So I was walking the dogs a couple of days ago and noticed a bunch of young guys had hopped the closed and padlocked playground at the neighborhood elementary school. They obviously have whistled past their ability to continue to deal with shelter in home restrictions. I just shook my head. Not sure what’s worse. Not wearing masks or ignoring social distancing rules.
Even the pandemic’s official animal observes those protocols. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making light of the current situation. It’s definitely serious and not a laughing matter but it seems that gallows humor is becoming more and more prevalent in dealing with these unprecedented times. Around the Ranch, we’re still observing social distancing and wonder if those who are wearing masks are smiling back at me or silently mouthing “stupid Boomer” while I hopscotch back and forth across the street maintaining social distancing. When you have a dog like Norman who simply invites being pet and totally enjoys it, it’s hard to act nonchalant while maintaining appropriate social distance. For his part, Norman doesn’t seem to understand why people can’t shower him with attention these days.
So how are you coping? Has your state ramped up relaxed restrictions? Has shopping for groceries become easier? Is life moving back toward the ‘old normal?’ The Ranch-hands want to know when passersby are going to start petting them again.
In a world where we are battling a war against the coronavirus, is it possible to celebrate Earth Day? Last night as I took the dogs on a different route for their evening constitution, I came across this latest piece of chalk art and wondered if it would be possible to mark the 50th anniversary. Obviously with social distancing being the new norm for safety during the pandemic, marching in person wouldn’t be possible. Enter digital technology to step in and continue this important work. Continue reading “Earth Day 2020”→
Greetings fellow Nature lovers. Welcome to Nature Friday where we happily join our fur friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s edition.
You may recall where I’ve shared the Mile High area has ‘enjoyed‘ a lot of up and down weather these past 3 weeks. We seem to be in a pattern that repeats itself weekly…sunny and warm for a couple of days, a small snow storm, then warming up again. It may be a bit challenging to have any Easter egg hunts as the forecast once again calls for snow to arrive, this time on Easter Sunday.
We relished absolutely gorgeous days this week that highlighted beautiful spring bulbs which in this age of sad COVID news helps brighten low spirits. And a couple of real stunners to boot helped lift my spirits.
The Ranch hands experienced a couple of scary encounters on their normal walks with unleashed pets (along with their unleashed owners not adhering to social distancing) so we’ve been mixing up our routes to avoid as many people as possible which is why I decide to walk over to Sloans Lake, the urban, man-made lake in the park with the same name. We were richly rewarded for our efforts on the warmest day yet.
On the way over, I saw Hellebore flowers in someone’s front yard. I have never seen them outside of the pampered environment of the botanic gardens. They’re so pretty but fussy about their environment but look how well they’re doing in an urban landscape and just beginning their seasonal bloom.
Along with the Hellebore, another spring beauty were these Scilla Sardensis, known as Glory of the Snow. I love seeing these little blue flowers popping up in spring. So cute and colorful.
One of the best reasons to visit Sloans Lake are its lovely city views. With a beautiful city skyline toward the east, I often look toward downtown, but when you look in the opposite direction, you can catch snowy mountain peaks. On a mostly clear day, that view was just too beautiful not to share.
The Ranch Hands and I wish you a lovely weekend. Please stay safe, keep smiling and wash those paws. We also recommend wearing a mask if you must go out. Shopping trips have turned into a gigantic scavenger hunt. Some items you find, others remain elusive. I’m learning how to function wearing a mask which makes my face sweaty and fogs up my glasses while simultaneously getting by with less. Norman made his own PSA for staying safe.
It’s been said, never underestimate the protective qualities Old English Sheepdogs will employ when it comes to their pack. Looks like Norman understands that responsibility by safeguarding this long sought after household necessity. Not wanting his mum to have to start collecting leaves and grasses from the garden, he’s guarding this precious prize like a mob boss. #AttaBoy
This is the first time I’ve seen any “white gold” available in any store over the past four weeks. And who’d have thought buying a simple package of toilet paper could make a person so happy?! I nearly walked past the pallet, now a single entrance (have your stores clamped down on how you’re allowed to enter and exit stores?). For the most part, I had pretty much forgotten what TP packaging looked like. So let’s see, I could buy a single pack of 12 rolls of which there were many, or I could rearrange the pallet to pull up one of three packs containing 24 rolls from the bottom. Yeah, of course, I rearranged…are you crazy? Who knows when I’ll be out again shopping at an unholy hour, let alone whether or not supplies will be available? It’s called, a roll bird in the hand, people!
