How Can We Miss You if You Won’t Go Away


Dear Old Man Winter,

Not to be disrespectful to an elder but…please go away. Your sweet sister, Spring was here earlier this week with her lovely sunshine and warm temps breathing new life into a tired brown landscape, waking up tender blooms and even more tired uprights and pups sick of your constant returns to remind us how much we despise your all-to-long-of-a presence. After 87 visits to us over the past 6 weeks, we beg you to go gently into the night though immediately would be better and leave us the hell alone until next year. And take that stupid groundhog with you. You are both on the short list right now. Him for toying with us saying we’d have an early Spring and you for repeated arrivals as an unannounced guest much like Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie from the movie, Christmas Vacation who drinks all the beer and generally makes the house look like a FEMA disaster zone. We’re done with both of you. We long for those 60 and 70 degree days with sunshine, blue skies, and soft breezes where she coaxed pretty tulips and perfectly scented lilacs to dazzle us. You, your snow mixed with a chilling rain and your lousy 30 degree temperatures with limited visibility can go away now and stop tormenting us. Please!


Two tormented souls shivering in Denver, one of whom needs to pee badly and won’t do it in the chilly rain/snow nonsense you keep tossing at us.

Hope wherever you are that you are enjoying a real Spring that coincidently matches with the calendar.

Live, love, bark! <3

Back to the Future

150102-back-to-the-future-mn-850_6c1cc5c2a0c7767b593e1bf9054a4d0f.nbcnews-fp-1200-800We all remember Doc Brown and his pal Marty McFly with the infamous flux capacitor which allowed them to go Back to the Future. It occurred to me recently there’s a bit of that whole ‘Back to the Future” thing going on around the Ranch.

Even though he’s rounding the corner quickly toward 11, Sam has suddenly readopted some definitely ‘Back to the Future’ behavior. Playtime, toys and puppy pouncing.

Sam has never been much into toys. Years ago when the sheep dogs were still with us, I collected a bunch of those Audubon stuffed birds with the realistic bird chirps and squawks. Frankly I adored them as much if not more than the dogs did; the memories from those days still elicit smiles recalling when they would proudly strut around tossing their heads with the birds in their mouths…but conveniently just out of my reach. It was as though they were taunting me to engage in a game of keep-away which I happily did. Recently I discovered the basket they have been stashed in while organizing my studio. I did a quick inventory of what still had its chirper in tact when Sam came in and promptly pulled a couple out of the room. I figured he’d probably go for the eyes and eviscerate them ASAP which has been his MO in the past. To my surprise he carried them off to the living room to toss in the air and then do a very puppy-like pounce on top of them, often making them squeak or chirp. The noise startled him and he looked quite puzzled at the noise but he’d toss it again and re-pounce and slap paws on the hardwood floors. Clearly this pup has figured out he is quite a wizard to make those long forgotten slobber-infested toys make such a strange but wonderful sound. It was hilarious particularly since he’s never expressed any interest in playing with toys before. His favorites seem to be a stuffed kitty, an adorable hedgehog and the Audubon chickadee.

Sam has been pouncing and playing with them often during the day now so maybe…just like Doc and Marty, this pup went Back to the Future too in suddenly liking toys. Has your “one point twenty-one jigowatt” pup discovered some lost toy and taken an interest in it?

Live, love, bark! <3


It’s Throw back Thursday and while this lovely pooch is NOT Sam, he easily could have been.  A photo from the past sent by my friend at Not Afraid of Color who is likewise owned by also has a Standard Poodle, sweet Cole. Thanks for sending a delicious smile  and recollection of a terrific talent, LeeAnna. Hope this image makes your day as much as it did mine.


Live, love, bark! <3

If Only the World Wouldn’t Get in the Way

Recall recently I reiterated the rules for winter leash walking to Sam here. Seems like I need to have that discussion repeatedly with that numbskull dog because during today’s morning constitution, he thought that going from 0 to 60 on the ice to greet another dog out walking was a good idea. That, or I used my indoor voice which clearly he didn’t understand or hear. Having fallen down and gone boom on Friday, I said out loud, “uh…yeah, NOOOOOO!” Listen you screwball mutt, I’m the boss in this here relationship, not just ballast at the end of a leash.

