8:00 PM

I have pondered this letter many times but never thought of how to do it.  It will be very profound and most people can’t imagine the implications of being in my shoes, including me at times…  As I have experienced this often, it’s hard to put into words and one of those situations you must see and experience for yourself to get into the right frame of mind, and even then it will be exhausting to read and hard for me to write… There is only one way to inscribe it, and that is as it actually materializes most every night…

Note:  As I sit in my recliner at 8 pm to "relax" and watch TV, this is the customary one sided conservation every night in the family room before the witching hour…

My Turn?

8 PM

“Jump up, come on…UP, UP”
“Dutchess, stop going in circles, lay down, you’re killing me”
“Abby stop growling, she beat you up to my lap, now lay down”
“Meggie, lay on the other end of the couch”
“Meggie, quit holding your paw up in the air”
“Meggie, quit staring at me, lay down”
“Annie, there isn’t enough room for you up here”
“Abby, what are you looking at, Dutchess beat you”
“Abby, there isn’t enough room for you too”
“Abby, get off your back, Dahlia, get you nose out of there, Abby, she was just checking you, no harm and quit growling”

8:30 PM

“Dutchess, get up, move I’m getting something”
“Dutchess, you’re not getting any, it’s for adults, not dogs”
“Look, this is not a treat for you, it’s a necessity for me, just to take the edge off”
“Molly… good girl, but there is no room, maybe later”
“Shepp, get off the remote control, you’re changing the TV”
“Please everyone, just sit down and relax”
“Dahlia I can’t see the TV if you’re in my lap”

9:00 PM

“Phew…Who did that, don’t look at me… I didn’t do it”
“Someone needs to go to the bathroom?”
“Everyone out”
“Dahlia, quit barking at the cat”
“Holy Mother of God… why does this have to be so difficult”
“Everyone in… slow down, it’s not a race”
“I need another drink”
“Where am I going to sit?”
“Abby get up,”
“Dutchess “this” is for adults, not dogs”

9:30 PM

“Gabby lay still, don’t roll over on your back”
“Clancy get you nose out of there”
“Clancy, don’t lick yourself, there is nothing down there”
“Abby, we’re not playing ball, lay down”
“Annie quit pestering Molly, Molly quit growling”
“Thank God for the rewind function on the TV”

10:00 PM Snack Time

“Everyone will get a bite”
“Dutchess it’s not your turn”
“Dahlia get your feet off the Coffee table”
“Dutchess, get back”
“Molly, you can have a bite”
(Repeated 4 times)

10:30 PM

“Get up everyone, I need something”
“Need more whiskey”
“You all did this to me”
“Abby quit growling, no one is going to get me”
“Abby, Thank you for the sugar and saving me”
“I don’t even know what I watched”
“Please be still”
“Dutchess do you think I need another drink?”
“Dutchess stop, I should have never asked the question”
“Shepp quit barking”
“Come on Molly, up”

11 PM

“News is on, everyone quiet”
“Meggie, quit looking at me”
“Someone needs to go out”
“No it wasn’t me, I know dog phew”
“Dahlia, quit barking at the woods”
“Slow down, it’s not a race to get out the door”
“DAHLIA, quit waking up the neighborhood”
“Let’s go inside”
“Molly, Shepp, Dahlia, Annie, Gabby go upstairs, find Momma”
“Just a little more TV”
“Abby, Dutchess, Clancy, Meggie find your spot”
“Abby, where am I going to sit”

1:39 AM

“Slurp Slurp Slurp”
“I know, I’m getting up, I was just resting my eyes”
“Abby, Dutchess, Clancy, Meggie get in bed, up…up”
“Where am I going to sleep?”
“Thank you for moving”
“Abby, thank you for protecting me tonight, please don’t lick my nose off, why is the pillow wet”
“Note to self, need more Whiskey”

5:49 AM

Abby, thank you for washing my face, please don’t lick my nose off”
“I can’t breathe, everyone’s on top of me”
“Who did that, no it wasn’t me… I don’t think”
“Just another day”

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A Letter...

People send and tag me in many articles on social medias that deal with dogs and dog issues.  I do enjoy reading them and at times they tug at my heart, as this one particular letter did from Rainbow Bridge… It came via the United States Priority Services to a rescue worker who had stayed with the dog until the end…

A letter from Sampson in part...
Dear Mom:

I arrived safe and sound. I am sorry it has taken me so long to let you know. Things are so much different here and time passes quickly.

