Therapy in Action-Mexican Style

Pirate coffee hutSince returning from Mexico I have been frequently thinking about the impact of pet therapy more than usual. While visiting south of the border, I witnessed first hand the absolute power of pet therapy on a spontaneous walk I took in the vicinity of our resort. My intention was to walk up the main roadway toward where the river flowed out into the bay. I knew from walking along the beach that near the confluence, a number of egret-like birds hung out. I was also told by a local person, crocodiles could also be found upstream. I planned on avoiding the later but hoped I could get some decent shots of the former.

Pirate coffee shopWhen it became clear no good shots of the birds could be had without climbing down a step river bank (umm, no thanks, no photo of a bird was worth a potential encounter with a croc sighting, thank you very much). Instead, serendipity arrived in the form of a little coffee stand in the shape of…a pirate ship. ‘Argh,’ I groaned but quickly realized this little hut and companion playground held potential for a few photo opportunities. The proprietor greeted me (that’s him waving in the first photo) and we exchanged limited greetings, he only spoke Spanish and beyond ‘Hola,’ I could only smile. But I wandered around hoping to catch some locals taking a break when I saw a small boy playing in the playground area, but realized there was something special about this little boy. The boy was chasing and being chased by a small puppy who constantly dashed after this blur of a child, and the two rambunctious dervishes chased and played with each other with pure abandon. After several minutes of watching the scene, a thin slip of a young woman with a beautiful smile waved and came over to chat. She was the boy’s mother and we began a long chat about the two bundles of energy. The puppy was a Pit/Lab mix, about 4-months old which she had obtained for her 4-year old autistic son. She had gotten the dog in hopes of giving her son a companion that he might be aided by the fur companion. She related how owning this little ball of energy had made a significant difference with her son. When I revealed Sam was a therapy dog, she began asking me a jillion questions about training the new addition while repeatedly re-directing the pair away from the busy road.

Mexican therapy dog
A brief  moment of stillness

I barely was able to catch the pair still enough to capture any photos (never did get one of the boy who was either blurry or where he looked away), but in the shot above, the little ‘therapist’ was catching his breath for a few seconds before resuming the chase with his human friend. Watching the two of them and talking with the mom, it really struck me, how often dogs manage to understand their role with their humans. They instinctively seem to know what we need and provide it willingly. The mom, a transplant from Alberta Canada, mentioned that day was to be the last one with the little dog officially. The landlord said no pets and was adamant about the rule. So like mom’s everywhere, she found a solution to comply without moving by paying a nearby neighbor a few dollars a month to care for the dog at night and bring him back to play with her son during the day. I can only hope this solution works well for them, the little boy was clearly attached to his pal and the little pooch was thrilled to have his ‘2-legged puppy’ companion with whom he could romp and play during the day.

I thought about that family when Sam went to West Pines last week. We visited with a number of folks who for a brief few minutes, came out of their shells to twirl their fingers around the soft fur of a loving Knucklehead. One woman in particular sat down and had Sam sit in front of her crossed legs. Her face lit up and her soft voice shared her story about adopting a pair of Potcake dogs (you can read about the breed here) and how much she missed them. I could tell this tender-hearted woman needed a few minutes with Sam and he was more than willing to let her gaze into his eyes and stroke his ears. A fellow resident who was far chattier and extroverted then took his turn with Sam who accommodated him with a totally different energy. I couldn’t help but think of the little Pit/Lab mixed puppy a 1000 miles away chasing the pant legs of a little boy while romping together and then smiling. It was then while I typed this post that I realized Sam had his head pressed against my thigh. Without consciously thinking I reached down and twirled the fur on his ears and he leaned in and then looked up at me. Yes, therapy dogs are the same no matter where they are and I couldn’t be more pleased about that fact.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Birthday Monday ~ October 8, 2018

Yesterday was a big day around the Ranch. We had a little celebration going on for our favorite Knucklehead who officially became a ‘teenager.’ That’s right, Sam turned 13 yesterday and celebrated like all ‘teens’ do, with a more active social media presence. If you missed his pics, you can see them here on Instagram. Then there were Greenies. Lots of Greenies.

