Category Archives: Pet Advocacy

October Is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month

While inadvertently fur-getting to acknowledge National Black Dog Day, I decided not to make a similar mistake again by not noting that October is Adopt a Shelter Dog. Sam and I did our part rescuing Elsa and always encourage others to save a shelter pet. Shelter dogs have so much to offer and so much love to give. Every year 3 to 4 million dogs are euthanized because the number of pets in shelters exceed the number of shelter adoptions. Shelter pets come in all sizes and breeds and there’s bound to be something for everyone. Many shelters even have a number of purebred dogs as well. Remember our Remember Me Thursday post last week where we mentioned Eliot and Puck? They were each rescued from a shelter a couple year’s apart as was McKenzie, my sweet, black standard poodle. All three of those rescues lived long, happy lives while providing the family amazing joy and happiness. All these pets want is a chance to smile and have the opportunity to share their lives with a loving upright.

So this month in particular, if you’re looking for a pet, remember #AdoptDon’tShop. Put a smile on a rescue and they’ll leave indelible paw prints on your heart and in Elsa’s case, probably chew up a couple pair of glasses, socks and other weird things-but gosh I love this girl so much. She brings such joy every day.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Remember Me Thursday Tribute

Today we remember all the pets waiting at shelters everywhere and pray they find their loving fur-ever homes. We’ve done our part trying to rescue these precious babies with our own little Ninja. But before her, both the sheepdogs came to us from Denver’s Dumb Friends League at different times. Eliot was found roaming on the streets of a very rough neighborhood known more Rottweilers or Pit Bulls. He was picked up and transferred to DDFL. We discovered quickly that he was a fence jumper but resolved the issue by providing him a safe and escape proof home where he never roamed the streets again. Eliot lived with me over 12 years and provided me with love and laughter like I’ve never known. Who knew dogs could be such pawsome comedians?

Continued and frequent visits to Dumb Friends, two years following Eliot’s rescue, another Old English Sheepdog who had been taken from her abusive family through another shelter in the metro area. Puck was horribly thin and such a matted mess, her fur had to be shaved and came off like a single animal pelt. She was so pitiful to look at initially but turned out to be such a character of a dog who loved life, and relished torturing her ‘brother.’ Now there were two clowns who joined our merry little circus. Puck also lived a long life with me until she too joined her brother Eliot at the Rainbow Bridge, no doubt returning to complicating his life at the Bridge just like she did on earth.

These two joyful dogs brought so much love and happiness to my heart and Puck was Sam’s BFF. He still does double takes more than 5 years after her passing. He totally adored her. Both sheepdogs will always occupy a special place in my heart and particularly today, I pause to remember them along with all dogs waiting to be rescued with the passionate hope they may find loving fur-ever homes soon.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Word(y) Wednesday ~ August 23, 2017

We’re coming up to the Ninja’s 1st Gotcha Day in a few weeks (egad…hard to believe it’s been nearly a year!) and came across this graphic that seemed appropriate to share given the fact that she’s a puppy mill survivor. Dogs like Elsa endure such horrific conditions and all they are allowed to do is turn out puppies with every cycle until they are discarded (or seized in Elsa’s case), exasperating atrocious genetic lines that invariably have health and/or behavioral consequences. Since it’s next to ‘impawsible’ to monitor every puppy mill operation, please remember to NEVER buy from a pet shop. EVER.

Batman will be watching.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Summertime Howlidays

With our hospital work this week, we’ve been a bit light on posts so we’re posting a Saturday PSA. Summer is officially here which means this weekend we will be enjoying a long weekend in the US. Here at the Ranch we want to wish effuryone a safe and Happy 4th of July weekend. 🇺🇸

Did you know that more pets are lost during this weekend than at any other time during the year?

With that in mind, Sam and Elsa offer the following red, white and blue tips for keeping your furry friends safe.


