Monday Meme ~ June 17, 2019

Sam in the Garden

Have a super week, whether you’re hiding out or chillin’ till summer officially begins.

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! 🐾

Memorial Day Monday ~ May 27, 2019

Memorial DayToday is Memorial Day in the U.S. where we remember all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice serving their country. A national ‘howliday’ now,  it was originally known as Decoration Day back in the years following the Civil War. On May 30, 1868 General John A. Logan, head of a Union veteran association spearheaded the decoration of the graves of fellow comrades who died in defense of their country. Many Northern states held commemorative events and reprised the tradition in subsequent years so that by 1890 each one had made “Decoration Day” an official state holiday. Still bitter about the loss in the Civil War, many southern states refused to officially recognize the day until after WWI and many southern states (Texas, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Carolina, Louisiana, and Tennessee) held separate days honoring their Civil War hero’s. Memorial Day did not become the preferred name after World War II. In 1968 Congress mandated Memorial Day as the last Monday in May creating a three-day weekend for federal employees with the change going into effect in 1971.

Memorial Day is also the ‘unofficial’ beginning of summer and as is often the case, been turned into a shopping fest. We however, will mark the day with quiet reflection.

FlagPlease join us as we honor those who served and gave the ultimate price for the freedom we have been blessed and remember the two and four legged who served and gave their all.

Live, love, bark! 🇺🇸

Monday Musings ~ May 20, 2019

Hey guys, let’s start the week out with a smile. Do you allow your dogs on the furniture?

Sleeping dogs

Wishing you a week full of smiles. Now that Sam is back to being his normal self, he’ll be making some hospital calls over the next few days and spreading smiles over at hospice and West Pines so we might be a bit tardy reading your posts and comments.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 17, 2019

Yay, it’s finally Friday and we couldn’t be happier putting this week in the history books. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a little nature, right? Even though we are in the heart of the city, there are lots of spaces where one can get away from the constant noise and hubbub. While out running around doing errands this week I came across this mini-stream between a couple of parking lots. It enchanted me enough that I climbed down the bank and just stood there for a few moments taking it all in before resuming the challenging battle against returning to the hamster wheel known as urban life. Sadly, I scared away some bathing birds who undoubtedly thought I was trespassing, if their squawking was any indication.

City Stream

Once home, I realized the woodruff in my garden is beginning to green up and bloom. Apparently a little Ladybug also discovered it and was busily noshing for aphids or the other little crawly things they enjoy. It gave me another opportunity just to quietly watch and relax while nature did its thing.

During this morning’s walk-about, I noticed one of the neighbors has replaced their turf grass into a carpet of tiny purple flowered groundcover. It won’t need mowing and I don’t ever recall these flowers being quite as prolific and lovely as they are this year. Guess last week’s snow and rain encouraged an enhanced bloom now that the temps have moved back into the 80’sF. The spring temperatures have been so fickle this year; one week in the 30’sF and a few days later up into the 80’sF. Springtime in the Rockies is never dull.

Sam & Elsa

Sam continues to feel better; thank you for all the sweet thoughts and POTP. It’s made quite the difference in bringing back the Knucklehead’s smile.

Nature FridayHave a wonderful weekend and don’t forget to visit Rosy and her brothers and all the other ‘pawticipants’ in this week’s Nature Friday Blog Hop.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

We’re Back Wednesday

Sam & ElsaWe’ve been MIA now for a week but are finally getting back to our normally scheduled programing. Sam came down with a nasty bug and also seemed to have injured his back. He’s been treated with lots of rest and antibiotics and more than his fair share of ear rubs and attention while he recovers. While not quite 100%, he has vastly improved and is s.l.o.w.l.y returning to true knuckleheaded form. I just need to get his appetite back from ‘meh, not at all interested’ to somewhere close to normal (for Sam that will probably be somewhere in the vicinity of ‘well, it’s not prime rib but I’ll try to choke it down’ category). He’s always been fairly picky discriminating but when he’s under the weather, even more so. In his old age, Little Lord Fauntleroy has become downright difficult to please palate-wise. He seems to think hand feeding 5-star restaurant quality food is the norm and clinging to me with absolutely not a speck of space between us must rule the day.

Naturally Elsa has had her nose out of joint since she wasn’t the sole focus on the ‘Ranch’ universe.  I’ve had work through the canine healthcare system getting her meds this week which will no doubt likely result in a rant new post. I’m beginning to think the universe is conspiring to make things more challenging.

But we are back in the saddle and trying our dog-most to slog through the obstacle course otherwise known as life. Coming across a few late blooming pretty tulips seemed like a good sign that better days are ahead. I’m beginning to think we are on the high hurdle course lately but are grateful we still seem to be able to clear those jumps. Adding to the mix, the weather went from snow last Thursday to mid-80’s F this week. I just love Springtime in the Rockies, especially with these two Knuckleheads.

So…have we missed any exciting happenings? What’s new with you?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ May 6, 2019

Apparently someone isn’t quite ready to tackle the new week. How about you?

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 3, 2019

Welcome to a new month and a new Friday. That of course means it’s time to join our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of Nature Friday Blog Hop. This week I am joined by an assistant to show off how fickle Mother nature can be with some photos from a training session with none other than…the Ninja.

Mother Nature dealt quite a hand this week with snow, rain and cold but things are now headed back toward lovely spring-like conditions. Elsa  ‘offered’ her modeling talents before Mother Nature began dating Ole Man Winter again (are Ninjas really capable of offering?). Most of the week temperatures rarely left the 30’s F and barely reached the 40’s yesterday. I keep hoping Mother Nature will leave that Winter guy.

