Category Archives: From the Heart

A Valentine’s Day PSA

 

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! 🐾

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

RMT18_Blogger_badge

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! 🐾