A Reunion ... Maybe...

As the beginning of this New Year, we started thinking about the things we wanted to change on the farm.  Some things we kept, some things we changed, but some things we stopped doing or cut out altogether.   On the top of the list, "what are we going to do about the Puppy Reunion?” 

The reunion started some years ago and has been a huge success but it’s a lot of work when you involve hundreds of people over several days.  It was Elaine’s idea in the beginning and a good one and it was fun for everyone.  We both are planners, but this year, it was on the chopping block because its hard to do with just two people.  It’s not that we didn't want to do it, but there is so much work, planning, food, activities, registration, safety and even overnight accommodations whither it’s camping at the farm or a hotel stay.  We enjoy the time we spend with our past puppies and owners and seeing our dogs again is wonderful but it's a full time job just to make it work. 

I was talking to one of our pup owners one day earlier this year, she ask the same question, “Are we having a puppy reunion this year?” she sensed my anxiety, offering to help and even suggested a committee to work together and make it happen.  Last Friday, we had the first official meeting to help organize the reunion and it was a big succession.  Past reunions were looked at, the good and bad things were analyzed and we worked on my apprehensions and looked at involving more people to help and passing out jobs.   I soon realized why we were doing this.

It has always been my mission to have the best pups possible, giving them a good start here at the farm and always being part of their life if possible, the good times along with the things that needed attention.   We have constantly tried to keep in contact with all of our dogs because I “just feel" it is the right thing to do, it not only helps our pup but the owner have someone they can turn to.   The Veterinarian is the expert and his advice and counsel is always recommended.  

Our mission continues even though we no longer have little ones.  “We” need to be a source of help, education and support being able to point you in the right direction and even boarding your dog when you go on vacation, because you know they will have freedom and fun back home on the farm and you will especially have piece of mind. 

Friday night we met at the host’s house for the meeting, along with our dogs, we even took Annie with us because the dogs were welcome to come and play.  Before we ate and got to the meeting, a hearty game of Frisbee was played wearing the dogs out and fun and fellowship was had by all. 

We arrived early for the meeting and as each couple arrived with their dog (our pups), they would spot me and run to see me again.  They would jump up and kiss me and my mind would flash back the time when they were small and do the same thing while their little ears were flopping as they ran to me, something I witnessed many times and I never grew tired of.

Welcome home soon little pups, see you all in September… The annual puppy reunion is on and I will once again wait for our adult dogs, knowing they will run down the driveway with flopping ears as I greet them with open arms and it will truly be a reunion, again… getting all the licks and kisses...  Ken

Note: All of the dogs pictured above are pups from the farm and were at the meeting... thanks to the committee for your help and love for our pups and your dogs...

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As I look around and look for places to sleep, I never thought I would be in this position, but here I am.  It came upon me gradually and I never saw it coming but here it is and how do you stop it.  OK, let’s not go where some of you are going… it’s not about that. 
When we first got dogs, they never came inside except for a very special occasion.  Sasha, Max and even Clancy had an “Igloo” doghouse on the porch if they wanted some shelter even though the porch is covered and out of the elements but they loved the freedom and outside life.   When it got cold outside, both Clancy and Max got into one Igloo dog house and was as toasty as can be, besides, they were usually wet or muddy and the house was off limits.  Funny how things change.

It started several years ago when we build a new kennel that would house 14 dogs with their own separate space, cozy blankets, individual water, refrigerator, monitors, FM radio, telephone, separate runs, ceiling fans and a forced air furnace for cold nights.  They were in heaven and no matter how hard they played or wet they got, they could relax, kick back and enjoy life.  Don't get me wrong, we would let at least two of them in to be with us and we would enjoy each dog at night and if they were lucky, they would sleep in the house or should I say sleep in “bed” with us… but Elaine got involved and of course, things changed.

I had a good plan, each night two of the dogs could come each night and the following night two different ones and so forth and then we would start over.  Everybody got to come in and spend time with “Mom and Dad”.  Life was good… Elaine ask one day, “Want me to get the dogs in tonight?”  It was always after feeding time and we were settling down for “our” time to relax.  When she came in that night, she had four dogs which wasn't too bad, they were calm because of a hard day and everyone was happy.  Each night seemed to increase with more dogs until all of them were inside looking at me, staring at me to do something with them. 

Finally I ask “why are all the dogs in?”  Well it’s simple she said… “They look at me with those sad eyes and I can’t make a decision.” 
Don't get me wrong, I love my dogs and I love to relax after a hard day and even have a dog on my lap but things have changed a little.  When I get my evening snack, I have ten dogs waiting in a half circle for whatever “Dad” has, whether it’s ice cream, cheese and crackers or popcorn, I always have to make sure there is enough for everyone.  There is much less room on the couch with 5 dogs trying to compete for a special spot while the others are spaced on their individual dog beds on the floor but after a potty break, there is a mad dash for my couch and lap when they come back.

Bedtime is a real hoot, I know most of my readers have a dog and some even get to sleep on the bed, but try ten, we even have dog beds next to our bed for the overflow, everyone except Dahlia and she had her own Daybed in the same room.

