Wordy Wednesday ~ June 8, 2022

We’re departing from our usual wordless format in favour of a pictorial recollection from the weekend fundraiser held at the Park Meadows location of Orvis who offered gift wrapping to their customers for a donation to the OES Rescue. We are always grateful for their support but to visit directly with customers at an event is extra special. Because of Norman’s pet therapy experience, he was the weekend’s ambassador showing the general public how great rescued dogs can be, given a chance.

Welcoming us to the store was a sandwich board showing current conditions at favorite regional fishing spots, and sporting an adorable OES face. After a quick set up of the wrapping table and after meeting the staff who showered Norman with affection. Customers began arriving shortly thereafter and we enjoyed chatting with them. My good friend and fellow volunteer, Anastacia (who arranged for this event), and I wrapped gifts while chatting with folks while Norman did his thing.

Norman

For those unfamiliar with Orvis, it’s an American family-owned retail and mail-order business specializing in fly fishing, hunting and sporting goods. Founded in Manchester, Vermont, back in 1856 by Charles F. Orvis to sell fishing tackle, it is the nation’s oldest mail-order retailer and this location is a dog friendly retailer at a large mall.

One of the first visitors was a woman who instantly fell in love with Norman and said she would return with her daughter and granddaughter. Shortly thereafter, this little cutie marched in and strolled up to meet Norman.

Her mom and grandmother chatted with us for several minutes and all enjoyed their time with Norman. His soft fur and patient disposition never disappoint.

Norman is nothing if not an equal-opportunity therapist…he enjoys youngsters as well as older folks alike.

Norman

Norman easily size people up and seems to know who will offer an ear rub and those who will offer a nice belly rub as well.

NormanNorman

Norman spent the entire day meeting and greeting customers. Most didn’t want gift wrapping but still left a donation nonetheless for which we were most thankful. To reward Norman for all his hard work, he got to pick out a toy from  numerous offerings. You may recall the customer who liked Norman so much at Orvis’ Christmas event, she purchased one that he still adores to this day.

Norman
Oh…the choices

The elephant had been intriguing to Norman back in December, but he barely acknowledged it this time.

Norman
Hmm…this one has possibilities

He thoroughly checked all the offerings.

Norman

In the end, Norman put his paw of approval on the sloth, a choice that was most unexpected.

Norman

This was THE one.

Norman
My favorite!

It was a long day yet Norman performed like the consummate professional he is. He was one happy but tuckered out boy.

Norman

Next week Orvis will host another event where a different pup and volunteer will help out Anastacia. It should be a good one for the rescue too since Orvis is running a big promotion to coincide with Father’s Day weekend. While Norman and I won’t be there, we are excited at the potential for another very successful day.

Hope you’ve enjoyed seeing a few pics from our day at Orvis. We want to thank Orvis and their gracious staff for their ongoing support of our rescue.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 3, 2022

Ranch HandsWelcome to this week’s edition Nature Friday  where we join the blog hop hosted by our fur-pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.

Norman: Since I kind of took the last word from last week’s post, I’m giving free and full reign to the Ninja because I’m a proper gentleman. Elsa: More like I threatened you, you gigantic heap of fur. I don’t consider this much of a gift-it’s more like acquiescence in the face of harm. I still think you owe me but mom said I shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth. So with that, let’s take a look at a springtime lovely, otherwise known as the Bearded Iris.

Beardies, as mom likes to affectionately call them, are hardworking and easy to grow. They like full sun and tend to prefer well-drained soil to keep the rhizomes from rotting. Since our soil is more claylike, we tend to water them less and they’ve done fine.

Twenty years ago before either me or the Oaf moved in to the Ranch, mom found an iris farm in the heart of the city shortly after moving in. “Iris Bob” has been in the business for years, and grows more than 400 varieties of tall Bearded Irises. Sadly, they’ve been closed to visits since the panDAMNic. We’re hoping next year they’ll reopen. It’s a real treat to wander through the rows of gorgeous flowers. For a bird’s eye view of the farm, check out this short YouTube video.

Isn’t that something?! I’m gonna see if we can get a drone so I can spy on squirrels better-it could give me an edge on those doggone tree rats! Norman: Umm, let’s stay on point, shall we? Elsa: Growl. While mom’s garden is nowhere near the extent or scale as Iris Bob’s, it became the foundation for her garden. Happy now? Norman: Indubitably.

Flowers

The house mom owned before had one nearly black iris and she dug it up and brought it with her. It was the start of her obsession of bearded irises. While her garden has mostly blue or deep purple, she as a large border of the traditional purple but they have variegated foliage. Their flowers aren’t particularly exceptional, but the striped leaves provide interest all year long.

