Monthly Archives: February 2017

Healthcare and Life Intersections

Earlier this week Sam and I went to the hospital for our regular visits. And what visits they were. I knew this month would be challenging different as we have a new required protocol for entering each room known as BioVigil. What the heck is BioVigil you ask?? It’s a hand washing monitoring system designed to remind healthcare workers (included pet therapy volunteers) to ‘wash’ going in and out of a patient’s room. The device triggers an alarm to sanitize one’s hands whenever entering patients’  rooms when not properly activated and will be a good reminder for those who may be somewhat lax about the requirement and figured initiating something new hospital-wide might have a few hiccups associated with it while being rolled out. The training demo was laden with challenges (under-charged base units which wouldn’t demonstrate how they work, electronic keys not unlocking units, etc.), but the beta group who tested it noted there was a 30% reduction in sick days alone with staff so clearly this will be a good thing in the long run (great way to stem C-Diff) once it’s got all the bugs worked out. If you have failed to properly sanitize, a door sensor sound an alarm upon entering a patient’s room. No doubt it’ll be a little nerve-wracking for patients to hear more alarms but with practice and diligence, it should get better for them as people become more familiar with the procedure well as reducing healthcare associated infections.

This week we were assigned the Internal Medicine floor but were hardly able to spend any time with patients since so many were in isolation with the flu. As volunteers we are not permitted to enter any isolation room unlike nurses who must. Luckily Sam garnered the attention of six nurses who were more than happy to fawn over him when it was clear there were few patients for us to visit. The ooh’s and ah’s over this goofball added to his self-assurance (as if that was ever an issue!). Sam owned the 6th floor nurses and staff and was in hog heaven because of it.

We were able to have a nice long visit with one patient whose daughter I ran into as we were about to leave. She said she hoped her mom hadn’t missed the dog visits and would be so grateful if we would swing back by before we left so we headed back toward her room. “Mrs. D” was reading a book and excitedly invited us in when she saw Sam. He trotted right over to her and sat next to her chair letting her run her fingers through his hair, eyes nearly rolling back in his head with pleasure. Clearly the dude was in 7th heaven. Mrs. D told me about dogs she and her family had, how much they enjoyed them and how much of a dog lover she was. Sam was mostly interested in the nice thigh he could lay his head on while being petted. After a long session visiting, we let Mrs. D get some well deserved rest.

Karen GrantThe next day we went back to our favorite place, the Senior Behavioral Unit. It’s always a roll of the dice when we go there. These patients which I’ve written about here and here can be more than uncertain but they either love dogs or loathe them. We managed to win this dice toss with Jay, David, Norma and Mary Anne. Each patient had their own individual mental health issues but each of their faces lit up when they saw Sam. While those suffering from emotional and behavioral issues may have difficulty expressing themselves with a therapist, they easily and happily relate to an animal. David was first, asking if he could spend time with Sam and walked over and sat on the floor next to us. I got down on the floor with him and he talked. And talked. Sam patiently and intently listened to every word, confused as some of them were. Then Jay came over and talked to Sam as if he was his best friend in English and German. Jay’s story was he had been a professional skier at one time in Austria, and a decent one at that. A hard life of living had affected his mental acuity but the kindness and soulfulness of this man was readily apparent. Mary Anne leaned over and asked if we’d spend some time with her and of course, Sam was easily convinced. A sweet, tiny elderly woman she pushed her snack aside and smiled broadly when Sam sauntered up to her side, tail wagging. Her eyes twinkled while she thanked us for visiting with them. Norma came over with questions. Lots of questions. What’s his name, how old is he, where did I get him? A bubbling fountain of inquisitiveness with loads of love as she stroked him and smiled broadly in his eyes.

Sam in uniformWhen you’ve been working with patients you begin to read their body language for clues as to when enough is enough. I can also tell with Sam. That day’s visits took their toll on his energy level yet he stayed and listened to each of them as he slid into a full down position next to each one. He remained as long as it took for them to tell their stories and share their life experiences. Clearly there was a lot of released endorphins that afternoon which had a very positive effect on us all. By focusing on him, their minds were drawn away from their own life happenings whatever they were. These kinds of interactions help them develop and fine tune nurturing skills and encourages them to share their humanity.

Have you ever noticed your dog ‘listening’ to someone they encounter and lifting their spirits with their total focus?

Live, love, bark!

Hair of the Dog

While Sam was groomed the other day in preparation for our stint at hospital and hospice, the title of this post doesn’t refer to that kind of hair. What I am referring to is another kind of ‘hair of the dog.’ And while it’s not an over-indulgence of alcohol which is typically associated with the etymological definition, I’m actually referring to S.T.R.O.N.G. put-hair-on-your-chest kind of coffee.

imagesI know there are a lot of you out there who prefer tea or even a caffeine-ladden soda to start our your day but bear with me as someone who needs/wants coffee. A couple of days ago, I accidentally broke my coffee carafe, much to my chagrin. I had that coffee maker for close to 15 years, so long in fact, that the manufacturer no longer stocks replacement carafes for it. Color me sad. So off I frantically went in search of a suitable replacement.

