As “Newby” walked up to me while I was sitting in my recliner, she puts her paws on the side of the chair wanting up.  She acts like she wants up but seems confused, just like her hesitance to walk through an outside door, she seems unsure.  I pat my lap and she does jump up and she has adopted to life on the farm and she is wanting human companionship.   From what we understand, she was dumped on a rural county road in an area that is known for doing this very thing.  I also understand that she ran behind a car for several hundred feet until they stopped at their house, she was scared.  They took “Newby” to their garage just to keep her safe until they could contact animal control the next day.  A good friend, after seeing her on social media contacted me to see if we could help and of course we would.  He snatched her up before the call was made that morning to animal control and “Newby” was turned over to us that afternoon.

The urgency of finding her home may be real several reasons, the first is she has had puppies and the other reason is her owner may be looking for her but everything points to her being dumped .  She has lost the security she once may have known even though it may not have been much but it was all she had at the time.  If she was dumped, her life will never be the same as it was but it will be better and she will be in safe hands and hopefully in a new home very soon.

I don’t know why these things happen, but I do know that just a few days after Clancy suddenly died “Newby” came to our house and gave us purpose once again.  As you know a very large hole was opened up in our heart when he left and life will never be the same, only different, just like “Newby”. 

Elaine named her “Newby” because she is the newest dog we have but it’s only temporary while she is here.  I ask her why she named her that and she firmly stated that she won’t get attached but I think that has already happened and it will be a sad day when she goes to her new home.  We have attempted to find her old owner through various social mass medias along with calling the vets and animal shelters in our area and even placing several ads in Indiana papers but if no one comes forward, she will be placed in a wonderful home, I will see to it…

Note to her old owner…  Your dog is living the life of luxury with us, she has had a much needed bath, shots, worming, food, medical attention.  She sleeps on our bed with us and has even knocked Dutchess out of my lap on the recliner, but it’s only temporary and hopefully Dutchess understands.  “Newby” has learned to come in and out of the door, sleeps on the bed and get on the furniture and I don't think you know what you lost. 

She knows what a pat on the head and hug means and now runs to us but most of all, she know what security is, but I will tell you, Karma will be a bitch for you if you dropped a little dog in the road to fend for itself with nothing…

To the new prospective owner, your little girl is very sweet and spoiled.  I hope you don’t mind if she gets on the couch with you…

Thank you Clancy for watching and helping… Dad

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Happy Memorial Day...

As I have said before, if you ever love an animal, there are three days in your life you will always remember...

The first day is blessed with happiness, when you bring your new puppy home.

The second day will occur eight to ten years later and be a day like no other.  Routine and undistinguished, but for a surprising instant, you will look at your long-time buddy and see age where you once saw youth.

The third important day is the one we all dread, when that time comes. Your day is filled with grief that is hard to explain.  And many times, you will find that not many in your circle of family or friends will be able to understand.

Friday I got a call from the owner of a dog we know well.  I thought it was strange in the beginning but in an instance, I knew something was wrong, so very wrong.  “Jackson passed away today” he said.
Jackson was such a beautiful and loving dog and it literally broke my heart to think I would never see him again.  I also took a walk down our driveway where at the end, is our “family” graveyard where we have buried every pet and dog that has passed since we left Kentucky years ago.  With Memorial Day upon us, I want us to think of our past pets we have lost. I have spoken to literally hundreds of people who have lost their beloved pet and have even cried with them when they told me their story.  Some people I never met, but they just needed to talk.  We are who we are, because of our past, and our pets have shaped us more than we choose to believe or may know.  I know the day will come when “that time” will come again and it breaks my heart to even think of it as we all do.

