Sunday

It was the worst of times... but got better.

In August of 2012, I received a lengthy email about a Border Collie breeder in Northern Indiana, and after reading it, I wrote back and asked the writer to call me, I needed more information.  They mentioned they had made a stop to visit this breeder, looking for a Border Collie while traveling back home to Michigan. She was shocked and just needed to vent and a shoulder to cry on.  I was familiar with the breeder because I had received an abundance of calls, but nothing like this one. I felt after talking about this breeder, it was time to take a trip up north, and we did.

Chase, his owner, started it all when she called and needed help, Chase is a Sanders dog.
Karen Newhall, a BC owner, and friend of ours went with me to check it out.  As we pulled into the driveway, I turned to Karen and said, "I hope it's not as bad as we've been told," and she said, "Me too." We were wrong, very very wrong.  I will tell you, that trip affected me in ways that will haunt me for the rest of my life.  Sleep escapes me on more occasions than I like.  I just can’t seem to get the faces of those sweet dogs and the smell of that place out of my mind. To the dogs, we did everything we could do, your faces will live with me forever...

On January 30, 2017, nearly 5 years after our visit to that horrible place, the many court appearances, repeated testimony, and legal battles, Thurman "Randy" Sanders, Jr., 69 passed away. He spent his life fighting the legal system for what he believed.  The courts, Karen, myself and many others disagreed with his thoughts and ways.


Randy Sanders
He received nearly $85,000 in fines, and restitution, jail time, a lifetime ban on ever having/owning a dog.  The courts spoke, it was final and loud.  In comparison, Michael Vick a sports figure received only three years’ supervised probation during which he cannot buy, sell or own dogs. 

Boone, a Sanders dog, he captured my heart when we worked with him...
When I learned of his death, my mind immediately went back to the years that we spent fighting for the lives of those dogs. We wanted nothing but health, happiness and a forever home filled with love for those Border Collies.  Some had never set foot on grass, never set a foot outside that small prison of a kennel that Randy Sanders had put them in.  The worst part of it, some of them never will because they didn't make it.

Boone having a ball with his new owners...
When his death was published, many people were excited. According to them “they wished he would burn in hell” and some comments were even worse.  I saw his death and life somewhat different. At times, I had sleepless nights and thought of the scenes and the smells I will never get out of my mind.  I hated what he did to those precious dogs that I love so much and the train wrecks he made of the ones that he sold.  This pain will go on for an extensive time, both for the dogs and the dog's owners. Like a rock thrown into a calm lake, the ripples go on forever, both good and bad, and then they bounce off the shore and return.  What he did will reverberate in the Border Collie world for generations of dogs to come.
Echo, a Sanders dog was broke in so many ways.

Ruby a Sanders dog, so shy but finally came out of her shell.  Like Boone, she is missing part of her tail, it was pulled off.


What he also did was to wake up a community and change people’s lives and laws.  While it has certainly changed the lives of the other people that were involved with the case, it has also changed my life forever.  Through the many struggles, I have had to deal with, I know, I am who I am, because of my past.  This is true for your good and bad experiences both.

One vow I made to myself was to assist and rehabilitate any dog that was the product of Randy Sanders. I am doing this for love and will continue doing anything in my power to help.  A year or so after we started the process of the court proceedings, I got that opportunity.  I got a call from someone that lived a few states away, they owned a Sanders dog and needed help with him, so they came to see us.  When “Chase” arrived, he ran for hours never slowing or stopping.  About midweek, I wrote this email to his owner.  “I put Chase on the exam table, I needed to brush him because he was matted pretty bad.    At first, he didn't know if he liked it or not but soon settled in and he actually went to sleep.  I worked on him for about an hour and got all of the tangles out.   After I  had finished, he turned and started licking my face showing emotion for the first time.”  

