High Flying Highlights

As I briefly noted in yesterday’s post, I was fortunate to volunteer at the Front Range Agility event over the weekend. For years, I’ve helped out the Colorado Old English Sheepdog Rescue group and enjoy helping them whenever I can and the group uses these volunteer events to help fund their outstanding rescue program. Normally I work the agility event that is coupled with a dog show around the same time as the AKC’s Westminster but this was a second smaller opportunity that I was happy to help them out with over the weekend. Here’s a very short video from the event.

According to AKA’s webpage, “Agility is a growing dog sport in the United States, with over 1 million entries to the AKC’s Agility Program each year. Dogs race against a clock as they navigate an obstacle course with strong concentration and speed.”  These amazing dogs are incredibly athletic and you can’t help but get excited when they compete.

Agility is a sport where you direct your dog through a pre-set obstacle course within a certain time limit. With between 14-20 obstacles, including tunnels, weave poles, tire jumps, seesaws, and pause tables where the dog must stop for a set amount of time, dogs race through the courses designed for that day.  The dog rely on cues and body language from their handler who directs them. All breeds, including mixed breeds, can participate in agility. Jumps vary from 4″ to 24″ and our ring mostly ran 12-24″ with a couple of dogs running at the shorter heights. There were multiple classes and levels including Novice, Regular, Jumpers With Weaves, and Master to name a few.

MACH stands for Master Agility Champion title and is awarded by the AKC . To achieve this title, dog and the handler compete as a team earning first Novice, Open, Excellent and then Master Titles. There are two games to achieve this title: Standard which includes the contact equipment (A-frame, bridge, teeter and table) and the Jumpers with Weaves. The Novice, Open and Excellent titles require three qualifying runs with progressively harder requirements and courses. The Master titles requires 10 perfect runs at the Masters Level. Qualifying runs at the Masters level also earn one speed point for each full second under course time (partial seconds are eliminated.). Once the team is competing with both runs in one day at the Master level they start to accumulate “Double Q’s”. A team earns a Double Q when they qualify 100% perfect on both runs in one day. To earn the MACH title, you must earn 20 double Q’s and 700 points, so no easy feat.

To my great surprise, I spotted one of our fellow pet therapists, Kai, who was competing in the ring I worked. Trust me when I say this beautiful Aussie is quite speedy and she had a perfect run. Being truly ignorant of the sport of agility, I could only stand back and watch as everyone whooped and hollered as an official brought out a MACH bar, signifying Miss Kai had won another title (her second I learned when I was able to personally congratulate Kai’s mom, Sue later that afternoon).

Here are a few photos I was able to capture when not working in the ring. Obviously there’s a lot of waiting until your event is up for that quick 25-40 second run. And there’s lots of barking by the competitors-they are so wound up to race. Most Shelties bark with enthusiasm as they clear each jump and race through the poles.

Agility

Running into this little girl upon arriving, I learned she was competing in her first event. She was young, sweet and totally devoted to her mom. Sorry for the blurry images, I only had my cell phone with me which isn’t very good with fast action shots.

Agility

She reminded me of Elsa though she was much smaller. I’m guessing this girl weighed in around 40 lbs. whereas Elsa hovers around 60. But she was pretty and seemed to enjoy agility.

In a big no-no, I snuck this image when I worked in the ring. Photos aren’t allowed from inside the ring at the time, and was unaware of the rule.

Agility

Even an OES competed. I’ve watched “Dallas” compete before and she is a total love. Dallas loves high flying, is a breeze to handle and is completed adored by her sweet mom, Meg who’s always gracious, warm and friendly, just like her cute panda-faced baby. Meg is a big supporter of the OES rescue group and always singles us out whenever she talks to people. Both her and her dog are favorites of competitors and spectators alike.

Agility

Here is Kai shortly after her winning run with the event official and ring judge.

Agility

Being part of the hospital pet therapy, I couldn’t be more proud of fellow therapist Miss Kai and her huMom, Sue who trained me and Sam when we joined the team.

Agility

Sue plans to continue racing Kai but at a lower height now that she’s earned two MACH titles. Kai is one of our top pet therapists whose love of people is evident whenever she encounters them at the hospital. I mean, just look at her face! How could anyone not want to hug this precious girl?

