Monthly Archives: December 2014

When did my dog turn into a wuss?

So yesterday was the coldest day of Winter so far and I arrived home to discover there was no power! Are you freaking kidding me, Xcel??? A quick glance across the street however showed Christmas lights a-blazing at the neighbor’s house. Ugh.

For some reason my little block seems to get hit by the evil power fairies periodically. Normally this isn’t a problem but like I said, it was the coldest night of the season and it was expected to snow all night long. And while candlelight is kind of groovy in a romantic sort of way when there is electricity, it does nothing for a tired person who just wants to come home to play with the dog, make a nice hot dinner, and catch a couple episodes from the recent Breaking Bad marathon, and not have to eat a PBJ or nosh on a few dry crackers in the dark. When I called Xcel to report the outage and get a sense about when the power would be back up, they said, oh yeah, we know all about it and we’re hoping everything will be back to normal by 9:22 (yup, they were that exact on the timing) but if I had any other concerns or issues, I should ‘go online to report them.’ It was 6:10. Hell-loo people?? I DON’T HAVE ANY FREAKING POWER, YOU MORONS!!! How am I supposed to go online? Does anyone know when companies will begin to understand the concept of optics and how stupid they can appear to their customers sometimes?

One problem with the power going out is that every electric clock in the house has to be reset not to mention a complete reboot for the satellite dish.  Power outages also seem to play havoc with one certain smoke alarm (for some unknown reason) and it was in overdrive chirping its displeasure at the power cut. I had no idea when that bad boy started chirping away but Sam was nearly beside himself when I unlocked the door. When I first got him nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing fazed him. Now it seems that chirping alarms completely wig him out. And there are a few other things that I’ve noticed in the past year or so as well that also tend to freak him out, but the smoke alarms are ginormous in his mind.

020 Trust me when I say there’s nothing like trying to comfort a 60 lb. hound who’s scared out of his wits and trying desperately to either climb into your lap or get as close to you as possible while you try your hardest to keep him from stroking out. I’ve had dogs in the past that didn’t do well with thunderstorms or fireworks, but Sam always seemed immune to them, until recently. Loud noises are starting to become problematic and that annoying chirping sound ranks right up there on the Top-10 wig-out list. Sam was drooling all over, pacing around like a caged tiger, panting like crazy and generally being uber-stressed. Once I got him calmed down (or so I thought), we snuggled together for body heat and comfort and waited till the power went back on. Tick, tick, tick. Ever notice when the power goes out how time crawls ever so slowly? Yeah, super s-l-o-w-l-y.

Eventually the power was restored but Sam’s affable demeanor sure wasn’t. Every ten minutes or so, he wanted to go back outside and check the “pee-mail” or whatever until the smoke alarm reset its quiet self. Did I mention it was the coldest night of Winter? While going potty when it’s needed isn’t a problem (even when it’s inconveniently cold), I sure as hell don’t want to stand outside shivering while he breathes deeply and gets his calm juju back on! He woke me up at midnight, at 1 AM, at 3:22 AM, and again at 5:12 AM. Bastard. By 5:12 I was ready to get up but certainly wasn’t prepared to again stand out in the sub-zero temps so he could survey the length of the alley and take extra time sniffing every nook and cranny. He was still so stressed out he didn’t even eat breakfast.

By the time we went for our morning constitutional an hour later, he was all gung-ho frisky as if he were running the Iditarod (BTW, did you know that back in the 1988 Iditarod, musher John Suter entered the race with a team of standard European poodles but rules were passed thereafter allowing only northern breeds like Siberian huskies and Alaskan malamutes to race. Seems many of the poodles were dropped off at checkpoints due to frozen feet and hair-matting problems–boy can I relate to that-Sam has to wear boots in the snow). But enough digression…back to the wussy dog.