 At that very moment, it came to me that "Chase” is the “very” dog that started it all with Sanders.  He is the actual instrument that shut down an institution that had lasted for 40 years and ruined so many dogs and the families that had to cope with these mistreated dogs and most of all, the greed of one man.  The lady who called me in 2012 is the owner of “Chase” that spurred Karen and me to go and investigate the puppy mill.  After I had pondered these thoughts, I got a little misty-eyed, Chase then rose from the table and crawled into my lap and put his front paws on my shoulders and licked my tears and sweat away on a hot August night trying to comfort me.

Chase
If ever God has talked through an animal, he did so through Chase.  I wrote to her “I also want you to know that all the effort, phone calls, money, and trips were well worth it.  I guess Chase wanted me to know that he was grateful, but I am thankful for you (Chase’s owner) and your husband for doing the right thing.”

I am sorry Mr. Sanders passed from this world alone and isolated, but I believe that we will all face our maker. I have prayed for his soul. I will not judge him, just what he did to my beloved breed.  I remember that day so well that changed my life.  “I want to be part of the solution, not the problem,” I said, and now it is my mission.   If I would never had met or known of Mr. Sanders or seen the sights I saw,  chances are I wouldn’t be where I am now in this world of broken dogs.  “You just have to visit” was the statement from everyone that I talked to who went to his farm and left crying…and I did go, and glad of it and I did cry…

In November, Clancy’s Dream re-homed six dogs in one month along with some surgeries, food, shots, and microchips and is well on its way helping Border Collies with more on the way.  There is a team of dedicated people who are on "Clancy's Dream Team" and it is Mr. Sanders who also played a part in this whether he wanted to or not.  Thank you, Mr. Sanders, for showing me the way and making the difference in my life and in the lives of the dogs we rescue through Clancy's Dream, who would have thought Clancy's Dream will live because of you.  Ken 

A special thanks to a very special person who also helped tirelessly on this and still does for the dogs that don't have a voice.  You are a special Lady.  


Thank you my "Clancy Man."


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Copied, but very nice...

Unlike most days at RainBow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All the recent arrivals were confused and concerned. They had no idea what to think for they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals who had spent some time waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was happening and began to gather at the pathway leading to the Bridge to watch. They knew this was something special.

It wasn't too long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung heavy and low with tail dragging along the ground. The other animals on the pathway...the ones who had been at RainBow Bridge for a while...knew the story of this sad creature immediately. They had seen it happen far too many times. Although it was obvious the animal's heart was leaden and he was totally overcome with emotional pain and hurt, there was no sign of injury or any illness. Unlike the pets waiting at the Bridge, this dog had not been restored to his prime. He was full of neither health nor vigor. He approached slowly and painfully, watching all the pets who were by now watching him. He knew he was out of place here. This was no resting place for him. He felt instinctively that the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be.

But alas, as he came closer to the Bridge, his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who spoke softly to the old dog and apologized sorrowfully, telling him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their special people could pass over the RainBow Bridge. And he had no special beloved people...not here at the Bridge nor on Earth below. With no place else to turn, the poor elderly dog looked toward the fields before the Bridge. There, in a separate area nearby, he spotted a group of other sad-eyed animals like himself...elderly and infirm.

Unlike the pets waiting for their special people, these animals weren't playing, but simply lying on the green grass, forlornly and miserably staring out at the pathway leading to the Bridge. The recent arrival knew he had no choice but to join them. And so, he took his place among them, just watching the pathway and waiting. One of the newest arrivals at the Bridge, who was waiting for his special people, could not understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the pets who had been there for some time to explain it to him. "That poor dog was a rescue, sent to the pound when his owner grew tired of him. They way you see him now, with graying fur and sad, cloudy eyes, was exactly the way he was when he was put into the kennels.

He never, ever made it out and passed on only with the love and comfort that the kennel workers could give him as he left his miserable and unloved existence on Earth for good. Because he had no family or special person to give his love, he has nobody to escort him across the Bridge." The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, "So what will happen now?" As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the all-invasive gloom lifted. Coming toward the Bridge could be seen a single figure...a person who, on Earth, had seemed quite ordinary...a person who, just like the elderly dog, had just left Earth forever.
This figure turned toward a group of the sad animals and extended outstretched palms. The sweetest sounds they had ever heard echoed gently above them and all were bathed in a pure and golden light. Instantly, each was young and healthy again, just as they had been in the prime of life. From within the gathering of pets waiting for their special people, a group of animals emerged and moved toward the pathway.