Because of our dog circles and rescues, we get to know many people and parents of our pups and dogs we have helped.  Something some may not realize is that “we” truly get attached to your dogs that we rescue, work with or help in several ways.  It’s big enough to worry about the health and injuries with “our” own dogs but because of our relationship with others, we do fall in love and worry about your dog too, even if it’s not one of our pups as in the case with Jackson.     
Jackson was a remarkable dog and reminded me so much of another dog that we fell in love with, Roxie.  They both were Doberman Pinschers and although, Jackson was a boy and Roxie was a girl, they were very much alike and very loving and we loved them so.  They died two years apart nearly to the day and I remember the last time I saw them and will keep Jackson’s photos on the computer just like I still have Roxie’s. 

We have crossed this bridge before and yes, this is the sad part but I truly loved and remember the all of the dogs that we knew that have passed.  As we celebrate Memorial Day, remember “A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself.” — Joseph Campbell. 

Remember to honor the men and women of our armed services who gave everything for us but remember our past pets too and the funny, cute and loving way they loved us and know they always remembered us…  Take a munute to look into their eyes, stroke their fur and assure them that they are everything to us because someday before we know it, it may be too late.   Ken

“Hey who are you, you seem familiar?”  “I’ve never seen you but I know you too!”  “My name is Jackson and I just got here”  “My name is Roxie and I’ve been here for a blink of an eye”  “I know we have never met but I seem to know you, let's play..."  and as they scamper off to play into the tall green grass, they both carry a small part of a heart that’s on the other side of the bridge, until me meet again… 

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Sleepy time...

I have noticed this before but last night, it was more noticeable than ever.  When I finished up my work in the office, as always I turn the desk light off, get up in the darkness and walk to the stares.  I know it’s unsafe but I usually walk slow always expecting something in the way.  Last night, Dutchess was in the middle of the floor and I bumped her walking through.  Although there is a dog bed in the room, she was laying on the floor close to me.  I didn’t think much of it at the time.

For some reason, all of our dogs want to be around me or Elaine.  Later that night, I was getting ready to sit in my recliner to watch a little TV when I noticed 4 dogs waiting for me to sit.  All of them were anxiously waiting to make their move and jump in my lap, trying to beat the other out.  I have noticed this before and when I back my chair in the office they are usually right behind me, startling me and them but why do they do this?  Is it the breed or how they were raised?  I do notice a difference between our Border Collies and our German Shepherd Dahlia.  While the collies are more loving, Dahlia won’t give it up.  She is loving, don’t get me wrong, but not like the BC’s. 

This caused me to think about the jest of this.  While Dahlia will lay with us on the bed or sit next to us on the couch, after a short time, she is off to her space on the spare bed.  She loves sugar and belly rubs but loves her space.  On the other hand, all of the BC’s will seek, pester, annoy and tease me to do something with them.  If I am sitting and one is my lap, as soon as they get up, another takes their spot and so on.  Dutchess is the worst and if someone is in my lap, she will sit and watch.  Looking first at me and then at the other dog, back and forth until they get up, up she comes, sometimes staying until my legs go to sleep spending hours at a time.   

Dutchess in her spot... Meggie waiting...
I have literally had 5 dogs on the couch with me and no one is comfortable but no-one moves fearing they will lose their spot.  I have grown accustom to this affection and to be growing in intensity and at one time, I only allowed one dog in bed with me.  Just two nights ago, Abbie was at my head laying on the spare pillow, Meggie was stretched out along my back and Dutchess was curled up at the foot of the bed and it was tight to say the least.  When I thought it couldn’t get any more crowded, Clancy decided to join in the fellowship.  While the entire bed was full with furry critters it appeared there was no more room or so I thought.  Clancy climbed up from the foot of the bed and walked on top of my body pillow and settled near my head.  I now had 3 dogs on one side and Clancy stretched out on the pillow that ran from the head to the foot of the bed.  What made matters worse, he slowly slid down in-between me and the pillow which I put between my legs for comfort and fell fast asleep.  It was a tight fit but we made it.  At times, I hear Molly walking on the wood floor near the bed and when I put my hand over the side of the bed and she will lick my fingers.  Because she is getting older and the bed is high, I get up of bed and put her up with the others.  Everybody joins in the fun.