He and I took a walk over to our neighborhood pup shop “Taj Mutt Hal” for his birthday treat and then hung out for a bit in Highlands Square letting him  be the center of attraction at the shops. It was nice spending time alone with him without a certain little Ninja trying to bogart his spotlight.  I guess in dog years, Sam would be around 79 which is probably why he’s been asking when his Social Security check will arrive. 

Elsa did get in on the afternoon celebration and offered her ‘design’ skills to rearrange a favorite toy I made for her last year. Unlike his sister, Sam doesn’t mind appendages. I think she’s been texting our favorite pair of Weimaraners for tips on how to make confetti. She’s a novice compared to the “Overlook Twins” but can sub in at any time if you have a deconstruction project. Having already eviscerated the one arm, perhaps she decided it needed to be balanced. At least she’s not a Picasso-type designer, right? Any have odds on how long the legs will stay intact now?

At any rate, both pups enjoyed a few extra treats yesterday and we managed to get some training time in using them.

“Wait” is a hard lesson to learn when chicken treats are used

Hope you had a great weekend. It sure seemed to have gone by extra quickly for us. For those of you who acknowledge it, have a Happy Columbus Day. We’ll use this day to reflect on the plight of indigenous people while waiting for mail that won’t arrive until tomorrow. Enjoy a short work week presuming you have today off.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Remember Me Thursday

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Today is a special day known as Remember Me Thursday, a “global awareness campaign uniting individuals and pet adoption organizations around the world as an unstoppable, integrated voice for orphan pets to live in forever homes, not die waiting for them.”

As you may know, rescue is very important to me. Having rescued a number of pets over the years and most recently rescuing my little black Ninja, Elsa who developed epilepsy two weeks after her adoption, Given the opportunity to shed a light on a  topic near and dear to my heart, I will whenever I can.

Far too many pets languish in shelters waiting for someone to rescue them so we hope on this day that people will consider adoption. I know each time I’ve adopted a dog, be they from a shelter or a rescue group, I have been so very well rewarded by these amazing creatures throughout my life. I continue to love and share amazing adventures with my little Ninja as I watch her ongoing development.

I hope you will consider saving a life and experience the joy of knowing you made a difference for a shelter pet in the future.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Remembering Madi

While we didn’t know Madi, we do know that she was beloved here in Blogville. Today as Sam and I are visiting patients at West Pines, we are participating in a remember Madi blog hop hosted by Raz and our fur-iends, Rosy and the Gang.

The loss of a beloved pet is always hard and we know she will be greatly missed by her friends and family. Had we known Madi, no doubt we would have had oodles of poodles fun following along her ‘pawsome’ adventures. But because we didn’t, alas we have no personal smiles to share per se, and offer some remembrance poppies from our garden instead with the hope her family finds comfort from tender memories.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Never Forget Tuesday

FlagToday we remember 9/11, the day where 2,996 innocent people lost their lives and over 6,000 where injured. It was also the single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States.

There are seminal moments growing up that trigger strong emotional memories. The assassination of John Kennedy and 9/11 both fall into that category and I  remember exactly as if it happened yesterday. Do you remember where were you when the Towers came down?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wandering Wednesday

Yesterday was a gorgeous day in the 303 with mild temps and even a shower later in the day-something we haven’t seen in a couple of months. Mother Nature has been quite schizoid this summer so it was wonderful being able to take advantage of this pause in blistering temperatures. It was the perfect day to visit the Denver Botanical Gardens with a dear friend. My dear friend, Cheryl and I were awed by nature’s kaleidoscope of color and texture. Here are a few highlights from our meanderings. It was a great day shared with a great friend that reminded me how truly blessed I am by this friendship and the gorgeous venue in the heart of the city.

Water lilies in full bloom
Water lily bloom hidden in the Japanese garden
A striking bloom among the dahlias
These thistle-like blooms felt like balsa wood in the perennial garden-so unusual…so fascinating
Statuary near the herb and Biblical garden
Orange stunner
A four-legged visitor in the Japanese Garden who probably didn’t buy a ticket
The fabulous Monet Garden

Wishing you a fabulous day of wandering. Happy mid-week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Mental Health Thursday

How can I help you?

