An Observation...

As I was sitting in the recliner this Friday night, Dutchess has become a regular visitor on my lap and burrows in-between my legs.  Every night is the same, when she walks in the room, she will stand by my chair and patiently look at me and if I don’t respond, she will paw my leg and bark.  All it takes for her to spring up is I have to pat my chest, and in a jiffy, she is laying in-between my legs.  Now while this is very enduring and sweet, a fifty five pound dog can get a little uncomfortable especially when she gets more and more relaxed requiring more room.  By hour two, I have my legs wide enough to set each foot on the floor and she has the whole bottom half of the chair, but at least she is comfortable, not so much for me.  

As I sat and look around the family room, we have sitting and laying places for the dogs.  We have (5) 3 X 4 dog beds, lined with Vellux with cedar chips and plush stuffing inside.  Really?  Not counting the 2 couches and one recliner that they also have.  They sleep better than I do at times and I know they take up more room.  We just purchased a second King Size bed to accommodate us and I swear I have the same room as I had when I slept on a double bed.  I just wonder what has happened.

Usually before we were kid less and dog less, we would pretty much do what we wanted when we wanted.  As we now have gotten into this dog thing, unbeknown to me, my life has changed.  When our human children were born,  We would eat on time for the kids, no afternoon naps, we have to get up early, pack backup items abundantly for a trip, take food and make sure we had our medical records, extra clothing and vaccination records just in case we needed them.  Is it really different with a dog?  We see that they eat on time, we don’t ever take a nap or they will wake you, they will lick your face at 5 am (time to get up), we take extra tennis balls or Frisbees in case they can’t find one, take the Vet records if needed and put everyone in the dirty car.  Wow… it’s like having 10 kids around here, something I never thought of until now.
I think our whole attitude changes.  Before children, our house was spotless, everything was in order, we had money and things were simple but when the kids came along… do I even have to go there, we all know the changes and with dogs it’s the same.  I have noticed that the glass on the back door just doesn’t look the same if it doesn’t have muddy paw prints, there’s a 2 gallon water bucket on the floor and it’s knocked over if someone finds it empty, just to remind us.  A clean bed with a white blanket is filled with dog hair on the second day, the car is dirtier on the inside than on the outside and even the Christmas tree gets turned over, thanks to Dutchess’s rough play.  You just endeavor on, pick up, go without sleep and pack for the dog.
Fix their Boo Boo's
Dutchess likes Wonder Woman Band-Aids
With our children, we would buy the finest clothes, get the coolest stuff, go on “kid” vacations, serve the proper food and our life revolved around them.  With dogs, we will get cool dog booties, beds, blankets, jackets and the best food that money can buy and go on vacation only where your dog is allowed.

Do I see a pattern here?  Many people joke around and say “My dogs are my kids” not really thinking about what they are saying, but when you do think, they are our kids and I wouldn’t have it any other way plus they don’t talk back…Ken
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"The Hard Part"

“The hard part about “this puppy thing”, I wonder if the new puppy owners will love them as much as I do.  I hope and pray they do.”  Ken

This quote is from a post many years ago on our newly developed web page from the first litter we ever had and I still wonder, I love them so…

Molly's First Litter

I have thought about writing this blog for nearly 10 years, even today it’s hard to put everything into words and I get misty eyed thinking about it.
Many years ago we had two great dogs and loved them so much that we wanted other people to share in what we had, the joys of a great Border Collie.  We were green and unknowing as to what to do and never planned or thought it out much.  “How can this be difficult?” not knowing that breeding and selling the pups could be the only problems.   Because I am an “A” type person and my glass is always half empty, I always strive to better any situation, including the dogs and doing the right thing whether it’s my dogs or someone else’s that needs help.
Dutchess's First Litter