As they came close to the passing figure, each bowed low and each received a tender pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. Their eyes grew even brighter as the figure softly murmured each name. Then, the newly-restored pets fell into line behind the figure and quietly followed this person to the Bridge, where they all crossed together. The recent arrival who had been watching, was amazed. "What happened?" "That was a rescuer," came the answer. "That person spent a lifetime trying to help pets of all kinds. The ones you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of such unselfish work. They will cross when their families arrive.

Those you saw restored were ones who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are permitted to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor pets that couldn't place on Earth across the Rainbow Bridge. You see, all animals are special to them...just as they are special to all animals." "I think I like rescuers," said the recent arrival. "So does God," was the reply. --Author Unknown--





A Dog Purpose, really?

A Dog’s Purpose.
Why in the world would there be dogs in the world?  Where did they come from?  If we did evolve, why don’t we look like dogs?  I ask this question last week on my Facebook page and received many answers.  “For some people, their dog is to assist them in a job (herding, protecting or helping those who are medically unable).  Mine help me stay in shape because they require walking, etc.”  one reader said, “I need somebody to wake me up and give licks, pee on a tree, sleep all day, wake up again, give more licks, and then stay up till midnight barking at the TV.”


It seems like dogs have many purposes in our world, but to some readers have very unique reasons, “I need somebody who can break wind without a first thought or second thought.” I know people like this...  “I believe a dog's true purpose is to teach us humans a thing or two about love, respect, and loyalty.”  “They are never willing to sit, stay, or roll over when you want them to but who can chase balls, sniff crotches, fetch sticks and lift spirits with a lick.”  In my sadist times, just a lick, look or some lap time makes my day and then I realize, things will get better and they always do.


“Having a dog means never having to bend over and pick up food that was dropped on the floor. It means never being cold at night because someone always wants to lay near/on you. It means never setting an alarm clock because it cannot provide face licking and body slamming that two hungry dogs can achieve at 5:30 am.”  While this may seem unusual to a non-dog owner, I can attest, this is the truth.  On a few instances, I have even let Dutchess in the house to get something I spilled on the floor, and she did a pretty good job.


One writer said, “they are strong enough to pull sleds and find bombs, yet gentle enough to love babies and lead the blind.”  “Our dogs each seem to have a different purpose, though ultimately their total devotion is both of their goals…. she's determined to get us off our butts. She loves to please us by completing successful agility jumps. She jumps on the back of our couch as we walk by, so she can be at our level for a hug. She always wants to sit on our laps and be with us, for companionship.



What does it mean to us as humans to have a dog and why?  “It means spending ridiculous amounts of money on vet bills and not batting an eye while I refuse to pay $0.03 more for gas at the gas station close to my house. It means not needing a doorbell because you will always be alerted when someone is at the door. It means buying a SUV because you're brood is now too big for your two door car.”  I gently reminded my son some months ago when he was looking for a house, “remember you have a dog, it needs to be dog-friendly with a fence”  and I was pleased when he mentioned the first thing to do before they move in was  “we need to build a fence,”  and he did.
“It doesn't matter what you didn’t do, or couldn’t take, or didn’t win, or couldn’t make they will love you without judgment.”  Another reader “It means buying a house that may not have everything you want, but as long as the yard is appropriate for the dogs, you will learn to tolerate those things inside the house that irritate you. It means planning vacations around them or canceling them at the last minute when they are sick.” 


