Cruel Ironies

Our recent conspicuous absence has been the result of a life-threatening emergency. While I’ve not commented on your posts, be assured I am doing my best to keep up with what’s going on in your world in between moments of waiting and wondering at the outcome of this emergency.

You may be wondering what happened? In a truly cruel twist of irony, on the third month anniversary of Sam’s crossing the Bridge, last week Norman suffered a gastric dilation and volvulus event, an ominous medical syndrome known as GDV. Commonly referred to as gastric torsion or bloat, this horrific condition occurs when the stomach dilates, then rotates or twists around the short axis cutting off blood supply to vital organs. My previous Standard Poodle before Sam, McKenzie, died from bloat so I’m sadly all too familiar with the symptoms and heartbreak. Gastric rotation includes progressive distension of the stomach in the form of gas and increased pressure within the abdomen, resulting in damage to the cardiovascular system, with decreased perfusion (the process of delivering nutrients via blood in the arteries to the body’s tissues) which can lead to cellular damage and organ death. Quick emergency action is required whenever GDV strikes-to delay can be life-threatening.

What exactly are the symptoms of GDV? According to PetMD, symptoms of GDV syndrome are: “anxious behavior, depression, abdominal pain and/or distention, collapse, excessive drooling, and vomiting to the point of unproductive dry heaving.” Upon physical examination, rapid heart beat (tachycardia), labored breathing (dyspnea), weak pulse and pale mucus membranes of the nose and mouth often accompany the other symptoms.

While the exact causes of GDV remain unknown, there are general factors that likely increase the risk, including genetics, anatomy, and environment. Highest at-risk dogs are large and giant breeds, particularly those with deep-chests breeds such as Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Standard Poodles (with high rates of mortality). Other factors contributing to the development of GDV include ingestion of excessive amounts of food or water, delayed emptying of the gastrointestinal system, and too much activity following meals.

GDV must be treated through surgical intervention with the untwisting of the stomach which is then tacked to the body wall to prevent it from twisting again (known as “gastropexy”). The vet expressed some concern the spleen may also have been impacted but he did not see any damage in Norman’s case, despite a 180º degree twist and internal stomach bruising. While dogs can survive without a spleen, potential heart damage through the lack of blood flow may complicate recovery.

For those of you who may be squeamish, you may want to scroll down before viewing this stem-to-stern incision. I’ve assured Norman that ‘chicks dig scars’ so he isn’t feeling too self conscience about it.

Norman
Stem-to-stern incision

Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, I was not permitted to visit Norman following his surgery but received frequent phone updates for the first two days (ok, it was me that pestered them all hours of the day and night) but they understood my concern and took my hourly relentless calls with kindness, patience and caring. He survived the surgery; the vet thought there was no lasting damage to the spleen or any apparent heart damage based on his visible examination of the organs during the surgery which gave me hope but the next few days would be touch and go. With that large belly incision, it’s clearly apparent this was a very serious surgical intervention. And understandably, he refused to eat after coming out of anesthesia. Norman never passes an opportunity for a meal so I knew he was in some serious pain. The staff finally allowed me to take him for a very brief few steps on a potty break outside late Saturday evening. It was hoped my presence might encourage him to eat a few bites. With traces of anesthesia still in his system, he was somewhat confused, heavy-footed and wobbly. He finally ate a few bites Saturday night and was deemed sufficiently dischargeable late the next afternoon.

Again in another irony, on the one day of the year when it rained buckets around here in otherwise dry Denver, I was able to bring the big guy home to nurse and pamper following extensive post-op instructions. He’s taken well to the pampering and promptly became a food critic…refusing to eat the bland diet of rice and chicken prescribed. If rice even touched the chicken, he refused eating it. After consulting with the ER staff, they agreed small, frequent meals of plain chicken without rice was better than nothing. As a long time vegetarian, it was beyond surreal having packages of deboned, skinless chicken breasts in my kitchen. For years, I’ve said I’d eat beef before I ever ate chicken again, the mere smell of it makes me nauseous. But nursing this sweet boy back to wellness was far more important than any olfactory discomfort on my part so I held my nose, cooked, and chopped the chicken into small pieces for him. As of today his appetite has mostly returned, with him enjoying frequent but small meals throughout the day.

