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The Poop of Your Mind

Honey was the third dog I have had in my life. Preceding her was Alabama which we adopted at the senior animal rescue organization Young at Heart, which I highly recommend. We got Alabama when she was five and had her for seven years. When my wife and her daughter moved into the home I lived in with my two daughters, Alabama was the one thing we all had in common. Though neither she nor the humans realized it at the time, her job was to help bring us all together. She executed her job well to say the least.

Honey arrived in our lives when she was eight and she was part of the Svenavera family for five years. Adopting senior dogs is definitely not for everybody but if you’re one of those kinds of people, you should definitely consider this route for your next dog adoption. From the first five minutes she was in our home, when Honey went barreling through the sliding screen door without skipping a beat, we knew this dog was going to have a big impact on our family.

Honey’s foster mom let us know there was not much they knew about her history. It appeared as though she had a rough life, possibly on the street for sometime. We think she had at least one litter of puppies as her teets were drawn and looked as if they had been well worn. Honey always carried with her a bit of PTSD that let us know she indeed did not have an easy life before joining our family. One of the ways this manifested for Honey was not only a willingness but an eagerness to eat her own poop when we let her into the backyard. Once again it became apparent to me the universe of knowledge that I am unaware of is indeed vast. I did not know one of the reasons a dog would eat its own poop is that if she was starving or had been starving at some point in the past. My friend

Ron who lived on the streets of Chicago for 35 years shared this juicy tidbit of information with me. Needless to say this was surprising to me as Honey never missed a meal in our home and actually ate a higher quality food than most humans. She was very well cared for that’s for sure.

What became clear to me is she was eating the “poop of her mind.” Humans would call this implicit memory. I had no idea dogs suffered from this as well. I say suffer because those that had difficult or shall we say intense childhoods, have a little more work to do when it comes to reacting to our implicit memory. This feels like suffering for sure. I have learned 95% of our cognitive activities are a result of our subconscious or implicit memory. This is truly amazing and hard for me to get my head around. It’s hard to grasp, literally 95% of the time, I am eating the “poop of my mind.” Memories as far back as the car ride home from the hospital are what drive our decisions as “adults…” my doctor says there is no such thing as adults. This is comforting to hear from a medical professional, meaning we are all more on the same page emotionally than we realize. I have heard it said “we are all 14 year old girls on the inside, some of us are just better at hiding it than others.” Now that is a statement I can relate too and get my head around, candidly, a 14 year old girl is exactly how I feel a lot of the time when I am emotional. I am a cryer, FYI. So, since the day I discovered why Honey enjoyed poop like I lay into a Peanut Buster Parfait, I have been able to pick up those negative feelings and reactions, put them in a bag, and throw them away with the rest of the garbage, like I do with dog poop when we go for a walk. That is where the “poop of my mind” should be in the first place.

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Christmas in July? – Reason #3

One of the other reasons I really enjoy running Christmas tree lots is the opportunity to teach young people a strong work ethic.  

This will be my fourth year in operation. My friend Mike has been a part of this story from the very beginning and I could not have done it without him. Mike has two boys that I admire very much. They are growing into a fine young men. It makes me smile knowing that I had a part to play in helping these boys become men. I have three daughters so teaching young men is something special to me. Mike’s son Cam has been working at the tree lot from day one.  Over the last three years he has worked hard enough that next year he’s going to have the opportunity to run and manage one of the lots on his own.  I like to think that I have planted a seed in Cam similar to the one Bill Sorenson instilled in me when I was a young man.  Cams brother Mike also works with his dad and myself at the tree lot. The boys have complementary skill sets and are learning how to work together. What a good feeling for a dad.  The 2020 season is going to be a bit different.  The boys and I have already started talking about operations.  I’ve decided I’m going to leave it in their hands and let them show me how to run things differently.  The bottom line is nobody knows what the next six months are gonna look like. I love the idea of letting two young men with strong work ethic figure it out. The last three years have proved to me I could learn a lot from teaching a young man the day and day out perspective to life, work, or whatever struggle the world throws at them. 

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My Dad Was Great

My Dad was great.  He taught me a lot about how to move through the world.  There is no shortage of stories from all of you about my Dad.  Dad had a number of nicknames…. some from way back like BOOBALA…still are getting used today.  Other more recent ones like Bobo, are the way we will reference him when we tell stories about my Dad.  NOW ON THE TEE BOBO SVENDSEN!!!  We all know what my dad loved, all things golf, he loved his friends, he loved his country, he loved Dewey Lake and Stuart Florida.  Above all else he loved his family.  Dad never missed a game or a recital.  One of the last times he saw Layla, Alice and Parker was at their ballet recital.  He was so very proud of his grandchildren. He loved my Mom.  I remember stories about their special dates to Seal Blu downtown.  It was Mom’s favorite restaurant and they were both so happy when they decided to spend some special time together.  They would talk about going and then talk about how great it was and how special it made them feel.  This one evening spent together actually lasted for a couple weeks before and after, I guess a good date night has that capacity.  I could tell then they were grateful for each other.  Dad taught me gratitude.   Dad never thought he was going to come home from Vietnam, so he told me everyday from then on was gravy.   Some of my own life circumstances have led me to believe that I am on the same gravy train as my Dad.  I am extremely blessed with a wonderful family, and Dad, through his actions, taught me to never take this for granted.   Layla asked me once why I come 10 minutes before the end of dance practice and watch.  She is getting to that oh so charming age where I embarrass her.  I replied that “papa used to come watch my practices so I thought I should watch yours’.”  I no longer embarrass her when I come to watch.  Thanks, Dad. 

My Dad and I had a great life together as father and son.  We have many fond memories.  I would never cheapen our relationship by pretending we did not have our challenges.  We share many of the same qualities 😉 and that is not always easy for a father and son to digest. My Dad and I both did the best we could. 

When I was a boy, my dad and I were “Indian Guide’s.”  I loved this time with my dad and he knew it was important for us both to share this time together.  So important in fact that he decided to take on the role of FEDERATION CHIEF!!!  He loved to be the CHIEF.  One of the things we did as Indian Guides was to throw corn on the fire and say “PALS FOREVER” at the end of every campout.  When I talked to my dad before he left the hospital, I said “I love you dad!”  and he replied “I love you too, PAL!”  His choice of words was not a mistake.  He was recognizing for me and for himself that we loved and respected one another through it all.  I love you dad… PALS FOREVER! Day In Day Out!