A funny thing happened while we were gone

FullSizeRenderYawn…Sam here. The Wi-Fi is super spotty and s.l.o.w. and it’s taken all my special dog powers to add this post. I haven’t been able to read your blogs but will as soon as we can get a decent Wi-Fi signal.

We made it to just shy of the Utah border today and boy am I tuckered out. This traveling thing is exhausting.

While we were traveling homeward, there was some parade thingy for the Broncos for winning the Super Bowl. So there are about 5 million people in the entire state of Colorado and over a million of them showed up for this parade! Downtown Denver was a sea of orange. See…mom told you about Bronco mania and she didn’t exaggerate it at all. The Broncos have demonstrated a ton of class and made the city proud. Congratulations to Peyton and the rest of the team. Way to go.



See you guys once we get a decent Wi-Fi signal!  P.S. The Quality Inn in West Wendover, NV leaves a lot to be desired. 🙁

Live, love, bark! <3

Miracles do happen

By now the excitement of Super Bowl 50 may just be a bit of a memory for most of you and you’re back in the saddle gearing up for a work week. But if you’re part of ‘Bronco Mania’ you may be (a) nursing a hangover, (b) trying to get your voice back, (c) still savoring the sweet taste of victory with your office mates or (d) all of the above.

Denver has a complicated love affair with its Broncos and their appearances in Super Bowls. Sure they’ve been at least 8 times but as Phil Simms likes to point out it, the Broncos stumbled into the playoffs and had only won twice before yesterday (can anyone explain why that guy hates the Broncos so much and manages to remind me of his disdain every. single. time he calls any of our games?).

Denver is nuts about this team…I mean really nuts as in crazy insane to the point where most are convinced that God loves the Broncos because of the the bright orange sunrises and sunsets we’re known for in the area. People get tattoos of the logo, paint their house & dye their hair a garish shade of orange, and other stuff like that.

More than one Facebook friend posted photos like this
More than one Facebook friend posted photos like this

Denver has been the laughing-stock of the NFL over the years and the butt of many a late night joke (the team wore vertical stripped socks back in the 60’s-gah…who does vertical stripped socks?!) and embraces and encourages the phenomena of ‘Bronco Mania.’  Not many people gave us much hope at winning this game against the Carolina Panthers who had the best record in the league, and yours truly was at the front of that line.  While it is just a game, it seems to be something far more important to many Bronco fans. Not sure if its my competitive streak or the city insanity that grabbed me by the throat at Super Bowl time since I’m not nearly as rabid during the regular season but it was very apparent yesterday (surely some of you can relate to what I’m talking about?). Sam clearly sensed my distress and tried to console me in his special way to put things into perspective. I only began normal breathing in the final couple of minutes. Don’t ask me if I recall any of the commercials or halftime entertainment. I was way too keyed up to have anything memorable stick although the Heinz Weiner dog commercial did make me smile.

City & County building getting in to the spirit
Denver’s City & County building getting in the spirit

Yesterday we finished packing and organizing all of Wayne’s things to be shipped back to Denver and now that Super Bowl #50 is over, we can now breathe a sign of relief and relax our achy muscles. Personally I had expected the Panthers to wipe the field up with the Broncos but was surprised they managed to pull off the upset…the defense showed its spunk and got win #200 for Peyton and the city will bask in the fact that its beloved team won its third Super Bowl. There was tons of jeering, cheering, screaming and gnashing of teeth on my part (e.g. ‘sheesh, guys…will the offense ever score??!!’). As Sam doesn’t deal well with loud voices, he tried to calm me down by doing his ‘therapy thing’). We’re heading back to Denver tomorrow to try to avoid bad weather so keep us in your thoughts that we make it without being blown to kingdom come through Nevada and Wyoming again. Happy trails, sports fans-here’s wishing you a super week!

It's just a game, mom!
It’s just a game, mom!

Live, love, bark! <3


Sports and Social Skills

Manning fan
Manning fan

Anyone who knows me knows I love sports.  But when an introvert like me has to compete against the biggest sports team in town, that can be particularly daunting.  We had shifts over the weekend and as usual, Sam was spot-on.  For me though it’s awkward going into a room and striking up a conversation with strangers. I’ve never been good at small talk, that whole “cocktail party” chit-chat is just not me. If someone starts a conversation I can generally hold my own but I’m terrible at breaking the ice. Thankfully there’s Sam to the rescue and while it becomes repetitious asking about each patient’s pets, it’s always safe material and usually gets the ball rolling.

