Monthly Archives: August 2015

Good Monday morning peeps

Sam here.  imageWe mom worked very hard in the garden over the weekend (and of course I snoopervised her work-she’s getting a little better at it since I took over on that front) but she conveniently neglected to mention that she’d be taking a few days off so color me super happy.

Yesterday morning she took me for a ride and guess where we went…Grandma and grandpa’s house!! Woo-hoo. Man, I can’t believe she didn’t tell me we’d be coming down to visit them for a few days to celebrate Grandpa’s ‘bark day’ tomorrow. The ‘big dog’ turns 85!  ♪░HAPPY BIRTHDAY░░♪ Grandpa, we ❤ you!  And can I just say I’m in bunny nirvana? They are EVERYWHERE, hopping hither and fro but always away from me [cue the sad puppy face].

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With all the monsoonal rains, the prairies are covered in glorious sunflowers providing loads of hiding places for those bunnies. Mom tried several times to hold me back take photos of them but they keep scurrying away from this great fur-hunter’s grasp. Those wily rascals just won’t cooperate by posing for photos or letting me check them out up close and personal if you can believe that?! So she decided to take photos of the 87 jillion sunflowers instead. At least they don’t run away from her like the bunnies do.

image  Hope you guys all had a fabulous weekend. With all the forest fires in the western US, our skies have been smoke filled so if there’s any kind of positive to be taken from that, it does provide some spectacular sunrises and sunsets. What exciting things did you do over the weekend?

Live, love, bark! ❤

Tale of the Tail

Pets and their tails. Communication or function? Some of both it turns out. Animals use their tails as a way to communicate, be it fear, excitement or irritation. A dog’s wag can indicate happiness or friendliness and is part of the non-verbal communication they might display when around other dogs. Cats use their tails to help them balance (although dogs can likewise use their tails to some extent for balance and steering while swimming-except of course for Sam, who we all know wouldn’t voluntarily get near water with a gun next to his head).

Research indicates there is the same right/left brain associations in dogs as there are with people. A dog will tend to wag to the right side when they encounter something pleasant but will wag more to the left side if it feels threatened by say a strange dog who displays dominant tendencies. Stress can show up as a left side wag and is directly reflective of what’s happening in its brain.

Sam’s tail tells me preciously what’s going on in his brain. A slow-moving wag generally signifies general happiness (which is 99.9% of the time). A furious wag and he’s telling you he’s about to jump out of his skin and that wag is right side dominant. If the tail is in an upright position, he’s definitely engaged. If it’s hanging more closely toward the floor, then he’s moderately engaged. When he really gets the tail going, I need to expect jumping, and snuffling around me face from him. He definitely has a super tell…about his tail. There is no second guessing what he’s trying to convey. Peals of laughter from me seem to really get him ginned up, the tail moving ever faster and more furiously. That dog is certainly not subtle.

A friendly wag — unmistakably friendly — often involves the dog’s whole back-end. In Sam’s case, his tail moves sweepingly back and forth and quickly. If he’s really excited about a person he’s greeting, he has been known to wag in big, fast circles. Butt wiggles also come into play. And if you know the anatomy of poodles, they seem to be hinged in the center of their backs, often looking like a slinky toy. The whole friendly dog package includes a slightly lowered body, open mouth, squinty eyes, and ears somewhat back. Loosey, goosey. Everything suggests a friendly encounter. Dogs whose body language is tense but includes a wagging tail should be carefully observed. Hard fixed eyes, stiff back and legs suggest the dog is not comfortable despite the wagging tail.  Caution is the key here in this case.

Sam has this "tell"

Sam has this “tell”

So what’s your pup’s tail tell?

Live, love, bark! ❤

Tuesday Trivia

  • Sam is still recovering from the weekend’s hospital duties but  I found some fun and interesting factoids for the latest edition of Tuesday Trivia.
  • Male dogs urinate with one leg up to better mark their territory. The scent shares many aspects about the sprayer, i.e. size and health. The higher a dog pees up a proverbial tree, greater judgment is considered regarding the size of that dog. It should be noted however, that male dogs do not need to lift their leg in order to pee. Yeah, well tell that to Sam. He would no doubt beg to disagree.
  • A dog’s ear is full of sensory nerves that help preserve its hearing. You should never blow into a dog’s ear even gently as it can hurt. It’s not the actual act of wind but the frequency at which you blow. Kind of like running your fingernail down a chalkboard, only amplified hundreds of times.
  • Dogs evolved from a creature similar to a wolf, “Tomarctus” (meaning father of dogs) which roamed earth 15,000 years ago. They were domesticated by cavemen. Greeks used dogs for hunting and as guards. Romans traveled through Europe and brought their dogs with them and they bred with local dogs and gradually created many different breeds.
  • There are 701 types of purebred dogs divided into 6 groups: toys, hounds, herding, sporting, non-sporting, and working.
  • Most domesticated dogs are capable of reaching speeds of approximately 19.88 mph (32 km) when running full-out. Greyhounds can reach speeds up to nearly 43 1/2 mph (70 km).