I wanted to let you know how wonderful things are. You should see me! I am healthy and strong and guess what Mom... I can SEE. Butterflies, flowers and trees. I run now and play a lot with the other dogs and sometimes I just sit and look up at the stars

I want to say thank you Mom. It is because of you I felt love for the first time ever in my life. You took me in and gave me the best medical care but even more than that, you showed me what compassion was and patience.

I miss you Mom. I remember all those long nights you stayed up with me because I didn't feel so well. I remember how you poured your strength into me. I remember how you gave all of your heart to me and if love could have healed my broken body, I surely would have been the most healthy dog on the planet. I remember your tears Mom, how much each one that fell cost you. I'm sorry for those.

I am not sending you this to make you cry Mom. I just wanted you to know how much it meant to me to be part of your family. I must confess that I never understood why everyone said SampsonStrong! We both know that all my strength came from you. Your love gave the will and strength to fight. Thank you for that. Together we raised so much awareness. I know many dogs have been saved because of your tireless efforts

I am watching over all the rescues that have arrived, just as you did. We want you to know that when you are feeling down,  when you feel like the world is giving you more than you can handle, when life seems cruel and unfair and you don’t know if you have the strength to continue this journey... think of all of us. It is at those times that we all gather around you and pour into you our new-found strength and all of the love that you gave us we give back to you 10 fold.

Oh and Mom... we contacted a friend of the rescue. We wanted to give you this sweatshirt to keep you warm this winter and to remind you to keep your chin up and believe in yourself. If you hadn't made room for one more... what would have happened to us? Always remember that. 

We are always with you. Just as you gave us a piece of your heart, we each gave you a piece of ours so that you will remain RescueStrong!

Love you forever,

PS: Please let our rescue family know that we are well and how grateful we are to have had their love and support.

The person who received this letter worked and stayed with Sampson, who was in the "worst of worst" shape when he came into the shelter until he crossed the bridge , but she gave him a lifetime of love in just the short time he was with her and she loved him very much.  I can’t speak for all but I do know that you always think and wonder about a dogs that you “saved” and worked with.   Many others have helped so much more than me but the number seems to be growing and every little bit of help is grateful.  I can name and remember every dog we have worked with and even look at their photos at times, seeing them run and play like they never have before.  Sometimes we never have the answers or the “why” things happen so badly, but it never breaks our spirit, just strengthens it.  

The bad part about helping, you get so attached to them and then one day...the're gone to their new home, usually never to be seen again but you hope they are warm, save and loved but you always wonder.  It's about helping, nothing more... but it's doesn't take away the fact that you miss them and want to hold them one more time... To all the rescue workers that have fostered a dog because they believed in the greater good even when the world was going to hell, thank you... If you are the recipient of one of dogs that was a rescue, give "our" dog a hug because we do remember...  
Thank you...  Ken

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His Legacy?

Last weekend, we had our final puppy reunion here at the farm.  The weather was great and this year we had four specific events that you could join in or watch the others, everyone had a blast.  

For some of the organizers, it lasted from Friday until Sunday and everyone was a lot of help, pulling everything together and making it work.  When we started planning months ago, one of the things I requested was to have the attendees keep their dog on a lead unless they were in an event, cutting down on confusion and even my dogs were in the kennel except Clancy.  It just didn’t seem right for some reason.  It was something I didn’t think about at the time, I just never put him up and I think I know why.

Many photos of the day were posted on Facebook of the dogs preforming in the events and having fun and it was a hoot to see it all again but two of the photos were of Clancy, who was in a position where he could watch everything and one caption even said “Clancy watching over his flock.”  I never thought of it that way, but he was responsible for most of the dogs and people on the property and he may even have sensed it.  After realizing that, I do remember him always watching everything going on, or was he watching his legacy?  Did he watch his pups doing the things they do making sure everything is OK?  I have noticed over the years he would correct or cultivate some of his dogs and at times, he would scold his children when necessary. 

Clancy guarding the pups
Clancy has always been instrumental in everything we do at the farm. He is strong, quick, dominate but a gentle giant when he needs to be, which is most of the time but I have seen him curl up on the couch and fall to sleep in the lap of someone interested in one of “his” pups like he was their best friend.  It seemed he always checked out prospective homeowners, just to make sure.  Rarely did Clancy ever bark, but he speaks so much with his eyes, there is just something about his eyes that enchants man, dogs and even me.

