The Circus Returns to Denver

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.

Mr. “Tube Socks”

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.

Is that my dinner you’re fixing?

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.

I love riding in cars.

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.

The circus is very much alive and well.ย 

Live, love, bark! ๐Ÿพ


124 thoughts on “The Circus Returns to Denver

  1. Congrats to all of you. We are just catching up on our reading material so we a bit behind… Norman sounds like a great guy; how wonderful that you found each other!

    1. Glad to see you back, Benji and hope you and your family are all safe and healthy. โค๏ธŽ

    1. Thank you. It was sheer luck that Norman was available and I’m very happy to welcome him to the circus. ๐Ÿ˜†

  2. HURRAH HURRAH!!! Oh wee are so happy an xcited an thrilled an did mee meow happy Miss Monika?!?!?
    Wellcome Norman to THE Ranch! You will toetallee enjoy Life at tHE Ranch..Miss Monika iss furabuluss an Sam iss kewl an Elsa iss sweet!!! You look so at home all reddy. an THE foto of you with paw an head on pilloh iss so adoorabell….
    ***purrsss*** BellaDharma an {{huggiesss}} LadyMew too

  3. I knew she was for me when I saw her photo on the website.
    My 15-year companion had died only weeks before. He and I talked about this before he died. That I would have an empty space in my home that could rescue a dog from jail, and possibly a worse fate.
    After a suitable mourning period, I got right on the task.
    The hardest part was after commitment, waiting for the day I could pick up the six and-a-half year old Chusky. It was interminable!
    Now I hug and kiss her every day, and her eyes shine with love and happiness.
    The same shine I see in Norman’s eyes.

    Seek peace,


    1. These pets have the ability to deeply touch our souls, for which I am very grateful. May you and your sweet girl enjoy and share loads of love and happiness. โ˜ฎ๏ธ

  4. Oh my gosh, congrats on your new addition! Norman looks like such a sweetie…like all OE Sheepdogs. I have a soft spot in my heart for them ever since my older brother got one when I was a kid. She was soooooo sweet and loving, I was crazy about her! They are the perfect therapy dog breed.

    1. Thanks! He’s a big sweetheart. Everyone who meets this guys fall in love with him. I have great expectations for Norman as a therapy dog.

        1. Not too long. Itโ€™s difficult to manage 3 high maintenance grooming jobs and have any kind of life! ๐Ÿ˜„

    1. He’s already a huge hit around the hood. And not just because he’s physically huge! People stop their cars to comment about him, cross the street just to pet him. It’s wonderful to see him interact with both adults and kids. The elementary school we walk past every day goes gaga when they see him. He loves their little hands reaching through the chain link fence around the playground.

      1. That’s fantastic! How old is he? Sorry if you said so in your post…I’m too lazy to check!
        I’m not surprised peeps stop and gush and go gaga over him…

  5. Oh wow! He is right up my alley! Love the tube socks! However did they end up calling him Norman? And honestly… A Norman just brings to mind a gentle soul – to me.

    Congrats on the addition to your family!

    1. Thanks. Yes, he’s always been known as Norman and with his tube socks, I thought the name fit. He is a sweet boy with a very gentle soul.

  6. happy for you, Norman, you are so cute๐Ÿ’—We love the picture of the three of you…eh…four of you. Pawkisses for a Happy Wednesday๐Ÿพ๐Ÿ˜ฝ๐Ÿ’ž

    1. Thanks, pretty excited about this new guy. And thank you for swinging by the Ranch. We <3 visitors.

  7. When Kyla was diagnosed with melanoma and given months to live, the peeps adopted Kali from rescue. When Kali was home, she was a wild child. She didn’t last a week with another potential adopter. Here, she was called “monster”, a name that she’s still called affectionately. Give a good dog a chance and you get a star after that dog figures out that you love him/her and he/she isn’t going anywhere else and the kicking around is over. Our wild “monster” could be a therapy dog but she is our therapy,

    1. Therapy is apparently a two way street…for us and those who we come in contact with. In our house, Kali would be referred to as a big personality kind of dog.

    1. It’s been very heartwarming knowing that so many people are rooting for Norman. He will no doubt do great things with that kind of support.

  8. WOW! Congratulations on the new addition. He’s a real winner. Can’t wait to hear more, and to get tails, er, tales of his therapy visits. I’m very happy for you.

    1. Many thanks. It was one of those lucky turns that comes to you. I’m feeling really lucky that Norman was available to join our merry little band.

  9. He looks so sweet and sounds wonderful! So happy for both of you, it was meant to be! ๐Ÿ™‚ Can’t wait to hear more about him!
    LOL about the furniture!

