A Dream Come True...

As I sit in the airport on Saturday morning, many things flood my mind, and today it all seems to come together, maybe because of my long anticipated trip to “my” heaven.  As most of you know I traveled to Glen Highland Farm in upstate New York last year.  It is a Border Collie Rescue that works, rehabilitates and re-homes the breed.  I have always wanted to return since Karen Newhall and I brought 5 dogs here last year.  This week, I hope to tell their story from my point of view and explain to the readers what they actually do.

Their website is beautiful and fun to leaf through, the dogs are striking and there is not one that I would not take home, many people have, only to have their forever companion, giving a great dog a great home. 

Its late evening at the “Adoption House” where I am staying with two dogs that are being transitioned to go to their new home.  Liam and Lennon are brothers, I don’t know their history but they are very sweet dogs.  They will be staying with me during the night and they have already scoped out the bed and I look forward to being with them and their companionship.  Just a few night ago Abby and Dutchess were with me in their usual station in the bed and as I woke that morning, I got my morning sugar, hopefully tomorrow I will also get some.
Liam and Lennon

You see, this would not be a vacation to some, because it's work.  Tonight I had my assignments and tomorrow is full, with much more to come.   The dogs are the first priority to everyone here.  The staff is knowledgeable and willing to work in whatever weather condition it takes.  Liam and Lennon are with me because I am being put to work acclimating them to men and socializing them to different environments.  They have done wonderful, a little shy at first but by Saturday evening, they were crawling all over me licking my face and wanting their butt scratched.  Some may call this work but to the lovers of the breed, this is heaven, trust me…
Liam and Lennon

On Saturday, after I was picked up at the airport by a friend of the farm, but before we traveled to GHF, another passenger was picked up too.  It was a 15 week old Border Collie that needed a good home.  Off we both went, to a place that transforms our minds and hearts, both learning and expanding our wings to live a life we should live… Ken

See you next week or follow my GHF experience on Facebook 

Note:  This Sunday morning, it is snowing and when the alarm went off, as fast as they could, Liam and Lennon ran as quickly as they could and jumped in bed and smothered me with kisses and as I type this footnote, I have discovered that you "can" type with two puppies in your lap and 4 paws on the keyboard, just like home...maybe I am... 

A Big Day Coming...

I have watched the calendar for the last six months, waiting for this coming week to arrive, but it doesn't compare to the anticipation for this Saturday, the 21st of March.  Several years ago after learning that a dog nirvana rescue place accepted volunteers during the winter, I knew I had to go.  I made phone calls, sent emails and watched their website for information.  That first year, I was too late to apply and didn't make it. The second year, had already been booked full and I was out again but in November of 2014 I got an email from the director, “Hey Ken, just checking in if you think you still want to come for a week this winter?”  My heart skipped a beat and hopefully I was in.  I immediately sent a response back and said just a few words, “Yes, I would love to come” and I was in.  

Dates were exchanged and my week was set for March 21st, I’m on the way I said to myself, I just needed to convince Elaine.  It is something we both have talked about for nearly two years but now it was to be a reality.  I got a big hug and all of her support and then the planning had to take place.  We cleared our calendar for our farm and any services, Elaine even arranged her part time job to be home the whole time while I was away and her dad is also going to visit for the week, they can spend some quality time together.  This would be the first night I would be away from the farm for over two years and is well needed.  After contacting some of the past volunteers, I got the inside scoop on things to bring, everyone was very helpful and lots of ideas were given to me that I didn't think about.

Glen Highland Farm has been a place that I would visit in my mind on many occasions, I would watch their website and read their stories but what really got me was a video of a dog they took in with several medical problems and had little hope.  The video shows the progress the dog made because of their help and became part of their family, no cost, care or time is held back to “right the wrong,” this was a place I needed to go… Why Glen Highland Farm

As many of you already know Karen Newhall and I took 5 dogs to GHF in September 2014 and I vowed to go back.  I knew if I went, there would be work to do, dogs to clean, laundry to wash and around the clock care for the dogs which is ever changing.  I'm sure I'll be under strict supervision because this is not playtime, their job is important and the last thing they need is to coddle a newbie.  Hopefully my Veterinarian experience, my 9 Border Collies and the boarding we do, will help, but until you walk in their shoes, you don't have a clue. 