Apparently being of a…ahem…certain age group has some benefits since I recently learned I could shop during an hour that is reserved strictly for ‘old ladies and curmudgeons’ (aka seniors) at 6 AM on Tuesdays. Other than it was still a tad dark out, it wasn’t a bad experience at all. I didn’t know what to expect…would there may be mass hysteria or an all out brawl in the TP isle like some sort of insane Black Friday event or what. What I found though was a single pallet carefully positioned near the front entrance…right next to the security guard station. Coincidence? Maybe, but stores have begun to clamp down on panic buying by entire families coming in and each member snapping up limited supplies. Now there’s a single purchase rule PER FAMILY in place (such as it can be enforced). What I did notice throughout the store from the cashier, stocking clerks and other associates offering assistance for finding items, was that everyone was extraordinarily cheerful, kind and helpful in the face of what is becoming a stressful situation during in a global pandemic. Perhaps they were just grateful to still be employed unlike far too many others who have been furloughed or laid off, but every single person I encountered left me with positive feelings. In fact, I may never shop during daylight hours again. I couldn’t help but wonder what kind of elixir they started the day out with to be that chipper, so early in the day. By the way, would that be located in Isle 12? I could use some of that.
Not everything on the shopping list was available and the hunt for the ever elusive bag of whole wheat flour continues. The ever dwindling supply in the pantry has not yet reached critical mass, but I remain hopeful that (a) I’ll find another golden pallet near the front of a store soon or (b) that the local, bored hipsters in the neighborhood will have stopped baking and panic buying and gone back to the “simple” life…otherwise known as take out around here.
As a subscriber to Vet Dr. Andrew Jones’ YouTube channel, I was delighted to see his latest video where he shared his recipe for keeping pets safe and protected during the pandemic. Would you like to make a pet-safe soap or hand sanitizer that won’t harm your pets and can also be effectively used by peeps as well? Check out these easy-to-make products for yourself. I plan on making some sanitizer once I can get my hands on some aloe vera gel. I was lucky having a bottle of the rubbing alcohol on hand prior to panic-buyers wiping out most store supplies.
Have you made any sanitizer yet? What was your experience? Sit, stay, remain healthy, observe social distancing rules, wash those hands and most of all, keep smiling. The Ranch-hands insist on it.
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 most of you know, the inspiration and muse behind this blog was a sweet knuckleheaded and loving dog. It is with a broken heart I share that my dear precious boy passed away suddenly on Saturday. One minute he was his goofy self and the next minute he was gone. To say there is a huge empty place in my heart would be an understatement.
Sam was many things but foremost he was always a loving, devoted companion. He was my heart and soul dog. Making me happy along with hundreds of others was at the core of this special dog. He loved life and he loved making others smile and feel better, even if just for a brief moment. He did it with such charming panache and with an ever wagging tail that just never stopped moving. While he recently retired from his hospital visits, he never really stopped being a therapy dog, instead ministering loving affection to all he encountered, every waking moment, including me. He loved delighting patients and staff alike with his one and only trick…licking his chops on command, first on one side, then on the other.
The Ranch is a dimmer place now and we all need time to heal from this devastating loss and thus will be taking time away to grieve and adapt to the new decidedly, empty normal. I know that Sam would want you to pay extra attention to your own special pet in his memory. We never know when their time will be up so please make the most of the time you have, while it’s happening.
October 7, 2005 ~ February 22, 2020
Just when you thought the circus no longer came to town, I’m here to tell you it arrived safe and sound in Denver recently. A few days ago, opportunity scratched at the door, I answered and life as we knew it changed in one afternoon.
Last summer when I realized Sam’s days as a therapy dog were numbered, I contemplated finding a replacement therapy dog and have long thought a sheepdog might be wonderful hospital therapy dog. The affable “Nanny dog” makes a great companion and is well known for being sweet, especially around little people. But I also knew it might be a long while before one came through the OES Rescue Group of Colorado (a group I have long supported and worked with years ago). Sheepdogs aren’t a common breed around here, less so in rescue and I figured it could be quite a while before one might show up, let alone one who might be a suitable candidate for therapy work.
