Thoughts and Prayers For France

315c3e5cf605e5cafd6893b6a7671ed0

We cannot begin to imagine the pain and heartache being experienced by the people of France today. To our friend, Easy and his family, please know we are thinking of you.

Live, love, bark! <3

More than just a pretty face

bv_img31

Lately there have been a number of ‘why I love my dog’ kind of posts around Blogville and it got me to thinking, why haven’t I done one? I mean I’m quite ‘pawsitive,’ that I’m at least 110% over the moon when it comes to Sam. There are so many reasons to love his breed, hypoallergenic, for starters! Poodles are smart, they excel at so many things, are definitely athletic and make great pets. They are adept at so many things but with Sam I’m totally enamored with his goofy personality and the way he ministers to patients around the hospital. His sweet nature, patience and innate ability to provide just the right amount of attention and love toward patients is truly remarkable. This dog, mind you doesn’t do tricks (unless you count licking his chops on command for nurses and patients when offered a treat-a real winner around the hospital hallways). He’d rather set his fur on fire than to shake anyone’s hand and always gives you a ‘eew’ look if you try. Sit up and beg? ‘Fuggedaboudit!’ This dimwit’s giant schnoz of a nose can amazingly and yet easily miss a dropped morsel that’s right in front of his face.

When he twists himself up like a pretzel and gives me that tag-wagging thump, thump thump on the floor, all the while looking at me adoringly as if I’m going to share the correct numbers for this week’s Lottery with him. He seems to hang on to every word I utter (except when I need him to focus on walking rather than sniffing along our meanderings but even that makes me smile with gratitude at the thought of his sweet, goofy disposition). And he will look at you blankly if you toss a ball for him to retrieve unable to comprehend why in the world you tossed it and the expect him to fetch it. Yeah, homey don’t roll that way but I could care less. And then there’s always that look he gives me as if I just spoke to him in Yugoslavian and he doesn’t understand a single word of it at all.

_MG_4770-(ZF-2552-28389-2-002)-2He may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier but I love that goofball like crazy. When I see him patiently allowing a complete stranger to strangle the stuffing out of him hug him around his neck, or when he leans heavily against a leg or thigh, I can only smile and be comforted knowing that knucklehead of a dog is making someone smile and feel just a little bit better about their current moment in life. And that is something that brings such happiness and joy to me as well as to all those who encounter this completely sweet and goofy boy.

Yeah, I love that boy, schnoz and all because I’ve never seen a more complete package of enthusiastic love for everyone he meets and the love he shows me. Yup, I really do love that dog!

So what about your pup makes you smile and realize how much you love ’em?

Live, love, bark! <3

 

We’re baaacck…

Greetings and salutations, peeps! Sam here. IMG_1219 We’ve returned from ‘going fishin’ and can I just say best. week. ever! We did and experienced things we never thought possible. Everything was just perfect.

Mom and I were reminded by the expression “may you live in interesting times.” Certainly the times are beyond interesting these days, so I thought I should investigate and try to find out the what and from where that expression came. Many people have used it including some notably famous folks (Robert F. Kennedy, in fact) and it is universally thought to be some sort of Chinese folk wisdom. Some people think it’s actually a translation of a traditional Chinese curse though no actual Chinese source has been discovered. In any event, suffice it to say we think of it as positive and intend to view it on that basis.

So what did we miss? Mom made some feeble attempts to ‘try’ and keep up (if you ask me, she did a lousy job, because there were more than a hundred emails in her inbox, but hey…that’s just me, what do I know…I’m only the dog in this equation and clearly the only one on this team who never stops working). One thing is for sure though, she was thinking about you guys and hoping everyone was having as great a time as we were with perfect September weather. So dish now…what all did you do this past week while we were away? Hope you know that you were missed.

Live, love, bark! <3

Reflections on a year

There was an elaborate idea to write a commemoration story on the actual anniversary of my first post but then the nice folks at WordPress reminded me in a lovely message that today is the anniversary date of when I actually joined the blogosphere despite it being another month before I could finally be able to hit that scary “PUBLISH” button.