Every dog here on the farm played a part in the upbringing of the pups, including playing and training.   Doc was also a father to some of our pups, he was always ready to love you but never had the knack to “just” watch over his flock like Clancy did.  Doc was a great father but Clancy took his fatherhood serious, just like parents do with their children, to him they’re never too old to learn and he will never be too old to teach.
Because of all of our dogs, we have had many things change in our life.  If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have met so many wonderful people and made so many friends or saw the joy that they have brought to so many people.  This is why we had the reunions and welcomed puppy play days, just to keep in contact and to see our dogs again.

“Hey who is that?” someone said, as a dog cocked his head sniffing the air looking around.  Many Border Collies came together to watch an old man cross "that" bridge.  All of the dogs ran to the old man licking his hands and face, some even turning circles barking with joy.  “I remember you” they all said as the old man slowly sat down in the middle of them, as he had many times before but in a far away place.  The old man didn't see one particular dog but when he looked a little further, watching from a distance he saw “his” Clancy watching and protecting as always.  Clancy bowed his head once, the old man also bowed but when he raised it he said “That'll do Clancy, That'll do... come here big boy, I missed you”   Ken…
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The Story of Sylvester…

Someone found a dog, made a desperate reach to the nationwide “Blind Dog Rescue Alliance” who contacted a Border Collie Rescue in New York who contacted a friend, Karen Newhall who contacted me with the following message…
A dog has several issues described from the caretaker to the rescues, he was;
Abandoned in a neighborhood
Fell off a retaining wall into a yard
He was terrified and ended up running into the brick wall
Front paws looks torn
May have been beaten
He is limping
His fur is matted
No shots or Heartworm medication
They are desperate
He is not housebroken or leash trained
Hoping for rescue, we cannot keep him
but He’s blind

“He is very sweet” was the last comment from the caretaker.  Sylvester who was named by the children has had a very rough start possibly from birth.  They had contacted their local Vet for help and to see if anyone recognized him and reached out to everyone, but nothing.  Once I got the caretakers contact, I sent an email to inquiry about him.
If I have learned anything about finding good homes for dogs, it can be tough at times and nearly impossible to find that right spot even for the perfect dog.  “Do I want to get into this,” I thought and “am I going to have another dog.”  I knew from the get go that this was a hard one, probably impossible and I did have doubts and concerns. 

First photo I saw of Sylvester
After contacting the caretaker, things started falling into place.  The caretaker was very nice and agreed to help.  A date was set for him to be transported to a Veterinary in Louisville for his shots/tests and a surgery.  On the day of his trip, I drove to Louisville and met the caretaker and Sylvester at the Vets office.  They were wonderful people and had their children who were very fond of Sylvester and I notices a few tears from the kids during their last goodbye.  He is a beautiful dog, perfectly marked for a border collie but he was very nervous and scared.  “Can I help him?” I said under my breath as I looked at this broken, handicapped and scared dog.  Because he was blind and he needed to go to the surgery prep area, I picked him up, held him close but noticed he leaned his head into my chest for comfort, leaving him for the afternoon surgery.   As I drove back to Indiana thinking about the problems that may arise, the biggest that came to mind… Where will he live?
That night I added a post to our dogs Facebook page hoping for just one inquiry, someone who could care for him, love him and give him a chance to live but help him see through them.  His outlook was dreary at best.  The next morning, as always I go to the computer and punched up Facebook hoping for one inquiry but I knew there would be none even though we were nearly 100% successful but Sylvester was special and he was.  Our Facebook was on fire, I had nearly thirty five thousand “likes” and “shares” something I have never seen.  Hundreds of messages were sent to all three of our FB pages and even to my Gmail account but why?  After starting to read, they were inquiries about Sylvester, people wanted him!  After answering what I could, I deleted the information because I couldn’t handle any more request.  I started making a list of people who I checked out that seemed like a good match.  I was very upfront about his disability because he needed a loving/caring and knowledgeable home who understood about blindness and how to care for him and this still might be hard.
Early this spring, a family was looking for a second dog to be a companion for their senior dog.  

The day he left here
They were excited and had planned to pick up the dog but on the very day it was scheduled, the wife was involved in an automobile accident with a semi-truck and plans were drastically changed and put on hold.  Still want a dog, she saw a notice about an available dog on our Facebook page that was blind several months later and contacted me.  When we talked on the phone, I tried to stress the trials and potential problems of having a dog with needs.  She explained to me that she has 16 years in the field working with children and adults that are blind and work with service dogs.  “Why wouldn’t I want a blind dog?”  Sylvester was cleared to go to his new home this Saturday.