It’s best not to take your fur-friend with you to the neighborhood pawty. All those extra strangers, loud noises and inappropriate food coupled with fireworks make for a sure-fire guaranty for misery on your pet’s part. Leave them at home. Dogs and cats aren’t all that keen on the loud noises that come with fireworks AND crowds so creating a room with darkened windows, adding some white noise or leaving the TV turned on with a safe, crated retreat can go a long way toward keeping them at ease. Let them experience this space a few days before the fireworks start-up to get them used to it before it all starts. 


Provide their favorite treats and give them freely prior to the days leading up to the 4th to make them feel a bit more comfortable the next time there is a loud bang. 


Sound masking is a great way to cover up loud noises from fireworks. Music – whichever genre – can help them relax and feel a bit more at ease.  It is best to play what they are already familiar with so that association to the new music is not made with loud scary fireworks.


When you know your pet is extra anxious during fireworks, the use of anti-anxiety helpers like Pet Releaf (a safe and effective CBD oil), use of a ThunderShirt, or LICKS Pill-Free ZEN supplements can help even the most stressed pet relax. Lavender essential oil can work wonders on their bed or collar and go a long way toward inducing relaxation.

It’s especially impawtant for us uprights to take the necessary steps to keep our fur-babies safe. Knowing they will likely react to all the loud noises, whatever can be done to make them feel safe and secure is in their long-term best interests. Don’t forget to make sure they are wearing a current ID tag, especially if they aren’t microchipped.  Better to play it safe and make sure they are wearing their collar all the time but especially this weekend.

Enjoy the howliday, but be safe!  What clever tricks do you use to keep your babies safe and sound?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Resetting the clock ⏰

Sam here with an update on my baby sister, Miss Elsa. We encountered a bit of a ‘hiccup’ over the weekend. Last Friday marked the 2-week mark for bringing her home and she had been making lots of progress on the socialization dog-o-meter. Friday evening she started having seizures. Mom and dad whisked her up and took her to the ER vet. While they were both very concerned about Elsa, they both remained calm until the tech took her to begin anti-convulsive drugs. Then mom lost it. She sobbed, her eyes got puffy, she couldn’t speak. How can something so inexplicably rotten happen to such a lovely girl you ask? No doubt because of genetics. If behavioral issues don’t shanghai puppy mill dogs, health issues certainly will. Since we have no idea of Elsa’s pawrents or lineage, we can only presume the worst. Damn puppy mills! Grr.

Elsa suffered multiple cluster seizures, meaning she’d start to come out of one and then immediately move back into another. These can be very serious neurologically speaking so the vet gave Elsa a big dose of Valium. Valium is frequently used to stop seizures right away and then they started her on a dosage of Phenobarbital along with fluids. Phenobarb is often used in the treatment and for preventing future seizures. One drawback is it pretty much resets the clock on brain activity and all of Elsa’s socialization progress went ‘poof!’ Bottom line…we went back to square one.  That initial dosage also seemed to give her quite the ‘hangover.’ She’s has been a little unsteady on her feet. Her back-end hadn’t quite been receiving messages from the brain to move in conjunction with the front half. She slept a lot.


At first her legs splayed out but then she started getting used to the meds.  I heard something about “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,”  but really don’t know what that means. We were able to bring our little girl home the next day where she slept and stumbled…repeatedly. Mom starting calling her Weebles. I still called her a pain in the tuchas but sure missed her going on my walks. I was kind of getting used to the brat her.


19936After a few days, the fog seemed to lift a bit and “Weebles,” I mean Elsa’s, personality started coming back. She began playing with some of my toys (the nerve!) and re-learned how to jump up on the sofa after a couple fails. She’s not fully coordinated yet, but seems to improve daily. I hope her goofy personality comes back, I think it is since she barked back at the mean Akitas that live next door who alway try to scare us when we go outside. Man those dogs scare me and I’m just glad my little sister protected me decided she’s not taking any guff from them. Mom started taking Elsa for short walks yesterday and she started tracking the squirrel scents shortly after starting our walk. It made my mom smile and whenever she smiles, I smile.

