Hello there mates, Norman here sharing the final total figure raised as a postscript to yesterday’s post recapping the OES Picnic and Fundraiser. We in fact raised…ahem…drumroll please…$1,812 which will help provide resources for Old English Sheepdogs who come through our rescue. It was a well organized event for which I offer my deepest gratitude to all who helped, donated and attended this event.
Congratulations with loads of butt wiggles to all who work tirelessly all year long to benefit these remarkable pets who, through no fault of their own, come through the rescue. To everyone who has a special love for this wonderful breed and to all the vendors, supporters and attendees who have contributed to the cause, thank you from the bottom of my OES 💙.
Welcome to Friday where bits of nature are shared from around the ‘Hood. It’s been a wild week weather-wise so let’s join our weekly hosts, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard to see exactly what’s happened this week. Don’t forget to click on their link to check out what Blogville shared.
Naturally the weather took front and center stage here and around the nation. Texas, known for doing things bigger, proved once again they know how to do B-I-G. Having family members living in both the Austin and Houston areas, I’ve been keeping my eyes peeled and the cell phone close by to stay in touch with family members. Despite one outdoor broken pipe, everyone is safe, dry and coping as best as they can. It’s time like these where one must take stock and be very, very grateful for the simple things in life that we all too often take for granted. Who knew heat, water and power would have such a major impact on ordinary life? As if COVID wasn’t enough.
Here in Colorado the deep freeze overspent its welcome too. It snowed about 4-5 inches Wednesday which actually ‘warmed’ things up into low double digits, practically a heat wave. Yesterday I walked a mile in steps alone shoveling snow from sidewalks as well as a suitable area in the dog run so the Ninja could pee without freezing her private parts. I was hoping the freshly shoveled space would incentivise both dogs to stay out of the wetter areas. Here’s what those efforts yielded.
Oh, Norman, you always make me smile. Normally when it has snowed, it’s quite the adventure to go out for a walk. Layers are key but even layers couldn’t combat the well-below zero temperatures so we weren’t able to walk outside beyond quick potty breaks for several days. It takes a while hitching up the entire crew to stay warm. Do you know how long it takes to put four pairs of snow boots on dogs and then dress myself for any kind of extended, warm walk?
Nature plans to be kinder but snow is expected to show up again later this weekend. Luckily the Polar Vortex isn’t expected to tag along and I hope everyone prays for the relief of those less fortunate who are still trying to get power, water, and heat restored.
We hope you have a weekend where you’ll be warm. We’ll be spending a lot of time contemplating a heartbreaking anniversary next week when Angel Sam unexpectedly departed the Ranch. Not a day goes by where I don’t think of him and cry at his loss. The Ranch hands have vowed to take good care of me and we urge everyone to take some time to reflect on the past week to find love and gratitude in their hearts. If you are able to help the disadvantaged, now would be a good time. Stay safe, warm and keep smiling my friends.
Welcome to the last week of the dumpster fire also known as 2020. We hope you had a blessed and Merry Christmas. Christmas this year marked an extra special occasion, marking the 90th birthday for my mom. My Mom has lived through some pretty horrific times. She survived the bombing of Frankfurt during World War II as child as well as through some pretty intense health issues over the past few years. I wrote a bit about it back in 2016 here, after Angel Sam spent a week on her bed at hospice care following an ER doctor’s prognosis giving her 48 hours to live. Long story short, she “flunked out of hospice” then. In 2017 she ended up back in hospital for 4 weeks, with a number of days in ICU. Another surgery was performed where more of her colon was removed for an obstruction but she managed to eventually bounce back once again. These days we affectionately refer to her as a ‘semi-colon.’ So yeah, this was a very special Christmas birthday. I’m so incredibly grateful to have been able to celebrated it. Happy 90th to my spunky, special Mom who has defied the odds in numerous ways.
Like everyone else, we’re hoping 2021 provides a path toward normalcy. It won’t come overnight (especially if ‘mask holes’ continue to not wear masks and congregating in large groups) and pray the recently approved vaccines provide a way back toward the ‘good ole days.’ The world has so much healing needed to embark upon and pray that 2021 is the beginning of that process.
