Happy Valentine’s Day, peeps. It’s been a long time since V-Day fell on a Friday but that’s not keeping us from celebrating Nature Friday with our furiends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s special Valentine’s edition of Nature Friday blog hop.
It was just one week ago I was cruising around the Western Caribbean. The biggest highlight was spending time on Isla Roatán, the largest of the Honduras’ Bay Islands, a 31-mile-long, 5-mile-wide swath of white sand and tropical forests 40 miles off the northern coast of Honduras that can tick all the boxes of visiting an island paradise. You want palm-fringed beaches? Check. Exotic animals? Check. Laid-back restaurants, tropical drinks, and freshly caught seafood? Got it! From the lively streets of the western end to the once pirate-infested coves of the beautiful eastern shores, Roatán offers a diverse array of things to see and do that will surely satisfy all your travel desires.
Roatán is known around the world for its scuba diving. The world’s second largest barrier reef (after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia) surrounds the island and is inhabited by schools of beautiful tropical fish, dolphins and snorkelers alike. When visiting Roatán you will see sea turtles, dolphins, and whales swim in that beautiful blue water.
My family and I took a land and sea tour that showed off some of the most amazing sites throughout the island. The water was the clearest I’ve seen in the Caribbean.
Lots of tropical fish abound. Just out of view in the image below, dolphins were swimming with snorkelers.
One of the most memorable experiences was an unexpected trip to a preserve where our group was entertained by Betty the sloth, Pinky and Coco, the capuchin monkeys and other local animals. The most thrilling part of this side trip was we were actually in many of the enclosures with the animals. I never realized how incredibly sweet sloths were.
A multi-cultural paradise with three distinct influences dominate the isle (Spanish, Caribbean and Black). Although poverty is still a big issue, Roatá’s people were warm, welcoming and ever so proud to share their beautiful island with visitors. It was a day not likely to be forgotten any time soon and I would definitely go back if given the opportunity.
The young fellow in the orange shirt (upper left in photo) was one of the most knowledgable tour guides I’ve ever used. Personable and articulate, Joshua enhanced our group’s experience of his island home. He was extremely good natured with this older group (consisting of mostly female cougars tourists from Colorado, Texas, Kentucky and a charming couple from England).
Meanwhile back on the Tundra, I am recovering from a nasty coughing bug I picked up on the trip home. Snow has fallen four of the past five days and hasn’t made recovery come any time soon, and the furry nurses have barely left my side except to take raucous romps in the snow. Ever have a furry nurse take your temperature 75 times a day?
We all hope you have a lovely Valentine’s Day with all of your loved ones and also are able to seize an opportunity to enjoy some of the amazing vistas Mother Nature offers.
Clearly Mother Nature isn’t the only thing that’s been a little crazy lately. After having enjoyed mid 80ºF temp’s for the past 11 days on vacation, seeing images from home while away after the rodent’s so-called spring prediction has been…ahem…interesting to say the least. According to one news story, it was warmer this past week in Antarctica than it was in New Mexico.
From Groundhog Day this sunset from the neighborhood. Lovely, right?
To earlier from last week.
The mobile forecast on Sunday continued the cycle and it’s supposed to snow again beginning later this afternoon. The forecast is short and not so sweet, snow, snow, with more snow.
As you may recall, I’ve been vacationing with my mom, sisters and nieces in the Caribbean, there was little to next to no WiFi that allowed staying connected much, but tried to visit everyone as much as the Internet gods would permit. Rest assured, a lack of comment did not mean I didn’t swing by to read your posts. Hope all has been well in your ‘backyard.’
Elsa seems to understand the whole Groundhog Day thing. As in…never, ever trust a rodent. Happy Monday.
Just when you thought the circus no longer came to town, I’m here to tell you it arrived safe and sound in Denver recently. A few days ago, opportunity scratched at the door, I answered and life as we knew it changed in one afternoon.
