West Pines Wednesday ~ October 23, 2019

As October quickly advances toward Halloween, we’re enjoying the gorgeous autumn weather. Today we’re headed for West Pines (if you’re not familiar with WP, you can read more about West Pines in the link). Sam really enjoys visiting with the folks at this facility located just south of the hospital. From the staff to the residents, he is extra calm, patient and sweet to those whose hurts are invisible.

Sam

The outdoor grounds make for a nice place to contemplate what burdens some folks carry in their hearts and minds. So today, we raise a paw to those brave patients trying to improve their lot and to the people who help them on their journey.

We’re halfway through the week. It that Friday I hear beckoning us?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

On-Call Wednesday

Now that I got the call, I’m all spiffed up, ready and raring to go visit my friends at hospital and hospice for the next couple of days so please forgive mom if she’s a little slow in reading and responding (I think she’s forgotten how to deal with more than just leashes). We’ll plan on seeing you guys again soon once I’ve managed to make patients and nurses smile. Loads of tail wags from me, Dogtor Knucklehead.

Dogtor Sam

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Therapy Thursday ~ September 5, 2019

🎵  Scooby-doo-bee-doo…ooh baby…oops, wrong opening chorus. Hi-ya…Sam here. While I can’t sing this post, I can share some of the adventures from last week in my triumphant return to hospital and West Pines. Now that I’m finally back to 110% it was nice to get back in the saddle and visit with my friends.

ELMC, West Pines Sam

Naturally mom said I had to be spiffed up. Ugh…not a bath, mom!! Seems like the nurses like a sweet smelling boy so I didn’t mind too much when she put a blend of relaxing essential oils on me after the bath. Chicks seem to dig that and well…when there are hugs and “atta boy’s,” how can I refuse?

It only took a few nanoseconds for me to remember some of my favorite peeps who I’ve regularly visited in the past. Mom thought we should go visit the Lab and soon there was a crowd of the regulars welcoming me back. One of the managers is a favorite of mine so I spent a long time visiting with her. I sure have missed her so it was a great way to start out what would end up become a long shift.

After our swing through the Lab, we made it down to the surgical reception area for another memorable visit. I like going through this area providing comfort to peeps waiting for their loved ones to get out of surgery before moving up to their rooms. One lady with a mini-peep tagging along lit up like a candle when she saw me. She told my mom they loved us poodle-y dogs. What I loved was her mini peep…a twenty-two month old granddaughter who was exactly my height and the two of us had a great time visiting. She had this weird thing in her mouth (mom said it was a nuk) that I was kind of interested in at first but realized the chubby little hands that pet me ever so sweetly were much better than some slobbery chew toy. I spent a long time with her and her grandma was very happy for my therapy.

I had a lot of dates with nurses encounters all over the hospital and it all began to come back to me. The ladies in the gift shop were as nice as always and told me about their summer adventures. I listened and wagged my tail at all the right times. They seemed to appreciate my listening skills. They were equally impressed I remembered where the treats are stashed.

The next day we went to West Pines. The director who shepherds us around to the various buildings on campus is one of my favorite hospital peeps. When we arrived at the first building, it was like I’d never been away. A number of patients were super excited to see me. They asked me all sorts of questions…how old was I, what was I, you know, stuff like that. I was the ‘pawfect’ gentlemen and let them all hug me and tell stories about the dogs that were in their life. Then there was one woman who just sat back on the other side of the room and watched me. When mom asked her if she’d like to pet me, her face lit up with a huge smile. I pranced sauntered over and sat in front of her and looked her in the eye. She began to talk to me and that made my tail wag. Her fingers were soft and gentle on my ears as she pet me and we both relaxed like old friends. When it came time to leave, mom offered her hand to shake and wish her well but her arms withdrew and her head turned, much like a turtle. Her face grew dark as she looked away. Clearly she has issues with people and touching and it left me sad. Everyone likes my mom but the patient only had eyes for me I guess. Hopefully the staff will help her learn to trust again, in others and in herself. I liked visiting with her.

