Category Archives: Gratitude

Wonder Woman…a real Hero

The action movie, Justice League was released last week and the reviews are a bit of a mixed bag, but what’s not a mixed bag is this story about real life heroes, selflessness and the importance of organ donations. No doubt many of you have the organ donor box checked on your driver’s license in the event some unforeseen accident claims your life. But how many of you just decided one day to become a living donor? This is a story about a Wonder Woman of a different kind.

You may recall some past posts about my mail carrier, Korrie. Mostly I’ve shared how first Sam, and now Elsa, lose their minds whenever the mail is delivered. Despite being the most laid back, mellow pair, for some unknown reason Sam in particular is convinced that Korrie was some sort of serial killer. He’d go full on Cujo. And so did Elsa. Well…’because my brother does it.’ Every. single. time. The rules regarding mail delivery are pretty simple: (a) see Korrie walking past the house and up the front walk. (b) Raise holy &#@% a ruckus barking at the top of their lungs. (c) Door opens to retrieve mail. (d) Dogs go from 60 to zero when they realize, “Oh yeah, it’s Korrie. Woo-hoo!! Our favorite mail carrier who always says nice things and pays attention to us.” (e) Immediately upon realization of who it is, these two knuckleheads regain their composure and begin leaning against her leg, tails furiously wagging, lovingly looking up into her eyes and enjoying every ear rub and butt scratch she gives them. It’s the same scenario very time and many days they try to head out with her on to the next house. Across the street. Awk!

You may recall, Korrie has delivered my mail for years and like most of her customers along the route, I’ve gotten to know her well and know she’s a Facebook friend to most people from the route (truth be told, she probably knows more of the neighbors than I do!). A former fire fighter in the Air Force whose heart is a big as the Rocky Mountains she loves, Korrie was a mail carrier in Hawaii where she dreamed of moving to Colorado to enjoy skiing in particular, and the great outdoors in general. Korrie is a fitness freak, often competing in Iron (Wo)Man contests and high-rise stair climbs for various causes (she ran a marathon the Monday before donating her kidney!). Everyone in the neighborhood knows her and she knows us, smiling at each person with an upbeat greeting whenever she sees us. She befriended an elderly widower and fellow veteran who lived a couple blocks away and she continued to look out for him until his passing this spring. That’s just the kind of person she is.

Wonder Women-Korrie and kidney recipient, Rachael.

18 hours out and walking!

So when she happened to mention in passing to one of her customers that she’d like info on how to donate a kidney, he mentioned that he knew someone in need…a young woman who was suffering from end stage renal disease with only 4% kidney function. After Korrie was determined to be a perfect match over the summer, she donated one of her kidneys to Rachel a couple of months ago and recently returned to work. When I saw her back on the route, she was in terrific spirits and in even better shape. Rachel is also doing great and is finally able to enjoy life after suffering from diabetes for some 20 years. The dogs sense the extraordinary specialness of Korrie too because so far they don’t seem to completely lose their minds when she makes a delivery. Sure they bark a couple of times, but now seem to understand just how lucky we are to know someone so selfless and so incredibly special.

United forever as sisters!

Korrie and Rachel

And so during this week of Thanksgiving when I reflect about all the blessings in my life,  I am all the more grateful to know Korrie, a real life hero and Wonder Woman. In this day and age of acrimony and meanness, a generous and selfless woman who loves life touches my heart and those around her. We are all richer for it and so are my fur kids.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

 