Last summer when I realized Sam’s days as a therapy dog were numbered, I contemplated finding a replacement therapy dog and have long thought a sheepdog might be wonderful hospital therapy dog. The affable “Nanny dog” makes a great companion and is well known for being sweet, especially around little people. But I also knew it might be a long while before one came through the OES Rescue Group of Colorado (a group I have long supported and worked with years ago). Sheepdogs aren’t a common breed around here, less so in rescue and I figured it could be quite a while before one might show up, let alone one who might be a suitable candidate for therapy work.
In December, a pair of dogs from Kansas City ended up in the Grey Ghost Rescue, a rescue dedicated to finding homes for Weimaraners. The pair were being surrendered by its owners following neighbor complaints for non-stop barking by the dogs. The female Weim and her OES brother had been kept in a 6 x 8 foot enclosure and expressed their high energy frustration through barking. Not wanting to leave the pair with any of the high kill shelters in the area, they contacted the Weim Rescue who said they’d take the female provided OES rescue would take the male.
With that agreement 7-year old “Norman” entered the OES rescue system. He was fostered with a transplant to Colorado who had spent decades in sheepdog rescue in Northern California, knew the breed well and currently had his own sheepdog (along with a couple of other dogs). As luck would have it, he was just down the road from my parents’ home in Pueblo West. I had only seen this grainy image on Facebook of a long legged, “tube socked” boy but decided to run down and see if he and the Ninja could get along while visiting my parents for a few hours.
Elsa was [surprisingly] on her best behavior and I left after bombarding asking lots of questions about “Norman” as to his background and exactly what kind of boy he was. The Foster Dad assured me Norman was a mellow boy (which was definitely demonstrated during our time together), very easy going, probably enjoyed KC style BBQ and never got on the furniture. Whoa, I thought, a sheepdog who doesn’t express an interest on getting on the furniture. What’s wrong with him?
Norman was vetted by the rescue’s vet as fit and heartworm negative. I left feeling pretty good about the adoption but wanted to take some time to ‘think about it.’ Driving home, all I could think of was about this big boy and how he might fit into the Ranch bunkhouse. The Foster Dad said he needed to make a trip out of town and was hoping I had decided on Norman’s future so he could make the necessary arrangements in case I wasn’t prepared to adopt him before he needed to leave. I had pretty much made up my mind by the next morning after meeting him and advised the rescue that I would love to be considered as Norman’s new dog huMom. One of the many things I have admired about the Colorado OES Rescue is their deep commitment placing each dog with the right family. I was informed a family adopted Norman earlier, had in fact been vetted, adopted him, then abruptly changed their mind after only a few days. The rescue director was incensed as she thought Norman had been through enough and wouldn’t have placed him with them if they were uncommitted. When I asked her if there were any other requirements on my part, she said no, having been previously vetted before and everything remained the same. She agreed to send the contract out for my signature for the formal commitment to adopt Norman. The next day, Foster Dad contacted me to see if Norman could be picked up either on the 23rd or the 28th as he was traveling to Colorado Springs on business (a halfway point). We agreed to meet on the 23rd.
Norman was picked up after I raced around securing a new bed, water and food bowls and a few other necessary items for his integration. I could see he was very bonded with the Foster Dad but hoped he would eventually grow to enjoy life at the Ranch with me and the Knuckleheads. I was once again assured he was a good traveler, didn’t get on the furniture and was as sweet as honey.
Having him here now for the past few days, I can wholeheartedly confirm Foster Dad’s assessment. Norman is beyond sweet, an easy going gentle giant. Mellow is a bit of an understatement with this boy, he’s as unflappable as any dog I’ve ever met, and any trepidation of whether he might be a suitable therapy dog evaporated. Norman is an enthusiastic eater, walks well on a leash and greets all he encounters with a big sheepie hello. If there was any shortcoming at all, it would be that this boy doesn’t realize just how much real estate he takes up, especially in a narrow galley style kitchen where he loves to park his 83+ lbs. in front of the refrigerator.