All the way home, mom just couldn’t get over that young woman. The pain in her eyes when she folded up on herself left her very sad. It seemed my therapy work wasn’t over even though we left the hospital. I wanted to give mom some therapy when we got home. I stayed with her and she pet me. Whenever my tail wagged, she’d smile and say I was the bestest boy in the world. All the attention she gave me really cheesed Elsa off but I knew mom needed cheering up. She kept whispering “but for the grace of god, there go I.” Not sure what she meant by that, but was glad I could be there for her when she needed me. Ater making her feel better, I relented played with the Ninja and then took a nice long nap. It sure felt good…both the making peeps smile part as well as the long, rejuvenating snooze. Life is good around the Ranch and this work makes us really aware of that.

Sam

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Pet Therapy Thursday ~ August 29, 2019

Hi there peeps, it’s me, Sam. As you may recall, I went back to work this week but wanted to share a couple of photos from the annual award ceremony. Can I just say it felt great getting back in the saddle. It was a little weird at first and I had to rely on my super powers to remember what I was supposed to do but luckily, it comes pretty naturally for me even if it had been forever since I was last there. Although I had been sick in June and again in July, my hospital friends welcomed me back with open arms and lots of treats.

So let’s check out some photos of my fellow pals from Pet Therapy who were at the awards ceremony. Mom says it’s hard getting us all to stay in line while 87 other moms are trying to take pictures. I have no idea what she’s talking about.

Pet Therapy
Pictured: Back row, Mandy, Charlee, Akira & Logan, Little One, Kai, Dolly. Front row: Yours truly, Bindy, and Axel.

My best friend, Teddy received a special award (he’s retiring from the program). We are sure going miss him. Luckily his mom is friends with my mom so hopefully I’ll still get to hang out with him once in a while.

Teddy, Pet Therapy

With Teddy leaving our program, my newest pal is Axel, the handsome dude next to me. Axel is new to the program but already is making friends all over hospital. He’s a Black-Mouth Cur, a breed with which we weren’t familiar. He was rescued from a shelter in Texas. And everyone loves his mom who is one of the most cheerful people in the program-she always has a big smile on her face. We’re excited to have Axel and his mom join our merry little band.

Axel, Pet Therapy
Pictured: Me, Axel and Dolly

Yesterday was my first day back at West Pines. Mom is working on a special post just for that visit and always tells me “but for the grace of Dog there go I” whenever we leave that place. I’m not sure what she means by that but I’m just glad I was able to visit the medical staff and nurses again with a couple of extra special encounters with patients.

Here’s a close-up of the award I received. Who knew I’d have more than 200 visits? We’ve met so many wonderful people as a member of the pet therapy squad and hope we can continue for future special times being a part of this amazing group.

Pet Therapy

Don’t we have a great looking group? They all enjoy making peeps smile and I hope there are loads of ear rubs and treats in the future for all.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wandering Wednesday ~ August 28, 2019

SamHi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to West Pines we go.🎶 After many patient and staff visits (and more than a few ‘dates with nurses’) at hospital yesterday, Sam is off to West Pines this morning. We had loads of interaction with all sorts of folks yesterday from two year olds to eighty plus year olds including a surprising number of visits at hospice. Since it was the first time this summer that Sam has been back, I wasn’t sure how he’d do. But my boy proved he’s still got game and was only slightly off kilter. I tried to make yesterday’s shift as easy as possible and he seemed to enjoy the lighter duty. His hospital friends we always visit were very happy to see his sweet face. When I saw the smiles he put on people’s faces, I know he was back in his element despite being tuckered out once we returned home. Visits normally take a lot of energy out of him, but after a good night’s sleep, he’s raring to go today and ran toward the garage before our morning constitution.

