Hank’s Guide to Self Love

The Hank Chronicles is a Bottle Magazine series in which we attempt to deconstruct the intricacies of the Trump Era through the lens of a mother and her chocolate Labrador. You can read the previous posts here.


In keeping with the theme of Mental Health Awareness Month, I think it would be appropriate to share some observations I have made regarding the importance of self-care and how Hank never misses a chance for some self love.

How amazing would it be to walk down the street with full confidence in the FACT that every single person you meet recognizes the good in you, loves you unconditionally and thinks you are a unique gift to all humanity? Every time the doorbell rings, it’s for you. When the alarm clock buzzes, it’s for you. When the garage door opens, it’s for you. When the refrigerator door opens, food falls out…for you.

He’s thirsty? He drinks. He’s tired? He naps. He has an itch? He scratches. He smells something awesome? He sniffs. He’s hungry? He eats. He senses some obscure danger that may or may not be there? He barks.

Obviously human folks can’t always do this. Instant gratification is not necessarily practical or attractive. We have social norms and boundaries that are necessary for getting along in society. We have to fit inside the box, right?

Next time you are at your pharmacy, look at the WALL OF MEDICATIONS waiting there for people to pick up. Last time I was picking up my Xanax to prepare for a flight, it struck me how difficult society has made our lives. We are expected to do so much more with so much less. The impossible requirements for success are becoming ridiculous. We need anti-hypertensives, anti-depressants, pills for anxiety, pills for sleeping, pills for ADHD, pills for weight loss. You must fit in that box, because that might be the most important thing and the box is getting smaller. Happiness is tricky! Is there a secret?

You know how to make Hank happy? Throw an empty plastic water bottle his direction. That sucker is TOAST. Hank is simply struck by the unimaginable gift that has been bestowed upon him. Grateful and entertained for hours to come.

Hank is laying down at my feet right now. It is 9:48 in the morning. He is not tired. He is simply here, in the moment, being my companion. He isn’t worried that it’s Sunday and he has so much to do to get ready for his work week. I’m pretty sure he isn’t thinking about how he wished he hadn’t sniffed at our house guest’s crotch quite so enthusiastically last night. He’d do it again in a heartbeat. I don’t think he is worried that he might be a few pounds overweight and that his hair looks terrible today. Hank doesn’t seem to compare himself to other dogs. He doesn’t seem particularly enamored by success or afraid of failure. He is completely fantastic. Ask anyone.

I think we can all learn a lesson from Hank in the area of self love. We need to take a collective chill pill (figuratively speaking – not an actual pill) and rest in the knowledge that we are amazing creatures, just the way we are. We are lovable, beautiful, great smelling, worthy humans.


Tori is the mother of three grown children who lead impactful, engaged, and interesting lives. Her career of 30+ years as a nurse has been consumed by working exclusively with women and children. When she isn’t working, you can find her hiking in the mountains behind her home or taking long, chaotic walks with her new baby, Hank, a chocolate lab and co-author of this column. If you ever meet Tori, you can count on her having dog treats and a blue poop bag in her pocket.

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