Keeping Sam corralled so I didn’t break anything on icy sidewalks wasn’t easy but maintaining the quick pace kind of helped keep me slightly warm. After an abbreviated romp, he was finally calm enough to eat and take a big dog stretch and give me that “Hey, I’m going back to bed look.” I, on the other hand needed to re-shovel the night’s snow accumulation and then drag my sorry butt to work. I know he’s gonna sleep 98% of the day, and as payback maybe I should tickle the hairs between his toes tonight. Just thinking out loud here-but who am I kidding, I’m going to bed early! 😉

So bottom line question is when did this strapping, devil-may-care, athletic dog suddenly become a wuss when it comes to noises? Has your pooch’s behavior changed recently?

There’s a New Year on the way and the pawsibilities are endless! Live, Love, Bark <3

Transitions and Treasures

Christmas 2014 is now in the history books but was quite epic for me this year. On the one hand, it is a time of major transition that will take some adjustment. Both my children and their families have moved to distant parts of the country so this was the first time ever there were no kiddos around to enjoy Christmas morning (to be fair, my oldest brother spent Christmas with me and my parents and he’s still acts like a kid sometimes, albeit one who is now retired). Still, the celebration was one that was amazing. Christmas day is my Mom’s birthday and I always try to spend the day with her. This year work gifted us an extra day off (pinch me–that still blows me away) which allowed for a few days to spend out-of-town at Mom and Dad’s. And while it was eerily quiet and definitely NOT the hallmark of past family get togethers (due to sheer numbers, not drama), it was decidedly very different without the kidlets.

Christmas is tailor-made for little kids, their excitement, their energy…it’s the perfect recipe for experiencing the joy and fun of Christmas. Not having any little kids around this year left me completely out of step, off-balance even, though I did enjoy the time spent with my parents and yes, even my adolescent-like brother. We talked, laughed and ate/drank but it was clearly different and weirdly odd from past Christmases when the house is full of noise and activity.

Yet it appears that Santa reads this blog because he sent these two incredible treasures.

Santa to the rescue!

‘Colorado Santa’ gifted me a vintage and exquisite genuine alligator handbag which was from my much beloved grandmother in Germany. This bag is probably over 60 years old and is so beautifully made; it’s almost a work of art and one that I’m almost afraid to use (but definitely WILL!). It will be one amazing accessory for sure but more importantly it will be an absolute treasure in my heart/soul and one that will always make me always smile at its history. It  will (a) remind me of two very special family members and (b) remind me of my German heritage. Every time I’ll look at it, memories full of love and gratitude will be triggered about two very special family members. <3

‘Hawaiian Santa’ (and newly appointed manager of Martin & MacAurthur in Kona 🙂 and who also happened to be the same benefactor of the once beloved Goldpfeil wallet brutally eviscerated by one damn standard poodle who shall remain nameless!) gifted the gorgeous wallet with Koa wood monogram. It is beyond gorgeous and unfortunately the photo does neither piece any justice. If you don’t know about Koa wood, check out M&M’s website ( – their stuff is fabulous and gorgeous.

Both gifts absolutely took my breath away, will be forever adored and will make my heart sing whenever I look at them. Of course I love them–they are both truly exquisite (I mean, what’s not to love–they are both gorgeous), but I’m in love with the heartfelt memories they will generate especially at a time when I was feeling off kilter and out of sync. Should Sam begin to cast even a tiny glance toward either of them, he shall be flogged like the red-headed step child that he is! Seriously though, when not being used, they will both be under lock and key behind closed doors and kept well away from that dimwit!

Oceans of gratitude and love to both ‘Santas.’ I hope they know how much their gifts meant to me and how incredibly grateful I am for their thoughtfulness. You guys are truly the best!

What made your Christmas wonderful? Was it different from past Christmases? <3

Fleas Navidog!

From our our house to yours, wishing you a very Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas

May it be furry and bright! Fleas Navidog! 🎄

“Oh, Father…the shame of it all”

Do you remember those brilliant Looney Tunes cartoons featuring Sylvester J. Pussycat Sr. and his son, Sylvester Jr. who would say  “Oh father, the shame of it all” whenever Sr. did something embarrassing or humiliating in the eyes of Jr.? I’ve always loved those cartoons and would use that same expression when recalling some of the things my kids would do as they were growing up and which totally would embarrass me. You know the kind,  those cringe-worthy moments especially around the holidays that make you want to run and hide until February and not face those not often seen relatives after some ‘little’ person made some astute observation you wished they hadn’t?