0eb21de2a764cbc72b1b49e912421214Without coffee, no one, and I do mean no one, would want to be around me. Coffee makes me human. Little did I know there are so many options these days when it comes to coffee makers with some staggering price points and way too many features. All this just to replace a simple coffee pot? I wasn’t interested in it having a clock (one more thing to have to reset after a power cut) and am refuse to accept the notion of water that’s been sitting overnight waiting for the magic hour to brew when I get up. I don’t need to modulate the brew strength of the life elixir or do any of the other myriad features now programmed on coffee makers. While I love a good cuppa Joe as much as anyone, why and how did it get so complicated, not to mention expensive? And I especially don’t need a ring tone to tell me when it’s done, another blue light (showing the time and waiting to be changed next month upon the arrival of Daylight Savings Time) or a temperature gauge for the burner. I just want a cup of damn coffee. Is that too much to ask?

Cowboy coffee

Cowboy coffee

Oh sure, I could make ‘cowboy coffee‘ in an old fashioned stove-top percolator but haven’t seen a pot like this in the housewares department for ages and I didn’t want to run around to camping supply outlets to find an overpriced, cutesy pot but just wanted a simple cup of coffee from an electric drip coffeemaker to keep me human. Is that too much to ask?

For the record, that first pot was strong, the kind of strong that requires a six-pack of beer to come down from the caffeine high. Looks like I need to practice a while on getting the perfect recipe figured out on my new complicated, expensive appliance.

imageBeside your pooch, what else makes you human in the morning?

Live, love, bark!

Wish You Were There Wednesday

Since winter seems to have returned for a fair number of peeps across the US and cooler temps are forecast for us at the Ranch over the next few days, how about a nice sunny location to warm the heart if not the bones?

Here’s a view from the beach in Mazatlán (near the Gold Coast area) that might fill that bill. I don’t know about you, but I felt better and warmer just recalling that sunny day where the people were smiling, the beer was tasty and the food was delicious after an afternoon of snorkeling.

From the patio of Pablo's, Mazatlán

From the patio of Pablo’s, Mazatlán

Where would you like to be today to warm up? Happy Hump Day!

Live, love, bark! ❤

Mount Rushmore Monday

Happy President's Day

Happy President’s Day

26137ca7ed56833dedf15fc4fd22f728Today is a “howliday” in the US and for many, it’s part of a long weekend. But today and tomorrow Sam and I will be working at the hospital which can only mean one thing. There’ll be a seal in my bathroom. And then, lots of hugs and tail wags.

What are you be doing on this “howliday?”

Lie, love, bark!

 

 

Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard

We all know Sam had a good time at the K-Oss Pawty with his new fur-iend, Anne. When he came home (past his curfew I might add) he kept reminding me about all the terrific treats there and began guilting me into making more treats for he and Elsa. “Ok, ok I said. I’ll make some more treats.” Seeing his hang-dog look and hearing those heavy dog sighs every time he walked past this sight made me realize how truly mistreated he is. NOT! but that’s another story.

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I have been trying to get Sam to eat more veggies and fruits as long as I can remember, both of which he has soundly rejected. A few chews and then he spits them out into a mushy spot on the floor. The little Ninja Hoover aka Elsa, however is more than happy to gobble up any blueberry, apple slice, peas or green beans offered and it’s made Sam reconsider his limited thinking on those kinds of foodables. Now he sits patiently while I dole out those healthy snacks so I wanted to find a recipe that might have apples or applesauce. A quick check of the ole pantry showed a nice jar of unsweetened organic applesauce so I was off to the races…otherwise known as the Google Oracle to find a recipe. It contains peanut butter, oats and applesauce. A few minutes with the KitchenAid and Voilà! A new favorite is born. From this…

'Pawnut-Applesauce' Treats

‘Pawnut’ Butter-Applesauce Treats

To this…in no time!

final

For those of you interested in the recipe, Sam wanted me to share it so all his fur-iends could enjoy this tasty treat.

‘Pawnut’ Butter ~ Applesauce Treats

3 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups pick-cook oats
1 cup ‘pawnut’ butter (Xylitol free please)
1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 to 1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil (I used 1/2 cup of coconut oil)

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Mix all ingredients well but don’t over mix. Knead the dough on lightly floured surface (if dough is too loose or crumbly, you can add more coconut or olive oil). Roll to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into shapes with cookie cutters. You can also make small double balls if you don’t want to use any cutters, they’ll be fine, just not as cute as a paw or bone shape). Place on cookie sheet approximately 1/2 inch apart. Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and serve. Store in airtight container in fridge for up to a couple of weeks.

Easy-peasy. Your fur-ball will love ’em and you’ll love knowing they are eating something tasty and healthy. Just don’t let them guilt you into too many. That hang-dog look only goes so far.

Live, love, bark! ❤