The Little Diggers…

It started several years ago, when some of the dogs would come back to the house from running and exploring the farm and I noticed a color chance on some of them. 

Rather than a black nose, a few of them would have a brown nose.  After examining them, it appeared to be dirt…
This is something that has just started here in the last year or so and seems to be worse at times.  My main little digger is Annie with Doc and Dahlia coming in for a close second.  After much thought and concern for my yard, mulch, vegetable garden and flower garden I tried to discover what was going on. 

There are times that I will “discover” their little habit and many times when we are on a walk I would see them in the yard digging and their head in the dirt and tail in the air.  But that is not the only time they mess with the dirt.  Just yesterday, I went out the back door and one of my favorite flower pots looked just a little different.  A large clay pot that had been beautiful was now in shambles. 

I really don’t know who is doing it because there are several dogs and guest dogs that will cuddle up for a comfortable place on some soft dirt.  

Little Oscar...
Yesterday after I saw the clay pot, I looked at each one of their feet and noses trying to determine who the culprit was but I was too late as everyone’s nose and paws were clean, I guess they outsmarted me again.

It seems to be a conspiracy on what they are doing here, they get together with friends and team up on me even bring Kacie, Lit Bit and Izzy into their fold, what is it with dirt... They sure love the clay pots...

"Kacie"... I'm sure she would never chase a mole... Look at that sweet face...
It’s just a hootenanny here but you just deal with it… as many of you know.  Ken

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Dad’s Day...

On a hot July day when I was 32 years old, my Dad and I were digging a 16 inch tree stump out of the ground from a tree that I had cut down the day before.  We were digging it out by hand with shovels and axes.   It was hard and he could work circles around me.  He was 70 years old and as I walked to the house to get a cool glass of water, I looked back at him and in an instant, he became the smartest man in the world.  I remember that day like it was yesterday even through it was 30 years ago. 
Dad before he worked at  the Railroad
We purchased Clancy when he was 8 weeks old and he was our second choice.  The pup we first picked out was sold to someone right before we made the long journey.  We were not disappointed because we were excited to get a puppy but in the back of our mind, I thought about it and wondered... was this the right choice?

In Dad's forty four years of railroad work, he “never” called in sick.  He was late for work once because we had gotten fourteen inches of snow but he walked to work, taking nearly four hours one way.  He worked 2nd shift all his life and any holidays he could get.  I was decent with sports and in my freshman year of high school, placed 2nd in the state.  He never made any of my games or performances, because of work…

Clancy grew fast and strong.  He was my first male Border Collie and I didn’t know what to expect but I know what I saw and I liked it.  He was not marked like a traditional BC with a full collar, he was not the “standard.”  Our first choice was marked like a “standard” and I always wondered… was he the right choice?

As a child, my Mother was the disciplinarian in the house and boy did she do a good job, but I will tell you, I needed it, like the time I climbed up the China cabinet at my favorite Aunt house and pulled it over on top of me breaking ALL the dishes or the time when I was six, we were all sitting in church and I got inside Mom’s purse and retrieved a Tampon and turned around facing the rear of the church pretending to “smoke” it.  Unfortunately we sat in the front pew and mom turned around when she heard the laughs… Needless to say, I was in trouble again.  Dad never used a hand on anyone but his words commanded everything.

Clancy grew into a strong adult dog and needed a strong hand as most do.  I wanted him to be a self-controlled dog and we worked hard to get there.  He would mind me for any occasion and would come to me even when he knew he was in trouble.  He didn’t want to, but he did out of respect.  Clancy never got a lot of pampering from me because it would make him soft or so I thought.  He would not get in my lap but lay at me feet, knowing his station in life.

I was twenty one years old before I told my dad I loved him and when I did, it was also the first time he told me.  He had been rushed to the hospital for what we thought was a heart attack and as I sat alone in the mustard yellow un-air conditioned room, I thought it was now or never, I wanted to tell him but was afraid of what I would not hear. We thought he was dying but thank God, it was a heat stroke, he had been working outside too hard without any breaks… go figure… but that brief moment changed our lives forever.  Not a day went by that I didn’t see or talk to Dad and we always told each other “I love you.”  At times, I still see him walking and whisper to him.

