Sharing the lessons along the way…

Posts tagged ‘homeless emergency project’

Warmer Weather and Time Travel?

time travel

The sun was shining with the warmth of an early summer’s day.  It was a welcome change from the colder than normal temperatures and rain of the past week here.  The sky was blue with a spattering of clouds blowing around with the gusts of wind.

My dog and I were sitting around a table with some veterans catching up on things since our last visit.  The subject of computer problems came up, and after much discussion, it was determined that one computer’s problem started after a Window’s update.  Despite choosing a restore point, his computer still was no longer recognizing some of his hardware.

On more than one occasion lately, I have had to choose a restore point myself for my Window’s operating system after the updates have installed.  On the last occasion, there was no restore point option.   Restore points are time travel for the PC, but if you just re-did the operating system, there aren’t any.

One guy said, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great if we could select a restore point in real life?”  Everyone jumps into what became a quite lively conversation at that point.  But no one could fully commit to a point in their life where they would want to return for the purposes of starting fresh from there.

They all tossed around times in their lives, and I asked questions about the time frames they considered best to be their restore points.  Anyone new who came along was asked what time they would pick as their restore point.

Each shared about the time they would pick if they could, but after more discussion, everyone pretty much agreed they didn’t really want to go backwards.

I really didn’t have one, although I did think long and hard about it.  I listened to the discussions and stared at the clouds blowing around in the sky, as if there was a potential restore point idea up there somewhere.

The best one I could come up with was the period before I started having problems with my first baclofen pump.  Even then, I wasn’t sure I would want to potentially miss out on experiences and lessons I have had in the meantime.  Everyone else was picking decades ago, while mine was really just a few years ago.

This accidental discussion seemed to leave us all with some valuable information about our lives.  We were not necessarily willing to give up what we had learned and experienced, no matter where our lives had taken us since.

Were there things we could have done differently or better that might have made a different outcome?  Absolutely.   But there was also a chance that we could be in worse shape had we gone back to try to do it over again.

Would you choose a restore point for your life?


See Where You Look

look when you see

Thrilled to have my permission to climb the stairs to see his friend, he pranced upward.  After getting some love there, he looked through the railings down to meet my gaze.  His tail wagged and he danced around a bit more.  After a few more pets from his human friend, he looked at me once more as if asking me what he should do now.

I gave him a smile (how could I not) and a nod.  With those, he pranced his way back down the stairs and ran around the courtyard back to me.  When he got to me, he jumped up, kissed my face and stood there in front of me wagging his entire behind.

It was quite a little show from this nearly 13-year-old therapy dog.  He wasn’t slowed down by his arthritis and seemed to be as happy as he could be.  The laughing and smiling by his small audience seemed to match.

When given an opportunity to be in a contained space, and off leash, Duke goes where he is needed.  He seems to know who needs him the most and spends most of his time with them.  He seems to know just how to distribute his attention so that everyone who needs a little lift, feels his genuine excitement to see them again.

After three years of watching how Duke does what he does at the Homeless Emergency Project, I almost feel like I have gained a new sense of others.  He is teaching me how to tune into postures and the more subtle nonverbal cues.  It is fascinating really.

I didn’t quite realize he was teaching me this until today.  Well, I guess I didn’t realize I was learning it until today.

I knew I was learning more about his postures and body language, as he and I have gotten better at communicating silently as a result of our work together.  I guess it is a natural progression that I would also be tuning into what he is tuning into in the process as well.

What an amazing opportunity this is for me to better develop this awareness while I still have my favorite teacher around.

My dogs have helped me to have a better level of mindfulness than anything else ever has.  It seems that I can do even better with the help of my Buddha dog.

buddha dog

Sunday Sum Up #22

Catching you up on the past week is best summed up by smiles generated by Sir King Duke at the Homeless Emergency Project (HEP).

Most of the rest of my time was spent grading my students’ assignments and interacting with them online as we start our holiday break tomorrow-ish.  I am in a mad rush to finish grading today, so that I can actually break!