As people who want acceptance and try to prove to the world that we are successful, we don’t need to do that with our dog because they don't care and we really shouldn't. “Dogs are companionship in the purest form. A dog doesn't just see you as an equal, they see you as a person who has chosen to give them a home and good life, and they're genuinely grateful.”  “Somebody to lie next to you during the long nights of pain and sorrow when it hurts to move”  “Somebody to stand guard, play ball, snore for hours and repeat again and again.  Somebody to give you strength when you have none of your own.”
 I remember several times when I would walk with one of my dogs and my world was collapsing.  Although they knew something, they were smart enough to make me fill better.  From a blog I wrote in November 2015 “Just Yesterday morning, I couldn’t sleep and get out of bed.  I called Abbie, and off we went walking through the woods at 4 am.  There was little or no moon, but the wind was slightly blowing through the trees, and it was dreamlike.  She led the way to her favorite spot at our 2nd lake, mostly because it’s one of her play areas.  This time, she walked onto the dock and waited for me.  I sat down on a step, Abbie curled up into my lap and licked my face.  We sat there and listened to the wind as we sat holding each other, I dreamed of younger times and of uncomplicated days, not tiring or growing weary.   I raced through a lifetime of wonderful memories, but tonight my thoughts were of Abbie.  To her, we may have been dreaming for a short time, but to me, it was a lifetime… and I assure you, I will never forget that moment.  As a dog parent, we look to fill their needs, but this time Abbie sensed what I needed, and filled my needs… more than she’ll ever know”  This was the day I found out Abbie had Cancer.



So what is a dog’s purpose?  If you had never seen or met a dog, you would never have one from reading this...  As I’ve said many times before “I didn’t want a dog.” but I never had one before and didn't know the love they could give.  To them, their purpose is to aggravate me, jump on me, jump in the Hot-Tub with me, steal my food and sleep in my spot in the bed.  But when I look into those eyes and see their soul, my soul and see their love and devotion, my soul seeks to be like them because they really are better than us at times. “Somebody to be your buddy and guide us in this world and the next. Somebody to wait for you on the other side or stand guard in your absence until they can join you for eternity.”

Do they have a purpose? You bet they do…   Part two will be when I see the movie... but I kinda know what it might be about.   Ken  

Abbie and Dutchess

My two most active dogs will play most anytime.  This Saturday, Abbie brought me a tennis ball that she found in the yard which is very customary and if she can’t find one, part of a tennis ball will do.  Because we have nine dogs, it’s difficult for the serious ball players to get into the action because of distractions from their playmates.  Molly and Annie will hold the ball, Dahlia, Shepp; Doc, Gabby will pester the real players most of the time by running next to them and aggravate.   Shepp likes to play on his own and Meggie can play most anyway.  Nearly everyone was in the house when Abbie brought me her ball, so I had an idea.  You can hardly turn them down when they want something because those eyes kill you into submission.


I grabbed another tennis ball from the top of the refrigerator and Dutchess, Abbie and I went to find a spot, each of them turning circles as we walked.  You have to remember the ones in the house will watch where we go, so we snuck into a secluded area that is all the way at the back of the property, near the fence line where it’s flat and clear.
Right off the bat, a ball went through the fence.  

Please come back... Please...
As I watched in amazement, Dutchess tried to reach it, but Abbie jumped in and stuck her head through it.  As usually, Abbie already had a ball in her mouth but dropped it to retrieve the other, and when in her mouth.she got it, she gave it to Dutchess, grabbing “hers” for it’s usually place 

Dutchess tries

Abbie dives in

Got a leaf too
We had a great game, and the two played hard.  I will tell you, at one time, Dutchess could jump higher, run faster and last longer but those days are gone.  Abbie still runs reckless, knocking anything down in her way and always going full speed but today she was winded and was wore out, but kept going.

It was a pleasure just to watch the two athletics do what they like to do.  While I love to see all the dogs run, Sometimes, special care needs to be given so everyone can enjoy the fun.    When we were finished, we walked to the house and Abbie still had the ball.  Dutchess was exhausted and came to the porch for water, but Abbie went and got hers from the lake…  Why do they have to get all the way in the water to get a drink?  Tonight these two will sleep well, Abbie will be satisfied for a day, Dutchess will need Rimadyl.   Ken


After all the hullabaloo...



