Fighting Depression with Dogs

Spring is my favorite season of the year.  Spring is when beekeepers can get inside the hives and check on the bees.  The daffodils are blooming, and spring wildflowers are everywhere.  I make tea with dandelion blossoms, and I can eat my weight in hot cross buns.  Yet spring is not always a happy time for everyone.  I was shocked when I read that suicide rates spike in spring, not in the dreary winter as many people might guess.  Depression is an ever growing global problem that was made significantly worse during the pandemic.  A recent report from the Kaiser Family Foundation stated that 26.2% of Americans reported symptoms of depressive disorder over the last 12 months.  Clearly the need exists to develop strategies for managing depression.  As someone who struggles with periodic bouts of depression, I have spent significant time researching tools that can help manage this unwanted guest that periodically takes up residence in my brain.  One of my favorite coping strategies is dog ownership.  Canine companions can be really helpful in managing symptoms of depression.   

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The Arrival of Spring

“Have you been vaccinated yet?” I don’t recall a more frequently asked question since, “Do you know who shot JR?” I haven’t been vaccinated yet because it isn’t my turn. If Dolly Parton can donate $1,000,000 to develop a successful vaccine and still wait her turn, then so can I. Because I haven’t been vaccinated, I continue to avoid crowded spaces and stay mostly at home, which is why the arrival of spring is even more anticipated this year. The humans and the dogs in our house prefer to be in the yard more than inside the house. When the snow is on the ground, the dogs mope around the house and sigh deeply as if their lives are miserable.

Forte and Carmen get bored staying inside during the winter.

Every day in late winter I study the ground to see what has sprouted. The winter aconite is always first to bloom.

Honey bee foraging on winter aconite

On warm days I watch the bees go in and out of the hives. The ground still looks mostly brown and devoid of wild flowers. My flower beds have a few early crocuses, and the daffodils just started blooming. The bees are managing to find pollen, probably from maple trees, and are bringing it back to the hives. We lost one hive this winter. We don’t know why the bees died. They were alive the prior week. The bees may have frozen, but we are just guessing at this point. Bee autopsies are problematic to perform. For those keeping track at home that makes 5 out of 6 hives with bee colonies. Next month Doug plans to split the existing hives, so we should be able to grow our apiary this year.

Doug is building 2-frame hive boxes to start new colonies. We will know that spring has taken hold when Doug decides to shave the winter beard.
This bee has full pollen baskets and is coming back for more crocus pollen.
Daffodils bloom in all sorts of forgotten places and serve as living monuments to past people and events.

I have all my garden seeds this year and have already started some plants under grow lights. Radish seeds have been direct sown into the garden and have sprouted. I’m anxious for peas. We canibalized old fence panels for the pickets, which will be excellent supports for pea trellises.

Forte is always happy to drop his ball in the work zone.

Carmen is grateful that the ground has thawed and she can resume her excavation of mole tunnels. Carmen is teaching me not to be so focused on accomplishing spring tasks and to be more focused on enjoying the sunshine. Her favorite napping spot is beneath the willow tree. Every time I see her there I can expect to have the old folk song “Bury Me Beneath the Willow” in my head for the rest of the day.

Carmen prefers napping outdoors.

Hopefully the sun is shining where you are and you will have an opportunity to receive your vaccination soon. I would very much appreciate your input on what you would like me to write about next. Here are some of the posts I considered writing:

  1. Using Dogs and Gardens to Fight Depression
  2. How I Plan to Eat 40 Pumpkins in One Year
  3. Vegetable Academy Awards (aka – What I am planting in my garden this year)
  4. My Wash and Wear Dog – Carmen’s Story
  5. Splitting Bee Hives to Grow Your Apiary
  6. Why I Deleted Social Media Apps from My Phone

Finally, in case you didn’t know it already…….It was Kristin. Kristin shot JR.