Monday Musings ~ October 7, 2019

SamFourteen years ago today, a small apricot-colored curly, bundle of knuckleheaded-ness entered the world. Who knew at the time this silly boy would bring so much joy to everyone whose path crossed his way? Elsa here. Although he wouldn’t arrive at the Ranch until he was two, that photo was one of the earliest images showing his sweetness.

Sam

While he may not be quite the same pogo-stick he was when he joined mom, the boy’s still got game and continues to walk anywhere from 2-4 miles a day. Please join me in wishing him many happy returns. Come back tomorrow to see the blackmail photos highlights from his party. Happy birthday, bro! Mom and I love ya, even if you’re a goofball.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Make a Wish Monday ~ September 16, 2019

Three years ago, a skinny, shut-down black Standard Poodle joined the pack and life hasn’t been the same ever since. Today is Elsa’s 3rd ‘Gotcha’ Day and I couldn’t be happier she found her way into my life. You can read more about her story here.

Elsa

Sure it’s true, I’ve suffered from her munching of multiple pairs of reading glasses, wool socks, and other assorted household items and I’ve learned to cope with the devastating diagnosis of idiopathic epilepsy, but this clever girl has truly blossomed into quite the Princess.

From a shut-down, puppy mill survivor to the spunky, hilarious Ninja of today, Elsa learned to wag her tail when she experienced joy and came to love playing with toys. She’s definitely come a long way from that fateful autumn day three years ago. The birthday girl must have realized today is a special day since she let me sleep in to 4:45 a.m. this morning (from her normal “GOOD MORNING!”  bark requesting the desire to come up on the bed rather than the usual 4:35). With this girl, I’ll happily accept those extra ten minutes and continue to enjoy those daily early morning snores snuggles.

Sam & ElsaHappy Gotcha Day, sweet Elsa. Keep making everyone around you smile and continue to thrive while bringing smiles to those who love you. Even your Knuckleheaded brother sends happy greetings.

Elsa

One of the most inspiring footnotes to Elsa’s story is the fact that she has (knock on wood) remained seizure-free since last November. She continues learning how to be a ‘normal’ dog  and how to enjoy life. There’s still seems to be more room for her to grow and learn so I look forward to more continued progress, both physically and emotionally. High five, Ninja.Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Mourning Monday ~ August 5, 2019

Normally we begin each week with a smile but after the latest mass shootings over the weekend, it’s hard to share a silly cartoon. As a general rule I avoid expressing  my political thoughts here, but with the most recent cities joining a less and less exclusive and heartbreaking club of victims and survivors dealing with the aftermath of gun violence in America, perhaps it’s time to make an exception.

Let me start by saying I have no simple solution but clearly the usual way of coping after this happens doesn’t seem to make a difference. And I don’t know how to eliminate assault weapons or high capacity magazines from the hands of those who would use them to wage their particular flavor of hatred. I can only hope we take a long, hard look at the ugly image of America staring back at all of us in the mirror and finally resolve to actually do something to change these nearly daily occurrences. With over 200 mass shootings tallied this year alone (the exact figure is difficult to precisely pinpoint with various agencies tracking these events using different metrics), no matter which number you settle on, by my way of thinking it’s still over 200 too many.

Yes, thoughts and prayers are the normal offering at times like this, but it seems they do little to resolve this seemingly never ending problem in America. We must to do more than just offer platitudes.

Love more

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Therapy Thursday ~ April 18, 2019

A couple of weeks ago Dogtor Sam and I did our regular monthly stint at hospital and hospice. But there was nothing ‘regular’ about them. All our visits are special in my mind, but these were extra special and, I’d like to think, we made more than a few peeps feel just a bit better.

Just as we were about to go to hospice, a tall, thin fella who seemed somewhat frantic come up to us and wondered if we would take the time to visit his daughter who had not seen a pet visit while she’d been in the Neuro-Critical Care ward. Not going to this area very often, I was more than happy to swing by after our assigned floor was completed (we were way-laid several times by other requests). We headed over to NCC and arrived at a room where a pale young women weakly smiled when I knocked on her door. I mentioned her dad had asked us to drop by and she said she’d love a visit. Sam knew exactly what to do. Patient “Kristy” clearly had a lot of recovery ahead of her, but her face lit up when she saw him. She and her visitor squealed out loud when she saw Sam. I knew he was probably tuckered out, but this boy knows what to do and does it. I wish I were as good as he is at the end of long visits, having people pawing at you, hugging on you and just generally being 110% “on” for hours. “Kristy” was clearly tired but enjoyed an abbreviated visit. Leaving the hospital, we then headed over to hospice.

