Sunday

Do you Believe?

Many years ago, my mom told me a story about my Grandmother, whom I had never met.  My mom, the youngest child, was with her brothers and sisters at her mother's death bed. Their family lived in a very rural area without running water and only had an outhouse, a little boy's dream. The year was 1929.  Mother told me the story of when all of her brothers and sisters had gathered to be with their mother as "that" time surely approached.  She was in a coma while her children sang and spoke quietly to their mother.  Everyone knew time was short, but there was a commotion from the bed when "Effie" sat straight up and, in a very distinct voice, said, "I'm ready to go." In everyone's amazement, some of the older children asked, "Mother, who are you talking to? Are you talking to us?"  "No, don't you see them, they're here," and while pointing, she said, "the angles have circled my earthly bed to take me home." Grandmother laid back down, and in seconds, she was gone to be with her Lord.  Are they among us?

Earlier this month, a rescue dog was happily transferred and placed into her new home.  Several hours later, and in an instant, everything changed for the owners and the dog because she was gone, she pulled out of her collar when she was outside.  Immediately, contacts were called, plans were made, and search parties were set up.  

Lost, gone forever?

This should be easy, we thought, but as the hours passed, followed by days, hope faded, and a little Border Collies was roaming the streets in a crowded populated area, or maybe her fate was worse. 
Flyers were made, traps were bought and set up where we guessed she could be.  Neighborhoods were walked, experts were called in, and a new round of determined people and plans were made and followed, but after more days passed, hope faded even more.  Unfortunately, no team member lived close, and some teams of people traveled roundtrip for nearly 5 hours to help a little border collie who was lost or even worse. Even more, a determination was made because as it got closer, we know time was not on our side, and this wouldn't end well at all.

Placing signs

The worst thing about something like this it is continuously on your mind; it's the first thing you think about and the last thing before going off into a horrible fretful sleep because you're helpless. 
Your whole day is consumed with where Isabella is, and whether you want to think it or not, it doesn't look good and even worse.  By the fifth day, we only received one sighting location, and it was two days old as time drags on.  Whispers were said about her fate, and we thought we would never find her because she was so scared and frightened of any new person, is she gone, never to be found? 
I even took my microchip scanner, just in case we found her body, just to make sure.  No one was with her, guiding and comforting her and showing her the way through the thick woods that surrounded the populated area.  Every day, we expanded the search pattern a mile farther out.  No one was with her, or so we thought, are they among us?  


More posters were ordered and picked up on day five, and a team headed out at 11:30 sharp.   Much was discussed, but secretly, hope was fading because the only one sighting was now five days old, and no-one was there to help her. 
Getting delayed several times because of the traffic and picking up the search items was aggravating, and the wheels seemed spinning, going nowhere, but forces were in the works we never thought of. After everything was picked up at the sign store, the team headed to several locations where yard signs were to be placed for passing cars if they spotted her.

The only lead, she was spotter here, 5 days earlier

After driving several hours, most of the yard signs were placed, and the team just by chance went into another direction that looked like a dog would go there, just by chance, but why?  Driving through the wooded area, an object was spotted in the road, and heartbeats quicken.  It looked like a dog, and no-one wanted to say what they thought, but after stopping and checking, it was not Isabella.  Hopefully, someone is with her and watching over her keeping her safe, hopefully.

Driving a mile or so further away from the search area, we came upon a mail delivery truck.  The team stopped and showed the driver a poster and said, if you see her, call the number on this poster."  "I saw her yesterday!"  "What," I said, "are you sure, really sure," "Yes, I have seen her for a couple of days; I deliver the mail where she's at!"

Driving as fast as we can, I pulled into the driveway, and it appeared no-one was home, but after knocking and with a poster in hand, a pleasant woman answered my question. "Yes, she's in the back yard"... They are among us!