I do know it was the best place that I have seen for the total care and rehabilitation of the Border Collie breed and it changed my opinion, practices and work we do on our farm.  Because of GHF, I have “seen the light” with the work of the breed we do, knowing they are special because of their intelligence, and I can't wait to get there.

Most nights all of our dogs at our farm comes in-doors after a hard day of playing.  They sit in my lap, sleep next to me on the couch or lay by my feet. If one jumps down from my lap or couch, another one takes their place.  At Glen Highland, I have been told that the cottage I will stay in has at least two dog as residents.  I know they will be at home as this is “their” home and in my heart, this is mine too…  Ken

See you next week or follow us today on Facebook

Note:  I am taking my laptop on this trip and hopefully I'll be able to post daily stories about my antics and the dogs I meet.

Glen Highland Farm Facebook Page

For more information about Glen Highland Farm

A Long Drive Home...

As I walked down the corridor of the kennel at the Tippecanoe County Dog Shelter looking at the dogs one last time, an employee came in, I turned my head away so no one would see my tears, I was embarrassed…

As I turned out of my driveway on Saturday morning headed to the Tippecanoe County Dog Shelter, my mind flashed back to another time, when I made a visit to a dog farm.  All the negative emotions came flooding back to my conscience as it still does so many times.  Another long road was ahead of me and I have traveled many miles along with others.   I turned onto the interstate with my thoughts flooding into hundreds of directions of what to do.  I remembered back to when Karen Newhall and I transported five Border Collies to Glen Highland Farm in September of last year.  It was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had.  It changed me forever and changed my practices with Border Collies too.  We have worked in rescue for several years but last year, we had our last set of pups.  All of our attention now is directed at helping to restore, re-home and comfort the Border Collies in need because we love them so very much.
Saturday’s trip, was planned at the last minute and I think it was because I “just” needed to see the dogs and hold them in my arms and in my own way, let them know we will do everything we can. 

 A week or so earlier, I was sent a news article,Seven dogs removed from deplorable conditions and this is the very place where the “Lucky 5” Border Collies came from last year bringing the total to nearly 60 dogs confiscated or relinquished from the same place.  As I pulled into the shelter where the dogs were at, my emotions that I thought had healed came rushing back in a torrent.  I knew what I was going to see again but I didn't know it would be so bad.   I had been watching the progress of the confiscated dogs in the news and it broke my heart that one of the seven dogs, an eight month old, had to have his eye removed for medical reasons, but some others needed dentals, x-rays, lice removal and all needed vaccinations from lack of care I was told. 

I met Nita Pollock, the owner of the kennel, along with Sharon Dull who works with the dogs frequently, giving attention to every one of the confiscated dogs.  The dog’s looks great in the photos but the photos are deceiving and many months of work and rehabilitation will be needed, and to think, four of them are only 8 months old.  The kennel has had these seven, confiscated dogs for nearly two weeks.  They were groomed by Purdue students and were brushed, cutting fecal matter from their fur, which is stained so bad from urine and feces, it will take months just to get the color back and the fur has a texture of a Vaseline type material that will not release except for time.
All of the brown except the face is urine and fecal stains.
Sharon and I each were sitting in the runs with each dog just talking and touching them. We didn’t force ourselves on them, we allowed them to do what was comforting for them. Sometimes that just meant we sat there with them and that appeared to soothe them.  When we tried to get them to walk with us, the first thing I noticed was that when the kennel door was opened they would not walk forward or try to get out at all.   
Sharon Dull and Graham who lost his eye, he's only 8 months old
The outside was a new world to them and the kennel was their safe place and as much as I coaxed them they would put on the brakes at the threshold.  When I lifted their front legs over, their back legs would stop them from going any further, they would cowl down close to the ground frozen in that spot. I noticed that sometimes some of them would cowl in the corner with their head staring up toward the ceiling.

