Monday Musings ~ August 3, 2020

Norman

Oi, how long does a mate have to wear this hat before he gets a treat, mum?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 17, 2020

Nature FridayIt appears we’ve reached that day referred to as Friday. Despite being frequently unsure what day it is, it’s appears today is Nature Friday (we’re positive because we doubled checked to confirm it). Friday means we’re joining our furry friends, Rosy, her new baby sister as well as her brothers from LLB in our Backyard to take a look around to see what Mother Nature served up this week.

Flowers
Norman, you’ll never be able to hide in the sunflowers.

In our mountain desert region, July means it’s hot and dry (although I note nature gifted us with some rain earlier this week). We continue to wait to see if summer monsoons will develop. The garden, while green from lots of supplemental watering, doesn’t have much color beyond yellow. Sure there is the occasional pink or purple Lupine still hanging on but the majority are bright yellow with an occasional pop of orange. The sunflowers continue to bloom like crazy, Coreopsis is naturalizing throughout the garden, Black-eyed Susan’s, and Blanket Flower (Gaillardia) have begun to announce their presence.  It’s a welcomed volunteer, since it certainly wasn’t planted there but we’re always happy to greet botanical visitors like this fella. It just shows how determined nature can be despite inhospitable conditions. Hopefully there’ll be a few seeds to harvest for spreading this beauty deliberately around the garden.

Flowers

Because our garden receives a fair amount of afternoon shade, some perennials are slow to bloom which means we’re waiting for the Goldenrod to begin its beautiful yellow appearance, though we’re seeing it elsewhere around the neighborhood.

Flower

Try as I might, neither Norman or Elsa were willing to pose next to this border sidewalk flower bed along our walk. So sad because these are the loveliest Black-eyed Susan’s around the ‘hood.

This year I began a bit of a garden experiment. By some miraculous way, nature seemed to take it upon itself to volunteer a tomato plant between some flagstones. I can only surmise its location was due to a germinated seed from a nearby pot where I had planted a cherry tomato last summer. I was curious to see whether it would do anything but with the tomato loving perfect conditions of hot days/cool nights this month, it has grown by leaps and bounds and began setting flowers a few weeks ago. Yesterday morning as I watered the nearby plants, look what I discovered.

Flowers

Squeals! While I have no idea if they’ll be tasty at all, I will continue watering the plant to see if there’ll be enough for a small salad. Stay tuned on this botanical experiment.

We hope everyone has a safe but fun-filled weekend. Like Norman advised earlier this week in his video, make sure to wear your masks, social distance and wash your paws whether or not its mandated. Only together can we lower the COVID numbers and go back to giving ear rubs to all dogs we encounter and hug our family and friends again.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ July 6, 2020

OES

Sometimes trimming the bangs is needed between grooms. Rocks in particular are grateful, aren’t they Norman?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 3, 2020

Welcome to Friday where we join our hosts and friends, Rosy & her brothers for this week’s edition of Nature Friday. For uprights in the U.S. we’re entering a long, July 4th holiday weekend. Due to COVID cases spiking throughout much of the country, it may be a very different kind of Fourth than usual (though we have our paws crossed it means less fireworks which both dogs detest but we’re not holding our breath). Anyway, let’s check out Nature’s finery around the city.

Nature FridayDespite temps in the 90’s again all week long and for the foreseeable forecast, you’d think I’d plan running errands a little bit better by doing them early in the day, but you’d probably be wrong. Yesterday afternoon I needed to get something out in the mail missing the early mail drop so I had to walk over to the nearby Post Office. As I got closer, I kept hearing a strange bird making a ruckus but couldn’t figure out from where it was coming but lo and behold, I stumbled upon this fella bathing in a puddle of runoff water. Wha….wait, what the heck is that?!

Hawk

I couldn’t believe my eyes! Seeing red-tailed hawks (which is what I think this guy is) in the city isn’t a frequent occurrence, at least not in my neighborhood. I stopped to watch him bathe and sip some water. Slowly I moved a closer being  careful as to not startle him. That noisy bird I heard must have been part of his security detail and was on the overhead powerline I soon discovered.

Hawk

Cropping this photo pixelated it but I think you can see a fairly decent profile. Isn’t he something special? Last week the dogs and I were treated to raccoons and rabbits and now this week, a hawk. Pretty amazing considering the ‘Ranch’ is just a couple of miles from downtown Denver’s central business district.

