Monday Musings ~ March 30, 2020

Seeing something like this first thing in the morning will wake you up real quick! Happy Monday. Here’s hoping you can keep the tigers at bay.

Monday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 27, 2020

NormanNorman wants to know, “Is that you, Friday?” Welcome to the last Friday of the month, Norman. What a month this one has been. Apart from our city and now state being fully shut down, the Ranch experienced a typical spring snowstorm last week. The dogs took a vote and have their paws crossed today’s forecast is not a repeat performance. The weatherman has assured them it won’t be (maybe an inch or two with rain), but Norman said he’s not walking in that wet dripping stuff no matter how many treats are in the magic pocket. Whatever happens today weatherwise, it won’t stop us from joining our fur-iends and hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard as we share a few looks around to see what nature offers.

For the most part, my garden is assorted shades of brown with tiny pops of color here and there. Last week’s 6-8 inches of white stuff was just the catalyst to give the garden a nice drink of water. Which means, the easiest ‘perennial’ to grow immediately, flowered. *Sigh*

Flowers

Around the Mile High, social distancing is the rule (though far too many are ignoring it-what is wrong with people?) but I noticed a few flower beds are  complying with the latest mandate like these daffodils and crocuses. For the most part still, yellow was the color of the day as shown in these images taken yesterday afternoon, with far more daffodils than anything else.

Flowers

Our afternoon walk did offer one pretty blast of pink at one of my favorite front gardens with this blooming Pasque Flower which started blooming a couple of days after the snow melted. It’s still a beauty even though it’s about finished.

Flowers

And because it’s my favorite color, how bout a tiny shot of blue from our front garden and one of the few things blooming in my garden?

Flowers

Ok, Norman, are you ready to go on your morning constitution now?

Woof, woof!!

Whatever you do this weekend, we hope you religiously practicing social distancing and washing your hands frequently. Here’s to a beautiful weekend.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Purple Day ~ March 26, 2020

EpilepsyToday is Purple Day,® a global grassroots event created to increase worldwide awareness of epilepsy and to dispel common myths and fears of this neurological disorder. Purple Day® attempts to reduce the social stigmas associated by the many individuals afflicted and provides assurance and advocacy to those living with epilepsy by letting them know that they are not alone. This day occurs annually every March 26 in honor of all epi-warriors, whether they are 2 or 4-legged. Once again, we proudly support this event by wearing purple. As you may know, Elsa, as a puppy mill survivor with unknown lineage, was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy shortly after she was rescued nearly 4 years ago (you can read her story here). Supporting epilepsy awareness and education is a no-brainer and I’m committed to learning as much as possible about this condition and how to effectively manage it while providing a safe and loving home for this pill of a dog. I can {knock on wood} report Elsa has been mostly seizure-free for almost two years through a combination of anti-seizure medication and organic, locally sourced CBD oil.

Elsa
You woke me up for this?

So on this year’s “Purple Day®“, we invite you to wear purple today. If you or anyone in your family are impacted by epilepsy, check out the Epilepsy Foundation’s website or check the “About” tab at PurpleDay.org website for valuable information.

Word Cloud

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Whoopee Wednesday

Apart from longer daily walks to pass the time these days (all the while adhering to appropriate social distancing which isn’t easy when you have a uber friendly dog begging to be pet by passersby), I’ve been working on several training sessions throughout the day while trying to figure out Stormin’ Norman’s personality. Turns out he’s more than a good sport on both counts. Maybe it’s my non-stop snickering that allows him to focus on me whenever I dress him up in hats and headgear. Then again, it’s more than likely he’s in it for the magic pocket of treats to showcase his easy-going and compliant nature.

NormanIn the face of doom and gloom, we think it’s more important than ever to elicit smiles on people’s faces. I do note that minimizing time on social media and keeping news programs to a minimum has likewise been effective and I wholeheartedly recommend it as a coping mechanism if you’re down. So for the time being, be prepared for occasional goofiness from me and the Ranch hands (though I suspect Elsa will be far less accommodating than Mr. Big). For now though, who among you is able to resist a fat-headed, furry Rainbow Unicorn?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ March 23, 2020

Saw this on one of our weekend walks following the arrival of a spring storm. In the face of self-quarantines, it made me smile. Hope you had a good weekend. Have you been able to keep your good humor during the epidemic?

