What Are You Thankful For?

Well, I keep putting off writing about the emotion of disgust (and soon jealousy and guilt), but it’s Thanksgiving tomorrow and it just didn’t feel right to be writing about such a negative emotion. Emotions are catching; maybe writing about disgust disgusts me enough to put me off? Sounds amusingly logical, but I think it’s more that I’d rather take this time to reflect and savor some gratitude. Disgust sounds like a good topic after I eat too much this weekend.

Gratitude is a good topic for today, yes? (Question: Is it an emotion?) Gratitude is good for us, and often what is good for us is good for our dogs and other companion animals. I don’t say that in a vague, gosh-gee-whiz kind of way. There is some good research showing that taking time to be grateful, whether it’s writing a letter to someone you’ve never thanked or writing down three things you are grateful for each day, makes for a happier person. Feeling grateful decreases negative stress, and negative stress isn’t good for your health, so take 3 things to be grateful for and call me in the morning. No wait, send them in on the blog. What a wonderful weekend it will be for me and other readers to spend time each day reading what others are grateful for.

Here are some things I am grateful for:

Life. Someone near and dear to me was run over by a car two weeks ago.  She is alive and will recover, but it will be a long haul. Jim’s sister and one of his brothers both died this summer, within two and a half months of each other. I’m mentioning this not for sympathy, but to remind us all that this life we have is tenuous stuff; I am grateful for every moment that I am well enough to whine and complain about minor problems. But for tomorrow and this weekend, no complaining.  I’m going to bask in blessings.

Love. It’s everywhere, and the more you generate the more you get back. I am grateful every day for the blanket of love from Jim, Willie, and now Tootsie, that warms me like a fireplace on a snowy day.  And I am buoyed by the love I still feel for Luke, Lassie,  Tulip and Pippy Tay (and Ayla and Misty and Drift and Bo Peep and Fudge and so many other animals I’ve loved so much.) I know everyone is not so lucky in love, I wasn’t either for much of my life. Here are wishes to all of you that you can savor the love that comes your way, and send out more than  you thought you held inside. This is also a love letter to all of you who have said such wonderful things to me about the effect my work has had on your life. I’ll never be able to say how much it means to me, but I can say Thank You, and mean it from my heart and soul.

Laughter. Okay, I suspect I’m starting to sound trite and maudlin here, but really… what would life be if we couldn’t laugh? And how many animals can? We don’t even know if dogs laugh, much less have a sense of humor. I’m so thankful that we humans do, surely it’s one of the best parts of being human.

The three things I’ve written above break all tenets of good writing, being general and lacking in detail and specificity. So here are a few more things I’m grateful for:

The scent from the top of Willie’s head. I can’t describe it, but it’s fresh and clean and I soak it up like oxygen every night.

The way it feels when my oldest ewe Dorothy nibbles grain from the palm of my hand.

The whipped-butter color of sunlight spotlighting the trees on the back hills.

Jim’s eyebrows. No one has better ones. Who knew eyebrows could be so attractive?


MEANWHILE, back on the farm:

Willie is grateful that he can be off leash now and is allowed to play with toys a little bit every day.

Tootsie is grateful that she gets to sleep on laps and lick food out of Kongs. She is on my lap right now (Willie is beside us.)

Sushi is grateful for sunbeams to nap in and fish for dinner. (And is meowing from the kitchen for me to get up and feed her some for the love of god.)

Dorothy is grateful for leafy, alfalfa hay and nibbles of corn and oats.

Here is a quote I was just sent by a colleague. It deserves to be passed along: “I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” G. K. Chesterton

And You? What is your happiness doubled by wonder?

Here are two of the wonderful creatures in my life. We are all so lucky to have each other.





  1. Kat says

    I have to say Tootsie also has great eyebrows. I love that picture.

    As for me I’m grateful for a loving husband who puts up with my menagerie even Finna who still isn’t entirely done barking when she sees him. I’m also grateful that she is getting better. I’m grateful for the most wonderful dog in the world who tolerates his crazy new sister without animosity and for the clear boundaries he sets for her. I’m grateful that I’m able to help him do the job he was born to do and take him places where people need the kind of love he offers. I’m grateful for a wonderful daughter. I’m grateful for my son who has learned enough at dog 4-H to be able to cope with his Finna and all her issues. I’m grateful that in the less than three weeks since we brought her home we’ve seen definite improvement in Finna and very grateful for all of my family who also believe that this crazy little bundle of fears can become a good canine citizen. I’m grateful for my physical therapist who is confident we can heal the damaged rotator cuff and restore full range of motion to the arm that got hurt (entirely my fault for trusting an untrained dog) when walking Finna. And I’m especially grateful for all the wonderful resources who inspire me and teach me and give me the courage to tackle a dog with issues.

