California Dreamin’ ūüé∂

After a few days of organizing, sorting, purging, re-organizing and re-sorting the contents of numerous storage units here in Northern California, I just have one thing to say. For-get that…I’m leaving for Narnia.

We haven’t had any opportunities to visit more interesting venues¬†beyond storage units, the local U-Haul outlet and a couple of groovy Starbucks along the way to the storage units. With winter weather threatening a safe and uneventful¬†return drive to Denver in one piece, I’m anxious about extending our trip to include a visit up the coast to the Pacific Northwest. Color me sad. ūüôĀ Looks like we’ll have to do that trip once the weather is more temperate. The idea of any more white-knuckle driving through the Sierra and Teton mountains doesn’t hold much allure for this nervous Nellie after surviving the vicious winds and snow of Wyoming. ¬†ūüôĀ

So far Sam seems content¬†checking out the neighbor cats from behind the patio door (which incidentally he’s bonked into now 3 times-when will he ever learn?). The grey squirrels residing here command the same insignificant interest as the red ones in Denver¬†and he clearly has continued his¬†resounding loathing¬†for mailmen here as he does in Denver though he nearly knocked one down by leaning heavily against him on our walk the other day. The dog is completely shameless when it comes to garnering attention from passers-by, be they ‘ax-murdering’ mailmen or people just out for a casual stroll. Clearly¬†any¬†and every front porch is Sam’s sole dominion and is worthy of poodle death to all who invade it. Mostly he’s been spending his days California dreamin’ in the sunlight.

Watermarked Photo

Live, love, bark! <3

Differences

As Sam hijacked the blog earlier this week, I thought I’d throw in¬†my 2 cents worth today regarding our trip. Oh what a difference 981 miles makes on geography and the gardening soul. ¬†Although we uprights have been working hard on clearing out storage units, I must say I’m savoring our walks around the neighborhood where Wayne used to live before we head over to the units every day. Having lived in Colorado for nearly a 100 years, I do double takes whenever I’m somewhere where gardens look markedly different. Trees and plants here in California are so unusual to my Rocky Mountain eyes. Italian cypruses, lemon trees, evergreen (but not pine) trees, deciduous trees with leaves (in February no less!) AND of course, the ubiquitous palm tree thrown in for good¬†measure simply make my head spin. Where I would normally see plants like these on table tops, you’ll see them outside in gardens¬†around here.¬†IMG_2526

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In the Sacramento area where we’re staying, there are tons of sweet gum trees that have prickly seed pods. They are everywhere and one can only imagine how the trees look when in bloom. Right now the pods are all over yards, patios and sidewalks. How’d you like to step on one of these puppies retrieving the newspaper in the early morning? Yeah, me neither. Even Sam has started looking where he walks in the backyard (though he still runs into the patio door with some regularity-dingbat dog). ūüėČ

Am planning on taking a bag of these land mines¬†gum tree pods back home with me–think they could be spray painted and turned into a real showy door¬†wreath with a little creativity. Time will tell…that and whether or not they continue to hurt like the dickens while being handled. O-u-c-h!!

Sweetgum tree seed pod

Live, love, bark! <3

Tongue Tuesday

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Sam rarely has his tongue out but when he does, it’s usually a keeper. What a goofball! ¬†ūüėČ

Live, love, bark! <3

Saturday Smile

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This perfectly showcases the ever-so sweet, but dimwitted Sam. Have a great weekend, stay warm and safe, sports fans!

Live, love, bark! <3

Saturday Smiles

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Go ahead, try to not chuckle at¬†this. I dare you [cue the theme from Jaws ūüé∂]. ūüôā

Live, love, bark! <3

Why do dogs eat grass?

Sorry I’ve been AWOL these past several days. Apart from coming down with the summer cold from hell, I’ve been pondering a lot lately. Often times I find myself asking questions and the one that seems to come up more and more lately is “why do dogs eat grass?” I know, you’re thinking, poor Sam…his dog mommy is totally whacked. But seriously, haven’t you ever wondered why dogs eat grass?

In Sam’s case, there could be a couple of possibilities: (1) it’s the time of year where tender young grass shoots are just too enticing; or (2) he was a goat in a former life (hey, it COULD be true).¬† Now that spring has sprung and the official start of summer is just days away, he goes on the hunt for the perfect blade upon which to snack.¬† It has to be the absolute perfect kind of blade of grass though, a rare vintage if you will, otherwise it’s only good for being pee’d on.

This grass eating seems especially bizarre and counter-intuitive since invariably, he will eat the grass and then throw it up a few minutes later. Seems like a pointless exercise to me. ¬†I mean dogs can’t be bulimic, can they?

Some people think grass eating is to aid with a dog’s digestion, others say the dog is seeking out otherwise missing nutrients from his diet.¬† But like the questioning I used to do in catechism classes, some things just don’t make sense to me.¬† There would be some deep, hard-to-fathom concept that I just couldn’t wrap my head around (the Holy Ghost–WTH?!).¬† I’d press for an answer that would make sense and after usually going round and round, the nun would become so exasperated with all my questions, she’d say something like “You just have to accept it on faith!!”¬† That sounded a lot like code for “I have no freaking idea.” From what I’ve found looking up the topic, everyone else seems to have the same conclusion.

