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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Do you need help?

Several weeks ago, I mentioned that we have a Doctor in the house.  Doc loves to come inside, finding his bone to chew on and taking a nap in the chair.  He also had a companion in healthcare and side kick who works with him who also takes care of the needs of everyone that visits and the dogs in our pack.

Nurse Annie...
Annie Belle is someone that’s cares about all the needs of everyone, whether they like it or not.  Our little tinker bell and social butterfly is very good at what she does and tries to soothe the savage beast and fix the hurt boo boo,  but she can also be a pest, sometimes it’s both.  Her usual routine is whenever she sees someone, she wants to make sure they are as comfortable as they can be.  When she will see a dog sleeping or laying in their dog bed, her little ears perk up and she will approach them with excitement.   She has such a kind heart and will crawl up to them and start licking their snout and ears.   While this can be enjoyable to some of the dogs, not everyone is always ready to receive her attention.  Molly usually wants to be left alone and when Annie starts her usual goodwill tour, Molly will start her low guttural growl but Annie will roll onto her back and try to approach upside down thinking this might be the answer but to tell you the truth, it usually doesn’t work.  Annie will put her paws into the air and it looks like she is juggling a ball but Molly is none the wiser and the low grows still continue and Annie will move to another victim. 

Molly is trying to tell her, “Leave me alone” and never not a problem but Molly just wants her space, something we all can relate to at times. During the evening, Annie Belle will go from dog bed to another trying to comfort everyone in the room with her licks, kisses and good will.  She is in heaven when she finds that one dog that will welcome her attention and in just a few minutes, they both are grooming each other and cleaning each other’s ears and face, everyone is in heaven and clean.

Another duty she has taken upon herself is to be the welcoming committee to everyone.  She will meet every dog that comes to the farm kissing and welcoming them, even showing them the ropes.  She approaches everyone wagging her tail and a smile on her face, even bringing a snack at times.  She will prance and dance around any new arrival, making them feel at home.  She is such a character and doesn’t have a mean spirit in her body, always wanting everyone to like her.  

If we have a dog that is a little on edge, Annie comes to the rescue and we will walk with her and the guest, watching Annie do her charms making everyone comfortable and safe.  She is always the “go to” girl and she will go far and wide to help anyone.

She and Doc makes a great pair, Doc knocking you down from loving you and Annie licking you to bring you back.  We nearly have a full Emergency Medical Crew with Doc and Annie.  Dutchess has volunteered to drive the bone box to the hospital and if you see her in a mad dash driving a ambulance, steer clear and know I am in the back, God help us all...   Ken

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Do They Love Us?

Dogs have interacted with humans for thousands of years and in that time, people have learned that dogs have a special way of communicating with them that is unique to dogs. In recent years, there are an increasing number of studies examining the way dogs think and how they communicate and interact with humans.
They are also revealing ways that the bond between dogs and humans has created many ways in which dogs express how much they love their family.

1. When a dog stares at you, it means they love you.  Meggie will sit on the couch with me and she will always stare at me, not wanting anything just staring.  Some people say they are hugging you with their eyes.  One thing I learned, when we did agility with her, it was important to make eye contact and since then, she will always watch me.  Abbie will also stare at me and as I we sleep, she will put her nose right to mine on the pillow, watching and watching.

2. Bringing you a toy means more than just wanting to play. They want to share something they value with you.  While this may be true, usually mine will bring me a toy to play.  Dutchess will set at my feet and if I don’t pick it in a hurry or step away, she will reposition it several times right in front of me.

3. When a dog wants to sleep with you rather than alone, it means you are family to him.  They all want to sleep with us… I guess we’re family…

4. When a dog can’t wait to see you walk through the door, and smothers you with attention, it means he really misses you.  This is also true except Dutchess and I think she wants food or to play.

 5. If you catch your dog looking at you quietly before you leave them alone, it’s because they are relaxed and trust you to return.  Usually, if a dog panics when you leave its separation anxiety, something heartbreaking for dog owners, who often read it as meaning their dog loves you. Of course he does, but this form of anxiety can lead to destructive behavior in the home.

6. Dogs use their eyes and their body language to tell you if they trust you and tell you what they are feeling.  I love to watch their ears, sometimes it’s so comical and the movements they make so quickly.

7. If your dog is cuddly after a meal it’s not just because you fed them, it’s because you are their best friend.

8. A dog leaning or pressing against you is their version of a hug or a “hello”.  A dog will also lean on you sometimes when he’s anxious or afraid because he knows you will keep him safe and protect him.  I remember Roxie, she was the best at leaning into you.  If you stood still, she would walk up to you and push her head into you, it was heaven.

Roxie... Loved her, Great dog...  RIP
9. If your dog yawns…it could be a sign of submission…or that they feel safe and secure… Depends on the situation.
Ever notice how yawning is contagious between people? Well, it can happen between dogs and people too. A study found that when dogs mimic people’s yawns it is because the dog is bonded with that person. This usually happens in a relaxed situation. It should be noted that dogs yawning could also mean they’re anxious or upset, if they are in a stressful situation.

10. If dog sits on your feet, they’re being protective of you and it’s a little bit like he’s marking you. Jennifer Brent, from the non-profit animal welfare advocacy group Found Animals told Woman’s Day, “It’s not just that he wants to be close to you, he’s saying, ‘This is mine; now it smells like me, don’t go near it.’ He does this for three main reasons: to feel secure about his place in your life, to warn other dogs that you are spoken for and because he wants to protect you.”

11. Your dog will want to comfort you when you are upset.  Dogs are sensitive to our moods. A study revealed dogs truly do respond to human tears and will respond to our tears and will naturally try and reassure us if we are distressed. They may get close to you, put a paw on you or try to nuzzle you when you are upset.  I’ve seen this many times, they have a way of knowing us and attempting to comfort us.  Many times one of my dogs will lay next to me and stroke me with their paw…  They are quite remarkable…  Ken

Are there signs your dog’s makes that tell you that they love you?

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