HospiceWhile we made the rounds visiting with a new hospice doctor, all the nurses and a few visitors, we ended up spending a lot of time with a fairly young-looking woman and her daughter at hospice. It was almost an afterthought visit, as we’d seen so many people, Sam was petty tired and their room was full of family members paying their respects.  In those circumstances, I don’t generally intrude, especially when the end is so close (according to the nurse), but when “Kate” came out into the hallway and said how much she could really benefit from a visit, how could we refuse? “Of course,” I replied, “we’d be more than happy to spend some time with you.” She indicated the patient was her husband, which totally surprised me since I erroneously thought the man in the bed was her father. A daughter came out and we all convened in the middle of the hallway. Sam seemed refreshed and eager to check them out and when the woman knelt down in front of him, he patiently gazed as deeply into her eyes as I’ve ever seen. She teared up and said how much she needed him that moment. I just smiled not knowing if there’s something I should say, or even what to say.

The thing is, Sam knew exactly how to bring a smile to her face. She teared up, her daughter also smiled and they both thanked us repeatedly. Sam wagged his tail in reply.

When we visit with peeps, especially those far too young to be at hospice, it’s sometimes hard to know what to say to comfort them. Especially when the end is so close or unexpected. Thankfully, Sam knows exactly what to do and takes over. A well-timed tail wag, a soulful look, and he provides oodles of poodles of comfort. This guy knows exactly what people need and delivers it with no coaching from me. I stand there like a lump, my mind racing as to what I can do to provide loving comfort as the patient transitions on to the next life.

The following day at West Pines had more impactful visits. Sam really connects well with the patients who are in recovery, and seamlessly manages to bring relief to the staff as well. This knuckleheaded dog has such compassion for hurting patients and staff. As we were preparing to sign out, a staff person came by and asked if she could have a minute with Sam. Attentive and accommodating as always, he obliged. She lingered on the floor with Sam, saying it had been a really rough day, but to spend some time AND receive a kiss from him, made all the difference in her day, not to mention mine. This dog makes my heart swell. We’re going back next week and look forward to more rewarding encounters.

Sam

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ April 1, 2019

Holy cow, it’s April…how did that happen? April is the pretty month, sweet and full of springtime promises. Today also happens to be my baby sister’s birthday so I’m sending her oodles of poodles of digital birthday greetings. Happy birthday, sweet sis! Can’t wait to give her birthday hugs in person later this month.

The Knuckleheads celebrated her birthday over the weekend with Elsa making confetti for the occasion.

We hope you had a wonderful weekend and today offers a fresh new slate for exciting adventures this week. No doubt these two are planning more ‘pawsome’ fun. I can hardly wait.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Meme Monday ~ March 11, 2019

Pass It On

With the arrival of the Daylight Saving Time over the weekend and winter unwilling to go gently into the night in many areas, this meme seemed like a good way to start out the week. May you be an initiator and a recipient of kindness this week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Spreading the Love Thursday

Last week we visited hospice and hospital over Valentine’s Day and experienced some of our best visits. Ever. Sam was especially extra patient and loving on both days.

Sam spreading the love

We typically make a swing through the surgical waiting area before heading up to our assigned floor to visit with family and friends waiting for their loved ones and this week was no exception. Sam seemed to sense the first group needed extra attention. They included a husband, wife and another friend of the family’s. The husband’s face lit up as we came around the corner and Sam made a beeline for him. His wife squealed when she turned around, but Sam was determined to say hello first to him. His tail was wagging like a wound up metronome as he gazed into the guy’s eyes, so deeply in fact his wife commented on it. Sam turned toward her and she melted under his hypnotic spell, then he turned his gaze back to toward the man again. We spent several minutes chatting, learned he retired from being a police officer for over 40 years. Retirement wasn’t exactly his jam so he started working part-time at Home Depot for a while and shared several photos of pups who came in with their owners and said how much he appreciated it when people brought their 4-legged ‘handyman’ in to provide TLC with employees. He was totally in Sam’s paws, so much so, that he began leaning against the guy’s leg. Sam laid down next to him knowing he needed to chat and share stories of how much he enjoyed that job with those pooch encounters.

It became clear we could have spent loads of time visiting with this couple and learning more about them and their own dog at home but saw several other groups in the waiting area so we began to wrap it up. As we prepared to leave for the next family, the man asked me to say a prayer for his 91-year-old mother-in-law. Bless her heart, she was having a serious procedure done and worried about her long-term prognosis. Now I completely understood why Sam spent so much time with him. Sam knew his visit was what the doctor ordered for this family.

Sam spreading the love

We moved on to the next family whose elderly mom was the patient, Sam gave and received loads of kisses and hugs from the two sisters and aunts and uncles waiting to hear how their loved one fared in surgery. It’s always touching seeing this knucklehead spreading pure joy among people whose hearts are heavy as their family faces uncertain times. He seems to know who to visit first and for how long. Ironic considering when I try to get him to do something along our daily walks, he looks at me like I’m speaking in tongues.