  10. Been out of the loop a bit; so much catching up to do! Firstly, congratulations to Sam on joining the ranks of the retired. A well-deserved rest is in order after so many years of faithful service and for making so many folks smile when they really needed it. Rest well, my friend and assert your seniority whenever possible. It doesn’t work for me but maybe for you. ๐Ÿ™‚ Next, welcome to Mister Norman, a handsome guy and the perfect addition to the Ranch menagerie. I kinda sorta always felt you had a sweet spot for the OES’s from the days of yore and so it it’s not really a total surprise that one of the big guys would again appear. I can imagine the canine heart palpitations, especially Elsa’s, whence first Norman appeared at the door. His name is perfect and “Tubes” will probably be one of his nicknames since he is way too laid back to be Stormin’ Norman!

    1. No doubt Sam intends to follow your advice. I had two OES’s before Sam and although I’ve had several Spoos over the years (since the mid 70’s) I thought an OES would make a great therapy dog at the hospital. It’s been years since Puck & Eliot were here and while I must admit to not missing the drool, Norman seems like the perfect candidate to continue to work at the hospital. Drool and all. Hope life is good on your end. Your absence was noted and you and Max have been missed.

    1. Thanks, Walter and Millie. Boy, has he ever learned the joys of snoozing on the sofa. And man…can he snore up a storm!

    1. Thanks, MK…we’re pretty excited this big gorgeous hunk has joined our little circus.

  11. Oh wow! We did not see that coming! That was beyond serendipity. Welcome home, Norman. You are right where you belong. Good luck studying for your therapy job.

    Love and licks,

  12. Congratulations!! I am so excited for you. Norman is adorable – that face just has sweetness written all over it. I got a big smile on my face when I saw the photo of him on the sofa! He looks completely at home. โ™ฅ

    1. Thanks so much, Jan. I’m just thrilled he feels comfortable enough to relax like that. I have high hopes that he’ll be a wonderful therapy dog.

    1. Thank you, John. Very excited to share this boy at the hospital and consider myself extremely lucky to have found him.

  13. Ok, you have to understand where I am coming from. When you said “Sheepdog”my mind thought “Old English Sheepdog” (of course) or what we used to call a Dulux Dog. ( it’s a British thing!) When I saw the photograph of Norman for the first time, I thought, “What on earth is he?” then I realised that for the first time in my life (really) I was looking at a Sheepdog without all the masses of fur. He looks good and I’m sure he will love the training. He sounds perfect and I am so glad that the Ninja likes him and he will be a good brother for Sam and Norman is where he is supposed to be!

    1. I know about those Dulux commercials-they weren’t just for Brits! When Eliot and Puck lived with me, they also had shorter hair as well except in the winter (summers are too hot in Denver for a sheepdog with a full coat). With two other high maintenance dogs requiring extensive grooming, I will probably keep Norman on the shorter side, though we’ll see how his coat grows in. It used to take my daughter and I six hours to groom two sheepdogs and one poodle back in the day.

    1. Thanks, Marco. Isn’t he something? I’ve never seen ‘tube socks on an OES before but they’re just pawfect in my mind.

            1. They are all special in their own unique way and I’m really lucky to have found this boy. Can’t wait to share him with others.

                1. He is a very handsome fella. The way he draws people to him is amazing. Even big burly guys come up and start talking baby talk around him. Cracks me up, I tell ya. He’s definitely a convo starter!

  14. OH.MY.DOG. OMD!! OMD!!!!!!! Okays, I gots to take overs, cause I thinks Ma is havin’ some kind of ‘episode’….lots of squeals and wooohooos and weird noises. Hey Norman!! I’m Ruby. My Ma had an OES, and says you guys are the easiest, most laid back puppers on the planet! And the CUTEST!!! Wait…what?? Wells, I’m sure she didn’t means that last part, cause I am stinkin’ cute. just sayin’…..
    Anyhu, Ma is losin’ her mind, and can’t take her eyes off Norman! She is super duper jealous, and says she can totally see Norman as a Therapy doggie. I thinks OES are pawfect for that! I guess that will decide whether or not his furs will be long, short or somewheres in between, huh?
    Wells, WELCOME TO BLOGVILLE NORMAN! I am sure I can teach you all kinds of mischief (that is if Elsa doesn’t beats me to it! BOL!!!)
    Ruby โ™ฅ (and Ma….who is still squealing….)

    1. Oh Ruby, you sweet adorable thing! We’ll probably keep the coat on the shorter side especially in the summer (it’s too stinkin’ hot wearing a fur coat around here) and for hygienic purposes at the hospital. Better serve your Ma one of your famous ‘Ritas so she can start breathing normal again. ๐ŸฅฐTail wags and butt wiggles, that’s us now.

    1. Thanks, guys! I’m pretty stoked about the opportunity to share this big lunk with patients and nurses.

  15. Hi Norman. It’s great to meet you and I’ll be following your adventures, training and visits. I’m so glad the mom found you. You’re a handsome pup. Our Little Bit was that size. They do take up a lot of real estate indeed.