Mom took my sister back to our regular ‘dogtor’ to follow-up after our weekend of hell. Dr. Olivia fell in love with her for being super patient and letting her poke and probe her from stem to stern. She thought she was in good shape considering what she’d been through and thought the initial diagnosis of “idiopathic epilepsy” was probably accurate. That’s what they call it when they can’t identify any other cause for seizures. She goes back in 3 weeks to have her blood retested and to make sure her blood levels are within therapeutic range. Phenobarb inhibits seizures by decreasing neuron activity. Sadly, it affects all neurons and its side effects are well documented. Sedation, lethargy, excessive urination and thirst plus a loss of coordination or hind end weakness are common long-term side effects. Monitoring her blood levels for liver damage will be critical and will need to be part of her ongoing healthcare. Long term liver damage can become irreversible and even fatal so we have to really watch for that.

nom-nomMiss Elsa must be feeling more like herself (whatever that is-hard to tell since we just got her) since she has been dragging shoes and MY toys out and chewing on them. It’s kind of exciting to have a soul-mate leather chewer in the family though.

Elsa isn’t the first dog mom diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy but at least she kind of knows what to expect, though it’s been over 20 years ago. It’s still scary to witness seizures knowing the potential problems that come with treatment. We’re staying optimistic about Elsa’s condition and hoping for the best. It’s all we can do.

Have you ever had a dog with epilepsy? Got any tips or thoughts to share?

Live, love, bark! ❤



Life in a Cage

As many of you know, our newest “shadow” around the house, Ms. Elsa was a product of a puppy mill breeding operation. What you may not know are some of the details about puppy mill breeding operations, short of ‘they’re bad.’

img_3939Here in her own words here is Elsa, telling some details of her story.

Hello everyone. This is Elsa. Over the weekend my new mom was going through all the papers associated with my recent adoption and it really sank in just what we puppy mill pups had to endure so she encouraged me to tell that story in my own words.

There were 9 of us who were seized and turned over to a northern Colorado shelter back in late June after the death of our owner. One dog (who was probably my dad) was euthanized due to his severe aggression and determined to not able to be rehabilitated in any setting. Another dog had to be euthanized because she was diagnosed with Addison’s Disease. Me, my sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles lived in wire cages on a 3+ acre property on the Plains outside of Greeley, Colorado and were all filthy, matted, covered in feces and never touched by humans. The only time my cage was opened was when “he” was released in my cage to mate.

During intact with the first rescue shelter, I wouldn’t look up at the nice people who wanted to take a photo of me. I wasn’t able to make any direct eye contact and still have trouble doing that at times. I’m shy but friendly toward people and pets and still trying to figure out what being a dog is all about. So far, while on the one hand it’s scary territory, on the other, it’s completely pawsome!

Once the rescue took me in they evaluated my health which seemed mostly normal. But first things first…I was spayed and gastropexied. For those of you unfamiliar with that last term, gastropexy is a surgical procedure whereby the stomach is sutured to the diaphragm to prevent bloat, a common condition Standard Poodles are prone to suffering from as are all deep-chested breeds.

I was lucky to be placed with a loving foster family who owned another Standard Poodle to help guide my socialization for a number of weeks before I got to go home to the Ranch.

To have my own bed…inside even…well…gosh, how did I get so lucky? It used to be that I felt by having a dirty feces covered ratty old rug was something else. It was something else alright, just not what should be considered appropriate for living creatures. Although perhaps a little underweight but otherwise thought to be healthy, I now get two squares a day of premium food, fresh water twice a day, hooves to chew on along with an array of elk antlers (which can I just say, I LOVE?). I mean, I think I won the lottery on the Ranch. My brand new hot pink collar and matching leash along with a micro-chip will help keep me safe. Plus I’ll be stylin’ with my new bandana just like my big brother. Mom already has a set of snow boots for when the weather turns but not sure about that means.