 

Piazza Dante e Monumento - the monument to Fido

Piazza Dante e Monumento – the monument to Fido

  • The name “Fido” comes from Latin and means ‘fidelity.’
  • The U.S. has the highest dog population in the world.
  • Dogs are mentioned 14 times in the bible. And finally…
  • People who own pets live longer, have less stress, and fewer heart attacks (unless they’re trying to navigate a set of stairs where the dog thinks he must race down them at lightning speed). Till next time, do you know any tantalizing trivia?

Live, love, bark! ❤

The work never stops

This weekend was hospital/hospice duty and coincidently, it was also a 2 year anniversary of my reconstructive surgery from a bad motor scooter accident. Our current duties gave me pause paws to reflect about that day two years ago where Sam demonstrated why he’s such a great therapy dog.

I knew he would be-this dog loves people more than oxygen. He loves to be around people, even when they run up to him squealing and carry on, with loud voices, people with cigarettes, with strollers, dogs with retractable garroting leashes. He loves them all. And he has shown me those loving feelings over and over again.

Two years ago he literally took care of me. Oh sure, my daughter made sure I made all my doctor appointments and follow-up sessions, but Sam was there next to me on the sofa when I couldn’t sleep due to pain, when I couldn’t get comfortable to save my soul. When I had to go to the bathroom, he was there, watching me, making sure I was safe. He couldn’t do anything like help me get dressed (it’s amazing when you can do when you have to by the way) but he always supervised, making sure I didn’t do anything to pull out stitches, or bump the shoulder against a door jamb. He watched me like a hawk and checked in countless times during the day, putting his head on my knee or thigh, looking up at me with soulful amber eyes, as if to say “You need anything?” His companionship was paramount in my healing process and I often wonder if his assistance made the difference in my recovery. It was then and it is still is today.

Sunday was our day to visit hospice and the coronary ICU unit. As is typically our MO, we mill around the hospital coffee shop and first floor reception areas, swing by the gift shop and generally check the pulse of goings-on before we head up to our assignment. A small little shoeless girl saw Sam and squealed with delight rushing up to us, yelling “Doggy!” Her mom came from around a partition and said, “Don’t run up to the dog,” but she was in motion and we all know moving objects tend to keep moving and with her will, I suspect she was not to be contained. I said, it was fine, Sam ‘loves little girls’ so the mom acquiesced. the little girl oohed-and-ahed over Sam and was delighted at his super fluffy coat (yup, another bath day torment session but that’s a whole different story). She put a huge kiddy bear hug around Sam’s neck and while he checked in with me through his eyes, but he never moved a muscle. Just stood there and let her hug the dickens out of him. Her mom kept saying, “Don’t squeeze so hard,” but she couldn’t seem to let go of Sam. He let her hug him and I let him do what he does best, minister to people, large or small.

After our encounter, we proceeded to our assigned floor, had some amazing connections with some really remarkable people and I couldn’t stop thinking about how Sam takes everything all in stride, today as well as he did two years ago.

We finished up at ICU and then went on over to hospice. There weren’t many patients to visit, though we got in some quality doctor and nurse time which is always gratifying-I know they need the therapy dogs as much as the patients do. The one patient we did get to visit was more than a challenge. She was unhappy that her son and grandson hadn’t visited her, she couldn’t understand why she couldn’t get the video player work so she could hear a movie and begged me to put a different DVD in for her. I tried to accommodate her while Sam watched. He watched this woman and tried to get her to focus on him, She wasn’t really up for a dog visit, preferring to make us run to get a nurse to ‘fix that damn thing’ and then a second trip get her a glass of milk. We did both without complaint. And once we got her settled in, her breath leveled off and she relaxed by letting go of all the things that aggravated her and sank back to watch the movie. We left her shortly thereafter, the end result of the mental numbing watching a movie although I doubt she heard me say goodbye knowing she’d be falling asleep soon. And that was ok, I cannot imagine being alone in a hospice center knowing the end was near and not being able to make the last few moments of life be somewhat enjoyable or at least comfortable. That’s cool, but I hope that when my time comes, I want to leave this earth with dignity and graciousness. The idea of being fussy and crabbish is too overwhelming for me. Please understand I say that with no malice or judgment, just that once again, another person is alone at the time when they especially need their family which may have been why she was so cantankerous. But who knows?

IMG_0618 After a very long, deep nap when we got home, Sam was ready to go out for our evening constitution. We walked our usual route and ran into several people who asked if they could stop and pet Sam. One woman who was walking with her daughter stopped us and asked if she could pet Sam. We chatted for a few minutes and Sam’s therapy work came up. She replied, how coincidental since they we’re out trying to suss out a difficult problem and she thought this therapy diversion might be just the ticket. She looked into Sam’s face and asked him whether he could give her some momentary balance because she needed it. I gulped hard thinking she might break down and sob, but said of course. Both she and the daughter petted and hugged Sam for a long time and again, he stood there, patient, motionless knowing he was doing what he was meant to do. When we finally bid our farewells, I couldn’t help but see this affable goofball in a proud light. He proved once again, his work never stops…he’s always on the clock and so the naps he takes are exactly what he needs to rejuvenate and be ready for the next one who will need him, be it me, a patient, doctor or nurse or someone just out walking the neighborhood.

Does you dog provide you with life balance and comfort at those exact times when you most need it?

Live, love, bark! ❤