Purple Day ~ March 26, 2020

EpilepsyToday is Purple Day,® a global grassroots event created to increase worldwide awareness of epilepsy and to dispel common myths and fears of this neurological disorder. Purple Day® attempts to reduce the social stigmas associated by the many individuals afflicted and provides assurance and advocacy to those living with epilepsy by letting them know that they are not alone. This day occurs annually every March 26 in honor of all epi-warriors, whether they are 2 or 4-legged. Once again, we proudly support this event by wearing purple. As you may know, Elsa, as a puppy mill survivor with unknown lineage, was diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy shortly after she was rescued nearly 4 years ago (you can read her story here). Supporting epilepsy awareness and education is a no-brainer and I’m committed to learning as much as possible about this condition and how to effectively manage it while providing a safe and loving home for this pill of a dog. I can {knock on wood} report Elsa has been mostly seizure-free for almost two years through a combination of anti-seizure medication and organic, locally sourced CBD oil.

Elsa
You woke me up for this?

So on this year’s “Purple Day®“, we invite you to wear purple today. If you or anyone in your family are impacted by epilepsy, check out the Epilepsy Foundation’s website or check the “About” tab at PurpleDay.org website for valuable information.

Word Cloud

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Nature Friday ~ March 6, 2020

Tomorrow marks the two-week mark since beloved Sam left this mortal world. It’s been a painful time with lots of ups and down for both me and the dogs. Just as it seems like things are getting better, something will trigger a bout of tears and it feels like any progress made has been erased. While I realize this is all normal in the grief process, they are still upsetting.

Sam has come home now and I find myself staring at his remains for long periods of time, recalling past memories. Some are funny, some are more of the ‘I can’t believe you just did that’ and others are ones that make my heart swell with loving pride. It’s easy to go the full spectrum as I stare at the carved box.

Just before Sam came home, on one of our many walks during the mild spring-like weather, I happened to look down. Not sure if it was because it was the first sign of spring that caught my attention or the fact that there was a white feather next to it, but the one thing I was certain of was that it was a sign from Angel Sam reaching out. Tears formed in my eyes but then a smile appeared. The dogs and I stood there quietly for a few moments knowing our favorite Knucklehead had sent us a message. The dogs seemed to pick up the pace with joyous steps once we continued on the walk.

Sam, RIP

While I do not consider myself religious, I do think I’m pretty spiritual. Throughout the world, different cultures subscribe to slightly different explanations on what finding a white feather means. Yet, it seems the explanation is mostly consistent across the board. The symbolism of the white feather is generally thought of a sign of the presence of an angel. When you find one, it is thought that one of your angels just visited you within the physical realm and it’s an opportunity to say a prayer of thanks for their support.

It’s also thought that finding a white feather is a sign that a loved one is watching over you from the spirit realm. While that is certainly plausible, it can also be their desire to make contact with you. Either way, when you find a feather, you’ll likely feel a familiar energy, similar to the one we experienced. Finding a white feather is seen as a good omen and reminds us to stay strong, positive, and optimistic.

No matter whatever life throws at you, finding a white feather is viewed as a symbol that can provide a sense of comfort. And in this instance, it was as if Sam were leaning against my leg, wagging his tail and gazing deeply into my eyes like he often did when alive and there was great comfort in that moment.

While news this week has been heartbreaking and disturbing (our thoughts are with the folks of Tennessee and pray the situation surrounding the Corona-virus gets under control), we hope you seek and find comfort this weekend.

Please remember to ‘spring forward’ for Daylight Savings Time which arrives this weekend. We will be envious of those of you who live in Hawaii, parts of Arizona and Indiana who have the good sense not to go through this stupid time change.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Mourning ~ February 24, 2020

As most of you know, the inspiration and muse behind this blog was a sweet knuckleheaded and loving dog. It is with a broken heart I share that my dear precious boy passed away suddenly on Saturday. One minute he was his goofy self and the next minute he was gone. To say there is a huge empty place in my heart would be an understatement.

Sam was many things but foremost he was always a loving, devoted companion. He was my heart and soul dog. Making me happy along with hundreds of others was at the core of this special dog. He loved life and he loved making others smile and feel better, even if just for a brief moment. He did it with such charming panache and with an ever wagging tail that just never stopped moving. While he recently retired from his hospital visits, he never really stopped being a therapy dog, instead ministering loving affection to all he encountered, every waking moment, including me. He loved delighting patients and staff alike with his one and only trick…licking his chops on command, first on one side, then on the other.

