Nature Friday ~ July 3, 2020

Welcome to Friday where we join our hosts and friends, Rosy & her brothers for this week’s edition of Nature Friday. For uprights in the U.S. we’re entering a long, July 4th holiday weekend. Due to COVID cases spiking throughout much of the country, it may be a very different kind of Fourth than usual (though we have our paws crossed it means less fireworks which both dogs detest but we’re not holding our breath). Anyway, let’s check out Nature’s finery around the city.

Nature FridayDespite temps in the 90’s again all week long and for the foreseeable forecast, you’d think I’d plan running errands a little bit better by doing them early in the day, but you’d probably be wrong. Yesterday afternoon I needed to get something out in the mail missing the early mail drop so I had to walk over to the nearby Post Office. As I got closer, I kept hearing a strange bird making a ruckus but couldn’t figure out from where it was coming but lo and behold, I stumbled upon this fella bathing in a puddle of runoff water. Wha….wait, what the heck is that?!

Hawk

I couldn’t believe my eyes! Seeing red-tailed hawks (which is what I think this guy is) in the city isn’t a frequent occurrence, at least not in my neighborhood. I stopped to watch him bathe and sip some water. Slowly I moved a closer being  careful as to not startle him. That noisy bird I heard must have been part of his security detail and was on the overhead powerline I soon discovered.

Hawk

Cropping this photo pixelated it but I think you can see a fairly decent profile. Isn’t he something special? Last week the dogs and I were treated to raccoons and rabbits and now this week, a hawk. Pretty amazing considering the ‘Ranch’ is just a couple of miles from downtown Denver’s central business district.

On the way back from the Post Office I came across this garden beauty, Kniphofia, often called Torch Lily or Red Hot Poker. That last moniker seems to describe the weather…hot! And since it is frequently windy, it’s very dry. Fifty-six percent of the state is under severe drought conditions, while 68% of Colorado is experiencing at least moderate drought. With the majority of the snowmelt gone, it’s clear that it will be a rough summer. We can only hope monsoons will arrive later this month to help in the short term.

Flowers

The Ranch Hands and I hope you will be able to enjoy some nature this weekend and enjoy a happy and safe ‘howliday.’

Norman

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ June 22, 2020

Monday

We hope you enjoyed your weekend but can’t help but wonder if Mondays are really necessary?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Conversation with an Angel

Ahem…you-hoo?

Elsa: Huh? Wha…

Psst…Elsa…you awake?

Elsa: {yawn, stretches, shakes head looking around} Sam??? Is that you?

Norman: Hello there, mate.

Sam: Hi guys, good to see you.

Elsa: Wait…what are you doing here? I thought you crossed the Bridge?

Sam: I did, but I watch over you guys, especially mom. She still seems so sad that I asked the powers to be if I could drop in and have a chat to see if we could make her feel better.

Elsa: Yeah, she is pretty sad; there’s waterworks nearly every day thinking about you. She really misses you.

Norman: We do try our level best to make her feel better, but I think you must have had an extra special place in her heart.

Sam: Yeah, I was her heart and soul dog and miss her too. Ours was a special bond and I feel so badly she’s hurting now. But let’s see if, by working together, we can make her feel better. You guys in?

Elsa and Norman: {in two-part harmony} Woof, woof! Let’s do it.

Sam: Cool. Ok, first we have to take care of a few matters from my estate which was settled in probate court.

Elsa: Estate? Probate? Dude, what in the world are you talking about-you don’t own anything.

Sam: Um…that’s not entirely accurate, Ninja. I’m here to read my Last Will and Testament dividing all my worldly goods between you and uh…the new guy, what’s his name?

Norman: Uh…sir, for the record, it’s Norman.

Sam: Oh yeah, right. Where were we?

Elsa: Never mind, already taken care of it…its all mine.

Norman: She’s right, you know. She pretty much owns everything around here and is especially not very keen about sharing any of it.

Sam: Well, my Last Will and Testament will take care of that. Legally anyway. Let’s begin the reading, ‘kay?

Last Will and Testament

Elsa: If it makes you feel better, but know everything is still mine.

Sam: {eyes rolling} Ahem…”I, Yosemite Sam McDonald, veteran Pet Therapist and all around Good Dog, being of sound mind do hereby leave the following personal effects to my survivors. To my sister, I leave my comfy bed from the living room, who I note for the record, bogarted it frequently while I was still around, despite having her own large comfy sofabed.

Norman: Yeah, she did kind of take over your spot, mate…although mum swears she’s seen you out of the corner of her eye sleeping in it a couple of times when the golden afternoon sunlight shines on it.

Sam: Oh good, I’m kind of new to this whole angel thing of how to send signs letting her know I’m still with her. Yup, that was me. As a Bridge newbie, I haven’t had a lot of training yet as to how to send signs to your loved ones but I have managed to pick up some tricks from watching others.