As Clancy became the number one dog on the farm, I saw a wonderful change.  He was self-assured, confident, willing to help and would take care of the needs of the farm.  I saw him protect us from critters and even stray dogs, protecting his turf, the girls and our home and at times sending unwanted dogs to the Vet for repair.  He is a gentle giant of a dog both inside and out, afraid of nothing or anyone, and his eyes will pierce your soul and command any dog. 

My Dad passed away unexpectedly in front of me.  Earlier that very day, he told me he was ready to “go home”.  We were again cutting a tree down and I said “you can go home, I got it from here” He said he was “ready to go to heaven.” I laughed and told him I was too.  He went "Home" thirty minutes later.   Packed away, I have a branch from that very tree and the hat he was wearing in an airtight container and I will take it out at times, just to smell him again. 
Before that hot day in July when I was thirty two, we didn’t have much of a relationship.  I respected him and always did what I was told.  Was he a great dad?  He was raised in an orphanage home and got out when he was fifteen and worked on his own during the depression.  As a Dad myself, I learned many lessons from him, what to do and what not to do, but I learned.  Dad knew everything and could fix anything, and as I stood over him while he took his last breath, I thought of all the knowledge he has would soon vanish, but what I didn’t know, I would pick it up and did. 

Clancy sired many wonderful pups, he is what he is because of his lineage, family and work ethics.  His make-up was almost predetermined, little did I know when we got our "second choice."  When he was about 2 years old, I researched his pedigree and was surprised, but it never mattered, he was our Clancy.

Clancy's Great Grandfather, Del-Mar Turk
Some might say that the best Dad is always there and I’m sure that may be true but it wasn’t in the cards that were dealt to me.  But what I learned from Dad was not taught at a ball game or at a swing set.   It was learned from watching him keep his word, teach Sunday School, doing for others, doing what it took to make things right and watching him literally get on his knees to give “thanks” before bed.   

Clancy wasn’t our first choice at the time but I’m glad it worked out the way it did, but I will tell you, I wouldn’t change a thing… Clancy was a great Dad, he may not have pampered the pups with licks and attention but he was their rock and protector not only of his pups but any dog or pup that was from the farm.  I was walking to the kennel and looked back at Clancy last week and in an instance realized he is the best dog in the world.  It’s funny how things work out the way they do and I’m glad it did…  Happy Father’s Day, 

Dad… I love you… Kenny…

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Following are some of Clancy's Great Grandfathers accomplishments over the last 7 years that he competed:

1997 British Columbia Open Cow Dog of the year.
1998 British Columbia Open Super Dog (Must stand in the top 30% in both sheep and cattle trials. Turk is the only dog in British Columbia to win the Super Dog Award since these standards were established)
1999 Calgary Stampede Stock Dog $hoot-Out finalist.
2000 CBCA Canadian National Finals 2nd Runner-up.
2001 Calgary Stampede Stock Dog $hoot-Out finalist.
2001 CBCA Canadian National Finals, 5th. Place.
2001 British Columbia Open Sheep Dog of the year.
2002 Calgary Stampede Stock Dog $hoot-Out $10,000.00 Grand Champion.
2002 British Columbia Open Sheep Dog of the year.
2002 Farm Fair International Stock Dog Trial 3rd. Place. 
2002 Wild West Cattle Dog Grand Champion at the North American Sheep Dog Championship, Tejon Ranch, Lebec, CA.
2003 Winner of the San Pasqual Sheep Dog Trial at Murietta, CA and 3rd overall in the three trial Hospitality series at 10 years of age.
Has placed in the top ten at the Western Canadian Championships for the last 5 years.
2003 Winner of the Del'mar Driving Championship at the Western Canadian Championship.
2003 CBCA Canadian National Finals 7th Place.
2003 Reserve British Columbia Open Sheep Dog at 10 1/2 years of age.
Has won the Perpetual Trophy for Best BC Dog and Handler at the CBCA Nationals the last 4 years.
Has won the Perpetual Trophy for Best BC Dog and Handler at the Western Canadian Championship the last 3 years.
Winner of numerous sheep and cattle dog trials both in Canada and the United States.

