New Kid on the Block

The New Kid on the Block
© J.Maricevic, 2022

It’s tough to be the “New Kid on the Block.” But it’s much easier to be “the new kid,” to acclimate, get comfortable with new surroundings, manage new personalities, to feel included in what may, at first, seem like an impermeable pack, when someone reaches out a hand, or paw; a welcomed extension for all to see & emulate.

If you can put yourself in the “paws” of a puppy, a puppy attempting to navigate a new life, on a new street, with 14 other new doggos, from 10 different households, then you can empathize with the person to your left, and to your right. You can extend your hand, or paw, in an empathic gesture of kindness to the “new kid on the block.” You can dissolve those socially constructed barriers, and make that connection. Believe me, you can.

In this real-life scenario, and others like it, the human-animal relationship provides us humans with the necessary intra & interpersonal competency development to be better humans.

Furthermore, developing these social-emotional competencies, with the help of a furry friend, results in a transferable awareness to the way in which we interact with other humans.

So, next time, when you notice a “new kid,” on a new “block,” be an ally. Open your heart & mind to the benefits of getting to know someone, without passing judgment.

Think about that next time, when there’s a “new kid,” on a new “block,” will you choose to be an ally? Will you choose to open your heart and mind to the benefits of getting to know someone, without passing judgment? Will you think of the new puppy, on the new street?

Be the person who consciously considers life from someone else’s shoes, or paws. Be the one to welcome “the new kid on the block,” into your pack.

Actions Speak Louder Than…

Canine Courage, ©J. Maricevic, 2022

On any given day, for any given reason, the world can be a lonely, isolating place for a person navigating an internal challenge. And sometimes, those feelings are left to fester like an open sore to the person experiencing the emotions, emotions that may remain undetectable to the naked eye passing by (yes, there’s an allusion to Langston Hughes in this paragraph).

We all must be better to the stranger, the acquaintance, to those closest to us… we all must be better, for you never know of another person’s struggle…

And to be better requires courage, courage to be:

✨The individual to stand by the side of someone in the midst of a conflict…

✨The individual to stand up when bystanders appear to be oblivious to the reality of one’s struggle…

✨The individual to place assumptions aside and reach out to inquire about the well-being of another…

✨The one to say, “Sure, I’ll run alongside you!” without uttering a word…

✨The one to say, “You are not alone” without uttering a sound…

✨The one to take the kindness received, and pay it forward to another in need. #PayItForward…

Inspired by their collective canine courage, I share my artistic creation of Bravo supporting Daisy. Or is it Daisy supporting Bravo?

Is it really that important to distinguish which empathic set of paws is supporting the other? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, Bravo and Daisy know that they have each other, no matter what the tide may bring. That, in itself, is just as much a comfort for the doggos as it is for their human.

There’s much to learn from our four legged friends— beings that possess the undeniable courage to do the right thing, allowing their actions to ‘speak’ louder than their … bark.

Love.

Judge under the photograph, “Love On the Beach,” by local fine arts photographer, Peter Mendelson.

I happened to get up from the banquette during a Zoom doctoral class- needed a little pistachio snack, sustenance for all this writing.

Between the time it took to grab a few pistachios and my return, Judge wiggled under the table and positioned himself in perfect proximity- he patiently awaited my return.

My stealthy, determined friend, (who by the way, was trying all night to accomplish this very feat captured in this post), achieved his goal.

Who says, “No dogs on the banquette?” Well, I did.

Until, I didn’t.

I rely on Judge. I want and need him around. What’s to say that Judge doesn’t feel the same wants and needs sometimes? Actions speak louder than words, and for that very reason, Judge can hop-on-up, any time.

And yes, this goes for Daisy too. She just had better things to do, like thrust a clean pair of socks, rolled tight, up in the air and catch it about 100 times. Needless to say, those socks went back into the wash.

The Canine Compass

A chilly Sunday evening brings me to think of warmer days.

Yes, I’m grateful for the faint summer breeze that lingers in my memory. I’m equally grateful for the night’s crisp, fall air, and for the love I receive, no matter the season, from the beautiful being that is Judge.

Judge’s love realigned my trajectory, pointed me in the very direction that I started out on when surprised with my very first puppy. I was 4 years old when this furry-best friend entered my life. From that day forward, there’s always been a dog, or two, or three, by my side.

As I reflect, it comes as no surprise to learn that the comedic legend, Gilda Radner, once said, “I think dogs are the most amazing creatures. They give unconditional love. For me they are the role model for being alive.”

From age 4, to this very moment, dogs have taught me how to love, to help, to be silly, to make mistakes, to listen, to comfort… how to be fierce in the name of justice, to stand in stoic support of the weary, to do what’s right…

Ah, there were never more truer words stated than those of Gilda Radner. Forever grateful that I, too, can attest to the validity of Radner’s perspective, all because of the unconditional love I received from my canine companions of yesterday, and from the unconditional love I continue to receive from my canine compass of today.

Variations on ‘Brad’- Pop Art Meets Human-Animal Relationships

Pop Art, meet Human-Animal Relationships.

Variations on ‘Brad’ © J. Maricevic, 2021

Let’s be honest, dogs know everything. Whether we verbally tell them our thoughts, or they feel our energy, or the energy of a situation; dogs know.

And it was that all-knowing, canine superpower that inspired my original, Roy Lichtenstein-esque, digital representation of the human-animal bond. For those unfamiliar with Lichtenstein’s artistic style, he incorporated the name “Brad” in some of his Pop Art creations. It is important to note that Lichtenstein never referred to this “Brad” with a positive connotation.

For my piece, I emulated Lichtenstein’s use of the name, “Brad,” with the intentions of having “Brad” be any ‘one,’ or any ‘thing,’ that impacts an individual’s physical and/or emotional welfare and security.  

Wait, what about that canine cognition connection?

I know, from personal experience, that an individual’s physical and mental strength is restored, and their emotional fortitude reinvigorated, by the unconditional love from their four-legged friend. Dogs have the ability to identify when a “Brad” is lurking in the crevices of their person’s mind, or in the shadows of real-life, and dogs know when, and how, to intervene. The selfless-love of the all-knowing, canine companion, reaffirms a human’s sense of self, and in turn, sends the message to “Brad,” that this human, their human, is strong, confident, and supported.

So, “Beware, ‘Brad’,” for nothing can deter the empowered, especially when a dog is right by their side.