Snowman

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 20, 2020

Today is Friday where we normally share some of the beauty nature provides. As always, we’re joining our buddies, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s edition.

Welcome Springtime…now go back from where you came. What…you say?!?! Are you nuts? Ok, granted it was just shy of 70ºF on Wednesday, the day before Spring arrived but then on the launch date, she decided to play some leprechaun trickery by saying, “umm yeah…not so fast, my cousin Winter isn’t quite ready to exit.” Is this Mother Nature’s idea of social distancing where she spaced it out Spring’s arrival by a few days following the actual St. Patrick’s Day? Sure the parades were cancelled but sheesh…come on!

Spring

On Tuesday I looked out in the garden and saw a nice swath of baby blue grape hyacinths. These guys always make me happy. Their arrival signals Spring’s pending arrival. For about a week now, a number of springtime bulbs began to wake up the otherwise brown landscape. Early-bird crocuses, daffodils and even a few tulips, have taken center stage in the urban landscape. This time of year with its extended hours of sunlight, we begin to shake off winter doldrums in favor of hope and renewal, the season otherwise known as Spring. Earlier this week was no exception. Who wouldn’t smile when seeing colorful bulbs?

Spring SpringThen nature apparently had a case of hiccups upon realizing it was the first day of Spring. What started out as a cold, slushy rain quickly turned into white stuff with strong, windy conditions.

Spring

The dogs were not happy on the morning walk. Stormin’ Norman absolutely refused to relieve himself, instead opting to give me the stink eye showing he was clearly not a fan of getting wet. The walk was cut short in the face of stubbornness wet conditions.

Norman

Remember that nice bright blue patch of grape hyacinths? Here’s an expanded view of how they looked as ‘spring arrived.’

Spring

So…how was your first day of Spring? Any plans to get out this weekend? How are you coping with cabin fever while trying to follow social distancing guidelines? Whatever you do, we hope you stay well and dry and enjoy a wonderful first weekend of Spring.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ March 16, 2020

On this St. Patrick’s Day Eve, the mood around most of the world is not very festive. Even Ireland has cancelled its St. Patrick’s Day parade. People everywhere are struggling with new norms, i.e. social distancing, self-quarantine, lack of paper products and fear is the emotion that is deeply rooted in our psyches. It’s estimated that as many as 30 million children will be staying at home due to school closures. Restaurants are closed, many local government offices are shuttered as well; churches have resorted to technology to provide comfort through technology and everyone seems to be standing in line waiting to pay for food or waiting to get a coronavirus test at pop-up locations.

Coronavirus

We get that. We here at the Ranch are trying to keep a healthy perspective on this disaster. While closures and shortages are inconvenient and unfamiliar to a society that is used to getting what it wants, when it wants it, we are trying to keep the mood light and spending quality time with the Ranch hands. Humans often use humor during serious times but acknowledge if you have been personally affected by this world-wide pandemic, it may not be that funny. We are not insensitive to that.

Hopefully the amazing online blogger community can make a difference to one another as we live through an unfathomable reality that is rife with uncertainty. Find out what services your community is offering in the form of assistance. Keep yourself grounded and don’t subscribe to or traffic in misinformation. Keep yourself informed. Don’t try to make hand sanitizer out of vodka. Keep as upbeat as you can.

Coronavirus

1. HANDS Wash them often
2. ELBOW Cough into it
3. FACE Don’t touch it
4. FEET Stay more than 3-ft. apart
5. FEEL sick? Stay home

Part of dealing with this health crisis is to stay as positive and well-informed as possible. We all check Dr. Google the moment something is amiss with ourselves or our pets and I encourage you to continue to keep yourself as well-informed as possible. But for the love of all that’s holy, please use a reliable source such as The World Health Organization, local news stations, the CDC (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html) or your own country’s health ministry rather than every hoax or myth that’s posted on social media. And if you need to share your concerns, reach out to the blogger community for support to get a fresh perspective on your situation. Having children home and under foot for the next who-knows-how-long may be stressful, but reach out to people to see how they are doing it. When you’re up to your eyeballs in alligators, sometimes it’s hard to see the forest for the trees sometimes, especially when you are faced with the kind of uncertainty and insecurity facing the world today.

