Monthly Archives: November 2014

Sit, Stay, Heal

Sit Stay Heal Sit. Stay. Heal. My friend Sara sent me this graphic recently (thanks again, Ms. Sara!) and we both came to the conclusion that there just couldn’t be any 3 words more accurately describing pet therapy.

I recall last month’s visit with a family at hospice. The wife was the patient, her husband and daughter were visiting and I had a chance encounter with the daughter as we moved down the hallway. She begged me to stop by saying her Dad would just love Sam and if her Mom was awake, she’d love it, too.

“Of course, we’ll drop by,” I said, “we’re here for everyone, not just patients.” So after we made a couple stops along the way, we arrived at their room. Her Dad nearly picked Sam up with his hug. He practically squealed with joy at the sight of Sam and kept repeating over and over how sweet he was. I positioned Sam with his front paws on the bed so his wife could touch him. She remarked how soft he was (he reminds me of a dandelion…a real ‘fluff’ head both physically to the touch as well as brain-power wise). She was very weak and pale when we arrived and I could tell it was a real effort for her to reach toward Sam. Her husband continued fawning over Sam and Sam responded by leaning against his legs. My heart was breaking that this family bond would end soon but likewise glad that we were able to provide some comfort in the last moments for a lovely human and her family whose clear passion for animals was evident even as her life was ebbing away.

We chatted for a few more minutes and it was apparent that she was very weak but I noticed a tiny bit of color in her checks and a faint twinkle in her eyes. We had done our part. Studies show that petting a dog can release oxytocin, serotonin, and prolactin in the brain, improving mood and reducing pain, which can be especially useful at hospice. We came, we sat, we listened, and it appeared that she had a small moment of healing. Judging from the reaction of the family, I think that was pretty much on target.

As we were leaving hospice, I ran into the daughter again and she profusely thanked me for stopping by her Mom’s room; it had meant a lot to her, her Mom and Dad. I told her we’re there for everyone and always more than happy to visit, but this family with their obvious loving bond and graciousness, really moved me. I had the feeling an angel was smiling over them and would more than welcome her Mom when the time came.

The ending of life is complicated. There are the obvious regrets (we are human after all) but when visiting with this family, I got the distinct impression they knew their center, the core that kept them a loving family. It wasn’t something they had just decided on, it was a lifelong trait, a life clearly well-lived with grace and love.

Saying those final goodbyes can never be easy; there’s sadness and grief about the final goodbyes, but knowing that those left behind have a core value based on love and a certain positiveness has to be comforting…on both sides of the goodbye…the ones leaving and the ones remaining. True there will be grief and sadness, but there will also be genuine comfort knowing it all mattered even in the end.

For Sam and I, those types of encounters especially inspire and fuel us with the passion needed for our next Sit. Stay. Heal. session. ❤

Peace and love.

Potluck and Pooches

DSC00063  This past weekend our pet therapy group got together for our annual holiday gathering. Twice a year the upright volunteers and their 4 legged furiends get together and this one was particularly fun. While we bipeds work with our dogs at hospital and hospice, it’s solitary work and we rarely get to see one another so these group events are especially entertaining. These volunteers and their pets give so much of themselves to the program and to patients. Just seeing these folks always makes me feel particularly humble. A tip of the hat to each and every one of them for their ability and willingness to serve and for their commitment to such a worthy endeavor.

DSC00066  What is most remarkable by our get-togethers with the dogs is the lack of any kerfuffles among them. This is my fourth joint get-together and I’ve never seen any outbreaks between the dogs (though I know a couple don’t attend because they cannot handle all the folderal of so many dogs). Some dogs stay at home while their handlers come and share the spirit of the season. They are terrific with patients but don’t handle well the stress of the ‘controlled chaos’ often seen when so many pooches are running around. 🙂

For our gatherings, we all bring a dish to share and in the spirit of the holiday season, we picked a group to support with items they need. This year we chose PetAid Colorado, a local organization that cares for underprivileged pets and animals at risk. This group serves low-income, often elderly people who want to experience the dear companionship of a pet who might not be able to afford their care otherwise. We felt PetAid well represented the spirit of love and bonding that exists between owners and their pets and which completely exemplifies exactly who we are when we do pet therapy.