The other aspect of my previous convo with Sam was that ‘we are walking, not sniffing.’ And yet, he’s pulling like a maniac with tail up like a flag, nose to the ground checking pee-mail messages from his neighborhood BFF’s. It got me to thinking, what if I could get him enrolled in a bona fide nose work program? Sure…and what if pigs flew?  But with his long schnoz, you’d think he would be a shoe-in. Alas, the working part of his brain is no doubt the size of a pea because we have this conversation twice a day while we’re walking. I tried to take a picture of him this morning as he’s dragging pulling my sorry self around in the cold,  but I was just lucky to hang on for dear life and stay upright, let alone try to play photographer. Dang, that dog is strong, even with a harness!

Sam would be the perfect candidate for doing nose work. Though I really don’t know all the in’s and out’s of it, I do know you’re supposed to start out with something the dog absolutely loves. Dolefully that just wouldn’t work on Sam because what he loves absolutely the most is just sniffing-doesn’t matter for what. I’d probably get thrown out of class if I asked, “How do you box up pee-mail?” It’s too bad too, because I mean, just look at the size of that thing!! Is that proboscis perfect for detecting scents or what?

Photo on 4-19-15 at 11.56 AM #4

Instead think something more like The Fox and the Hound movie. Yup, that dog is definitely a hound dog!

Live, love, bark! <3


Disneyland or Disaster?

Dog parks–are they a Disneyland or a disaster waiting to happen? People tend to have strong feelings on this topic. Personally I’ve only taken Sam to our neighborhood dog park once and he stayed right next to me the entire time. Ok, truth be told there were those few minutes he went sniffing around and found someone who he must have thought was me and began to lean against them, but other than that, he really didn’t seem interested in everyone running hither and yon chasing after balls, Frisbees and other dogs racing by. Sam’s not the brightest bulb in the chandelier, he doesn’t do ball chasing and doesn’t seem to get it at all. His reaction suggests he doesn’t understand why you threw that thing in the first place and maybe wonders if you threw it, maybe YOU should go get it, not him.

Not sure if it’s the dog park’s frenetic energy or if it’s more like that 2009 movie He’s just Not Into You, because he’s just not into dog parks. Don’t get me wrong, Sam loves dogs, but he loves people so much more and he’d just rather lean stand next to someone who was willing to pet him. I recall a rally near the house a couple of years ago and we were getting ready to cross the street along with 50 or so other people and he leaned against the guy standing next to me while we were waiting to cross. The guy looked down at Sam, smiled, then said “Guess he kind of likes me.” Eek, talk about embarrassing!  This guy was a complete stranger; we had never seen him before that day and my dog was leaning like he had a major crush on him. I mean, what the hey dog…?!

The dog park in my neighborhood is your classic urban dog park-large enough for dogs to run themselves silly around on a few acres and just uncomfortable enough for the humans standing on the periphery near the gate chatting up neighbors waiting for the dog to “be finished.” It’s mostly flat at the far edge of a decent public park and bordered by a busy major street (read noisy). There’s no grass, only pea gravel and dirt, a couple of benches and one small awning. There might be maybe 3 trees in the entire area but they are small ones at that providing almost no shade. There is no running water tap so you need to bring your own H2O. Lots of people arrive after work so the place gets super crowded and there are more than a few aggressive dogs that show up. Hel-lo, stupid owners…don’t bring big, bad Brutus to the dog park. Instead get your sorry tush out and walk him on a leash and don’t let him terrorize that 6 pound Yorkie that is freaking out seeing your 90 lb. fur-gorilla come racing toward it. And even if you say “he’s friendly,” that gigantic ox is scaring the be-Jesus out of little Muffy. Course a fair number of purse sized dogs are terrorizing big dogs as well. Just saying.

No matter which side of the coin you’re on, here are some issues that come to mind where dog parks are concerned.