Drop it...Starting Young

If I have said any phrase of words in my life more, I would have to say it was “Drop it, Drop it! Or DROP IT!!!” speaking to one of my dogs when they were holding something in their mouth.  

Starting Young...
Most all dogs will pick up things that could include sticks, rocks, bones or anything that strikes their fancy at that particular moment and according to Google there are some pretty good reasons.

Presenting a gift

While these are good reasons, apparently they never talked to a Border Collie because they have their own ideas.  Just last night, I was on the driveway and one of my dogs (Dutchess) came to me with a tennis ball in her mouth.  All the dogs were standing around looking at her and looking at me wanting me to do something, “Drop it!” I said, It's not play time because there was a big storm coming in and I was trying to get everything ready, putting stuff away and she did and all of them are pretty good about it.  I took the ball and put it up and in just a few seconds, she had another one, and again I said, “Drop it” and put that one up too.  You may wonder where they get the balls from and that’s a simple answer.  Dutchess can open most anything and knows where to look.

We have thousands of them and when we go out to play, I will take at least 4 or 5 with us and a few of them will carry one in their mouth.  They get excited and see another ball zoom by and they will drop that one and go after the other, leaving them all around the farm for a later find.  I’m sure someway there is a big stump with tennis balls stacked behind it. 
When we do play, I will always chuck the ball far away, wait for them to return and then go again.  Well… this came to a stop, Abby, Molly and Annie like to hold the ball in their mouth but will run after the another ball too.

I don’t know why they do this but maybe it’s because they will always have one in the “ready,” position just in case they need it.  They will run appearing that they are going to fetch the ball but even if they beat the others, they just turn and run back to the launch area and wait.  Usually, most dogs will “drop it” but on occasions, a few dogs that come over for a play day will get the ball and run in circles driving my dogs crazy.  Mine will just watch the confusion, not understanding, but Clancy and Dutchess will both look at me and I will utter “Get it” and they will follow the dog holding the ball and while one is getting their attention, my other will pluck the ball right from its mouth before they know, and the game will resume and everybody is happy.

To the amazement of everyone… Some Border Collies could care less about a ball or Frisbee.  “What” you say, at least that’s true around here.  Gabby and Doc could care less about catching something.  They will always run as hard as they can with the others after a ball but will following one particular dog, keeping a very short distance.  They will become their shadow and will not even look at the ball.  I have attempted to interest them by throwing a ball or Frisbee and I don’t think they ever saw it.  A few times, I called their name, getting their attention and the ball would fall right in front of them or even hit them… no response but they still have a good time.
I know my dogs understand what I say, it just depends if they want to understand,  Most time they do but they can be a little hard headed but can talk too.  The times they speak the loudest is when they use their eyes or tongue and then they speak.  When they look in your eyes searching for a connection and find it or lick your hand or face just to express their love, they have spoken more words that we could ever fathom... If you just look back at them and accept what they give.   Ken

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Remembering Again...

If you ever loved an animal, there are three days in your life you will always remember...

The first is a day, blessed with happiness, when you bring home your new friend. You may have spent weeks deciding on a breed. You may have asked numerous opinions of many friends, or done long research in finding a breeder. Or, perhaps in a fleeting moment, you may have just chosen that silly looking mutt in a shelter--simply because something in their eyes reached your heart. But when you bring that chosen pet home, and watch her explore, and claim her special place in your hall or front room--and when you feel her brush against you for the first time--it instills a feeling of pure love you will carry with you through the many years to come.

The second day will occur eight, nine or ten years later.  It will be a day like any other. Routine and unexceptional. But, for a surprising instant, you will look at your long-time friend and see age where you once saw youth. You will see slow deliberate steps where you once saw energy.  And you will see sleep where you once saw activity. So you will begin to adjust your friend's diet--and you may add a pill or two to her food.  And you may feel a growing fear deep within yourself, which bodes of a coming emptiness. And you will feel this uneasy feeling, on and off, until the third day finally arrives.