The dreaded e-collar has vexed Norman as he continues to improve. Sheepdogs have a bear-like shuffle and often their heads sway back and forth in rhythm as they move. With the cone on, it crashes into furniture, walls, doorways, and the back of my knees with painful regularity. With encouragement and patience, he is beginning to gain the necessary confidence to navigate better with it on every day.

I would be most remiss if I didn’t mention the one person in particular helped me throughout this whole nightmare and she knows who she is. This dearest of friends has consistently been my rock and pillar over the years and I am once again deeply indebted to her generosity, love and kindness. Thank you, my friend and thanks in advance to everyone for their support while Norman recoups. It means the world to me. With emotions still raw from the loss of dear Sam, this latest calamity has once again shocked me to the core. It’s been days since I’ve had a decent night’s sleep but will be fine once Norman makes it out of the woods and gratefully accept your well wishes and POTP prayers. With your healing energy thoughts and Elsa’s oversight of his care, I expect him to fully recover and look forward to those smile inducing butt wiggles to rule our days once again.

Yes, life is full of cruel ironies especially in the midst of a pandemic, but this was one that was an even more unexpectedly cruel. As its image in life’s rear view mirror becomes smaller, we move forward. Besides, Norman thinks there’s a new toy that requires some serious attention without the conflangled wrangling with an e-collar that simultaneously gets bad reception and interferes with fun.

Norman
A 30-second moment of normality and then a long snooze yesterday evening

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ May 18, 2020

So I was walking the dogs a couple of days ago and noticed a bunch of young guys had hopped the closed and padlocked playground at the neighborhood elementary school. They obviously have whistled past their ability to continue to deal with shelter in home restrictions. I just shook my head. Not sure what’s worse. Not wearing masks or ignoring social distancing rules.

Coronavirus

Even the pandemic’s official animal observes those protocols. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making light of the current situation. It’s definitely serious and not a laughing matter but it seems that gallows humor is becoming more and more prevalent in dealing with these unprecedented times. Around the Ranch, we’re still observing social distancing and wonder if those who are wearing masks are smiling back at me or silently mouthing “stupid Boomer” while I hopscotch back and forth across the street maintaining social distancing. When you have a dog like Norman who simply invites being pet and totally enjoys it, it’s hard to act nonchalant while maintaining appropriate social distance. For his part, Norman doesn’t seem to understand why people can’t shower him with attention these days.

So how are you coping? Has your state ramped up relaxed restrictions? Has shopping for groceries become easier? Is life moving back toward the ‘old normal?’ The Ranch-hands want to know when passersby are going to start petting them again.

Norman & Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 15, 2020

Spring has finally been coaxed out of hiding though some elements have been slow to appear. That dang frost at the beginning of May really did a number on things effectively eliminating most fruit tree crops with all tree buds getting zapped. Recovery will take some time though sadly the fruit trees won’t. Three of the trees at the Ranch are just now beginning to emerge and expect them to fully recover with a spot of Summer arriving next week. I checked on a Canadian shrub rose and couldn’t decide if it had died or was just extra slow leafing out this year. Yesterday’s inspection showed there’s life, but a whole lot of pruning will be in its future. Again with the whiplash conditions Mother Nature, seriously?! Course it could be worse, last year this week we received snow so I guess I should count my blessings.

It’s Friday so that means we’re joining our friends, Rosy and her brothers in checking out what Mother Nature has been up to around Blogville. Be sure to check out their link, things are super pretty in the Pacific Northwest.

Our daily walks have provided such glorious sightings even if some of the flower displays are not their usual splendor. Still I think we managed to pick some lovely exhibits for why it’s important to get out there and check things out.

First off, we found some brilliant blue Prairie Flax on the side of a sidewalk. This charming re-seeder always brightens my day with its glorious color.

Flowers

Isn’t it pretty?

Seems like some flowers are competing against one another for the prettiest award. One of my neighbors recently planted a beautiful Columbine. Quite the stunner, eh?