The Ranch is a dimmer place now and we all need time to heal from this devastating loss and thus will be taking time away to grieve and adapt to the new decidedly, empty normal. I know that Sam would want you to pay extra attention to your own special pet in his memory. We never know when their time will be up so please make the most of the time you have, while it’s happening.

Avitar
My sweet buddy

ELMC Sam

“Yosemite Sam”
October 7, 2005 ~ February 22, 2020

Live, love, bark!🐾

The Circus Returns to Denver

Just when you thought the circus no longer came to town, I’m here to tell you it arrived safe and sound in Denver recently. A few days ago, opportunity scratched at the door, I answered and life as we knew it changed in one afternoon.

Last summer when I realized Sam’s days as a therapy dog were numbered, I contemplated finding a replacement therapy dog and have long thought a sheepdog might be wonderful hospital therapy dog. The affable “Nanny dog” makes a great companion and is well known for being sweet, especially around little people. But I also knew it might be a long while before one came through the OES Rescue Group of Colorado (a group I have long supported and worked with years ago). Sheepdogs aren’t a common breed around here, less so in rescue and I figured it could be quite a while before one might show up, let alone one who might be a suitable candidate for therapy work.

In December, a pair of dogs from Kansas City ended up in the Grey Ghost Rescue, a rescue dedicated to finding homes for Weimaraners. The pair were being surrendered by its owners following neighbor complaints for non-stop barking by the dogs. The female Weim and her OES brother had been kept in a 6 x 8 foot enclosure and expressed their high energy frustration through barking. Not wanting to leave the pair with any of the high kill shelters in the area, they contacted the Weim Rescue who said they’d take the female provided OES rescue would take the male.

With that agreement 7-year old “Norman” entered the OES rescue system. He was fostered with a transplant to Colorado who had spent decades in sheepdog rescue in Northern California, knew the breed well and currently had his own sheepdog (along with a couple of other dogs). As luck would have it, he was just down the road from my parents’ home in Pueblo West. I had only seen this grainy image on Facebook of a long legged, “tube socked” boy but decided to run down and see if he and the Ninja could get along while visiting my parents for a few hours.

Norman
Mr. “Tube Socks”

Elsa was [surprisingly] on her best behavior and I left after bombarding asking lots of questions about “Norman” as to his background and exactly what kind of boy he was. The Foster Dad assured me Norman was a mellow boy (which was definitely demonstrated during our time together), very easy going, probably enjoyed KC style BBQ and never got on the furniture. Whoa, I thought, a sheepdog who doesn’t express an interest on getting on the furniture. What’s wrong with him?

Norman

Norman was vetted by the rescue’s vet as fit and heartworm negative. I left feeling pretty good about the adoption but wanted to take some time to ‘think about it.’ Driving home, all I could think of was about this big boy and how he might fit into the Ranch bunkhouse. The Foster Dad said he needed to make a trip out of town and was hoping I had decided on Norman’s future so he could make the necessary arrangements in case I wasn’t prepared to adopt him before he needed to leave. I had pretty much made up my mind by the next morning after meeting him and advised the rescue that I would love to be considered as Norman’s new dog huMom. One of the many things I have admired about the Colorado OES Rescue is their deep commitment placing each dog with the right family. I was informed a family adopted Norman earlier, had in fact been vetted, adopted him, then abruptly changed their mind after only a few days. The rescue director was incensed as she thought Norman had been through enough and wouldn’t have placed him with them if they were uncommitted. When I asked her if there were any other requirements on my part, she said no, having been previously vetted before and everything remained the same. She agreed to send the contract out for my signature for the formal commitment to adopt Norman. The next day, Foster Dad contacted me to see if Norman could be picked up either on the 23rd or the 28th as he was traveling to Colorado Springs on business (a halfway point). We agreed to meet on the 23rd.

Norman
Is that my dinner you’re fixing?

Norman was picked up after I raced around securing a new bed, water and food bowls and a few other necessary items for his integration. I could see he was very bonded with the Foster Dad but hoped he would eventually grow to enjoy life at the Ranch with me and the Knuckleheads. I was once again assured he was a good traveler, didn’t get on the furniture and was as sweet as honey.

Norman
I love riding in cars.

