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! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ September 10, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to the best day of the week-Friday where we join our ‘fur-iends’, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their weekly blog hop. Be sure to click on the link to see what others have shared.

While the calendar says autumn is less than two weeks away, Mother Nature apparently hasn’t seen the memo and continues to bake the Mile High City with summer temps (it’s supposed to be near 100 today), dry conditions and smoky skies. Ozone levels have been abysmally high and exploring various elements of nature have been limited. Still there was a surprise guest in the neighborhood. While there are miniscule signs that maybe, just maybe the autumn colors might begin their annual change, autumn been slow to get started with a couple of exceptions.

Leaves

Maple leaves are always a favorite this time of year. When walking the dogs yesterday morning, I found this lovely specimen though never did see the tree from which it came.

Here we have a smidgeon of color. Notice the leaf stress from the hot, dry conditions? Far too many trees are struggling and I can’t help but wonder if there will be more trees lost if we don’t get relief soon.

Trees

This week has been filled with lots of goings on my schedule every day and with the high ozone alerts, my time outside has been limited to very early morning walks with the dogs.

As we prepare for our second pet therapy evaluation later this morning, I realize we’re probably about as ready as we’re ever gonna be. The bathroom however is still recovering after Norman’s required bath (bathing this hunka furry real estate  is quite the exercise in dog wrangling and achy backs but boy does he smell great!). I’m certain he’ll do just fine. As always, my biggest worry for this pet therapy team continues to be me as the weak link and can only hope I remember all the details critical for a successful pet therapy team. Fingers and paws crossed we can report back success next week with a few smiles for nurses and patients today and tomorrow.

We did manage to see one particularly unusual sighting this week. As I’ve mentioned before, encountering bunnies are not at that unusual but the frequency they’ve been spotted every day this week is. We typically pass through the backside of Sprouts grocery on our route noting the hotbed of activity in the early morning hours as vendors’ trucks line up with the day’s fresh produce. Seeing bunnies daily this week had me wondering if there isn’t a special time set aside for senior bunnies to ‘shop’ for discarded veggies. I saw 3 yesterday morning alone in different spots.

Bunny
‘Washing up’ after breakfast

It seems odd that this week we encountered more wildlife than I saw in last week’s adventures in the mountains around Glenwood Springs. With all the development and traffic in Northwest Denver these days, foxes who used to be seen, have moved away to less inhabited areas. A fellow dog walker gave me a heads up that a fox was spotted ahead. Appreciative of the head’s up I gripped the leashes with white knuckle determination to keep the nearly 150 lbs. of prey driven paws by my side. I figured the chance of seeing it were likely Slim to next to nothing with Slim having left town before we’d get there but lo and behold, a red flash galloped across the street. A shy but leggy fellow dashed across the street. I stopped to admire the beauty of this fox and realized how much I’ve missed them when they frequently frolicked under my bedroom window ages ago. Forgive the poor quality of the image I had to really stretch the capabilities on the zoom of the cell phone but I think you can see how handsome this guy was.

Fox

The dogs were more than ‘intrigued’ so I tried to slowly walk away and then realized he was sizing us up. We stopped to admire this good looking boy while he no doubt hoped we’d keep moving along. That face!

Fox

How fortunate was that? Well I can only say I haven’t seen foxes in my ‘Hood for close to 15 years.

So much for this week’s nature in the ‘Hood. Have a great Friday and an even better weekend. For my fellow Westerners, stay cool. For those on the East Coast, try to stay dry.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 27, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to the last Friday of August. As always, we’re joining those adorable hosts, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their blog hop. Make sure you click on the link to see what others have shared. This edition is literally a wild one, with commentary from both Ranch Hands.

Norman: Mum, it was a wild week, wasn’t it? I mean…I’ve never seen as much wildlife since being rescued and immigrating here.

Mum: You’re right, Norman; it was a ‘wild’ week, critter-wise. Given our location a ere 3 miles from downtown, it’s always exciting for us when Nature in its wildest form crosses our paths.

Norman: Right-o, mum. I haven’t seen this many rabbits as I did this week. What’s up with that?

Elsa: (imitating her best Elmer Fudd voice) Wabbits??? Where?!?!?! You know how I “LOVE” hunting looking for wabbits.

Norman: You almost walked past this one, little sister and missed another one at Sprouts parking lot.

Rabbits

Elsa: Harrumph…wabbits are wily but I eventually picked up its scent. But I spotted the third one before you guys did. Just wish mom hadn’t spotted this one first, otherwise I’d have turned her into a kite. For the record, I don’t think that spot is reserved for bunny parking, so there.