When Your Vet is a Star 🌟

Dr. Jeff Young, ‘Star’ Vet

We all think our vets are ‘stars,’ right? Well, we should. When you are entrusting your beloved fur-kid, you definitely want them to be a star. I mean, who wants to drop a house payment on a vet you have no confidence in when your pet needs critical care? But in my case (house payment aside), my vet really is a star. A TV star that is, as in Dr. Jeff, Rocky Mountain Vet currently airing on the Animal Planet network. These days our vet stars are Dr. Amy (who treats Elsa for her seizures) and Dr. Baier (who tends to Sam’s health) who work at his clinic, Planned Pethood Plus. And I’m very happy with all of them. By the way, if you haven’t seen the show, I strongly recommend it so you can see how this pillar of the community has made a difference in the lives of so many people and their pets. Here’s a link to a recent episode. Dr. Jeff also shares my passion regarding puppy mills and is a firm believer that you shouldn’t have to declare bankruptcy in order to take care of your pet. We all know treatment for pets can be limited by an ability to pay for it so he does everything he can to make treatment affordable.

My association with Planned Pethood did not begin when discovered the show which now has around a million and a half viewers each week. Established back in 1990, the clinic was located not far from where I currently live although I had been going to his mobile low-cost vaccination clinics for over 20 years.  With a seasoned staff of some 30 professionals, some who have been with him since they were hired out of high school where he has also been a cross-country track coach for the school, he is one of the busiest vets in the country with 100,000 clients. Dr. Jeff is driven by two simple underlying missions “significantly reducing companion animal overpopulation throughout the world” and “thinking globally: acting locally.” His passion for curbing pet overpopulation is paramount to his practice, with all rescues treated being spayed or neutered. In fact he has probably performed over 160,000 spay and neuter procedures in the Denver area, as well as providing all manner of veterinary care with his mobile unit throughout the Rocky Mountain region and internationally through Planned Pethood International clinics located in Bratislava, Slovakia and Merida, Mexico. 

Having a vet who just happens to be a TV as well as our personal vet star isn’t always rainbows and unicorns though. Because of the sheer number of clients, there are times when it can be frustrating waiting for a return call and it can be challenging keeping one’s expectations for instantaneous care in check. Like most people, I’m impatient when it comes to the care of my fur-babies. Yet I know the work performed is always in the best interests of their clients when they need treatment (did I mention he has 100,000 clients?) and know they always provide quality, affordable care. In 2016 just prior to the season finale, Dr. Jeff made the shocking announcement revealing a diagnosis of B-cell Lymphoma and that the landmark clinic would be moving from the Highlands neighborhood to a new location a few miles west in the suburb of Wheat Ridge. He cut his signature shoulder-length hair in an episode that was hard on the staff and all who know and love Dr. Jeff. While you can never be certain of a long-term prognosis with cancer, he seems to be doing well and continues his work with the same passion as always. We certainly wish him all the best.

When I began drafting this post, I realized Dr. Jeff isn’t the only vet star I’d been fortunate to have taken care of my fur-kids. Back in the 90’s when I lived out east in the suburb of Aurora, my first dog had epilepsy, too. Our neighborhood vet did not have 24 hour care when Crosby’s Grand Mal seizures began and recommended he be transported over to Alameda East, a couple of miles away where he was successfully treated and where all my other pets were treated as well. Back then, the TV series ER was hugely popular and Animal Planet contacted Dr. Robert Taylor, the founder of Alameda East Veterinary Hospital about producing a reality show showing the treatment of animals and thus the show Emergency Vets began airing in 1998. The show ended in 2002 just before I moved to the west side of town once I realized Dr. Jeff’s mobile clinic had a permanent location close to the house.

Dr. Fitz with a couple of patients

While we were clients at Alameda East, our vet ‘star’ was Dr. Kevin Fitzgerald, who was a reptile specialist and who coincidently happened to be a well-known local stand-up comedian in his spare time as well as a TV star.

Doesn’t it seems kind of ironic that both of my vets have been TV stars? Not that I’m complaining, mind you. But you have to admit it is interesting they both have silver hair and mustaches and are ‘stars’ in multiple ways.