    Have a fabulous day, my friend. Scritches to all the pups. โ™ฅ

    1. Thank you, Sandy! He is one sweet dog and I’m looking forward to getting him started with his therapy training after he’s fully settled. Judging by his ability to adapt to the sofa so quickly, I don’t think it’ll be long. ๐Ÿ™‚

  16. Awwww welcome Norman!!!!! Oh that face he has! I LOVE that photo of him on the couch (smile) and by the fridge. Things turned out exactly as they were supposed to….the other home fell through because YOU are who he was meant for! I have always had a fondness for Sheepdogs….love them, are you going to let his fur grow long? (I think they are so much cuter when they are all furry (but Norman is cute regardless!) Wishing you many happy, healthy years together!

    1. Thanks, Caren. I’ll keep his coat on the more manageable side since it’s easier to maintain. I already have 2 high maintenance dogs to groom! I couldn’t be happier the earlier adoption fell through. ๐Ÿฅฐ

  17. Congratulations Monika on the new addition. As they say, the more the merrier! โ€ฆ and it seems Norman has the right temperament as a therapy dog. That’s a good start!

    1. Thank you, Frank! He’s a dream of a dog and everyone who meets him falls in love. It’s hilarious when big burly guys at Lowes talk baby talk to him. ๐Ÿ˜†

  18. OMD! This is SUPER exciting!!! Hi, Norman!!!! I’m Noodle!!! You are in the best hands. I’ve never seen a short-haired OES. Will you stay groomed short? Can’t wait to hear all about your training and eventual therapy visits. *ear licks*

    1. Thanks, Noodle. We tend to find groomed OES’s are the easiest to maintain. Besides, it’s not like we lie in the Yukon. ๐Ÿคฃ

  19. That is great news!! Welcome Norman! I am sure you will be a big hit as a therapy dog. You are absolutely adorable – love that pic of you on the sofa – you are home!!!

    1. Space and sofas…you got that right! Thanks, Kate, I consider myself extremely lucky to have found him.

    1. Aww, thank you, Amy! With the three of them, I knew I had to update the header. I think Norman is going to be a great addition to the program once he’s all settled.

  20. Well, that certainly didn’t take long!! Looks like a fabulous addition, and a wonderful therapy dog candidate. Can’t wait to hear about his progress.

    1. It was pretty serendipitous. I’m hoping Norman will be a nice addition to the program.

  21. Oh, Monika, this is WONDERFUL news!! I’m so happy for you and the knuckleheads and especially for Norman!! He is such a handsome boy, too!! (Maybe, just maybe, this means that there’s also a new brother out there somewhere for Ducky as well.) Congrats to ALL of you!!

    1. Thanks, Sue. I still pinch my good fortune. I’ve been looking at the rescue’s FB page for ages with no luck. That this guy came to me and was just down the road from my folks still blows me away. I hope Ducky gets a new brother. If he’s half as sweet as Radar, you’ll have won the dog lottery. Good luck! ๐Ÿคž๐Ÿผ

  22. oh, how wonderful. He is beautiful and this is a story of how a dog’s life can change and improve. He probably feels it’s a miracle

    1. Thanks, Jodi. We’re all pretty excited about this new addition. He’s a real love of a dog and is fitting in nicely.

    1. Thank you. Couldn’t be happier with the addition of Mr. Tube Socks and hope his Weim sister found a suitable home.

  23. Wow! Congrats. Your new ranch hand is one lucky guy! All the best as you continue Normanโ€™s assimilation into the pack and onto therapy work. He sure is a handsome looking boy. I mean not Sam good looking, but close. ๐Ÿ™ƒ. Iโ€™m sure my girls would swoon if they were lucky enough to be in his presence. Iโ€™m so happy for you and the knuckleheads but mostly for Norman. (Once he is in therapy work perhaps the patients and residents will holler out โ€œNORM!…โ€ like the old gang at the Cheers bar did.)

    1. Thank you for the well wishes. Norman’s name and persona totally reminded me of that charming sitcom. Everyone who he encounters is captivated. Even the post office clerk offered him a big biscuit yesterday when we were mailing off a package. And he’s becoming a favorite of the grade school kids we pass everyday on their playground during our daily walks. He’s a total love.

      1. I had to laugh at him laying by the fridge! He’s very close to Ray’s size, and the floor by the fridge door was one of the first places that Ray decided to take over. We couldn’t get in there without him knowing! ๐Ÿ™‚

        1. The funny thing is, he stays in place. Yesterday I inadvertently dropped something from the fridge that fell on his leg. He never even looked up. Most dogs would do a scramble like a cartoon character!

            1. I may have to try that out. I’ve never had a dog who stood ground quite like Norman.

                  1. When we brought Ray home, we thought about a name for him, but, given that he already responded to “Ray”, we decided to stay with it. He was going to be making a lot of adjustments, and if we could help him out by eliminating just one change….. ! ๐Ÿ™‚

                    1. Some names just stick. I wasn’t keen on Sam’s name but soon after he arrived, I came to realize he couldn’t be called anything else.

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