Flower

Because my garden is shaded much of the day due to large trees I’m a big fan of shady plants. While walking around yesterday, I came across a large bed of Lamium, also known as deed-nettle. I had to take it all in by lingering for several minutes. Look how it lites up even dark spots in a garden with its silvery-variegated foliage.

Flowers

Poppies are beginning to emerge from their winter sleep, and I’ll confess, I’m a sucker for these Oriental beauties. Those crepe papery flowers just intrigue me and the large blooms make for a stunning appearance. The bees were in heaven checking them out.

Flowers

Whenever Bleeding Heart appears, I realize what a beauty this spring entry is. For years, I didn’t have any success growing these perennials but since moving to this house, they seem to be making up for earlier failures. This year was a bonus appearance with a phantom Allium coming up in the middle of the Bleeding Heart. A two-fer!! Be still my beating heart. Still wondering where that Allium came from, since I didn’t plant it. Flower

Looks like we’re in for a beautiful weekend. Next week there’ll be a few days in the 90’s so the mutts and I hope to enjoy the more moderate temps while we can. Having one black dog, one with a double-coated fur coat and my own constitution that wilts in heat, we plan to enjoy it while we can. I hope you get out there and see what’s nature has been up to lately. And while you’re at it, enjoy the weekend!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday

Conversation with an Angel

Ahem…you-hoo?

Elsa: Huh? Wha…

Psst…Elsa…you awake?

Elsa: {yawn, stretches, shakes head looking around} Sam??? Is that you?

Norman: Hello there, mate.

Sam: Hi guys, good to see you.

Elsa: Wait…what are you doing here? I thought you crossed the Bridge?

Sam: I did, but I watch over you guys, especially mom. She still seems so sad that I asked the powers to be if I could drop in and have a chat to see if we could make her feel better.

Elsa: Yeah, she is pretty sad; there’s waterworks nearly every day thinking about you. She really misses you.

Norman: We do try our level best to make her feel better, but I think you must have had an extra special place in her heart.

Sam: Yeah, I was her heart and soul dog and miss her too. Ours was a special bond and I feel so badly she’s hurting now. But let’s see if, by working together, we can make her feel better. You guys in?

Elsa and Norman: {in two-part harmony} Woof, woof! Let’s do it.

Sam: Cool. Ok, first we have to take care of a few matters from my estate which was settled in probate court.

Elsa: Estate? Probate? Dude, what in the world are you talking about-you don’t own anything.

Sam: Um…that’s not entirely accurate, Ninja. I’m here to read my Last Will and Testament dividing all my worldly goods between you and uh…the new guy, what’s his name?

Norman: Uh…sir, for the record, it’s Norman.

Sam: Oh yeah, right. Where were we?

Elsa: Never mind, already taken care of it…its all mine.

Norman: She’s right, you know. She pretty much owns everything around here and is especially not very keen about sharing any of it.

Sam: Well, my Last Will and Testament will take care of that. Legally anyway. Let’s begin the reading, ‘kay?

Last Will and Testament

Elsa: If it makes you feel better, but know everything is still mine.

Sam: {eyes rolling} Ahem…”I, Yosemite Sam McDonald, veteran Pet Therapist and all around Good Dog, being of sound mind do hereby leave the following personal effects to my survivors. To my sister, I leave my comfy bed from the living room, who I note for the record, bogarted it frequently while I was still around, despite having her own large comfy sofabed.

Norman: Yeah, she did kind of take over your spot, mate…although mum swears she’s seen you out of the corner of her eye sleeping in it a couple of times when the golden afternoon sunlight shines on it.

Sam: Oh good, I’m kind of new to this whole angel thing of how to send signs letting her know I’m still with her. Yup, that was me. As a Bridge newbie, I haven’t had a lot of training yet as to how to send signs to your loved ones but I have managed to pick up some tricks from watching others.

Elsa: Someone is trying to train you? Hahaha…this should be a hoot. Hope they have better luck than mom did. She always did say you were either stupid or stubborn. Personally, I always had my own suspicions but that’s another story. Either way, it’s probably a fine line in your case.

