Wordy Wednesday ~ July 15, 2020

Norman here, sharing a COVID PSA I’ve put together. With the number of positive COVID cases on the rise with each day, it seems proper to remind everyone to follow my prescription for staying safe. When we all follow these instructions, we can flatten the curve and get back to living the good life. With apologies for the ‘film crew” cutting off the top of me head and the producer’s somewhat less than Oscar-worthy editing skills. Clearly it’s tough to round up decent help.

Make sure your volume is up. Happy mid-week (and don’t forget to file your taxes today if you haven’t already).

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Meet the Breed Monday ~ July 2020

NormanIt’s Monday and we hope the weekend was tickety-boo. While you’re rubbing the sleep out of your eyes and heading into a brand new week, let’s  ‘budge up’ and have a good chinwag about this month’s edition of “Meet the Breed.” Norman here. Elsa and I argued chatted up which breed we wanted to look at and finally decided to look no farther than within our own family for a good look at a very cool breed, the Chesapeake Bay Retriever, often called as “Chessies.” Rudder and Axel are mum’s nephews and just moved into a new mountain home not far from rivers and streams, a Chessies dream world. You can visit their blog here.

Chessies

Blimey! Look at that boy’s take off! That handsome, athletic fella is Rudder. Can I just say… mate, my golly! You think he can give me loads of advice on water fun?

To say Chessies are “water dogs” is a bit of an understatement. This American original embodies all that is valued in retrievers. They’re loyal, upbeat, affectionate, and tireless and well known for their waterproof coat. Rudder is always ready for retrieving sticks or rocks thrown into nearby streams.

Chessies

Chessies are strong, powerfully built gundogs standing anywhere from 21 to 26 inches at the shoulder with males weighing between 75 to 100 pounds. The distinctive breed trait is a wavy coat that is oily to the touch. Chessies are solid-colored, either chocolatey brown, sedge, or deadgrass, with keen yellow-amber eyes that nicely complement the coat and live between 10-13 years.

Chessies
Adorably cute Axel as a puppy

Chessies are more emotionally complex than the average gundog. They take well to training, but can have a mind of their own and can tenaciously pursue their own path. Protective of their humans as well as polite, they may not be openly friendly toward strangers. Chessies make excellent watchdogs and a well-socialized Chessie makes for a confident companion and hunting buddy.

Chessies

So how did this breed originate you ask? Seems that during the 19th century well-heeled owners of the duck clubs that lined the shores of the Chesapeake Bay  began breeding the breed we’ve come to know today. It’s believed that Newfoundlands, Irish Water Spaniels, and other hounds of undetermined origin were among the breed’s early genetic mix. By the time the AKC was founded in 1884, a definite “Chessie type” had been established.

To understand this breed, one needs to know a bit about the area from where they originated. Two key features to the 200-mile-long estuary surrounded by Maryland and Virginia factor into why Chessies were developed. First, the Bay is relatively shallow with a low capacity for storing heat allowing water temps to get down to around freezing in early winter and stay there until spring. Secondly, Bay’s location lies along the “Atlantic Flyway,” a flight path taken by ducks and geese to their winter homes. Every year the Bay hosts a good third of all migratory waterfowl wintering on the East Coast of the US.

Hunters used these features to breed a dog who is well-suited to the Bay’s frigid water and visiting waterfowl. The thick, oily, double coat of a Chessie  not only insulates, but it is waterproof as well. Repealing moisture much like  duck feathers do and broad chest acts much like a plow against ice floes while the powerful hindquarters with large webbed feet enable him to swim tirelessly against the Bay’s windy conditions. Ideally equipped for retrieving, Chessies are a reliable, indefatigable dog possessing a ‘soft mouth’ ensuring the hunter that his retrieved fowl will remain intact upon retrieval. I’m guessing the Ninja wouldn’t make a very good retriever since she manages to chew ears and feet off all my toys, despite her own breed’s soft mouth. *sigh

Chessies are real charmers being perceptive and sensitive and make excellent therapy dogs. With their strong ability to follow scents, they do brilliantly in search-and-rescue work or drug and bomb detection. Dashing good looks and athleticism definitely give these blokes a definite leg up in show rings as well as in a variety of dog competitions.