Norman: Mum scans the landscape for wildlife for that exact reason. But seeing rabbits three times this week was a bit unusual and nothing compared to what else we encountered.

Elsa: I’m still blown away from that whole experience. The fact that we were running later than usual and had we be out at our usual time, well…we’d have missed them by several minutes. Sure we’ve seen one or two on a couple of occasions but nothing like that before.

Norman: [Head shaking] It was quite something. I mean to be a witness to a whole ‘family of criminals’…well, let’s just say that took us all by surprise. Seeing wildlife like this makes it even more remarkable.

Raccoons
Check out this morning neighborhood criminal family!

Elsa: No kidding! Seeing those masked bandits so close to me and posing no less…well I momentarily froze in my tracks. Luckily, it was just enough time for mum to realize what could have been a potential nightmare for all concerned so she instinctively shortened my leash. Doggone it anyway.

Norman: At first I thought it was a bunch of odd looking kitties but could tell from mum’s reaction it was something else. I’ve never seen six ‘cats’ like that at once.

Raccoons

Elsa: At least I managed to react a short distance away from the porch which took her shoulder by surprise. Heh, heh. It’s good keeping her on her toes.

Norman: Oh come on, sister, it’s not really her toes you want her to stay on…it’s more like you prefer her backside.

Elsa: Sshhh, don’t let her know that. Jeez, are you trying to get me in trouble?

Norman: You’re well enough equipped to do that on your own without any help from me.

Raccoons

Elsa: Not one, not two, not even three…but four on the front porch of that house at the same time. I distinctly remember mum rubbing her eyes in disbelief.

Norman: She sure did, though I think she might have been still half asleep. As we passed the front porch, we saw the others on the fence to the side though there were {only} six raccoons in total committing a burglary.

Elsa: I was so bummed they decided not to follow us in the opposite direction.

Norman: They probably had more houses to burglarize visit before breakfast was over. I did notice that one fella coming out from under the chair had munched on the tassels on the chair cushion.

Elsa: Not much of a breakfast by my mind’s thinking.

Norman: This coming from someone who considers wool socks a food group?

Elsa: That’s different, bro. Besides, it wasn’t me who ate a felted mini-OES figure that mom spent 8+ hours needle felting last week. Do I need to remind you of the day you spent at ER?

Norman: Ahem…not my finest moment I’ll agree, but all’s good now right mum?

Mum: {Eyes rolling} Yes, ‘dear‘ Norman. Just make sure you don’t countersurf anymore and we’ll be all good, ‘kay?

Norman: Right-o, mum. I love that you accept me for who I am. Just a big hunka-chunk who is apparently irresistible to nurses judging our visit to hospital yesterday. If feels good getting the first of two evaluations out of the way. One step closer to being a full therapy dog.

Mum: Yes, dear boy…you definitely know how to draw a crowd. Much like us gawking at those raccoons, people just couldn’t believe their eyes seeing you and began running down the hallway to say hello

Norman: Yes, it was somewhat overwhelming. Yawn. I’m still recovering from all that therapy work while trying to get over that whole riding the elevator experience.

Norman

Mum: You’ll be fine, sweet boy. You have the whole weekend to recover.

Elsa: We’re so proud of you, Big Brother! Let’s plot plan some extra special recovery plans for the weekend…you know just to give mum a run for her money on her toes.

Mum: Sigh. Whatever you do this weekend, we hope it’s relaxing and fun but you give yourself plenty of time to see all the amazing sights Mother Nature offers.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

 

Monday Musings ~ July 12, 2021

The Ranch’s ‘great invention’ is headed off to hospital for the next couple of days so we’ll no doubt be late reading your posts. We hope you smile as much as the nurses and patients will that we’re going to visit this week. Happy Monday, peeps!

Smiles
Image by Lynn Johnston via Pinterest

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Monday Musings ~ June 21, 2021

Welcome to the Summer Solstice which arrived at 9:31 PM Mountain time last night. Did you know the timing of the June solstice is not based on a specific calendar date or time. It is dependent on when the Sun reaches its northernmost point from the celestial equator. This is why the solstice doesn’t always occur on the same day shifting between June 20, 21, and 22.

At any rate, we hope summer starts out well for you. While we’ve been facing hot temps, today the Mile High City gets a bit of a reprieve with a cool front moving in for the day. But never fear sun and heat lovers, we return to the upper 90’s again tomorrow.