Having him here now for the past few days, I can wholeheartedly confirm Foster Dad’s assessment. Norman is beyond sweet, an easy going gentle giant. Mellow is a bit of an understatement with this boy, he’s as unflappable as any dog I’ve ever met, and any trepidation of whether he might be a suitable therapy dog evaporated. Norman is an enthusiastic eater, walks well on a leash and greets all he encounters with a big sheepie hello. If there was any shortcoming at all, it would be that this boy doesn’t realize just how much real estate he takes up, especially in a narrow galley style kitchen where he loves to park his 83+ lbs. in front of the refrigerator.

Norman

As for that whole furniture thing…you tell me. Not that I care mind you; I haven’t sat on the sofa for years.

Norman

Norman will begin training for pet therapy work in a few weeks once he’s fully settled in our routine and has fully adapted to his new surroundings. The Ninja is getting better with her interactions (there is a seriously enforced anti-bullying rule and she is improving with each passing day and seems to be enjoying walks with her new big brother). Sam is cool with the big guy and there seems to be a constant rotation of occupiers of the sofa. Remarkably, Norman senses when he needs to move slower when Sam goes on the longer walks while stepping up the pace on walks with just Elsa. I couldn’t be happier with this new addition and look forward to chauffeuring him to many hospital visits.

Norman
The circus is very much alive and well. 

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Thankful Thursday ~ January 16, 2020

As you might expect, yesterday was a very emotional and overwhelming day. So emotional in fact, I was unable respond to all of the touching comments and well wishes you left about Sam’s last day as a pet therapy dog. To say I was a basketcase as I read each of your sweet notes is more than an understatement. Please know I am ever so grateful for your support and kindness as we begin to write a new chapter in life as we learn how to cope with a new reality in the days ahead.

To say that Sam left it all on the field yesterday is an understatement. Not only did he see more patients at West Pines than we have ever visited with before, he was sweetly patient and attentive as loads of people showered him with loving praise. As usual, he had to sniff out all the go-cups of coffee (don’t know what it is about coffee-he wouldn’t drink it but loves sniffing at their cups), and performed his ‘licking his chops on command’ trick for everyone. It’s the only trick he has ever performed (it’s his belief that performance art is beneath him) and managed to visit with each and every person we encountered. Naturally he spent a  extra moments with several people, all who clearly needed the love of a sweet dog sent to put a smile on their face and in their heart. And yes, there were some tears shed by more than one patient at this wonderful dog’s ability to read what people need.

As I tear up just writing this post, I can honestly say I’ve never been more proud of this silly Knucklehead. The staff was touched by him and more than a few tears fell at the thought it was Sam’s last visit. Because we’ve met so many wonderful, caring folks in the nearly seven years of visiting the hospital, I decided we’d also swing by the main hospital to bid our favorites a fond farewell. Once people realized it was our last visit, we were surrounded by folks (many who were new to us) to praise Sam’s efforts. This silly, sweet ‘Dogtor’ has chalked up 219 visits over the years, reaching out to hundreds if not thousands of people extolling the virtues of pet therapists everywhere. I didn’t check to see how many hours he’s logged, but I can guarantee it’s been loads.

As a final act of doing what this boy does best, we went to say goodbye to our friends in the hospital lab. When we arrived, there was quite the commotion going on in the waiting room. A baby was wailing his head off much to his mother’s chagrin. She was unsuccessful at  comforting the little tyke but once he saw Sam he blinked through tears, babbled something I couldn’t decipher as Sam stopped dead in his tracks. There was one more person to comfort before saying goodbye. He walked up to the little guy who patted his back with chubby little hands. Then the little boy kissed Sam on his fluffy back and head. Repeatedly. Sam stood here relishing the attention and stuck his nose in the little boy’s face, as if to say, “there, there, little man…it’ll all be good. With tears dried up, the little boy began to smile and continued to simultaneously pat and kiss him as he tottered around Sam on wobbly legs. I nearly lost it at this point especially when people commented on how sweet the whole scene was.

Certainly that small chance encounter was emblematic of what we’ve experienced over the years but this one was an extra sweet experience and one that will remain in my heart for a long, long time.