Can’t you just imagine my little brain humming along trying to make some sort of logical sense of this?¬† Sam is a bit of a grazer (which seems to kind of support the whole ‘goat in a previous life’ notion, but I digress). ¬†He’ll casually pick at his kibble until it is finally gone.¬† Some dogs wolf down their food like it’s going to run away if they don’t.¬† Not Sam, oh no.¬† And when I say he’s a grazer, I mean he s-l-o-w-l-y eats his food, but he also slowly grazes on grass (given half a chance).¬† Like a lot…to the point of driving me crazy because no sooner has he eaten a mouthful of grass, he’ll get maybe 25 ft. or so away and…barf.¬† A nice, tiny little green-haystack usually in front of somebody’s sidewalk going up toward their porch.¬† Uh, ex-cuse me–that doesn’t seem like appropriate neighborhood etiquette, does it?¬† It’s all horrifyingly embarrassing.¬† Yikes, did he really eat that much grass?

I don’t know, maybe Sister Sullivan had it right and I just need to accept it on the basis of faith.¬† Accept that the dog knows what he’s doing.¬† Nothing more, no deeper meaning, just faith that everything is going to be ok.

Then again, as I recall she didn’t know what the hell was going on most of the time either.

Does your dog eat grass?  What do you think causes it?  Do you think Sam could be bulimic?

<3

How we got started

Waterlogue-Volunteer SamI had wanted to get involved with pet therapy for a long time but worried that Sam just wouldn’t have the necessary ‘chops’ to do it. He was after all…well let’s just say…a little excitable and unfocused. Don’t get me wrong, he really is a sweetheart but he just can’t stay focused for any amount of time. It’s always, “ooh, a stroller…no wait, a butterfly!…ah, a nice shiny object…and on and on in the span of a couple nano seconds. What’s an upright supposed to do? Go find a trainer, that’s what you do.

And boy did I find a great one. We enrolled in a basic obedience class and I confess, when I read the syllabus (oh yeah, there was even a syllabus) I figured this guy had to be good.¬† He was patient, kind and extremely knowledgeable and had an amazing record with really challenging dogs. He too thought Sam would be terrific with pet therapy saying ‘you can always train a dog to do something but you just can’t buy that kind of sweetness.’ I had a few doubts because nothing so far had made much of a difference in this wild child/pogo stick of a dog even though he was years past puppy-hood. Oh sure, he was adorably sweet, but just couldn’t seem to help himself whenever he saw anyone he recognized and that was everyone.¬† He’d pull and pull and do everything possible to get to them, no matter who they were. We diligently went to all the classes, practiced every day and then test day arrived. I was nervous as hell, since the session before had been such a disaster. I had even thrown my hands up and shouted, “Habla Espa√Īol because you sure as &#@% don’t seem to understand English, dude!”¬† And while that cracked up the trainer, it did nothing to alleviate my fears that I had a retarded, un-trainable dog.¬† But I’m here to tell you miracles do happen and not just to hockey teams. Not only did he pass, my little rock start actually excelled over all the other dogs. Color me proud. With a new sense of confidence, I enrolled in the AKC Canine Good Citizen class figuring Sam could use as much training as possible and it might look good on the resume if we were accepted into a pet therapy program. He did everything quite well until week 4 when we were told in order to ‘graduate,’ the dog would have to perform a trick, any trick, it didn’t matter. Egad, are you kidding me?! This dog doesn’t get fetching balls for crying out loud. He just looks at you and has this “hmm, why did you throw that over there” look on his face and usually just lays down. Oh crap, I began to think I was totally screwed. I mean, he won’t even shake paws.¬† But then something clicked in my mind and I knew I’d have to work with what I had. Sam will lay his head in your lap or on your knee and just be sweet and adorable with his tail wagging furiously while looking up at you with those sweet amber eyes.¬† If I could just figure out a way to teach him to associate that behavior with the command ‘snuggle” well maybe, just maybe, we might pass. After two weeks of gobs of practice, lo and behold he was doing it! Actually.doing.it. Who was this dog and what happened to that dim-witted goof-ball I knew and loved? We passed with flying colors and lots of aw’s from the class, received the Canine Good Citizen designation and then began the process of finding a program where he could make sick people feel just a little better for a few minutes.

Fortunately there’s a hospital near the ‘ranch’ and we went through the process of applying to their program (and it’s quite a process at that) and after a few months we joined the team of just over 50 dogs. While initially it was not my intention to do hospice care, Sam (yeah that goofy/ADD Sam) was a complete rock star at hospice! Who’d have thought? The patients and staff just love him. He is extremely patient and allows anyone to pet him. He’s super calm with both young and old and he can’t seem to get enough of them. Funny thing too, he knows exactly when we’re going to the hospital. As soon as I pull down his official bandana, he starts pogo-sticking around the house. Woo-hoo! And he’s super excited as soon as we arrive in the parking lot but has that “I’m ready to go to work” strut once he gets out of the car. Who’d have thought this attention-deficit fur baby could be so great at putting smiles on people’s faces?

Have you had success with a dog trainer? Was it worth it¬†for you?¬† Hey, if Sam can do it…well any dog can do it.
ūüźĺ

Ok, now what?

When you give birth to a baby, you go¬†through all kinds of hell with excruciating labor pains etc. and creating this blog has been pretty much like that. ¬†I’m totally tuckered out to the point my brain hurts to even think about creating clever posts. ¬†While I was setting up hyperventilating over the details relating to the blog, I had tons of ideas on what I thought would be fantastic posts. ¬†Now that we’re out of the delivery room so to speak…I got bupkus. I mean where in the bloody blue blazes did all those great ideas and stories go?

Maybe hypnosis can get this baby back on track? For now I’m sleep deprived and brain dead just like any new mom. I sure hope that numskull dog does something adorable, inspirational or funny or this will be the shortest lived blog in history. ¬† Fingers crossed that some sleep and/or alcohol will rejuvenate the creative process. Till then what do you want to talk about? ¬†Anybody…somebody?

Hugs,

ūüźĺ