This very house is where she was found, and we placed this sign earlier.  Fate

What are the chances that on this very day at this exact time...
We were in an area with hundreds of wooded acres.
Seeing a mailman miles away who didn't turn off
Stopping the mailman who delivered mail to the very house
The mailman knew the exact address Isabella was at
Isabella would only go to the woman at the house.
The homeowner was an animal spirit individual.
She, in her own words, communicated to Isabella.
To a house where chickens were under a porch. 
An elderly adult lived next door; her original owner was elderly.
Isabella didn't leave but had hundreds of miles to roam.
Five days and only one sight, which was four days old
If our many stops, twists, and turns, or anything thing changed for just 5 seconds earlier or later, we might not have Isabella. Why did all this fall into place? The story tells itself.

Liz, Jack, and Isabella united again.

You can call it what you want, but divine intervention and many other things went into play in finding Isabella.  Just 20 minutes before we stopped the mailman, a lost dog sign was placed in the VERY yard where we found her.  How does this happen, is Isabella and even us being watched over and guided?

As I have mentioned before, through some of my posts, things do happen for a reason, and I do believe people and dogs know more than we understand and comprehend, we just don't see it.  The very day Clancy died, he crept into my bed and laid in my arms. What most don't know, he rarely got into my bed. I am a very early riser and always get up before the sun.  That morning I slept in and was even surprised by his presence. Was he telling me goodbye? Was he preparing me for this task?  The day my father, who was in great health, passed away in front of me right after our lunch together, he said he was ready to go to heaven; two hours later, he did.  Was he saying goodbye? Was he preparing me to become a man?  Are they among us, angels, loving spirits, a paw? Absolutely, I know so.  I can think of many times that something impossible suddenly became possible because we couldn't make it work on our own.  

As I have said many times before, Clancy passed way before his time, he was healthy and strong, but because other plans were in force, he left.  We can't see the future but know it's planned for us, and sometimes we resist it, but it's there.  Hundreds of dogs have been saved; thousands upon thousands of dollars have been spent, people in this community, state, and nation have come together to save and take care of dogs they never met because there were angels among us.

I believe, do you?
Effie Sargent, while you passed away 91 years ago, I know we have a common bond; tell Mom and Dad I love and miss them and hug Clancy for me.  
Someday we will meet...  Ken

Destiny, sometimes referred to as fate, is a predetermined course of events. It may be conceived as a predetermined future, whether in general or of an individual. Wikipedia

Thursday

A Paminidic Thanksgiving




Is there a blessing for a Pandemic Thanksgiving dinner? Absolutely there is; it's only how you look at it.  While visions of the family sitting around the table, enjoying a wonderful meal are lovely to think about, it can be a myth.  There are not many meals where Elaine and I have agreed about many things such as food, friends, fuss, dogs, and menu because it's hard to decide when two people are so alike.  

A wonderful Idea

This year is different because of the pandemic and families with the lack of getting together.  This could be a blessing or a curse, you decide!  In years past, you plan for that joyous occasion.  You buy groceries for weeks and look for that special turkey.  Is it fresh or frozen, and how big will it be, stuffing inside or not, canned cranberries or real berries, rolls or croissants?  In my world, I want all of the choices. The days of Norman Rockwell dinners seem to be long gone, but we always try.  I LOVE a big Thanksgiving dinner, and I always ask Elaine to make extra so we can have it for days.  I never tire of it and hate it when the food is gone.

After heated discussions of who is coming, what food is served, who sits where, and where the kid's table will be, along with trying to please everyone is finally here, and today is it.  Getting up at the crack of dawn and baking several different perfect pies is in order, but they are only made with homemade flakey crust with buttered Crisco.  The turkey is on, and hopefully, it's thawed because you can't defrost an 18-pound turkey in 12 hours; note to self!

"How do we fix that" are the words of the day with several situations each hour.  When the cooking starts and all the burners are on, and the oven is on 400 degrees, it's hot.  Someone with hot flashes is starting to strip down to their bra and panties.  The kitchen just went from a "G" rating to an "R" rating not only because of the scantly clothed people but the language, smoking, and drinking and hopefully not to an "X" rating.  We are approaching the bowels of hell very quickly.