We finished our goodbyes to those who had been ever so gracious and kind over the years with vows of staying in touch. As I sat in the car ready to head home, I had to spend several minutes composing myself. Once again, the hospital gave us more than we left. I am truly blessed to have experienced such camaraderie over the years to both me and to Dogtor Sam. What a community of people, those we visit and those who visit us, here as well in person. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of you following us, leaving such special comments over the years and supporting our efforts to make this world a bit better than we found it. Mere words of thanks don’t seem sufficient for all you’ve given us but please know I feel profoundly blessed and grateful for each and every one of you.

Sam

Live, love, bark! 🐾

The Dogtor Makes His Rounds ~ January 15, 2020

It’s West Pines Wednesday but today is different from all the ones we’ve done over the past several years. Today is Sam’s last day at a therapy dog. This day brings loads of mixed emotions as we always look forward to our time at Lutheran Medical Center and especially West Pines. Sam has repeatedly shown me how much of a difference he makes to all he meets and no doubt today will be the same which leaves me with a full heart of gratitude and pride. Still, it’s also a sad day knowing it is the last day he’ll be doing exactly what he does best. We will miss seeing the many friends we’ve made over the past seven years and the nurses who have showered this boy with loving affection and he in turn, returning the love with his soulful sweet spirit.

Dogtor Sam
Dogtor Sam getting ready for last rounds

The time has come for Sam to sit back and relax in his old age. Though in good health, the rigors of being an all-in Dogtor ever willing to leave his heart on the floor is beginning to take its toll. Recovering after a shift takes much longer and while I know in my heart he would soldier on if asked, it became clear to me now is the right time to let him enjoy what time is left this for this 14+ year old boy. He can nap to his heart’s content, dance with his Ninja sister, play neighborhood concierge as he waits for that Social Security check to show up now that he’s retiring.

As you might expect, this will be a tough day for me and may take a while to process emotionally. I don’t plan to give up pet therapy entirely, in fact, I’ve actively begun searching for another pet who can step into Sam’s bandana and provide the same kind of canine care of a special kind to patients, staff and hospital visitors. We hope the process doesn’t take long but as I’m working with a rescue group, those kinds of special dogs don’t come around nearly as often as I’d like. We’ll keep you posted on that process and hope to share a few memorable stories that we haven’t yet shared about some of the more impactful visits Sam has had.

Sam
Mwah 😘

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ January 10, 2020

SamGood “Fri-yay” morning, peeps! Sam here doing this week’s post where we check out nature around our Ranch ‘hood. Is this January or March? The weather has been unseasonably warm (we even reached the 60’sF a few days) but we’re not complaining. While the mornings are crisp and there are still mounds of snow and ice on north facing shady areas, it’s been practically balmy I tell you with lots of blue skies and bright sunshine. As always we’re joining our Pacific Northwest furiends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s Nature Friday blog hop.

What areas don’t have clumps of snow, there’s lots of brown showing. On our walk yesterday we came across something we haven’t seen for months. A tiny little green plant growing out of a stone wall. It was super exciting. Mom had to stop and take 87 photos of the little guy who I named Bobby. That way when we walk by there later today, I can bark hello to Bobby as I’m trying to pee on him. I’m sure he’ll be happy to spread along neighborhood news with other doggos. Mom thinks Bobby is some kind of borage. We see it around a lot. Bobby’s a pretty cute little guy, don’t you think? Can’t help wonder how he got between those stone blocks.

Nature Friday

Shortly after I ‘introduced’ myself to Bobby, mom came across another green sign with some small cacti. Mom walked by and I could see the cogs turning. She turned us around and walked back to stand in front of it for a few moments trying to figure out what it was. Mom had downloaded a free phone app earlier this month called PlantSnap to help her identify plants whose name she doesn’t know. Boy or boy…ain’t technology grand?! So after a quick snap, POOF! the app tells her it’s none other than ‘Henbit Deadnettle’ (Lamium Amplexicaule).

Nature Friday

I’m calling this deadnettle ‘Paula’ and hope she doesn’t grow too close to those prickly things. I tried to sniff them to see what they were and they. are. not. friendly cactus. Luckily mom managed to wrest me away before I got a good snout-ful sniff and said they didn’t need any watering from me even though things are really dry around the hood.