Elsa: Someone is trying to train you? Hahaha…this should be a hoot. Hope they have better luck than mom did. She always did say you were either stupid or stubborn. Personally, I always had my own suspicions but that’s another story. Either way, it’s probably a fine line in your case.

Sam: {clears throat} Well, I see you haven’t changed much, have you? Anywho…let’s get on with the rest of the worldly possessions.

Norman: Yes, please do…was wondering if there are any bits and bobs you might have for me?

Sam: Yes, bro…I thought of you as well. I hereby bequeath all my toys to you.

Norman: Jolly good, dear brother! But being a proper British bloke, I confess, I did kind of help myself to the toy basket. The little sister was none too happy with me because apparently I didn’t recognize which ones were her favorites and hers alone.

Toys

Sam: Oh yeah, I should have mentioned that before. You definitely want to avoid that hot pink slipper. And anything that squeaks. Those are her favorites and trust me dude, she’ll kick your tailless tush if you try to take any.

Norman: Right-o sir…I discovered that…the hard way. I say, good chap…who knew such a sweet face could be so…vicious?!

Sam: Yeah, you do want to stay on her good side. That’s just one of the reasons why we call her a Ninja Warrior.

Elsa: You both got that right and if you try to take my slipper I’ll chew you a new one. Got that, you gigantic British dolt?

Norman: I say, dear sister. There’s no need for name calling. I’m just trying to fit into the Ranch bunk house by familiarizing myself with stuff and (so far) I haven’t destroyed any toys, even though my jaws are quite able to tear the stuffing out of any of them or you should I so desire.

Elsa: {Gasp!} You better pray you don’t destroy any of my toys, pal! Although that’s rather laughable…you might be big, but remember that I’m a Ninja so don’t even think twice about it, chump!

Sam: Okay, okay, look I don’t have all day here and I didn’t come down here to host Mixed Martial Arts. Now that we’ve taken care of the physical property, let’s get on with my lasting legacy.

Elsa and Norman: Legacy? Are you joking?

Sam: Nope, I was thinking the best way to make mom smile again is for you guys to channel my very best enduring behavior so she’ll know I’m still with her, even if it’s just in spirit. See, I was thinking…

Elsa and Norman: {in unison} You were…thinking? {raucous laughter} How could we possible replicate your most annoying enduring behavior? Mom said you were one of a kind.

Sam: I’ll have you know was a model citizen on our walks, in fact everywhere…I just displayed certain “skills” that mom found particularly enduring when she needed a smile…or something.

Elsa: “Something’ is right! I suppose you mean something like moving as far away from her when pooping…oh…and bonus points if it’s in the absolutely deepest snow you could find.

Sam: P.r.e.c.i.s.e.l.y. I know she muttered some HBO words but I knew perfectly well she thought it was ‘charming’ and know for a fact that she. loved. it, okay?

Norman: Oh mate…that’s a load of tosh! She specifically told me NOT to ever do that (among other things you used to do). Like make sure I don’t poop in front of someone’s sidewalk leading up to their front door. She was especially specific about that one.

Sam: Nonsense Norman, she loved that about me. Why do you think I did that every chance I could? Now Elsa, if you could just stretch the leash as far away from her whenever you’re crossing a street. I’ve noticed she isn’t doing enough upper body workouts and that way she’ll have to bench press you closer to her to work those puny biceps. Sheesh, I’m gone three months and the woman’s let herself go to pot.

Elsa: Hmm, I guess I could do that. I do want to do my part making her feel better so if that means channeling some of you, I’ll do it.

Norman: Right Gov…I’ll raise my leg on all your favorite spots and try to do my part on the poop parade…per your instructions.

Sam: {eyes rolling} Umm, yeah, we don’t say ‘Gov’ around the Ranch, Norman. We just say…

Live, love bark! 🐾

Angel Sam

Some Bunny Loves You

Whether you celebrated Passover yesterday or Easter this Sunday, the Ranch hands send their best ‘howliday’ wishes to everyone. With social distancing/stay in place mandates, please remember some “bunny” in Denver loves you and sends their best virtual greetings. While we may not be able to physically touch or hug, we still want you to know that we’re thinking of you at this time of year (with a-pawlogies for being a day late on Passover greetings).

Easter

Chag Sameach, Happy Easter!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Pet Safe Soap & Natural Sanitizers for Your Pet

As a subscriber to Vet Dr. Andrew Jones’ YouTube channel, I was delighted to see his latest video where he shared his recipe for keeping pets safe and protected during the pandemic. Would you like to make a pet-safe soap or hand sanitizer that won’t harm your pets and can also be effectively used by peeps as well? Check out these easy-to-make products for yourself. I plan on making some sanitizer once I can get my hands on some aloe vera gel. I was lucky having a bottle of the rubbing alcohol on hand prior to panic-buyers wiping out most store supplies.

Have you made any sanitizer yet? What was your experience? Sit, stay, remain healthy, observe social distancing rules, wash those hands and most of all, keep smiling. The Ranch-hands insist on it.

Elsa & Norman

Live, love, bark! 🐾

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! 🐾