Chessies
Ruddy and Axel living the good life

Hope you enjoyed meeting mum’s ‘nephews.’ Have you encountered these athletic dogs before? Mum says if you are interested in featuring your own breed in the coming months, be sure to contact her. I’d love to tell all my mates about your good dog. Cheerio!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 10, 2020

On a day that’s expected to cross into the triple digit territory, getting out in nature might be a challenge. Neither the Ranch Hands nor me do well in the heat which has been relentless for days on end recently so seeing nature at her finest has been fleeting. A few sights have been inspiring but the harsh bright light took some of the luster off otherwise lovely summer perennials. Still, on a neighborhood errand-running jaunt where I took a different route from normal, something other than crispy-crunchy plants were discovered yesterday.

At any rate, it’s Friday, we somehow managed to survive the miserable heatwave burning through much of the country and we’re joining our ‘furiends’ Rosy, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. When you click on the link, you’ll be able to see what the Gang and others around Blogville have shared this week. So let’s get started, ‘kay?

So what’s currently blooming around our neighborhood? Well, glad you asked. Gladiolas are out for one. Although I’ve never planted any (I have enough trouble keeping tulips from flopping over in early spring), they sure are pretty. Check out this flashy one!

Flowers

Sorry for the harsh lighting; I came across these beauties mid-morning and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was BRIGHT.

Another staple out this time of year are commonly known as daylilies (Hemerocallis). Did you know Hemerocallis comes from two Greek words (hēmera) “day” and (kalos) “beautiful.” That pretty much nails it in my mind.

Flowers

Native primarily in eastern Asia (including China, Korea, and Japan) they are now popular worldwide because of their showy flowers and their hardiness with over 80,000 registered cultivars. Some are fragrant and others will rebloom later in the season. Daylilies are actually not true lilies, despite having a similar shape in the flowers. According to Wikipedia,

prior to“2009, the scientific classification of daylilies put them into the family Liliaceae. Unlike daylilies (which have a fibrous root system), Liliaceae species grow from bulbs and are harmful to humans and animals if ingested. It is a common misconception that daylilies share the same toxic properties of true lilies.” Hemerocallis are toxic to cats and may be fatal if ingested.

Hemerocallis come in a variety of colors from the classic yellow, orange, and pale pink varieties, to vibrant reds, purples, lavenders, greenish tones, near-black, and near-white. So far there has not been any successful hybridization with primarily blue-colored flowers.

Next door to the daylilies garden, a newly planted garden was emerging as a fairy habitat. It should be interesting to see how the interspersed plants develop around the multiple village structures as we move toward autumn, which for those needing some hope with the weather is 73 days away (you’re welcome). I loved seeing all the various little stone and shell constructed buildings.

Fairies

Some people are just too clever (and/or have too much time on their hands).Fairies

And just because they’re naturalizating all over my garden, how about a bright cheerful sunflower to welcome the weekend? We hope your weekend is extra special. Stay safe, sane and please wear a mask when you go out but most of all keep smiling.

Sunflower

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Almost Wordless Wednesday ~ July 8, 2020

Giddyup…Friday’s coming.

Art

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ July 6, 2020

OES

Sometimes trimming the bangs is needed between grooms. Rocks in particular are grateful, aren’t they Norman?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

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! 🐾

In Purrsuit of Flavors ~ July 2020

Purrsuit of FlavorsWe’re back today for the July edition of Blogville’s recipe share, “In Purrsuit of Flavour” with today’s selection being ‘your favorite summer dish’ and joining our hosts, the Weim boys over at Easy Rider and those great chef cats over at Canadian Cats. Truth be told my favorite summer dish is anything someone else cooks. I pretty much loathe cooking in general and the last thing I want to do is fire up the kitchen in summer and then spend loads of time cleaning it up afterwards but one should probably not live on cake and wine alone. #Sigh

Recently my sister shared a recipe with our family that is simple and easy to fix. Because its main ingredient is pasta, it may be more suitable for cooler temps, but it’s easy to throw together [heavy emphasis on the throw part]. Like all my shared recipes, there are ‘optionals’ to suit everyone’s taste or whatever is in your pantry. Martha Stewart no doubt despises cooks like me with our devil-may-care attitude but I’m more of a this-and-that kind of gal and work with what’s on hand. Yo, Martha…it’s called adaptation and that makes sense these days. Anyway, this recipe is one of those “dump” recipes where all the ingredients get dumped into a dish, then baked and served in the same dish. It’s perfect for serving a large crowd and easy to clean up afterwards.