SamHappy mid-week. May the slide toward the weekend be an easy one for you.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ August 26, 2019

Dogs

Happy Monday and Happy National Dog Day. NDD celebrates all dogs, whether mixed breed or purebred. That includes celebrating Knuckleheads of all stripes and which I’m especially celebrating a certain Knucklehead who was presented an award this past weekend for having ‘pawticipated’ in more than 200 hospital visits. I couldn’t be more proud of this silly goofball who demonstrates pure loving attention to all he greets. Even when he faces the wrong way during the awards photo, he steals the show.

Sam

There will be more photos and a special post later this week but for now, please join me in saying, “attaboy, Sam.” Way to go, dude.Sam

No resting on our laurels now though. Tomorrow we return to hospital to bring more smiles to patients and staff.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 23, 2019

Welcome to another Friday where we join our fur-iends and Nature Friday hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it’s [still] hot in the Mile High. A small shower with more thunder and lightning than rain blew through Wednesday evening which did help cool things down. The dogs have decided they are not fans of thunderstorms which is strange since nothing used to bother Sam but in his golden years, has become visibly distressed the moment he hears any thunder. This storm was a loud one so he was most verklempt.

Sun and heat loving perennials continue to take center stage around the hood. Come along one of my early morning walks where I came across an enormous trumpet vine that had fully covered an entire utility pole. Passing by, it was literally abuzz with bees and wasps enjoying the sweet nectar so I had to stay a comfortable distance away from them but I still just had to stop and take it all in.

Flowers

Flowers

For some reason, the sunflowers have been very prolific this summer, popping up across gardens throughout the neighborhood. My own garden is being taken over by them. It’ll be an interesting fight between the Lupines and the Sunflowers to see who takes over. I’m hoping they can learn to share the space since both are so pretty.

Flowers

Continuing along on the walk, I came across a beautiful, deep red Rose of Sharon shrub who was showing off. Such a pretty plant, but quite toxic to pets. The spent blooms are especially enticing to dogs so care should be exercised when incorporating this beauty in the garden landscape.

Flowers

Maybe Mother Nature’s way to warn us of its toxicity are the spikes surrounding the closed bud?

Flowers

One of the neighbors whose garden I enjoy walking past recently installed a new glass ornament with its whimsical look made me smile.

Falmingo

That’s about it for me. Tomorrow Sam and I will be attending the annual awards luncheon for pet therapy members and their dogs. It’ll be nice seeing the gang again since we’ve been absent this summer after Sam’s illness and recovery during June and July. I’m looking forward to meeting the newest members who have joined our ranks and for celebrating some of the program’s superstars. Are you doing anything fun this weekend? Whatever you have planned, I hope it’s a ‘pawsome’ weekend.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Heroes of Hope ~ 2019 Highlights

Hey sports fan, Sam here. You may remember from our earlier post where I ‘pawticipated’ in Lutheran’s annual Heroes of Hope – National Cancer Survivors Day® Celebration event. National Cancer Survivors Day® is a celebration for those who have survived, an inspiration for those recently diagnosed, a gathering of support for families and an outreach to the community. Since mom screwed up publishing her Wednesday post on Tuesday (awk! good grief) and I’m not going to risk her messing this one up. I’ll be taking over today’s post by sharing highlights from the event. Leave important things to real professionals, I always say.

As a Knucklehead star athlete, we are expected to make an appearance on the Red Carpet stage (even if it’s black). I adjusted my cape, er…bandana and gave mom a “hurry up, let’s do this” look. Sheesh, sometimes she’s so inept behind the camera. I mean, there were oodles of others waiting their turns (translation: there are tons of peeps I need to visit). But then while I’m posing for mom, a lady walks up and asks for my autograph picture. Mom was kind of surprised but safe to say, that lady’s interest got my tail going.