All in all, it’s not a bad thing because they are part of our life.  It’s come a long way from a dog or two in a warm Igloo on a covered porch to a house full of furry friends…

Hey, I've got an idea, I have a nice building that is not used, all I need is a splicer for the TV, and set the Wi-fi up and I'm in business, plenty of room and all the comforts of home.  Remember guys, I got 14 separate places to sleep, maybe I'll have to get a bigger refrigerator… Ken

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It Is Over...

As I set my alarm for 5:30 am on the morning of the puppy mill trial last week, I awoke a little apprehensive because there were so many things in the works and I had to travel 2 hours to get to the courthouse.  
A Dog from the raid.
My glass is “always” half empty and to say I am a pessimist is a true statement.  I am a deep thinker and will think and rethink about a problem until I solve it, sometimes into the middle of the night.  When I worked for the government, at times I would go to bed at a normal time, start thinking about a project and by 1 AM, I was driving to work to complete my now 16 hour shift, because my job had consequences.  

President George H.W. Bush in my office.
I always have plan “B”, and plan “C” is not far behind.  To be honest, I do overthink things and I straightaway form an opinion about people, and to my knowledge, I've always been right, but it is a curse.
One trait I have is “Why can't we do that”, and to me it always seems so simple.  One of my biggest problem, nothing is impossible if you work hard enough, there is no stopping on my part… never.
“It was now the best of times” and it was, after the trial of a puppy miller who had his day in court.  My glass was half full…
This is Boone, he came to me from Sanders Border Collies, the puppy mill for re-homing last year.   This very photo, came to me last night, unknown to the owners what I was writing about and the caption was,  "Best, Day EVER." and it is...
Thirty ordinance violations stemming from the February seizure of Sanders' dogs hit the rural Stockwell breeder in the wallet. He was fined $24,600, by the Judge and Randy Sanders already owes nearly $50,000 in fines from the county's successful court action taken last fall to restrict him to keeping no more than three dogs — a court order he was violating at the time the seven dogs were rescued in February.  Sanders has not made a single payment toward that fine.  The Judge severed breeder Thurman "Randy" Sanders Jr.'s ownership of the seven dogs.  "He can't own or possess a dog, except for Spud," Morrissey said, referring to one Border collie still in Sanders' possession. The judge barred Sanders from allowing Spud to breed.

This breeder has been in court before in the last 30 years with 33 court cases according to CourtView.  Eighteen of those times, he was the defendant with countless charges of Neglect of a Vertebrate Animal, Cruelty to Dogs, Food, Water, Shelter and Animal Control Ordinance violations but he was never convicted for many reasons, but this time, the prosecution and Judge did their job and thankfully so.  To say this was a small enterprise is a colossal understatement.  To the people who worked many tireless hours and spent whatever it took, we thank you, the dogs thank you and the community thanks you.  In my heart, if not for several people, this would also have been brushed over as it had been for nearly 10 years of complaints, calls and visits and no one listened.  Three people were involved with the true “ins and outs” of the case and most people don't even know their name, just as they want it.  Nearly all information was kept close to the cuff because of rumors and inaccuracy that could have hurt the case.  Many people helped in one way or another but the three involved, communicated several times daily via emails and calls to the real movers and shakers and kept the ball rolling which gained speed because of them.  In addition, a thank you to Nina and Dr Baker, who kept, watched and physically treated and cared for each one.   It was the best of times…

But where do we go now?  Will this be the worst of times?  Compared to some cases, no.  In April 2011, an estimated 200 starving Border Collies were rescued in East Texas.

In October 2009, a puppy mill raid yields 100 Border Collies in Portland, Tennessee,There are 15,000 puppy mills across this country and there is no such thing as a humane puppy mill.  We have put a great deal of focus on shutting down these mills and we conduct one to two raids per month.” said Scotlund Haisley, Senior Director of Emergency Services for Humane Society of the United States.

As I sat down last week to write, I just didn't have anything left in me.  I was at a Border Collie rehabilitation farm in New York and with the trial coming up, it was a lot to take in.  I reflected back to my visit at the puppy mill and work we did but as I have said, unless you see it, feel it, heard it, smell it and even taste it, you have no idea of what you're talking about.  There are images I will never forget and I will take to my grave and as Oskar Schindler said: “I could have got more.” And “I” could have done more.
Because of the lack of ordinances in Texas and many states, these things go on because of the lack of sufficient laws to enforce.  Usually there is just nothing that could be done, however this can change.  Tippecanoe County in Indiana changed the animal ordinances as of December 15, 2014. 

Life is not about what I have done, what I should have done, what I could have done, it is about what I can do and what I will do.

Without the help of people who put everything before themselves, sacrificing their time, money and even sanity, this circle would not have been broken.  A special thanks to two of the three…Karen and Sharon.

Before I did anything, I received nearly 20 calls on this very puppy mill, I worked with their dogs and comforted the caller each time, but one call got me.  It shook my soul and I listened more than ever and heard the words I'll never forget "you have to see it" and I did.  That one call started the process, to right the wrong and stop the endless pain and suffering.  Thank you LeAnne, you made the difference.  