I could tell stories about my kids as they grew up but since they are now adults suffice to say like all kids, they managed on occasion to make me want to become invisible with some of their life observations. You know exactly what I’m talking about…one of those ‘kids say the darndest things’ moments when you absolutely needed them to be on their best behavior, but no, instead what you get is…BAM, the sweet innocence of childhood spurting out of their mouths like a gumball machine dispensing goodies. Now that they are grown up and have children of their own, paybacks are the reward which allows  me to stay silent about sharing any of those stories. 🙂

The 'sniff-erator'

The ‘sniff-erator’

But I digress. The embarrassment I suffered was from this past weekend’s hospital visits with Sam. I found an adorable scarf that seemed appropriate and with his new ‘do fresh from the groomers, off we went to spread Christmas cheer at the hospital. I especially wanted to be supportive to folks who find themselves in the hospital during the holidays and a spread a little cheer around. I wasn’t counting on Sam and that troublesome proboscis of his!

We stopped by the pulmonary unit and the first visitors we saw came up to us and gushed over Sam, his good looks and festive scarf. Sam immediately stuck that big-ass honking nose right in the lady’s crotch (in his defense, it was “right there at nose level” though at this point, I’m rather loath to defend this crotch sniffer). Yikes, dude, what are you doing?! She laughed nervously and gently pushed Sam’s face away from her lady parts. Not content with just female scents, Sam casually walked over to her companion and gave the fellow his Christmas goose a few days early. Eek, so sorry folks! Uh, we need to move on now. Have a Merry Christmas (spoken in the fastest voice possible). Sheesh.

Completely embarrassed I walked down the hallway and past one of the first rooms we could actually enter. The patient’s visitor motioned us to come inside so we went in to try to spread a little Christmas joy (and for me to try to regroup). Sam looked so festive and everyone we encountered commented on his handsome haircut and adorable holiday collar. They asked if Sam could put his feet up on the bed and can you believe it, Sam immediately went to sniff her private parts as she was lying on top of her sheets and wearing a short hospital gown. ‘Things’ were a bit too available for his nose but she was a good sport about it.  I, on the other hand was thinking…“OMG, what in the bloody hell is wrong with this dog today and what’s with this crotch obsession????”

I tried hard to get him to focus on the patients all day long but maybe because I was the bozo who left the training treats on the kitchen counter, all I could do is give subtle yanks and keep him on a very short leash. By now, my face is so beet red to the point one of the nurses asked if I was feeling ok. The flu was making the rounds at the hospital and many rooms were off-limits for us, thankfully. Just what I need more crotches to sniff and check out, as well as being exposed to the flu? Argh!

Some days are like that in pet therapy, for whatever reason, but I swear that nose is going to embarrass me and make me go back to saying “Oh, Father…the shame of it.” Does your dog embarrass you? What kind of embarrassing things does he do to make you red-faced? <3

A helping paw anyone?

Of course we all know Sam is a therapy dog, who despite being somewhat dim is pretty good at it. He comforts patients at the hospital like nobody’s business. His role as the canine concierge welcoming everyone on our block is without parallel. But I think he’s taken all this helping out stuff to a whole new level where I’m concerned. I think he secretly thinks he owns me, not the other way around. Why do I say that? He simply cannot leave me alone for a single minute.

It always been pretty ineffective to go into any room in the house and close the door since Sam arrived on the scene. If there isn’t major scratching, then there’s major whining or snuffling noises coming from that long schnoz of his from under the door. The ruckus was too much so now I just leave doors open which pretty much makes personal hygiene issues interesting. Since my accident, I’ve opted for baths rather than showers, but this view is starting to unnerve me. For a long time, I thought he was just mimicking his sheepdog siblings who probably taught him all his annoying habits. If you know anything about OES’s, you’ll understand.

