Monthly Archives: October 2014

We’re famous!

Beautiful Smith Lake at Wash Park

Beautiful Smith Lake at Wash Park

Okay, maybe we’re not exactly famous but we are very well-known. Uh yeah…that too is probably a stretch, but Sam is beginning to make his presence known and during this election season, I’m doing what everybody else does…I’m hanging on to a real winner’s coattails.

I recently had the opportunity to have a local pet photographer take photographs of Sam for next year’s hospital pet therapy calendar and while we were there, she graciously took a few snaps of us together as well. Can I just say having my picture taken is the pits? I mean I’d rather set my hair on fire than pose for a camera. Photos of me are always disappointing and usually come off contrived or downright funky. I really do want them to turn out nice, but it’s super awkward for me to look at a camera and feel relaxed or confident even with a great sidekick like Sam. Yeah, it’s true, I have no photo mojo but have always admired those who seem to look so effortlessly fabulous in photos.  The truth is, I’m kind of jealous of them, too.  How do they do that so easily?!  And why is that so hard for me?  Talk about self-conscious angst. Ugh.

Well, I have to say I am over the moon thrilled with the results! Ariane from DelaFoto: Elegant Pet Photography did an amazing job with our photo shoot at Denver’s famous Washington Park and featured us on her blog! “Wash Park” as it is more commonly referred to is one of Denver’s most beautiful parks with gorgeous trees, well manicured flower beds, oodles of bike and running paths, wide open grass areas, a gorgeous lake and boathouse and we were there on one of those fabulous picture-perfect Colorado autumn days.  The light was beautifully golden and really captured Sam in all his glory.

So check it out at Ariane’s blog.  Thanks again for doing a fabulous job, Ariane! You even made me look good, and that’s no an easy task. Now the trick will be picking out the best ones. 🙂

Have you ever had professional photos taken of your fur-baby?  Did you love ’em?  How did the shoot go? Do you think Sam will become famous after his ‘glamour’ shots?

Halloween and Hounds

Be safe this Halloween!

Be safe this Halloween!

At the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, can I just say my second least favorite holiday is just a few days away. Right after the 4th of July, Halloween is the next holiday I despise. I know lots of you will think I’m crazy but hear me out. Because after a week of working at a stressful job, answering the doorbell 700 times between dusk and 10:00 p.m. isn’t exactly my idea of a prelude to a relaxing weekend. Then there are all those dressed-up goblins, sugared up, flapping their arms, squealing like banshees and getting Sam all riled up, dropping candy everywhere and generally being…well, being little kids with sky-high energy. And don’t get me started on those over 4 ft. tall–they should automatically be barred from trick-or-treating, but that’s a whole ‘nuther subject. What is it about little kids who are otherwise fairly charming to be around, nice even (dare I say, cute?) who turn into the Zombie Apocalypse on Halloween? They may look like little princesses and action figures in costumes, but trust me they are just blood sucking zombies waiting to attack and freak you out.

All those masked strangers with their bags of candy can stress out our pets. Apart from the doorbell being the ultimate dog whistle, strangers that don’t look human in normal an sense of the word showing up ringing the door bell all night long can freak out a poor dog.  Truth be told, they kind of freak me out too. Any other day of the year you’d be accused of being crazy answering your door for disguised strangers at night. I dunno, call me paranoid. But think about it. It kind of makes sense, doesn’t it?

Then there’s the idea of getting ready to sit down to a nice relaxing meal on a Friday evening after a rough week and then having to get up immediately to answer the door (so much for that hot meal), corral the dog away from said door all the while keeping that bowl of tasty candy away from a snooping long nose that make this holiday more than just slightly unpleasant.

We all know that chocolate can be poisonous for dogs, and then there’s that potential for knocking over the adorably carved pumpkin with the candle in it (assuming of course the neighborhood squirrels haven’t completely destroyed it yet) while you’re trying to keep the dog in the house without running after little Ashley or Micah and definitely keeping him out of the candy bowl. Let’s just say fire, chocolate and artificial sweeteners = a very bad combo for dogs and a disaster just waiting to happen.

