Monday Musings ~ Fall Festival Recap

Greetings and happy Monday. Norman and some of his fellow pet therapy friends participated at this year’s Halloween Fall Festival over the weekend. This hunk continues to impress me with his calm nature, especially at an event with loads of sugared-up kiddos, absent minded adults not watching where they’re stepping and a loud entertainment system blasting hip-hop music. Still, a good time was had by one and all. Here are some photos from the event.

Norman continues to impress me around little kids. Many of them are understandably wary of this ‘Joker’ because of his size. But he was patient and calm, especially around the smallest ones and managed to drew crowds of both big and little peeps. Norman was only too happy to serve up kisses.

Norman

This smiling Princess was initially hesitant to pet Norman but then she realized he was soft and sweet. Soon she was very happy meeting Norman and he loved the attention he received.

Norman

There were a number of non pet therapy pups in attendance and this miniature Dachshund named Amelia was in dog heaven greeting them all with one of the fastest tail wags I’ve ever seen. She was very smitten with Norman despite the size differential. Norman and I tried to recruit her for the program because she was such a sweetie and just loved everyone.

Dogs  Norman was thrilled to see his little pal, Bindee, who charmed the pants off young and old alike in her pumpkin costume. She didn’t seem to mind posing with this ‘Joker.’

Norman

There were loads of games and activities for kids to enjoy and a variety of good hearted hospital staff to greet them as well, along with a nice photo booth for family photos.

Halloween

“Little Bo Peep” (and fellow pet therapist) Dawn was voted best huMom by all the pet therapy dogs for sharing bites of hot dog with the gang. Pictured with Norman are Logan, an agility champion (dressed as “Mardi Growls”) and her Dolly posing as a lost lamb, as Dawn shared bites for the gang. As a dog trainer she knew just how to enlist their attention and even though they are all professionals, events like this can be somewhat overwhelming.

Halloween

Norman will be back at hospital today for visits with nurses and patients. He will post more photos from the weekend event tomorrow. We hope these costumed therapy dogs brought you a smile to start out your week.

Halloween

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 22, 2021

Nature Friday

Welcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we observe some of the wonder in Nature. As always, we’re joining Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.

We walk past these pretty cool plants all the time and I’ve always wondered what they were. They’re especially perfect being planted in that useless area between the street and sidewalk. I finally figured out they are known as Datura, a plant originally from South America (Datura are related to Brugmansia which looks similar but whose flowers droop downward while Datura blooms always bloom upward). These plants are best known for their bold trumpet shaped flowers and rapid growth. Despite considered a short-lived herbaceous perennial, their self seeding habit assures continually new plants.

Flowers

Reaching a height up to 4 feet (1 m.) tall, the blooms are fragrant especially at night and make a striking appearance in any moon garden. The flowers are generally white but edged in purple. The flowers are quite large, with soft stems with lobed leaves which have a grayish, green tinge to them and are slightly furred. The prickly looking pod ensures they’ll be back year after year. The seeds inside these pods look similar to tomato seeds but be kept away from pets and small people as these plants are toxic.

Flowers

They make such a beautiful statement in the garden and their fragrance is divine.

Flowers
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Horticulture

On yesterday’s walk, we took a different route to spice things up and boy am I glad. While many things in the urban landscape are winding down at the end of a long, dry summer, and looking rather dull, image my joy at seeing this reblooming bearded iris along our walk. They are such an appreciated addition to any garden.

Flowers
Reblooming Bearded Iris

Always welcome in the spring, it brings even greater joy in autumn when it blooms a second time.

We’re poised for a great weekend with mild temps in the 303. For the last few days of October, I’ll take it. Norman is ‘pawticipating’ in the hospital’s annual Halloween Fall Festival with pet therapy parade tomorrow and hope there’ll be some fun photos to share next week. We hope you have a ‘pawsome’ weekend and enjoy the amazing elements of Nature.

Halloween

Live, love, bark 🐾

Wordless Wednesday ~ October 20, 2021

Hummingbird

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ October 18, 2021

Halloween

Well, at least she didn’t get Snoopy. Happy Monday!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 15, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we take a look around our urban neighborhood to see what Nature has served up. As always, we’re joining Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.