It was a very moving experience on Saturday and I was told that they are light-years ahead of where they were just 12 days ago. With time, patience, socialization and most of all love, something I suspect they have had little of, these things will make all the difference.  What help they initially needed for the urine stained fur, removed eye, dentals, x-rays, and vaccinations is so important, but what they will surely need now to survive, is someone willing to fight for their very life because at times, they were left out in the cold literally with frozen water, if any and living in their own waste.

As I walked that final walk down the long corridor for my last glimpse before going home and to tell them I loved them, I stuck my fingers into each kennel door to touch their nose, most would touch and lick my fingers, some would back away but as I walked a little further and looked back, they always walked to the front, peeking around the door, curious of what this is all about and I always saw “just” a small tail wag, hopefully there is hope because people care and hopefully do what it takes.  Thanks to all involved…

Run Free Angels and know Someday We'll Run Together…

Note: the dogs need many months of work just for basic survival, my trip was lackluster to them and everything to me, just to see what I have been told many times “You just can’t imagine”.  Truer words were never spoken, No you can't imagine, trust me…  Ken


Molly Girl...Where Are You?

Last Tuesday on a very cold, sunny afternoon with 10 inches of snow and below freezing temperature, I hobbled out to a play areas on the farm because the dogs needed some action.  The dogs and I played for as long as we could which meant as long as I could tolerate it because it was very cold.  When I gave the command “let’s go to the house” off they all went running through the woods back toward the house.  It was close to their dinner time so we went in the direction of the kennel.  As fast as they could, they galloped through obstacles, each other, hills and dales making it a race to get back first.  

In the kennel, each dog has their own stall and will stand in front of “their” door and wait until I open the door.  I start on one end, letting each of them in as Dutchess, Meggie, Dahlia and all the others are safely inside.  The last door is Molly’s stall, it is bigger because she is privileged because she is my Heart Dog and the oldest.  When I got to her door she wasn't there which is most unusual… “Molly, Molly, MOLLY where are you”, as I look around. 

As a young father I have been here before when the kids wandered off for just a second, the sudden panic of not being able to find your child and loved one is pure panic.  The fear of fear runs through your heart and mind and you think the worse or at least I do but everything always turns out alright and that sudden panic is quickly resolved when you find them, but this is not the case today.  I went to the back door of our house and knew she would be waiting for me.  “Molly, MOLLY”.  She was nowhere to be found.  I searched the entire house and she always comes to me, always, and now my mind starts to work, but not in a good way.

Earlier I remember she ran in another direction, not with the pack and blazing a different trail which is not is unusual for her.  What if she didn't make it to the kennel, what if she somewhere in the woods?  She always comes to me, always… “MOLLY, come here” as I started my trek to find her.
Molly...A Mother and family member
About 4 weeks earlier, my knee went out and after several Doctor Visits and medications, it still excruciatingly hurts but I had to find Molly and now the sun was starting to go down.  Knowing she wasn't in the house, she had to be outside.  I grabbed a walking stick for balance and off in the 10 inches of snow I went and in my heart, I know this didn't look good.   I had visions of her down in the snow from an injury or heart problem and this drove my determination even harder but the questions still popped up in my mind.  “Molly…… Molly…… Molly, where are you, MOLLY come on girl.”
My whole leg hurt and I don’t know if the cold made it better or worse but it hurt and the deep snow and heavy polar boots made it unbearable because I had to bend my knee further.  After several trips around the farm on foot and walking the fence line, nothing.  “MOLLY…MOLLY…MOLLY”, she has to be somewhere, good or bad, she has to be somewhere, but where.  If she is not outside, maybe she is still in the house?  I searched again, went out the back door and went in the garage, nothing.  “MOLLY…MOLLY…MOLLY where are you” and I walked around the wrap-around porch.  Nothing so off to the woods I went again and things looked very dim and so was the weather, it was getting dark.  
Clancy and Molly
I can’t give up, I got to find her or at least her injured or lifeless body.   “MOLLY…MOLLY, PLEASE MOLLY GIRL where are you?”   After a trip around the farm again I need help and knew it.  As I walked back to the house in the now zero weather, I was freezing but my heart was burning.  I was now headed to call my neighbors as soon as I reached home, It was my last step.  Once to the house, just to double check, I went in the garage for that last look, nothing, zilch, naught.  Our garage is attached with a utility room and I thought I would cut through to use the phone to call for help.  When I opened the door, my very frantic black and white heart dog was glad to see me.  “MOLLY… you're safe” and bent down on my throbbing knee and kissed her head and all anxiety flew out the room.  As I stood up, she danced a wiggle dance and put her head on my leg.  “Let’s go get warm girl” and we did.   I assume Molly had gone to the house, gone through the dog door on the garage, pushed her way into the house through to the utility room and the door shut behind her and she was trapped.  Searching the house three times and the farmland 4 times, the utility room was the only place I did not venture because she could not get in there or so I thought. 
That very night when my leg was wrapped and elevated to sooth it, for extra heat and comfort in several ways, I had a black and white furry companion lying in my lap looking into my eyes and both of us thought the same thing,  "Don't ever leave me" but I know that day will come too soon no matter how far away it is and it will never be forgotten, but "that" night it was only Molly's lap.  My Molly Girl…   Ken
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A Snowy Day...