Our first female was bred on February 14th, Valentine’s Day.  I remember saying, “it’s got to be love” and it was.  We helped deliver every pup that was born with the exception of one litter that Dutchess had while we were at work and when I came home, she and the pups were sleeping peacefully and all was right with the world, especially here at the farm.   I worked hard to learn and do the right thing, always wanting the best for my dogs and pups, making sure they went to good responsible and loving homes.  From the very first litter we had, we always had two hard and fast rules, #1, “Don’t over feed the dog” #2.  “If it doesn’t work out, the dog comes back home to us.” And some did.   We always had a “come to Jesus” talk with every owner about every pup that went home concerning their responsibility and I meant every word that I said.  Some listened, some didn’t.  I didn’t always understand why, because it’s so simple, to make a puppy into a good dog, if you really want to…
Our First...
As many have read or heard, we will no longer raise pups.  Gabby and Meggie were spayed this week and Annie will be spayed next week.  Doc’s neutering will soon follow. 
I had anticipated this day, but believed it was a long way off. Reality hit when we got involved in a puppy mill a few years ago.  The other significant factor came when Karen Newhall and I transported 5 dogs from that same puppy mill to Glen Highland Farm.  We saw the never ending work that took place just to fix “one” broken Border Collie and at times it couldn’t be done… my heart broke.   Was this my wake-up call?  Did this affect me more than I thought it would?  You bet it did.  I want to help and not hinder the breed, because I love them. However, I will miss the little squeaks, yelps and barks and oh I love the puppy breath and smell.  Over the years, we have met so many wonderful people, some continue to be cherished friends and we get together often.  I have talked with people about dogs from all over the world most of whom I have never met.  I have even cried with them, when they told me their tragic story about their best friend passing away.   They wanted me to know, because they felt I would understand how they felt and I did.  People have even told me that their dog “saved them” and I believe that to be true, because mine have saved me too, in so many ways.
In the Beginning
I started this blog when we were selling pups from an ad in the newspaper.  Everyone wanted to see the pups when they called and wanted me to send an individual photo to them.  My plan was to post them on a website, so I only had to do it once, and it worked, but it worked too well.  Presently, we’ve have nearly five hundred thousand hits and it’s growing all the time, but at times too much.  We’ve spoken to thousands of people that wanted a dog, wanted to sell a dog, wanted to rehabilitate a dog, and wanted help with a breeder.  Google even tries to sell me a front page location on their search engine, which we already have because of our volume, if they would only look, they would realize that that is not necessary.
The long and short of it is, we love the breed, and it was never about money, because there is none.
It was about watching the miracle of life.  It was helping people who had a need and the joy of watching a little handful of fur turn into the most loyal and smartest dog in the world.  I have seen hundreds of people pick up their pup and the excitement is overwhelming for both of us.  Little did they know the pain that was left behind as they drove off down the drive way.  Elaine and I shed a tear for each of our pups as they left us, not knowing if we would ever see that pup again. The walk back to the house was always way too long and in our minds we could still smell the puppy’s breath. 
Remember, from birth until they leave for their new home, we were their birthing assistant, caretaker, nurse, comforter, teacher and the person who picks each pup up and cradles them in our arms thousands of times.  Many nights before bed, I would sing to them while they would sit perfectly still, turning their head from side to side watching and listing to every word.  We used to have a rocking chair in the kennel and at times either Elaine or I would rock the puppies to sleep, cherishing every moment they were still with us. The last pup from a litter that went home was always the worse.  I would go to their kennel area afterward and change it back for an adult dog, but I will tell you the very last litter was so very hard.  Each one that went home meant it was closer to that final pup leaving and the knowledge that we’ll never do this again.  There were many wonderful moments that I will never forget but there are ones that I would like to forget because of a tragedy, but that’s reality and sometimes it just plain sucks.
To my knowledge, we have lost nearly ten dogs to car hits and after each family notifies us, I would always go back to the litter photos and remember them in my own way.   We have always tried to keep in contact with each family, either by email, reunions and even the boarding.  We do this, just to make sure they are alright, plus it allows us to watch “our” pups grow.
Time moves on and life changes.  It was a hard decision made not to breed again, but it’s the right decision.  I’ve always said, “The right decision is usually the hardest ones” and I believe it.  I will miss all of them so much, but I do have memories, videos and nearly 80 gigabits of photos just of the dogs and pups.
My fondest moments with the pups were always singing to them before bed and sitting in the middle of the floor while they climbed all over  me, untying my shoestrings, biting my fingers and licking my face.  Some would even suckle my nose looking for food and thinking it was mom, this was heaven as it should be.  Someday when I cross that bridge… Hopefully I will experience this again…
"Hey, who’s this”?  A Border Collie speaks as someone new arrives at Rainbow Bridge.  A small crowd of Border Collies, that know each other, gather around the new arrival.  There is jumping, barking and running in circles with lots of licks and kisses for the stranger.  "We know you" and for some reason, they did.  Something was familiar, they seemed to know the stranger, but weren’t sure, until he sat down in the middle of the meadow, the dogs gathering around the stranger, discovered that the "one" thing they all had in common with each other was a piece of the strangers heart and “I” was a stranger no more…
Someday we'll all be together again...until that day…take care little ones…I Love You, Dad

