Iowa Lakes Equestrian

At Overlook Farm


Taking a Q From Nature - Being attuned to our environment


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Relationships! - the cure to tough times

Posted by Greg Ervin, MS on February 10, 2013 at 3:40 PM Comments comments (45)

We lost Joey!

The beautiful dog, whose eyes were so full of life and happiness!

We lost Joey!

The dog, my wife Beth fondly shares with me, waited every evening propped on the arm of my favorite easy chair watching out the big bay window for the first glimpse of my pick up as I drove slowly down the farm lane returning from work.

We lost Joey!

The beautiful bundle of fur that greeted me with licks and love each night as I walked through the door.

We lost Joey!                                       We lost Joey!                                      We lost Joey!

I pause…  Loosing Joey really HURTS!

Thank you God for the many hours of enjoyment I shared with Joey and thanks also for the many ways Joey blessed Beth and my life at the farm!

Why are animals and especially pets so good for us in our lives?  Is it the way our pets demonstrate and express unconditional love? Or their steadfastness and trusted reliability of being creatures of habit, or their incredible display of patience, their ability to live simply while also loving so enormously?

I’m not sure, I am still learning!

The longer I live with our wonderful pets; they continue teaching me several important lessons.  Caring for animals and especially pets emboldens (inspires with courage) me to a higher standard of living through demanding I take more responsibility while I also develop more routine in my schedule. Also, I continue to learn and demonstrate more compassion and care through giving full attention to the needs of other beautiful living creatures. Simply said, my pets help me practice throughout each day, the looking beyond myself to the care of animals.  Surprisingly, in my efforts, I am continually rewarded with positive feelings of satisfaction; something I also enjoy experiencing when performing similar acts of love and nurturing with family and friends.

As I contemplate the pain in the loss of my beloved Joey, my attention turns to our newly rescued dog Moca who lived most of his life in a so called puppy mill, crammed in the corner of a small kennel or cage with his two siblings.

Now in his new home at Overlook Farm, Moca has a chance to live the more normal life as a housedog. Moca to this day is quite nervous living away from his kennel and sometimes shakes when held, preferring to spend much of his time sitting in one corner of our couch at the farm.  Luckily, with time, Moca is slowly adapting to our home life quite well.

With lots of holding, petting, lap-sitting, love, and human interaction, Moca continues his fight to become a more relaxed dog.  Our home and loving environment provides him the right mix to,in time, over come the fears that prevent him from knowing he is safe and loved.

In his book the Road Less Traveled, Scott Peck makes this insightful statement,“It is in this whole process of meeting and solving problems that life has its meaning… It is only because of problems that we grow mentally and spiritually…It is for this reason that wise people learn not to dread but actually welcome problems and to actually welcome the pain of problems.”

Moca’s fears of his newer and bigger world and my sadness and anger in the loss of my best pet friend Joey, are great concerns for both of us, but what a perfect storm for us to help one another! “Storms have a way of teaching what nothing else can ” is what John Ortberg writes in his book, If You Want To Walk On Water You’ve Got To Get Out Of The Boat.

I am grateful my wife Beth and I can provide Moca the love and stability he needs to experience a peaceful, joyful and happy life.

You know, as our daily lives become more complex, partly from our abilities of multitasking in this exciting electronic era, it is important for us to understand that love, safety and stability are not fleeting feelings or experiences we should take lightly. Because of our busyness, it is very easy to take the relationships we cherish for granted. In sharing my grief experiences with my wife Beth and Moca, it is in our relationship sharing we positively climb, eventually leading to experiencing many rich mountain top experiences along the way.

I am convinced, we as relatives and friends must consciously make time and take time to dust off or polish our relationships by developing a simple relationship dusting or polishing schedule or plan. We can dust off or polish our relationships through friendly emails of encouragement, cards of congratulations or thanks, posts of warm greetings on facebook, touching phone visits, or brief drop ins for quick catch ups to name a few simple but very welcomed ideas.