See you next week or follow us today on Facebook

Note:  I have always wrote about "What happened on the Farm."   Usually it is funny and witty telling stories about my dogs.  Sometimes, it tragic dealing about unpleasantries but it's what happen during the week.  This event took 3 years of my life and left me with scars and a changed person. You have to ask yourself "would I do it again?"  Not for me but for that chained dog that followed me with her eyes, unable to move and had not done so for months... you bet I would... but now I'm stronger... Ken

Back Home...

The trip I made to Glen Highland Farm in New York this week was met with a few obstacles.  When I landed in New Jersey for my connecting flight I sat and watched people shuffle along to their destination without looking or thinking where they were going as if it was automatic.  After eating a chicken salad, I discovered it had shredded bacon on it, which I am highly allergic to because of a tick bite.  My last bacon meal sent me to the hospital because of an Anaphylactic shock, spending time in ICU for nearly a week with a breathing tube.  My epi-pens were in my carry on and I would use them only if necessary, but it’s a sure trip to the hospital.   Benadryl was useful, if only I could find some but the very last store did have it.  I did a lot of quick reflections of my life while I waited and was relieved when the symptoms didn't get any worse but a lot of time was spent on reflecting on my past and future.  

Up arriving, I met the staff at the farm and everyone was wonderful and I also met my two roommates, Liam and Lennon who are young brothers. 

I learned they had a very rough start, both were treated for heartworms and now are free of them. Seems the dogs and I both have had some difficulties.  The three of us went to bed early, me in the middle and Liam on one side and Lennon on the other, just like at home.  I awoke to the customary licks and they both stood on my chest while they washed me, tails going in a circle the whole time.  It had snowed during the night and there was a fresh covering over several feet of snow already on the ground.  The sun was coming up and these little dogs and I walked to a hill where a chair was and we sat down and felt the wind blow and watched the day make itself known.  

There wasn't a sound anywhere to be heard except the wind, it was alive and so was I.  The dogs sat next to me and depended on my shelter and comfort.  It was serene and tranquil and even spiritual.  I thought how much work went into fixing a wrong, a wrong that man screwed up, sometimes unintentional but sometimes knowingly and that is the rough one.  After my chores for the day were done, my evening time was quiet except when Liam and Lennon wanted to play, which we did.  

There wasn't any TV in the cabin and I would sit in a chair and they would bounce all around me and even on me, once again, just like at home.  When they did settle down it was time to reflect again.  Glen Highland Farm and I have a common quest, helping and fixing a problem.  GHF has rehabilitated over 2500 dogs and it’s increasing every week, there is never a lull of broken dogs’ whether it’s from a relinquishment, puppy mills, injuries, Craigslist or word of mouth, there is always one or two more waiting. However, there are always willing hands, wanting to help the hurt, comfort the terrified or bandage the wound at the farm.

Even though I have boarded and worked with hundreds of dogs each year for 15 years, I have only just started to rescue, having rescued over 25 dogs in my home but every rescue starts with one dog, the “first.”  With Glen Highland, it was “Luke,” with me, it was “Bodhi.” And their life started us down a windy path of “Why’s and why not’s” Both had horrible starts and by the grace of love and perseverance they were saved, I would hate to think of where they would be, but I do know Bodhi was destined to be put down the day I drove 8 hours to get him.  When I found him, we stood in a hard rain before getting in the car, I cried, Bodhi just hung on to my waist burying his head in my lap.  While I know very little about “fixing” the problem, I am eager to learn and absorb anything and everything, and make a step.  I am somewhat envious of GHF because they seem to have it all and I wanted and needed to learn.
As I was on the plane flying back to Indiana, I thought about Liam and Lennon and the fun we had together and the future they will have.  I know I will never see them again but will think of them often.  As they find their new home, I know their new owner will never know the love and dedication that GHF put into them to give them a future, but I know, and I know it was from the hearts of the people involved. 

Until we meet again...
Something most people don't understand, when you see the broken spirits that some of the dogs have, you are defensive and protective of the underdog, the disadvantaged because you are their last hope and from my point of view and the view of others, we know… “No one loves them like we do” Thank you Glen Highland Farm… 

The Rainbow Bridge
"Hey, who is that" I said as I walked to the bridge.  I wonder who it is because all of my dogs are with me.  Running straight at me as fast as they can, one had a ball.  When they were in front of me, I got a strange feeling…”Could it be?” I say, and pointed to the ground, just to see… the ball dropped at my feet and I know, it was Liam and Lennon doing the trick I taught them.  They licked my face and spun in circles to greet me.  I dropped to my knees and hugged them and said “I love's good to see you” and before they ran off, I got my licks and love before they turned and continued on their journey, to the people who saved them and took care of them from GHF where many other friends and loved ones were at… We never know how our actions can and will effect the ones around us...    Ken

A Dream Come True...

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

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

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

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

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

See you next week or follow my GHF experience on Facebook 

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

A Big Day Coming...

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you next week or follow us today on Facebook

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

Glen Highland Farm Facebook Page

For more information about Glen Highland Farm

A Long Drive Home...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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