  • People think they don’t have to pick up after their dog. Unless you mother follows you around and is willing to pick up after you, YOU NEED TO PICK UP YOUR DOG’S POOP!  It’s bad enough when dogs aren’t vaccinated and go to dog parks, but there are all kinds of diseases and parasites living in dog poop. For dogs who suffer from Coprophagia (the polite code word for stool eating), this has all kinds of implications. ‘Nuff said there.
  • Pre-exercising your dog (which seems counter-intuitive, I know) helps keep any overstimulation under control. Dog parks should be a supplement to daily activity, not the only activity.
  • Dogs with socialization issues should not come to a dog park. Dogs need to introduce themselves appropriately and politely. Just like people, not every dog appreciates being charged by a loud, boorish critter who gets up close and personal into everyone’s face.
  • Leave the gangster collar in the low-rider. Pronged/spiked collars and harnesses should not make their way inside a dog park while they are playing. Rough-housing with them on can lead to broken teeth, jaws, paws and legs.
  • Keeping your dog leashed inside the off-leash area is…well just plain dumb. It’s too easy to trip or snap a leg that gets tangles while a dog is running close to the speed of sound after a tennis ball. Retractable leashes are an even worse idea. See this if you really want to know how I feel about that topic. 🙂 There’s no need to clothesline a dog or rip your dog’s head off once they reach the end of the cord at warp speed.
  • I can’t believe I even have to mention this one. DO NOT BRING YOUR FEMALE WHO IS EITHER IN HEAT OR PREGNANT!! Why isn’t there a law against this kind of stupidity-can anyone explain that to me?
  • Puppies less than 12 weeks old or dogs with incomplete vaccinations should not go to dog parks. Unvaccinated dogs could be dangerous to young puppies who haven’t had the opportunity to build up immunity for certain conditions like mature dogs have. Nasty stuff like Giardia or worms can play major havoc on those tiny bodies. Yes, they are adorable and EVERYONE loves seeing puppies play, but the dog park is not that place.
  • You need to be careful about having small dogs and big dogs in the same area. Some large dogs view little dogs more like squirrels than small dogs. That big galut is probably not vicious, just overstimulated yet the result can be the same.
  • Don’t pick up your little dog and carry it to “safety.” Some dogs view the pickup-ee as fleeing the scene which translates into “chase!” in some dog’s brains and which can trigger a treeing instinct. Picking up a small panicked dog could get you knocked over or possibly bitten.
  • Make sure your dog has recall skills. Being able to disengage a dog from escalating bad behavior is critical for everyone’s safety.
  • Dogs should not be allowed to bully other dogs. Bouncing all over a dog is not cute, it’s obnoxious and rude. Tag and run is cute, but non-stop nipping and pouncing with already overstimulated dogs…yeah, not so much.
  • Dogs shouldn’t ‘have to work it out’ at the dog park. First time introductions in a super stimulating environment probably isn’t the time for resolving potential canine drama.
  • Dogs that cannot share toys probably shouldn’t be at a dog park. That’s an invitation bound to go badly. No one needs to see varying levels of aggressiveness accelerate because of a resource guarding dog that can’t take cues to back off.
  • While it’s always nice to run into a neighbor or make new friends, owners need to stay engaged with their dogs at dog parks, not catching or hooking up. Dog parks are for dogs, coffee shops or bars are for chit-chatting.
  • Finally, just like chatting up people at the dog park is a no-no, people need to get off their smartphones and pay attention to their’s as well as other people’s dogs. If you’re texting or tweeting, you’re not supervising your dog. I don’t know what it is about millennials but they just can’t seem to put their phones down. I know, I’m starting to sound like the crabby old geezer who shakes their fist in the air and yells, “get off my lawn!” But it makes me crazy when these social cretins nearly walk into Sam and me when we’re out walking early in the morning because they are reading or texting something on their phone and then give me the stink eye like we did something wrong (true story, but that’s for another rant, er I mean, post). Sheesh, Sam has far better social skills and he’s a millennial, too. 😉

Sure I’m passionate about this topic but hopefully haven’t come across like a jerk. I realize it’s a thin line between the two and if I have, please accept my apology. So tell me, where do you weigh in on the issue of dog parks…Disneyland or disaster?