Relaxed at his new home
He joined a family that is loving, devoted and trained to take care of him in ways I’ll never know.  From a dog was so scared to move, he has developed into a confident dog that is truly happy and has learned so much is just a week.  Several days ago.  In just a few days, his world has opened up and his life is just beginning…  

Sylvester with his new buddy
Right after picking up Sylvester on that Saturday, the husband turned to his wife saying, “It would be nice to help other dogs too” and I agree.  Ken

Just when you think things are impossible, things seem to open up and the best works out... I've seen that happen 100's of times...

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The Teacher...

 Saturday morning, I woke up at 4 am not by choice,  my mind started planning out my day in bed, I just got up and went to the computer to take care of my usual 2 hour of answering emails and messages.  Then I sipped a cup of coffee and read the news online which usually depresses me because of all the difficulties in the world.
Sometimes I go back and read some of my blog posts that I have written over the last 6 years and I actually have to chuckle as I was reading a few and if I saw anything that amused me, it was the fact that “This has been a busy week” was quoted over and over.  I’m one of those people whose glass is always half empty and have the need to “over” fix any problem or concern so I always plan.

At times I dream of total peace and quiet and the ability to sleep later than 6 am.  I’m sure that day will come (hopefully) but right now it’s a fact that my life is hectic.   No-one to blame but myself and it’s hard for me to say "no" to anyone or dog that needs a hand and this has landed me in trouble more than once.

Dog-tired, I sat in my recliner right after lunch on Saturday.  I turned on the television set to anything that was mundane, just to make white nose and to drum out some interference, I put my head back and went to that place where no one can enter, a place of goodness, solitude and peace.  It can be my private abode where I can remember anything I want, to dream of a better world and the dogs that love us no matter what kind of people we are, something we’re not always very good at.

Before I went to sleep, sad eyes appeared at my side and when I sensed something was there, I opened my eyes and her look of solitude looked at me with a question, “can I come up please? and for a moment I ignored those eyes but in just a twinkling, a furry paw reached  and touched my leg.  I tapped my chest and up she came, circled once and down for the count she went.  At first I thought it would be nice to be alone but after a few moments, deep sleep came to her.  As I drifted off to rest, she was in dreamland.  Subconsciously I rubbed her head and stroked her fur and what a wonderful feeling it was for both of us.  I know she loved it, and I did too.

I dreamed of world where there was no strife or conflict.  A place where I could do what I wanted and have the time to do it, a place where I had all the amenities to make my life and everyone’s around me happy, but was I really happy in my dream and was their something I didn't see?  
She dreamed of a place where she could chase a Frisbee without getting tired, a time when she could jump up on the couch in one hop, a place where she could spend time with her human friend for "his" lifetime, not "hers" because she knows there is always a goodbye hovering in the shadows of a dog.  In my heart, she is always happy, something I covet.  Even though she is getting old, she makes the most of every day, starting with a spring in her step and smile on her face but never a grievance.

 “A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to them. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not.” ― John Grogan

As I awoke rested, my friend and companion continued to dream.  What is she thinking?  What is she feeling?  As I stroked her leg, she opened her eyes and licked my hand and, and I realized what I wanted most in life was here, I just needed to look around, no, I need to look in my lap and learn.
Dogs are simple, they want so little but give so much, more than any human usually gives.  

Peace is easy to fine, only if we look...
They work with what they have because it’s enough, and happiness to them is what’s in front of them, nothing more.  We on the other hand, work and plan and when time slows down for us, it may be too late and regrets are near.  Just this week, we had a dog over for a stay and when the owner dropped her off, she had a bag of empty gallon milk bottles.  “What is this” I ask, “her favorite toy, she loves it and it makes her so happy, you can’t buy a better toy,”  she said.  As I remembered my sleep companion I thought, “No you couldn’t”  Sometimes it not only the simple things we have it's the way we look at things or how we approach a problem but sometime it’s usually right in front of us or in our lap...   Ken

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"Labor" Day

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 in New York City, it was to observance and celebration with a street parade to exhibit to the public "the strength and esprit de corps to the trade and labor organizations" followed by a festival for the recreation and amusement of everyone, who knew it would be a "labor" of love for us...

Sound familiar?

Dutchess is tremendously in favor of this and she has her party hat ready for the parade and is equipped to march to the tune of “her” drum.  But when I think about it, it should be our parade because we do all the work but Dutchess and her friends disagree because they are "working" dogs and members of their working group, although, if their was a "Party" party, she would be better equipped and would be the party President...