Sam: {clears throat} Well, I see you haven’t changed much, have you? Anywho…let’s get on with the rest of the worldly possessions.

Norman: Yes, please do…was wondering if there are any bits and bobs you might have for me?

Sam: Yes, bro…I thought of you as well. I hereby bequeath all my toys to you.

Norman: Jolly good, dear brother! But being a proper British bloke, I confess, I did kind of help myself to the toy basket. The little sister was none too happy with me because apparently I didn’t recognize which ones were her favorites and hers alone.

Toys

Sam: Oh yeah, I should have mentioned that before. You definitely want to avoid that hot pink slipper. And anything that squeaks. Those are her favorites and trust me dude, she’ll kick your tailless tush if you try to take any.

Norman: Right-o sir…I discovered that…the hard way. I say, good chap…who knew such a sweet face could be so…vicious?!

Sam: Yeah, you do want to stay on her good side. That’s just one of the reasons why we call her a Ninja Warrior.

Elsa: You both got that right and if you try to take my slipper I’ll chew you a new one. Got that, you gigantic British dolt?

Norman: I say, dear sister. There’s no need for name calling. I’m just trying to fit into the Ranch bunk house by familiarizing myself with stuff and (so far) I haven’t destroyed any toys, even though my jaws are quite able to tear the stuffing out of any of them or you should I so desire.

Elsa: {Gasp!} You better pray you don’t destroy any of my toys, pal! Although that’s rather laughable…you might be big, but remember that I’m a Ninja so don’t even think twice about it, chump!

Sam: Okay, okay, look I don’t have all day here and I didn’t come down here to host Mixed Martial Arts. Now that we’ve taken care of the physical property, let’s get on with my lasting legacy.

Elsa and Norman: Legacy? Are you joking?

Sam: Nope, I was thinking the best way to make mom smile again is for you guys to channel my very best enduring behavior so she’ll know I’m still with her, even if it’s just in spirit. See, I was thinking…

Elsa and Norman: {in unison} You were…thinking? {raucous laughter} How could we possible replicate your most annoying enduring behavior? Mom said you were one of a kind.

Sam: I’ll have you know was a model citizen on our walks, in fact everywhere…I just displayed certain “skills” that mom found particularly enduring when she needed a smile…or something.

Elsa: “Something’ is right! I suppose you mean something like moving as far away from her when pooping…oh…and bonus points if it’s in the absolutely deepest snow you could find.

Sam: P.r.e.c.i.s.e.l.y. I know she muttered some HBO words but I knew perfectly well she thought it was ‘charming’ and know for a fact that she. loved. it, okay?

Norman: Oh mate…that’s a load of tosh! She specifically told me NOT to ever do that (among other things you used to do). Like make sure I don’t poop in front of someone’s sidewalk leading up to their front door. She was especially specific about that one.

Sam: Nonsense Norman, she loved that about me. Why do you think I did that every chance I could? Now Elsa, if you could just stretch the leash as far away from her whenever you’re crossing a street. I’ve noticed she isn’t doing enough upper body workouts and that way she’ll have to bench press you closer to her to work those puny biceps. Sheesh, I’m gone three months and the woman’s let herself go to pot.

Elsa: Hmm, I guess I could do that. I do want to do my part making her feel better so if that means channeling some of you, I’ll do it.

Norman: Right Gov…I’ll raise my leg on all your favorite spots and try to do my part on the poop parade…per your instructions.

Sam: {eyes rolling} Umm, yeah, we don’t say ‘Gov’ around the Ranch, Norman. We just say…

Live, love bark! 🐾

Angel Sam

Wish I Were There Wednesday ~ May 13, 2020

More than ever, I wish I were here visiting with my parents and taking in the breathtaking surrounding landscape. *Sigh* Rotten pandemic.

Pueblo

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Meet the Breed Monday ~ May 2020

ElsaIt’s time for our monthly column “Meet the Breed.”  It’s me, Elsa, stepping up again this month ready to feature our latest installment of “Meet the Breed.”  So without further delay, let’s meet…the Shetland Sheepdog, more commonly known as “Shelties.”