Sam, being the “canine concierge” that he is, was over the moon seeing everyone. He seriously crushes on Truffles, a chocolate Newfie who is a favorite of the teammates as well as at the hospital. Her owner, Lyn is a tireless volunteer with the group, and together with Joy and Roxanne are three of the organizers that makes our group tick and run smoothly.

DSC00065  Sam was so happy to see his big girlfriend but there were some new pups he got to hang with as well. Sasha, a deaf spaniel and Kaisha, a Husky mix who loves to get vocal both of whom he’d not met before. While there weren’t quite as many in attendance as last year, we still had the two Shelties, Akira and Bismarck; Cissy, the American Eskimo; Heidi, the Giant Schnauzer; BB, the Labradoodle; Rusty and Bindee, Chihuahuas; Teddy, the miniature Poodle; Wee Brit, the Yorkie; Munchkin, Little One and Lily representing the Greyhound contingency as well as Blanca, the sweet Havanese and Zeva, another Standard Poodle were all there as well. As you can see from the group photos, it’s quite a challenge getting all the dogs and their owners to sit/stay in the photos at the same time (sadly those were the two best shots of the dozens I snapped of the group)! 🙂

The one sad note was that our friend and fellow teammate, Mary announced that Cissy, the American Eskimo will retire after a 9-year career with the program. Thankfully though, Mary however will continue to (fabulously, I might add) produce our newsletters and remain with the group in spirit. We will all miss her and Cissy as teammates but send every best wish for a bright future to Mary and her family for her amazing service to the program.

It was so good seeing all these special people and their dogs. Sam and I are so fortunate to be affiliated with such an amazing group of volunteers and their equally remarkable dogs at an event celebrating the holidays. These people and their canines continue to inspire me and fill my heart with awe and respect for all pet therapy groups. Well done everyone, another great job this year! ❤

With love and peace to you and yours. 🌲

Nanook of Denver

With the Polar Vortex arriving in D-town last week, I had to break out the extreme winter gear for a recently groomed (aka peeled onion) pooch. Sam normally has plenty of hair, but it is fine in texture and when he’s been groomed on the shorter side like it is now, I know he gets chilled, especially in wet conditions. Enter my groovy neighborhood pet boutique where I found a nice wind-proof, lightly lined all-weather coat. It keeps him reasonably dry during those cold, wet conditions and (hopefully) warm enough. When the temperatures last week weren’t as extreme for us to actually go on our walks, this is what the peeled onion, I mean Sam, looked like when we went out. In addition to the coat, I also have to put snow boots on him to keep the ice balls at bay. Without them he goes lame in a few minutes and I’m in no mood or shape to carry a 60 lb. dog who won’t care to be carried or he’ll just freeze in place, completely unable to move because of the ice balls and then give me that ‘help me‘ look. Sigh.

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

Styling’ dude, huh? Notice the matching coat and boots? Is this guy runway ready or what?!

While it looks easy to get this gear on, let me just describe the way it really goes down. First, there’s the pogo sticking up and down when I put my boots and coat on. I have to make Sam chill by the back door where the leash hangs. As I’m putting his coat on and trying like hell to keep the straps from twisting around, he keeps looking at the leash and then over to me and then back again at the leash with suitable wiggling in between. “Oh please, hurry up,” is the look on his face. At this point I usually start struggling trying to join the right buckle with the right connector because he’s turned into a slinky wiggling pup nearly beside himself at the thought of going for a walk. As if we didn’t just do this 12 hours earlier. Go figure. 🙂

When I put my coat on to be fully ready to hit the road as soon as he is all hitched up, that sends Sam into full-fledged orbit, bouncing up and down and winding through and around my legs. “Oooh yeah, we’re going for a walk, we’re going for a walk…woo-hoo!!” This behavior requires another correction with a sit command while I grab my gloves. As I reach up to grab the harness & leash off the hook to put on him, BAM! there he goes again. By now, it’s 5 minutes into the process. As I look at my watch I realize we’re starting to fall behind schedule. Then comes the really fun part. Putting the boots on.