As for that whole furniture thing…you tell me. Not that I care mind you; I haven’t sat on the sofa for years.
Norman will begin training for pet therapy work in a few weeks once he’s fully settled in our routine and has fully adapted to his new surroundings. The Ninja is getting better with her interactions (there is a seriously enforced anti-bullying rule and she is improving with each passing day and seems to be enjoying walks with her new big brother). Sam is cool with the big guy and there seems to be a constant rotation of occupiers of the sofa. Remarkably, Norman senses when he needs to move slower when Sam goes on the longer walks while stepping up the pace on walks with just Elsa. I couldn’t be happier with this new addition and look forward to chauffeuring him to many hospital visits.
As I get older, I’m beginning to feel more and more like this.
We hope you had a marvy weekend with whatever you were able to accomplish. This will be a super busy week around the Ranch as I prepare to take several days off. That means my online presence may be limited but I’ll do my best to visit you all as time permits. Here’s to a great week!
It’s Friday and that means we’re once again joining our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s Nature Friday blog hop.
As you’ve heard me whinge about tell you countless times, scenes of nature around the Ranch in January are rather limited. Can you say brown, blech and blah? It’s been very dry even as it seems unseasonably warm for this time of year. Typically it’s bitter cold during the National Western Stock Show (which ends this weekend) but this year temperatures have been in the 40’s and 50’s F which is highly unusual. I’m not complaining mind you, but without some snow soon, things will be drier than a old dog bone.
You have to really search if you want to find signs of any color in January when the landscape tilts toward bleak.
Lately I’ve been on the prowl for any little sprouts making their way up to the surface for life sustaining Rocky Mountain sunshine. I squealed out loud when I happened upon what looks like a very early bird tulip. This poor little guy has no idea what may be in store for him down the road.
Not far away in another garden, there was a beautiful Helleborus niger, more commonly known as Christmas Rose. After seeing gobs of brown, this was such a welcomed sight. It give me hope all is not lost during the blah-er scenes of winter in the Mile High City’s January landscape.
Are there any signs of spring are happening around your neighborhood now? Do you have any big plans this weekend to check some of the beauty Mother Nature offers?
Today in the U.S. we are celebrating Martin Luther King day around the Ranch. A legal holiday, it was first celebrated in 1986, despite taking more than a decade before all 50 states adopted the holiday, it is marked every third Monday of January.
A soaring orator, Dr. King is known for many inspiring quotes. Here is one that seems even more appropriate in this day and age.
No celebration of the life of Martin Luther King is complete without revisiting the speech that defined his life. Only one of many transformative speeches, the “I Have A Dream” speech still gives me goosebumps whenever I hear it.
We hope that whatever you do today, you contemplate the words of this remarkable man and strive to perform some act of kindness or service.
As you might expect, yesterday was a very emotional and overwhelming day. So emotional in fact, I was unable respond to all of the touching comments and well wishes you left about Sam’s last day as a pet therapy dog. To say I was a basketcase as I read each of your sweet notes is more than an understatement. Please know I am ever so grateful for your support and kindness as we begin to write a new chapter in life as we learn how to cope with a new reality in the days ahead.
To say that Sam left it all on the field yesterday is an understatement. Not only did he see more patients at West Pines than we have ever visited with before, he was sweetly patient and attentive as loads of people showered him with loving praise. As usual, he had to sniff out all the go-cups of coffee (don’t know what it is about coffee-he wouldn’t drink it but loves sniffing at their cups), and performed his ‘licking his chops on command’ trick for everyone. It’s the only trick he has ever performed (it’s his belief that performance art is beneath him) and managed to visit with each and every person we encountered. Naturally he spent a extra moments with several people, all who clearly needed the love of a sweet dog sent to put a smile on their face and in their heart. And yes, there were some tears shed by more than one patient at this wonderful dog’s ability to read what people need.