Maybe there is something special about the thin air of the Mile High City that produces such terrific stars both on TV as well as for providing great care to my fur-kids.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Labor Day 2017

Happy Labor Day! Today is the last ‘unofficial’ day of summer when swimming pools and amusement parks generally close, the list of the summer concerts and festivals wrap up the season, and it’s often a time to put away our summer clothes in favor of more autumnal fashion (though I expect Californians and West Coasters are still wearing as little as legally possible with their recent days of ungodly heat – you have my sympathies). While school has started in some areas, many school districts often start the new year the day after Labor Day. Some of us may take in a retail sales event or binge on our favorite TV programs re-airing in anticipation of the soon to be upcoming new season (can the next season of The Walking Dead come soon enough). We may have welcomed the beginning of football season over the weekend (hope your team did well). But today is a celebration of labor and union movements and their role in history. Last year I posted a brief history of the origins of Labor Day which you can read here.

Nothing exciting going on around the Ranch today so we’ll just reflect on the contributions American workers made possible to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country with particular thoughts for all those workers and volunteers trying to help with the clean-up after Hurricane Harvey. God bless you! Have a safe and Happy Labor Day and please remember how this 3-day holiday was made possible. It’s not all about backyard BBQ’s and camping trips before the first snows fly.

Got any special plans before you have to get back to work?

Live love, bark! ❤︎

Memorial Day Monday

Today is Memorial Day in the U.S., a national ‘howliday’ where we remember all those who died while serving in the country’s armed forces. Originally known as Decoration Day back in the years after the Civil War (when Union and Confederate soldiers honored their dead by decorating their graves with flowers), it has morphed into the current form honoring all Americans who died serving their country.

Today is also the ‘unofficial’ beginning of the summer vacation season and as too often the case here, has been co-opted into a shopping frenzy with Memorial Day sales. It will be a quiet day of reflection at the Ranch, especially given the turbulent climate around the world. Today we honor those in our family who served their country and say a special prayer for the 4-legged who have also served this nation with distinction.

What plans do you have for this 3-day howliday?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Thankful Thursday

When it comes to celebrating blogiversaries, I have been fairly taciturn to publicly share those dates and have never posted anything about receiving any awards but since being recently notified that our “Ranch” was one of PetNitro’s Best Dog Bloggers to Follow for 2017, as well as realizing over 600 of you amazing readers follow us, it seemed appropriate to acknowledge both milestones and express my gratitude to those responsible. That’d be you guys! Sure I know there are gazillions of you who have scads more followers and been doing this blogging thing a whole lot longer and are far more successful than the likes of us, but I kind of had to think…WOW! Had you asked me after publishing that first post (A new baby arrives) a year ago this week (which came a month after setting up the blog) whether I’d have thought any one other than maybe my kids or a friend or two would have read it, I’d have laughed myself into delirium and needed oxygen. Apart from an eye roll, even contemplating such a silly notion of having a blog read by anyone, let alone something still being read 3 years later, from my vantage point at least, was so far off the radar-screen, it still makes me chuckle even thinking about it.

I mean, I had this stress filled nightmare job with an unreasonable boss whose purpose in life seemed to be to hoist me on a petard every day. Who’d want to do anything else, right? Ha! He could have cared less about what I thought or did so long as his personal life was made easier. But I did somewhat enjoy the client work and my co-workers were the best so that generally got me through most days. But as the years and ignoble personal requests piled up taking their toll on my soul, I realized a creative outlet was imperative for sanity and decided to try blogging as a creative outlet to avoid committing some criminal act. I had no idea what I was doing, had minimal graphic skills (some things just never change) and yet, there was this voice inside that was awakened and needed to be shared. Originally I wanted to create a design blog and then quickly came to realize that wasn’t gonna happen. Sure I had co-owned a hardware store before and could wield a mean paint brush and cut a key in record time, but who was I kidding? I didn’t have the wherewithal to move interior walls and handle plumbing projects from scratch (I’d rather set my hair on fire frankly than deal with ANYTHING plumbing related) let alone do an amazing makeover like the rest of the Martha Stewart/MacGyver types who are able to create something fabulous from paint, pillows, a bit of spit and maybe a rubber band or two.