My mom has been loving and patient with me. She speaks softly, massages my ears to help me relax, tries to use food as a motivator (though I’m still afraid to take any treats directly from her hand still) and praises me whenever I pee, poop, and exhibit good leash manners. She lets me climb up on the sofa and relax next to her and never forces me to do something if I freeze, instead always encouraging me. I started to wag my tail a little bit when I see her come into a room and that has made her super happy. She thinks I’m pretty special and even if my brother is a little less than a fan, I think I’m starting to win him over too. He at least let’s me sleep right next to him. The uprights will need to get more furniture for themselves though.


Have you ever rescued a puppy mill dog? What was your strategy for integrating a rescued fur-iend into your family?

Live, love, bark! ❤


A funny thing happened last Friday…

Those of you who follow us on Facebook know what I mean when I say “a funny thing happened on Friday” but let me set the stage for the rest of you. So…have you ever considered sponsoring a dark complected foreign exchange student (from the foreign shores of Greeley, Colorado-trust me, that town’s a world away even though it’s a mere 49 miles northeast of Denver)? Me neither but our world was about to change.

For many months, I’ve been contemplating the addition of a baby brother or sister for Sam. I’ve  looked at a number of dogs that might be suitable for us with no luck. For one reason or another, none of those other pups seemed to fit. But that didn’t stop me from still trying to find a sibling for the doofus. I knew I didn’t want a new puppy so limited the search to Standard Poodle rescue groups across the country, looking at hundred’s of dogs.

I had a small connection with the lady who runs the Poodle Rescue of the Rockies who happens to also be a breeder, shows them and is a big lover of standard poodles. She was friends with the former CFO at work whose wife bred show quality champion Standards. And it was quite by happenstance that I actually met Jeanne at a local dog show a few years ago and have stayed in touch with her over the years. Purebred Standards aren’t exactly plentiful in the rescue area-there are far more hybrid dogs. Jeanne might get a few in a year but every time I contacted her, the answer was still the same, “Nope, nothing right now, but I’ll keep you in mind if something comes up.” Then over a month ago, I called and heard this, “We’re getting in 6 standards from a puppy mill from up north but it’ll be a while before they’re ready. Keep in touch and we’ll see what we can do.” So I kept in touch. In fact, I called every week, “Are they ready now?” was my new mantra. Finally the week came where I could meet two females from the group. Color me overjoyed.

When the dogs came in, Jeanne named the females Hope, Faith, Charity, and Love. We came to the conclusion a female would be a better choice with Sam so we proceeded on that basis. I met Love who everyone called Lovey first. She was a gorgeous girl, as tall as Sam though very skinny with a regal face and half tail. Faith was a bit smaller and all of the dogs came from the same breeding hell-hole (aka puppy mill farm in Greeley) where the 92-year-old owner passed away. The dogs were filthy, matted, and completely unsocialized. Picture the worse, times two. Faith was more aloof but making progress much in the same way as Lovely. I felt Lovey would be a better companion with Sam and the two met. After the initial “sniff, sniff…yup…he’s a dog” reaction, I watched this girl to see if she and I would connect. Something inside me said…”this is the one.” Every few days, I reached out to Jeanne to express my continued interest and see where they were in the process of rehoming. A couple of people had contacted her before me and I was afraid I might end up being a bridesmaid runner-up.