  2. Lyn says

    I’m grateful for 1) this post – what a wonderful way to go into the holiday! 2) My lifestyle, which I’m fairly certain at least 4 billion people on this planet would trade me for in a heartbeat, regardless how much I complain about my job and the housekeeping chores! 3) Not just one, but two Thanksgiving celebrations this weekend. I’m blessed with enough family and friends that one isn’t enough.

    I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving!

  3. says

    I’m grateful for the job I go to tonight; for the dogs here now, those who found their homes and those in Heaven; I’m grateful for friends, good conversation and family. I’m most grateful to God for all She has blessed us so we are able to bless and help others.

  4. Pike says

    I am thankful…

    … for the smile that pops up every morning when I open my eyes and see my two sleepy dog ladies stretching ever so lazily.

    … for books.

    … for the love for and from friends and family.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all of you who participate in this wonderful blog!

  5. Nicola says

    No thanksgiving in Australia but…

    I am grateful for
    – this blog which inspires me regularly to consider my dogs thoughtfully
    – my dogs who warm my heart with their love & patience
    – owning my house, which reduces my financial stress
    and of course
    – my family

  6. Lori says

    I am thankful for my family…
    My friends..
    and my Dog Titan whose issues led me to this blog and your kind words..


  7. Marianna says

    I am thankful for this blog. For the help, knowing someone else has a dog with issues, and for just a plain good read.

    I am thankful for a husband that is willing to support me in my dog and cat habits, rescue and our own.

    I am thankful for my health. Not perfect, but in remission from Crohn’s and I will be able to eat a thanksgiving meal tomorrow instead of just sitting at the table for company.

    I am thankful for the creatures that are sleeping on my feet while I write this. And the other creatures that I still feel around me.

    Happy Thanksgiving y’all!

  8. says

    I am thankful to you, Trisha, who taught me WAY back about dog behavior, and about the glory of where we live in clean air, good water, space to walk dogs and a great community of people. Can’t get much better than that. H

  9. Rebecca Rice says

    Not a “3 things that I am thankful for” post, but just a bit of a comment. A year and a half ago I adopted a very shy rescue greyhound, a pretty brindle girl named Katie. Extremely noise phobic, cautious of people, and agoraphobic. The kind of dog that I had to carry outside to go potty, and even then, there were many days when things like the breeze blowing or the sound of cars on the road was enough to scare her back inside so that she would wind up eliminating in the house. And every day, for the last year and a half, I have sat down by that dog at the end of the day, when she is settled into her bed and I am about to turn in, and told her at least one thing that she has done to make me proud that day. There were times when that was the only thing keeping me sane, especially in the early days when I couldn’t look at her without her shutting down. And there were days that it took some digging to find something, but if you look hard enough, you can find them. I don’t know if it actually helped her any, hearing that I was proud of her for looking at me, or for taking that step off her bed, or for actually trying to go potty outside (even if she didn’t always manage that). Maybe it did… if, as the animal communicators say, they can understand what we visualize, then it gave her lots of insight into things I liked that she did. I know that it helped me, because it kept me focused on the advances she was making, even if they were incredibly tiny baby steps, instead of just all the difficulties.

    So here’s to my Katie. I am so happy, proud, and thankful, that you have come so far in the time I’ve known you. You make my heart glow.

    I am also thankful for having a job that enables me to take on difficult dogs like Katie. And for the wonderful trainers, vets, and other dog people who have been so helpful. And to all my coworkers, for putting up with me coming in all excited because “she walked down the hallway!”, etc. And for so much more in my life.

  10. Marcia in NorCal says

    I’m tempted to say “All of the above” because it’s true: all the things mentioned (well, maybe not the two lady dogs — we have a male & a female) would have to go on my list. But in an attempt to be SLIGHTLY creative …

    * the various people over the years who have slowly but surely helped me find a life path that, although a little late in making itself visible, is increasingly wonderful and satisfying

    * a husband who smilingly supports all the various “dog things” I do now, including hours each week at the SPCA, because he understands how ridiculously happy it makes me

    * a Border Collie named Belle Starr — Queen of Tricks and Queen of my heart — who opened a door for me into a new universe

  11. Frances says

    Like Lyn, I am grateful every day for a warm, comfortable house, clean water at the turn of a tap, and enough money to feed and care for my household.

