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! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ March 21, 2022

Smiles

And just like today’s smile, Norman is heading to hospital to reduce stress in nurses and patients. We hope you get some time in the ‘Lab’ this week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ March 14, 2022

Pi DayToday on Monday Musings, we’re offering a bit of a pun-ish haiku pi-ku for you. Celebrated on March 14, Pi Day is the recognition of that mathematical constant known as the Greek letter ‘π,’ you know…that transcendental number where 3.14 are the first digits (but which go on indefinitely). March 14 marks Pi Day because of the numerical date and because it happens to be the same birthdate as theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein, who discovered the theory of relativity.

A ‘Slice of Pi’ ~ History/Background

Founded back in 1988 by San Franciscan based physicist, curator and artist, Larry Shaw, March 14 was chosen because the numerical date (3.14) coincides with the first three digits of Pi. Today is also Albert Einstein’s birthday. The official U.S. designation of Pi Day began in 2009 while UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) officially proclaimed March 14 as International Day of Mathematics in 2019.

Back in high school, we all learned that Pi is the calculation of the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. But did you know that Pi has been around since ancient times? Egyptians and Babylonians knew about Pi with the first known calculation made by Archimedes in 250 B.C. The earliest known use of the Greek letter ‘π’ to represent the ratio was made by Welsh mathematician, William Jones in 1706, and is thought to be some form of shorthand for the word “periphery.”

As noted, today also marks the birthdate of Albert Einstein, the theoretical physicist. So for those who may prefer a different kind of tasty treat for a birthday bash (and we think Einstein just might be one of them), how about we serve up a yummy celebratory treat with this formula? Happy Birthday, Mr. Einstein.

Pi

Delicious coincidence? I think not.

Two additional, but all important questions for today then are: (1) cherry or apple and (2) with or without ice cream?

We hope your Monday is extra tasty with loads of smiles.

Pi Day

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ February 21, 2022

Today marks a national federal holiday (Presidents’ Day) in the U.S., originally implemented by Congress in 1879 to honor George Washington, the first president and ‘father’ of the country on his birthday, February 22 but subsequently switched to the third Monday in February on January 1, 1971 by the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, honoring both Washington and Abraham Lincoln’s birthdays. Both Ranch Hands will tip their hats to the office of the presidency today so we may be somewhat late in responding to comments or reading your posts as Norman be visiting nurses and patients this week. As usual, I am merely the designated driver.

After a weekend filled with grooming, baths and more dog hair than I could have imagined, Norman is all fluffed and spic and span clean to mark Presidents’ Day at the same time Winter decided to reappear with a vengeance with snow and bitter cold temperatures for most of the week. Tomorrow’s HIGH is only expected to be in the single digits which makes today’s smile seem all too appropriate. Guess I’d better re-locate the extra warm gloves.

Smiles

However you mark today’s holiday, we hope you’ll stay warm and snuggly. Here’s to a super Monday. And remember there’ll be no postal deliveries and bank’s will be closed.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ January 24, 2022

Welcome to Monday, where we salute the week with a smile. Today is also Norman’s ‘Gotcha Week’ because everyone deserves to be treated extra special for [at least] a week (his actual Gotcha Day was yesterday). Can’t believe this adorable hunka-fur has been with me two years now. The time has flown by and with each day I count my lucky stars this boy came into my life. He brings such joy to all he encounters, In fact, he’ll do so later today and tomorrow when he’s visiting folks at the hospital.

Happy Gotcha Day, sweet boy.

Norman

Now for today’s secondary smile. We can thank Vince, the Sign Guy of Indian Hills. Given the latest turn of weather, it seemed rather perfect. Stay safe, warm and keep smiling.

Smiles

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ November 29, 2021

Happy Monday, peeps. Hopefully our U.S. readers have recovered from any food comas and everyone else had  ‘furbulous’ adventures over the weekend. We’re back from our travels and are ready to resume our regular routine. [Free translation = insanity since the end of the year seems to be well-packed with loads of activities and commitments].

Norman is clean as a whistle and ready for new adventures at hospital. He’s prepared to bring lots of smiles to nurses and patients. Over the weekend on our walk, he couldn’t help but wonder why a few people didn’t stop to receive his special kind of therapy.