Norman

Norman’s first two days visiting hospital staff and patients went well even if he was a bit overwhelmed with all the attention and maneuvering over slippery surfaces. Overall he brought a lot of joy to nurses, staff, patients and hospital visitors. We plan to go back for more practice soon.

Today’s smile pretty much says it all as far as the dogs are concerned.

Smiles

Whether you’re more summer or winter-like, we hope you have a ‘pawsome’ Monday.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 18, 2021

Nature Friday

Once again TDIF (thank dog it’s Friday). Welcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday. We’re joining that pawsome quartet of ‘anipals,’ Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard to check out what’s shaking around Blogville. Be sure to click on the link to check out what others are sharing.

With this week’s triple digits being the new norm, we’ve kind of avoided getting out and seeing Nature much. Our walks happen  mostly at oh-dark-thirty to minimize the pizza-oven temperatures. Mother Nature doesn’t seem to mind our absence, pitching a hissy fit with her hot flashes. Too bad there’s not a hormone that could be administered to give the ole gal (as well as us) a break.

The garden peonies began to bloom late last week. Who doesn’t love that heavenly scent in a bouquet (just be careful who hitches a ride indoors-I’ve had a couple of insects catching a ride only to be unceremoniously removed upon detection)?

Flowers

The Dead Nettle has made its presence known in the shade garden. Did you know there are about 50 Lamium species in the mint family and they can create a beautiful tapestry beneath small trees or among plants who are willing to share the space. A note of warning, some Lamium can be somewhat invasive in fertile, moist soils. But their attractive foliage provides lovely textural interest even when flowers are not blooming. Lamium generally has finely-textured foliage and combines well with plants with large leaves like hostas. They also pair well with hydrangeas, hellebores, ferns and are perfect in dry shade gardens. Another plus for Lamium is they are deer resistant.

Flowers

The Catalpa trees are in full bloom despite the heat too. These large leafed, tall trees provide dense shade which has been most welcome this week. When the flowers drop, the sidewalk looks as though someone spilled a box of popcorn which always brings a smile. Even during inhospitable weather conditions, Nature shows she apparently has a whimsical side with a dash of humor on top. The deep-throated blossoms provide a quenching beverage for bees and other pollinators.

Trees

Needless to say the solar fountain has been very active this week. One of the neighborhood black birds visits this fountain narly every day for either a quick bath or a quenching drink. A couple of days ago he was caught admiring the climbing rose blooming. Sadly I couldn’t get my cell phone camera out quick enough to document before he took off for the roof, screeching his displeasure over his shoulder. Norman snuck out with me and looked at him like, “What’s your problem, mate?”

Flowers

Speaking of Norman, today will be his first day visiting patients at the hospital. He wasn’t very pleased about the bath he got in preparation but hope making new friends will more than enough make up for it. Keep your fingers crossed he does well and makes nurses smile today and tomorrow.

We hope you get an opportunity to check out some of Nature’s bounty this weekend. Whether you’re relaxing poolside or enjoying a cool beverage on the patio, we hope you make it a great time outdoors.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ April 19, 2021

Happy Monday, troops. This week we restart the process of getting back to pet therapy with an updated orientation class on Friday. While Norman won’t be attending that session, he still continues to update his K-9 levels through lots of people interactions.

Monday

We hope you have a ‘pawsome’ week and get daily doses of  the magic K-9 vitamin.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ March 29, 2021

Monday

Today’s smile will be good advice for Norman who received notice last week the hospital will be re-opening up for pet therapy visits. Exciting news for him as well as for Elsa who seems thrilled that he’ll be occupied for a few days a month. Meanwhile, Norman and I will be working hard polishing up on our skills to bring smiles to patients and staff soon and hope to sail through the certification process easily.

We hope you have a ‘pawsome’ week!

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Remembering an Angel

Sam

One year ago today you looked around and suddenly decided it was time to watch over me from a different world. That cold February day continues to replay, one agonizing frame at a time and still remains incredibly vivid in my mind. Not a day goes by that I don’t choke up, shedding tears I know you’d lick from my face with a warm comforting tongue. I’ continue to recall the many ways you enhanced my life, as well as those whose path crossed yours. You are still so very missed…your sweet, gentle ways, that silly expression you had…and that Swiffer tail. A tail that always wagged so hard I often wondered how it didn’t lift you up off the ground.