On the way back from the Post Office I came across this garden beauty, Kniphofia, often called Torch Lily or Red Hot Poker. That last moniker seems to describe the weather…hot! And since it is frequently windy, it’s very dry. Fifty-six percent of the state is under severe drought conditions, while 68% of Colorado is experiencing at least moderate drought. With the majority of the snowmelt gone, it’s clear that it will be a rough summer. We can only hope monsoons will arrive later this month to help in the short term.

Flowers

The Ranch Hands and I hope you will be able to enjoy some nature this weekend and enjoy a happy and safe ‘howliday.’

Norman

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ June 29, 2020

How do you expect me to drink that…it’s not “Dog-pérignon.”

OES

Happy Monday. Here’s to a week of just the right stuff.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ June 22, 2020

Monday

We hope you enjoyed your weekend but can’t help but wonder if Mondays are really necessary?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ June 1, 2020

S’up, peeps? Happy first day of June. Hope your weekend was extra swell. As you can see, Stormin’ Norman is feeling far more perky this week than last. The giant-sized donut collar arrived yesterday, and not a day too soon. I’m sure I heard the house give a collective sigh of relief. I know the back of my knees did. Norman actually gave a long extended butt wiggle when the dreaded cone came off. It’s good to see him happier and able to navigate without harming himself or his surroundings.

Norman

Here’s to having a ‘pawsome’ Monday. Stay cool…June seems to want to follow in May’s footsteps with toasty temps so rather than finding us poolside, we’ll be hanging out in the blissfully air-conditioned indoors. Besides we don’t have a pool.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Cruel Ironies

Our recent conspicuous absence has been the result of a life-threatening emergency. While I’ve not commented on your posts, be assured I am doing my best to keep up with what’s going on in your world in between moments of waiting and wondering at the outcome of this emergency.

You may be wondering what happened? In a truly cruel twist of irony, on the third month anniversary of Sam’s crossing the Bridge, last week Norman suffered a gastric dilation and volvulus event, an ominous medical syndrome known as GDV. Commonly referred to as gastric torsion or bloat, this horrific condition occurs when the stomach dilates, then rotates or twists around the short axis cutting off blood supply to vital organs. My previous Standard Poodle before Sam, McKenzie, died from bloat so I’m sadly all too familiar with the symptoms and heartbreak. Gastric rotation includes progressive distension of the stomach in the form of gas and increased pressure within the abdomen, resulting in damage to the cardiovascular system, with decreased perfusion (the process of delivering nutrients via blood in the arteries to the body’s tissues) which can lead to cellular damage and organ death. Quick emergency action is required whenever GDV strikes-to delay can be life-threatening.

What exactly are the symptoms of GDV? According to PetMD, symptoms of GDV syndrome are: “anxious behavior, depression, abdominal pain and/or distention, collapse, excessive drooling, and vomiting to the point of unproductive dry heaving.” Upon physical examination, rapid heart beat (tachycardia), labored breathing (dyspnea), weak pulse and pale mucus membranes of the nose and mouth often accompany the other symptoms.

While the exact causes of GDV remain unknown, there are general factors that likely increase the risk, including genetics, anatomy, and environment. Highest at-risk dogs are large and giant breeds, particularly those with deep-chests breeds such as Great Danes, German Shepherds, and Standard Poodles (with high rates of mortality). Other factors contributing to the development of GDV include ingestion of excessive amounts of food or water, delayed emptying of the gastrointestinal system, and too much activity following meals.

GDV must be treated through surgical intervention with the untwisting of the stomach which is then tacked to the body wall to prevent it from twisting again (known as “gastropexy”). The vet expressed some concern the spleen may also have been impacted but he did not see any damage in Norman’s case, despite a 180º degree twist and internal stomach bruising. While dogs can survive without a spleen, potential heart damage through the lack of blood flow may complicate recovery.

For those of you who may be squeamish, you may want to scroll down before viewing this stem-to-stern incision. I’ve assured Norman that ‘chicks dig scars’ so he isn’t feeling too self conscience about it.

Norman
Stem-to-stern incision

Because of the COVID-19 lockdown, I was not permitted to visit Norman following his surgery but received frequent phone updates for the first two days (ok, it was me that pestered them all hours of the day and night) but they understood my concern and took my hourly relentless calls with kindness, patience and caring. He survived the surgery; the vet thought there was no lasting damage to the spleen or any apparent heart damage based on his visible examination of the organs during the surgery which gave me hope but the next few days would be touch and go. With that large belly incision, it’s clearly apparent this was a very serious surgical intervention. And understandably, he refused to eat after coming out of anesthesia. Norman never passes an opportunity for a meal so I knew he was in some serious pain. The staff finally allowed me to take him for a very brief few steps on a potty break outside late Saturday evening. It was hoped my presence might encourage him to eat a few bites. With traces of anesthesia still in his system, he was somewhat confused, heavy-footed and wobbly. He finally ate a few bites Saturday night and was deemed sufficiently dischargeable late the next afternoon.