    I am deeply grateful for my sisters, and for the love and memories that we share.

    And I am hugely, joyously grateful every day for the decisions and the twists of fate that somehow enabled me to accidentally retire very early, and spend my time first caring for my parents when they needed me most, and then building a life full of animals and friends, fresh air and windy walks, internet blogs and forums, and – oh bliss – at least 8 hours sleep every night!

    Poppy and Sophy are grateful for the homecooked chicken and beef that has just filled up their tummies, and for the knowledge that when they wake up from their post breakfast snooze we will be going for a long walk, and there may be rabbits.
    Pippin cat is grateful for the tiny drop of Metacam on his breakfast that means another pain free day, and for the heaped duvet on my unmade bed.
    Tilly cat is grateful that I left her alone with whatever unfortunate member of the local wildlife population it was that she was munching on in my bathroom when I got up this morning …

  12. says

    Wowzer. I had to catch up on Tootsie! Congratulations. She’s a doll. She looks like Grocho. in a good way! I love lap dogs too, but I have 2 big ones. Maybe my 3rd (if i’m nutty enough to get a 3rd, these 2 are a lot of work), will be a yorki or Shih Tzu or lahsa. i always wanted one of those types of dogs… And it just so happens my 2 big dogs LOVE petite dogs and are so gentle with them.

    Looking forward to reading about emotions in dogs! What a great topic!
    Happy Thanksgiving from Switzerland!

  13. Marguerite says

    I’m thankful I’m NOT out in the country any more–I’ve been in my little bungalow in Gettysburg for almost a year now. The yard is manageable (and fenced!), I have neighbors close enough to contact for help or companionship. There’s a wonderful municipal park nearby for long dog walks (not to mention Gettysburg Battlefield, which I can see from where I sit typing). And I haven’t seen any snakes in the house, nor mice either, nor been harried by clouds of mosquitoes, each of which was a common occurrence at the country house. I once had a wolf spider in the bathroom that was so big I could hear it run across the linoleum.

    True, there were interesting and wonderful things in the country too. Herons on the creek, and hawks and vultures soaring overhead (and yes, even big wolf spiders). But I’m happier on a property that I can manage by myself. And not least, I’m thankful for my pups, a couple of rescued rat terriers, who make living solo not just tolerable but enjoyable.

  14. Marguerite says

    One afterthought–I also love Tootsie’s eyebrows. In this picture, they give her the look of a kabuki actor.

  15. trisha says

    Pumpkin pies cooking in the oven, Jim chain sawing honeysuckles threatening to take down a fence, and me savoring each and every one of your comments. And oh yes yes, Tootsie’s eyebrows are Andy Rooney-esque. I see her looking like a five-year old in one of those horrific beauty contests, with make up and huge hair extensions (her ears are ridiculous) and yet… a big fat frown on her face like Andy Rooney whinging on about the way you can’t open up plastic packages anymore without the tools of a Special Forces operative in a James Bond movie. I suspect Tootise is the only pissed off looking Cav in the country. But oh lordy we love her so much already.

    Your comments remind me of something I am so very, very thankful for: the thoughtfulness and knowledge of the readers of this blog. I learn so much from you and appreciate our mutual inquiry more than I can say. Thank you for enriching my life. Now, it’s time for me to go hack and slash at what is left of the garden before the snows fall on Sunday.

  16. orietta siri says

    I’m thankful for all the persons who enrich my life and make it worth living, my husband, family and friends.
    I’m thankful for Bella who entered in our life like a tornado in a very difficult period and brought us endless joy. She made me buying your book and finding your blog which is inspiring, soothing and an endless source of knowledge and thought and for which I’ll be always thankful.
    I’m thankful for being alive and able to enjoy every day, life is a gift which, in my opinion, we have not to spoil, every day brings something different and worth.

  17. Susan G. says

    We are thankful for the roof over our head, food on the table and paychecks. For our health and the health of our family members. Jim’s loss in such a short period is so heartbreaking, and I don’t know how I could handle that.

    My Oscar has had serious mast cell cancer this spring and summer, and we are thankful to be in a period of plateau/remission. I have learned a lot during this trying time. He is acting like his “normal” four-year-old self, and we are so hopeful. Yet, like your post and many others, we know life is fleeting and tenuous at times. We try to learn from him, and all of the dogs, to enjoy each moment, day and season as best as we can.