Flowers
View from the ground at the Iris Farm

Did you know the irises take their name from the Greek word for a rainbow (also the name for the Greek goddess of the rainbow, Iris)? Some suggest the name refers to the wide variety of colors found among the many species. The “beard” refers to those short hairs that look like a furry caterpillar, and are found toward the back of the lower petals. Its purpose is to a path for pollinating insects toward the reproductive parts of the plant. Bearded irises now tend to have larger blooms than they did a hundred years ago.

While growing beardies is fairly easy, according to Iris Bob (and taken directly from his website), here are some rules that can ensure good results so you too, can enjoy these springtime beauties.

Rules of Thumb for Tall Bearded Iris:

  • Minimum of 6 hours of sunshine per day.
  • Good drainage
  • Plant 7-12 inches apart.
  • Divide every 3 to 4 years
  • Fertilize late summer with a LOW nitrogen fertilizer, 14-14-14 (or something similar)
  • Fertilize in the spring with a high phosphorous fertilizer, 0-48-0 (triple super phosphate for root development)
  • Don’t overwater.
  • Don’t plant too deep [this is one of the biggest mistakes people can make]
  • Remove dead brown foliage and bloom-stalks when last flower folds.

So let’s see a few of the pretty ones from around our garden. Mom has always loved the super dark irises. They are unusual and she likes that kind of stuff. It’s probably why she adopted Norman. They don’t get anymore ‘unusual’ than him. Norman: I beg your pardon…I would never say unkind things about my sister. Elsa: Umm, Fathead…I thought you were going to butt out of MY post. Norman: Umm, sorry…go on. {Sigh}

As I was saying before being so rudely interrupted, here are a few pics of some of mom’s favorite irises blooms.

Flowers
Black bearded iris being crowded out by the variegated irises (note to mom-make sure you divide those guys this year)

Another showstopper is this speckled iris. It’s like Mother Nature got the hiccups. Tee-hee.

Flowers

Here Mother Nature decided to compete with Picasso with a ruffled variety. What do you think…Yay or Nay?

Flowers

Here’s a peach colored one from a walk this week that looks so bright and happy. I tried to sniff it but mom pulled me away since a bee was enjoying its dinner.

Flowers

And finally, this delicate looking one that always makes mom smile.

Flowers

Notice the spots of moisture? We actually got a couple of days of showers this week-something we rarely receive. Mom was happy, but my crybaby brother can’t stand getting wet so I have to hear him winge on about it. Norman: I do not winge. I simply observe. Elsa: Whatever.

Anyhow, we hope you enjoyed our my post on bearded irises. Do you have them in your garden?

We hope you are able to get out this weekend and see things blooming now. Luckily, I’ll get a free day tomorrow while Norman goes to an Old English Sheepdog Rescue benefit as an ambassador for rescued dogs. For me it means I can destroy play with the toys by myself. Yay! Have a great weekend.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 27, 2022

Happy last Friday in the month of May. As always, we’re joining our fur-pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s Nature Friday blog hop. Be sure to check out what others are sharing by clicking on the link.

Ranch HandsHiya, it’s us Ranch Hands bringing spots of nature photos from this past week. Elsa: Remember not to pee on stuff, brother, ok? Norman: Tsk. I’m nothing if not a proper gentleman, Ninja.

You may recall that last week we received some snow showers on Friday and Saturday and boy did it cause some damage to several of the neighborhood trees. Elsa: Luckily it wasn’t as bad as some storms but it’s taken all week long for the cleanup. Here are a few pics from our walks.

Snow

Norman: I rather enjoyed watching it fall from the sofa while I had my ball. Elsa: Your ball? Ha, don’t you wish!

Norman

Norman: Mum dressed us up in our jackets so we could ‘enjoy’ the weather first hand. Elsa: It wasn’t that bad, you big baby. Norman: Can I help it if I don’t like wet? Elsa: {eyes rolling} Oh good grief, you’re such a wuss. When I lived at the puppy mill, I was outside all the time. This was nothing. Norman: Well, I came from a warmer climate and became used to kinder conditions. Elsa: Oh cry me a river, will ya. Let’s get on with it and show our readers some more pics, ok?

Trees

Trees

Elsa: As you can see, the amount of snow wasn’t all that much, only about 4 inches max. It melted nearly as fast as it fell but it was unusual to get snow this late in May. And we managed to not get the below the forecasted freezing temps too. Norman: Mum was happy about that; she was worried about her peonies which were just forming buds. Elsa: Yeah, she had to tarp a good deal of the garden. For a while there, it looks like a bit like Sanford & Sons but that seemed to save them and the ready-to-pop irises.