When all the food is made, you need to find a place to put it.  With all the Doodads (an ornamental attachment or decoration) on the table, where does the food go?  There are individual Doodad utensils for creamers, salt & pepper shakers, gravy bowls, silverware, plates, butter-dishes, and I know this from personal experience.  I love a Buffet with one fork; I don't need a knife; I can pick it up and eat it.

Who will be the first to knock over a glass, talk politics, religion, break wind, watch the crying baby cry.  Most of us already know, and hopefully, someone will change the topic to "is it supposed to rain tomorrow?" 

Not much talking after everyone digs in, but toward the end of the meal, belching, flatulence, stretched belts, and thoughts of not wearing tight pants or your girdle are in order.  The kids ate only the Jell-O, and there were not enough homemade dumplings, but they're never is.  After dinner, the TV goes on, and all the seats, couches are jacked (reclined) back for comfort, and hopefully, everyone got to take a stroll outside and "walk their air off." before taking their seat. It's time to go home in everyone's mind, but everyone is polite to stay for pie and dirty every dish, utensil, saucer, glass, and cup in the entire house.

Not Gonna Happen
After being refined and staying just the right time, it's time to leave.  On one occasion, we had the entire family with all the kids at the cabin.  Several tables were set up for dinner, and afterward, the musicians in the family played a concert that everyone enjoyed.  It was a grand time for all, and it was the best holiday we ever had on the farm.  Family, food, fellowship, and it was the only time everyone was altogether at the farm.  It doesn't get any better; everything was perfect.  Walking to the car to go home, one family member who was leaving was asked by us, "How did you enjoy the food and entertainment?"  "We will never do this again," they said, and we didn't.

A Better Idea?

When everyone had gone home, and we are sitting and reflecting on the day, I can't help to think and hope everyone will enjoy "my" leftovers they took home.  Many years ago, we took all four of our young kids to a rented cabin; I pulled out a bottle of wine.  It's something I rarely did in front of the kids, and my 10-year-old son asks, "Daddy, why are you drinking wine? My answer was short and to the point, "to take the edge off."  While I'm sure he did not understand,  he called several years ago, "Dad, I understand so well about the wine."  

A pandemic Thanksgiving you say?  It may not be a bad idea in some cases.   Happy Thanksgiving.  Elaine is cooking a full meal today with homemade pies, and we will enjoy it; she is such a trooper.  Ken

Saturday

Love Without End...

An email several months ago...

"Apollo went to our forever home to be a companion for my Dad. He lived alone for years and was heartbroken when his last beloved dog passed away unexpectedly. 


I took this photo at the shelter in the office.
HOW does this happen, and WHY?

Apollo had been wonderful for Dad.  He had not been able to bend over and tie his shoes for years. But with bending over and playing ball with Apollo, he could now tie his own shoes. Dad's spirits have been lifted with Apollo as a companion. Apollo has been a faithful companion, and he and Dad get along great!


Apollo & Dad were both saved.

Dad told us that Apollo has been the best thing to ever happen to him. Apollo will lead a very wonderful loving life. Thank you, Clancy's Rescue!" From the Daughter of Dad and Appolo


Apollo's Story - September 2018

I received an urgent message, "Currently, there are 989 animals in our care, and more are coming in every day. Our shelter is at capacity. Can you help!Indianapolis Animal Care Services. September 8, 2018


When you see this message, you sit up and take notice. An email came across my desk about a nine-year-old Border Collie that was in a high kill shelter. His owner had unexpectantly died a year ago, and he was placed in the care of a family member who no longer wanted him. Fast forward to the "Urgent Notice," he was scheduled to be euthanized in two days; they needed the room.