And on this third day--if your friend and God have not decided for you, you will be faced with making a decision of your own--on behalf of your lifelong friend, and with the guidance of your own deepest Spirit. But whichever way your friend eventually leaves you---you will feel as alone as a single star in the dark night. If you are wise, you will let the tears flow as freely and as often as they must. And if you are typical, you will find that not many in your circle of family or friends will be able to understand your grief, or be able to comfort you, this will be the hardest day of your life.

But if you are true to the love of the companion you cherished through the many joy-filled years, you may find that a soul--a bit smaller in size than your own---seems to walk with you, at times, during the lonely days to come. And at moments when you least expect anything out of the ordinary to happen, you may feel something brush against your leg--very very lightly. And looking down at the place where your dear, perhaps dearest, friend used to lay---you will remember those three significant days.

The memory will most likely be painful, and leave an ache in your heart---As time passes the ache will come and go as it has a life of its own. You will both reject it and embrace it, and it may confuse you. If you reject it, it will depress you. If you embrace it, it will deepen you. Either way, it will still be an ache. But there will be, I assure you, a fourth day when---along with the memory of your companion---and piercing through the heaviness in your heart---there will come a realization that belongs only to you. It will be as unique and strong as our relationship with each animal we have loved, and lost.   Martin Scot Kosins

As I approach day two with some of my older dogs, I flash back to "day one" and I don’t want to see the now aches and pains along with some new gray hair in places that use to be black or red and can’t hardly think about the next step.

A letter from your dog;
By now, you must know that there is always a goodbye hovering in the shadows of a dog. We are never here for long, or for long enough. We were never meant to share all of your life, only to mark its passage. We come and we go. We come when we are needed. We leave when it is time. Death is necessary. It defines life.

I hope, in your grief and loneliness, that you will consider how sad it would have been had we not had this time together, not had the chance to give each other so much.
I do not morn or grieve, but I will miss standing beside you, bound together on our walks through life, even as I know that there is a long line of others waiting to take my place and stand with you.

Thank you. It was nothing but a gift.
And finally, I ask these things of you:
Remember me.
Celebrate me.
Grieve for me.
And then, when you can, let me go, freely and in peace.
When you are ready, do me the great honor of bringing another dog into your life, so you can give and receive this gift again....
Jon Katz

Much has happened since I wrote this over two years ago and it even seems more real to me now.  I hope you had a good Memorial Day, remember it is about remembering all the people that meant and did so much for so many and what they gave, at times even their life.  We can also remember our past pets too, we meant EVERYTHING to them…and they lived their life.... just to Love Us… 

As I dot the last word, I promise you I'm going to sit in the driveway and let them lick me, pounce and even bark with joy with me and I may even bark back with joy because time has a way of slipping up on us... I love them so... Just a year ago, we lost one of our favorite dogs that came to stay with us at times, Roxie, I think of her often...
The story of Roxie...


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Spring Chores...

After the spring rains, it’s time to start the annual chores that occur every spring here at the farm.   It’s something that I never look forward to and always complete the easy ones first and wait on the hard ones until the last minute.   The same is not true of the dogs, they love it when I do anything but especially getting the equipment out, starting their motors and sending them into La La land on cloud nine. 

They love to help out even if it’s running down the driveway barking at the air, clearing any and all obstacles out of the way.  The best times for them is when I start the 4 wheeler and move it into position to put mulch in it.  They had many opportunities this year because I transported nearly 18 tons to various spots through-out the farm, so there was lots of barking and clearing the paths this year.  Dutchess is the worse of course.  Even if I walk remotely close to any implement her ears perk up and she watches my every footstep to see if I get close.  Sometimes just to fool her and I’m not going to start anything, I will go “varoom…varoom” and it will send her into orbit and Clancy and Annie are not far behind except Clancy will run in circles and crouch down as far as he can and wait for me to move. 