I had wanted to start a blog for a few years but couldn’t wrap my head around how to go about it and was inspired by my good friend, Anna who actually has two blogs (be sure to check out this one if you ever need a groovy hip place to stay in when you’re in Vail, CO-that condo is fabulous). We talked about our mutual desire to start a blog for months though little did I know she’d already launched DesignPunk. We both agreed that snarky comments had the potential to crush your spirit (you’d be surprised how cruel people can be in their comments on design blogs) and the fear factor was more than just a figment of our imagination. Like her, I sooooo wanted to launch a cool design blog. Anna and I share similar tastes when it comes to design, but then reality appeared, tapped me on the shoulder and pointed out that (a) my design sense actually sucks and (b) I have no DIY abilities beyond wielding a semi-mean paintbrush-not exactly the kind of treasure trove needed for that kind of blog. Talk about humbling. But I still couldn’t shake the idea that I really wanted to be part of Blogville; I knew there were things to say, even though there was no demonstrable design skills to share. Sigh. 🙁

_MG_4770-(ZF-2552-28389-2-002)-2And then it hit me, the one thing that I possibly could blog about was right at the end of the leash. Sam became the inspiration behind this blog–he’s goofy, sweet and the perfect companion to bring smiles to people, sick or well and with my desire to make a difference in people’s lives, I got this idea that I could blog about our experiences as a pet therapy team. I still had that whole ‘gee, have no clue how to set this thing up’ minor detail going on, but I just decided to wing it. There are what, 20 million + blogs out there, surely it couldn’t be too hard. Luckily, the stars aligned themselves and a college near the ‘ranch’ offered an abbreviated class on social media for neophytes like me and I enthusiastically signed up. I was paired with a freshly scrubbed young college student who gleefully told me it would be a piece of cake and we could knock out a blog in no time. Yay! I thought. Little did I know that an accident and injury would prevent her from completing the project with me which had barely begun to be set up. So with fear in my heart, I plunged on in the dark. I think it took me two weeks before I could even decide on a theme and that was with non-stop thinking about it. I tried several out, couldn’t decide on a final one and nearly threw up my hands in despair and quit. Still I couldn’t shake that nagging desire to be part of this amazing community of incredibly talented people, adorable pooches, kitties, dare I say even kangaroos. 🙂 I wish I could list every single one of you here; you have all been so remarkably welcoming, supportive and kind to us and have given me far more than I could have possibly imagined.

Boy, am I happy I didn’t give up. A trip to the bookstore and countless hours of reading WordPress for Dummies (over and over) later, I played around and practiced (over and over) trying to set it all up (still not sure everything is the way it should be/could be, but I’m dealing with those details when they pop up and tweaking it all the time). I remember crying, moaning and groaning but I kept plugging away determined not to let it get the best of me. I figured, sheesh, how hard can it be? I mean, I work for lawyers for crying out loud and have managed to survive them all these years, surely I can figure this out. There were some nights and weekends where I thought I’d either set my hair on fire, slit my wrists or throw the laptop away. Those were some dark times I’ll admit, when I was convinced that I’d never make it but ultimately after taking lots of little bitty, tiny, baby steps, came to realize this dream. And while that was hard enough in and of itself, it was nothing compared to actually publishing that first post of which I agonized over for weeks. I still l suffer from ‘publishing anxiety” and figure that will probably never go away, as it’s more than likely an ongoing continual process, right?

But then you dear readers rescued me. At first only friends and family were bullied invited to take a look. Then lo and behold, you started checking us out. Can I just say, I. was. over. the. moon. with my first ‘like’ and beyond giddy with the first comment? That day was so incredibly exciting ad special. And since then I have been touched and buoyed by your support, cleverness, unfettered brilliant humor and welcoming over this past year. How can I ever repay your generous spirit of community, your pithy observations, or the way you can always make me smile and reflect on issues surrounding our mutual passion about our fur babies? I shall always be in your debt. Thank you from the bottom of my heart–you made the first year totally ‘pawsome.’ Here’s to more laughs and heartfelt posts from both sides of the keyboard. I know I look forward to reading all of your posts and hope you’ll continue to drop by and see ours.

Live, love, bark! <3

Keep those pearly whites…white

Psst, Sam here, don’t tell Mom but I hijacked the blog to tell you all about an important topic because the lawyers are keeping her too busy lately with closings and since I had nothing to do but buff my nails and look pawsome laying around the house…I thought I would do a public service announcement and help her out. Yes, I am a good doggie (mostly). 🙂

So here’s my bloggy contribution: The American Veterinary Medical Association and a number of veterinary groups are sponsoring awareness of pet dental health and designated February as National Pet Dental Health Month! Yup, that’s right, and if you’ve caught a whiff of your pup or kitty’s bad breath lately, it’s even more important to take care of it N.O.W. Not only can poor dental health cause bad breath, it may signify any number of serious health risks including potential for periodontal disease or even worse, damage to internal organs. Yikes!