Agility

Hopefully future opportunities will present themselves so that I can continue volunteering for the OES rescue group and improving my knowledge about this fun and amazing sport. Have you ever considered participating in agility? What made you decide to get involved with it?

Tails Around the Ranch will be taking a few days off while we take time to visit with out of state family. Posts and comments will likely be infrequent but I’ll do my best getting around to seeing you as I can. Otherwise, we’ll see you next week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

We’re Back Wednesday

Sam & ElsaWe’ve been MIA now for a week but are finally getting back to our normally scheduled programing. Sam came down with a nasty bug and also seemed to have injured his back. He’s been treated with lots of rest and antibiotics and more than his fair share of ear rubs and attention while he recovers. While not quite 100%, he has vastly improved and is s.l.o.w.l.y returning to true knuckleheaded form. I just need to get his appetite back from ‘meh, not at all interested’ to somewhere close to normal (for Sam that will probably be somewhere in the vicinity of ‘well, it’s not prime rib but I’ll try to choke it down’ category). He’s always been fairly picky discriminating but when he’s under the weather, even more so. In his old age, Little Lord Fauntleroy has become downright difficult to please palate-wise. He seems to think hand feeding 5-star restaurant quality food is the norm and clinging to me with absolutely not a speck of space between us must rule the day.

Naturally Elsa has had her nose out of joint since she wasn’t the sole focus on the ‘Ranch’ universe.  I’ve had work through the canine healthcare system getting her meds this week which will no doubt likely result in a rant new post. I’m beginning to think the universe is conspiring to make things more challenging.

But we are back in the saddle and trying our dog-most to slog through the obstacle course otherwise known as life. Coming across a few late blooming pretty tulips seemed like a good sign that better days are ahead. I’m beginning to think we are on the high hurdle course lately but are grateful we still seem to be able to clear those jumps. Adding to the mix, the weather went from snow last Thursday to mid-80’s F this week. I just love Springtime in the Rockies, especially with these two Knuckleheads.

So…have we missed any exciting happenings? What’s new with you?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

April Reflections ~ 2019

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.

Posing Sam

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.

AnniversaryOver 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.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Did You Know? January 8, 2019 edition

If you live in a region where the temperatures get below freezing, your fire hydrants are more important than ever. We recently received this video about the importance of hydrant maintenance in the winter months. “Gaskill” hydrants were originally installed in Denver in the 1890’s and incorporated a dry barrel draining system to prevent water from freezing inside the pipes connecting to the hydrant.

Now days, water companies uses propane burners when storms are forecast as part of their regular maintenance in cold climates. Most of the 21,000 fire hydrants installed throughout the Denver metro area are yellow and installed along the sidewalk easements. Newer versions of the Gaskill hydrants feature an underground valve to shut off the flow of water in case of a collision by some vehicle. The value shuts the water off and keeps water in the supply pipe, preventing water from spraying in the air a la Hollywood style. I personally hate the idea of water waste in this high mountain desert region and hope storm sewers are able to re-cycle and treat this flushed water and get it back into the non-potable system for watering city parks.

Hydrants are flushed out at dead ends, cup-de-sacs and pressure zone boundaries to ensure water moves regularly throughout the system. By flushing Gaskill hydrants, it allows the water company to collect samples and maintain water quality throughout the distribution system.

Upright and fire fighters are grateful the hydrants are maintained, especially at this time of year. Seems like dogs are grateful for hydrants, too. Even the Ninja.

A little privacy, please.

Have you ever wondered how your fire hydrants worked? Now you have a better idea, at least if your water company uses the Gaskill hydrants.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Veterans Day Monday

Veterans DayYesterday marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I where major hostilities formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, and the Armistice with Germany went into effect. In the US, the public holiday is celebrated today allowing for a 3-day weekend. Most governmental offices, schools and banks are closed, and mail delivery will be halted. The holiday was signed into law by President Dwight Eisenhower on May 26, 1954 honoring all veterans who served in the Armed Forces. Typically celebrated as Remembrance Day or Armistice Day in European countries,  Major US veteran organizations urged the day be renamed Veterans Day in 1954 and thus Congress amended the bill on June 1, 1954, replacing “Armistice” with “Veterans,” and it has been known as Veterans Day ever since. The attributive case (rather than the possessive) is the officially correct spelling “because it is not a day that ‘belongs’ to veterans, but rather a day to honor all veterans. Using the apostrophe is however grammatically correct.