I will tell you that we are busy at the farm during the day.  Being home with the dogs 24 hours a day for some years, you would think they are used to me and get used to my actions.  They usually are with me wherever I go whether it’s cutting grass, shoveling snow or taking a walk which is generally is three or four times a day.  I do like to stay busy and keep myself occupied, and as you know, Border Collies do too, so we fit.  While this is a problem with some homes that are not active and issues come into place, this is not a problem here but that will be a later day story.

Helping with the grass
They pick up on my movement whether it’s sitting down to put on my shoes, putting down the remote or sitting down or getting up from my favorite recliner.  This has happened for some time, but the last week or so, it happens nearly night.  When I retire to the family room, Dutchess will watch my every step, and if I walk to the recliner, she will stand at the foot and even before I get completely down, she will try to reserve her spot by getting on my lap.  “Dutchess, let me sit first” is what she usually hears but falling on deaf ears is common as most things she has selective hears.  Things are generally the “Dutchess” way, and if the truth be known, I let her do the things she wants to do, just because of who she is which is a stinker.


Once I sit down, Dutchess springs into action even before I have time to lean back in the chair.  She is impatient, but the rewards are great once she finally makes her nest in my lap.  She will sleep for what seems like hours without moving and as she lays motionless in my lap, as with all the dogs that make it there, they get a good massage and check over.  I do find it therapeutic to watch any of them dream and “chase rabbits” in their sleep, right in my lap.  Some of the other benefits are also rewarding because when I have a dog in my lap, Elaine hears this several times an evening and of course, we don’t want to disturb the dog.  “Elaine, can you get me another piece of cheese?”  or “Elaine can you get me something to drink?” which she always comply, not wanting to disturb the dog.  Kind of cool huh…  Think about it guys. 



So after all the hullabaloo through the day and as we wind down for the evening, it is comforting to see and feel the dogs when they are their sweetest.  



We have multiple dog beds in the family room, and they will move from one to the other, to the couch, and back to their bed.  It’s also funny they each have their special place whether it’s in their bed or my heart.  Ken

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What’s that Smell?

The locomotive
We’ve all been there and said the same thing at one time or another. Every night when we transfer to the family room, I take all the dogs for a walk through the woods.  It’s about a half of mile, and it usually takes care of any business for the dogs, and they are relieved.  Since Elaine decided to keep all the dogs in the house every night, I try to make sure that any possibility of an accident it was taken care of if you know what I mean!  We typically take two trips, on at about 9 pm and another one at 10:30 or so. 
I have a light just for the walks that will shine to the moon and back, and it’s a LED and rechargeable too!  
Can be purchased through Amazon, proceeds to Clancy's Dream
Out the back door we go and they always know where we are going and when.  It’s right when I put the remote down, and their ears pop up, and a race to the back door is in order.  Just don’t be in their pathway.
Once on the path and in the woods, each dog wanders aimlessly in every direction.  Always stopping and smelling the ground and sticking their nose in the leaves, moving it an inch and diving in again.  Dahlia, Abbie, and Annie are the worst at this and Molly comes in second.  I thought it was a cat in the area or a skunk (God forbid) but what I saw earlier this week surprised me.  Out of the corner of my eye with the help of my million watt light, a rabbit was merely hopping like no one was around, but there was.  


Dogs were everywhere and Dahlia, AKA “critter killer,” was just a few feet away.  Now Dahlia has chased our cats up trees, under and over fences but she has never caught one, but I can only envisage what will happen.  When she gets her body moving, it’s like a locomotive under full steam, and I think she would go through a wall.  Truth be known, I bet she is a big sissy, but I don’t want to find out.


Little Bunny FOO FOO was happy frolicking through the woods.  I was the only one who saw her, and she made her deposit and skipped off in the wilderness.  As we were walking back the same way that we came from earlier, All the dogs were running until they crossed over “that” spot and everyone stopped on a dime and started sticking their nose to the ground searching for their treat. 
What I can’t fathom is why they would want to eat or roll in that stuff, and it seems to be the gourmet of food to them.  And if it’s not a treat, it’s a cologne only to be applied to the neck area “according to them.”  A dog in a real barnyard is truly in dog heaven, always plenty to eat… Yuck, make me gag…


What never surprises me is the exceptional food you purchase, cook or prepare for them, some costing 60 dollars a bag.  There is nothing better than rabbit droppings, road kill, nasty water or a good turd.  Can’t believe I wrote that.