So, how do you feel about this crisis? Has the coronavirus affected you and in what way? Leave a comment, let’s start a conversation. Remember we’re all in this together. And for Pete’s sake, please don’t become a hoarder-you’re just contributing to the problem. Besides, 500 rolls of toilet paper will not, I repeat, not keep you any safer than a 12-pack.

On a separate note, we were thrilled with all of your responses to last week’s “Meet the Breed” post and encourage each and every one of you to tell us about your good dog. Feel free to email photos and breed info to: tailsaroundtheranch@gmail.com. There’s no reason to feel like you need to own a purebred pet either. We’re big fans of Heinz 57 pups and want to hear about your amazing pet. Send your submissions by April 5 to be featured in the April edition. We’ll draw a submission from the received entries. If your entry isn’t chosen for April, we’ll feature you in a subsequent edition. The point is, we want everyone to feel a part of this amazing and inclusive community.

Stay safe, keep smiling and know we’re here for you. Oh and wash your hands. Frequently.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ March 9, 2020

OMD, Monday again? And an hour earlier on top of that? What the double dog heck? Yes, it’s that time of year again where we ‘spring forward’ and try to convince ourselves all is just groovy. The fact that it’s oh-dark-thirty in the morning gets fluffed over.

Hate to burst your bubble, Copernicus…but you still only get the same 24 hours a day. I know a lot of you like the time switch but I’m here to tell you you’re only fooling yourself if you think there’s an extra hour of sunlight. That said, those of you who like it, be my guest and enjoy. Those of us who think it’s the dumbest manipulation of time will grouse about it until our Circadian rhythms finally sync with the clock. Sometime in August if I’m lucky.

But enough of the ranting. Let’s move on to something different. Today we’re launching a new monthly feature, “Meet the Breed.” Elsa suggested it at our last editors’ meeting and the other half of the Old Couple, Brother Norman was on board once I asked him to introduce us to his tribe, the Old English Sheepdog. Take it away, Norman.

OES

Thanks, mum. As you probably know, I’m an Old English Sheepdog who arrived at the Ranch a little over a month ago after living in southwest Kansas. Mum may have fussed about DST but I’m quite ‘chuffed to the mitt’ about it because it means I can spend more awake time with my mum. Let’s just say I can get started earlier engaging in one of my favorite pastimes. Anyway, let’s take a look at my people.

OESWe are an affable bunch, us Sheepies. Some think we’re the canine comedians of the dog world. George Carlin aside, from where did we come?

Lush meadows, thatch-roofed cottages with wooded gorges from bonnie ole England are thought to be where we originated. ‘Course our origins are nearly as clouded as the mist-encircled, rugged valleys where we herded and/or drove sheep. Some historical paintings show sheepdogs being depicted as early as the late 1700’s but most breed authorities agree farmers in the counties of Devon, Somerset and the duchy of Cornwall in southwest England used a dog that resembled what we look like today. We weren’t bred for a specific purpose but were the result of a natural evolution of available breeding stock. Prized herding dogs were selected for breeding based on their ability to handle themselves well with the area’s rather rugged livestock that flourished in the craggy climate.

It’s been suggested we received the nickname Bobtail when farmers and the gentry devised a way to avoid paying taxes on us working blokes and docked our tails to prove the tax status. Drover dogs were exempt from being taxed due to their working status and tails were docked.There is some dispute with that notion however. Dogs with long tails tend to use them for balance and since we didn’t chase game, we didn’t need a long tail since there was no need for it when herding. Then again it could have been merely hygienic-there being less chance of ‘fouling’ the tail, if you get my drift. Bobtails are far more common in the US as England and Europe have generally abolished tail docking. Either way, with my handsome tube sock legs, who needs to draw attention to a useless tail? I can wiggle my bum with the best of ’em.