Clancy's Dream went to work because the owner passed away, and there was no one to take care of his dog. We contacted the shelter and got the euthanasia date postponed for a day. The next morning, I was on the way to Indianapolis, hoping not to be too late. It was the largest open kennel that I had ever seen; nearly a thousand dogs barking at once drowning out any conversation. Before I stepped into the room, the antiseptic odor that hit me was the strongest I have ever smelled, but it didn't cover the stench. Ten workers were working diligently to clean and scoop up waste, a never-ending task. You could tell the dogs had been there for some time because there was no emotion in their faces; the last dogs to come into the shelter would jump and try to get your attention, but it soon faded.


I arrived at Apollo's cage and looked inside. At first, I didn't see anything, but then I spotted a paw being raised as if to say, "please take me." My heart broke, and my mind was screaming, "how does this happen." I escorted him out; he was friendly, his tail was wagging, and he appeared to be happy to get out of his 3 X 4 concrete space. Something that doesn't occur too often, if ever. Little did he know that I could have been his executioner, and his tail would have still been wagging up until the very end; he just wanted to see somebody, anybody.


We went to a large office where I could evaluate him. It was brief because he was a keeper; you could just tell. No issues at all, loving, playful, and very friendly, but he was a mess. He had mats as big as baseballs in his fur and had a flea allergy. The fur mats were so thick they had to shave some hair and treat him with antibiotics. Every time he wagged his tail, he sprayed urine on me because he usually sat in it, but I didn't care. Apollo was going home with me, and we would find someone to love him. I whispered to myself again, "how does this happen." His original owner loved him and had raised him from a puppy; who would ever think that his dog would end up in a kill shelter with only 2 days to live.


Apolo's Freedon Rice

When I left the shelter with Apollo on his "freedom" ride, I had to pause because this hit me pretty hard. I hung my head and asked myself, "what will happen to my dogs if something happens to Elaine and me?" When Apollo's owner passed away a year earlier, a relative was asked if he would take care of Apollo. This act sealed Apollo's fate, but not for the better... because no plans were made. 


Apollo is doing great and living in a wonderful home. He was placed with an older gentleman who had lost his Border Collie, and a new match was made; both dog and man were made whole again. Since then, I have asked Elaine many times "who would take care of our dogs," and never had an answer came until now... 


In the last couple of years, we have rescued more than 12 Border Collies, whose owners have died or simply could not care for the pet and they went to a shelter.  Last week, we picked up "Baby Girl," who went to an animal control facility when the owner passed away, and she went to a shelter.


Baby Girl had nowhere to go but a shelter.
The family was well off but did not make plans.

This last Friday, Amy, was taken into Clancy's Dream. She had been loved and cared for by her family. She was her Dad's special girl, but when Dad passed away, and the wife went to a nursing facility, Amy had nowhere to go. She was taken in by family friends, a situation that did not last long. Amy, who was still a spirited young gal, quickly became a burden to this older couple. Shockingly, the husband told his wife that he would harm Amy if she was not gone by the next day! Amy moved again, where thankfully, these people contacted Clancy's Dream. 

 

Amy was neglected for 2 years when her owner died.


Today Amy is receiving medical & loving care, and she is on her way to recovery and a forever home.

Have you ever wondered what would happen to your dogs if something happened to you? I know I have, and we often think it would never happen, but it does. Nearly 8 years ago, a little Border Collie pup we had bred was in Florida, and the owner suddenly passed away. It was a shock to everyone and especially to the puppy. We were contacted, and the pup was flown back to us, and we found her another loving home.


Love Without End is an aftercare program that was started because of this very question, "Where will my dog go if something happens to me." When this concept was first brought up, someone said, "we save other Border Collies; why wouldn't we save our own?" From that, plans began to take shape, and now it is a reality.   It's not that the people who passed away didn't love their dog, no plans were made for their upkeep, and the dogs fell through the cracks.  Ken...