We look forward to waving goodbye to 2020 while remaining upbeat that 2021 provides more smiles and joy for our COVID weary hearts. To 2020, we say “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”
More than a week has passed since my beloved Sam left this mortal world. We’re still in grief mode but are coming to grips with the harsh reality of life without our boy. The click, click, click of his dancing feet on the hardwood floors have been replaced by heavy footed Stormin’ Norman followed closely by the not-so delicate thumping of the Ninja’s paws. Who knew a Ninja would move about so loudly?
Sam was the subtle glue that sealed our pack together. I was never sure he fully comprehended that he was actually a dog and not some special hybrid kind of human with four feet. He taught Elsa how to be a dog and how to learn to trust peeps. Naturally she’s taken his loss particularly hard. Knowing Norman for only a month, the two brothers hadn’t bonded to quite the same level. Yet they all followed Sam’s lead. A doorbell ring demanded the canine security alarm system be activated. Passersby on walks required we stop for ear rubs, body leans, tail wags and a friendly hello. And the sound of crinkle packaging of any food meant cheese! It was the clarion call for sitting at my feet in front of the fridge in anticipation of a tasty treat being dispensed. Sam was my go-to muse for most of my posts. He was the obvious but quiet leader and the glue that kept us all functioning and now our daily happenings have us all walking out of step and out of rhythm. Our compass has disappeared and we are searching for a new evolutionary shift signaling a new ‘normal’ will be the benchmark. We will l get there with some time as new rituals are established.
That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t express my most heartfelt gratitude for all the calls, texts, emails, cards and comments from so many of you while we work through this evolutionary period. You have buoyed our spirits to such an extent and I want you all to know how much this has meant to me. Words however seem so inadequate but please know your loving support has meant so very much. From family members, neighbors, friends and you dear readers, you have all touched our hearts and I am ever so grateful for your kindness and support. You guys stepped in to fill in the gaps as the glue we need.
To my surprise this figurine appeared a couple of days ago without any card or note or attribution. I would love to acknowledge and thank the mystery benefactor so if it was you, please let me know; so that I may thank you more personally. It’s a lovely piece from Joy of Giving and it truly touched my heart. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart!
As you might expect, yesterday was a very emotional and overwhelming day. So emotional in fact, I was unable respond to all of the touching comments and well wishes you left about Sam’s last day as a pet therapy dog. To say I was a basketcase as I read each of your sweet notes is more than an understatement. Please know I am ever so grateful for your support and kindness as we begin to write a new chapter in life as we learn how to cope with a new reality in the days ahead.
To say that Sam left it all on the field yesterday is an understatement. Not only did he see more patients at West Pines than we have ever visited with before, he was sweetly patient and attentive as loads of people showered him with loving praise. As usual, he had to sniff out all the go-cups of coffee (don’t know what it is about coffee-he wouldn’t drink it but loves sniffing at their cups), and performed his ‘licking his chops on command’ trick for everyone. It’s the only trick he has ever performed (it’s his belief that performance art is beneath him) and managed to visit with each and every person we encountered. Naturally he spent a extra moments with several people, all who clearly needed the love of a sweet dog sent to put a smile on their face and in their heart. And yes, there were some tears shed by more than one patient at this wonderful dog’s ability to read what people need.
As I tear up just writing this post, I can honestly say I’ve never been more proud of this silly Knucklehead. The staff was touched by him and more than a few tears fell at the thought it was Sam’s last visit. Because we’ve met so many wonderful, caring folks in the nearly seven years of visiting the hospital, I decided we’d also swing by the main hospital to bid our favorites a fond farewell. Once people realized it was our last visit, we were surrounded by folks (many who were new to us) to praise Sam’s efforts. This silly, sweet ‘Dogtor’ has chalked up 219 visits over the years, reaching out to hundreds if not thousands of people extolling the virtues of pet therapists everywhere. I didn’t check to see how many hours he’s logged, but I can guarantee it’s been loads.
As a final act of doing what this boy does best, we went to say goodbye to our friends in the hospital lab. When we arrived, there was quite the commotion going on in the waiting room. A baby was wailing his head off much to his mother’s chagrin. She was unsuccessful at comforting the little tyke but once he saw Sam he blinked through tears, babbled something I couldn’t decipher as Sam stopped dead in his tracks. There was one more person to comfort before saying goodbye. He walked up to the little guy who patted his back with chubby little hands. Then the little boy kissed Sam on his fluffy back and head. Repeatedly. Sam stood here relishing the attention and stuck his nose in the little boy’s face, as if to say, “there, there, little man…it’ll all be good. With tears dried up, the little boy began to smile and continued to simultaneously pat and kiss him as he tottered around Sam on wobbly legs. I nearly lost it at this point especially when people commented on how sweet the whole scene was.