I don’t know if you’ve ever ‘booted’ a bouncing, gotta go, go, go for our walk, walk, walk hound. But let me reassure you dear reader, it ain’t pretty. First, I have to un-Velcro the straps, stretch the openings up wide and loosening them up to get his foot inside. I usually start on the back legs. If I’m lucky and he doesn’t escape, we proceed. If not, it usually means a toe has caught on an edge and we have to start over. It’s kind of like when you put shoes and socks on a toddler for the first time. They tend to go in the opposite direction that you want them to go. Like in reverse. Sam is the same way. Instead of pushing his foot into the boot, he pulls back at the same time you’re trying to push the boot on or he’ll splay his feet wide and have a toe catch. Once I finally wrestle the left foot into a boot and tighten the strap, it’s then time for the right one. Same thing, only worse. He’s gone into “Awk, I’m freaking out here, people–what the hell is going on?” mode. I try to reassure him and tell him he’s such a good boy…all to no avail. He must think I’m full of crap and the worse is yet to come–the front paws. Just shoot me now. We’re pushing close to 8 minutes. Ticktock, ticktock. Dude, we are on a schedule and you’re going to make me late for work!!

The front paws are three times worse than the back ones. He really hates anyone to mess with his front feet so this becomes a sheer battle of will with that mutt being hell-bent on keeping his feet out of these boots. Eventually I win out but then Sam drops his head as if he’s been beaten. His whole posture slumps and he doesn’t recover until I open the door, while simultaneously grabbing the keys and shoving my hands in some gloves as the door is being shut because we need to get rolling quickly (no need to heat the outdoors, right?). By now, I’m extremely overheated, sweat running down my face because remember several minutes ago, I was fully bundled up and then had to practically wrestle this knucklehead of a dog as if I were some sort of rodeo queen at a calf roping contest. Ugh.

He walks out the door, then stands a few feet away until I lock up and then just for effect, will give me that pitiful look of ‘woe is me, the shame of it all.’ It’s almost comical knowing my dog acts like some kind of Oscar winner-wannabe, but he does. He starts walking down the sidewalk path with heavy feet. CLOMP, CLOMP, CLOMP. It isn’t until we get down to the corner that his pace picks up to a near normal gait and not so heavy footed. Used to be when we first put the boots on, he’d start flicking each foot as if to shake off this pesky gear. Of course it never worked, but now he’ll stop several times during our walk and shake his entire body as if to rid himself of said torturous apparel. I swear, it just cracks me up since it certainly is in his best interests to have this gear on, but you’d swear he thought he was being abused.

And so this routine will continue throughout the entire Winter. Oh yeah, did I mention I also have to grab a torch so we can see in the dark as I’m reaching for gloves and keys? If he and I didn’t need/want the exercise, I might consider foregoing it, but truthfully, this twice a day walk is so worthwhile to our psyche, I can’t imagine not doing it. I could however deal with less obstacles when trying to strap and Velcro up, but hey, I’m sure it wasn’t easy for Nanook of the North in his day to day Arctic adventures either. I just hope this blasted cold air moves out and Winter becomes more typical than what we’ve experienced so far. Stay warm kids, it’s damn cold out there.

So how do you get ready for dog walks in bad weather? Any tips or tricks to share? ❤

9 ways adopting a pet is good for you

My buddy

My buddy

Did you know that November is “Adopt a Senior Pet Month”? And while Sam didn’t come from a shelter, he is considered a senior. I’d have snatched this sweetheart up in a heartbeat if he had been at a shelter. Scientific research has shown that pets improve the lives of their human companions. First hand experience has underscored that fact many times over for me. Check out these 9 ways adopting a pet isn’t just good for the pet; it’s good for you as well.

