Harvard, Heaven and Dogs

My dog Susie says…

Life’s little stresses

Last week I barked about taking your dog to work and its benefits. Well, how about other places that pets help humans: like school? In colleges from Atlanta to San Francisco counseling centers are using dogs to reduce stress for their students. Dorm rooms are now allowing dogs and cats to be brought from home to live with their owners. And if you don’t have a pet, well you can just rent one.

Harvard and Yale Universities have “resident therapy centers” that keep dogs in their libraries that can be borrowed just like a book. In fact the doggie programs are so successful that students come from miles away just to spend time with the rental pooches! Emory University in Atlanta trains these companion dogs to specifically reduce stress for the humans. Maybe I can get a PhD in stress relief!

Research at campuses across America shows that positive interactions with pets decrease the level of the stress hormone, cortisol, in humans, while increasing endorphins which makes you feel happy. Hey, maybe I can get an MD degree too!

Taking final exams is about as high a stress level as students experience except when a friend is hurt or dies unexpectedly, like in a car accident. Dogs seem to allow people to “let go” of their emotions in a much more uninhibited way than just grieving with other humans. Numerous students have stated, “These pet stress programs are so great, that if the the school doesn’t keep doing them, I won’t come back next year!”

Here’s a little story I heard recently about stress and dogs….

A man named Sam and his dog Oscar were walking on a long and winding road. The traveler was enjoying the pleasant walk, when it suddenly occurred to him that he had recently died from all the unbelievable stress at work. He was a cop. He now remembered passing away and also, that his beloved dog had died years before him.

After a while, they came to a mountain top with a tall white stone marble wall across from the road. Standing before it, Sam saw a magnificent gate that looked like mother of pearl and a glittering street that looked like pure gold. He and Oscar walked toward the gate and as they got closer they saw a man standing at a desk.

When they were close enough, Sam inquired, “Excuse me, where are we?”

“Why, this is Heaven, sir”, the man answered.

“Wow! After my stressful life this is great!  Would you happen to have some water? I’m really thirsty.” Sam asked.

“Of course, sir. Come right in and sit down. I’ll have some cold ice water brought right up.” The man gestured and soon the gate began to open.

“Can my friend,” gesturing toward his dog, “come in, too?” Sam asked.

“I’m sorry, sir, but we never accept pets. You’ll have to leave him outside.”

The traveler thought for a moment, then turned back toward the road and continued along the same way they had been walking before. After another long walk, he and Oscar came to a dirt road which led through a farm gate that looked as if it had never been closed. There was no fence. As he approached the gate, he saw a white haired man inside, leaning against a tall tree and reading a book.

“Excuse me!”, Sam called to the reader. “Do you have any water?”

“Yeah, sure enough, there’s a water pump over there. Come on in.”

“How about my friend here?” The traveler gestured to the dog.

“Sure. There’s a bowl right by the pump.”

They went through the gate and saw an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it. The traveler filled the bowl, took a long drink himself and then quickly gave some to Oscar. When they were both full, Sam and his dog walked back toward the man standing by the magnificent tree waiting for them.

“What do you call this place?” The traveler asked.

” Why…This is Heaven,” was the answer.

“Well, that’s mighty confusing,” Sam said. “The man up the road said that was Heaven, too.”

“Oh, you mean the place with the gold streets and pearly gates? Nope. That’s Hell.”

“Doesn’t it make you mad for them to use your name like that?”

“Nope. I can see how you might think so, but we’re just thrilled  they screen out all the folks who would leave their very best friends behind!”

Catch you later,

Susie & Sandy

For more barks from Susie: http://sandy-steele.blogspot.com

Information on Sandy Steele:  http://sandysteele.com



Gone but never forgotten


Sandy Steele’s dog Susie Says 

The Apple of our eyes 

We left LA and would arrive in the Atlanta airport in the early evening. I lost so much weight running after seagulls and swimming with the dolphins in the ocean, that I was able to sit with Sandy, instead of being held again in that dang hold deep in the airplane. Now where’s my cocktail and treat? 

Sandy’s husband Richard, who is also my dad, met us at the metal baggage merry-go-round, and mumbled something to mom. She now seemed sad and started to cry a little. I wonder what happened? 

It turned out that Sandy and Richard were sad this night because a person of great integrity died today. His name was Steve Jobs and he started a little computer company named Apple. I wasn’t aware of him, so I Googled his name and read pages and pages of information. Seems he was quite a guy! He was an orphan like me, who also was rescued by compassionate parents that always deeply loved him. His favorite sayings were, “Stay hungry and stay foolish” and “Don’t be trapped by dogma.”  

I love the foolish part, but I wonder what dog’s ma’s have to do with anything?  

Now, Richard had met him years ago in 1980 when he helped take his company to the public or something like that. Dad said he was the most unforgettable person he ever met then or since. I also suddenly realized that the computer I was typing on had an apple logo on it and that Steve had invented it. In fact mom’s little music box she takes with her when she jogs has a little apple on it. And dad’s flat tablet computer he takes along on trips has an apple on it. And my favorite movie of all time, “Toy Story” was created by Mr. Jobs. And my cell phone which I use to keep in touch with my buddies, I recently met on the beaches in California, has a little apple on it. This guy was an Einstein! He was Johnny Appleseed spreading little Apple seeds that sprouted all over the world. Too bad he couldn’t clone himself into an Apple device. But wait, that’s exactly what he did. He’s Thomas Edison too! 

Watching TV recently with Congress and the President bitching at each other reminds me of Kindergarten. They should look at Steve Jobs’ incredible life and remind each other that it’s humans like him, and a few remarkable dogs, that made America great. Now if Lassie could become the first female President, maybe she could bring us all back together and save the day! All of this deep thinking and pondering made my head swim a little, so I decided to sleep outside in my doghouse. I usually sleep in my parents’ gigantic bed but tonight I wanted to be outside with my thoughts, look at the bright stars and watch a little TV, which dad had recently put in my abode. And yes, it has a little apple on it.

Catch you later, 

Susie and Sandy, 

P.S. About Steve Jobs: Don’t lament his death but celebrate his life! 

To see more Susie Says blogs go to www.sandy-steele.blogspot.com

For more info on Sandy and Susie go to www.sandysteele.com