Live, love, bark! <3

Danger Will Robinson

Lost in Space, the series 1965-68, IMDB
Lost in Space, the series 1965-68, IMDB

Nope, this isn’t gonna be a review or comment on either the old campy series or the 1998 movie Lost in Space though that phrase is often heard in my house followed by peals of laughter-it’s just hard not to burst out laughing at that cheesy line, but I digress.

No, what I want to make you aware of is Poison Prevention Week, March 15-22. Although it was originally created to raise awareness with parents with small children, vets are calling attention to the public for keeping pets safe as well. You’ve probably seen those toxic plant lists and you can view an infographic here to refresh your memory on common toxic substances. But what I want to share is far more insidious that more and more pet parents are engaging in because it’s thought of as “cute behavior.”

One thing that is becoming more and more common is that many dogs and cats will lick your skin after you’ve applied lotions or medicated creams. Personally, it grosses me out, I know where that tongue has been and frankly don’t want it licking my skin but more importantly, I want my fur-baby to stay safe. There are many types of lotions and ointments, creams and topical medications that can potentially make your pet very sick if ingested. Obviously it’s better to discourage licking you following application of creams or lotions. Often times, a yummy smell such as vanilla or coconut oil based products seem to draw pets to lick you. If your pet has ingested a potentially toxic topical product, you should contact your vet or emergency facility right away.

Here are some over the counter topical products that are dangerous to pets include:

  • Personal care products that contain dioxane, parabens, phthalates, metholisothiaolinone, toluene, triclosan, sodium laurel sulfate, and propylene glycol. Found in toothpastes, body washes, moisturizers, make-up/cosmetics, antiperspirants, shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, sunscreens. If you can’t pronounce it, you probably shouldn’t use it. Instead use: emu and coconut oil, oregano oil, mild soap without triclosan, water or water mixed with baking soda.
  • Creams containing hydrocortisone which is often used to control itching. Can increase thirst and urination, panting, vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Ointments & lotions containing antibiotics often called ‘triple antibiotic” and applied to cuts, scratches, etc. Can cause stomach upset.
  • Antifungal creams can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
  • Products containing zinc oxide can cause vomiting and diarrhea if ingested.
  • Muscle rub creams – many of these contain salicylate, aspirin-like compounds that can cause vomiting  or stomach ulcers. Other potential ingredients include menthol or capsaicin.
  • Prescription topical products including steroid based creams, hormone creams, anti-inflammatory pain med creams (i.e. Flurbiprofen for topical relief of arthritis), vitamin A compounds (retinoids).
  • Minoxidil – aka Rograine. Hair regrowth product originally used as a blood pressure medication. Upon ingestion, symptoms displayed are vomiting, lethargy, progression to fluid build up in lungs and eventually heart failure.
  • Calcipotiene (Dovonex) – used to treat psoriasis. Even a small amount can cause death in dogs and cats; it also causes vomiting and kidney failure-yikes.
  • 5-flurouracil (5-FU and Efudex) – treats solar keratosis (precancerous sun damage and skin cancer in humans). If ingested by pets, can cause seizures, bloody vomiting, diarrhea, bone marrow suppression. Extremely dangerous to use around animals, ingestion almost always results in death. Don’t mess around with this one.

Tips for Keeping your Pet Safe from Topical Products.

Prevent your pet from licking you after you’e applied products to your skin, even non-toxic products. Allow all topical products to soak in thoroughly or cover before contact with your pet. Never apply a topical meant for human use on your pet without consulting a vet. After applying a topical product, OTC product or prescription, thoroughly wash your hands before touching your pet. Store all products away from pets, and contact your vet or emergency veterinary clinic immediately if you believe your fur-kid may have come into contact with any potentially harmful products. Remember…be alert and keep your fur babies safe.

Live, love, bark! <3