Monday

Here’s wishing your last Monday this month is a good one and as you enter December, you are set to enjoy this wondrous time of year. For our Jewish friends, we send you our very best Chanukah wishes. Whichever holiday season you celebrate, make it great.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Festival Recap ~ Part Deux

Hello mates, Norman here to share more photos from the weekend’s adventures mum and I had at hospital’s Fall Festival. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect but any time I get a chance to ride in the car, I’m in. Just don’t forget to bring my costume, mum!

Norman

There were a lot of games for all those little people to play. I came “this” close to catching that ball till mum reminded me that I was there as an observer, not a participant.

Norman

But don’t cry for me, I got to spend some quality one-on-one time with lots of little people…some of them even tried to poke my eye out give me a treat.

Norman

No sweat, little guy. I like pineapples.

The Flight for Life helicopter made an appearance and all the  kiddos wanted to sit in it. It was pretty noisy but great fun for attendees.

Helicopter

We had a great time hanging out with the other pet therapy dogs and their mums. Logan and his mum, Janet went dressed up as “Mardi Growls.” These guys definitely know how to ‘par-tay!’

ELMC

My friend Delia, a hospital staffer, brought her recently rescued pup to the event. Bubba definitely won the dog lotto by getting adopted by her as she is one of the kindest people we’ve met at hospital. He wasn’t quite sure what to make of me so I was careful to be extra kind to him so as not to scare the little guy.

Bubba

Nurses seem to be drawn to me, and you know what? I don’t mind one little bit.

ELMC nurse

Face painting and painting pumpkins were a bit hit with lots of diligent artists.

ELMC Fall Festival

Our group led the pet parade for all dogs in attendance as well as anyone who wanted to walk with us.

ELMCMum and I spread the word about the very cool backdrop at the photo booth. My pal Bindee and her mum, Joy took  advantage. Isn’t Bindee just the cutest little pumpkin you’ve ever seen on a lap?

Our director, Donna has a beautiful and super talented black  miniature poodle. Roxie, a champion dancer who also competes in nose work, is nothing like my sister and she made sure to tell me not all black poodles are Ninjas. Whew…that’s a  relief!

Even mum and I decided to get in on the action at the photo booth. We’re just a “couple of jokers” having a good time.

Jokers

It was good seeing our Golden pal Riley and her mum, Jaycee. Riley has been very sick this past year with an autoimmune disorder and is just now able to bring smiles to people. She’s a real sweetheart and loved by all who meet her.

Fall Festival

A group photo of the pet therapy dogs show we’re a good looking and a well behaved bunch.

ELMC Fall Festival

As events go this one was a nice family affair. It was good being able to spend time in the community after last year’s event was cancelled due to COVID. But I can assure you, I was one knackered boy at the end of the day. I fell fast asleep in the Ninja’s bed-something I never do (she wasn’t too happy about it but I was so tired and it was the first bed I found).

Norman

Mum and I are back at hospital again today after having great visits yesterday. We’ll share details about those adventures soon. What do you plan to wear for Halloween fun?

Halloween

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ Fall Festival Recap

Greetings and happy Monday. Norman and some of his fellow pet therapy friends participated at this year’s Halloween Fall Festival over the weekend. This hunk continues to impress me with his calm nature, especially at an event with loads of sugared-up kiddos, absent minded adults not watching where they’re stepping and a loud entertainment system blasting hip-hop music. Still, a good time was had by one and all. Here are some photos from the event.

Norman continues to impress me around little kids. Many of them are understandably wary of this ‘Joker’ because of his size. But he was patient and calm, especially around the smallest ones and managed to drew crowds of both big and little peeps. Norman was only too happy to serve up kisses.

Norman

This smiling Princess was initially hesitant to pet Norman but then she realized he was soft and sweet. Soon she was very happy meeting Norman and he loved the attention he received.

Norman

There were a number of non pet therapy pups in attendance and this miniature Dachshund named Amelia was in dog heaven greeting them all with one of the fastest tail wags I’ve ever seen. She was very smitten with Norman despite the size differential. Norman and I tried to recruit her for the program because she was such a sweetie and just loved everyone.

Dogs  Norman was thrilled to see his little pal, Bindee, who charmed the pants off young and old alike in her pumpkin costume. She didn’t seem to mind posing with this ‘Joker.’

Norman

There were loads of games and activities for kids to enjoy and a variety of good hearted hospital staff to greet them as well, along with a nice photo booth for family photos.