Love Without End Aftercare Program  will give you peace of mind and answer that question, "Where will they go."  Although there is a small one-time donation for any upkeep that will take care of immediate shots or health issues, we want to make it affordable.  A letter of intent will be given to you along with paperwork that you will place with your important papers for your POA or Estate Executive. If needed, they will contact us, and we will immediately take charge of your dog as if they were our own.  Peace of mind means everything, especially for the ones you love so much who can't speak for themself.

Sunday

Do You Remember?

The dogs and I were sitting on the porch several weeks ago.  Some were sleeping, and a few were looking at the birds and squirrels.  We were keeping a few dogs that came into the rescue when one of them asks, "where did I come from, I forgot."  "Do you really want to know?"  I ask.  "Yes, please, I want to know!"


When dogs come into any rescue, it's usually not very good.  It's either the last straw in the household they came from, or the owner just doesn't care what happens to the dog, and it's usually not very good if you're a dog, and the end may be unpleasant.

Going into a shelter or when someone tells you why they need to rehome their dog can be overpowering and overwhelming for everyone.  You see many reactions from the dog when you visit the shelter; they are happy to see someone or hide in the back of their cage.  They can't trust anyone because the person who they thought loved them brought them to the shelter.  Sometimes they are scared and will bark at everything and anything where once they were very confident and calm.  Dog shelters can bring out the worse in a dog, and the dog can even shut down and give up on any hope of ever being happy, and sometimes, they’re not.


Being a foster and evaluator, you see all kinds of dogs and wonder what happened and why it happened.  Sometimes you know, but most times, you don't.  Don't get me wrong; at times, a dog may need to be rehomed in certain circumstances, and it's necessary.  Lord knows I know.

Once a dog is brought to safety, their life drastically changes for the better, and they transform into something we didn't see in the shelter, and it's so satisfying to watch that change for the good.  They will run and play and learn new things such as chasing another dog, a ball or Frisbee and even going into the house where some have never been.  They get their own dog bed if they don't sleep in the new owner's bed and get fed, not having to scavenge on their own.

As I started to explain where they came from to the young dogs, I thought for a moment of what I needed to say.  As I started to speak, my heart got the better of me, and I stretched the truth, "just a little."  "Mickie, your owners went to the hospital, and they wouldn't allow any dogs, but she loved you very much.  Tink, your human mother, was going to have a baby, and Rosco, your human dad, became allergic to your fur.  They all loved you very much and even cried when they had to let you go.  They ask me if I would take special care of you, and of course, I said yes."  "Yea, they loved us and wanted the best, just for us, and thank you dad for helping them and us.  Do they know where were are at?"  "You betcha'" I said.  As the dogs came to me and jumped onto my lap, they snuggled down into sweet dreams, knowing they were safe and happy, all is at peace...


Of the three dogs in my lap, one was scheduled for euthanasia, having only 24 hours left.  One was tied to a chain for her entire life, and one was starved and abused, all were infested with ticks and fleas.  I am glad they forgot where they came from...   Ken

How Many Times...

I know some of us have asked how many times can our heart break? While I don't keep a record, it seems pretty often with me.  When we raised Border Collies years ago, we never thought about the end run of our venture.  Many times, when a new puppy would go home with their new owner, standing in the driveway after they were gone, big tears ran down my cheeks.  "Will they love them as much as I do" I always wondered.  "Will they take care of them when they hurt or are sick?"  The unfortunate part, sometimes they do but a few times they didn't.  All in all, just a few slipped through the cracks, but most grew up having a happy life, but my heart broke and I always worried.

Dutch
Then, as our once little puppies get older and more feeble, some have injuries or get a dreaded disease.  The worst phone call or email I get is  "Kenny, and I am so sorry, our dog passed away, we did everything we could have done."  My heart breaks because my mind immediately goes back to the little pups that I would carry around and love on, how many times have I been there?  The last Blog I wrote, was about "Dutch," I got this from his owner.  "Good afternoon, I can barely write this note to you because we are so sad and heartbroken, we had to put Dutch to sleep on Wednesday.  We can't express enough gratitude for you letting us take care of him for the last 12 years and eight months. It has been our honor. Thank you and Elaine for what you do for this great breed."  I literally broke down.