Lovey was temporarily placed with a foster while Faith stayed with Jeanne. After a freak accident involving electrical arching from a transformer at the foster’s home, Jeanne took Lovey back so as to minimize the stress. However the 19 (yes, count ’em) 19 firefighters and all the activity associated with determining the house was safe to inhabit, overwhelmed poor Lovey causing her to stress out to the point that she needed to be hospitalized and given medication to stop the dehydrating diarrhea. Then the medication caused her to suffer a reaction and resulted in an evening of seizures. Once the vet diagnosed it was a reaction and not some other medical issue (i.e. epilepsy, etc.), the meds were stopped and the seizures disappeared as quickly as they began. Poor Lovey though lost a bit of weight and needed to be nursed back to health. Last week Jeanne called and said she’d like to see how Sam and Lovey interact together since she thought a ‘big brother’ would be critical to her socialization. The impression I was left with was this was strictly a meet and greet session. We arrived mid-afternoon and were greeted by a number of standard poodles (Jeanne had 6 she was either placing, boarding or part of her own pack). It was doggie Disneyland and Sam was overjoyed at the prospects of ‘playtime with poodles.’ Lovey was used to that commotion and romped with all the big dogs. In true Sam fashion, he was just keen at the chase part.

The meeting went great, and while the dogs interacted, we talked about Lovey’s past and future. After a couple of hours, Jeanne asked, “well, are you ready to take her home tonight?” Wait…what? I thought this was just a meet and greet?! Long story short, we filled out the paperwork, gathered up her pup paraphernalia and loaded up the car.

She was a great traveler (unlike a certain Standard who loves the idea of riding in the car, but just can’t stand the actual moving part. She sat in the back seat checking out EVERYTHING. Nothing seems to escape this girl, she’s curious and needs to check out whatever is in her view. She’s quiet and remarkably calm. My hat’s off to the foster mom and her son for working with her. We had a couple of conversations about her progress and I continue to be awed at what a great job they did while she stayed with them.

going-homeApart from trying to figure out how to accommodate this newbie who was thought to be about 4 years old, we needed to figure out an appropriate name. Lovely wasn’t gonna cut it. With her regal stature, I felt like she needed something noble. Girl names seem to be in short supply from what I could determine to fit the bill. Sure there are 87 million cool boy names, but girl names…that was another story. I knew it couldn’t be some fluff name but what? Finally I landed on “Elsa von Furstenberg,” Elsa for short. Hey, don’t laugh…poodles originated in Germany so I figured, a German name would be just the ticket. I nixed Brunhilda though right off the bat. So apparently…it seems there was a “little” Disney movie where the heroine was named Elsa recently (had I known, I might have gone deeper on the list-yeah there are actual lists of German names for dogs (and cats, too). Think the top 100 baby names. Oy. Anyway, I came up with a regal name (which means noble and it describes this girl to a tee) from the top third of the list after Wayne and I couldn’t seem to agree on anything (he liked “Misha” to which I said…blech).

elsaThese past few days have been a whirlwind for Sam and I. We’re trying to figure out what makes this girl tick. Is she housebroken or not (we’re still asking that question and hoping for a positive answer soon)? Trying to access the personality of a puppy mill dog isn’t easy and you must have the patience of Job. They are easily spooked, have no experience with everyday stuff that seems obvious and yet they are somewhat of a blank slate for the future given the right training. One thing that was a lovely discovery is she walks well on leash, though she continues to not realize ‘you can’t ever cross the streams” (as in cross the leashes with Sam and behind mom’s back) but we’re working on it. I took her and Sam through our neighborhood Farmer’s Market on Sunday and she was a rock star. Elsa is very bright and has a high desire to please (unlike a certain furry brother). She’s figured out that she rather enjoys all the attention she’s garnering through her good looks and was curious and patient while people fawned all over her. I was blown away. I don’t even like that much going on and she was showing me the ropes!

So bottom line last Friday, we rescued a ‘little girl foreign exchange student’ who we will make sure is fully legal and hope you’ll enjoy hearing stories about her and who knows, maybe if she shows some aptitude, I’ll turn the laptop over to her for her perspective. Right now, Sam is thinking, “gee, everything was great at Doggie Disneyland, but did we have to bring her home?” That and “so how long is this semester and when does she go back to that foreign land?”

When you see pics like this, you know everything’s gonna be all good.

bookendsAnyone know the procedure for procuring a H-1B Visa? Got any tips to share?

Live, love, bark! ❤