A Snowy Day…
Last year, we had snow nearly all winter long and the dogs had a ball and life was good.  This year was expected to be another snowy year and we looked so forward to this winter season but as it got closer and we all were excited to see the cold weather arrive it meant that snow was soon behind, or so we thought…
We waited and waited and it appeared that the whole United States received snow but us.  It would get close to our area but always petered out.  Don't get me wrong, we have had a very harsh winter here on the farm with many rainy days which meant dirty dogs. 

A below zero cold front came in November which is unusual before January but as quick as it came in, it was gone and wet weather soon found us again.  February is always unpredictable but you expect some days that are not below the freezing mark, but this year, it’s the opposite.  It has been a very cold month, and at times the nights have been at below zero for days on end which brings up one special problem.  Doc hates to be kenneled, he just can't stand to be put up and as much as we have tried, there is just no doing it.  He loves the outside and enjoys his porch and laying by the back door.  He is welcome to come in, but his loves his outside space.  I installed a dog door to the heated garage, a heat light where he sleeps, an igloo doghouse on the back porch but his loves his space and will usually sleep on a rug on the covered porch leaving the heat behind.  I do worry about Doc and his health and try to make him comfortable and warm.  He has gotten better when it gets below freezing and seems to do well and will tolerate some inside time and I will make him stay warm even if he doesn't want to do it.
Last week, we got our first snow, it was about 4 inches and we were all happy, especially the dogs.  Running and scampering was in order for them but two days later, we received nearly 4 more inches and they were overjoyed. 

 None of the previous snow had melted so we had snow up to their bellies or higher. 
Friday night, we were only supposed to get just a few inches but received nearly 7 inches and it snowed most of the day.  Happy dogs are everywhere and the only bad part for me is snowshoes are needed because it’s like walking in deep sand.
 Now I know this is light compared to snow in the North East because one of my friends on Facebook stated she had three feet or better of snow and that’s hard to imagine, but very common there.  I would never find the dogs and lose every ball and Frisbee we ever owned until spring. 

We are all happy for the snow so enjoy some snow photos and a few from the past…  Dutchess can’t wait until spring when it’s “water” time… 
Ken and the Gang…
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Do they?...

While yesterday was Valentine Day, we all celebrated it in one way or another or we heard about it if we forgot. 
The day is special, and this year, I thought ahead and purchased a present AND card, something that slipped up on me once I have had to talk my way out of it s when I received MY gift... oops...

It is a cute way to have special time with the people who share your life and even your dogs, everyone loves the attention, gifts and candy and I wish everyday could be Valentine’s Day because it’s like a small Christmas.

John Grogan said;
“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.  It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”  Families grow together when a dog is in the middle and at the very least, you talk more, even if it’s about the dog.

They give so much to us and while it’s not hard to make them happy, it shows from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail.  Something as simple as a walk in the park or to chase a squirrel is the best of times and they soak in every moment as if it was their last, enjoying every minute and every breath and when it’s time to rest, they do it without any guilt or concern and sleep a sleep that anyone would be jealous of.  If only I could sleep one night like they do…

Heidi, sound asleep...
“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish - consciously or unconsciously - that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.”
― Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

But when we love our dog, do they really love us?  They have long been known as man’s best friend: loyal companions that adore their owners, but it’s not just an act to make sure they get fed – dogs really are capable of love, research has shown.