Then it hit me…the real muse was wagging his tail at me in a hospital room so what better way to harness that inner voice than to share stories about a certain lovable knucklehead rather than trying to redesign some tiny little kitchen or rehab project around the house without dynamite or a Sugar Daddy. We were already doing therapy work and it seemed natural to share our adventures on hospital visits. It was fulfilling and rewarding beyond measure. Was I terrified hitting the ‘publish’ button in the beginning? You betcha…I still am! But life has a funny way of encouraging you to make changes or to see that most of the time you spend working doesn’t have to be constant misery-inducing for someone happy to suck the life out of you.

So after finally having a steaming mug of crap filled to overflowing (aka end-of-the-year cluster), I came to the conclusion life would be infinitely better blogging full-time than to be someone’s whipping-post for their unhappy existence. With that, I left the legal biz a little over a year ago walkING out with my head held high, a smile on my face and never looking back.

Those of you who know me well, know I’m not into tooting my own horn and any level of accomplishment is not dependent on awards or anniversaries but instead comes from smiling when YOU guys take time to comment on our escapades. I am grateful beyond words and know my rewards are about the back and forth dialogue and sharing of your experiences. For that I continue to be grateful. Your warmth and support have been re-affirming and you taught me the “3 E’s of blogging.” Engage, educate and entertain, for which I can’t thank you enough. We invite you to stick around and continue to hear our drivel stories.

This peanut sized space on the Internet where people come together and have a genuine love for their 4-legged-better-parts, sustains and fills me with a joy that is often indescribable. The fact that you are so generous with your kindness and comments is beyond touching and makes my day. Thank heavens I had the good sense to avoid the design genre (far too many design peeps seem to lack any kindness DNA…and besides, who wants to paint rooms the color of puce just to be part of a catty, mean-spirited clique anyway?). Love you guys for your kindhearted encouragement, empathy and smiles! So as I commemorate these two events, I hope we share half as much joy in your life as you do to ours. Sending tail wags and nose nudges to you all.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Celebrations

We humans are a strange lot. We love to celebrate even the smallest events from birthdays to anniversaries annually and indeed, sometimes events even more frequently. It gives our lives texture and activates serotonin centers in the brain when those celebrations and anniversaries memorialize happy times. Today was supposed to be one of those days where I slip head first into mushy celebration of an anniversary of sorts.

Six months ago today a strange, shy little blank slate of a Ninja came into the my life. Elsa, the puppy mill survivor touched a special spot in my heart and I knew I needed to bring her home with me. She held so much promise. Little did I know what that promise would entail.

It would have been two months ago to the day that Elsa suffered her last seizure, even though it a very small one that was stemmed quickly with a healthy dose of Valium. Naturally as soon as I drafted this post, what happened? She has another small seizure over the weekend that I was once again able to stem with the administering of Valium and ice packs. *Heavy sigh*

Still, despite this recent set-back, she continues to bring smiles to my face and tugs at my heartstrings. Here are just a few of the things that make me grateful this little NInja wormed her way on to the Ranch and into my heart on this date 6 months ago.

  • The way your tail is beginning to wag more often which tells me you’re learning to be a happy dog. The fact that you’ll never be able to compete with a certain Knucklehead is of no concern. You are your own adorable pup who is deeply loved for her own individual distinctiveness.
  • I love it when you go out first thing in the morning and bounce like a Springbok antelope in the dog run. Your exuberance makes me giggle like a school girl. And I’m secretly cheering you on when you give the nasty next door Akitas the what-for through the fence. You go girl!