Friends of Dutchess
In my dogs eyes, my world consist of making them happy, living in a world where we will continue to be in an uncomfortable position in order for them to sleep, boy does this sound true.
This started me to thinking about the work we do and our life changing experiences to make them happy.  If you have a dog, you know what it takes to make them happy but when you multiply it by ten, now that’s a job but one that we usually bring on ourselves as I did, so maybe I should be the "labor" organize.  I can’t think or envision the time and money that most all of us have done or would do to make these little rascals happy.

Some of us will change the way we sleep, where we sleep and how we sleep so they will be comfortable.  I was one of those people that liked to sleep by myself and enjoyed my peace and quiet, I never really thought about it but when I got into bed last night, I set up and said “Abby where are you, come here girl”  why did I do that?  They grow on us and I like her company and snuggles and it's so comfortable to reach and touch them in the middle of the night.  Now Dutchess will jump in bed, make her place and won’t move at all but if you try to make her move, she raises her head and gives you that “don’t touch me look.”  Each one is different and some will jump on the bed for an hour or so and then find their spot somewhere else, but I find myself trying to make them comfortable and don't worry about myself, go figure?

There is no doubt, we work for them and do things that makes their life better and everyday around here is a party according to some of them but I’ve always said that “you can’t be taken advantage unless you allow it” and of course I have and is that so bad?  

So remember this Labor Day as it was meant for, the employees (dogs) and the originators (us) remember we do work for them or so Dutchess thinks… but it is a "labor" of love.  Ken
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A Week of Fun...

Border Collies are like kids in so many ways.  Just ask anyone who has both kids and dogs and you will feel my pain along with so many great memories too!  I’ve seen all the aspects of their life, both the good and bad times, just like I have with my kids.   My kids were so cute growing up and they were so loving and sweet until they tell you to shut up or call you so stupid which most of us can relate to at some point in their upbringing and I'm glad they keep growing and become wonderful family members, but Border Collies seem to stay at that three year old mark and find things to get in trouble...

Puppies are so cute when you bring them home and you can’t wait to let them run around the house and play with everyone but it’s a little different when you find “that” mess, or your furniture is tore up but before long, they grow up, like your kids and things balance out.  Both get a mind of their own and use it and things can be pleasant. 

Here at the farm, I usually have lots of things that need attention from cutting grass, cutting wood or little jobs throughout the day and it seems like I never get ahead.  It’s a blessing a curse to be busy but keeps me active.  It’s so funny to watch the dogs when they don't see me.  As usually, after they eat breakfast, they want to play or explore the trails or lake.  This means playtime for them and as we start out for work, someone will grab a ball and carry it with them just in case we have the chance to stop and toss a few but sometimes that’s not the case.  

If I have a project going, which I usually do, they will attempt to get me to play but then realize that it’s futile.   That’s when their fun starts for them and they will invent games to keep themselves busy, I’ve seen this a million times.  They will chase each other and Molly always starts it, she will run toward the pack, stop and prance her feet, bark and turn and run.  Well everyone chaises her and they will run around the small pond at least three times.  They will rest a while and do it again until they are tired and then its nap-time. Which everyone enjoys including me. 
Something new has started and even the guest dogs will join in, it’s swimming classes.  I didn’t notice it at first but a few of the dogs will come back where I am working and they will be wet from head to toe.  I once spied on them and several will go to the lake and swim, playing each other, cooling off and getting having a little water time. 

Even the guest dogs join in and find their way to the lake...
Meggie and Abby will play “stare” and if you have ever been here, you may have seen it.  All the dogs are busy doing something and you might not notice it at first.  First you will see Meggie, just staring off in the distance, being perfectly still.  “What is she looking at” you ask and you will look in the direction her nose is pointed in and see Abby, staring back at her and whey will play “face-off” not breaking the stance.

Gabby is helping...
The first to move is the loser and then they will run, stop and do it again and can be anywhere from twenty to a hundred feet.  I was on the roof cleaning the gutters several years ago and when I looked toward the dogs in the yard, someone had found a ball and at that very moment Dutchess had the ball in their mouth and if I didn’t see, I wouldn’t believe it, she slung it sideways tossing it nearly 15 feet and the others chased it for some time, scary at times.

I thought this was funny until I thought about it...

It amazes me what they can learn on their own, just like a three year old, when you can’t hear them, you better worry, they’re making a mess.  With all I have seen, it won’t surprise me to see the Jeep driving down the driveway, and furry head barking out of each window…  I better start hiding the keys...   Ken

Should I be worried?

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