OES

No longer a breed for the wealthy or for farmers, us OES are big, furry, intelligent and even-tempered. We’re easily trained (but don’t tell my mum that; I rather enjoy all the treats she uses on training sessions and wouldn’t want them to be reduced). We are not an aggressive breed and typically get on well with other pets. We enjoy playful companionship. Playful being the operative word, Elsa. Just saying.

Sheepdogs are not for everyone though. If you’re not prepared to spend a fair amount of time brushing and grooming us, you should probably  choose a breed that doesn’t require as much time maintaining our woolly, profuse coats. We have hair (as opposed to fur) and as such do not ‘shed’ per se, but keep that full coat all year long (although hair does fall out so if you’re fussy about dust bunnies we may not be right for you). We adore people, especially the wee little ones and are often called the “Nanny” dog for good reason.

A couple of drawbacks to being owned by an OES owning a sheepdog is we tend to be a tad messy when it comes to drinking water (and we drink a LOT of water). Water collects in our beards so naturally that’s when we want to give you lots of attention, right after a good H2O quaff. Our manners aren’t quite as impeccable as our British heritage might suggest and we’ll always have stained beards unless you’re constantly grooming and cleaning us up.

We also tend to suffer from ‘unbridled’ enthusiasm. Remember, we’re not purse-sized dogs so we often bump into people’s legs because we’re natural herders and can easily knock over any unsteady uprights. In Britain when we say “mind the gap” it means look out where you’re going and that applies to us sheepies. We don’t mean anything nefarious by bumping into you, we are after all, herders. We’re jovial and have astute reckoning powers. You will not win many battle of wits with us sheepdogs because we’re terrific problem-solvers and get easily bored with rote exercises/routines. Because we’re natural athletes, we make great agility competitors. Just remember bored dogs can make life insufferable, no matter what the breed.

OESSince an OES can easily reach more than 80 lbs. (36 kg), we can take up a fair amount of real estate. We do not curl up into little balls, preferring to stretch out.

We sheepies have what’s referred to as a bark with a Pot-Casse ring, a particularly deep, booming (almost echoing) bark. Pot-Casse is French for “broken urn” or “cracked bell.” Which means our bark sounds like a couple of pots clanging together. It is the signature bark of sheepies so however you translate it, it’s going to be deafening. Mum says with my size, I should have a rich baritone voice but instead sound more like a puny tenor. Ha, ha, mum-you crack me up. Either way, she says it’s very loud at oh-dark o’clock when it’s the best way for waking her up.

Sheepdogs don’t like being separated from their family and can raise the dead with their barking. I think that’s what got me and my previous sister in trouble with the neighbors (Libby, the Weimaraner who still appears to be available for adoption here if you’re interested in rescuing her). She needs a loving family and I feel badly she hasn’t been adopted yet and hope she finds a home as nice as the one I found. Even with Elsa sometimes picking on me, I remain a proper British gentleman in spite of her shenanigans, my life is quite “tickety-boo” around the Ranch. A comfy sofa, tasty food/treats, multiple water bowls, frequent walks, a good “chin wag” with everyone I meet-how could it not be fab?

So “Bob’s your uncle” and now I’m kind of knackered after sharing all that info. I should probably go catch a few 💤 before dragging mum around the neighborhood again my next walk. Us sheepies are a lively bunch but we give loads of love. Hope you enjoyed meeting my breed.

If you’d like your breed featured, contact my mum in an email with a photo and some interesting facts. Elsa and I will pick next month’s next “Meet the Breed” post. Cheerio, mates.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 6, 2020

Tomorrow marks the two-week mark since beloved Sam left this mortal world. It’s been a painful time with lots of ups and down for both me and the dogs. Just as it seems like things are getting better, something will trigger a bout of tears and it feels like any progress made has been erased. While I realize this is all normal in the grief process, they are still upsetting.

Sam has come home now and I find myself staring at his remains for long periods of time, recalling past memories. Some are funny, some are more of the ‘I can’t believe you just did that’ and others are ones that make my heart swell with loving pride. It’s easy to go the full spectrum as I stare at the carved box.