He will wait for ten to twenty minutes and even longer just to see the machine moves so he can lead the charge.  Annie will run toward me and jump and push off of me telling me to hurry up nearly knocking me down.  All in all, we get the work done once I turn the motor off and everyone settles down until I walk close to a machine again and we’re off again.
Grass cutting is entirely different, they will follow me around, back and forth, and back and forth until I stop.  Abbie will get a stick and bring it to me and if I pass her up which I usually do, she will re-position it over and over.  

Usually Clancy and Abbie will stand still watching me mow and will not move at all but when I pass them, they are covered with grass clippings.

Annie, God love her, loves to ride on the pontoon boat and we take frequent rides.  I have learned this because if I go out on the boat, she will run to the lake, no matter where she's at, jump in and swim to meet me and following the boat in the wake until I pull her in the boat.   Last year, while I was putting “pond dye” in the lake from the pontoon boat,  I assumed Annie was occupied and I was free to proceed.  As I started pouring the super concentrated dye in, from a distance I could see her running toward me. 

One gallon will treat 1,500,000 gallons and I had just poured 2 galling in one small area and she was swimming right toward it.  “Annie…ANNIE…NO” and I might as well have called her name and held a ball in the air.  Right to ward me she came, swimming right through the pond dye and my first thought was how much trouble I was going to get into.   I had a hard time convincing Elaine that our blue Merle dog just got bluer.  

This year, I called her to me before I started dying the pond and we went out on the boat together.  Thank God she didn’t move the whole time we were out and came back the same color…   Ken   

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Alone Time...

As I was getting ready to go outside to work last week, as always, the dogs watch me put on my shoes and as I touch the door, they are off to our play area wanting to play.  Usually, I get my chores done first and we have play time when I’m caught up, but this day, I grabbed a couple of balls and a Frisbee and off we went.  They all ran through the woods like their tail was on fire except Dutchess.  She spied the Frisbee in my hand and wouldn’t leave me alone so I just gave it to her and off she ran like her tail was on fire except she had a Frisbee in her mouth helping out.  We had a few guest dogs and it was pretty crazy with all the excitement going on.  

They were wired up and it showed.  Everyone was going after a ball or Frisbee and in just a few minutes, all three balls were lost and two Frisbee's were nowhere to be found.  They get excited and carry it and when another object flies, they will drop the one they have and go after the other, unable to find it again.  All in all, we only got about twenty minutes in and had nothing to do when everything was temporarily gone.  The older dogs were a little tired but Abbie was still raring to go.  She gave me her sad eyes and I said “another time” and she turned are ran toward the house with the others but I felt like a heel.  The next morning, Abbie sat as close to me as she could, while we were on the porch and literally wined like she was speaking, wanting something, but what?   
Every one of our dogs are excellent at playing ball of Frisbee but when you get them all together, it can be mayhem trying to keep up and there is just no simple solution, or so I thought.

I talked to Elaine about it and we mulled over a few ideas and came up with a solution.  The next morning, as usual everyone is up (except Elaine) between 6 and 6:30 and the dogs go for their morning constitution and we kennel them and feed them about 8 AM and they are usually ready for breakfast.  They are great about going to the kennel after the command and even stand at their own kennel door, waiting until you open it.   Everyone was let in but Abbie.  After everyone was secure, Elaine started the feeding process and I grabbed a Frisbee tucking it under my shirt and said “Abbie, come on girl” but softly.  Once outside the kennel door, I gave her the Frisbee and off to the lake we went, her tail on fire and a Frisbee in her mouth.  It was pure joy watching her spin and twist, doing the things she loves to do.  There was no hurry, except the speed of the Frisbee and no one to chase after her and she didn’t have to look over shoulder for fear of someone beating her.  Back and forth and back and forth she ran until she let me know she was finished and back to the house we went.  