    Springbok imitating Elsa

  • The way you stand perfectly motionless over a toy with front paws spread and then simultaneously pounce and utter the strangest high-pitched yip directly at said toy. I can hear you anywhere in the house and it ALWAYS makes me smile and laugh. I can’t help but wonder what it is you’re saying to that toy.
  • The way you lower your head and creep like a stealthy panther when you spot a squirrel 20 feet ahead of us then rapidly move race toward it like you were fired from a slingshot. Silly girl, you cannot climb the tree after it but you try every. single. time. frequently making me your unwilling kite.
  • And who can forget your organizational skills moving toys and bones from room to room?
  • Your persistent and never subtle nose nudges ‘informing’ me that no, in fact, I am not done petting you.
  • Your snoring that’s guaranteed to wake the dead. You do know you’re not one of the brachycephalic breeds, right?
  • And while I complain I can never see your eyes against your dark fur, you made me realize in this picture when you decided I needed a face wipe against my thigh that you do in fact, have lovely brown eyes without a special app. P.S. Thank you for the dog slobbers and whisker tidbits. I live for those on my pants. Truly. 

And so my dear sweet fur-child, happy 6 months ‘half-iversary.’ The serotonin you provide is alive and well in this upright.

Do you celebrate events as often as possible?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Circles

So…as you may recall, I went to Pittsburgh these past few days to attend the wedding of my sister’s oldest son. It was a great opportunity to visit with family members I normally don’t get to see near enough since we’re kind of spread across the US from hither to yon. Fun weddings are a tradition in our family. We’ve shared many laughs at them over the years though it’s probably a good thing us siblings can no longer easily flop down and ‘Tuna’ at these kinds of events…we probably couldn’t get back up again! If you don’t know what that is, search for the Otis Day version of the song Shout from the Toga Party scene in Animal House [with apologies to anyone who saw an inappropriate ad on the YouTube link-it worked fine initially].

The “concept” of family is an extremely significant to all of us and we learned from the best, our parents who taught us the importance being true and loving to each other. It has made all the difference in the world and while we may live thousands of miles away from one another, we are close and try to come together for events like this to support one another.  Although a few were unable to make the journey, we had a large contingent in attendance and seeing everyone who was there reminded me that our family is lot like a pool with concentric circles when pebbles are dropped in it. With each new baby or spouse our circles grow outward and we are ever so much richer for those ripples. IMG_3839

From the beautiful new grand-niece I just got to meet to the niece and her family from Texas I haven’t seen in over 6 years, we are a lot like the Sister Sledge song, “We Are Family.”   Those adorably precious, polite and charming kids from Texas added so much texture and depth to our circles and kept us all entertained at the wedding. Who couldn’t love these munchkins?!

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IMG_3842And while my mom was unable to partake at the actual wedding ceremony, she was at the rehearsal dinner and at the send-off breakfast the next morning for which we are ever so grateful. Her grace, style, courage and dignity has made all of us better humans throughout our lives and we cherish every. single. minute. that she continues to guide and be an amazing example for us. We snuggled with the newest member who has the classic family personality that reinforces our life circles. Miss Avery, I know you got tired of being passed around amongst all the aunties, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents, nieces and nephews, but we just can’t help ourselves. We adore you so and just want to leave lipstick marks on your sweet precious head now and forever. Know each mark and hug is given with love and hope that your life is a continuation of our family’s legacy.

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To the beautiful bride, Julia and her hubby, we wish you a lifetime of love and laughter. Kudos to you for bringing joy to your grandmother’s heart at finally tying the knot, Kyle. You made her and the rest of our motley crew happy for you both and we were thrilled and grateful to share in your joy. May you always be as in love and happy as you were on this occasion. And to my dad and siblings, whether through blood or marriage, thank you all for being you and for being part of my circles in life. You make my heart smile and I’m ever so proud to call you family.

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And finally there’s that fur-kid who happily welcomed me home and has barely left my side. Your Velcro-ness following any absence makes me sing and revel in gratitude.

IMG_1375Love you all, every single one of you nut-cases! 😉

Live, love, bark! ❤