Purrsuit of FlavoursOk, cooks…let’s get started making a batch of “Firehouse Spaghetti.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground meat (may be omitted for us pesky vegetarians)
  • ½ cup diced yellow onion
  • Minced garlic (to taste)
  • Salt and pepper (to taste)
  • 2 cans (10 oz.) Rotel diced tomatoes & green chilies
  • 2 cans (10 oz.) cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 jars (5 oz. size) Old English Cheese (a processed cheese product found near the Chees Whiz and comes in small jars)
  • 12 oz. spaghetti or linguine noodles
  • Optional: Parmesan or shredded cheddar if desired on top (Parmesan is never optional at the Ranch but feel free to do your thing)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Spray a 13×9 inch dish with cooking spray. Brown ground meat with garlic and onions in large skillet. Drain fat and return to skillet. Set aside while you prepare noodles according to package instructions. At this point, I recommend opening a nice bottle of wine to drink when assembling breathe. Drain noodles (reserve some liquid in case you need to thin when assembling all ingredients). Add Rotel, cheese, and soup to meat mixture, heat over medium-low heat just to melt the cheese and soup. Pour meat mixture over the cooked noodles and mix well (add reserved liquid to thin if necessary). Sprinkle Parmesan/cheddar on top and bake for 20-25 minutes in large baking dish. Pass the wine and serve with a garden salad and crusty bread. Molto bene!

While I neglected to photograph our dish, here’s a photo from the ‘Net. This dish has a bit of a kick from the Rotel for a nice change of pace. Did I mention it’s easy to throw together and works great for a crowd?

Recipe

Now if I could just get Norman to do all the cooking, I’d be happy as a clam at high tide. Till then…I’ll just have to kiss the cook-look alike.

Norman

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Fostering and Rescuing – A Book Review

As you probably know I’m very passionate about rescues (both Norman and Elsa were rescued) so when I was recently provided an opportunity to review a new book by best-selling author, Cara Achterberg, I jumped at the chance. Yes, we’re talking about THAT Cara Achterberg, author of Another Good Dog. Squeals! Ms. Achterberg is one amazing upright who has taken dog rescue advocacy to a whole ‘nother level. Reviewing One Hundred Dogs & Counting One Woman, Ten Thousand Miles and a Journey into the Heart of Shelters and Rescues” being released on July 7, was just something I couldn’t pass up.

Book review
Cowgirl author and rescue advocate, Cara Achterberg

For anyone not familiar with Cara, she is an award-winning writer, blogger, and consummate dog rescue champion. I was keen to review her latest book which explains the ins and outs of rescue work like nothing I’d ever read before and I learned so much about the behind-the-scenes work of rescuing and shelters. Who knew the public perception of shelters and the private reality could be so disparate?

One Hundred Dogs & Counting follows the footsteps of Another Good Dog: One Family and Fifty Foster Dogs. Cara’s latest book began as a mother/son trip into the world of ‘dog pounds,’ private rescues and some of the most desperate public shelters around that most people are completely unaware. I had no idea how the world of shelters and rescues worked. With humor and deep compassion, Cara writes the book every dog lover needs to read and provides a remarkable journal how shelter dogs end up with a rescue and some of the heartbreaking details as to why some do and others don’t. This book offers hope in the face of unthinkable heartache, limited resources and long odds toward success. It also provides a narrative of hope shared by a cadry of real heroes working with limited resources in shelters and rescue groups while providing you an opportunity to help by sharing its message.

With generous praise and gratitude for her family, Operation Paws for Homes (OPA), the group with which she fosters dogs, numerous directors, rescue coordinators, Animal Control Offices and countless volunteers, Cara takes you through just what a “no-kill” shelter is. She provides a terrific resource list giving readers an opportunity to help in exposing the quiet reality of too many shelters by crafting a remarkable story with a heartfelt plea. As dog lovers and pet bloggers, it’s up to use to educate people of the all too familiar goings on in cities and towns across the country. As she puts it: let’s all work toward bringing Gandhi’s words to fruition.

The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way in which its animals are treated.

Book review

Be sure to put this book on your summer reading list and order your copy of this remarkable rescue journey and spread its powerful message today. The Ranch Hands enthusiastically give it a 4 out of 4 paw endorsement. 🐾🐾

Book review

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ June 29, 2020

How do you expect me to drink that…it’s not “Dog-pérignon.”