If he isn’t draped across my lap, he’s leaning against me. Or just standing there, watching every move I make (sheesh, wild animals just spray!). This is the view I see when I try to take a bath.

Need any help?

Need a little help there?

At those [ahem] more delicate moments (like when using the “throne”) a fluffy red head will either lay patiently across my lap with two soft amber eyes looking up at me as if asking, “need some help?” or I’ll get that snuggle head on top of my knee. It’s ironic since I tease Sam out loud about not having a thumb which just seems to tickle his fancy and he’ll snuggle up closer. Maybe he pesters me because I give him the attention he wants (personally I kind of enjoy making fun of him so maybe I’m reaping what I sow). Who knows what goes on in that simple little brain? Mostly I just chuckle and think nothing else of it. But lately, I’m starting to think he actually does believe he OWNS me, not the other way around.

When the sheepies were still with us, they used to do the same thing and I always expected that kind of behavior from them since they were after all, ‘herders.’ Didn’t realize Sam took such good notes! But for crying out loud, he is a Standard Poodle and there’s nothing herding about that breed. I just don’t get the “I can’t possibly be away from you for even a nano-second” mentality?

Lately he’s taken to sitting in front of me as I watch TV or if I’m working on the laptop, he’ll get as close as possible and then lays his head across my knee. Then there’s that plaintive look and then…slowly. ever. so. slowly. he’ll put one foot on the thigh, then the other and then Poof! he’s straddling me like I’m some sort of chattel. Heaven forbid I say anything out loud because that’s the signal for the tail to start waving back and forth like a flag on July 4th and he becomes quite animated. At just shy of 60 lbs., that animation across the lap can get a bit uncomfortable when an elbow is digging into the quad. Maybe it’s because it’s colder now and he’d rather share body heat though I’ve never seen anything that indicates Standard Poodles have a drop of Eskimo DNA in them.

What’s an independent dog mommy supposed to do? Sure I can banish him to his nice cushy warm bed near the radiator (and when I can’t stand the heat or being burritoed any longer, I do), which just leaves me feeling like one of Cinderella’s wicked step sisters. But I swear, this is becoming a daily routine. Sometimes, he’s worse than a clingy boyfriend and anyone who knows me, knows that “Homey don’t dig that shizzle nonsense!”

It makes me wonder if he’s trying to subliminally tell me something, either about him or about me. Either way it (mostly) makes me smile and when it doesn’t he gets the “be off with you, knave” treatment. The theatrics following said banishment are pretty entertaining and the heavy puppy sighs and flops on the floor are beyond priceless. Those antics usually make me take a time out and get down and play with him. That’s probably the problem with his being so damn cute and so damn manipulative!

Does your dog own you or is it just me? 🙂 How do you handle being owned? <3

Holiday Safety PSA

Happy Howlidays!

Happy Howlidays!

If you’re anything like me, this is the time of year where things get a bit crazy. That’s kind of an understatement…I’m pretty much crazed most of the time, but especially now. Thanksgiving was later than normal so now it’s a mad dash to get everything done in time for Christmas. How is it possible that Christmas is only a couple of weeks away? Wasn’t it Halloween just last week?!

Between the hustle and bustle of get-togethers, shopping, baking, etc., sometimes our fur-kids may be a bit overlooked…that is until things goes wrong. I know I’m overwhelmed these days and can’t begin to imagine how Sam feels tripping over tons of craft supplies, ornament boxes, artificial greenery, wrapping paper and bag of bows. The season is fraught with possible mishaps and dangerous situations as well as wonderful memories to cherish with friends and family.