Leaves changing colors continues to be hit or miss. One tree will show color while the tree right next to it steadfastly holds on to the green. It’s one of the oddest autumns I’ve ever seen. Earlier in the week, mild warm days graced the Mile High which allowed for extended walks around the ‘Hood.

Trees

So let’s check out this week’s most interesting plant discovered on one of our afternoon walks. I’ve seen these eye-catching plants around before but never knew what they were called until I did some further investigating. Castor bean plants (Ricinus ommunis) are often planted for their striking foliage. Originally native to Ethiopia, the plants are now cultivated throughout the world. Caster bean seeds have been found as far back at 4,000 years ago in ancient Egyptian tombs. The oil obtained from the plant was used to light lamp wicks and is still cultivated as a natural laxative or massage oil. With it’s extremely high fatty acid content, it can be useful for treating dry skin. Caution should be exercised however when planting these striking plants around small children and pets, as the seed pods are extremely poisonous. After looking it up, I was grateful I didn’t touch those seed pods. {shudder}

Castor Beans

Castor bean

Yesterday Mother Nature decided to do a runner and skip town with temperatures plummeting and snow falling in some metro areas (though not in my neighborhood). The nearby mountain ski area, Arapahoe Basin received 14″ of white stuff and will officially open one lift this weekend, bringing a collective hear-hear from Front Range hardcore skiers.

Here in the city, a light freeze from a few showers left a hint of frozen water in the solar bird bath last night but warmer temps will return by Sunday (forecast calls for 75ºF/23ºC). Colorado’s yo-yo weather remains intact.

First Freeze

While I don’t mind temperature changes since Nature has been more than generous with warm temps thus far, it will take some time getting used to juggling two leashes with poop bags while wearing gloves. The dogs seem to not only enjoy the crispness in the air but also the inability of my easily adapting to manage yet one more thing in hand on morning constitutions. Elsa in particular finds these are her best squirrel hunting moments and seems to relish turning me into a kite at the drop of a hat. Stay turned, no doubt there’ll be a good story about me landing on my back side while the dogs enjoy seeing me trying to ‘master’ the art of prestidigitation.

Any plans to get out into Nature this weekend? Whatever you do, we hope you have a ‘pawsome’ outing.

Live, love, bark!🐾

Wordless Wednesday ~ October 13, 2021

Totem poles

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ October 11, 2021

Smiles

Here’s hoping all your social media this week is likeable and makes you smile. 👍🏻

Live, love, bark!🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 8, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to Friday where we take a look around an urban neighborhood to see what Nature has offered. We’re joining Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard who host this weekly blog hop. If you click on their link you’ll see what others have shared.

Before we share this week’s nature sights, I want to thank everyone for your gentle and kind comments yesterday on Sam’s Sweet Sixteenth birthday. I greatly appreciate your warm, tender support. It means the world to me knowing that Sam touched your life.

So let’s get started looking at this week’s scenes. Autumn is definitely in the air even if it isn’t showing up with colorful leaves although a few more are starting to change. Finally. When you live in Colorado you’re spoiled with beautiful bluebird hued skies and shockingly gold leaves on aspen trees and brown just doesn’t cut it. It’s true we generally don’t have a lot of the bright oranges and reds you’d see on East Coast trees, but the contrast is still breathtaking.

That said, we did see some unusual autumn sights around the ‘Hood. As we begin to prepare the garden for winter, we’re seeing fewer butterflies but a  lot more evidence of spiders. This spider web caught my eye after a brief morning watering. The glistening drops on the web in the early morning light really captivated my interest. I watched for several minutes to see if some cheesed off spider was scurrying around trying to dry off and felt a bit badly that some industrious arachnid had received a cold shower early in the morning. While I’m a bit afraid of spiders, I welcome them in the garden (inside the house…not so much).

Nature

One of my neighbors has a Golden Raintree (Koelreuteria paniculata) in his front yard which always captivates my eye. It looks unusually parched this year no doubt given to the drought-like conditions we’ve all endured. Still, when a breeze is evident, the lantern-like pods shimmy and shake like a Vegas chorus line.