Again in another irony, on the one day of the year when it rained buckets around here in otherwise dry Denver, I was able to bring the big guy home to nurse and pamper following extensive post-op instructions. He’s taken well to the pampering and promptly became a food critic…refusing to eat the bland diet of rice and chicken prescribed. If rice even touched the chicken, he refused eating it. After consulting with the ER staff, they agreed small, frequent meals of plain chicken without rice was better than nothing. As a long time vegetarian, it was beyond surreal having packages of deboned, skinless chicken breasts in my kitchen. For years, I’ve said I’d eat beef before I ever ate chicken again, the mere smell of it makes me nauseous. But nursing this sweet boy back to wellness was far more important than any olfactory discomfort on my part so I held my nose, cooked, and chopped the chicken into small pieces for him. As of today his appetite has mostly returned, with him enjoying frequent but small meals throughout the day.

The dreaded e-collar has vexed Norman as he continues to improve. Sheepdogs have a bear-like shuffle and often their heads sway back and forth in rhythm as they move. With the cone on, it crashes into furniture, walls, doorways, and the back of my knees with painful regularity. With encouragement and patience, he is beginning to gain the necessary confidence to navigate better with it on every day.

I would be most remiss if I didn’t mention the one person in particular helped me throughout this whole nightmare and she knows who she is. This dearest of friends has consistently been my rock and pillar over the years and I am once again deeply indebted to her generosity, love and kindness. Thank you, my friend and thanks in advance to everyone for their support while Norman recoups. It means the world to me. With emotions still raw from the loss of dear Sam, this latest calamity has once again shocked me to the core. It’s been days since I’ve had a decent night’s sleep but will be fine once Norman makes it out of the woods and gratefully accept your well wishes and POTP prayers. With your healing energy thoughts and Elsa’s oversight of his care, I expect him to fully recover and look forward to those smile inducing butt wiggles to rule our days once again.

Yes, life is full of cruel ironies especially in the midst of a pandemic, but this was one that was an even more unexpectedly cruel. As its image in life’s rear view mirror becomes smaller, we move forward. Besides, Norman thinks there’s a new toy that requires some serious attention without the conflangled wrangling with an e-collar that simultaneously gets bad reception and interferes with fun.

Norman
A 30-second moment of normality and then a long snooze yesterday evening

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Conversation with an Angel

Ahem…you-hoo?

Elsa: Huh? Wha…

Psst…Elsa…you awake?

Elsa: {yawn, stretches, shakes head looking around} Sam??? Is that you?

Norman: Hello there, mate.

Sam: Hi guys, good to see you.

Elsa: Wait…what are you doing here? I thought you crossed the Bridge?

Sam: I did, but I watch over you guys, especially mom. She still seems so sad that I asked the powers to be if I could drop in and have a chat to see if we could make her feel better.

Elsa: Yeah, she is pretty sad; there’s waterworks nearly every day thinking about you. She really misses you.

Norman: We do try our level best to make her feel better, but I think you must have had an extra special place in her heart.

Sam: Yeah, I was her heart and soul dog and miss her too. Ours was a special bond and I feel so badly she’s hurting now. But let’s see if, by working together, we can make her feel better. You guys in?

Elsa and Norman: {in two-part harmony} Woof, woof! Let’s do it.

Sam: Cool. Ok, first we have to take care of a few matters from my estate which was settled in probate court.

Elsa: Estate? Probate? Dude, what in the world are you talking about-you don’t own anything.

Sam: Um…that’s not entirely accurate, Ninja. I’m here to read my Last Will and Testament dividing all my worldly goods between you and uh…the new guy, what’s his name?

Norman: Uh…sir, for the record, it’s Norman.

Sam: Oh yeah, right. Where were we?

Elsa: Never mind, already taken care of it…its all mine.

Norman: She’s right, you know. She pretty much owns everything around here and is especially not very keen about sharing any of it.

Sam: Well, my Last Will and Testament will take care of that. Legally anyway. Let’s begin the reading, ‘kay?

Last Will and Testament

Elsa: If it makes you feel better, but know everything is still mine.