As most know, we went to rescuing Border Collies after Clancy died, but that brings pain too.  Just this week on our Social Media page, someone said it for me in a post.  That is the hardest thing about fostering, letting them go. I was so emotional and could not stop crying, the morning I was taking this little cutie in to help find her a home until I met the perfect family!  Dana Carney Riddle.

There is a part of my job that most in the outside world have never thought of before.  If you are a true dog lover, the dog you take care of and foster, even for a brief time, steals your heart.  In most cases, you see them transform right in front of your eyes each day.  Dogs that seemed to be broken to others come out of their shell, dogs that have shut down become interested again in life, and their life starts over.  At times, see a miracle in just days, and then it happens.  Whether they find a home or move to a foster, it happens.  You didn't know it at the time, but it happened your heart breaks again


Billy Joe was going to his new foster.  One that had more time, space, and experience to give him the best start of his new life.  You see, Billy Joe came into our rescue and was very loved where he was, but in one day everything changed.  Twelve years ago, he was a little puppy and went to a very loving home.  Six years ago, Billy Joe lost his best buddy, Robert or Preacher, as some call him who passed away.  His wife took care of him until her death, and their son took on the responsibility to love him, and he did until he suddenly passed away. 

My heart broke again as I heard the story about Billy Joe, we needed to help and after discussion and visits, Billy Joe came to the farm.  He soon learned to explore and meet new dogs and people.  His world drastically changed, you see, other than going to the Vet, the farm was the only place he had been to, but he fit right in.  Because Dogwood Ridge is only a layover place for the rescues, he was going to his new foster. 

Billy Joe on his way on Saturday
This last Saturday, as I was feeding my dogs in the kennel, Billy Joe came to visit me.  He walked up to my leg and rubbed his head against me.  I knew what he wanted, so I sat down beside him and stroked his face and scratched his ears.  I buried my face into his fur and cried.  I don't know if it was tears of sorrow or happiness, but we both needed it.  Did he know his time was short with me, was he saying 'Thank you or goodbye."  Later that day, I knew he was happy and going to his new beginning. 


Things happen for a reason; how did someone find us on a whim or from a Google search.  There are forces in play we'll never know, but I often wonder if a fuzzy black and white paw was involved.  Robert and Jeff were Billy Joe's caretakers until the end of their life, but who knows, maybe they met my Clancy, and Billy Joe was directed to us by forces we'll never understand. 

How many times has my heart been broken, thousands, but now it is breaking because I am happy...  another Border Collie was helped.  To Billy Joe's extended family... I know you dearly love and miss him, I do too, my heart breaks from happiness.   Ken

Dutch

"Hi Kenny, I wanted to let you know that Dutch had to have his spleen removed, it had tumors in it, hemangiosarcoma cancer. It was hemorrhaging into his abdomen. They said the survival rate is an average of two months, he is moving slowly these days. Not sure we made a good decision for him, we just were not prepared to say goodbye the day we took him in. I thought you would want to know. He is a real trooper, still wants to go on walks even though he can't go far, and he is still hungry all the time."


Dutch was a puppy born from Clancy and Dutchess.  He was named after his Mom and was the apple of everyone’s eye and a spitting image of his Dad Clancy in every way.  Dutch was very special to us, and because he lived in the same town as us, we saw him often.  He would visit the farm for a play day and visit us and his Mom and Dad when his human parents would go on vacation.

Dutchess and Dutch
As time moves on, addresses chance, but the love for a dog is always there.  While we had great pups and loving homes, we now encounter a time when the families also face difficult decisions concerning the health of their beloved pets, something I never thought about.