    During the early part of this difficult period, I visited a holistic vet who noted, through my tears, that it’s not what we do with our dogs necessarily but the paths they show us. Having a reactive dog, who is now fighting cancer, has taught me so much. I am a better person and caregiver for all of it.

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

  18. Kathy says

    I’m thankful for my husband and my dog. In a very difficult year, these two guys kept me sane and functioning, and even laughing–at times through tears.
    I’m thankful for Trisha and Karen London’s book, “Love Has no Age Limit,” because it’s guiding us through the introduction of our new dog, Argus, to our household.
    I’m thankful that the interaction between our dogs has–so far–been positive and promising. And here’s hoping it continues to be that way.
    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

  19. Lisa H says

    I am so very thankful that I still have my parents with me as they are both 87 years old & its been a rough past few months for my mother. I am thankful for my work, my home, my siblings (most of the time!), and my very sweet husband who was the impetus for my getting my two dogs. I am especially thankful for Java who is the love of my dog life – and who I definitely think has a sense of humor! Perhaps that could be a whole ‘nother blog topic ?
    The weather is beautiful and it feels good to be alive, and I am thankful there is an agility trial to run in this weekend!

  20. Lacey H says

    I’m deeply thankful for my old dog Misty, who has comforted me and helped some of my difficult foster dogs to improve. And I’m equally thankful for my newly adopted dog, fostered by another member of our group, Danny Boy; his only apparent problem is his age (about 7) but that alone has made people hesitate to bond with this marvelous little guy. He’s likely a Cav mix, to Misty’s Cocker mix, but they both have the sweetest temperaments. And I’m grateful to the others I’ve owned and fostered, because they’ve taught me so much.

  21. Marcy G/ says

    I won’t try to list the things I’m thankful for, because you did so much better than I ever could.
    I do want to say, I know exactly the smell you’re talking about. I’ve always called said they smell like a stuffed animal. Clean and very comforting.

  22. jackie says

    I’m grateful that I have a husband who’s stuck with me, two healthy children, a home that I love and a new career that I am passionate about.

    I’m grateful for all the help and advice I’ve had with Twix, from the internet and from people in real life, that has meant that we have never given up on our nightmare dog.

    Twix is grateful that he’s got a new friend, Lucy. Lucy’s grateful that she’s got a proper home , enough to eat and four humans to throw balls for her (not so sure she wouldn’t prefer it without Twix, though!), Daffodil is grateful that I’ve taken those pesky ducklings away.

    The other two chickens are NOT grateful because I am keeping them shut up safe from Lucy, and the ducklings are not grateful because they want their foster mum back, and a proper pond, thank you very much. (They’re not waterproof yet, so they can’t have one.)

  23. Debby says

    I am grateful for a job that makes me crazy but which I love and for all the good people who work with me.
    I am grateful for MeMe from Lab rescue who as Trisha says, “Did not read the book on happy -go- lucky- labs” but she is the dog I have and I do love her. She has been a blessing for my neighbors’ daughter because with people she considers part of her pack, MeMe is the most affectionate dog I can imagine. She is always ready to sit next to this girl and let her stroke soft fur for hours.
    I am grateful I know so many really good, caring people.

  24. Barb says

    I can attest to the value of finding 3 things to be thankful for every day. I try to find 6 things (don’t know how I came up with that number) at the end of each day, and now find myself thinking in the middle of the day or the morning — “I should remember this moment tonight to write in the thankful journal.” The practice keeps me focused on the gifts of each day. And here are three that will go in the journal tonight.

    My girl Trio running a practice agility course like I never thought she would! If that’s all she ever does, it will be enough! She was everything and more today.

    Warm weather for one more November day — enough to get the Christmas lights up and glowing!

    Community like this one — sharing common loves and wisdom. Thanks to you all.

  25. Sandy says

    I am thankful I have a great job where I do meaningful work and meet wonderful people. I am also grateful my job pays me well and that my working environment is collegial and supportive.

    I am thankful I was recently able to purchase a new home that I love.

    Both my parents are gone now and I am thankful that they were my parents. They loved me and supported me and did the best they could for me and my sister.

    I’m thankful I live in such a beautiful place, by the ocean and the forest, and that I have three wonderful dogs to walk and discover and explore this beauty with me. I am thankful for the gentle, graceful presence of my three cats.

    And I am thankful for my Sophie

  26. says

    I am truly grateful for many things:

    My immediate and extended family whom I will cherish forever. You guys have always been there for me. I love you all!

    Four little furry creatures that I can’t live without. My dogs Miko, Maile, Makai and Bailey.

    And warm sunny days. I can never get enough of them.