We all know there are potential dangers during the season. First off…the obstacle course (otherwise known as the spot where the tree is erected). Did anyone else’s house suddenly shrink in size this time of year or is it just mine? Even with a slim profile, that tree seems to be sticking out right in the path of an athletic but clumsy dog. In the past, I’ve had dogs with long tails, the kind that just never stop wagging back. Sam’s tail isn’t quite that long, but long enough so that when he’s excited, I can only pray he’s not remotely near the tree, because stuff will go flying or worse, the whole kitten caboodle could come crashing down (tying a string to the top and attaching it to the ceiling seems like a smart solution). Likewise, all breakable ornaments must be at least 3 1/2 feet off the floor lest he bumps the tree during one of his mad dashes through the living room knocking down the irreplaceable hand blown glass bulbs off onto the hardwood floor into a million pieces. A trip to the vet to remove glass shards from tender paws isn’t exactly the kind of Christmas I want to remember.

Ah, those lovingly wrapped packages. So pretty and so interesting especially to Sam (yeah, erecting deer fencing around the tree would be smart idea-just saying). Shiny packages with bows seem to hold special allure for Sam. That long nose of his continues to get him into trouble. And metallic paper in the digestive system of [wo]man’s best friend can be even more troublesome if you know what I mean.

Then there are all those baked goodies and chocolates set out for casual noshing during the holidays. We all know that chocolate can lead to various medical complications and could be fatal for your dog. This time of year I do want to have yummy chocolate (who am I kidding, I want it ALL year long) but sure as heck don’t want Sam to get sick. Then again, I don’t want to share any of it with Sam’s unsophisticated palate either (even if he could safely eat it). It could make him sick, but he’d also never appreciate the good stuff either. That stuff has to go on top of the frig because it seems like every other surface in my house is host to several Christmas craft projects in various stages of completion or within nose reach of one ‘particular hound’ who shall remain nameless. BTW, where the hell are those Amazon drones when you need them to deliver craft supplies quickly to finish all your projects? Just wondering out loud here. I’m pretty sure his neck grows longer this time of year to snatch goodies off the dining room table. Jeez, that dog is like Gumby with an anteater’s tongue right now.

Then there are those gorgeous plants that makes everything look so festive. Poinsettia, mistletoe and lilies can be deadly. Poinsettias are toxic to both dogs and cats and lilies are extremely poisonous to cats, even a small nibble can cause severe kidney damage. Mistletoe poisoning can result in mild signs of gastrointestinal irritation (e.g., drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain). When ingested in large amounts, abnormal heart rate, collapse, hypotension (low blood pressure), ataxia (walking drunk), seizures and death are possible. Don’t let pets drink tree water either. It could contain fertilizer, and stagnant water could harbor bacteria. Check labels for tree water preservatives and artificial snow, and buy only those that are nontoxic. Using a screen around the trees to block access to electrical cords and/or water in the stand makes good sense. Avoid using aspirin in the water thinking it will keep the tree or plant vigorous. If a pet ingests aspirin-laced water, his health or even life can be at risk. If you suspect your pet has been poisoned, contact a vet immediately or call ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center’s 24-hour emergency hotline at 1-888-426-4435.

This is also the time of year when fur-parents buy gifts for their pets. Assess toys carefully; they should be too large to swallow and strong enough so they can’t be chewed up into tiny pieces. Sam can’t have toys, he just rips them up and swallows the eyes of all those adorable stuffed squeaky animals. 🙁 Take care that children’s toys are put away after being played with, you don’t want to step on any little Lego pieces in the dark or have them cause an intestinal blockage for your pet.

It bears repeating, turkey is not your dog’s friend. While not toxic, the skin is quite fatty compared to his normal diet and can cause digestive upset or possible pancreatitis. Turkey bones, are an obvious no-no–they can splinter if eaten and possibly perforate the digestive tract.

With lots of holiday celebrating, bipeds can over-do the whole good-cheer thing. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers should never be given to pets. NSAIDs are poisonous to dogs and cats.

Finally, avoid leaving gum out. Sure it’s great to freshen the breath for those unexpected mistletoe moments but make sure your pet doesn’t get into your stash. Sugar-free gum contains Xylitol which is quite toxic to dogs. The sweet smell and shiny wrapping paper are a potential draw so keep them stashed away from inquisitive noses and whiskers.