OES

Happy Monday. Here’s to a week of just the right stuff.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 26, 2020

Welcome to Nature Friday where we join our friends and hosts, Rosy, her new sister and her two brothers at LLB in Our Backyard. Be sure to visit them and see their brand new sister, Sunny who is as cute as a button. The dogs enjoyed bringing last week’s sniff around  so much last week, they asked if they could do an encore today. So…take it away Norman and Elsa.

Norman: Right, mum, thanks. I’m really chuffed to be able to share another edition of nature which, if you follow us regularly has been interesting. I mean yesterday’s early morning raccoon sighting was absolutely gobsmackingly brilliant! This morning my sister and I looked for them but only found our bunny friend, Roger who didn’t seem all that keen on chatting with me.

Elsa: Wait…what…a bunny?! How’d I miss Roger? I always see him way before you do. This is a travesty. I’ve been robbed!! Where’s justice when you need it?

Bunny

Norman: Blimey, sister…you especially need to pay attention to today’s garden plant, lavender. Mum told me this is time of year when lavender is in full bloom. Because of the pandemic, there was no lavender festival to visit but that doesn’t mean we can’t fetch some lavender info and images for everyone from around our garden from previous posts. Of course you can her posts from a past festival for additional images. We all know how wonderful lavender smells but did you know it helps reduce anxiety and emotional stress, heals burns and wounds, improves your sleep, can restore skin complexion and reduce acne, helps slow aging with powerful antioxidants, improves eczema and psoriasis and helps alleviate headaches?

Elsa: This is just all wrong. Can’t believe you didn’t tip me off that Roger was out. I thought you were my loving brother! What gives, dude?

Norman: Calm down and stop spinning, sister; there’s no need to ‘throw a wobbly.’  You need to chill out to keep your stress levels low. Remember your seizures.

Elsa: Lavender?! You made me miss a bunny and you think I’ll be content with sniffing a dumb plant. Argh…you are a clueless moron if you think lavender will substitute for a chance to chase a rabbit. Sheesh, “calm down,” he says. Calm down when there’s a rabbit around and I missed him!!! Grrr.

Lavender

Norman: Blimey, someone needs to stop whinging on about the oddest things. My sister could especially use a long sniff of this brilliant plant. Did you know lavender helps release tension and calms the mind? Lavandula (whose common name is lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants from the mint family. Native to Europe, northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean region, southwest Asia and southeast India, it does well in temperate climates and is a favorite in mum’s garden. Hers are the most widely cultivated species, Lavandula angustifolia which has deep fragrance and color. The bracts (or buds) are perfect for sniffing, saving and savoring right now.Lavender

Elsa:  Whatev. I’m not as keen on it as Sam was and you seem more interested in catching the bees when you’re out in the lavender bed. I’m more focused on the squirrel in the tree above the lavender patch. He mocks me and as a Ninja, I simply just cannot let that stand.

Norman: You, more than anyone would do with a good sniff of this plant. It’s well known for calming the the anxious. Those buds (known as bracts) have the strongest scent before they open into their little flowers. Mum even makes some wonderful goat’s soap with her harvested lavender buds.

Elsa: Ok, I’ll start paying more attention. I suppose a bit of calm is good for anyone. I’ve heard that lavender essential oil works wonders on burns. Mom was taking something out of the oven the other day and I heard a lot of HBO words. She got out a little bottle of lavender essential oil and put it on her thumb and she actually “ahhh’ed’ out loud. No blister, no pain, just fast relief.

Norman: Yes, it is the bee’s knees for treating burns and she even used it on me last week when it looked like I might have an infected ear. It felt so much better and the redness was gone overnight. I feel so much better knowing lavender is a universal oil that is used to balance the body whenever there is a need. It even helps repeal nasty insects that often plague pups and peeps.

Elsa: Ok brother, you’ve turned me into a true believer in the power of lavender. It’s especially fragrant in the early morning hours before it gets too hot.

Lavender

Norman: It really does; I made a point of checking it out after our early morning constitution. Now let’s go hunt butterflies.

Butterflies

Elsa: Umm, yeah…no. I hunt rabbits bozo, not butterflies. Besides, that isn’t a butterfly you British fool. It’s a Painted Lady moth who are taking a vacation in our garden before heading up to the mountains. Sheesh, when will this guy ever learn?

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