Certainly that small chance encounter was emblematic of what we’ve experienced over the years but this one was an extra sweet experience and one that will remain in my heart for a long, long time.
We finished our goodbyes to those who had been ever so gracious and kind over the years with vows of staying in touch. As I sat in the car ready to head home, I had to spend several minutes composing myself. Once again, the hospital gave us more than we left. I am truly blessed to have experienced such camaraderie over the years to both me and to Dogtor Sam. What a community of people, those we visit and those who visit us, here as well in person. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of you following us, leaving such special comments over the years and supporting our efforts to make this world a bit better than we found it. Mere words of thanks don’t seem sufficient for all you’ve given us but please know I feel profoundly blessed and grateful for each and every one of you.
Hard to believe this is the last day of April and I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge some watershed moments that happen in April. Seventeen years ago I moved into my current home on April 26th. I purposely picked this neighborhood for its close proximity to downtown where I worked plus the fact it was a long-established neighborhood in the city. I loved the community feel that has been woven into my very soul. Safe to say, I am deeply connected here with the location and its inhabitants.
April is also the month when I first began publishing this blog some five years ago, although WordPress counts March as the birth month which is technically correct, yet the first post didn’t publish until the end of April when I finally took a deep breath and pushed the ‘publish’ button. What a terrifying moment that was and life hasn’t been quite the same since ever since.
Twelve years ago this month I began the process of adopting a certain (sub)Standard Poodle who was being rehomed, though he became a member of the Ranch household the first week in May. Who’d have known at that time what a fortuitous adoption that would be and resulted in us embarking upon a pet therapy odyssey a few years later after it was very clear he was a very special dog. Six years ago this month, Sam and I began volunteering at the hospital. I wanted a way to share our pet therapy moments since it was clear my first blogging idea of sharing home design/DIY had no chance to launch due to lack of abilities on that front. Luckily Sam does all the work and I just drive him to the hospital, I knew I could document this Knucklehead’s ability to connect with people. It’s been a ‘pawsome’ collaboration ever since. We’ve had many highs and known a few lows but it has been one of the most rewarding journeys ever. Sam is now two visits shy of making 200 visits brightening the lives of patients, staff and visitors. We expect to continue as long as possible but at 13 1/2 years old, I hold no illusions. My baby is slowing down and while he still loves the adventure, visiting sick people wears him out too much. We may look into a reader program or a senior living situation but for now, things are full speed ahead with hospital pet therapy.
I would be remiss not to mention how much we value your part in this journey. I swear you guys are some of the smartest, funniest, kindest people I’ve ever known. Your clever posts and comments have made me laugh and in some cases cry. Your ability to convey deeply personal experiences inspires and moves me to do better, write better and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Over the weekend, my family celebrated my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Yes, 70. freaking. years! All the siblings and their spouses enjoyed a lovely celebratory get-together. Just thinking about the smiles across my parents’ faces as they looked around and saw their children, a couple of grandchildren and a great-grand and a half (one niece is expecting any day now) was beyond heartwarming. Congrats Mom and Dad!
Last week was a difficult week for both me and Sam with a number of personal loses. Two of our pet therapy dogs passed away, which is always sad, but particularly one…Truffles, a big chocolate Newfie who was especially beloved by Sam, will be felt for a long time. A dear friend who was a mere 42 years of age was laid to rest. A kinder, gentler, more generous human you’d be hard-pressed to find. Tony brought joy to all who knew him and while his physical body is not with us, his spirit will live on within each of us. Sam adored Tony and my one regret was not being able to bring Sam to his bedside at the end. I know his tail would have wagged furiously and no doubt he’d have hogged Tony’s bed while Tony happily provided plenty of ear rubs.
