Today is National Do A Grouch A Favor Day and I’m sure we have all have some grouches in our lives. Maybe we call them by a different name such as curmudgeon, crank, grump, sourpuss, bellyacher, grouse, crosspatch, malcontent, crab, and grumbler.

My father-in-law was a world-class grouch on the outside, and, like most grouches, soft and mushy on the inside. I used to be the most optimistic person in the world and could make him smile and talk him out of his funk when no one else could. It was a gift that my not so grumpy mother-in-law and the whole family appreciated.

After my wreck, it was as if someone had pulled a blackout curtain over my entire life and I joined the ranks of grouchy people. I had a headache. A level ten headache is hard. A headache when your job is to make people happy, to craft perfect vacations for seemingly ungrateful tourists, made for nightmare days and sleepless nights. All I did was work, go to doctors, and think about my awful life. Oh, and killing myself. A lot. The physical pain and the depression that overwhelmed every area of my life made for a very grouchy Carmen.

My doctor suggested a dog, I was too grouchy to listen. There was no way the added expense and responsibility of a dog was going to take away the headache, repair the brain, and make me not want to kill myself. I torpedoed relationships, put my marriage in jeopardy, and grouched my way through each day.

And then came NEW PAWSibilities. Over two years after the wreck, we moved to Wisconsin. If that’s not enough to make a Hawaiian girl grouchy I don’t know what is. But, little by little, my dog, my dog who had so many more reasons to be grouchy, changed everything.

I Always Have Someone

If you have a rescue dog you know all about how grateful they are. You know that you always have someone, even when you are so downright prickly that no one wants to be around you. When I am in physical pain or miss my old life, Coconut is there for me. He centers me just by being there. When I look into those eyes I know that I am his everything. How can I continue being a grump when I know that at least one animal thinks I am the sun and the moon and the stars all rolled into one?

No One Loves Me More

Walking into the house after a long day where the volume was too loud, or where I don’t remember names, again, or where I am terrified of driving, I’m all set to sit down, grab a glass of wine, and mope. Then I see Coconut’s tail wagging like a metronome set to prestissimo, that’s 176-208 beats and it’s the fastest setting possible, and my heart races a little. Stroking his fur, going for a walk, his warm body nestled against me, all those things brighten my mood in ways I never imagined.

He Forces Me to Be Social

I love going for walks with my buddy. One of the unexpected joys of living in Oshkosh is the architectural diversity. Seeing the vibrancy of colors and designs makes me happy. And dogs are natural people magnets, especially one as friendly as Coconut. On days when the last thing I want to do is to be around people I find myself having a surprising conversation that lifts my mood. Spring is going to come. I look forward to seeing neighbors working in their yards while on our walks.

 

In the fifteen months since we’ve had Coconut, my mood has improved. I have a purpose these days. My depression is so much better, my blood pressure is lower, I feel calmer and being around my dog increases the levels of the serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good chemicals in my brain.

How is your mood these days? Are you a grouch? Do you know someone who is? Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to start looking for a dog. We have such wonderful dogs are NEW PAWSibilities. I’d like to think that my dog is the best dog in the entire universe. I know you probably feel the same way, too. You know what? We’re all right!

Today is National Do A Grouch A Favor Day. Whether you’re the grouch who needs to do something nice for yourself or you have a grouch in your life, a dog can make a huge difference.