I don’t know of any dog or cat that enjoys having their ‘paw-rent’ stick their chubby little fingers in their mouth for teeth brushing, I know I gag like I just swallowed a live toad. Mom tried toothbrushes (nope that ain’t gonna happen, my jaw clamps down like I’m a snapping turtle waiting for sundown) but then she found some finger brushes that while not great if you’re on the receiving end, are a whole lot better than toothbrushes. Gag, gag, gag. But I do like the liver flavored toothpaste.

Periodontal disease is the most common condition that pets suffer from even though it’s completely preventable. You floss YOUR teeth, don’t ya? Well, all that bacteria in a dog’s mouth combined with saliva (also known as dog kisses) and food bits can form plaque. When plaque accumulates, tartar can form. As more and more plaque combines with bacteria on top of the tartar and mineralization forms calculus. If plaque is soft, it can be brushed away, if it’s hardened into tartar and calculus, it has to be scraped away which means an expensive trip to the vet. I don’t know about you, but that’s not my idea of a fun afternoon outing.

When tartar and calculus trap bacteria around the gum line and if left untreated, can lead to irritation of the gum tissue (gingivitis) and then progress to full on periodontal disease. This can result in illness of the supporting tissues of the teeth, ligaments that attach gum to tooth and jaw bone. The American Veterinary Dental Society has estimated that 85% of cats and dogs have periodontal disease by age four. 85% people!!

Signs of periodontal disease may include bad breath (the first obvious sign there’s bad stuff a foot), excessive salivation, refusing to eat or dropping food, rubbing or pawing at face, loose or broken teeth and inflamed gums. Often times, bad breath will be the only symptom that shows up.

Beware, periodontal disease can lead to systemic problems with bacterial infection spreading from mouth to heart and heart valves, kidney and liver.

So do yourself, your pocketbook and your pet a big favor. Brush their choppers regularly. Giving your pet special treats can help scale some of that junk off.  Mom spoils me with elk antlers and boy I tell you, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ’em and check out my smile. They last a long time without getting all gummy and smelly like some treats do and I haven’t grown bored with them either (win-win). Oral rinses or water additives can help too, but there’s just no substitute for regularly brushing and regular checks by your vet.

_MG_4671-(ZF-2552-28389-2-003)  So remember, February is National Pet Dental Month. Let’s flash those pearly whites around town and dispense with bad breath and ancillary health problems.

You know, this bloggy thing is kind of cool. Maybe I can sneak in a post or two again soon but don’t tell Mom. She’s a bit of a control freak and will totally wig out. 😉

Live, love, bark! <3

Gratitude and Colorado sunrises

Sunrise - Sloan's Lake
Sunrise – Sloan’s Lake

If you saw my earlier post this week, you know I’m on a quest to ditch the negative toxic stuff. I’ve done a lot of thinking about life in general lately and have been trying to get back some balance and focus more on the positive stuff that makes me happy and for which I’m grateful rather than letting all the ugly negative stuff influence my life. Here are a few more things:

  • Early morning sunrises. Admittedly, I’m a morning person anyway (yes, I know not everyone is so I feel for ya especially since you’re missing out on some of the best times of the day IMHO). That said, who wouldn’t be when Mother Nature can deliver spectacular views like the one above from nearby Sloan’s Lake with its lovely park and (obviously) cool lake? Is that a killer view of sunrise looking eastward toward downtown, or what?  In the summer, Sloan’s Lake hosts a big Dragon Boat Festival which is an equally fabulous yet totally different view.
  • Nutella lattes. Before my friend Anna moved to Japan last year, one of the things we used to do was prowl for the best coffee houses and she found a super sweet place that makes a fabulous Nutella latte. Get out! Trust me, order this drink when you get the chance. It is to die for! Talk about liquid comfort. Yum-may. Almost better than craft beer…almost. 🙂
  • Aside from finding that awesome coffee shop with her and our shared love of ‘Sweden’ (aka IKEA), I continue to cherish her friendship even from afar. She’s funny, accomplished and extremely talented and I can always count on her to brighten my day with her generous spirit of friendship. She has two of the most adorable brindled Boxer dogs who always provide us with mounds and mounds of comic relief with their antics (visit her terrific blog DesignPunk and check out her design adventures in Japan as well as photos of the dogs). I’m in total awe of her super techno savvy-ness, her fearless ability to design amazing spaces, DIY’ing stuff I’m way too afraid to tackle, all the while successfully moving overseas and adapting so well in a completely different culture. Anna, you’re my hero!
  • Daily walk/runs with my favorite pup, Sam. Those twice-a-day jaunts are a total dog-send (especially in the early morning) and they do more for my psyche than nearly anything else. Not only do I get out and burn calories with my bestie, it makes a total difference in my mental state. Truthfully, I do it as much for me as I do for him but we both benefit from a good workout.  Now to just get him to focus on the “we’re moving” part–not the we’ve paused to sniff part.
  • Beautiful clear blue skies of Colorado.  It just doesn’t get more picturesque than those National Geographic-like blue skies and with our 300+ days of sunshine a year in the Mile High City, I get loads of essential Vitamin D too. Win-win.
  • Although the Polar Vortex arrived with a serious vengeance this week (it was a record setting minus 14 yesterday morning–yikes!), this has been one of the most exquisite and mild Autumns I can remember.  While we don’t have those gorgeous East Coast reds and oranges in trees, the golds here were extra spectacular this year. The light was simply aglow.
  • Finding some cash in a pair of trousers recently was a nice and unexpected surprise. I think my Nutella-latte Jonesing will be fully satisfied this weekend. Note to self – check all the pockets periodically. You  never know what you’ll find.
  • Wildlife in my neighborhood. It’s still hard to believe that I’m a mere 3 miles away from the center of downtown Denver when I see the likes of raccoons, foxes, bats, coyotes and earlier this summer a pair of deer in the yard! I’ve seen a horned owl and a mating pair of Falcons on early morning walks with Sam…not what you’d generally expect to see in city critters but they sure do make me smile. I’m filled with gratitude when I can see Nature like that especially in an urban environment.

