A very difficult week…

A day late with the blog and I will tell you, I am exhausted.  It has been both a mental and physically exhausting week.  As fall quickly approached and the choirs are piling up, I was running out of time and know not everything would get done.  At the first of the week and as I do each year, I will populate some of our forest with maple trees.  Brown County Indiana is known for the fall colors that are produced throughout the fall by the many colors of the fall tree foliage. 

When we first built the house, we planted many varieties of maple trees for that very reason.  As time has moved on, the trees have grown, and in the spring they send out seed pods.  After sprouting and leaving the saplings alone for a few years letting them get a few feet tall, I will move them to various parts of the forest to produce even more trees on their own with lots of fall color.  The falls rains have been pretty severe this year throwing me behind schedule, but we are making progress.  We have had visitors at the farm along with planting new grass and cleaning gutters, but we will manage. 

Clancy’s Dream has been overwhelming with paperwork and meetings, and at times I will be at my desk for eight to ten hours with paperwork and phone calls.  If it weren't for Leah Lamb, we would never make it as she is a God Send for us, taking care of all the internet work and getting us on Amazon along with working on several other sights promoting Clancy’s Dream.
With everything going on, as most know, we took Gabby to the vet for what we thought was a simple removal of a fatty tumor.  The news was devastating when we found out it was cancer.  With all of this going on, I purchased a new computer for the foundation and have had nothing but trouble with it.  After many three to four hour conversation with Dell and replacing the week-old hard drive, it has been determined that it needs to go back to Dell for repair and it’s only one week old, always something…

With all of this going on, and while in my safe zone in my recliner Sunday evening, I saw Gabby across the room staring at me.  She looked so pitiful with her bandage, and I sensed she needed me.  I only had to tap my armrest, and she came running to me and dove into my lap.  In just a few seconds, Abbie also joined me in the recliner and curled up right next to me.  What I see is two sets of eyes looking so intensely at me and soothing my mind from all the activity racing through my head and in an instant, all is good in the world. 

Two dogs with cancer are at peace without a worry in the world and are living the dream, and at times I wish I could be like them.  No problems, live and love to have fun, play and eat, sleeping well and running hard and enjoying a good nap many times during the day.  All of which I need to do.  I can’t begin to tell you how they all improve my life just by wanting me but what no one knows, is that I need them when my life is upside down…   Ken

Dog doors and stuff...

I don’t know about you, but with the weather is getting cold, I worry about the dogs when they are outside.  I always think they are just as chilled as I am and still fret about them.  The one time I worry about them is when they get into the icy water to get a drink.  Mine are notorious for getting into the lake and drinking, not standing with both feet on solid ground but always getting in the water for a drink of water.  
Even Molly gets into the water to drink
Several times in the winter after they got out, the water on their fur would freeze, but they never seemed to mind.  Now if you give them a bath and the water isn’t warm, they raise a fuss, go figure.

I installed dog doors in the garage and the utility room door that leads into the house.  This fall will be the first time that they have an opportunity to use them.  They are so used to zooming out the back door, some still have the need to make a race out of it barking and nipping each other as they run out to the driveway which is a calamity, to say the least.

Dutchess leading the charge
Some may remember a dog house I made for Doc several years ago.  It was very sturdy and looked pretty sweet.  I worked on it for about 3 weeks, and it had an all-weather dog door on it and was thoroughly insulated and warm, what more could a dog want.  I soon found out. 

Dutchess Helping
Never used
Everyone helped me with the doghouse, and when it came together, we all rejoiced.  The unfortunate part, Doc never went inside it, he always laid on his dog bed that was outside.  I did get a bed that plugged in that had a built-in heater, he did like that, but the dog house was out of the question, never to be used.  I would sell it, but someone would need a forklift to move it, it’s cumbersome and very heavy.