  • Pets owners have a greater level of self-esteem than not non-pet owners. Pet owners are often more extroverted and less fearful than non-pet owners.
  • Pet ownership can help reduce the risk of allergies. Contrary to popular belief, being exposed to pets early in life may actually decrease your risk of animal allergies later on. A  study from the department of bio-statistics and research epidemiology at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit suggests experiences in the first year are associated with a healthy status later in life and that early life pet exposure does not put children at risk of being sensitized to these animals later in life.
  • Pets can reduce negative feelings. Similar to how thinking about a good friend may help you feel less negative about a bad social experience, thinking about a pet may have a similar effect. Psychology Today conducted a study on 97 pet owners who were unknowingly subjected to a negative social experience. They were then asked to write about their best friend. The participants who wrote about their pet or best friend showed zero negative feelings and were equally happy after the negative social experience. The control group of non-pet owners however exhibited negative feelings.
  • Pets can reduce loneliness. In addition to boosting self-esteem, pets can reduce the level of loneliness we feel. One study found that people with pet dogs reported having social needs fulfilled as effectively by their pets as by their friends. Despite the ‘weird cat lady stereotype’ it appears people don’t rely on their pets more when human companionship is lacking. People don’t turn solely to their pets but rather enjoy their company in addition to their human friends.
  • Pets make us feel supported. Pet owners feel they receive as much support from their pets as they do from their families feeling closer to their pets when they also feel closer to important people in their life.
  • Pets make us want to stay healthier. It just stands to reason when you’re a pet owner you are more likely to move around than be a couch potato when you have a dog or cat begging for attention. Studies shows that pet owners tend to be more healthy and active than non-pet owners.
  • Less stress. The mere act of petting a dog or cat can reduce stress levels. Studies seems to support the fact that pets can help reduce stress and provide greater comfort than our friends or spouses. Their unconditional love and lack of judgment make pets the perfect anti-stress remedy.
  • Animal magnetism. Owning a pet can actually draw others to us and improve our human relationships. Pets are obvious conversation starters which may attract others to us.
  • Stabilize blood pressure. Sam and I have seen first hand how a patient who was petting him had a significant reduction in high blood pressure after just a few minutes. The difference was truly remarkable and even the nurse commented on the level of reduction.

Apart from all those health benefits, adopting a senior pet can often be easier. Think lack of teething on your favorite pair of shoes, or furniture legs. 🙂 They may well be pros at performing basic commands. Older pets tend to be more calm and can adapt easily with a new family routine. With an older pet, what you see is what you get. Senior pets seem to be grateful for the new opportunity at a loving home. Their personalities are well-formed and you can easily figure out their needs for exercise and attention.  Remember too, you’ll be saving a life when you adopt a senior pet.

So stop by your local shelter or ASPCA adoption center and consider rescuing a pet. No doubt you’ll soon be asking yourself, “who rescued whom?” When you visit your local shelter, don’t forget those senior pets.  They make great companions and invariably have so much to offer in return. You’ll improve the life of both your pet and yourself. ❤

Have you ever adopt a senior pet? What was your experience?

Gratitude and Colorado sunrises

Sunrise - Sloan's Lake

Sunrise – Sloan’s Lake

If you saw my earlier post this week, you know I’m on a quest to ditch the negative toxic stuff. I’ve done a lot of thinking about life in general lately and have been trying to get back some balance and focus more on the positive stuff that makes me happy and for which I’m grateful rather than letting all the ugly negative stuff influence my life. Here are a few more things:

  • Early morning sunrises. Admittedly, I’m a morning person anyway (yes, I know not everyone is so I feel for ya especially since you’re missing out on some of the best times of the day IMHO). That said, who wouldn’t be when Mother Nature can deliver spectacular views like the one above from nearby Sloan’s Lake with its lovely park and (obviously) cool lake? Is that a killer view of sunrise looking eastward toward downtown, or what?  In the summer, Sloan’s Lake hosts a big Dragon Boat Festival which is an equally fabulous yet totally different view.
  • Nutella lattes. Before my friend Anna moved to Japan last year, one of the things we used to do was prowl for the best coffee houses and she found a super sweet place that makes a fabulous Nutella latte. Get out! Trust me, order this drink when you get the chance. It is to die for! Talk about liquid comfort. Yum-may. Almost better than craft beer…almost. 🙂
  • Aside from finding that awesome coffee shop with her and our shared love of ‘Sweden’ (aka IKEA), I continue to cherish her friendship even from afar. She’s funny, accomplished and extremely talented and I can always count on her to brighten my day with her generous spirit of friendship. She has two of the most adorable brindled Boxer dogs who always provide us with mounds and mounds of comic relief with their antics (visit her terrific blog DesignPunk and check out her design adventures in Japan as well as photos of the dogs). I’m in total awe of her super techno savvy-ness, her fearless ability to design amazing spaces, DIY’ing stuff I’m way too afraid to tackle, all the while successfully moving overseas and adapting so well in a completely different culture. Anna, you’re my hero!
  • Daily walk/runs with my favorite pup, Sam. Those twice-a-day jaunts are a total dog-send (especially in the early morning) and they do more for my psyche than nearly anything else. Not only do I get out and burn calories with my bestie, it makes a total difference in my mental state. Truthfully, I do it as much for me as I do for him but we both benefit from a good workout.  Now to just get him to focus on the “we’re moving” part–not the we’ve paused to sniff part.
  • Beautiful clear blue skies of Colorado.  It just doesn’t get more picturesque than those National Geographic-like blue skies and with our 300+ days of sunshine a year in the Mile High City, I get loads of essential Vitamin D too. Win-win.
  • Although the Polar Vortex arrived with a serious vengeance this week (it was a record setting minus 14 yesterday morning–yikes!), this has been one of the most exquisite and mild Autumns I can remember.  While we don’t have those gorgeous East Coast reds and oranges in trees, the golds here were extra spectacular this year. The light was simply aglow.
  • Finding some cash in a pair of trousers recently was a nice and unexpected surprise. I think my Nutella-latte Jonesing will be fully satisfied this weekend. Note to self – check all the pockets periodically. You  never know what you’ll find.
  • Wildlife in my neighborhood. It’s still hard to believe that I’m a mere 3 miles away from the center of downtown Denver when I see the likes of raccoons, foxes, bats, coyotes and earlier this summer a pair of deer in the yard! I’ve seen a horned owl and a mating pair of Falcons on early morning walks with Sam…not what you’d generally expect to see in city critters but they sure do make me smile. I’m filled with gratitude when I can see Nature like that especially in an urban environment.