So those are just a few of the things that cause me to smile and make me ‘paws’ and savor that good stuff. It really is remarkable that when you actually do focus on the positive, you’ll actually see and experience it. Go figure, who’d have thought it could be that simple?!

Wishing you barking loads of cool things to smile about this weekend! What’s on your weekend agenda that will make you smile and give thanks? 🐾

We’re famous!

Beautiful Smith Lake at Wash Park
Beautiful Smith Lake at Wash Park

Okay, maybe we’re not exactly famous but we are very well-known. Uh yeah…that too is probably a stretch, but Sam is beginning to make his presence known and during this election season, I’m doing what everybody else does…I’m hanging on to a real winner’s coattails.

I recently had the opportunity to have a local pet photographer take photographs of Sam for next year’s hospital pet therapy calendar and while we were there, she graciously took a few snaps of us together as well. Can I just say having my picture taken is the pits? I mean I’d rather set my hair on fire than pose for a camera. Photos of me are always disappointing and usually come off contrived or downright funky. I really do want them to turn out nice, but it’s super awkward for me to look at a camera and feel relaxed or confident even with a great sidekick like Sam. Yeah, it’s true, I have no photo mojo but have always admired those who seem to look so effortlessly fabulous in photos.  The truth is, I’m kind of jealous of them, too.  How do they do that so easily?!  And why is that so hard for me?  Talk about self-conscious angst. Ugh.

Well, I have to say I am over the moon thrilled with the results! Ariane from DelaFoto: Elegant Pet Photography did an amazing job with our photo shoot at Denver’s famous Washington Park and featured us on her blog! “Wash Park” as it is more commonly referred to is one of Denver’s most beautiful parks with gorgeous trees, well manicured flower beds, oodles of bike and running paths, wide open grass areas, a gorgeous lake and boathouse and we were there on one of those fabulous picture-perfect Colorado autumn days.  The light was beautifully golden and really captured Sam in all his glory.

So check it out at Ariane’s blog.  Thanks again for doing a fabulous job, Ariane! You even made me look good, and that’s no an easy task. Now the trick will be picking out the best ones. 🙂

Have you ever had professional photos taken of your fur-baby?  Did you love ’em?  How did the shoot go? Do you think Sam will become famous after his ‘glamour’ shots?

Briggs-Myers and Dogs

I'm a what?!
I’m a what?!

A colleague of mine recently suggested I take this online personality test this week (a modern-day Briggs-Myers) and it came up with the same outcome as it did 25 years ago when I first took it (guess there really is something to the methodology used).  It got me to thinking, would it be possible to convert that test to find out about Sam’s personality?

So I did what any curious dog mommy would do, I took the test for Sam, answering the questions in ‘his’ voice.  🙂 Seems as though this particular personable goofball is an ESFP, generous with time and energy like no other personality.  And ESFPs do it all with style and go beyond their comfort zone.  Yup, that’s totally Sam and that is precisely what makes him a great therapy dog.