Bed time, Molly & Clancy...
I have often said that until you really experience the love of a dog you’ve never experienced such sweet devotion.  As I write this short story Doc is laying by my feet and every so often, he will get up and put his nose on the desk, wanting nothing but a little attention and a pat on the head.  Today, I pushed my chair back and hugged him and telling him I loved him.  He laid back down and was content, wanting nothing more than reassurance that I did.  I have started taking more time to notice all of them and after running into Dutchess the other night, I reached down to rub her too.  Dogs are pretty amazing…  Ken

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Dreams Do Come True...

Many have followed us here at the farm throughout the years and walked with us during the events of our life along with our dogs.  Sometimes good and sometimes bad but it was a journey some of us traveled.  As I go back and look at some of our events and circumstances, I am amazed of the changes that were made with us and the dogs. 

When we were young and much of life was ahead of us, we dreamed of things that we wanted to become or accomplish in our “long” life sometimes never thinking we would make it, but in some cases we did.  I am living proof that dreams can became true and that we can have hope.  You see, sometimes we set our goals too low because we don’t have confidence in others, and even ourselves but most of the time, it's the latter.

We muddle through life wondering which way to go, hoping to just survive and always looking for that big break and don't think our dream can come true.  A lot of times we put off doing what we need to do to follow our wishes but one day we’re faced with reality and crossroads.  I buckled down and chose to do what I needed to do to get things done, doing things that I didn’t want to do but did it.  So many young people today expect things will fall their way and hopefully it will but nothing ever did and I am who I am because of what I did and lots of dreams.  My daydreams came true for me and I am glad they did and even see others with filled dreams and life is good for all of us who work hard and the stars were lined up.

Abbie is happiest when she is wet...
As most have been following, you know about Abbie’s cancer and the diagnosis was never good but that didn’t stop us from dreaming.  We cried a lot at first and wondered what we would do and how much time we had with her.   Lots of trips to the Vet for her weekly treatments, pill popping and sock making finally paid off with a little more time.   I have said in private to a few close friends, my dream is to have her until she can swim and play a few more times, knowing it might not come to pass but it did.  With her, everything seems normal right now and last weekend, my dream came true… A few of our dogs along with Atticus and Gabe got to play in the water at the farm last weekend.  

Dear friends of ours came to visit, bring their boys and helped us celebrate Elaine and my wedding anniversary.  The weather was wonderful, sunny and getting into the 80’s a few days and the dogs had fun and I was beaming like a Cheshire cat.  I got my wish, Abbie jumped off the diving board, swam and played with the Jolly Ball and kept up with everyone every day.   It was good to see and my wish granted but most of all Abbie was happy and so was I. 

Hopefully things will continue and life will go on but we all know there is always a goodbye hovering in the shadows of a dog, hopefully this shadow is long and the sun moves slow.  In a conversation a few weeks ago a good friend of mine said something to the effect “do you know how lucky you are with Abbie’s health?”  Yes I do, dreams do come true and for one weekend, life was good, the sun was shinning and good friends were here and Abbie hogged the Jolly Ball.   Thanks for listening…  Ken

Note, Alan Teague took the photos.

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My Thoughts...

Several days ago I mentioned that Abbie had her last Chemo treatment this last Friday.  Although this is not the hardest road I have ever traveled, it’s pretty close, something you can never experience and I thought I understood, but really didn’t.  Nearly 6 years ago, I was contacted by a person who had just lost their Border Collie.  I never met him but remember the words he said. “I knew you would understand” and that’s why he called.   I remember the conversation well and it was sad to hear the pain he was in and my heart broke for him and his dog.   I hurt for him and invited him to share his story on our Rainbow Bridge web page which he did.  It is a wonderful story and told from his heart.  His dog lived a wonderful life and was his companion till the end.  He wrote… “She left us this week while curled into my chest out in her backyard. The birds were singing, the squirrels were chattering, she could hear all of the sounds that had made that place what it meant to her.” His dog’s name was “Abby” and she died from the same disease my Abbie has.  Little did I know we were traveling down that same road…