In December, a pair of dogs from Kansas City ended up in the Grey Ghost Rescue, a rescue dedicated to finding homes for Weimaraners. The pair were being surrendered by its owners following neighbor complaints for non-stop barking by the dogs. The female Weim and her OES brother had been kept in a 6 x 8 foot enclosure and expressed their high energy frustration through barking. Not wanting to leave the pair with any of the high kill shelters in the area, they contacted the Weim Rescue who said they’d take the female provided OES rescue would take the male.
With that agreement 7-year old “Norman” entered the OES rescue system. He was fostered with a transplant to Colorado who had spent decades in sheepdog rescue in Northern California, knew the breed well and currently had his own sheepdog (along with a couple of other dogs). As luck would have it, he was just down the road from my parents’ home in Pueblo West. I had only seen this grainy image on Facebook of a long legged, “tube socked” boy but decided to run down and see if he and the Ninja could get along while visiting my parents for a few hours.
Elsa was [surprisingly] on her best behavior and I left after bombarding asking lots of questions about “Norman” as to his background and exactly what kind of boy he was. The Foster Dad assured me Norman was a mellow boy (which was definitely demonstrated during our time together), very easy going, probably enjoyed KC style BBQ and never got on the furniture. Whoa, I thought, a sheepdog who doesn’t express an interest on getting on the furniture. What’s wrong with him?
Norman was vetted by the rescue’s vet as fit and heartworm negative. I left feeling pretty good about the adoption but wanted to take some time to ‘think about it.’ Driving home, all I could think of was about this big boy and how he might fit into the Ranch bunkhouse. The Foster Dad said he needed to make a trip out of town and was hoping I had decided on Norman’s future so he could make the necessary arrangements in case I wasn’t prepared to adopt him before he needed to leave. I had pretty much made up my mind by the next morning after meeting him and advised the rescue that I would love to be considered as Norman’s new dog huMom. One of the many things I have admired about the Colorado OES Rescue is their deep commitment placing each dog with the right family. I was informed a family adopted Norman earlier, had in fact been vetted, adopted him, then abruptly changed their mind after only a few days. The rescue director was incensed as she thought Norman had been through enough and wouldn’t have placed him with them if they were uncommitted. When I asked her if there were any other requirements on my part, she said no, having been previously vetted before and everything remained the same. She agreed to send the contract out for my signature for the formal commitment to adopt Norman. The next day, Foster Dad contacted me to see if Norman could be picked up either on the 23rd or the 28th as he was traveling to Colorado Springs on business (a halfway point). We agreed to meet on the 23rd.
Norman was picked up after I raced around securing a new bed, water and food bowls and a few other necessary items for his integration. I could see he was very bonded with the Foster Dad but hoped he would eventually grow to enjoy life at the Ranch with me and the Knuckleheads. I was once again assured he was a good traveler, didn’t get on the furniture and was as sweet as honey.
Having him here now for the past few days, I can wholeheartedly confirm Foster Dad’s assessment. Norman is beyond sweet, an easy going gentle giant. Mellow is a bit of an understatement with this boy, he’s as unflappable as any dog I’ve ever met, and any trepidation of whether he might be a suitable therapy dog evaporated. Norman is an enthusiastic eater, walks well on a leash and greets all he encounters with a big sheepie hello. If there was any shortcoming at all, it would be that this boy doesn’t realize just how much real estate he takes up, especially in a narrow galley style kitchen where he loves to park his 83+ lbs. in front of the refrigerator.
As for that whole furniture thing…you tell me. Not that I care mind you; I haven’t sat on the sofa for years.
Norman will begin training for pet therapy work in a few weeks once he’s fully settled in our routine and has fully adapted to his new surroundings. The Ninja is getting better with her interactions (there is a seriously enforced anti-bullying rule and she is improving with each passing day and seems to be enjoying walks with her new big brother). Sam is cool with the big guy and there seems to be a constant rotation of occupiers of the sofa. Remarkably, Norman senses when he needs to move slower when Sam goes on the longer walks while stepping up the pace on walks with just Elsa. I couldn’t be happier with this new addition and look forward to chauffeuring him to many hospital visits.
Today is the last day of 2019 and the last day of this decade. Where did the time go? We here at the ‘Ranch’ will spend a quiet evening of reflection and hope whatever you do, you do it safely. No wheels falling off, okay?
From all of us Knuckleheads, have a safe and Happy New Year. Make 2020 be your best year ever. Remember tomorrow begins with a blank page of a 365 page book. Write a best-seller.