Today we celebrate the service of all U.S. military veterans, while May’s Memorial Day honors those who died while in military service.

The Ranch hands and I tip our hats to all veterans who have served their country and hope this opportunity brings people together. As you probably heard, we had an election last week, one that has continued to further rip into the democracy that binds us. I pray we can use this day to stitch back that torn fabric through service intended to help others. Until we can accept everyone for their differences, we will never recognize the areas where we are the same. A country where we all long for safety for our families and our country. Where we all breathe the same air and enjoy the freedom provided by those who served their entire country, and not just those who agree with their political stripes. Today we pray that the process of coming together as a nation begins.

Veterans Day

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nearly Wordless Wednesday

The election is over, there were some tough contests producing winners and losers. Now the hard part begins. Governing. To those who are disappointed, I urge you to continue to fight for your principles. To everyone, I urge you to be kind and definitely no gloating. We have a long way to go to heal a country that is quite fractious. That said, I will be reflecting on the various outcomes while rejuvenating my spirit by joining my family at a ‘secret location’ beginning this weekend. I can’t make promises that I will be able to stay connected next week or whether or not posts will be published but I’d love to hear where you think I’m going from this photo in the comments.

If you’ve been meaning to but haven’t gotten around to it yet, be sure to check out the E-shop. New items were recently added. Any order placed before the weekend will be shipped this week. Otherwise, orders thereafter received will go out once I return. Make sure you have a great rest of the week.

Vacation Time

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ October 15, 2018

Hey sports fan…it’s me, Sam. Did you know this is National Veterinary Technician Week? First celebrated in 1993, the third week of October each year honors the heroes in animal care — vet techs. Yes it’s true that I act kind terrified a little scared whenever a tech takes my temperature (but, um…excuse me…how’d you feel if I jammed a cold tube up your…well you know). But you gotta admit, I still wag my tail every time you come into the exam room.

Truth is, I have a personal interest in hoping all Vet Techs have a good week. Mom’s granddaughter in Hawaii is a vet tech and works at a pet hospital in Kona. Like all techs, our Hailey does all kinds of work including taking pertinent background info before the vet comes in and talks with the client about their pet. She handles all the basic questions, cleans kennels, restrains animals, draws blood and gives certain injections and vaccines as permitted by statute. She helps take X-rays and ultrasounds and monitors sedation procedures. She also runs blood work after a draw.  

A vet tech’s duties often encompasses far more work depending on the vet for whom they work. It’s probably easier to list the things they can’t do. Vet techs are not permitted to diagnose, perform surgery or prescribe medication.

Veterinary technicians typically work with vets in private practices, hospitals, research labs, and zoos. These days they are an important part of the professional veterinary team, but that hasn’t always been the case. The first “animal technician” program was created back in the 1960s, before then, veterinarians hired students or office workers to do much of the basic work and routine tasks. As the field of animal health became more complex, a need arose for a well-educated staff that could take on greater responsibilities and duties developed.

Even my weirdo Ninja sister loves our Hailey girl. This week we salute you and all vet techs and applaud the terrific job you perform. Have a great week, dear Hailey. We love and miss you and are so proud of all you’ve accomplished.

Miss Hailey with the Ninja

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Remember Me Thursday

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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! 🐾

Pirate Party Wednesday

We are joining the Speedy’s Annual Pirate Party event today. Sam isn’t  keen on getting dressed up as you can tell here, but he adores Speedy and is always willing to walk the plank for fur-iends.

So ahoy, mateys. Don’t be a scalawag today.

Avast Ye Mates…

Many of you have contacted me about the issue of your comments disappearing on our blog and some of you have indicated that some of my comments have been pillaged off to your spam folders. We’re working on it with the nice blokes at WordPress and hope you’ll be patient while they try to figure out why Akismet thinks I’m a bot. Shiver me timbers…I’m not even Russian. Aaaarrrrgggghhhh! 

Live, love, bark! 🐾