Sam: {eyes rolling} Ahem…”I, Yosemite Sam McDonald, veteran Pet Therapist and all around Good Dog, being of sound mind do hereby leave the following personal effects to my survivors. To my sister, I leave my comfy bed from the living room, who I note for the record, bogarted it frequently while I was still around, despite having her own large comfy sofabed.

Norman: Yeah, she did kind of take over your spot, mate…although mum swears she’s seen you out of the corner of her eye sleeping in it a couple of times when the golden afternoon sunlight shines on it.

Sam: Oh good, I’m kind of new to this whole angel thing of how to send signs letting her know I’m still with her. Yup, that was me. As a Bridge newbie, I haven’t had a lot of training yet as to how to send signs to your loved ones but I have managed to pick up some tricks from watching others.

Elsa: Someone is trying to train you? Hahaha…this should be a hoot. Hope they have better luck than mom did. She always did say you were either stupid or stubborn. Personally, I always had my own suspicions but that’s another story. Either way, it’s probably a fine line in your case.

Sam: {clears throat} Well, I see you haven’t changed much, have you? Anywho…let’s get on with the rest of the worldly possessions.

Norman: Yes, please do…was wondering if there are any bits and bobs you might have for me?

Sam: Yes, bro…I thought of you as well. I hereby bequeath all my toys to you.

Norman: Jolly good, dear brother! But being a proper British bloke, I confess, I did kind of help myself to the toy basket. The little sister was none too happy with me because apparently I didn’t recognize which ones were her favorites and hers alone.

Toys

Sam: Oh yeah, I should have mentioned that before. You definitely want to avoid that hot pink slipper. And anything that squeaks. Those are her favorites and trust me dude, she’ll kick your tailless tush if you try to take any.

Norman: Right-o sir…I discovered that…the hard way. I say, good chap…who knew such a sweet face could be so…vicious?!

Sam: Yeah, you do want to stay on her good side. That’s just one of the reasons why we call her a Ninja Warrior.

Elsa: You both got that right and if you try to take my slipper I’ll chew you a new one. Got that, you gigantic British dolt?

Norman: I say, dear sister. There’s no need for name calling. I’m just trying to fit into the Ranch bunk house by familiarizing myself with stuff and (so far) I haven’t destroyed any toys, even though my jaws are quite able to tear the stuffing out of any of them or you should I so desire.

Elsa: {Gasp!} You better pray you don’t destroy any of my toys, pal! Although that’s rather laughable…you might be big, but remember that I’m a Ninja so don’t even think twice about it, chump!

Sam: Okay, okay, look I don’t have all day here and I didn’t come down here to host Mixed Martial Arts. Now that we’ve taken care of the physical property, let’s get on with my lasting legacy.

Elsa and Norman: Legacy? Are you joking?

Sam: Nope, I was thinking the best way to make mom smile again is for you guys to channel my very best enduring behavior so she’ll know I’m still with her, even if it’s just in spirit. See, I was thinking…

Elsa and Norman: {in unison} You were…thinking? {raucous laughter} How could we possible replicate your most annoying enduring behavior? Mom said you were one of a kind.

Sam: I’ll have you know was a model citizen on our walks, in fact everywhere…I just displayed certain “skills” that mom found particularly enduring when she needed a smile…or something.

Elsa: “Something’ is right! I suppose you mean something like moving as far away from her when pooping…oh…and bonus points if it’s in the absolutely deepest snow you could find.

Sam: P.r.e.c.i.s.e.l.y. I know she muttered some HBO words but I knew perfectly well she thought it was ‘charming’ and know for a fact that she. loved. it, okay?

Norman: Oh mate…that’s a load of tosh! She specifically told me NOT to ever do that (among other things you used to do). Like make sure I don’t poop in front of someone’s sidewalk leading up to their front door. She was especially specific about that one.

Sam: Nonsense Norman, she loved that about me. Why do you think I did that every chance I could? Now Elsa, if you could just stretch the leash as far away from her whenever you’re crossing a street. I’ve noticed she isn’t doing enough upper body workouts and that way she’ll have to bench press you closer to her to work those puny biceps. Sheesh, I’m gone three months and the woman’s let herself go to pot.

Elsa: Hmm, I guess I could do that. I do want to do my part making her feel better so if that means channeling some of you, I’ll do it.

Norman: Right Gov…I’ll raise my leg on all your favorite spots and try to do my part on the poop parade…per your instructions.

Sam: {eyes rolling} Umm, yeah, we don’t say ‘Gov’ around the Ranch, Norman. We just say…

Live, love bark! 🐾

Angel Sam