ELMC

I’ve gone through hundreds of photos taken of you over the years, fondly recalling each moment. I remember times when you ‘snoopervised’ my garden redesign by sleeping in the warm sunlight while I removed sod and reshaped the landscape and how you’d leap up flinging yourself like a slingshot, doing half gainers whenever someone walked by and asked about you. You were known as the Neighborhood Canine Concierge, welcoming all who passed by. How you’d go nuts barking at the mail lady like she was some sort of serial killer until the glass door opened and then you’d lean against her legs, looking appreciatively up into her eyes, tail wagging like crazy. You loved her and she loved you.

ELMC, West Pines Sam

Dogtor Sam
Dogtor Sam

I knew early on that your sweetness would make you the perfect candidate for therapy work but wondered if your knuckleheaded-ness could be properly channeled. Little did I know just how you’d morph into one truly amazing therapy dog. When we attended training classes, I worried if you’d ever be able to focus on this important job. And then you aced your tests, outperforming every dog in the class, and far beyond any of my expectations. My heart still swells with pride recalling how well you performed at your Canine Good Citizen certification.

Sam

Your unbridled joy to life brought so much happiness to hospital patients and staff alike, their squealing egged on your tail-wagging delight whenever you’d visit. You never knew a nurse you didn’t adore and watching you around ‘your harem’ always brought big smiles to many hearts.

Sam

The way you endeared yourself with the vet who performed the twice-a-year pet screenings. How you somehow managed to stick that long nose into faces, armpits, and other places to inhale the people you loved and how they’d giggle. I recall how you became a rock star entertaining mental health patients at West Pines by licking your chops on command, first on the left side and and then on the right; that long pink tongue slowly sliding back and forth on command all the while looking earnestly at the treats you knew you’d receive. They wondered why you would give so much of yourself for such a tiny reward. They just didn’t understand that was the essence of your spirit. You were always about giving, even to your last breath. You lived to hear the magic word…aww and then would respond as if you’d just won the biggest Lotto jackpot.

Sam

I will forever miss you leaning against my legs looking up at me with those gorgeous soulful eyes, as though you were asking, “well…what’s next, mom?” And how I often wondered if you weren’t part pogo stick because of your constant bouncing up and down, especially when I pulled down your hospital bandana when you’d go absolutely bonkers knowing we’d be heading to the hospital to meet all your fans. Even though you’d be bouncing off the walls, as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, a whole other Sam emerged. The calm, focused Sam who loved people with all his heart.

Sam

You were such an ambassador for therapy dogs, walking purposely, with such calmness, ready to brighten a weary heart and provided unparalleled love for everyone you met, with never any thought of judgment. You loved the idea of going to the hospital in the car, but I knew you hated the actual ride but were excited about the thought of making new friends every weekend we went to the hospital. It was always about getting there to share your love for people. Even if it meant riding in a car, an endeavor you did not enjoy but accepted with grace. The payback was what mattered most to you.

Sam

I recall the first time you rode in an elevator and how you had this panicked look with your legs somewhat splayed out to keep your balance. You looked to me for support encouragement to overcome the fear. But in no time, you became a champ elevator rider who made sure to say hello to everyone riding with us forgetting your fear. I’ll forever cherish our routine where we visited the staff in the reception area and the young college student you adored who would coo over you. When I asked you to say hello to her by putting your front feet up on the counter, you jumped up on top, all four feet in the center of her workspace and she gasped, “oh gosh, wasn’t expecting that!” Nor had I but we both laughed, your tail wagging furiously without any worry that you’d somehow breached good therapy dog manners. I still blush recalling my embarrassment that day yet I’m sure you thought you were supposed to get up close enough to say hi.

I also recall those times you welcomed my sometimes over-the-top grandkids with their noisy rambunctiousness and busy fingers outstretched to touch your dandelion soft hair that smelled so incredible after grooming. You were always a model around them and often far more patient than I was at times. You never shied away from any chaotic attention, always happy to be around people, and particularly children. I often wondered if you ever realized you were a dog and not a human.

Sam

My heart aches at these memories but I will always and forever be grateful of that fateful day when a colleague shared your photo with me after seeing it on a website looking to rehome you. You turned her into one of your biggest fans even though she was not a big fan of the breed initially, thinking like many others, ‘oh they’re too frou frou’ but she knew I loved the breed having owned several over the years. But none of them were anything like you. You were…special…so extraordinarily special from any dog I’ve ever know. And I saw that specialness the first day I brought you home.

So, on this first anniversary of your passing and with tears streaming down my face, I wanted to say how special you still are to me. I know you’re welcoming all pets who have crossed the Bridge this past year, showing them your joyful self because that’s just how you rolled. Know I’ll always love you and you’ll always be my heart and soul companion.

Sam

Live, love, bark! 🐾