Just before Sam came home, on one of our many walks during the mild spring-like weather, I happened to look down. Not sure if it was because it was the first sign of spring that caught my attention or the fact that there was a white feather next to it, but the one thing I was certain of was that it was a sign from Angel Sam reaching out. Tears formed in my eyes but then a smile appeared. The dogs and I stood there quietly for a few moments knowing our favorite Knucklehead had sent us a message. The dogs seemed to pick up the pace with joyous steps once we continued on the walk.

Sam, RIP

While I do not consider myself religious, I do think I’m pretty spiritual. Throughout the world, different cultures subscribe to slightly different explanations on what finding a white feather means. Yet, it seems the explanation is mostly consistent across the board. The symbolism of the white feather is generally thought of a sign of the presence of an angel. When you find one, it is thought that one of your angels just visited you within the physical realm and it’s an opportunity to say a prayer of thanks for their support.

It’s also thought that finding a white feather is a sign that a loved one is watching over you from the spirit realm. While that is certainly plausible, it can also be their desire to make contact with you. Either way, when you find a feather, you’ll likely feel a familiar energy, similar to the one we experienced. Finding a white feather is seen as a good omen and reminds us to stay strong, positive, and optimistic.

No matter whatever life throws at you, finding a white feather is viewed as a symbol that can provide a sense of comfort. And in this instance, it was as if Sam were leaning against my leg, wagging his tail and gazing deeply into my eyes like he often did when alive and there was great comfort in that moment.

While news this week has been heartbreaking and disturbing (our thoughts are with the folks of Tennessee and pray the situation surrounding the Corona-virus gets under control), we hope you seek and find comfort this weekend.

Please remember to ‘spring forward’ for Daylight Savings Time which arrives this weekend. We will be envious of those of you who live in Hawaii, parts of Arizona and Indiana who have the good sense not to go through this stupid time change.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Glue and Gratitude

More than a week has passed since my beloved Sam left this mortal world. We’re still in grief mode but are coming to grips with the harsh reality of life without our boy. The click, click, click of his dancing feet on the hardwood floors have been replaced by heavy footed Stormin’ Norman followed closely by the not-so delicate thumping of the Ninja’s paws. Who knew a Ninja would move about so loudly?

Sam was the subtle glue that sealed our pack together. I was never sure he fully comprehended that he was actually a dog and not some special hybrid kind of human with four feet. He taught Elsa how to be a dog and how to learn to trust peeps. Naturally she’s taken his loss particularly hard. Knowing Norman for only a month, the two brothers hadn’t bonded to quite the same level. Yet they all followed Sam’s lead. A doorbell ring demanded the canine security alarm system be activated. Passersby on walks required we stop for ear rubs, body leans, tail wags and a friendly hello. And the sound of crinkle packaging of any food meant cheese! It was the clarion call for sitting at my feet in front of the fridge in anticipation of a tasty treat being dispensed. Sam was my go-to muse for most of my posts. He was the obvious but quiet leader and the glue that kept us all functioning and now our daily happenings have us all walking out of step and out of rhythm. Our compass has disappeared and we are searching for a new evolutionary shift signaling a new ‘normal’ will be the benchmark. We will l get there with some time as new rituals are established.

That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t express my most heartfelt gratitude for all the calls, texts, emails, cards and comments from so many of you while we work through this evolutionary period. You have buoyed our spirits to such an extent and I want you all to know how much this has meant to me. Words however seem so inadequate but please know your loving support has meant so very much. From family members, neighbors, friends and you dear readers, you have all touched our hearts and I am ever so grateful for your kindness and support. You guys stepped in to fill in the gaps as the glue we need.

To my surprise this figurine appeared a couple of days ago without any card or note or attribution. I would love to acknowledge and thank the mystery benefactor so if it was you, please let me know; so that I may  thank you more personally. It’s a lovely piece from Joy of Giving and it truly touched my heart. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!

Sam's Angel

Live, love, bark! 🐾