Flowers

Norman: The lupines didn’t seem to suffer all that much either. A few were a bit floppy from the weight of the snow but they are all blooming nicely.

Flowers

Elsa: We walked past some wildflowers after the storm who seemed to be thriving from the nice drink of water they  received.

Flowers

Norman: Nice one, Elsa. I took a nice long sniff at those yellow charmers. Elsa: Yeah, I remember mum trying to drag you away so you wouldn’t pee on them. Norman: {huff} Must you always bring that up? I’m required to check the canine bulletin board to see if there are any messages to pass along to you. Consider me a sort of chaperone for your delicacies. Elsa: Bwahahaha, delicacies?  Who you trying to kid, I’m about as delicate as a panther, dude. Norman: {miffed} I’m just trying to be gentlemanly about protecting my unappreciative sister. Elsa: Ok, I’ll give you that. Thanks, I think.

Norman: You’re most welcome, dear sister. So do you have any other photos people might like? Elsa: As a matter of fact I do. Mom found a new cactus plant that didn’t seem to mind the cold or snow. Norman: Yeah, mom won’t let me remotely near those plants. I prefer plants with soft leaves but it is rather pretty if I say so myself.

Flowers

 

Norman: Why not show one last photo of another iris we pass on our walks? Elsa: Happy to oblige. You know this sharing the Nature Friday thing isn’t so bad with you. You’re a good boy, Norman. Thanks for letting me have the last pic.

Flowers

Norman: Heh, heh…I’m actually going to get the last word/pics by sharing that mum received an award this week when we visited hospital staff and patients. She was quite shocked to see she’s logged over 500 hours since she embarked on being a pet therapy chauffeur. Even though the majority was with her beloved Sam, I think it still touched her. But we all know who does the real work, don’t we? Elsa: You’re going to pay for this, dude.

Norman

Pet Therapy

 

Norman: So worth it, little sister. Sooo worth it.Norman

Ranch Hands {in unison}: We hope you enjoyed our pics of Nature in all her gore and glory. She can sometime exact a heavy toll for sharing her beauty with us. We hope you make sure to get outside and enjoy some of it this Memorial Day weekend. Have a safe and happy ‘howliday’ as the unofficial start of summer begins.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ May 23, 2022

Happy Monday morning. As we prepare to make our  scheduled hospital visits today and tomorrow, Norman says “Never underestimate the therapeutic value of a wet nose.”

Norman
The Dogtor is In

We hope your encounters this week are therapeutic and allow you to feel better.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 13, 2022

Ranch HandsHappy Friday! Norman and Elsa here to help Mum out by sharing some nature from around the ‘Hood. Friday is generally the day most of us look forward to as it’s usually the gateway to a relaxing weekend spent with our families, many of whom work weekdays. Today would be the same, unless of course you happen to have friggatriskaidekaphobia-that irrational fear of Friday the 13th. The good news is today is the only Friday the 13th in 2022 and since it is a Friday afterall, it’s better than any Monday whatever, right? Did you know that Friday the 13th occurs whenever a month begins on a Sunday? All well and good but today is also Nature Friday around Blogville so we’re here to share the beauty of nature, and we’re not going to worry about crossing paths of black cats, walking under ladders or broken mirrors. Elsa: “Cats…where?!” Norman: “Nevermind the cats, Ninja”…let’s just join our pals, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard to see what’s happened lately naturewise in the Mile High City.

It was another windy week but that reality won’t stop us from sharing unusual gardenscapes this week from around our ‘Hood.

Gardens in the metro area are as diverse and fascinating as the people who tend them. Elsa: You mean weird, don’t you? Norman: “Well that’s somewhat rude to say. I like to think of them more as creative souls, expressing themselves. They can range from meticulously maintained flower beds at the Denver Botanical Gardens to pint sized plots on teeny lots with monstrous mansions on them and everything in between. Let’s take a closer look, shall we? Here’s an example of a perfectly tended bed from DBG. Notice the symmetry and formality?”

Flowers
Tulip bed near the front entrance to the Denver Botanical Gardens

Elsa: “Yeah, yeah, but where’s the flower bed with bunnies?” Norman: “Oh, for heaven’s sake.”

One of the things we keep our eyes peeled for when we’re out wandering about are unusual plants and whimsical garden decor. Elsa: “Not me, I’m looking for bunnies and squirrels you big oaf.” Norman: “Ugh…focus, please!” We came across a small group of trees that just blew mum away with its ‘camouflage’ bark. American Sycamores are stately trees with unusual looking bark. Norman: “They smell nice.” Elsa: Everything has a nice smell to it where you’re concerned. Sometimes I think you’re a Bloodhound, not an Old English Sheepdog.”