  27. Marcia in NorCal says

    I just have to chime in one more time here, because I am SO grateful for a “community” like this one. It seems we come from a whole spectrum of different backgrounds and live in very different circumstances, but oh my we sure love dogs! And we respect them, and we rejoice in their accomplishments, and we are aware that they are more than just possessions … in a world that just seems to get darker and more angry all the time, it is such a joy to know that y’all are out there! Thank you for all the positive thoughts and the word-pictures you paint. And thanks to you, Tricia, for being a hub for the rest of us.

  28. Laura says

    I too absolutely love the way the top of Joker’s head smells. I thought I was the only one. I took my two dogs and one cat to my parents house for Thanksgiving. While we were at the table my sister asked why Joker’s head was wet. I didn’t know but thought someone must have spilled some water. When I went in the kitchen I discovered that my dad had put the turkey on a rack on the counter without putting it back in the pan. Turkey juice dripped onto the counter and then onto the floor. I’m sure he was licking the juice from the floor while it dripped on his head. I cleaned him up but clearly did not do a good enough job because that evening and the next day 4 of my 5 cats gave his head a good cleaning.

    I am so thankful for my 2 dogs and 5 cats and for the ability to give them a wonderful life – love, affection, attention, exercise, nutrition and excellent health care among other things.
    I’m also thankful for family, friends, my job and to live in a great country despite our problems.

  29. Rusty says

    I look at Tootsie’s eye brows and think Groucho Marx. Perhaps Andy Rooney is a more apt description. Willie is so photogenic!

    I’m grateful for animal trainers and behaviorists (present company included) who make themselves available through the Internet, seminars, classes and other venues. I’ve gleaned so much knowledge from them in the past several years! My dog training style truely is a cross between Trisha, Cesar, Victoria, J Katz, Kalnajs and others.

    My two dogs, one a bit older now and one young. They constantly teach me things, and I them. They keep me young and trim. Its hard to gain weight when I have to walk dogs every day, sometimes twice. I’d have it no other way.

    Of course, family. They make the low points in life not so low and the high points even higher.

  30. says

    I’ve done the three gratitudes thing for a few months now, and I definitely agree that it’s better to be specific. Somehow, it just has more resonance when you’re thinking about something like “the smell of the top of my dog’s head”, whereas it’s kind of easy think of something like “love” and not really absorb it. The concrete experience makes a huge difference.

  31. JJ says

    I’m grateful for having my dog in my life and for having wonderful parents. I’m also grateful for my new solar panels which provide entertainment and warm, fuzzy feelings every day. I can’t stop without also mentioning how very grateful I am to have a job, a home, and delicious whole plant food every day.

    This blog post reminds me of something I heard from my Rabbi many years ago. I don’t know if it is true or not, but I will relate it. He asked: Do you know where the phrase, “Count your blessings” comes from? The ancient Jewish tradition is to try to get to 100 blessings a day. Hence you count your blessings to see if you can find 100 of them by the end of the day. It explains why there are so many blessings that a traditional Jewish person will say throughout the day. It’s not just “grace” after the meal. It’s just everything you do in a day – even blessings for after successfully going potty. Thank goodness my body is working correctly right now…

    Again, I don’t if this is a true origin of the phrase, but I like the story. And I think those people would say, “Three blessings? Good for you, but that’s nothing. Try for 100 a day.” :-)

  32. D says

    I’m thankful for my dogs, and the wonderful circle of human friends I’ve made through training my dogs for herding, obedience, agility and therapy work. I’m thankful for my sheep, a reminder that my hard work and careful planning has finally yielded this small farm where my dogs and I can play and find peace. I’m thankful for my chickens, and the eggs they give me to eat each day. I’m thankful for my cats, helping to keep the barns rodent-free, but more importantly, helping to keep my lap warm while I work at my desk each day. I’m thankful for my two horses, since equines were the original motivator for me to work HARD, back when I was a young girl. I’m thankful for my family, for their support and belief that I could make a small business work, and for my parents for giving us all the belief that if we worked hard enough, it would pay off. I’m thankful for finding the enormous tracks of a bull moose in my field today, and watching a Cooper’s Hawk fly overhead as I tracked the moose for a while into the woods. And I’m thankful for this blog, where I can find a group of like-minded souls amid the daily noise of the news of the world.

    I think I could go on and on. JJ, you’re right, we should all try for 100 a day. Because each time I feel that the daily grind and frugal living is a struggle, recognizing the many things I have to be thankful for is always uplifting.

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