Note: This weekly blog has been written every Sunday since June 2010.  It is called “What Happened this Week” and every post is about the dogs and puppies and the things they do during the week, it’s happy, or sad, but always the truth.  I’ve tried to share the good, the bad and even my mistakes.  It’s not written with flair or the best punctuation, but it’s from my heart.  Thanks for reading…  Ken
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Happy Dogs...

As some of you may know, we watch dogs here at the farm while the human folks go away for vacation or holidays.  It always starts out the same, the pecking order is set with the dogs and they go about their business playing and doing the things they like to do and also the things that my dogs do.  Over the Thanksgiving holiday, Elaine made a batch of turkey sausage balls and we both were excited to have them during our TV snack time.  While she was making them, she had lots of company from the dogs watching every move she made from the stove to the counter and then back with the piping hot sausage balls that filled the house with lots of good smells.  As Elaine will do, to made sure they were done, or so she says, she would try one, just to make sure they were done…She wasn’t sure so she got another and another.  Well the helper dogs of the kitchen watched every move and as good dogs are, they too needed to check “just to make sure” that they were done too.  Low and behold, they were all finished baking but the first batch was gone so I can only imagine that there were a lot of checking going on and no one could decide, but the dogs helped and it was all unknown to me…
After all the chores were done and we were getting ready to settle down and watch a TV, I thought about our homemade snack and how good it would be for our evening snack.  It’s so relaxing to watch your favorite show with a dog or two at your feet and a few on the floor all nestled up for the night even the guest dogs. 
As I got the Tupperware from the refrigerator and put some sausage balls in the microwave I notices that I had a pack of dogs with happy faces, wagging tails, big eyes and long tongues hanging to the floor.  Well this isn’t too bad, they just want to be near me.  As I went to the family room with my snack and sat down, all the dogs made a circle around the front of my chair with the same expressions they had upstairs.  Dutchess started barking and I thought she wanted out, even though she had been outside a short time ago.  Molly was on the couch beside me pawing my arm.  Boone and even a few of the guest dogs were all my best friends and I felt so lucky to have so many friends because they wanted to be near me.  When I took the first bite of my snack, I opened the floodgates to heaven for them.  All of the dog’s ears went straight up, big smiles were seen everywhere and they all moved closer to the front of the chair and it was just a little scary, but in a happy way.   Elaine said “I think they want a bite,” OK, I can do that so I pinched off a little and gave it to one of them and then the next and next and so on.  When it was all done, I got an equal pinch of one of the sausage balls, the same as the dogs and even the guest dogs.  So now you’re in a dilemma, what do you do?
Here on the farm, we try to be share everything and make work and play equal.  But I will tell you next time I have turkey sausage balls, either me or the dogs are going outside… I’ll need to put cable in the kennel when I visit with my snack… Ken

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Destiny or Divine Again?