Tree
American Sycamore Tree

Mum always manages to find unusual sights on our walks. She likes to check out those gardeners who are clever and original. For some reason, she’s begun to notice of a lot of gardeners decorating their trees like this neighbor who lives around the corner from the Ranch. Norman: “Hey, if it’s a canine bulletin board, count me in.” Elsa: “Look at that weirdo face. I think a cat must have been here earlier this week.” Norman: {eye roll}.

Trees
Ponderosa Pine with Face

Some gardeners think whimsy should be part of their design. Norman: I thought I should investigate what this dog was sniffing until Mum said it wasn’t a real dog.” Elsa: “Yeah, there wasn’t even a treat in that hole or flowers in the pots. What kind of scam is that?”

Garden Decor
Hey, where’s the bunny?

Some ‘gardeners’ have more success with paint brushes than with trowels. A nearby neighbor paints ‘house tattoos.’ She guarantees her creations require no water and will always bloom.

Art
House tattoo by a neighborhood artist

Fairy houses are popping up everywhere, probably a sign of the housing crunch that’s rampant everywhere. The square footage may be minimal, but the cuteness factor runs large.

A newly constructed Fairy house

A neighbor who’s new to the block has a toddler and as they tell it, they’re often too busy trying to keep up with the little tyke, so they installed a small potted garden for flowers on their corner lot that is otherwise turf. Norman: I keep waiting to introduce myself to the dog named ‘Cat’ but haven’t seen him or her yet. Elsa: Cat??? Where? Why are you torturing me by bringing up mythical cats again?”

Flowers
‘Cat,’ the nice dog’s potted garden

Norman: It’s clear, Elsa sees gardens differently than me or mum. But we still hope you enjoyed some of the more whimsical gardens around our neighborhood. Elsa: “Yeah if anyone knows where I can actually find a cat or a bunny, please let me know. That stupid oaf of a brother can’t seem to dish on their whereabouts.”

Mum: Ok, you two, that’s enough. We hope you enjoyed our little tour with some of the different gardens around and liked the tour the Ranch Hands conducted. Just like gardeners here, their ideas are as different as night and day. Hopefully you will be able to spend some time outside this weekend looking for beauty from around your own neighborhood. Have a ‘pawsome’ weekend!

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ May 2, 2022

Ever have one of those weekends where the dog is unusually clingy? It seems to coincide when you have something of import to accomplish.

Exhibit A – both dogs were not pleased with my attempts to do some spring cleanup and upgrading the backyard by reinstalling the flagstones after spending more than a week leveling the area and weeding. Both barked loudly when left indoors while I tried to work as quickly as possible and then stared at me with disdain when I brought them outside with me. Norman in particular has discovered that using his rather large body laying in the most inopportune spot is quite effective as he tries to derail my work than doesn’t revolve around him. I won’t even comment on the Ninja’s attempt at scratching dirt into furrows after I’d spent days leveling and smoothing the area flat.

Smiles

While I know at some point I’ll miss any annoying attempts to derail my attention on activities that aren’t 100% focused on them, once they’re gone. You have to give dogs credit for being in the moment and I’m actually pretty envious they can do that instead of like us peering into the future and seeing how it might benefit their comfort but I’d really appreciate it if dear Norman and sweet Elsa would realized the backyard area isn’t going to  finish itself for just a few more hours. Luckily for them (as well as my back) today will be a makeup day since the forecast is calling for  a bit of moisture (fingers crossed). Here’s to having a ‘pawsome’ week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

The ‘Dogtor’ Is In ~ National Pet Therapy Edition

National Pet Therapy Day

Happy Saturday and welcome to a special post we are honored to sponsor today relating to the celebration of National Pet Therapy Day. Normally we don’t post on Saturday’s but this is a subject very near and dear to our heart. So get ready…there are a lot of pictures here so you might want to grab a cuppa of something tasty, sit back and see out how Norman celebrated his first National Pet Therapy Day. Special thanks to Ann at Zoolatry for the ‘wagnificent’ badge celebrating today.

Norman

Dogtor NormanAs a hospital ‘Dogtor’ Norman regularly visits patients and staff at a local medical center which includes a hospital, hospice and mental health center every month. We try to raise awareness by educating the public on the role therapy animals play in enhancing health and well-being of humans-be they patients or staff and bring a bit of comfort to all we encounter. A few days ago, the hospital hosted a special event in support of National Pet Therapy Day.

