It’s a Hard Knock Life

Hello everybody!!

It’s been a long time!! I’ve been busy running my new video production company (Vow Creative – http://www.vowtobecreative.com) so I apologize that I haven’t shared anything in a while. By the way, VOW Creative is actually an acronym for Vehicle of Wisdom, so I promise I haven’t forgotten about you!! πŸ™‚

I hope that this post finds you all well and that you’re staying healthy, safe, and sane during these strange times! I also wanted to share a video I recently finished from my dog’s perspective. It’s a parody of Jay-Z’s “Hard Knock Life”. For one, it’s a hard knock life for all of us right now as we try to navigate our shifting environment. And for two, who couldn’t use a little humor to help ease some of the stress? Am I right?!

Happy Hump Day to all – especially those who can’t hump πŸ˜‰

I hope this video makes your week a little brighter.

I think dog lovers, especially people familiar with the bully breeds, will appreciate the lyrics and visuals of this song. I’d love to hear what you think of it, so leave a comment below or shoot me an email!

Without further ado, here it is!

How Much Do You Love Me?

I recently rescued a puppy and as dogs always do, she’s teaching me a lot about life. Dogs have countless lessons to teach us and I’ve written on this subject before, but puppies, I’m finding out, have even more!

As a rescue, I’m unaware of what life was like for my puppy before coming to me. She has a lot of trust and anxiety issues, as many rescue dogs do. I have another dog, who has been with me since he was born, and the three of us have been in constant negotiation since the new puppy’s arrival. It seems with every new experience, the dogs are working amongst themselves to figure out who’s the boss. Whether it’s a bed, chew toy, food, or my attention. They’ve spent the greater part of our first few weeks together determining which one of them gets what, and when. The puppy will even try to play this game with me. She wants to know who’s boss.

It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Elizabeth Gilbert.

β€œThere are only two questions that human beings have ever fought over, all through history. ‘How much do you love me?’ And, ‘Who’s in charge?'” (Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat Pray Love)

Raising a rescue puppy, or any animal for that matter, is confirmation of this truth. At our most basic and animalistic level, it really all boils down to this.Β 

Patara Elephant Farm – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Yesterday, I visited the Patara Elephant Farm in Chiang Mai, Thailand (www.pataraelephantfarm.com). They’re a great organization that rescues and breeds elephants. The program I participated in is called Elephant Owner for a Day. No words can describe how incredible this day was for me but I’ve chosen to attempt anyhow.

Me taking a selfie with an elephant who smiled for the camera :)

Me taking a selfie with an elephant who smiled for the camera πŸ™‚

Upon arrival at the property, we were greeted by a baby elephant and his mother. For the first hour, the staff simply observed us in order to determine which elephant would be our best fit. Just like humans, elephants have very distinct personalities and therefore, it’s important for the staff to carefully match the elephant and his/her “owner” for the day.

Patara Elephant Farm
Patara Elephant Farm

The baby elephant was very playful and kept trying to wrestle with us. Though he be but small, he is STRONG.

The baby elephant was very playful and kept trying to wrestle with us. Though he be but small, he is STRONG. Mama is always close by.

After this initial period of observation and a quick debriefing on the elephants, it was time for the staff to reveal our matches. We sat in a circular hut as they went around one by one and told us who our elephant for the day would be. When they got to me, I was informed that I had been chosen as the best match for Booyin, the alpha male and leader of our herd. He was noticeably larger than the other elephants and one of the only ones in our group with tusks.

Booyin

Booyin

I must admit, upon first sight, I was intimidated by Booyin. “He is the dominant male of our herd and doesn’t like to be told what to do,” the staff warned. “…But don’t worry, you will be great with him. Just don’t be afraid because he will sense your fear and lose respect.” ……….”Okay, I can do this,” I tried to reassure myself.

Booyin and I meet for the first time.

Booyin and I meet for the first time.

Despite my initial hesitation, Booyin and I hit it off from the start. The other guests would come over to us and want their picture taken with him. I found myself feeling territorial as I stroked his side and reluctantly agreed. (Perhaps I had more in common with Booyin than I thought?;) I fed him bananas from a basket (he stole a bunch too), while patting his head and saying, “Deedee, Booyin.” Which means “Good boy, Booyin.” We took our time getting comfortable with one another. I suspect Booyin sensed my initial fear, but as soon as I began to warm up, so did he.

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Before long, it was time for us to begin our 45 minute hike through the jungle. In order to get onto his back, I commanded Booyin to bend down. He bowed with his front right leg bent. I stood on his calf as he raised me effortlessly and I used his ear to pull myself the rest of the way up. I sat on his neck, my legs firmly clutching just behind his ears. I had nothing to hold onto and was suddenly much higher off the ground than I expected. We began our trek.

Patara Elephant Farm

We hiked through the jungle, up steep hills and back down. Through winding bends, and near the edge of deep cliffs. At one point, when we were descending a particularly steep and rocky hill, Booyin began to jog. I bounced around his neck, fearful that at any moment I would fall. I squeezed my legs as tight as I could and commanded Booyin to slow down. But he was used to being the boss and gave little attention to my measly commands. Instead, he graciously pressed his large ears back, covering my legs, as if to say, “Don’t worry, I’ve got you.” I instantly felt much more secure. Not only was I holding onto Booyin, but now he was also holding onto me.

Patara elephant farm

Never mind his independent nature and somewhat naughty streak, I trusted Booyin and he could sense this. In return for my trust, he gave me his trust and made sure to treat me with gentleness and care. Our connection was amazing. I wish I could describe this experience better, but like all of life’s best moments, it simply can’t be captured.

Patara Elephant Farm

After 45 minutes of trekking through the jungle, I was relieved when we reached a water hole and Booyin jumped in. I slid off his back and began to splash him with water. I used a brush to comb the dirt off his legs and trunk, only to discover I would need to climb back on him in order to brush the dirt off his back. After his bath, we splashed around in the water together before heading to a nearby waterfall so that I could wash myself, too. And boy was I dirty. In fact, the dirt still remains under my finger and toenails. I had no idea spending a day with an elephant could be so dirty. When I got home last night, I scrubbed my hands and feet for over an hour and still wasn’t able to remove all the dirt. I did, however, gain a nice, large blister on my right thumb from trying. Regardless, the stubbornness of dirt and mud pales in comparison to the joy of bonding with an elephant like I did with Booyin.

Lovely Lunch by the waterfall

Lovely Lunch after swimming in the waterfall

Booyin stealing kisses (and food) from me during lunch.

Booyin stealing kisses (and food) from me during lunch.

If you are ever in Chaing Mai and have a chance to visit Patara Elephant farm, do yourself a favor and go. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Conversation with God – Psalm 5:3

It is written, “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice…” (Psalm 5:3) Thank you, little one, for coming back to me this morning. I am a proud father. Well pleased. The morning is my favorite time to sit with you, before your mind has begun and your day has yet started. My joy comes in the morning. By meeting with me now, you are able to take my joy as a gift and carry it with you throughout the day, using it to bless those around you.

When you look at Buddy (my dog), laying peacefully beside you, think of how much joy and warmth it brings to you. Now multiply that by one billion, and that is what it is like for me to see you resting peacefully in me.

Yet remember, I did not come to bring peace. But to save. So lean on me during all times and my peace will transcend your circumstances. I am your Rescuer. May you go in peace.

The Will to Survive

The primary factor in determining survival is will. Humans are so incredibly adaptable. You’d be astonished what kind of circumstances you can pull through, if only you have the will to do so…

save life