When mom first started blogging, she became a follower and then friend with Dakota and his mom, Caren Gittleman who was especially helpful in showing her the ropes. Caren suggested loads of tips and tricks that would develop a readership for which she will always be grateful. And Caren was very inspiring to mom when she launched the e-shop. And she has one of the cutest guys in Blogville. I mean, just look at this handsome boy…hubba bubba, dude!

Sheltie

Dakota’s mom, is a free-lance professional blogger who writes blogs Dakota’s Den (about her cute boy) and Cat Chat With Caren and Cody (a blog about cats)  residing in Michigan with her husband, Sheltie Dakota and Cody the cat. While Caren isn’t blogging as much these days, she’s a powerhouse and accomplished blogger in mom’s eyes with Dakota, her beautiful and sweet Sheltie and his fur-brother, Cody the cat. Many thanks to Caren for providing  breed background info on these adorably cute dogs.

Dakota the Sheltie

Now pay attention, Norman and let’s get started by meeting this adorable breed. Often confused with the larger ‘Collie,’ The Shetland Sheepdog, or “Sheltie,” is actually NOT a “mini-Collie” as some people think, they are in fact a completely separate breed. 

Shelties were originally bred on the rocky Shetland Islands, on the northernmost point of the UK. They were employed by farmers to herd sheep, ponies, and poultry (the “Toonie dog” was an old slang name for Shelties, “toon” being a Shetland word for farm). Shelties’ long coat is harsh and straight, with a dense undercoat, and comes in black, blue merle, and sable colors, with white markings. That coat, along with a long, wedge-shaped head; small, three-quarter erect ears; and deep-chested, level-backed torso, give Shelties the look of a rough-coated Collie in miniature but there are significant differences. Shelties weigh about between 14-27 lbs.while Collies weigh 60-75 lbs. Shelties can be prone to  chubbiness, so their weight should be closely watched. There are height differences between the breeds as well:  Shelties run 13-16 inches tall; Collies are between 24-26 inches tall

Shelties do quite well in a large yard but also thrive nicely in an apartment or condo setting because of their much smaller size. Shelties are “alert, active and playful” and like to bark but tend to be reserved toward strangers. They make excellent watchdogs. Shelties will alert the household when strangers show up.  Shelties are high-energy and rank 25th of 195 breeds in popularity according to the AKC and are members of the herding group.

 “Dakota” recently celebrated his 13th barkday and is a brilliant, funny little clown on four legs. His mom tells us that he is a bit of a “thief” (watch your shoes, slippers, anything you don’t want him to have), is sensitive and intensely loyal to “his pack,” which includes mom, dad and tabby cat brother.

That trademark “Sheltie Smile” is quite compelling so if you are interested in an intelligent, active, playful, great family dog who will love you “to the moon and back” then  the Shetland Sheepdog could be just the breed for you.

Have you ever owned one or have stories to share? Next month we’ll showcase another breed. Who could it be? While I’m not giving any clues away, Norman tells me it’s definitely another favorite breed. We hope all you dog-moms had a Happy Mother’s Day and wish everyone a great Monday and ‘wagnificent’ week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

In Purrsuit of Flavour

NormanWe’re back today for the the second edition of Blogville’s recipe share, “In Purrsuit of Flavour” with today’s selection being “dough.” Once again we join our hosts, the Weim boys over at Easy Rider and those great chef cats over at Canadian Cats.  Since I may have moaned and whined mentioned that many baking ingredients have been in short supply around our neighborhood, we stretched the rules for our recipe this month and went with…Scones since they contain no yeast or whole wheat flour which are as extinct as dinosaurs around here. I’ve gone to 7 different stores recently in search of these mythical ingredients and they all laughed me and my mask out of their stores. I did manage to find a small amount of  whole wheat late yesterday so there’s no need to cry for me now but didn’t have enough time to make a no knead cranberry/walnut bread which was the original plan.

SconesI’ve made this recipe for ages because it’s easy to make and always turns out yummy. Since I can barely operate a mixer and spatula with my paws, I did not include photos while preparing but did include the website’s video for a professional touch where disasters don’t show up on video like they would if I took photos while baking. Click here on this link to see the video as to how these are made.