Enjoy the season but take special care of your fur-iends. Wishing you and yours a terrific ‘howliday’ and may all your days be furry and bright! <3


Nope, not a typo, it’s #TBF (otherwise known as Throwback “Fursday”). Photo from early 2013. I like to call it Yosemite Sam…Muppet-dog. Man, did that guy need a haircut! 😉

Hope your Fursday is all it’s barked up to be. 🐾 <3 🐾

Sleeping Muppet

Sleeping Muppet

It all changed in a heartbeat

Good dog.

Good dog

It started out like most hospital weekends…running a few errands early on and then getting ready for our shift. Every time we work at the hospital Sam has to be bathed. He’s professionally groomed every other month, but it was my turn this time. I’m pretty good at the in-between clean-ups and certainly think it’s easier on Sam since we can take breaks if necessary but it’s definitely not our favorite activity (oy my aching back).

It begins when the collar comes off. In the past, removing Sam’s collar always seemed to make him jump for joy at the thought of complete and unbridled freedom. Lately though, I think Sam has figured out that removal of the collar is a prelude to getting a bath, an adventure in which he’d rather not partake. I gather up the necessary stuff while he’s celebrating but think he’s on to me now. He used to be so excited at getting the collar off but now he seems to have figured out that it will involve being in a room where there’s running water and Sam avoids water like the plague. I grabbed a pile of towels…some for him as well as for the walls afterwards and the shampoo but he went MIA. I called and called but no Sam (cue cricket noises). Once I found him, he assumed the hang-dog posture as if he was being horribly abused and s-l-o-w-l-y made his way to the ‘liquid guillotine.’ Sheesh, talk about dramatic! Despite having webbed feet like all Standards (who were originally bred to hunt and retrieve waterfowl mind you), Sam despises water and has been known to completely walk around puddles on sidewalks. Lately though I think he might be harkening back to a previous life…one in which he had been an attorney specially trained in finding loopholes–in this case, an escape for himself.

My bathroom has one of those sprayer attachments but it’s just about 6” short of completely reaching the back-end of the tub easily.  Sam will reluctantly hop into the tub, with the “oh my God, I can’t believe you’re making me do this” look on his face. But lately his MO is to hop toward the back of the tub, with a ‘ha, ha, ha…the water can’t reach me’ smugness.  This forces me to get into the tub with him so I can keep him from hanging back just out of reach or from jumping out (which he did this time anyway).

As soon as I got him firmly positioned in the OSA (optimal spray area), I started the sudsing/rinse cycles. We go through lots of body shakings with water & suds flinging all over on the walls, window & ceiling so as soon as the dog is sparkly clean, I get to start mopping and cleaning up–oh joy. It’s a regular ritual which makes me often wonder if doing him at home is worth the effort of bathing and cleaning up rather than just going to a dog-wash. This time we tried out a new rosemary/mint-scented shampoo with built-in conditioner. Suffice to say, this stuff was ‘pawsome’ and I could hardly wait til he hopped in bed with me later that night. He smelled that good!

In addition to not liking water, Sam despises hair dryers too but he did remarkably well while being fluffed-n-buffed. He patiently endured a few swipes with the clippers and scissors and 90+ minutes later he emerged a sweet-smelling, handsome dude. We were ready, or so I thought.

It was a lovely Saturday and we excitedly left for our assignment. First we visited with several people with loads of little kids. Sam loves kids so it took us a while to finally get to see patients; they all want to touch and pet his soft hair. Many patients were being released and there were family members there to take them home. It can be kind of hectic for the staff but they manage it all really well.