So what’s the story about this unusual looking tree? It’s one of few trees that have yellow blooms which cascade all over the canopy in midsummer. Once seed pods begin to form in late summer, they usually turn orange and resemble little lanterns. These more brown-than-orange colored pods still provide visual interest. A moderately sized tree, Golden Raintree is quite hardy, standing up well to heat, harsh climate conditions and city pollution which proves that it won the trifecta. They are hardy in Growing Zones 5-9, and tolerate temps to -10ºF below zero (-23ºC).

After showering the garden with one of the season’s last waterings, I ran into this Aragog look-alike a couple of mornings ago. Although the photo appears fairly light, it was actually taken shortly after sunrise and needed to be highly edited. A motion detector in one of the forelegs lights the eyes up and startled the living daylights out of me as I came round the fence. Even the dogs paused and proceeded to cautiously investigate. Me…I stayed as far away as possible from that thing! Guess I need to be far more considerate when watering around spider webs. Hopefully there’s a strong padlock on the storage shed that will likely house this giant in the ‘off-season.’ I’d hate to have him chase me down for inadvertently evicting one of his cousins.

Whatever you do this weekend, get out and enjoy Nature. But watch out for Arachnids.🕷

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Happy Birthday to an Angel

Wash Park Sam
Handsome boy at Wash Park

On this date in 2005,  a reddish-blonde knucklehead entered the world. Officially christened “Brians Yosemite Sam” with the American Kennel Club, he was simply known as “Sam” to his owners. For you newer readers, Sam was the inspiration behind this blog.

For years, Sam was a proverbial pogo stick. Bouncing straight up and down to express excitement with life, he bounced straight into my heart. Sam was the most unfocused dog I’d ever met, long after his puppy years. Most dogs grow out of that puppy exuberance, but Sam didn’t seem to recognize it was the natural progression of acting more dignified as he aged and was actually normal. When I brought him home, he quickly burrowed deep into my soul and made his second best friend my Old English Sheepdog, Puck. For his entire life, he adored her and even after she passed, he  would always do double takes whenever we encountered one, thinking it was his long lost pal.

In 2015, Sam graciously and lovingly welcomed a very feral Ninja. He seemed to realize Elsa needed extra gentle loving and slowly earned her trust. Though never great pals like he was with Puck, he patiently and selflessly taught her how to be a dog instead of a shut down puppy-mill survivor.

Despite his buoyant personality or maybe because of it, it was hard not to just love on this goofball.  I just needed to find out what his job in life should be, beyond being an absolute treasure of a companion.

It was clear early on that Sam had a special knack for bringing joy and smiles to all he met. He was the neighborhood concierge, greeting every two and four legged inhabitant walking past the yard with an infectiously charming personality. Everyone loved him and he made them all feel special. It seemed only natural to share his gift with others and thus began the process of training for pet therapy work. For weeks I was convinced he would fail since he just couldn’t seem to stay focused on even simple tasks. Sam’s mantra in life was “oooh, a kitten…look a butterfly…ahh…shiny object!!” More than once I nearly abandoned the notion of getting through classes. When the time came for the test, not only did he perform flawlessly, he outshined all his classmates. I was stunned but ever so grateful to be able to share his gift of love with others.

We began visiting patients and in no time, Sam became a beloved rock star at hospital but especially with mental health patients. He would calmly allow them to hug him (which most dogs would not appreciate) and patiently waited while they petted him. His crush on all nurses was legendary and he often had eight or more surrounding him, oohing and ahhing over those soulful brown eyes, soft fur and Swiffer-like tail that was constantly in hyper-motion whenever people were around him.

Sam brought such joy and happiness to everyone at pet therapy but especially to me. While I have Norman to carry on in Sam’s pawprints at hospital and the Ninja to remind me that “still waters run deep,” Sam will always hold an extra special place in my heart.

Sam birthdayOn his Sweet Sixteenth birthday, I send my very best birthday wishes to my heart dog. Happy birthday, Knucklehead. I miss you every. single. day. You’ll always be in my heart and soul. Love and miss ya, buddy!

Angel Sam

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Mo(a)nday Musings

Smiles

Well, I’d only want another Sunday if the Broncos weren’t playing. Boy did they stink it up yesterday. They’re becoming the Miami Dolphins of the West! How’d your team do? Here’s to a good week, no matter how your team played.

Live, love, bark! 🐾