She stayed out to catch her breath and dry off and then had breakfast in her kennel run, it was “her” special time.  The rest of the day went as normal and everyone got to play and scamper but that night Abbie followed me to bed when it was time, as usual she got in her spot near my head an laid down but this night, she scooted just a little closer putting her head on my pillow, licked my face and I reached over and petted her saying “that'll do” and it did.  Fast to sleep she went, chasing Frisbee's… 

Our new routine is when we feed them in the morning, one dog doesn’t get kenneled and it’s their time to do what they want while one dog gets brushed right after eating, everyone needs they alone time too...

They do talk to us… if we would only listen and it took me a long time to understand this…  Ken

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They Know Before Us…

I usually don’t watch the local news, so I don’t see what the weather is going to be for the day, Elaine might share it, but usually I don’t care and will wait to see what happens for the day, but some of my dogs do know something is in the air.  It can be a warm sunny day and the sky is clear, the wind has a slight breeze but trouble is in the air according to some of the dogs.  All of a sudden, I see Shepp, his ears are pinned back and he has “that” look on his face and I know it is coming.  Even though there is not a sound in the air or a dark cloud anywhere to be seen, Shepp will dart from shelter to shelter, looking for places to hide because he senses a storm is coming.  He will literally zone out, not seeing anything or hearing a word, he’s in another world.

I don’t know why some dogs are frightened of storms but some of mine are uncomfortable but some are terrified and one of our early dogs was defiant.  For some time, “Max” would get restless and we would try to console him but he wouldn't have any of it.  Once we put him in the house and we thought he was going to go crazy because he wanted out.  

Max and Molly as a pup...
It was a real summer downpour with lots of thunder and lighting and off Max went, running on the dam of the lake and barking at the sky.  He would run as hard as he could, back and forth, time after time.  When he was exhausted, he would just sit in the pouring rain and look at the heavens and bark.  After it cleared, Max would come back to the house and sleep, he was now content, he had won and was happy.   
Many dogs are afraid of thunder simply because they don't understand what it is. Dogs hear this loud noise and perceive it as something threatening and it can come up at any time.

Headed toward our house a few years ago...
According to Dr. Lauren Brickman, “some dogs try to go under tables, in bathtubs, or in any other places that make them feel secure. It is OK to allow them to do this.  It is important, however, not to try to soothe your pet too much. Doing so can actually encourage his fear if he senses any insecurity in your voice.  During a thunderstorm, try to provide a background noise for your dog, such as TV or radio. This may help to somewhat drown out the noise of the thunder. You can also try to get your dog’s mind off the storm by playing with him.  There are some dogs that require sedation when there is a storm. Consult your veterinarian so that they can prescribe something to calm your dog during a storm.”

Shepp once lived in Florida and when he moved back home, his owner brought his “storm pills” which he needed nearly every day because of the daily storms.  There has been a lot of discussion on this matter but some think it’s just related to storms.  Shepp will even jump from a deep sleep if a low noise comes from the television.  He’s a happy little chap when the weather is clear but he is my weather guide.
Just two nights ago, a thunderstorm rolled through and Shepp discovered that an open shower door is his new haven.  We've tried many things, but on the first distance noise or change, he’s in the zone…
Most of the other dogs are fine except Dutchess.  She isn't too bad but she will always find me and give that "Lauren Bacall" look as if to say “keep me safe and hold me” which I do. 

Not to be confused, this is Dutchess...
What You Can Do to Help
Create a Safe Place: Try to create a safe place for your dog to go to when she hears the noises that frighten her. But remember, this must be a safe location from her perspective, not yours. Notice where she goes, or tries to go, when she's frightened, and if at all possible, give her access to that place. If she's trying to get under your bed, give her access to your bedroom.
You can also create a "hidey hole" that is dark, small, and shielded from the frightening sound as much as possible. Encourage her to go there when you're home and the thunder or other noise occurs. Consider using a fan or radio near the spot to help block out the sound. Feed her in that location and help your dog associate that spot with other "good things" happening to her there. She must be able to come and go from this location freely. Confining her in the "hidey hole" when she doesn't want to be there will only cause more problems. The "safe place" approach may work with some dogs, but not all. Some dogs are motivated to move and be active when frightened and "hiding out" won't help them feel less fearful.

The weather forecast I use...   Ken

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