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!  
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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.

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…
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.”

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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My little protector…

I have a four-legged guardian angel, and her name is Abbie.  Some may not be aware that she is the product of Clancy and Molly and was rehomed back to us on two occasions six years ago.  The second time, we just kept her because we loved her and felt sorry for her.  Nearly her whole life has been spent here on the farm, and we were the first and will be the last to hold her. 

For whatever reason, she is my dog.  Let me stop you there…  Elaine and I were sitting on the couch one night, and three dogs were trying to get into my lap, now Elaine would love to have a lap dog and may have one if my lap is full.  Elaine called one of the dogs over, and she begrudgingly went to her.  After a few minutes, she came back.  Elaine looked puzzled and said, “I just don’t understand it.”  “It’s simple,” I said, and she said “tell me”  This was my opening and I took it.  “They don’t like you” I laughed when I said it and then she did too.  The truth is I am their Alpha and they see me as the one in charge.  A dog’s mind is full of wonders, and at times I don’t think we’ll ever understand it all.

A few days ago, I posted on Facebook “ So touching... Abbie always needs to be near me and wherever I'm at, she curls up next to my feet.”  and many people responded.   It’s so funny to watch her in action.  She loves to be where ever I go or sit.  She will take a position next to my feet, looking away from me and scan the room just to see if anyone is anywhere near.  If there is not, she will jump into my lap but if someone is near, she will give that low guttural grrrrrrrrr and stare.  She thinks she is so bad and she is one of the smallest dogs we have. 

At times I have even seen Clancy made a wide birth around my chair because she is protecting me from any and all harm in her mind.  If only she and I are in the family room and any dogs start down the steps, up in my lap she jumps so no one else can get there.  One of the cutest things I do to get her excited is out of the blue; I will go grrrrrrr and she will too, looking around to see who is getting near but no-one is there.  I do it again and so does she and then I bark and she will too.  She is such a hoot and loves me with all of her heart.  Every morning and night, she will come to my office and put her head between the armrest and seat waiting for a hug, which she gets.  Last week, knowing she wanted to be as close as she can be, I picked her up and sat her on my desk while we read emails together. 

Abbie is a sweetie to me and what sealed her fate here at the farm was when she came back to us the second time, I was lying on the bed, she jumped up and laid next to me.  But what really captured my heart was when she scooted and pulled herself right next to the inside of my arm, putting her head on my chest, letting out a big sigh...  She was home.

Abbie is doing well with her illness...   Ken


Have you ever?...

Have you ever, is a question that I ask if you have a Border Collie, I’m sure you will answer the question with a yes!

Have you ever sat down in your favorite chair just to relax and a Border Collie was in your lap within seconds? I know I have because my little stink pot will be next to the chair and even in front of it where I can’t even recline the chair yet.  I also feel like a human dog bed that moves from spot to spot, just for them.

Have you ever sat the remote for the TV down while you were sitting and they see or hear the noise it makes, and they know they are going outside, and they run to the door?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever picked up your shoes and started a frenzy of dogs scrambling for the door and while you were trying to tie your shoes, five tongues were washing your face while four others were turning circles at the door?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever tried to write on your computer or laptop and a cold nose pushes your hand up off the keyboard over a million times and you learn to type with one hand just so you can rub their head?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever turned off the TV for bed and the dogs wake up from your lap or dog bed and beat you to the bed and you shake your head and wonder where you are going to sleep?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever been woken up from a deep sleep with a tongue trying to clean your nose whether you needed it or not?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever has a snack and not been surrounded by several dogs want their share with you?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever gone up or down a set of stairs and been nearly knocked down by a pack of very eager dogs  trying to win the race?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever been down in the dumps with the world against you and you feel no one cares about you?  Have you ever needed someone to talk to and hear your problems without passing judgment?  

Have you ever looked into the eyes and seen the soul of another and seen love, compassion, kindness?  Have you ever seen that all is good in the world and it just can’t get any better?  Have you ever been loved by a dog without any questions and with ALL of their heart?  If you can answer yes, then you own a Border Collie…

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