So think about your fur-baby and the potential for danger this Halloween.  If possible, keep your pet in a separate room away from those masked strangers and from running out of the house after all those little zombies.  Keep the candy away from your pets and definitely rethink those candles on the front porch.  Make sure you have a safe and happy Halloween, just don’t eat all the Snickers bars–save some for Thanksgiving between football games and sitting down to eat that turkey and pumpkin pie. 🐾

Briggs-Myers and Dogs

I'm a what?!

I’m a what?!

A colleague of mine recently suggested I take this online personality test this week (a modern-day Briggs-Myers) and it came up with the same outcome as it did 25 years ago when I first took it (guess there really is something to the methodology used).  It got me to thinking, would it be possible to convert that test to find out about Sam’s personality?

So I did what any curious dog mommy would do, I took the test for Sam, answering the questions in ‘his’ voice.  🙂 Seems as though this particular personable goofball is an ESFP, generous with time and energy like no other personality.  And ESFPs do it all with style and go beyond their comfort zone.  Yup, that’s totally Sam and that is precisely what makes him a great therapy dog.

ESFPs love the spotlight soaking up attention yet enjoy the simplest things (he still has a major crush on an elk antler that I would not have thought possible after 8 months). There’s no greater joy than having fun with a group of friends which is exactly how we feel after we’ve left the hospital. And it may not always seem like it, but ESFPs know it isn’t always about them–they are observant and are very sensitive to others emotions providing support (people ESFPs provide practical advise but so far Sam hasn’t conveyed anything…at least not in English although he is pretty transparent  and you always know what’s on his mind and in his heart).

ESFPs are bold, original, possess excellent people skills, are readily into ‘entertaining’ others and they are super observant.  They’re welcome whenever there’s a need for someone who can play/laugh or volunteer to try something new and fun and there’s no greater joy for them then to meet that need and bring everyone along for the ride–which seems just the right qualities to have in a therapy dog and describes Sam to a tee. ESFPs will gladly share their friends and loved ones emotions through good times and bad. I can definitely say Sam was most perceptive during my recovery last year after my accident and he continues this perception with patients, visitors and staff at the hospital. He just seems to know what to do during any encounter with people, wherever.

ESFPs do have a few shortcomings however. They find it difficult to focus (um, you think?…ADHD Sam has the attention span of a gnat!), can be overly sensitive and extremely expressive and make no pretense concealing their feelings.  They usually experience difficulties in academic environments (it was definitely touch and go during some of our training sessions with this loveable dimwit).  They are always seeking excitement and loathe conflicts and seem driven toward fun, fun, fun. But you know what, I wouldn’t trade him for anything and I don’t think the folks at the hospital would want Sam any other way either.

So which personality type are you?  What’s your dog’s personality?  Did you think the test was accurate?  Come on…dish the dirt.

Life Advice – Sam Style

A pawsome pooch

A pawsome pooch

Whether you think of today as Monday or Moanday* if you can view today like Sam does, you’ll guaranty yourself a happy day (and probably a happy life).

🐾  Take naps and stretch before rising.

🐾  If what you want is buried, dig until you find it.

🐾  Mark your territory with abandon.

🐾  Don’t bite if a growl will do.

🐾  And never ever turn down a treat or walk.

*I didn’t coin the term “Moanday” but I like it very much.  Thanks to our friends over at Easy Weimaraner (http://easyweimaraner.wordpress.com) for turning me on to it.

Happy Monday!

Happy Birthday

Today is Sam’s 9th birthday!  Can’t believe this crazy pogo stick of a dog is 9.  How did this happen?

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪ ░H░A░P░P░Y░ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♫♪

  ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♫♪░B░I░R░T░H░D░A░Y░ ♪♫•*¨*•.¸¸♫♪  

Best Birthday Wishes to a pawsome pooch!