Following the hospital visits, we went over to hospice where the nurses in particular needed Sam’s loving presence. Overnight, 5 patients had passed away, something that’s extremely rare for one day, and the staff needed some puppy love from a sweet loving therapy dog. While we were there, the last body was removed and as noted before they perform a Tibetan bowl ceremony while the body is removed. It’s a beautiful ceremony and Sam sat solemnly next to the line of nurses lined up watching as the body is removed from the building. Once the body was removed and everyone went back to work, he spent extra time with each one of the nurses on the floor. They needed his special attention and tail wags and they all expressed gratitude for his visit. While we’d just been visiting a couple of weeks earlier, I was particularly glad we answered the call to help them deal with the loss on what was a probably an extra difficult day at work.

This silly, goofy dog had the perfect touch for our Valentine’s Day visits and I couldn’t be prouder of this boy for doing what he does best. Making people smile and feel better, even if just for a few moments. While I know his days may be numbered as part of the pet therapy program, I know he will always give it his all.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Goodbye Monday ~ January 21, 2019

So this is where we part, my friend,
And you’ll run on ahead around the bend.
Gone from sight, but not from mind
New pleasures and squirrels you’ll surely find.
Your place will be held…you will be missed
The fur that was stroked, the nose that was kissed.
And as you journey to your final rest,
Know in my heart sweet girl, you were loved best.

Precious Zoë
Precious Zoë

It’s a sad state here at the Ranch to begin this week so please pardon me while I take a moment to acknowledge the passing of a dear friend’s little companion. Precious Zoë, left her Mom, Dad and fur brother, Zeus early yesterday morning. I know she will be missed beyond words. She was a super sweet girl with a classic Westie personality and one of the best squirrel chasers I’ve ever known. To my friend, loving thoughts are flowing your way as you celebrate your little girl’s long, storied life. It’s hard to fathom she’s  gone, but she will not be forgotten. May all the tender moments you shared together provide you with some measure of comfort. Thinking of you with oodles of love. 💔

Live, love, bark 🐾

Creating a New Year

Realizing a detox was probably necessary after my holiday fudge transfusion, I came to the conclusion I should probably detox my addled brain too. Along with my best intentions, I found myself diving down the online rabbit-hole a bit too much. When you finally come to your senses, look around and discover you just lost 3 hours when you only consciously meant to look up X  and wonder why the heck you’re now reading Y which was totally unrelated, you probably need to do a reassessment. Or have an intervention. Has this ever happened to you? What’s that old saying…the road to hell is paved with the best of intentions? Well, I reckon to change that now in 2019.

It seemed clear I needed to spend more time visiting the library than falling down the rabbit-hole, fun as that may be. Enter an old-fashioned concept…reading a book. I have a complicated history with reading. While I do enjoy it, taking 87 years to get my degree years ago (but by golly I did it and graduated Phi Beta Kappa eligible), reading for pleasure was a luxury I didn’t have, nor a habit that was very well-developed. Making ends meet while raising a couple of kids in a new urban location, working full-time and going to school at night, didn’t exactly lend itself to reading for pleasure. There was always too much required reading for classes or kids to parent or grocery shopping or cooking, cleaning…well you get the idea. It’s always easy putting things off, isn’t it?

Several months ago I entered a couple of blog contests and actually won a couple of amazing books related to my passion-pet rescue. One book struck a special chord with me. Mind you, I wasn’t actually the winner, but the author, Diane Rose-Solomon was touched enough by my entry describing Elsa’s rescue story that she generously sent a signed copy of her book nonetheless. A hectic summer turned into a busy fall, and then the winter holidays hit which brings me here. Excuses and apologies.

Although I finished the book back in November while in Mexico, I’m just now writing a long overdue review for which I sincerely apologize to Diane. This book is easy to read, provides loads of tips with resources and the chapters can be easily read in any order. Add to the fact Diane has a rescue named Ninja…well imagine how that touched me.

Organized into five modules, Diane shares personal experience from the heart and provides oodles of resources. You know…real life stuff. Have an issue with a particular aspect of rescuing a dog? You can easily find it covered in one of the modules. While I’ve rescued more than one shelter dog, Elsa’s story was complicated because she spent years in a puppy mill cage. Diane’s book gave me insight I hadn’t encountered with diverse resources that has helped with her socialization. A quick and gentle read, once I earnestly dug into it I was irritated at how easily I let myself get distracted with other things before finishing this pawsome book.

Even if you’re a seasoned dog owner, this book will provide you with expert advice from rescue specialists, veterinarians, dog parents, and pet business owners with links to the most relevant articles from pet professionals, making this book a one-stop shop for dog-related questions, before, during, and after adoption. I can’t urge you enough to have this excellent resource on your own bookshelf. Many, many thanks to Diane for being patient with me. It is most appreciated. And make sure you stop by her website to check out all the great things with which she’s involved. You’ll be glad you did.

Happy reading! I look forward to sharing more reviews of pet related books and articles throughout 2019. Now where did I put that library card?

Live, love, bark! 🐾