One of the more memorable patients we visited was a young woman, Frances who had been in the hospital for a week but was being discharged that afternoon. Her Mom, Barbara was there to take her home. Frances fell in love with Sam since his fur reminded her of the two Bedlington Terriers they’d once owned. After both of them had passed away unexpectedly, her Dad couldn’t bear the thought having to say goodbye to another pet so they were now bereft of any dog companionship. Sam was spot on, letting everyone hug and pet him all the while staying incredibly calm and completely into it. After spending several minutes with him, they were both eager to work on Dad to get another pooch back into the household. I had to chuckle since they planned to use Sam as Exhibit A as he was so patient at allowing the daughter to weave her fingers through his fur, while he looked soulfully into her eyes and leaning against Mom. I was beyond proud of him and left smiling knowing they were determined enough to probably convince Dad to let them bring a new addition home soon. 🙂

Then it was off to hospice. Sam loves going to hospice-the staff is wonderful and there usually are a number of people we can visit. The first was a young woman visiting her uncle. She lived in Florida but had come back to support her Dad while he said a final goodbye to his brother, her uncle. She fawned over Sam and he responded sweetly. We had just started to make our way to the uncle’s room, when a man probably in his 50’s approached Sam and got down on the floor and hugged him. It was quite unusual since most adults that age don’t normally sit cross-legged on the floor and hug a dog while sniffling and drying their eyes in the middle of a corridor. The man talked to Sam as though no one were around. He said, “my Daddy is going to die soon and be with his dogs, so if Sam could come by room 214, it would mean a lot to my Daddy.” The niece was touched by this man’s display of bare emotion and said no worries since her family had decided against a visit.

As I walked toward 214, the nurse said the family was in the room and we probably shouldn’t go in. I mentioned the son had specifically asked for us just a moment ago and she said then she’d check with them and sure enough, they absolutely wanted Sam to come in the room. We walked in to see the whole family gathered in a circle around the patient’s bed, arm-in-arm holding onto one another. This was not what I anticipated since the son was full on sobbing now as were a few others.

At times like this, I’m not really sure what to do or say and think probably the best approach is to not say anything. It’s hard enough to know what to do with someone you actually know but even more difficult with a complete stranger. Sam seemed a little bit nervous but at the insistence of the son, we put his feet on the bed touching his father’s hand. Sam must have sensed something because he pulled back quickly but had managed to touch the man’s hand and arm. The son thanked us and I tried to be as supportive as possible with a smile and a squeeze on the son’s arm. We left the room quietly. As I walked out with the nurse, she thanked me for going in because it had meant so much to the family. I told her, “I don’t know how you do it day after day.” She smiled, said they did it for the families and I knew exactly what she meant.

As I was walking toward the exit, the attending doctor was doing paperwork and Sam expressed an interest in visiting her. He had walked past her when we first arrived so she was all too happy to snuggle with him. As we spoke, the nurse came in and said “call it 3:52 for Mr. Walsh.” The doctor smiled and said thank you to us for visiting. I knew there would be more paperwork for them to handle now. It was 3:55 and I realized that Sam had touched the man moments before he passed. Maybe he knew he was on his way to ‘see his dogs’ and it was ok for him to join them, maybe it was just coincidence. All I knew was that in a blink of an eye, the weekend went from smiles to tears. It left me feeling off-balance. There’s nothing that could have been done to change the outcome for Mr. Walsh, but just knowing Sam’s presence meant a lot to his family was somewhat comforting. In the hub-bub of the staff making the arrangements for transporting Mr. Walsh to the mortuary, I hugged Sam extra tightly. He responded like he always does, a serious tail wag and then a ‘let’s go look–there are others to comfort.’ We started to walk out and a small family was meeting with a social worker. They stopped to hug on Sam and thanked us for coming to hospice; it had meant a lot to them and their loved one. Sam acted as if they were the first people we’d seen that day and gave them his all.

We left shortly thereafter for home where Sam enjoyed a deep sleep as he is apt to do after a long or draining shift. We’d been there much longer than our usual visits and I could see it had affected this loving creature. While I watched his chest rise and fall with each breath, I sat and thought about all the memorable patients we’d visited that day. The smiles with Francis and her Mom at the thought of going home and the sad tears of loss by Mr. Walsh’s son. These human connections, the hello’s and goodbye’s bind us all together and are all inevitable. We can only hope they know that we wish them well on their journeys, whether here or in the next world.