We visited an even younger woman at hospice last week. Probably in her 30’s, Shauna was conscious enough and very insistent on visiting with Sam. The pain on her face as she readjusted herself to be able to pet him told me how important his visit was for her. Her best friend (and visibly pregnant) since the 7th grade was with her in her final moments, a true friend right to the end. While visiting with them, I noticed a large tattoo on Shauna’s forearm. It read, “The girl who lived life” and it told me about the core of this brave woman. As her body was failing her, I knew she had made a special mark with her passion and spirit much like my friend Tony did. Recalling both of them her, more tears stream down my face. I know both are free of earthly bonds, no longer held hostage by unbearable pain but they will remain in the hearts of those who cared about them. They may no longer be with us physically, but will always guide us toward our own final path. I only hope I have as much grace and dignity as they both did.
So yeah, April is a big deal around the Ranch. I look upon it and celebrate the accomplishments, the anniversaries and share the losses because they all add up to a community I cherish and which allows me to share it with you. I plan to explore more reflections on the death and dying aspect of life in the future but for now thank you for coming along with me.
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.
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.
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.
We’re back to pawticipate in Rosy and the Boy’s Nature Friday and while my vacay was fabulous…it’s always good to come home. Even if there was a 60 degree difference in temperatures. While I love this time of year, I will confess to rather enjoying the balmy warm days on the beach. For those who didn’t know where I spent the week, I was in sunny Puerto Vallarta ‘staying calm on the fun side of the Wall’ as some of the locals like to refer to it. Not only were the temperatures warm, the locals were too and graciously kind helping our family navigate a different culture and language of which we are not at all fluent. I was touched by their generosity of spirit and kindness.
But back to Nature Friday. Imagine waking up to a view like this every morning on your way to breakfast. What’s not to appreciate, especially given that I left in a snowstorm with temps hovering in the low 20’s? The clear blue skies and water and remarkably clean beaches with people enjoying fun activities in the sun…it was a soul cleansing week. And sunsets that made you ooh and aww with their incredible color.
We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving; for our part, we were reflective in our gratitude…for health, happiness, love and fellowship with our family and fur-iends, both the 2 and 4-legged versions and naturally for you, dear reader. It’s days like yesterday where I am reminded just how blessed and fortunate I am. Have a great weekend, savor those left-overs and stay safe if you’re brave enough to actually go out shopping.
Last evening Sam was scheduled for his semi-annual re-evaluation to continue participation in the pet therapy program at Lutheran Hospital. Pets in the program receive a general health check as well as an evaluation as to suitability to participate. As I prepared the paperwork questionnaire, the Knucklehead could sense sometime beyond the usual evening routine was afoot. It’s always impressive to watch dogs intuition play out and he dashed from the back door to the garage in happy bounces. He sailed into the back seat and readied himself for the adventure.
We arrived at the volunteer office located on the south end of the main hospital building. This entrance is generally locked after hours which is no problem as my badge will provide access. We were greeted by a hospital volunteer who was stationed there for those who neglected to bring their badge with them. We’ve encountered Dave many times in various locations throughout the hospital. He always has a warm grin but especially when he sees the dogs coming. Sam adores him and immediately leaned in against his leg for a good ear scratch.
While we waited, a couple of volunteers came by to sign out. One was a high schooler who was super delighted to visit with Sam after his evening shift. Sam’s tail went into overdrive. Once they left, I reflected how well Sam connects with everyone he encounters and my heart swelled with pride with this sweet pup. When our number came up, we went in to visit with Dr. Diana Roberts, one of the volunteer vets who donates her time supporting our program. We hadn’t seen Dr. Roberts at our last two evals and were thrilled to see her again.
Sam adores Dr. R and not just because she provides scrumptious treats. She’s beyond kind, smiles a lot and has a soothing touch, all ‘wagnificent’ qualities for a vet. Sam passed this latest eval with flying colors and then we spent several minutes joking about his knuckleheaded-ness. Ok, maybe that was just me. They just laughed at my stories. The volunteer who coordinates all of the evaluations ribs me when I say Sam is a knucklehead and then, naturally he does something that proves it and we all laugh; but a sweeter dog would be difficult to find. This photo, taken just before we left for the evaluation, seems to underscore that sweetness.
We’re looking forward to our visits later this month and during this month of thankfulness, I find how truly grateful I am for this amazing dog and for the pet therapy program where he can bring smiles to others.
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.
Wishing you a fabulous day of wandering. Happy mid-week.