Last year, two or our pups from different litters were sold to a “perfect farm home with a good piece of land” and everything was wonderful until September of this year.  Some may remember the updates from the owners;

Some delinquents were out shooting guns and causing a raucous.  It spooked our “Chauncey”, who is terrified of gunfire and fireworks.  She literally mangled her kennel and took off.  We searched all day and evening yesterday looking for her.  This morning at 8 am we received a call from our neighbor.  At the very least, she will lose her leg.

After several good days when Chauncey first came home from the Vet’s office, things turned very wrong, very fast…

“Chauncey” has put up a good fight, but we just can’t put her through anymore.  We are saying goodbye to her in a little while.

I cried for them and Chauncey, you will never know the pain until you go through this, it is everyone’s worst nightmare.  Not only is this some of the most devastating news for the owners, it’s also devastating to the other dog that was left behind.  He had never been alone without his companion and playmate, they went home together from the farm to start their new life or so they thought…
Several dog placements came up and I talked to the owners over several months, but it was just not the right time.  Sometime later I got some information from a friend in another state…
From Craigslist;
“Free to good home, beautiful female Border collie named Nya, around 9 months old. Great with kids, very active. Will require a farm home or a good piece of land.”  I immediately called the owner and went after the dog the next morning.  Even before bringing her home we stopped at the Vet’s office for a bath, shots and spay all of which she needed.
 I had many inquiries but the first one was from Chauncey’s owner.  After several emails and messages “Nya”, now “Ellie” found a wonderful home, with a wonderful dog that lost his playmate “on a farm home and a good piece of land”… Two lives were made complete again along with the owners.
The peculiar thing about this, although a horrible situation happened, two dogs from very different paths and states were united and found each other which also reminds me of another situation I wrote about several years ago.

Read Destiny or Divine here...

"Makes you think this was predestined to be. I'm just glad I could be a small part of it.  Destiny or Divine?”  These are the words I said in July 2011 on another pairing of a man and a dog that was unbelievable
For whatever reason, sometimes things happen and we just don’t understand why the outcome happened and probably never will but I will tell you it is so gratifying to help people put their lives together after a nightmare had occurred
I have always said “you never can replace a cherished dog when that time comes, you can just enhance the love and experience it again, only different”
Jetter from Destiny or Divine...
If I have learned anything about life and dogs, there are reasons things happen, I have seen it a hundred times and each time it’s gets better.  If you ever get a chance to help put a life back together while saving a dog…It doesn't get any better… While I have seen this many times here on the farm, Chauncey death affected me and Ellie was such a unique young dog.

I am asked many times “how do you do it, how do you let them go?” and my answer is always the same, “because there is always one more to help” trust me there is…  Good luck “Army” and “Ellie”, although your life has had many bumps and bruises, now enjoy it together “on a farm home and a good piece of land”   Ken

You Wanna?