Duke and I spent some extra time at HEP this week.  Holidays are pretty hard to take when you are living at a homeless program.

Duke and I like to think we helped ease some of that in the past week and plan to do the same next week.

Catch Up 22 Collage

King Duke at HEP

“He looks just like my dog.”

“He looks like a dog I used to have.”

“I miss my dog.”

“I can’t wait to have a dog again.”

“He just makes me smile whether I feel like it or not.”

“I love how soft he is, but I really feel better just seeing him.  I don’t even have to pet him.”

I hear any one of these at least once each time Duke and I go to the Homeless Emergency Project (HEP).  After a few minutes, they are so into petting Duke that they start only talking about him and what a sweet soul he is.

King Duke of Christmas

As Duke was playing the King of Christmas yesterday, I was sharing a bit of my own story with folks as they would share about their own canine companions.

One woman is lucky enough to have someone keeping her dog for her.  Tears welled up in her eyes when she talked about visiting her dog and cat.  Her dog is 13 and she was talking about how Duke’s gray muzzle reminded her of her old girl.

I remember living at HEP and being so heartsick for my dogs that I could hardly stand it.  I will never forget what that felt like.

I shared with this woman that visiting my dogs every couple of weeks got harder as time passed, but that it also made me figure out a way to get back with them.  The idea of being back with them kept me motivated to make it happen.

She rubbed on Duke’s ears as we were talking, nodding that she too would be back with her dog soon.  Duke stayed with her despite the distraction of others vying for some time with him.  When she got what she needed, Duke took a small step back for the others to get to him.

I had his leash, but this was his show.  My heart melts as he is doing his thing.  If there was such as a thing as beams of pride, I was beaming them out of every pore of my body.

He worked his magic despite the uncomfortable and hot king’s robe he was made to wear.  He wagged and smiled at everyone even when I know he wanted to swat off that crown headband.  The smiles and love he received with his outfit on seemed to make a difference.

When no one was around, cooing or taking his picture, he got that crown off and undid the robe.

He was dressed as King Duke, but to me, he is more like Mighty Dog or Super Dog.  I never grow tired of marveling at his ability to bring smiles and a little bit of healing throughout his kingdom.

Reasons to Smile #1

I have seen some frowny faces around town in recent days, so I thought I would start a little countdown to the New Year with reasons to smile.

Reindeer DogsIf these two faces with camouflage antlers don’t make you smile, then I want to hear about it!

King DukeI know, but seriously, is he cute or what?!

Reindeer Duke

He is so happy to see his veteran friend that he has nearly knocked off his antlers trying to get closer.   His veteran friend and all of us were smiling, are you smiling yet?

Reindeer Dog and Mom

I saved the best one for last.  Duke and I didn’t get many frowns looking like this at the Homeless Emergency Project yesterday, so hopefully you are smiling too!

Duke celebrates Veterans


10-25-12 Duke with color guardAnywhere he goes, he generally acts as if he believes he belongs.  He acts as if loves everyone and that everyone should reciprocate that love and attention.

Never have I seen him so comfortable with a changing group of people as he is at one particular program at the Homeless Emergency Project (HEP).

Since I started taking him to HEP, he has been drawn to the veterans.  The courtyard belongs to him as much as it belongs to the resident veterans in the two apartment buildings around it.

He even shared it with a cat for nearly a year of his three and a half there.

This is his favorite place of all of the places to go at HEP (except for the office area where he is fed half his weight in treats each visit.)

He has gotten attached to and seen many of the guys move out on their own, but this doesn’t seem to bother him.

He is perfectly content there, regardless of the changes in faces.  He acts like he is one of them and that was never more clear until the grand opening of the newest program (see picture above).  Duke pulled his way to where he is in the picture and sat there as if he was a part of the Color Guard.

The Veteran residents at HEP and I have concluded over the years that Duke must have been a Veteran in a previous life.  We have no other explanation for it.

Duke and I honor veterans everywhere today.


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