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

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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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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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Exercising with My Angel

Everyone needs exercise. Exercise is good for our health. The recommendation is at least thirty minutes three times a week. But if you can, it is better for your health to exercise more often like five days a week or even everyday, and for longer than 30 minutes each time. it would not just be healthy but it would also facilitate weight loss.

Dogs also need exercise. It helps dissipate their energy and minimize anxiety. One day, while i was walking on the treadmill, Angel tried to get up on it as if wanting to walk with me. But the treadmill wasn’t big enough for both of us. I turned the treadmill off and got down. I let her get on the treadmill and when she was on it, i turned it back on. I let her walk on there for a while while i did the dishes. She seemed to like it as long as she could watch me. It wasn’t me who trained her for the treadmill, though, it was Scott my husband who taught her how to walk on the treadmill. He says she used to walk at least 30 minutes on it but with me she only stayed on it for 15 minutes.

Walking is one of the best low impact exercises. It is not too harsh on your feet or on the back. It is great for overall body health as it is good for the heart and other organs. When you can not walk outside, the treadmill is the next best thing. Just turn up your ipod, or the tv , and walk your way to good health. And if you have a dog, let it use the treadmill too. There are actually treadmills made especially for dogs, and it is designed for their size. I think the best gift we could give ourselves everyday is at least thirty minutes of exercise. And the same goes for our pets. If we could help them get their daily exercise, it is a gift not just for them but for ourselves. When they are healthier, we can enjoy their companionship longer.

Angel’s zest for exercise is a constant source of inspiration for me. She just loves getting on the treadmill. We’re so lucky to have such an awesome health buff for our pet.

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Man’s Best Friend

No one can deny the special bond that exists between people and their pets. The dog has been known as man’s best friend precisely because of this human-animal bond. Angel has the kind of mix that makes her look like a red-nosed pitbull. But she has this funny looking set of ears, with one of them cocked and she looks more like Scooby-doo than a pitbull. She’s not as huge as a great dane though, which is what Scooby-doo is supposed to be.

Angel loves me. I can see it in her eyes when she looks at me. I can feel it in her excitement every time I come through the door. In the day time as I go about doing my chores, Angel is right beside me. Up and down the stairs, as I go around the house doing housework, she is with me every step of the way. When I go up to the bedroom to pick up laundry, she trudges up the stairs. Sometimes it cracks me up because it seems like she is mocking me — copying the way i walk up those steps. When I put the laundry in the washer, she finally lies on the floor behind me, and sighs. I don’t blame her, and it makes me chuckle whenever she does it.

The only housework I do that she probably doesn’t like is vaccuuming. It must be the noise. But even then she doesn’t stay that far away. As soon as the vaccuming is done she is back right on my side again. And when I am done with my chores and ready for my nap, she is so excited to lie down on the floor next to the bed, sighing loudly as she plops down to nap herself. As if she is saying, “finally”.

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Maybe I am just biased, but just look at those pretty brown eyes, I’m pretty sure you can see the love shining through.