Heroes of Hope

As a member of Lutheran’s Pet Therapy program, we also celebrate survivors and their families by participating in the 1K walk. Being a ‘distinguished’ (i.e. senior) pup, I held my nose high and the tongue out long keeping up with everyone, although my preference is to stop and chat with all the folks cheering us on along the course sidelines. Hey, I gotta keep my personal skills sharp, right? I mean…it’s free ear rubs for crying out loud! What Knucklehead passes those up? Nope not happening, thank you very much.

Heroes of Hope

The event began with the 10K race, followed by the 5K, and then the kid’s run. We bring up the rear with our 1K walk and there were lots of non pet therapy uprights in our group. But everyone loves watching the kid run. They are beyond adorable as they race (and sometimes toddle) down their course while the crowd cheers them on. Nothing makes my tail wag more than a bunch of kiddos running straight toward me!

Heroes of Hope

No celebration at this annual event is complete without some close ups of a few of the pet therapy dogs. This is my pal, “Little One,”  a former racer who now is a champion pet therapist. She has a gazillion visits under that billed cap. She and her mom recently rescued a Galgo greyhound from Spain who may be joining us once she’s all settled and becomes more socialized. Woo-hoo-another pawsome pet therapist!

Heroes of Hope

Then there’s my little pal, Zoe, one adorable little Corgi who steals the show whenever she shows up. Don’t tell anyone but she gets my tail seriously wagulating-just look at that sweet face!

Heroes of Hope

After our ‘race,’ we serious athletes needed to re-hydrate and I was no exception. Never fear, that’s good ole H2O in that cup. One of several.

Heroes of Hope

Once fully hydrated, I was able to get in some serious visiting with other individual racers and teams. The hospital had 14 teams running in the 5K and a number of folks on those teams are peeps I frequently visit when I’m at the hospital. Such cool people, with compassion with deep caring. I woofed for the team from the Lab, called “Out for Blood.” Zoe’s human sister works there and was on the team. I always love seeing her whenever I make hospital rounds. It’s always great fun greeting dogs, uprights, little peeps and enjoying some delicious snacks after the race and then checking out the various booths with healthful products, resources and info for anyone suffering from this horrible disease. It’s a good place to network and that’s when I ran into the newest member to the pet therapy team, Axel whose photo we shared on Monday. You can see where I photobombed him here. Axel is a Black Mouth Cur and should be a great addition to our program.

Those who win their respective race receive special recognition but I like to think anyone who’s willing to lend their support to kick cancer’s butt is No. 1 in our books.

This event definitely has had even more meaning for my mom whose dear friend Cheryl, battled cancer over this past year. We’re barking our kudos on her determination and courage. We love her and she’ll always be mom’s hero!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Meme Monday ~ June 3, 2019

Good grief, it’s June already?! Where did the first half of 2019 go? Seems like only yesterday I was shoveling snow. Oh wait, I was…since a snow storm marched through Denver on May 20th. Not actually yesterday, but close enough.

Over the weekend Sam and I ‘pawticipated’ in the annual event known as Heroes of Hope where staff and community celebrate cancer survivors with a festival-like event including a race, wellness booths filled with health products, info and all around camaraderie providing resources when dealing with this horrible disease. Lutheran’s Run/Walk is the largest National Cancer Survivors Day in Jefferson County. You read highlights from the past couple of years for 2018 here and 2017 here. Although I hurt my back a few days ago, I was hoping a 1K walk might help loosen it up (I was wrong on that, but it was definitely worthwhile nonetheless). 

Attending this event made me realize the meme, “everyone thinks they have the best dog. And none of them are wrong” is so true.

We’ll share more highlights later this week about why this Knucklehead is the best, but until then, does anyone know where I put the ice pack? Have a great Monday and give your own ‘hero/best dog’ some extra loving from us.

Heroes

Live, love, bark! 🐾

April Reflections ~ 2019

Hard to believe this is the last day of April and I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge some watershed moments that happen in April. Seventeen years ago I moved into my current home on April 26th. I purposely picked this neighborhood for its close proximity to downtown where I worked plus the fact it was a long-established neighborhood in the city. I loved the community feel that has been woven into my very soul. Safe to say, I am deeply connected here with the location and its inhabitants.