We’re going to enjoy this comfortable weather while wondering how long it will take for the glacier on the north side of our yard to melt. Do you have any ‘cool’ plans for the weekend? Whatever you do, we hope you have the opportunity to enjoy something that’s totally ‘wagnificent’ outside in nature.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ January 6, 2020

Good happy Monday, everyone. Elsa here. We hope you had a swell weekend. I kind of got into a spot of trouble yesterday by stealing some chicken jerky for us off the counter (it was on top of that jar you can barely see in the upper left corner) while mom had her back to us for a second. It was just sitting there at the back of the counter as she turned to put away the container. Well, that’s practically an engraved invitation to try so I did what any poodle would do…I jumped up and snarfed both pieces. Sam of course, ratted me out. Doggone brother!

Sam & Elsa
Busted!

On my afternoon walk, mom put this contraption on me and said, “there’s no such thing as a free lunch.” I guess that means I now have to pack my own lunch.

Elsa
Working for my lunch

We hope you have a great week. Now that the holidays are over, mom says things will go back to ‘normal.’ What exactly is normal for poodles?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ January 3, 2020

Welcome to the first Friday of 2020. We’re joining our furry friends Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of the Nature Friday blog hop.  Don’t forget to check out other blogs when you click on the link.

January is typically the coldest and driest month of the year. While we didn’t have a white Christmas, a snow storm arrived on the 27th throughout most of the state. It made driving conditions treacherous and I deliberately made sure to arrange my return home accordingly after a lovely Christmas visit with the family.

Pikes Peak

As you can see looking at Pikes Peak from near my mom’s house, nature is pretty typical for this time of year, i.e. somewhat bland and brown. Pikes Peak with its snow capped summit rises above the Plains like a beacon. Situated just West of Colorado Springs, it’s a view that travels from the metro area to Pueblo often experience on those trademark Colorado clear blue sky days.

Once back home it was just 36 hours when a nice 4-6″ deep storm covered the neighborhood. And it was windy and chilly. For a few days, the temperature barely rose past the 20’s. This week has been moving toward the 40’s and close to 50 on New Year’s  day and while some of you may shiver at that thought, trust me…January in the 40’s is a heat spell in Denver. The National Western Stock Show nearly always ushers in frigid temperatures and it starts January 11th. I’m shivering just thinking about it since the arrival will mandate several extra layers just to stay semi-comfortable, much less warm.

While nature has been a bit bland around the Ranch, Elsa experienced an ‘interesting’ adventure yesterday. Welcome the newest neighbor to our hood, Wally, a rescued Great Pyrenees who moved across the street from us. We met yesterday. Elsa was not amused in the slightest bit. Umm, let’s just say Wally’s manners need some work around the ladies. A sweet boy who’s lived his entire 2-year life on an Indiana farm so far, socialization with other dogs is slim to next to nothing and slim left town last week.

Elsa's Friend
He’s a handsome chap, but a bit camera shy.

The hope is that Wally and Elsa will learn to enjoy one another’s company and have some fun playing ‘catch me if you can’ at get-togethers. Once he stops being a cad, that is, if you get my drift. His size is probably prohibitive for play dates with Sam who is also not much of a player. He’ll stand there wagging his tail furiously but at 14+, he really isn’t much into the game of chase. Not that he ever was. A few dance steps, some serious tail wagging and then a yawn with  a retreat to take a nap. That boy has always known how to conserve energy.

Have a great Friday and an even better weekend. While the NFL Playoffs begin tomorrow, we hope you’ll enjoy some outdoor playtime. I plan to go outside and wander about the ‘hood in the nearly 60 F degrees forecast tomorrow. Now where are those mud boots?

Nature Friday

Live, love bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ December 23, 2019

Happy Monday peeps and pets. The big day is almost here…are you ready? Today is Monday and we always like to start the week out with a smile.

You may recall that last week Sam worked at hospital and West Pines bringing relief and smiles to staff and patients alike. We’ll share some details of a couple of those visits soon.

As we were leaving West Pines, for some odd reason, Sam was mesmerized by the fish tank in the lobby. In the past he’s never paid any attention to it, we’ve walked past it a jillion times. Yet, this time he just couldn’t stop watching one of the large angelfish and seemed to be captivated by this swimming creature following his every turn, from one side of the tank to the other.

Fish

Sam seemed to be wondering if Santa visits those fish. The funny thing is that fish followed him as much as Sam followed the fish. Maybe he needed some pet therapy too?

Here’s hoping the smiles are plentiful this week and you are filled with the love, joy and peace of the season. We will be taking a few days off from posting and wish you all  Happy “Howlidays!”

Live, love, bark! 🐾