So those are just a few of the things that cause me to smile and make me ‘paws’ and savor that good stuff. It really is remarkable that when you actually do focus on the positive, you’ll actually see and experience it. Go figure, who’d have thought it could be that simple?!

Wishing you barking loads of cool things to smile about this weekend! What’s on your weekend agenda that will make you smile and give thanks? 🐾

Gratitude – Part 1

I votedNow that the U.S. mid-term election is over, it occurred to me that I am just exhausted. No, I mean really exhausted, in fact I think I have a super bad case of voter fatigue–that crappy feeling you felt every time you wanted to enjoy an episode of…oh, say for instance…The Walking Dead and instead of the normal (albeit) annoying commercials, you were bombarded with minute after agonizing minute of vicious lies, half-truths and political chicanery about the candidates. You groaned, swore expletives, begged for mercy and your eyes finally glazed over after the first 50 times you saw the same ad that evening. You started getting headaches or drank to numb the pain of listening to all forms of evilness or, as in my case, became exceeding nasty and judgmental. No excuses mind you, but yeah, I was influenced by the media and the relentless hammering of candidates and I’m not proud of it.

What was once a keen eye for noticing the details of life, now had evolved into plain old bitchiness about everything and nothing escaped my jaundiced eye. I was watching everything from a same negative predisposition as the election and the resulting abyss wrapped its ugly tentacles around my heart. It pulled me in a downward negative spiral—a condition that is never optimal at anytime.

Over the weekend I realized that the bitch within saturated 95% of my waking hours and I realized that I had to get rid of ‘that’ person. She was waay too toxic. The amount of energy it took to have her occupy my soul had taken its toll and she. definitely. had. to. go!!! It takes so much energy to negate all those negative feelings/observations to even get back to any kind of homeostasis, let alone be awash with positive thoughts and feelings. No wonder my energy level was nil. I’d been terse and abrupt with those who mattered the most. I’ve been battling some serious demons here people and it’s just wasn’t working and I didn’t like the person who I’d become. 😒

I came to this crossroad of awareness when I went to the Apple store at the mall for a class. The mall had been transformed into a full-blown Christmas at the North Pole set done in the theme of the move Frozen even BEFORE Halloween. Gah!…does anyone have a way to remove that dreadfully overplayed song from your brain? Are you kidding me, I kept lamenting. Isn’t it only the first part of November? You’d have thought it was the night before Christmas by the look of things. People were already stressed and wigged out, fighting over the precious few parking slots there were, fuming at the lack of helpful staff and suffering from the unrealistic pressure we put on ourselves for finding that perfect gift for everyone on our list. Add overtired, sugared up children still buzzing from Halloween candy waiting in line to have that perfect photo-op with Santa (or Sven as the case may be), and you’ve got a toxic recipe that is more dangerous and contagious than Ebola. l sure as hell don’t need to experience any more of those negative feelings after enduring this past election.