As humans, we are all too familiar with experiencing loss and disappointment and our busyness generally further hampers our abilities of feeling nurturing and loving.  Though, the lifting up of others during difficult times may seem impossible, in many ways, this may be the most important time to draw closer to loved ones and friends.  The important work in continual renewal of relationships may prove to profoundly impact your life and mine, and the lives of those we touch, and together we motivate and encourage one another through confidently navigating the back roads, finding proper safety in shelters from storms, and inspiring patience and ambition for climbing the beautiful and majestic mountains in our lives.

From Our Helping Others Series – Your Friends At Overlook Farm

Gregory M. Ervin MS, CCA
Executive Director


Seize the day! - getting the most out of every twenty-four hours

Posted by Greg Ervin, MS on August 17, 2012 at 10:10 PM Comments comments (0)

A beautiful summer morning! The sunshines and heavy dew from overnight glistens from each blade of grass, gently brushing yesterday’s dust from my boots as I walk through the farmyard ready to face a new day of opportunities and challenges.

As I climb into the pick-up truck to go to work, our farm’s dogs and horses greet me, as they do each morning and they’re consistently eager faces remind me today of the importance of living in the moment. You know, as I pause and think about this, our dogs and horses are always excited to see me. This inherent zest for life is contagious and animals are the very best for living in the moment.

Dr. Stanley Coren predicts that dog’s cognitive abilities are approximately that of three-year old children (Krantz, 2009). The dog, always happy to greet it’s owner, running from person to person with wagging tail, showing affection with no worries about the next minute, next hour, or next day. The dog truly finds wonderful joy in the moment, a similar display of out ward emotions seen in a young child. Biblically, Jesus often teaches us much about the importance of being like a child.

Because of the powerful loving bonding abilities dogs possess, a unique program has been designed for our military heroes. It provides special dogs to live with our wounded service men and women, helping our heroes overcome the obstacles of war, and giving them new hope. This new outlook gives them strength to face opportunities and challenges they will encounter every twenty-four hours after returning home from their tours overseas.

The Purple Heart Service Dog program helps our service men and women in many significant ways. As a therapeutic part of their treatment programs, soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome spend valuable time training retired racing Gray Hounds to become certified service dogs for their comrades who have been physically wounded in battle. These wonderful dogs are trained to perform multitudes of tasks including turning on and off lights, fetching, lifting and carrying objects, as well as becoming life long companions to the injured warriors. Living in the moment, these special dogs toil with an endless bounty of love and provide their trainers, and eventually their injured partners, with countless years of life-helping services.


As we contemplate the many positive outcomes of the work preformed by all involved with the Purple Heart Service Dog program, we to can enrich our own busy lives by looking for openings each day to be a blessing to others. Our daily routine may be shook or inconvenienced a bit, but stepping out to help others truly makes our world a better place. And we ask, how do we add more to our already busy day? We look to Sir William Osler, the founder of John Hopkins School of Medicine, who followed these words leading him to a life free from worry and filled with hope, possibilities and challenge; “Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand” (Carnegie, 1948.

Using a weekly or monthly goal or to-do list with updates on a daily basis is an effective method for organizing work and non-work related tasks. There is nothing more gratifying than scratching completed tasks and appointments from your list. Managing the list keeps important tasks clearly at hand and eliminates energy extended on nebulous tasks that lie dimly at a distance. Adopting this system of daily task management might be just what is needed to do more and as we find more time, we can develop into our routines the conscious habit of stepping out and helping others. The most exciting lessons soon learned from this experience is that as we perfect the more efficient use of our time and the positive use of our talents, we not only become a blessing for those around us but we surprisingly grow from the experiences and in turn help ourselves!

From Our Helping Others Series – Your Friends At Overlook Farm

Gregory M. Ervin MS, CCA
Executive Director

Links to various groups employing Purple Heart Service Dog Programs