Last night I was sitting on the couch and we were just finishing dinner and as usual, the dogs wanted part of our food.  I will give them a snack during our snack time but when it comes to my main meal, it’s all mine so there is no sharing.  I even tell the dogs “this is my supper, don’t eat mine and I won’t eat yours” and they seem to understand.  After we were done, I looked at Shepp, “you wanna go eat?” I said, and his ears popped up and his big brown eyes opened wide, his mouth opened a little and he was all smiles while he cocked his head from side to side.  I said it again, “you wanna go eat?” and then Finn looked up and her ears went up too because she also understood.  
Don’t tell me they don’t understand, I know they do I thought.  Shepp and Finn went to the door and Little Boo went too, he knew something was up.  Before I got up and opened the door, I said it again and again and they were all excited and started barking, they were hungry and they let me know.  I’ve seen a lot of dogs but I never thought I would see ones that can understand things you say and at times Border Collies know, Elaine and I will spell the word out so the dog doesn’t get excited and even then, sometimes they do, scary... 
A border collie called Chaser has been taught the names of 1022 items more words than any other animal. She can also categorize them according to function and shape, something children learn to do around the age of 3 year old.  Over three years, they taught the Chaser the names of 1022 toys by introducing them to her one by one, getting her to fetch the toy and then repeating the name to reinforce the association. They regularly tested Chaser on her vocabulary by putting random groups of 20 toys in another room and having her fetch them by name.  Chaser, now 10, never got less than 18 out of 20 right, in 838 separate tests over three years and to think, I get excited when I say a few words and they do what I want or sit down. 
Chaser the Border Collie
It always starts out the same, a new dog or boarder comes in and they are a little unsure of what I want them to do when I give the commands but they will watch what mine are doing and usually follow suit.  In a few days, after watching, they fit right in and go with the flow with my commands.  Do they just follow or do they really understand?  It’s my opinion that we put the confines on what they know by “not” working with them more than we do and I too am guilty of this.  Nearly every dog will usually know, sit, shake and a few other words and commands but have you ever thought of the quandary we would be in if they knew more words than the few we teach them?  It would be heaven because they could be my helper or learn a task.  Several times in the past, we have had dogs that loved to play with sticks and although we don’t play with them for safety and health reasons, they will bring us a stick and then another and another and so on.  Elaine once said that “if this keeps up, we’ll have all the sticks picked up” and she was right because they are driven and smarter than we know.

While I am sure that they know “let’s go eat”, “let’s go outside” or “let’s potty”, this is only the starting point of the thousands of things that they could do and learn.  I can only imagine the trouble that Dutchess could get into if she knew 1022 different words.  When I say something and look into their eyes I know they know what I am talking about.  Even when I look at something they want such as a door, gate or Frisbee they will watch me look, look at me with their perked up ears and in my heart, I know they are reading my mind, and to think we only thought they knew “sit”.  Ken
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Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle...

Wiggle wiggle wiggle, twist, jump and spin.  I’m sure all of us have seen this many times if you have had a young BC or young dog.  We are watching “Lola”, Gabby’s last pup until she goes home in a day or two and to say it has been an adventure, is an understatement.   I have seen the above descriptions many times because she has stayed in the house with us getting her training and rearing.  I too remember our own young dogs having the zoomies going from one side of the house to the other.  There is nothing like “full on” puppy energy and Lola sure has it.
Many people have ask, “When do they slowdown, because I wish they would”  I first ask them, “Do you give them things to do and keep them busy?”  After talking about their activity for a few minutes, and my opinion and advice is given, all is set.  I do remember the puppy stage so well and just by chance, have been plunged into it again.  Wiggle, twist, jump and spin are in the vocabulary of a young BC and Oh how have I forgot them running down the driveway, me running after them and their ears set back from the wind running to the end of the world.  “When do they slow down, I wish she would?” I ask myself forgetting my own advice but I soon remember.  If there is any consolation, they do slow down, but with some melancholy.
As I have watched some of my own dogs grow into senior dogs over the years, I thought I would love the “slower” time.  Now don’t get me wrong, I do love some quiet time, but I also see a little gray, slower gaits and aches and pains and rather than jumping on the couch, they slowly climb, and it makes me sad because we are closer to that inescapable bridge.