Give your dog a hug, not to be confused with a kiss…   Ken

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How Do You Say NO, sometimes…


When I got my very first dog, I remember the person who sold me my first dog giving me some useful information.  He said “If your dog only learns one word, it needs to be “NO.”  I didn’t give it much thought then, but now I see the value in his wise advice.


Mollie
Many times we succumb to the “wants” of our children, grandchildren, and spouse.  That’s perfectly acceptable (Elaine may read this) in most cases, but with a dog, things change.  I’ve always told a story to new dog owners about a dog that’s gets into the garbage canister.  As he is in it, you say “no, ” and he stops.  He again gets in it, and you again tell his “no, ” and he stops.  This command goes on for nearly ten times, and you see him again, and you just ignore it.   The dog is in Heaven, even though you have corrected him nine times, in his mind, he has your permission to get into the garbage container or the dishwasher.  He has won…




As a parent, my job is to teach my children to survive in this world making wise decisions.  Hopefully, when they grow up, they will realize that you’re not as stupid as they always thought you were.   I remember that moment very well when I was 31 years old, and the very moment it happened.  Dad and I were working on a project, and I went into the house to get each of us a cold glass of water.  I walked onto the porch, and for some reason I stopped and turned around, looking at dad.  Lighting struck me, and the message that came to me was “Dad’s not as dumb as you think,”  and I realized it was TRUE.  What an awakening.  After that, our relationship changed for the better.  Dad didn’t change I did.

With dogs, you could correct them a thousand times a day, and they will try again and again and again.  If they only knew that it was for their betterment and sometimes ours.  You don’t want them to charge into the street; you don’t want them to jump on the mailman or the dog warden if he visits, which did happen here once.  We try and try, and hopefully, it gets through, but it usually doesn't, but the correction is much easier if it’s constant.  I usually just call their name or say NO.  In any given day I will say…

Let me sleep…
No…
Abbie, don’t wash my nose off…
Gabby, don’t scratch my back with your nails…
Ok, I’ll get up…
Dutchess get off the table…

Of course, it is
Dutchess get out of the dishwasher…
Dutchess get your water out of the bowl. Not the toilet…
Dahlia, you’re too big to be in my lap…
For the love of God, can I go to the bathroom without all of you?

Yes, it's Dutchess here too...
And this is just in the first ten minutes of the day.

There is always an exception to the “NO” rule.  Last night, I was making some chicken jerky in the dehydrator in the utility room because it has a door. We make it there because Dutchess cleaned out two trays of jerky when we did it in the kitchen when she got on the table and helped herself.  The chicken jerky was finished, and I was taking it off the trays.  Elaine came into the room with Abbie.  “What’s up,” I said.  “Abbie needs a dog cookie” and proceeded to get one out of the cabinet.  “Abbie is special,” she said.  “We just don’t know how much longer she has, and I want to spoil her.”


Abbie
As most know, Abbie has Lymphoma and has lived well beyond what most thought she would.  Do we say “NO” to Abbie?  At times but she gets extra treats along with snuggles and kisses.  Last night she had a couple of homemade dog cookies and also got a couple of pieces of chicken jerky, some I accidently dropped on the floor.  Now we don’t baby her, but we do make sure she is treated with love, and she gets in the front of the line, so to speak.  I always make space for Abbie, usually in my lap, but she will share with Annie and Meggie.  The couch is full until snack times comes around and I make sure that Abbie gets two treats for every one that the others get.  No one seems to care, but Dutchess, because she counts.   Give your Dog a hug today…   Ken

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‘Twas the night before Christmas…

Christmas Eve night is always filled with excitement and mystery and last night was no exception.   When I was a kid, I remembered so well that I couldn’t wait until Christmas morning and didn’t want to go to bed.  When I grew up, Mom confessed to me that I was so excited; she secretly gave me a couple of children aspirin or Benadryl, maybe both and that was the way the dogs were last night, they couldn’t wait until morning.