Most people will happily share stories about their dogs. A woman we saw told me about the multiple dogs she and her husband had on their ranch over the years. She told me about their quirky behaviors (I can definitely relate to quirky) and all their names. I laughed and marveled at those stories about their doing amazing work on the ranch over the years but particularly at some of their names. I mean seriously, “Simone” for a ranch dog? 🙂  But there was such a glow on her face when she spoke about them, and it was noticeable. She smiled vibrantly as if lit from within and you could tell it had a big impact on her overall psyche recalling them.  And it definitely made my day.

On Sunday we had to compete with a football game in addition to my social ineptitude.  The Denver Broncos are about as big as it gets in this town and nothing, and I do mean nothing interferes with this city’s love affair with their team, even at a hospital. The game against the Seattle Seahawks was on in most of the patient rooms as well as in waiting areas.  And this week was a HUGE game–a chance to regain some pride after the Super Bowl shellacking the Broncos took at the hands of Seattle earlier this year. This game was one that people were really excited about and who weren’t especially interested in having anyone interrupt their game (let alone by a socially awkward dog handler).  Oh sure, a couple of them were polite but in a few seconds it was pretty clear that visiting was pointless since they were completely hypnotized by seeing what #18 was doing (for the record #18 is Peyton Manning, a future Hall of Famer who is an absolute God in Bronco nation). Our presence was more than superfluous so the quick departure no doubt was more than appreciated. Hey no criticism here, I totally get that.  I’m a fan too.

Then we went to hospice hoping someone there might need us. We made the rounds to the few rooms that were occupied. I don’t recall a time when it was less filled over the past several months. That’s probably a good thing. It means families are together and whole, that fewer folks are suffering through those last days and while it makes a slow day for us in the therapy biz, I’m happy for them. I tried to engage a couple of families visiting loved ones, but they were all about the game and I know from experience you do not want to get between fans and their beloved Broncos even with awesome social skills, let alone someone with limits skills.

But down the last corridor, we stopped by a room where two women were dressed in bright orange Bronco jerseys and who were watching the game at the table next to the patient’s bed when I sheepishly asked if they’d like a visit with pet therapy fully expecting them to say “thanks, but no thanks.” Instead I was pleasantly surprised when they excitedly invited us in and then apologized that the 103 year old patient would likely be unresponsive. 103?!  Whoa, that’s impressive. The daughter said her mom had always been healthy until a couple of months ago when she suffered a stroke. While she had recovered from the stroke they discovered she had broken her femur (never a good injury in a young person let alone someone who’s 103) and she was clearly in a lot of pain. Though unconscious, she cried out a few times when we arrived. Sam immediately went over to check out the situation with her and then bee-lined it straight to her daughter. After the initial ‘sniff and greet,’ he moved next to her friend. She was thrilled with Sam and ‘oohed and awed’ over him. His tail was wagging and then abruptly he went back to the daughter’s side.

These friends looked as though they were having a tailgate party while visiting and I couldn’t help but notice the fabulous looking guacamole, chips and snacks. I felt like a trespasser yet they graciously chatted away sharing family stories and talking about how sweet Sam was and what a terrific service he provided. They commented about how ”mother would have love him because all her life she had loved dogs.” I felt melancholy initially but soon realized they were celebrating her life the way she actually lived it, on her own terms. It filled me with joy and sadness at the same time–joy at a life well lived as well as sadness that it would soon be over. It was apparent by Sam’s behavior that the daughter really needed him and he stuck to her like glue. First he sat at her feet while she spoke and petted him. He hung on her every word.  Then he laid down next to her, the sign that means ‘we’re gonna be here for a while as I let this person process whatever they are going through.’ It was a stunning afternoon with a couple of really neat women who needed Sam in that special way only he can provide. There was little need for me to worry about starting conversations, or to try to fill that awkward silence when you meet someone and don’t know what to say next.  It was a beautiful and chance encounter on a gorgeous Bronco Sunday. I’m honored and humbled to have been able to spend time with those women. Just like the woman over at the hospital, they gave me a great gift and I can only hope and pray that Sam returned the favor by soothing their hearts even if just for a bit.

So until our next hospital visit…go Broncos!