ESFPs love the spotlight soaking up attention yet enjoy the simplest things (he still has a major crush on an elk antler that I would not have thought possible after 8 months). There’s no greater joy than having fun with a group of friends which is exactly how we feel after we’ve left the hospital. And it may not always seem like it, but ESFPs know it isn’t always about them–they are observant and are very sensitive to others emotions providing support (people ESFPs provide practical advise but so far Sam hasn’t conveyed anything…at least not in English although he is pretty transparent  and you always know what’s on his mind and in his heart).

ESFPs are bold, original, possess excellent people skills, are readily into ‘entertaining’ others and they are super observant.  They’re welcome whenever there’s a need for someone who can play/laugh or volunteer to try something new and fun and there’s no greater joy for them then to meet that need and bring everyone along for the ride–which seems just the right qualities to have in a therapy dog and describes Sam to a tee. ESFPs will gladly share their friends and loved ones emotions through good times and bad. I can definitely say Sam was most perceptive during my recovery last year after my accident and he continues this perception with patients, visitors and staff at the hospital. He just seems to know what to do during any encounter with people, wherever.

ESFPs do have a few shortcomings however. They find it difficult to focus (um, you think?…ADHD Sam has the attention span of a gnat!), can be overly sensitive and extremely expressive and make no pretense concealing their feelings.  They usually experience difficulties in academic environments (it was definitely touch and go during some of our training sessions with this loveable dimwit).  They are always seeking excitement and loathe conflicts and seem driven toward fun, fun, fun. But you know what, I wouldn’t trade him for anything and I don’t think the folks at the hospital would want Sam any other way either.

So which personality type are you?  What’s your dog’s personality?  Did you think the test was accurate?  Come on…dish the dirt.

<3

Life Advice – Sam Style

A pawsome pooch
A pawsome pooch

Whether you think of today as Monday or Moanday* if you can view today like Sam does, you’ll guaranty yourself a happy day (and probably a happy life).

🐾  Take naps and stretch before rising.

🐾  If what you want is buried, dig until you find it.

🐾  Mark your territory with abandon.

🐾  Don’t bite if a growl will do.

🐾  And never ever turn down a treat or walk.

*I didn’t coin the term “Moanday” but I like it very much.  Thanks to our friends over at Easy Weimaraner (http://easyweimaraner.wordpress.com) for turning me on to it.

Happy Monday!

Release the Hounds

Release the Hounds!
Release the Hounds!

I WANT that doorbell!  Not because it’s adorable beyond all get-out and really describes answering the door at the ‘Ranch.’  And not because I don’t have more than one ‘hound’ currently, but because I need the ‘hounds of creativity’ to be released.  I’m stuck.  I got nothing…bupkis.  My brain is on overload and while there are a few drafts in the works, it seems no amount of editing or resource checking has made a difference to magically transform them into something fit for public view.  So what does a part-time blogger do when she suffers from writer’s block?  Come on all you creative types, please dish and share your secret!  Puleez?

My first thought was to binge watch Breaking Bad (what can I say, I L-O-V-E that show), The Walking Dead (meh, not in the mood for Zombies right now but just wait till the season premiers though) or GoT (Game of Thrones).  Yeah, not so much.  Westeros will have to continue looting and pillaging without me.

This past weekend I spent a few days visiting my parents and celebrating my Dad’s birthday.  It was the perfect trip–we laughed, played games and cards, talked politics, watched the most amazing sunset, enjoyed cool evenings under a sky full of twinkling stars with tasty drinks and ate-boy did we eat…only the best kind of relaxing stuff and exactly what I needed after experiencing several rather stress-filled weeks at work.  When I drove home on Labor Day, I hoped the relaxed vibe I experienced at my parents’ house would translate into some fantastic inspiration for a couple posts.  Instead, I slipped back into overload running around trying to get laundry, housecleaning, and yard work done before having to hop back onto the hamster wheel at work.  I didn’t even realize it right away until I noticed Sam gave me that “hey, how come all of a sudden you’re not doting on me sigh” that only he can give following our Monday evening walk and just before plopping down on his dog bed while giving me the evil stink eye.  Personally I think he got a little spoiled with my parents, and particularly missed my Mom’s hugs and treats (I mean who wouldn’t, but get used to it dude, we all have to soldier on—it’s called Reality 101!).

But you know as I look back at the terrific time we spent together, it occurred to me that even though I didn’t get the writing boost I had hoped for, my inner need for family time was well met and far more important.  And right now, I’m good with that. ❤️ Thanks again, Mom and Dad.  Love you!

So until the blog spirits revisit me and release the ‘creative’ hounds, I’ll smile and relish the ‘pawsome’ weekend spent with the people who know me the best and who still love and accept me for it.  Then I’m going on line and ordering that doorbell!

Hope Labor Day fueled your soul (or your creative juices).