We finally went to bed; the dogs cozied up on whatever bed they could get on, but they were mostly on mine.  As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.  When I drifted off, I was somewhere that I didn’t recognize.  Now, I’m sure it was a dream, but it seemed so real.  I was in my favorite place; dogs surrounded me, everyone was happy, playful and it was sunny with lots of wind.  I was in “my” heaven…

After picking up a ball that they brought me I gave it a few tosses, something seemed familiar to me!  I’ve seen that dog before, but this was a dream.  Time went on, and I saw several other dogs that appeared in and out of my dream that also seemed familiar.



My dad and I were best friends and very close, but after he had passed away, I would “see” him or so I thought.  Dad usually wore a floppy hat when he walked like some older men, but his was unique.  Many times I would be driving down the street near home and would see “Dad” and his hat, for a brief second I knew it was him, I just knew it was.  When I got closer, it was someone else but oh how I wished it was.  I knew it wasn’t Dads hat because the hat he had on when he died is in my Hope Chest where I put it that very day.  It’s in a sealed plastic bag with “his” smell, something I don’t ever want to forget.


As I ran and played with the dogs in the dream, they seemed so animated and playful.  At one time, I even sat down in the grass and let them lick my face like I always do with mine at home, it’s our special time.  In the dream, we would explore the meadows and streams and some even jumped in the water getting me wet just like at home.  As much as we would run and play, some kept looking at a dog in the far distance but always refocused their attention back to me because I had the ball.  I paid little attention to the dog because I focused on the delightful companions that were with me. 

After very little sleep, I awoke in a shudder.   I remembered the dream and even smiled because it was peaceful and pure.  I moved my hand and felt a warm spot on the bed with an indentation next to my head, but there were no dogs anywhere to be seen but what I couldn’t get out of my head was a smell I recognized that filled my head.

Growing up, I was a very active little boy, doing all of the mischevious stuff but much more, much more.  Fortunately, I got away with most of it and didn’t cause too much damage.  Two things directly take me back to my childhood, it was riding horses at my friend's farm and taking them into the lake to cool them off.  It was incredible to ride them bareback into the water and be on them when they swam, but what takes me back to that very moment is I remember the smell of the water, I don’t know why but it was fresh, clean and energizing.  The second was when I would play in the front of the paneled milk delivery truck.     


We would climb into the truck when they made deliveries to the house, and there was the smell of pipe smoke that was pleasant, and to this very day, if I smell that brand of tobacco now, I’m ten years old playing in that very milk truck with my best friend.  Past studies have shown that memories triggered by smells are more vivid and more emotional than those triggered by sounds, pictures or words and I do believe it.

Each dog of mine has a unique smell, but none are the same, and I didn’t know where "that" smell came from this morning.  There was black hair on the bed, it was warm to the touch, but the smell was what stumped me, but I know I have smelled it before.  The very morning Clancy passed away he crept into my bed, burrowing his nose under my arm and fell asleep.  As I watched him breathe and rubbed his head, he slept peacefully and dreamed… and Christmas Eve night, he watched over me while I dreamed…


Christmas gifts come in many forms.  To some, it is a baby that saved us.  To others, it is seeing and connecting with family.  Others it's stressful and depressing, to kids is presents and packages, but in the famous song “I’ll be home for Christmas"  the last line says, "If only in my dreams” is true... last night, I was home, and Clancy was too.  I was in his world and he was again in mine.



As I look back on my dream, I remember it was our rescue dogs that I  recognize, and it all came back to me.  While I was in "my" heaven in the dream, I was really in theirs.  Time had passed for them but it's not my time yet, but last night was so real, and in my heart, my Clancy Man watched over me on Christmas Eve waiting for his master to come home...  Merry Christmas.   Ken

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