to say to me, every time. But I just don’t have the complete guide to decoding her language just yet. I am not giving up yet though. My very own version of Scooby-Doo never ceases to amaze me with her efforts at speaking people language, or at least communicate with me. I swear I’ve never met a more expressive dog than Angel. And she is not loud at all, just communicative. She hardly ever barks. She is really always quite a good girl, very quiet and well-behaved.

For what it’s worth, here is a short list of my translations :

Licking my hand, and excitedly wagging her tail, after getting up from sleep – She wants to go outside
Licking my hand and excitedly wagging her tail plus soft whimpering sounds – She wants to go outside NOW!
Bringing her leash, or shirt to me – You’re right, she wants me to take her for a walk
Bringing her ball to me – She wants to play fetch
Bringing her stuffed toy to me – She wants to play fetch
Licking my hand as soon as I let her back into the house – She’s grateful that I let her in
Licking my hand as I walk by her when I am cooking or preparing food – She wants to taste what I am cooking
Licking my hand, my toes, or my clothes – She wants some food
Bringing me her empty food bowl – She wants some food
Bringing me her empty water bowl – She wants water
Licking my hand while I am sitting or studying and she has not been sleeping – she wants me to pet her
She lifts her paw to shake my hand – she wants to do her tricks i.e, dancy-dancy, shake hands, lie down and roll over, for treats
She suddenly becomes alert, looks at the direction of the front door, gets up and comes over to me – Daddy’s home
She suddenly becomes alert and looks out the windows and stands behind the front door – strange dog is outside our yard or on our porch

My husband teases me and says I got it backwards. That I should not try so hard as to understand what Angel is trying to tell me. He says what matters is that Angel should understand what I tell her to do. Maybe he’s right. But I just like to solve the puzzle that is Angel code. I figure I’d at least try, after all she tries so hard to understand me.

How about you and your pet? Do you have your own key to your pet’s code?

Copyright Karen Galarneau 2013

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