As I tear up just writing this post, I can honestly say I’ve never been more proud of this silly Knucklehead. The staff was touched by him and more than a few tears fell at the thought it was Sam’s last visit. Because we’ve met so many wonderful, caring folks in the nearly seven years of visiting the hospital, I decided we’d also swing by the main hospital to bid our favorites a fond farewell. Once people realized it was our last visit, we were surrounded by folks (many who were new to us) to praise Sam’s efforts. This silly, sweet ‘Dogtor’ has chalked up 219 visits over the years, reaching out to hundreds if not thousands of people extolling the virtues of pet therapists everywhere. I didn’t check to see how many hours he’s logged, but I can guarantee it’s been loads.
As a final act of doing what this boy does best, we went to say goodbye to our friends in the hospital lab. When we arrived, there was quite the commotion going on in the waiting room. A baby was wailing his head off much to his mother’s chagrin. She was unsuccessful at comforting the little tyke but once he saw Sam he blinked through tears, babbled something I couldn’t decipher as Sam stopped dead in his tracks. There was one more person to comfort before saying goodbye. He walked up to the little guy who patted his back with chubby little hands. Then the little boy kissed Sam on his fluffy back and head. Repeatedly. Sam stood here relishing the attention and stuck his nose in the little boy’s face, as if to say, “there, there, little man…it’ll all be good. With tears dried up, the little boy began to smile and continued to simultaneously pat and kiss him as he tottered around Sam on wobbly legs. I nearly lost it at this point especially when people commented on how sweet the whole scene was.
Certainly that small chance encounter was emblematic of what we’ve experienced over the years but this one was an extra sweet experience and one that will remain in my heart for a long, long time.
We finished our goodbyes to those who had been ever so gracious and kind over the years with vows of staying in touch. As I sat in the car ready to head home, I had to spend several minutes composing myself. Once again, the hospital gave us more than we left. I am truly blessed to have experienced such camaraderie over the years to both me and to Dogtor Sam. What a community of people, those we visit and those who visit us, here as well in person. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of you following us, leaving such special comments over the years and supporting our efforts to make this world a bit better than we found it. Mere words of thanks don’t seem sufficient for all you’ve given us but please know I feel profoundly blessed and grateful for each and every one of you.
It’s West Pines Wednesday but today is different from all the ones we’ve done over the past several years. Today is Sam’s last day at a therapy dog. This day brings loads of mixed emotions as we always look forward to our time at Lutheran Medical Center and especially West Pines. Sam has repeatedly shown me how much of a difference he makes to all he meets and no doubt today will be the same which leaves me with a full heart of gratitude and pride. Still, it’s also a sad day knowing it is the last day he’ll be doing exactly what he does best. We will miss seeing the many friends we’ve made over the past seven years and the nurses who have showered this boy with loving affection and he in turn, returning the love with his soulful sweet spirit.
The time has come for Sam to sit back and relax in his old age. Though in good health, the rigors of being an all-in Dogtor ever willing to leave his heart on the floor is beginning to take its toll. Recovering after a shift takes much longer and while I know in my heart he would soldier on if asked, it became clear to me now is the right time to let him enjoy what time is left this for this 14+ year old boy. He can nap to his heart’s content, dance with his Ninja sister, play neighborhood concierge as he waits for that Social Security check to show up now that he’s retiring.
As you might expect, this will be a tough day for me and may take a while to process emotionally. I don’t plan to give up pet therapy entirely, in fact, I’ve actively begun searching for another pet who can step into Sam’s bandana and provide the same kind of canine care of a special kind to patients, staff and hospital visitors. We hope the process doesn’t take long but as I’m working with a rescue group, those kinds of special dogs don’t come around nearly as often as I’d like. We’ll keep you posted on that process and hope to share a few memorable stories that we haven’t yet shared about some of the more impactful visits Sam has had.