Before showcasing the return of spring, let’s see what the jerk boyfriend looked like. You remember him. The one who Mother Nature can’t seem to stop from stringing along periodically. Even with the snow storm that blew through, the grape hyacinths didn’t seem to mind him nearly as much as us peeps did. They are gloriously colorful, once they shook off Old Man Winter’s dandruff. Even the late-blooming tulips in my yard managed to survive with nary a problem.

Winter

Tulips

Elsa and I went out to run a few errands and like always, we used the outing as a training opportunity. Elsa is eager to please and performs the sit/stay command like a champ. Even with distractions, she was nearly flawless. Good girl.

Spring

She actually looked directly into the camera a couple of times although her usual MO is to look away. I think a certain brother told her that’s the way to offer her modeling talents. She frequently follows his instructions but one in a while, she’ll give you some magic.

Elsa

Elsa

While I try not to overwhelm her on these training sessions, I do change-up the length of time I ask her to stay and, at different places. This girl is far too smart and needs the challenges they offer. She performed flawlessly along on a street we’d never been down with loads of interesting smells to distract her, yet she managed to nail it perfectly.

Elsa

Teaching a dog like Elsa to focus on a hilly location with lots of undergrowth while trying to keep my balance and not poke out an eye with a branch, keep her in a stay position all the while trying to highlight a flowering apple tree, can prove interesting and required a couple of tries. I’m sure a rabbit had hung out in the undergrowth which if you know anything about dogs with a high prey drive can sabotage any training session. The photo itself isn’t anything to write home about nature-wise, but the fact that she managed to sit without breaking the stay seemed like a big deal in my books. Her progress with learning new things continues to improve and provides confidence. I can’t help but wonder if ‘Ninja swagger’ with Elsa will be a good thing or my downfall.

Elsa

For the most part, the tulips are beginning to wane (except for those in my yard-yay) but we did manage to visit this garden with some pretty pink ones still. Last year they were amazingly beautiful, this year, the beds hadn’t been cleaned up so they’re not quite as lovely, but still managed to coordinate with Elsa’s bandana, proving once again that Mother Nature will sometimes still work with you.

This weekend is shaping up to be warm and sunny which will be most welcome in the 303. Elsa and I hope you are able to get out and enjoy it. Sam indicated he plans to laze about in the sun as he contemplates the complexities of life. Happy weekend, peeps and pets!

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! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ April 19, 2019

Today is Good Friday and another week is in the books. I hope you’re ready for the Easter weekend. We’re once again joining our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s Nature Friday Blog Hop, Good Friday edition. Today we’re gonna take a look at Mother Nature’s flowering trees that are starting to enter into the spring landscape. Ornamental pears have begun to blossom and when we see these around the 303, we know spring has definitely sprung (yes, I do realize that there is still good chance for a snow shower or two over the next few weeks but I’m too busy enjoying spring to worry about it now).

Ornamental pear trees (known as Bradford Pears) have been planted all over the urban Denver landscape. Known for its conical shape and showy blossoms, they are taking front and center stage now. My two assistants graciously agreed to pose near a band of them lined up along the parking strip between street and sidewalk (for Elsa, it was a sit/stay training moment and she passed…we like to multitask on our walks).

Trees

A closeup shows clusters of pinkish centers amid white blossoms. When I was researching these trees, I was shocked to learn many people are not fans, in fact, many have called for their removal as a menace to modern landscaping. They cite invasiveness and lack of biodiversity as well as structural issues since their branches tend to split when the trees are anywhere from 15-20 years old. In the early 1900’s, Frank Meyer, a plant explorer from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture went to China to find the most disease-resistant strain which could be grafted to existing pear trees. Good Ole Frank found what he thought would be a good variety and brought back 100 pounds of seed and, for a while, it worked like a charm. The trees will grow in nearly any soil, mature quickly and bloom early in spring with bright orange foliage in autumn. They are one of the first blooming trees in spring and the last to drop their pretty leaves in autumn. Landscape architects thought they’d found the perfect tree. It soon became the most widely planted tree in the U.S. By the 1990’s however, landscapers discovered the ugly side to these pretty additions to suburbs and office parks. While these trees’ symmetrical structure is attractive, it leads to what’s known as “weak crotches” (all limbs branch out from the trunk). This weakness often causes them to split apart. Additionally, storms contribute to extensive splitting damage. Over the past several years in my own neighborhood, storms have decimated many of the trees (including the two across the street leaving them badly deformed and misshapen). The owner can’t bear to cut them down and continues to try to save them. Bradford pears don’t self pollinate, but cross-pollination can occur with the other strains of ornamental pears resulting in problematic hybrids.

The introduction of these trees underscores the fact that too often there are unintended consequences requiring contemplation before moving ahead. Remember, it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

And because they have been as spectacular as I’ve ever seen, here are more tulips from around the neighborhood with apologies to my Instagram followers who are probably sick of seeing tulip after tulip on my feed. My own tulips are taking their own sweet time (in their defense, that happens when they aren’t bathed in sunlight the livelong day). They give a real Keukenhof Gardens feel even if I’m thousands of miles from Lisse, Netherlands.

Tulips

Tulips

 

 

 

 

 

 

TulipsTulips

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you are able to enjoy the lovely renditions of Mother Nature and have a wonderful and joyous Easter weekend.

Easter

Live, love, bark! 🐾