Category Archives: Gratitude

Celebrations

We humans are a strange lot. We love to celebrate even the smallest events from birthdays to anniversaries annually and indeed, sometimes events even more frequently. It gives our lives texture and activates serotonin centers in the brain when those celebrations and anniversaries memorialize happy times. Today was supposed to be one of those days where I slip head first into mushy celebration of an anniversary of sorts.

Six months ago today a strange, shy little blank slate of a Ninja came into the my life. Elsa, the puppy mill survivor touched a special spot in my heart and I knew I needed to bring her home with me. She held so much promise. Little did I know what that promise would entail.

It would have been two months ago to the day that Elsa suffered her last seizure, even though it a very small one that was stemmed quickly with a healthy dose of Valium. Naturally as soon as I drafted this post, what happened? She has another small seizure over the weekend that I was once again able to stem with the administering of Valium and ice packs. *Heavy sigh*

Still, despite this recent set-back, she continues to bring smiles to my face and tugs at my heartstrings. Here are just a few of the things that make me grateful this little NInja wormed her way on to the Ranch and into my heart on this date 6 months ago.

  • The way your tail is beginning to wag more often which tells me you’re learning to be a happy dog. The fact that you’ll never be able to compete with a certain Knucklehead is of no concern. You are your own adorable pup who is deeply loved for her own individual distinctiveness.
  • I love it when you go out first thing in the morning and bounce like a Springbok antelope in the dog run. Your exuberance makes me giggle like a school girl. And I’m secretly cheering you on when you give the nasty next door Akitas the what-for through the fence. You go girl!

    Springbok imitating Elsa

  • The way you stand perfectly motionless over a toy with front paws spread and then simultaneously pounce and utter the strangest high-pitched yip directly at said toy. I can hear you anywhere in the house and it ALWAYS makes me smile and laugh. I can’t help but wonder what it is you’re saying to that toy.
  • The way you lower your head and creep like a stealthy panther when you spot a squirrel 20 feet ahead of us then rapidly move race toward it like you were fired from a slingshot. Silly girl, you cannot climb the tree after it but you try every. single. time. frequently making me your unwilling kite.
  • And who can forget your organizational skills moving toys and bones from room to room?
  • Your persistent and never subtle nose nudges ‘informing’ me that no, in fact, I am not done petting you.
  • Your snoring that’s guaranteed to wake the dead. You do know you’re not one of the brachycephalic breeds, right?
  • And while I complain I can never see your eyes against your dark fur, you made me realize in this picture when you decided I needed a face wipe against my thigh that you do in fact, have lovely brown eyes without a special app. P.S. Thank you for the dog slobbers and whisker tidbits. I live for those on my pants. Truly. 

And so my dear sweet fur-child, happy 6 months ‘half-iversary.’ The serotonin you provide is alive and well in this upright.

Do you celebrate events as often as possible?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Circles

So…as you may recall, I went to Pittsburgh these past few days to attend the wedding of my sister’s oldest son. It was a great opportunity to visit with family members I normally don’t get to see near enough since we’re kind of spread across the US from hither to yon. Fun weddings are a tradition in our family. We’ve shared many laughs at them over the years though it’s probably a good thing us siblings can no longer easily flop down and ‘Tuna’ at these kinds of events…we probably couldn’t get back up again! If you don’t know what that is, search for the Otis Day version of the song Shout from the Toga Party scene in Animal House [with apologies to anyone who saw an inappropriate ad on the YouTube link-it worked fine initially].

The “concept” of family is an extremely significant to all of us and we learned from the best, our parents who taught us the importance being true and loving to each other. It has made all the difference in the world and while we may live thousands of miles away from one another, we are close and try to come together for events like this to support one another.  Although a few were unable to make the journey, we had a large contingent in attendance and seeing everyone who was there reminded me that our family is lot like a pool with concentric circles when pebbles are dropped in it. With each new baby or spouse our circles grow outward and we are ever so much richer for those ripples. IMG_3839

From the beautiful new grand-niece I just got to meet to the niece and her family from Texas I haven’t seen in over 6 years, we are a lot like the Sister Sledge song, “We Are Family.”   Those adorably precious, polite and charming kids from Texas added so much texture and depth to our circles and kept us all entertained at the wedding. Who couldn’t love these munchkins?!