With that confession out in the open and apologies to everyone, I’ve decided to devote the rest of the month focusing on…gratitude. As Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, I thought this is the perfect opportunity to focus on things that actually underscore happiness rather than highlight the ills of the world. It’ll make me a far more pleasant person to be around rather than that fussy, cranky and downright nasty person I keep seeing in the mirror.

So here are a few things for which I am grateful for or which make me smile to my core and make me actually want to experience the positive more. I intend to add to this list all month-long but for starters:

  • Sam…naturally. Who wouldn’t be grateful sharing life’s daily adventures with the goofiest/sweetest hound ever? I can always count on this pawsome dude to make me smile and realize just how great life really is.  I am so grateful for his companionship and happy demeanor and want to truly experience life through his optimistic eyes. He’s definitely a keeper and I so want to be the person he thinks I am (gulp).
  • My family. Don’t get me wrong, we have our fair share of ‘quirky’ characters, but I absolutely a-d-o-r-e each and every one of them, idiosyncrasies aside. 😃 We are an amazingly devoted clan and I’d be hard pressed to find better examples of humanity outside my genetic wading pool. THEY ARE THE BEST!
  • My health. Last year I suffered a bad accident that could have been worse. I’m so grateful that my daughter was still in Colorado then to taxi me to all the doctor and diagnostic appointments. While I’m not quite 100%, I’m so much better than I was a year ago and as I continue on the path to recovery, I realize even more how lucky I was that my injuries weren’t worse. Invariably you take your health for granted especially when it’s always been good in the past. That accident made me realize that I need to focus on recovering my vitality, strength and health through diligent work, physically, mentally and emotionally. Just like citizenship, good health isn’t a birthright—you have to work at it to keep it strong and fundamental.
  • This blog.  What a fabulous journey these past 7 months have been! It’s given me an avenue to share my thoughts and to recount the many ways my life has been positively touched by pet therapy. To all the teammates, their dogs, the patients, staff and hospital visitors, as well as you, dear readers, my deepest and profound thanks. It’s impossible to convey my gratitude in mere words for your kindness and the life lessons you’ve shared but please know I am eternally grateful. Your comments make my heart sing and this community has completely touched me.

My goal is to improve my attitude and see life through a positive thread rather than through a snarky observation. I hope you’ll continue to visit my ‘little acre of the Internet’ and share your thoughts about what makes you smile and what you feel grateful for in this life.

With peace and love of the season, I look forward to hearing from you soon. ❤

Regression

It seems as though ‘dear, sweet’ Sam is going through some sort of regressive mental state again. A couple of nights ago I heard a faint but odd noise but after a long day of listening to people babbling about nothing and the usual sounds of a city, I didn’t think too much about it. You know how it is–your mind is on auto-pilot and you kind of turn it off as just part of the mundane noises of life.  At first I thought it was something going on in the neighbor’s yard.  But it persisted and it got louder.

What in the bloody-blue-blazes was that noise?!  Grr–it was driving me crazy.  When I pinpointed where that sound was coming from, this is what I found…Sam standing near my beloved GoldPfeil and freshly assassinated wallet.  It was especially treasured by me because (1) it was made in Offenbach, Germany, a suburb near my hometown, Frankfurt and (2) it was a very expensive gift from my son when he first started working at a luxury leather shop as a young man, many years ago. It was such a beautiful wallet, so soft and sumptuous, small but well-organized and beautifully worn with a whole history with me.  I had planned to switch it out that evening and had left it on the guest bed in the morning and was going through the mail after I got home (I know my bad).

The crime scene :(

The crime scene 😦

And a very contrite looking face was standing near the remains.  Sam knew he was in trouble the second I asked him “what the [blank] did you do?” He dropped his head and immediately left the room.  Crestfallen, I mumbled something like “oh god, where did I go wrong?” or something to that effect with a few more expletives thrown in there as happens often with this silly dog.

Sorry, I just can't help myself

Sorry, I just can’t help myself

At 9 years old it seems inconceivably weird that Sam has regressed back to being a 3 month old puppy trying to relieve tender gums from teething.  I don’t know what it is, but he has this absolute love affair with murdering soft buttery and beloved leather items.  This latest incident was not a first though.  He’s chewed up a black clutch I’d had for eons, an equally loved day-timer case as well as a few more notables.  All in the past couple of years.

What’s a poor fur-mum to do?  Has your pupster destroyed something in his later years?  Any suggestions short of not ever reading the mail again out of sight of that stupid dog??!!  😉