 As the days and weeks have gone by since Abbie was diagnosed, at first she was eager to go with me and a ride in the car, not really knowing where she was going but always finding out it wasn’t very pleasant in the end.  Soon she didn’t like the car rides and would lay on the back seat looking at me or put her chin on my shoulder as I drove licking my face.  As hard as I tried to cheer her up, she would lick my face and give out a sigh.  I knew she didn’t want to be in the car much less go for her treatment and as the sessions were coming to an end, she wouldn’t walk to the door at the clinic but looked at me as if saying “please” and once inside, she would stand at the glass door and look outside and then back at me again saying “please” again.  The hardest part of the whole trip was when the technician would take her leash and walk out with her for her treatment.  She always stopped at the door, looking at me with her black eyes and pleading for me to help her.

To go through this is bittersweet for us.  Although we have extended her life, at times I feel I am losing the closeness I once had because she sees “me” as the person who is making her uncomfortable and giving her one of many pills she is on but she always sleeps at my head in bed and comes to my lap when we sit.   Many times, I have said to her “I’m trying to save you, please understand” and hug her tight.  Just like our kids, we do these things to make their life better, knowing the end may justify the means doesn’t means it any easier.  I try to make their life better from knowledge or experience but I also feel like a “slug” for doing it, knowing its necessary, hopping they understand.  In Abbie’s case probably not because she can’t understand but I wish she could, maybe someday she will.  
At least the Chemo is over but we’ll have several days of sickness and hopefully she will recover and play, run and jump in the water with everyone.  Something she misses so much and I always said if we could have one summer to jump and play in the lake we have won.  We love them so much it hurts…

Although my Facebook time is limited by choice, I’m there is spirit, when this kind of things happens to pets or family, priorities seem to change a little and in truth, I don’t let many know how things are because I don’t want anyone to hurt or feel like me, even if just reading about it.

As Winston Churchill once said “Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end.  But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”  Time will tell… Ken

John's "Abby"

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A Very Hard Moment...

Since June 1, 2010 I have writer a weekly story about my life on the farm with our dogs.  It has been the best of times and sometimes the worst, meeting many people who I have interacted with and sharing story about my triumphs, fiasco's and funny stories.  The blog takes nearly 8 hours or better to write and I always pour my heart out, sometimes too much info.  It was always about the dogs, mixed with a message or two, and personal experiences.  Even now it is emotional for me to go back and read some of the stories but I do because it takes me right back to “that” day and the dogs I love.   

I have pondered and wrestled about stopping my weekly writing for some time, and right now my heart is just not in it because I feel I force myself, maybe someday, but right now I’m resting.  To the ones that read them, know nearly every word was true and know that I am passionate about my dogs and even yours… but I’m sure you can tell. 
Several times I have written about dogs that were saved by people and circumstances but often I have written about my dogs and the stuff they get into.  When we had to re-homed Shepp years ago, I wrote about the day he left, the day we went to visit him and the day he came back home.

With the development of Abbie’s cancer, going back and looking at some of the stories about her, I know too soon, she will be gone and the stories will be all I have of her.  If I do outlast my dogs, it will be something that I can always reflect back on and spend priceless moments with every one of them.

I never have regretted a story I wrote and hopefully in some small way, I have helped someone or a dog have a better life.   I have built chicken houses, dog houses and even out-houses through the blog, it’s literally part of me.  Just writing this memo, I have gone back and relived my past and hugged my dogs as I did today but unfortunately someday, I may read them and have no-one to pet and I can’t imagine, but I will dream. 