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IMG_3842And while my mom was unable to partake at the actual wedding ceremony, she was at the rehearsal dinner and at the send-off breakfast the next morning for which we are ever so grateful. Her grace, style, courage and dignity has made all of us better humans throughout our lives and we cherish every. single. minute. that she continues to guide and be an amazing example for us. We snuggled with the newest member who has the classic family personality that reinforces our life circles. Miss Avery, I know you got tired of being passed around amongst all the aunties, uncles, grandparents and great-grandparents, nieces and nephews, but we just can’t help ourselves. We adore you so and just want to leave lipstick marks on your sweet precious head now and forever. Know each mark and hug is given with love and hope that your life is a continuation of our family’s legacy.

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To the beautiful bride, Julia and her hubby, we wish you a lifetime of love and laughter. Kudos to you for bringing joy to your grandmother’s heart at finally tying the knot, Kyle. You made her and the rest of our motley crew happy for you both and we were thrilled and grateful to share in your joy. May you always be as in love and happy as you were on this occasion. And to my dad and siblings, whether through blood or marriage, thank you all for being you and for being part of my circles in life. You make my heart smile and I’m ever so proud to call you family.

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And finally there’s that fur-kid who happily welcomed me home and has barely left my side. Your Velcro-ness following any absence makes me sing and revel in gratitude.

IMG_1375Love you all, every single one of you nut-cases! 😉

Live, love, bark! ❤

More than just a pretty face

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Lately there have been a number of ‘why I love my dog’ kind of posts around Blogville and it got me to thinking, why haven’t I done one? I mean I’m quite ‘pawsitive,’ that I’m at least 110% over the moon when it comes to Sam. There are so many reasons to love his breed, hypoallergenic, for starters! Poodles are smart, they excel at so many things, are definitely athletic and make great pets. They are adept at so many things but with Sam I’m totally enamored with his goofy personality and the way he ministers to patients around the hospital. His sweet nature, patience and innate ability to provide just the right amount of attention and love toward patients is truly remarkable. This dog, mind you doesn’t do tricks (unless you count licking his chops on command for nurses and patients when offered a treat-a real winner around the hospital hallways). He’d rather set his fur on fire than to shake anyone’s hand and always gives you a ‘eew’ look if you try. Sit up and beg? ‘Fuggedaboudit!’ This dimwit’s giant schnoz of a nose can amazingly and yet easily miss a dropped morsel that’s right in front of his face.

When he twists himself up like a pretzel and gives me that tag-wagging thump, thump thump on the floor, all the while looking at me adoringly as if I’m going to share the correct numbers for this week’s Lottery with him. He seems to hang on to every word I utter (except when I need him to focus on walking rather than sniffing along our meanderings but even that makes me smile with gratitude at the thought of his sweet, goofy disposition). And he will look at you blankly if you toss a ball for him to retrieve unable to comprehend why in the world you tossed it and the expect him to fetch it. Yeah, homey don’t roll that way but I could care less. And then there’s always that look he gives me as if I just spoke to him in Yugoslavian and he doesn’t understand a single word of it at all.

_MG_4770-(ZF-2552-28389-2-002)-2He may not be the brightest bulb in the chandelier but I love that goofball like crazy. When I see him patiently allowing a complete stranger to strangle the stuffing out of him hug him around his neck, or when he leans heavily against a leg or thigh, I can only smile and be comforted knowing that knucklehead of a dog is making someone smile and feel just a little bit better about their current moment in life. And that is something that brings such happiness and joy to me as well as to all those who encounter this completely sweet and goofy boy.

Yeah, I love that boy, schnoz and all because I’ve never seen a more complete package of enthusiastic love for everyone he meets and the love he shows me. Yup, I really do love that dog!

So what about your pup makes you smile and realize how much you love ’em?