Scientists at the Claremont Graduate University in California found that domesticated dogs release oxytocin in intimate situations, The Atlantic reported, known as the “love hormone”, it is the same chemical used to create close bonds between humans. “We found that the dog had a 48 per cent increase in oxytocin.   Professor Paul Zak added: “The only time I have seen such a surge in oxytocin in humans is when someone sees their loved one, is romantically attracted to someone, or is shown an enormous kindness.”

“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.”
― Martin Luther

So the next time you pet, kiss or stroke your dog, know that in their heart, they really love you too.  Just a night ago, Meggie sat by my recliner as I watched a game on TV.  She would raise her paw and stroke my leg wanting something.  “Do you want to go out? Do you want to eat?”  

When nothing happened, I moved the pillow from my lap and Meggie jumped in and nestled down to sleep, she knew what she wanted, to love and be loved...

Happy belated Valentine Day…  Ken
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Once Upon a Throne...

In my years of experience being around dogs, there is always something in the back of your mind, that you don't really want to talk about. You know it happens to everyone and there is usually nothing you can do to prevent it.  It’s that little secret, that you would only share with your best friend or at a party, when you are trying to impress someone or had “one too many”. I will tell you, the next day, you will regret it and wish you could turn back the hands of the time and start over. Even if it means avoiding the person you spoke to the night before.  Hopefully it won't have been the office or neighborhood tattle-tail and you had just given them enough fodder for a whole week of stories .  We all have one of those experiences and will always avoid “that” conversation and pretend it never happened…but it does… we can only hide our heads in shame.

We all know that Border Collies are the smartest dogs and according to “Entirely  Pets”, the Collie and German Shepherd are at the top of the list of the most loyal dogs as well.  This can really be a dilemma and let me tell you why.  Just yesterday, as I was going to the “necessary” room and as usual, my many shadows followed close behind me.  I have tried to shut them out, but they always bark, whine or stretch their paws under the door, while I’m trying to enjoy a moment of private time which is pretty much impossible in these situations.

But now I pose this question to you, my readers, my expert pet-loving friends. Why do dogs always want to follow us into the bathroom, especially when they know we're going to have to stand or sit on that porcelain throne? 

Back to yesterday's tale, as I was being a stand-up guy in the "necessary" room, (I had snuck in without anyone hearing me), they were in the other part of the house and I thought, I was getting away with the whole process without being pestered by pets.  Several of the dogs zoomed into the room and began bouncing  about. One even excitingly snuck up behind me and poked his cold nose straight into my derriere and what a surprise it was and it misdirected my task at hand.  Once while I was reading and enjoying a sit, three of the dogs met me on their level and wanted their head scratched which is fine, but I'm trying to balance three heads and a book, I found myself trying to alternate the petting as one gets impatient and pokes their head up through the leg holes of my undergarments.  Then one will jump up on my leg getting some "real" face to face time because we're on the same level… so much for relaxing… and I have to grab my house shoes before one gets carried off.

While the bathroom is much more than a “bath” room, it’s a meeting place for the dogs especially if someone is using it.  It has a China porcelain dish that stays cooler longer and the water is magically refreshed several times a day. To add to their delight the porcelain adds no taste to the water and it can  get no better than this!  Dutchess has learned the art of raising the seat for a quick water refreshment, but to the others, the porcelain dog dish is blocked because they can't raise the lid. The other dogs can always refresh their thirst by eagerly licking water from someone who has just exited the bath or shower and by licking they can even assist with the drying process.  Although you have  just washed and cleaned yourself, the dogs are only assisting with your cleanliness efforts…just their way of helping...

So from their point of view, the bathroom is a wonderful place to entertain, drink, snuggle, play fetch and "surprise" you and basically just have a whale of a time.  Afterall, it even includes toys to play with...  
Note to dogs:  While I so enjoy playing with you and receiving all the kisses you have, just in case you don't know this, I do not enjoy ten dogs crowded around me in a semicircle with several paws in my underwear. Can you please...please give me one minute alone in the "necessary" room and I promise I'll be out as soon as I can...
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