Halloween

“Little Bo Peep” (and fellow pet therapist) Dawn was voted best huMom by all the pet therapy dogs for sharing bites of hot dog with the gang. Pictured with Norman are Logan, an agility champion (dressed as “Mardi Growls”) and her Dolly posing as a lost lamb, as Dawn shared bites for the gang. As a dog trainer she knew just how to enlist their attention and even though they are all professionals, events like this can be somewhat overwhelming.

Halloween

Norman will be back at hospital today for visits with nurses and patients. He will post more photos from the weekend event tomorrow. We hope these costumed therapy dogs brought you a smile to start out your week.

Halloween

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Happy Birthday to an Angel

Wash Park Sam
Handsome boy at Wash Park

On this date in 2005,  a reddish-blonde knucklehead entered the world. Officially christened “Brians Yosemite Sam” with the American Kennel Club, he was simply known as “Sam” to his owners. For you newer readers, Sam was the inspiration behind this blog.

For years, Sam was a proverbial pogo stick. Bouncing straight up and down to express excitement with life, he bounced straight into my heart. Sam was the most unfocused dog I’d ever met, long after his puppy years. Most dogs grow out of that puppy exuberance, but Sam didn’t seem to recognize it was the natural progression of acting more dignified as he aged and was actually normal. When I brought him home, he quickly burrowed deep into my soul and made his second best friend my Old English Sheepdog, Puck. For his entire life, he adored her and even after she passed, he  would always do double takes whenever we encountered one, thinking it was his long lost pal.

In 2015, Sam graciously and lovingly welcomed a very feral Ninja. He seemed to realize Elsa needed extra gentle loving and slowly earned her trust. Though never great pals like he was with Puck, he patiently and selflessly taught her how to be a dog instead of a shut down puppy-mill survivor.

Despite his buoyant personality or maybe because of it, it was hard not to just love on this goofball.  I just needed to find out what his job in life should be, beyond being an absolute treasure of a companion.

It was clear early on that Sam had a special knack for bringing joy and smiles to all he met. He was the neighborhood concierge, greeting every two and four legged inhabitant walking past the yard with an infectiously charming personality. Everyone loved him and he made them all feel special. It seemed only natural to share his gift with others and thus began the process of training for pet therapy work. For weeks I was convinced he would fail since he just couldn’t seem to stay focused on even simple tasks. Sam’s mantra in life was “oooh, a kitten…look a butterfly…ahh…shiny object!!” More than once I nearly abandoned the notion of getting through classes. When the time came for the test, not only did he perform flawlessly, he outshined all his classmates. I was stunned but ever so grateful to be able to share his gift of love with others.

We began visiting patients and in no time, Sam became a beloved rock star at hospital but especially with mental health patients. He would calmly allow them to hug him (which most dogs would not appreciate) and patiently waited while they petted him. His crush on all nurses was legendary and he often had eight or more surrounding him, oohing and ahhing over those soulful brown eyes, soft fur and Swiffer-like tail that was constantly in hyper-motion whenever people were around him.

Sam brought such joy and happiness to everyone at pet therapy but especially to me. While I have Norman to carry on in Sam’s pawprints at hospital and the Ninja to remind me that “still waters run deep,” Sam will always hold an extra special place in my heart.

Sam birthdayOn his Sweet Sixteenth birthday, I send my very best birthday wishes to my heart dog. Happy birthday, Knucklehead. I miss you every. single. day. You’ll always be in my heart and soul. Love and miss ya, buddy!

Angel Sam

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ September 13, 2021

Welcome to Monday where we tend to revel in the happenings from our weekend and start planning for the next one. Speaking of planning, it’s about time to start thinking about next year’s Spring bulb garden. Thankfully, neither of the Ranch Hands dig up bulbs, but a warning to all you gardeners…spring bulbs are toxic for pets.

Smiles

Norman had his second evaluation on Friday and I wanted to express my thanks for all your kind words of support. According to our evaluator Amy, Norman did great (and even I didn’t embarrass myself). We’re hoping to order our business cards next and obtain Norman’s ID badge. Once any other outstanding bureaucratic items are completed, we’ll be officially considered the newest team in the hospital’s pet therapy program.

Pet Therapy
Amy and Norman, post evaluation

Wishing you a totally ‘pawsome’ week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