Me holding Dutch
It is a very difficult time when you lose one of your own pets when "that" time comes, but when you hear about losing one of your pups, it all comes back again.  It was standard with us when a new owner would pick up their new Border Collie, I would schedule a time for pick up and told the new owners to expect my "come to Jesus" talk.  It took nearly an hour, and I told them what to expect with their new bundle of joy.  When the session was over, and as they would be getting ready to leave and as they were getting in the car, I told them, "it might be your dog, but it will ALWAYS be one of my pups," and they are.


Elaine and I tried to be good and responsible when it came to our pups.  We always contacted the owners, watched their dog when needed, had play days at the farm, and even had 3 puppy reunions that lasted an entire weekend.  We did it for the dogs because we loved and cared for them.  When they were young and had been weaned, I would go to the kennel every night and get on my knees and sing to them.  All of us would come to love this, and as I put my head close to them and started, they would lick my face, and it was Heaven, truly Heaven.  Their little faces would turn from side to side, and soon, they would go to sleep.  Little did I know how bonded I was with them.

I got this last night...

"Good afternoon, I can barely write this note to you because we are so sad and heartbroken, we had to put Dutch to sleep on Wednesday, his pain medication was just not keeping him comfortable, and we could not stand to see him that way, he's a tough guy though and never let out a Yelp or whimper, he was just happy to be with us. We can't express enough gratitude for you letting us take care of him for the last 12 years and eight months. It has been our honor. Thank you and Elaine for what you do for this great breed."

Run Free Dutch, run to your dad and sit by his side, and know that soon all of your friends and humans will meet you and I will sing to you again... Dad

If I had words to make a day for you
I sing you a morning golden and new
I would make this day
Last for all time

The Visit...


All of us will "go home" at some time, it's inevitable. I remember when I was small, we drove for what seemed like days to visit my Mom's family in the country for "Decoration Day," which today is also called Memorial Day.  It was an annual trip we took to decorate the graves of family members that had passed before us.  As kids, we had such a good time, and it was a whole weekend of fun, excitement, and things I had never seen or done before. There were 13 children in my Mom's family, of which my mother was the youngest. We were the city people of the family, everyone else lived near the homestead. Us kids would drink out of a well, ride cows and even ride on a drag on the back of a tractor through the fields and I would always get dirty throughout. 

When we would visit, we would stay at Aunt Maggie's house because it was the only home that had indoor plumbing, something that I took for granted at our own home. On Sunday, after decorating the graves, we would gather at the homestead for the giant potluck/pitch-in dinner.  I remember that if we needed to go to the bathroom, we had to go to the "barn" to do our business, which as a kid, I thought that was pretty cool. All in all, it was a great weekend, and I got to see my many cousins and play in the fields and get dirty. We always brought home fresh eggs and homemade butter, something my Dad said always reminded him of his youth when he was a boy.

Several weeks ago, and with the help of Google Earth, I went back home to the farm, my Mom grew up on, and sadly, everyone had passed-on some time ago. Not knowing the address except for RR2, I scowled the location from a satellite.  Low and behold, I found it, I saw the farm, and I was thrilled. Things had changed, but my mind flashed back to when I was 12 years old. I will always remember the well that we got the water from by dropping a rusty bucket down a hole and cranking it up for some cold, clean water and going to the bathroom in the barn. When I expanded my Google Earth search, I also visited the graveyard where we went to decorate the family graves. With technology today, I was at the very spot and could even rotate my view to see the graves of my family. There is no one left to have a reunion, and it's sad, and my visit was bittersweet, but I did enjoy it and the trip down memory lane.

As I walked that long road down the driveway at home last night, I stopped and sat at the grave of my dogs and the dogs of friends, I remembered the moments in my life when they were here and young.  Life can be harsh at times, but when you remember them, remember the good times you had and the love you shared together.

As for this Memorial Day, remember to honor the men and women of our armed services who gave everything for us but remember our past pets too and the funny, cute, and loving way they loved us. Take a minute to look into your present dog's eyes, stroke their fur, and assure them that they are everything to you because someday before we know it, it may be too late, trust me, I know... Ken