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! 🐾

Working Wednesday ~ December 18, 2019

Hi there, it’s me, the Ninja. While most of Blogville is participating in Wordless Wednesday, today is a working day around the Ranch, at least for one of us. Today is the last working day this year for my knuckleheaded brother to spread smiles at West Pines. But first, I have to get him out of bed. Looks like yesterday’s hospital visits took a little out of him. As soon as he came home, he took a long nap.

Sam

Meanwhile for me, there are stuffies to attack play with and squirrels to bark at while he’s working and far too busy to miss him while he visits his friends at West Pines. I just hope he doesn’t try to use that stethoscope on me.

Dogtor Sam
Dogtor Sam

Happy mid-week. Maybe I can help huMom out later after she comes home with some of her Christmas preparations. I have offered to help her out in the kitchen, by licking keeping the floors clean while she’s making treats but she keeps shooing me out. Not worries for me though, I can block sit in the doorway and obstruct her path almost as easily as I can under her feet. Then again I can always use a paw to help tie bows on presents she’s wrapping. I’m a equal opportunity, multi-dimensional helper.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nearly Wordless Wednesday ~ December 4, 2019

Hey guys, it’s me, Sam getting ready to make rounds at the hospital over the next couple of days. I’m also going to train a new member today. Woof, woof! I’m tail-wagging happy to greet a new pet therapist into the program. Fresh new dog hair blood is always a great thing and I don’t mind sharing the nurses with this new buddy, a Huskie, Lab, Shepherd mix. Wish us luck.

Make it a great day.

Dogtor Sam
“Dogtor” Sam

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ November 29, 2019

We hope you didn’t eat yourself into oblivion yesterday and your celebration was civil, tasty and shared with friends and family. Because of the snow storm that dumped a foot of snow on the Ranch, ours was a quiet one, even if chilly. As we always do, we’re joining our furiends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this episode of the Nature Friday blog hop.

When there’s a foot of snow on the ground, traveling around to enjoy Mother Nature isn’t always easy yet the Knuckleheads still demand outside time no matter what the weather is like. Pity the fool who thinks they can assuage cabin-fevered poodles into not being complete jerks. It’s during those times when the clock seems to stand still in a poodle’s mind which can lead to episodes of mirthful mischief…and even active indoor playtime just won’t cut it. We. must. go. out. Mom. NOW! Enter technology so the huMom can safely take your Highnesses out for short walks to satiate any bored poodle minds.

Snow
Early on accumulation in the latest storm

Warm boots, Sasquatch thick gloves, down coat, wool socks with multiple layers for warmth are a mom’s weaponry in managing the elements. And coincidently, for the most part, many of those same items work to keep tender poodle toes and noses safe and warm. Not that they appreciate it mind you, they will take every opportunity to make preparations for an outing as challenging as possible. The newest weapon in taking on Mother Nature are SnowTrax™ and they proved quite suitable for staying upright on our outings. They are much better than the YakTrax™ previously used. I especially liked the Velcro straps that keep them tethered to the shoe. Nothing worse than realizing you’ve ‘lost’ one, especially when it’s way behind you, and all you want is to hurry and home to warm up.

Snow
Check out those Tungsten carbide spikes.

The first outside moments mimic some Maypole mayhem. One strike against thick gloves is you can’t easily juggle multiple leashes from behind you or poodles’ desire to not be easily corralled.

Snow
Which way, mom?

Once ‘we’ figured out that everyone had to go in one unified direction, we were off on the neighborhood Iditarod trail…otherwise known as the Tundra of unshoveled walks.

Snow
Millennials shovel your walks for crying out loud!

Packed down icy and/or deep snow can be a challenge to staying upright. The SnowTrak™ really made a difference though it may take a while to get used to how they feel (think walking barefoot on bumpy, round stones). Compared to the alternative, they beat slipping and/or falling.

I had to really try to keep the Knuckleheads from turning me into a human kite. Elsa LOVES the snow and dashes like a jack rabbit whenever she can through the deeper parts. Let’s just say she isn’t as thrilled with the way her boots worked or the dead weight on the end of her leash.

Snow boots

I can’t be sure all the dressing/undressing is worth the trouble for a quick stroll around the block when we’re used to a walking a couple of miles per outing but then it beats constant barking, extreme nose nudging and other annoying peskiness. Another storm is expected to arrive later today so we’ll try to get in some more outdoor time before it hits. Tired poodles are much nicer to be around. I’m hoping the multiple in-out preparations might burn some of the calories ingested during yesterday’s feed bag session Thanksgiving meal. I’m still full but those freshly baked cinnamon rolls sure seem to be calling my name.

Cinnamon rolls

In Elsa’s case, she prefers going au naturel in the snow even just for potty breaks. Licking off those ice balls takes time…time that she’s not pestering me to take her out again, so score one for me in the battle of wits. I’ll take a win over the Ninja any way I can.

Snow

We hope you are able to enjoy some form of nature this weekend. Hunting for for Black Friday bargains isn’t quite the same as hunting for beauty Mother Nature displays. Have a safe and happy weekend!

Snow

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday

Wordy Wednesday

SnowHappy pre-Thanksgiving Day. As many of you know, Denver was hit with a gigantic storm yesterday that buried the city with a foot of snow. It prevented Sam and I from doing our hospital visits and has us pretty much confined. It did however allow me to enjoy my favorite blizzard beverage, hot chocolate. With Schnapps and whipped cream. We are warm and fine if not a bit stir crazy. It’s too cold and deep to take the dogs for their usual walks and apparently not possible for Sam to use the dog run to relieve himself beyond the occasional pee over Elsa’s spots in the freshly created pee-atio in the dog run. Elsa however could practically pee or poop on command but Sam is nothing, if not discerning about where he goes. I have to chuckle about his refusal to not poop in the run, but know if I scooped out a square over at my neighbor’s house, he’d drop a log in a heartbeat.

Snow
Where the heck will Friday’s snow go?

We wish all of our US readers a day filled with good cheer, good food and a football win tomorrow. To all of our readers, we will spend the day staying warm, cozy and being grateful for your digital friendship and good company every week. We are truly blessed you are in our lives and we thank you for our good fortune for the connection. Cheers!

Hot chocolate

Live, love, bark! 🐾