We visited West Pines yesterday (read about a previous visit here and the kinds of patients we see) and noticed that most of the staff were wearing green remembrance ribbons attached to their ID badges. When I asked what the occasion was, they said it was Mental Health week. I didn’t find anything online about it (it could have been a hospital campaign although I note it was Mental Health week in the UK from May 16 through May 22).

In any event, Sam was ready to provide his own version of therapy for a number of staff and patients. Here are some of Dogtor Sam’s therapy session notes.

From the moment we walked into the facility, Sam realized there was work to do. Not one to shirk his duties, he began even before our chaperone arrived to take us on our rounds. He   strolled over to a visitor sitting in the lobby. She sheepishly asked if she could pet Sam and as soon as the words came out of her mouth, he was standing next to her, tail-a-wagging. She got down on the carpet and looked deeply into his eyes. She bent close to him and whispered something in his ear. His tail wagged even more feverishly and he sat next to her while she began to massage his ears. It was the beginning of many massages for the furry therapist.

Sam saw several people, all of whom genuinely enjoyed seeing him. But his most memorable visit was with “Sarah,” a tall, thin woman with a vacant stare. She politely asked to face him as she sat in a chair and began stroking him gently. He looked deep into her eyes and seemed as if he was completely mesmerized by her gaze. She told me of her own service dog but I’m reluctant to quiz patients about their personal lives (HIPAA plus it’s really not my place to question them). It’s better just to let them share whatever they want. I could tell she was missing her service companion greatly but seemed more than happy to spend time with Sam. A few moments after she sat in front of him, a young bearded fellow came over and sat next to Sam. It seemed too much for her to have someone in such close proximity and she got up and moved to the other side of the day room but keep a watchful eye on her new furry friend. The young man sat and talked to both Sam and I, saying how much he enjoyed dogs and how much they seem drawn to him. Sam was enjoying his presence and after a few minutes sitting on the floor, he decided to get up and move around to loosen up a sore hip. As soon as he left, Sarah returned and sat down cross-legged on the floor in front of him. Sam seemed to realize she needed more of the kind of therapy he can provide and sat patiently with her. Soon he was laying on his side next to her while her fingers returned to massaging him in his favorite spots. A few of the staff commented at how relaxed Sam was and I noticed Sarah seemed more relaxed too. My heart swelled at the thought of this knucklehead making Mental Health Week a little more pleasant for a few peeps in need.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings

After a way too short of a visit with my granddaughter who’s visiting from Hawaii, it’s back to business as usual. As Miss Hailey leaves for her return flight this morning, we will prepare to make preparations for Sam’s hospital visits beginning tomorrow and will fondly reflect back at these two inseparable girls. How was your weekend?

Live love, bark! 🐾

Fab Friday ~ May 11, 2018

Yippee…it’s Friday! Seems like we arrived here sooner than some weeks. Anyway, I’m super stoked, how about you?  We hope you find loads of fun things to do this weekend. Sending extra special Mother’s Day wishes to all moms, whether your kid has two or 4 legs or wings. And best birthday wishes to my wonderful sister-in-law. I hope your birthday is as special as you. Love ya!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Medical Monday and Purple Day

Many thanks to all the many well wishes last week while I was recovering from my ailment. I am beginning to feel better. There is still some follow-up appointments with the doctor but I am feeling at least like a half-way participant in the human race once again. Finally. The medical staff was incredible and made themselves available 24/7. Without them, I shudder to think how I would have been able to survive.

‘Dogtors’ Sam and Elsa

Today is also Epilepsy Awareness Day, aka “Purple Day” and since we are personally touched by epilepsy, we support these efforts to increasing awareness worldwide and invite you to wear purple today. If you or your family are impacted by epilepsy, feel free to find valuation information at the Epilepsy Foundation website or at on the ‘About’ tab at PurpleDay.org website.

Live, love, bark 🐾