If you were a reader, thank you.  It was nothing but a gift to me to be able to share my thoughts and life with you.  I don’t intend to stop, just reflect, which I do a lot.   I have never written the stories for you.  The stories are for me, it was a release of my emotions and to tell anyone who would listen how my beloved pets make me laugh and cry and they do… One of my favorite passages that I have used often is;

“By now, you must know that there is always a goodbye hovering in the shadows of a dog. We are never here for long, or for long enough. We were never meant to share all of your life, only to mark its passage. We come and we go. We come when we are needed. We leave when it is time. Death is necessary. It defines life.
I will see you again.
I will watch over you.
I hope, in your grief and loneliness, that you will consider how sad it would have been had we not had this time together, not had the chance to give each other so much.
I do not morn or grieve, but I will miss standing beside you, bound together on our walks through life, even as I know that there is a long line of others waiting to take my place and stand with you.
Thank you. It was nothing but a gift.
And finally, I ask these things of you:
Remember me.”  Jon Katz

I do intend to remember them and many many times I sat at my computer and choked up from the emotions of the story and the circumstances that happened.  I always wanted more than a collar with tags when they’re gone and so the stories came for a reason.  I do read them every so often and it is a both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply.  Ken

Some of my favorite post are;

It's Cold Here...

It’s cold here at the farm this week and exercise with the dogs has been at a minimum.  We do go out for limited walks through the woods and that helps, but we do stay away from the lakes just to be safe because I’ve been there before but the dogs see it as a shortcut.   I always keep them close to the house when the water is frozen or I’m not with them. 

Cutting across the ice...
You try to invent things to do but you’re limited with the space inside or the outside wet ground.  It’s a yearly thing and I am so grateful that they seem to understand and seem to like extra naps.   Because of the coldness, Elaine usually has all ten dogs inside.  She says she like’s their company but I wonder if that’s is a reflection on me… hummm, never thought of that.  Well at least I get to come in too and not at the back door, pawing at it.

This last Friday night, while I was checking my email and messages, Abbie and Dutchess was in my office with me.  Several minutes earlier, Elaine was also there but went to the family room to watch TV and the dogs stayed, maybe they wanted something.  They were very quiet and made little noise but I noticed something touching my chair, I looked back and noticed Abbie’s face between the seat and armrest and she had placed a ball on my chair seat.  I reached back behind me and I found a tennis ball and she just stared into my eyes and didn’t make a move.  “Sweet girl” I said and placed the ball on the floor just to find it back behind me again and again.  I thought what the heck, I picked the ball up and knew we would get into trouble but I ever so softly tossed it.  It was tossed  just a few feet away but to them it was game on.  I will tell you that Abbie and Dutchess will knock over, dive, crash, or smash anything that is in their way to get a ball.  My angel self said “What are you doing” but my mischievous self said “it will be alright” and it won. 
I know we had a calamity in the making with all the other dogs just a set of steps away downstairs, and we all know Border Collies can hear a tennis ball bounce from a long distance.  This is not the first time I have played ball in the house.  Once during the Christmas season, everyone had gone to bed but Dutchess and me.  

She wanted to play and against my better judgment, we did.  She played so hard, she knocked over a leather recliner by diving into it to get a ball.  On a spin move, she fell into the Christmas tree, sending it to the ground where ornaments flew in every directions so I know I need to keep this calm and keep the others from hearing.  I knew it was trouble and the adult came out and I said, “We’ve had enough” and placed the ball on a shelf out of reach, such sad looks...

This was this past Saturday... I don't know what she's doing...

Just look at her eyes...

She learned to raise the lid...
Look familiar?
I don’t know what to tell you to do when your dog is bored and with most, it’s an easy fix but when you have a high spirited, energy filled Dutchess dog, you’re on your own…  Some people think I set up the photos of her but as God is my witness, I don't and think of what I don't get.   She is always into something and even if it's bad, she has a good time doing it.  Good luck if you have one of her sisters...  Ken

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