April is also the month when I first began publishing this blog some five years ago, although WordPress counts March as the birth month which is technically correct, yet the first post didn’t publish until the end of April when I finally took a deep breath and pushed the ‘publish’ button. What a terrifying moment that was and life hasn’t been quite the same since ever since.

Posing Sam

Twelve years ago this month I began the process of adopting a certain (sub)Standard Poodle who was being rehomed, though he became a member of the Ranch household the first week in May. Who’d have known at that time what a fortuitous adoption that would be and resulted in us embarking upon a pet therapy odyssey a few years later after it was very clear he was a very special dog. Six years ago this month, Sam and I began volunteering at the hospital. I wanted a way to share our pet therapy moments since it was clear my first blogging idea of sharing home design/DIY had no chance to launch due to lack of abilities on that front. Luckily Sam does all the work and I just drive him to the hospital, I knew I could document this Knucklehead’s ability to connect with people. It’s been a ‘pawsome’ collaboration ever since. We’ve had many highs and known a few lows but it has been one of the most rewarding journeys ever. Sam is now two visits shy of making 200 visits brightening the lives of patients, staff and visitors. We expect to continue as long as possible but at 13 1/2 years old, I hold no illusions. My baby is slowing down and while he still loves the adventure, visiting sick people wears him out too much. We may look into a reader program or a senior living situation but for now, things are full speed ahead with hospital pet therapy.

I would be remiss not to mention how much we value your part in this journey. I swear you guys are some of the smartest, funniest, kindest people I’ve ever known. Your clever posts and comments have made me laugh and in some cases cry. Your ability to convey deeply personal experiences inspires and moves me to do better, write better and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

AnniversaryOver the weekend, my family celebrated my parents’ 70th wedding anniversary. Yes, 70. freaking. years! All the siblings and their spouses  enjoyed a lovely celebratory get-together. Just thinking about the smiles across my parents’ faces as they looked around and saw their children, a couple of grandchildren and a great-grand and a half (one niece is expecting any day now) was beyond heartwarming. Congrats Mom and Dad!

Last week was a difficult week for both me and Sam with a number of personal loses. Two of our pet therapy dogs passed away, which is always sad, but particularly one…Truffles, a big chocolate Newfie who was especially beloved by Sam, will be felt for a long time. A dear friend who was a mere 42 years of age was laid to rest. A kinder, gentler, more generous human you’d be hard-pressed to find. Tony brought joy to all who knew him and while his physical body is not with us, his spirit will live on within each of us. Sam adored Tony and my one regret was not being able to bring Sam to his bedside at the end. I know his tail would have wagged furiously and no doubt he’d have hogged Tony’s bed while Tony happily provided plenty of ear rubs.

We visited an even younger woman at hospice last week. Probably in her 30’s, Shauna was conscious enough and very insistent on visiting with Sam. The pain on her face as she readjusted herself to be able to pet him told me how important his visit was for her. Her best friend (and visibly pregnant) since the 7th grade was with her in her final moments, a true friend right to the end. While visiting with them, I noticed a large tattoo on Shauna’s forearm. It read, “The girl who lived life” and it told me about the core of this brave woman. As her body was failing her, I knew she had made a special mark with her passion and spirit much like my friend Tony did. Recalling both of them her, more tears stream down my face. I know both are free of earthly bonds, no longer held hostage by unbearable pain but they will remain in the hearts of those who cared about them. They may no longer be with us physically, but will always guide us toward our own final path. I only hope I have as much grace and dignity as they both did.

So yeah, April is a big deal around the Ranch. I look upon it and celebrate the accomplishments, the anniversaries and share the losses because they all add up to a community I cherish and which allows me to share it with you. I plan to explore more reflections on the death and dying aspect of life in the future but for now thank you for coming along with me.

Live, love, bark! 🐾