The one that hurts me the most is Dutchess, while she is still spunky and very playful I can tell she is getting a little slower with some of the things she does.  She has always been the dog that instigated all the activity here on the farm and still does, but now she picks things that works for her.  She will run with the best and youngest of them, but when she lays down, her body and joints are not as quick to return and even though she will get up for more play, she is just a little slower but with some effort she is ready to start again and go full speed.
As I know so well, I to know the effects of a little age and I too will pick my battles and activity just like Dutchess, Molly and Clancy but we do have to face some aches and pains and consequences.  Several times I have noticed that some of our dogs will take a few more naps and seem to be more relaxed than they use to be.  Molly has always wanted to be near me and get her head scratched but Dutchess has always been too busy to subsume to such nonsense, but that time seems to be changing.  Clancy will now pick his battles not needing to win all of them.
In just the last three months, Dutchess had made a point to come inside the house and find a place to lay down, but her most sought-after place is when I settle into the recliner and park her butt next to my feet.  She will look at me with her soulful eyes and as soon as I say “come up”, she will climb into my lap where she will sleep for hours in-between my legs as I rub her head and she dreams of younger days, occasionally licking my hand with gratitude. When it comes time for me to leave because I need to get up for a few minutes, I will ask her to get down, but as soon as I come back to the chair, she’s right back to her “spot” and off she goes to dreamland again… Little does she know, her “spot” is shared with each on of the dogs and I covet each visit.  As I rub her face, as I do with each one, I too think of the younger times that we all have shared with each other and the life bridges we have crossed.  We’ve seen the good and bad in each other, but we also know we are family and friends and there is a love and respect for each other.  

As I rub their faces and stroke their fur, I too remember the days when they all had the zoomies, wiggling, running, twisting and barking.  I do know that they have “slowed down” and there is not a better place than in my lap as we both drift off to dreamland.

Rest well Dutchess, Molly and Clancy, but to my readers, remember what you wish for…  Ken

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What Do You Do?...

I have spoken about this several times and it’s only gets worse.  This Saturday morning, I was awaken at just a little after 5 am.  I don’t know how/why it happens but it does and when it does to you, it a surprise at first but par for the course thereafter.  My life use to be simple with nothing to do but decide what we wanted to watch on TV and what kind of snack you get before bedtime and now even this has changed. 
If you’re a Border Collie owner, you know exactly what I mean.  This Saturday morning right after 5 am, Dutchess moved even closer (on top) of me in the bed because she was cold, and when she moved, Abby decided it was face washing time and even Annie got into the picture by getting on the other side of Dutchess and laying on my hand.  So here I was Dutchess laying against my back, Abby licking my face and Annie laying on my hand, I was trapped.  
Abby waiting to wash...
I was so tired and just wanted to sleep and desperately tried, but to no avail.  Things really went downhill when Abby licked me so much, not only was my face wet, I had to turn the pillow over to get a dry spot and it was still 5:10 am.  Enough is enough…I got up and moved to the recliner where I could lean back and get a little cat nap before time to get up.  After stretching out and closing my eyes, Molly sitting next to me decided she wanted to paw my arm for attention, which she did about every 10 minutes or when I would drift off and my hand fell off her head.  Funny how things change when you get a dog…
One thing that is so funny is when Dutchess is fast asleep and you need to move her around the bed so you can at least have part of the bed, she will “talk” to you in dog “talk” telling you how upset she is.  There is no doubt that she is not pleased with the move but needs her beauty sleep but at times I wondered if it was worth it.  I guess the fact is, it’s worth it to them if I got up and moved yesterday morning.

When we do settle down for TV time at night, after an hour or two, I usually get a hankering for a small snack.   I will go to the snack cabinet and pick something out not only for me, but also something that the dogs will like because every time I sit with a snack, I get one bite, then Dutchess, then Abby, then Clancy and so on.  After nine snacks have been handed out, I finally get one again.  I just hope they don’t figure out that I break theirs in half.  Dutchess will give me the evil eye if I go out of order and I usually find myself at the grocery store asking “will the dogs like this”, and usually the answer is yes but peanuts are not one of Abby’s favorites and I’m waiting for a snack list from them.  If it’s a little past our snack time, Dutchess will get up…look at me…bark…walk to the snack cabinet…bark and you know it’s time for a snack, so don’t run out, they’ll be sure to let you know…

Mine sure have some idiosyncrasies and I always find myself thinking “what would the dogs want” I’m just glad they can’t drive…but do they want to?  I’ve always wondered what some other BC’s parents do and if I’m the crazy one… Ken
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