Various pet therapy teams assembled outside the front entrance of the hospital to meet and greet visitors and staff.The event was extra festive as the Volunteer Department provided a dog-bone shaped cake for the dogs with treat bags for them and their handlers. The cake must have been quite tasty judging by all those slurping tongues among the attendees.

Cake

Bindee
Our pal, Bindee, has the longest tongue I’ve ever seen on such a little dog.

Dogs

It was great seeing the dogs together with their owners. When Sam and I began pet therapy over eight years ago, there were more than 50 dogs. The passage of time has sadly thinned our ranks and we’re down to just over a dozen ‘Dogtors” these days. But there is a diverse variety of pure and mixed breeds in the program from tiny Chihuahua Bindee, to ginormous OES Norman along with Corgi Zoe;  miniature poodle, Roxie; Golden Retriever Rylie; yellow Lab Fiona; Italian Spinone, Bella; and agility champion Shetland Sheepdogs, Logan and Bismark. One of Norman’s favorite pals is Oreo, a sweet Shih Tzu who had been very sick earlier this year but who has recovered and returned back to work. Also in attendance were deaf dog Spanish Galgo Greyhound, Penny. Other therapy dogs not in attendance include Bellaroo, a Lab/Husky/Border Collie mix; Corgi-mix, Teagan; Coco, a retriever mix; GoldenDoodle, Dolly; and Standard Poodle, Indie. All the dogs are loved by patients and staff alike.

Fiona
Pet therapist Fiona with her handler.
Norman
Norman with Roxie, Zoe, Logan, and Bismark (L-R).

The pet therapy teams initially milled about catching up and greeting one another as well as visitors and staff before cake was served.

Norman & Oreo
Norman greets pal, Oreo.
Norman
Norman with the ‘Pawparazzi’

The ‘pawparazzi’ always show up for events like this. Not only is Norman the largest dog in the program, he’s also the furriest with a soft coat that begs to be touched.

Norman

Norman loves everyone and is always a hit with kids, young and old alike. He’s also a favorite of Kyle, the hospital valet attendant who always spoils him with lots of attention.

Norman

Norman

Cake

That cake looked tasty enough for humans to eat but was especially baked for the dogs. [Note the blue tongue from the frosting on Bindee-probably safe to say she liked it.]

Bindee
Bindee and her blue blep.
Norman
How come I got such a tiny little piece of cake, mum?
Norman & Roxie
Roxie and Norman.

Once everyone had their fill of cake, treats and attention, we had a mini-parade near the hospital entrance. Norman and Roxie were co-Grand Marshalls. Roxie, being the ultimate professional she is, followed the route perfectly. Norman, ever the gentlemen, let her lead…but I think mostly because he had to stop and visit with each photographer and well-wisher along the route. He may also have also been hunting for more treats.

Roxie

All in all it was a fun event enjoyed by all attendees. While Norman isn’t officially ‘certified’ through Alliance of Therapy Dogs or any other therapy group, I have no doubt he could easily pass any certification exam. He loves people and always seems ready to bring a smile to their face.

What about your dog…do you think he or she could be a therapy dog? To be clear, all of our therapy dogs are evaluated twice a year by board certified vets to make sure they are up for the task and each handler must pass an annual safety exam to ensure they are up to date on all hospital rules as well as all HIPAA regulations.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ April 15, 2022

Welcome to the Good Friday edition of Nature Friday. As always, we’re joining our hosts, Rosy, Sunny and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.

Nature has been conspiring against us most of this week with ongoing high winds every day, making Wi-Fi sporadic at best. The laptop did a death gasp and am now trying to post something from my phone. People who are able to function that way have my greatest admiration.

As I’m clearly inept in my feeble attempts of trying to post from a phone (trying to insert images is beyond challenging), I’ll just end this painful exercise by hoping everyone has a Happy Easter, Passover or Ramadanwhichever holiday you celebrate.

Hopefully we’ll be back and fully functioning online next week. Till then, do good things, smile and be kind. But for heavens sake, make sure to get outside and enjoy some of the Nature shares. Had I been able to figure out how to add additional photos, you no doubt would have agreed with me. ☮️

Live, love, bark🐾

Monday Musings ~ April 11, 2022

Smiles

Norman took offense to this cartoon but did admit he might be a bit of a herder. Have a Happy Easter Week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~

Monday

Cuz we’re just not quite ready for it.

Norman

The Ranch’s presence this week may be somewhat spotty and limited. A project in the studio has gone badly (no thanks to IKEA) and may restrict the ability to be online. I was lucky to find the laptop in the chaos.

Chaos
And that’s only the part that was ‘spiffed’ up

Live, love, bark! 🐾