The Sniff-erator

The 'sniff-erator'

The ‘sniff-erator’

With a nose as long as Sam’s, his ability to smell things has to be incredible, right? If he wasn’t so ADHD, I’d try to get him into some sort of nose-training, because he can certainly sniff things out (just drop a speck of cheese anywhere in the house and he’ll find it).  And yet it takes him forever to locate the absolute perfect spot upon which to pee.  He’ll sniff and sniff which I think is the equivalent of checking his daily ‘p-mail’ (like humans checking their inbox or Facebook), and then circle and sniff some more until he finds the exact perfect spot where upon he will either (a) miss the spot he just spent several moments sniffing out by several inches (hmm, could his depth perception be off?) or (b) more often than not just mark a few drops–basically replying to a p-mail (yup, I was here and if you don’t believe it just sniff me out).  For the record, it can be especially maddening at 11:30 at night during the winter months when it’s darn cold and/or snowy.  Grr.

We walk a couple of times a day, once early in the morning and once when I get home in the evening.  Sure he’s all gung-ho to be out and about (even with the increasingly shorter daylight hours), checking the p-mail and immersing himself in all the smells of autumn (I guess falling leaves are far more fragrant than summer leaves and grass because he REALLY takes them in, inhaling deeply and repeatedly). Now I have to give more than the usual quick tug on the leash to break his fascination with a spot or a “come on, let’s go” admonishment in order to continue moving along.  This morning, I wasn’t sure if I could even pull him away from a couple of spots. More than once nearly pulled my shoulder out of its socket (dang that dog is wicked strong!) and I sure wasn’t prepared for the upper body workout.  Guess I won’t need to be doing any weights tonight in my routine. 🙂

For Sam, it’s all about the moment even when if those moments are fleeting, especially in the summer time when there’s so much to distract him. One second it’s “ooh, a baby stroller,” next it’s “ahh, what’s this shiny object?” then it’s “oh Y-E-S, a butterfly!”  You get the picture.  So any legitimate tracking work is kind of out of the question.  He will however continue to sniff–there’s no doubt about that and there’s definitely a whole lot more sniffing in the autumn with its distinctive odors. There really isn’t anything as unique as the scent of fallen leaves (unless you’re addicted to pumpkin spice lattes which are the essence of autumnal smells for humans). So with Sam’s nose, autumn must send him into smell Nirvana for all the stopping and sniffing he does.

Dog olfactory abilities are widely known to be infinitely greater than ours.  Of all of a dog’s senses, his sense of smell is the most keen. Human scent receptors number around 5 million whereas a dog’s range anywhere from 125-300 million. That’s a whole lotta ‘sniff-eration.’  In addition to all those receptors, the portion of a dog’s brain devoted to analyzing those scents is 40 times larger than a human’s brain.  Dogs can identify scents anywhere between 1,000 and 10,000 times better than us.  The bony ridge inside of a dog’s nose contains detection cells and can vary depending upon the size of the dog’s nose (in Sam’s case, he must be an AAA+ scent processor just based on size).  Dogs with longer or wider noses have more surface area than dogs with flat faces or short noses for smell receptor cells.   When a dog breaths normally, air doesn’t pass directly over the receptors but if he takes in a deep sniff, the air moves all the way to the smell receptors near the back of the dog’s snout.

We already know dogs have amazing smelling abilities; they can detect a drop of blood in 5 quarts of water, find a lost person, even warn when a seizure or low blood sugar threatens.  While I’d prefer Sam not take up so much bloody time sniffing the sidewalk nearly inside out, I know it yields tremendous amounts of information to him.  Like whether or not his kitty friend has been around since the last time we saw her, whether a fox or coyote has marked a tree or shrub along our route, identify his favorite RN at hospice that rubs his ears just so and any other kinds of scenarios that pique his interest.

With all that in mind knowing how a dog’s brain works along with those scent receptors, I’m mostly cool with his ‘sniff-erator’ abilities (ok, except when he tries to smell someone’s crotch–do they do that just to embarrass us or because it just happens to be right in front of his nose at the perfect height?).  Knowing his level of attention, the later is probably a safe conclusion.  In another nano-second, he’ll be completely enthralled with a passing butterfly.

Is your dog a super-sniffer?  Is it his consuming passion during autumn walks?  Does he read a lot of p-mail when he’s out?