Live, love, bark! ❤

 

Monday Musings

On this Monday following yesterday’s official Mother’s Day celebration, I find myself in an even more thankful (and reflective) mood. Last October, some of you may recall my mom suffered a life threatening condition that resulted in her being placed in hospice. It’s true that Sam and I love our hospice work, but seeing your mom as a patient was not our idea of the kind of pet therapy we envisioned. For a week, our family sat by her side, shared stories, laughed and cried about the spot we faced. All of my life I’ve known this remarkable woman who had ‘seen it all’ and endured so much living through the bombings of World War II Germany. When doctors initially gave her the prognosis, she immediately quipped, “Well damn it, I wasn’t finished yet.”  And clearly she meant it❣️

After being told she had probably only 48 hours to live, my mom rallied and survived. She was one of only a very select few to have “failed” at hospice. And so, 7 months later here she was celebrating Mother’s Day brunch with 3 of her 5 grown children around the table. Can I just say, I continue to be in awe of what this exceptional human being has accomplished with grace, poise, intelligence and humor. Thank you for all you’ve done for us, for all you’ve taught us and for being a special kind of inspiration to the family. We are so very grateful for each and every one of your 85+ years. In this day and age of shallow clichés, this one has resonated over these past few days with enormity. To the world you are a mother, but to your family you are our world. We all are so very grateful that you continue to be with us and we treasure every single minute with your presence. We love you to the moon and back, Mom and know that Sam sends puppy kisses.

Here’s hoping your Mother’s Day was equally as wondrous.

final Live, love, bark! ❤

Happy Thanksgiving

Gratefulness. This year, we here at the ‘ranch’ have so many things for which to be grateful. Not the least of which is the fact that my mom survived a gastric aneurysm last month and was placed in hospice care but is now home recovering. If you’re ever going to fail at something, flunking out of hospice needs to be right at the top of the list. We are beyond grateful that once again, this remarkable woman, the matriarch and core of our family will be at the dinner table smiling at all us knuckleheads. We love you, Mom and are sooo very happy and grateful you’re gonna be here this Thanksgiving!

Our family is also blessed to welcome home my niece’s husband and Master Sergeant from a National Guard tour in Egypt. He safely arrived on Monday of this week after being delayed by the recent bombing of a Russian airliner. Welcome home, Elias and thank you so very much for your service to our country.

Lastly, I am fortunate to welcome the arrival (just 10 days ago from California), the love of my life to living at the ‘ranch.’ Wayne and I are settling into a lovely rhythm of being a family and Sam couldn’t be happier either. Frankly though, I think Sam likes him more than he does me. 🙂

image So as you sit around that turkey, ham, prime rib or whatever with all the yummy  ‘fixins’ and watch football, I hope you also take time out to take stock for all that you have to be grateful for this year. These days, in this crazy mixed up world, it’s easy to become angry, sad, even bitter at some of the current events, but trust me, there is so very much of the positive out there as well. I encourage you to take a moment to focus on those things that matter most and at the top of my list is family.

All of us at the ‘ranch’ want to wish you and yours the happiest of Thanksgivings. May you all be as blessed and fortunate as we are in our family.

Live, love, bark! ❤

An open leter to Blogville

Dear Blogville Friends:

Last month we went dark. Several of you have sent sweet private messages asking if everything was ok. Without getting into the details just yet, life as we knew it changed in a blink of an eye and while infinitely improved, still has a way to go. I just wanted to tell you how much your thoughtful messages, thoughts and warm wishes have comforted me-you guys are really incredible! The love and caring that came through buoyed us through some very cloudy days and nights.

Sit Stay Heal

We’ll be back as soon as we can though probably not nearly as frequently as we’d like-we’re going to have to work to get back into a regular schedule. I just wanted to say how grateful I am to be apart of your community and to thank each and everyone of you for your love and support. The resident Muppet, Sam sends puppy kisses and tail wags. He’s missed you all and can’t wait to share the good, the bad and the oh-my-gosh he’s done it again adventures with you.

Be well my special friends and know we wouldn’t be here without you. ❤

Your friends at the Ranch,
Monika & Sam

Live, love, bark! ❤