Prep & baking time: 35 mins. total; servings: 8 (depending on size); yield: 8 scones (again, depending on size)

Ingredient Checklist:

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400ºF (200ºC). Sift the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt into a large bowl (for the record, I never sift dry ingredients, instead whisking them together). Cut in butter using a pastry blender or rubbing between your fingers until it is in pea sized lumps. Stir in the currants. Mix together 1/2 cup milk and sour cream in a measuring cup. Pour all at once into the dry ingredients, and stir gently until well blended. Overworking the dough results in terrible scones!

With floured hands, pat scone dough into balls 2 to 3 inches across, depending on what size you want (I formed the dough into a large ball, flatten it, then cut into triangle shapes rather than balls). Place onto a greased baking sheet (I use parchment paper instead), and flatten lightly. Let scones barely touch each other. Whisk together the egg and 1 tablespoon of milk, brush tops of scones with egg wash and let them rest for about 10 minutes.

Bake for 10 to 15 minutes in preheated oven, until tops are golden brown. Serve with butter or clotted cream and a selection of jams and enjoy. Even plain, they’re still quite tasty.

In Purrsuit of Flavours

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ May 4, 2020

We hope you had a great weekend. I don’t know about you, but suspect like me, you’ve been gravitating toward ‘feel good’ stories and smile inducing social media. If this 2018 America’s Got Talent entry doesn’t make you smile, then you’re either related to the notoriously famous sour-puss Simon Cowell or more likely, you have no pulse. Happy first day of the week. Keep smiling. With loads of shout outs to singing pooches everywhere, I present Oscar.

Live, love, bark 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May Day, 2020

Happy May Day and welcome to the first Friday of May. We hope this finds you healthy and following whatever rules are in place in your local area to keep yourself and your loved ones safe in the pandemic. As usual, we join our furry friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition to the Nature Friday blog hop.

What a difference a week makes! Last week we experienced a bit of spring, then some winter, then a quick return to looking at spring again. This week has been more summer-like with a couple of days well in to the 80’s F (27-30C). But we’re ok, in spite of the whiplash. Jeez, Mother Nature…what’s up with you?

Flowers
A small portion of the grape hyacinth invasion

Remember one of those snowstorms in April? Well the hard frosts that accompanied the snow pretty much did a number on most of the flowering trees, including peach, apple, cherry and the ever popular non-fruiting but spectacularly flowering ornamental pear trees. Of the flowering trees around the neighborhood, very few have or will bloom which is quite sad. Bulbs (namely grape hyacinths) survived and are making their annual appearance unfazed. In my garden, they have naturalized everywhere. It’s always entertaining to see who wins out the landscape war-grape hyacinths, lupines or dandelions. The yellow flower is shining brightly all over this part of town. Some people have already abandoned any hope of trying to reduce their presence (for the record, not my garden-I gave up on grass years ago 😈).

Dandelions

Some of the early bloomers who had their moment in the spotlight, still provide beauty with their seed heads, like this Pasque Flower. I love this plant maybe even more after it blooms. Can you say…t-e-x-t-u-r-e?

Flowers

Two days ago on one of our walks, a few field poppies made their arrival. Flowers

Usually at this point in the season, early perennials begin to arrive like this Golden Alyssum. Everyplace I saw this beauty looked somewhat peaked, suggesting the up-down, yoyo weather has taken its toll. Not one plant was particularly full and vibrant.

Flowers

Even candytuft, while blooming, was just a bit…meh. Not nearly as robust as usual. This was the best version I found along our walk. Sigh.Flowers

While many of the spring bloomers may be somewhat lacking, we still hope for some nourishing rain to improve the early summer garden blooming season. The forecast calls for a ‘chance’ so we’ll see. I remain skeptical since rain is rare around here. However, the lupine and peonies have their petals crossed.

As your area begins to loosening up some pandemic restrictions, do you have any plans to change the way you’ve been living or will you get out there and so something just to get away from house arrest? Whatever you chose to do, please do it safely while enjoying the beginning of a new month and fresh weekend.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark!  🐾