After I installed a dog door to the attached garage door and then one to the utility room, it was open season.  Once they traveled the "tunnel of happiness," it was an open door policy to the Shuck house.   All in all, it has been a very good experience for the dogs.  They get to come and go without any problems, and I get no quiet time.  I want them to be able to have the comforts of home but also do the necessary things that need to be done.  Not every dog will wear the hinges off the dog-doors as like Abbie.  She will want to stay outside and survey her domain but the others love the house.  Because Abbie likes to lay near the outside porch steps, I will move a dog bed to where she is so she will be comfortable.  
Probably looking at the dog door
Just this morning before posting this, after Doc got off "my" bed, I let him out the sliding door.  As I turned around, standing to meet me was Doc after going through the two dog doors and returning.  "Really," I said.  "No way you did your business" and back out he went.  Thank God for a cover that blocks the entrance.  He loves the inside...   The things we do. Ken

It’s 3:30 am…

It’s 3:30 am and do you know where your Border Collie is?  As a matter of fact, I do.  Elaine was in Louisville helping her dad with some Doctor appointments for a few days, and I was tending to the house and all the chores which have its ups and downs.  First off, the good part is you can leave the toilet lid up which also may help if the dog’s water bowl is empty.  

You can watch what you want on TV, eat what you like and, when you want to.  Sounds like a sweet deal.   The bad part is if you run out of toilet paper, there is no more.  If you run out of dishes, no one will wash them, and no one will fix my drink if I have a dog in my lap.  Life can be tough, and it was.

Related image

After staying up and watching the Discovery channel (no Hallmark channel tonight) at about 1:15 am, I was tired and ready for bed.  Usually, Elaine will take her group of dogs with her to her bedroom, and I will keep my team with me which works out nice, not too many dogs for any bedroom.  But Thursday night was a little different because they all stayed with me.  My area is a little unique because it’s our finished family room with a full bath and kitchenette and 2 sitting areas along with a king size bed.  I call it my apartment “B” and I love it, but we were crowded with Elaine gone and I had all of the dogs.

Everyone was happy, dogs everywhere with some on the floor and some on the bed.  Doc was outside because he likes to sleep in his dog bed when it’s not cold, all was at peace.  Just when I was dropping off to my deep sleep, Abbie suddenly jumped on the bed near my head.  She was more loving than usual, rubbing her head on my neck, laying down and staying close to me seeking attention.  In just a few minutes, she changed places and turned around a couple of times and laid her head on my back this time.  I was exhausted and didn’t mind too much.  It was loving, and I enjoyed her company.  This went on for 20 minutes, and I said “you really are affectionate tonight" as were several of the dogs.  Earlier Molly had climbed onto the bed and was working up between Annie and Gabby which is unusual, but nice.  Several dogs were walking on the wood floor, and I could hear them but thought nothing about it but wondered was going on.

With just a hint of sound I heard, I opened my eyes wondering what it was and then saw the problem… Lightning was flashing along with some very distant thunder, nothing terrible but they could tell.  Trying to calm them down was a chore because I had nearly every dog in bed wanting protection.  Everyone scooted closer smothering me, and it was time to get up and go to the recliner, the bed wasn't going to work.  While I was up, might as well take the dogs out to potty.  Doc was at the back door and came in, I felt sorry for him, what's another dog?   It got a little worse outside, and Shepp started going into the zone, so upstairs we went to get his “storm medication, ” but the only problem, it needs to be given one hour before and storm…ugh…  The storm lasted only 30 minutes or so, and I was wide awake, so I leaned back and attempted to get some sleep.  Nothing worked, and I was wide awake. I went to the cupboard and got a half bottle of Jack Daniels and supposed a night-time toddy would be in order.  

After watching TV and getting interested in something and having the rest of the JD, it was snack time at nearly 4:30 and Cheerios were in order.  After a large bowl with some almonds making it was a healthy snack, I was getting sleepy.  If I went to bed at that very moment, I would have two hours of sleep, seems like enough I thought.  Morning came with a vengeance in a very short time.  I awoke to dishes everywhere, an empty bottle and two dog messes to clean up which is very very unusual, must have been the Cheerios or Karma.  The lighting and thunder were gone except in my head.  Everyone was safe, but there was still no toilet paper on the dispenser.   What a night…   Ken  

You may never know…

“Elaine …  ELAINE … ELAAAAAINE … “WHAT,” she said in a panicked voice from upstares, knowing something was wrong.  “Can you come here?” I ask.  As she made her way to the family room in a hurried pace, I had two visitors in my lap.  Oden and Guiennis were stretched out, one facing one way and one the opposite, sound asleep and in doggie dreamland.  “What's the matter,” she quickly asked.  “Can you get me something to drink?” I said and looked at the dogs and looked back at her saying “they're comfortable.”  Smiling back at me, “I understand” and off she went to get me something.  I will tell you that I pushed that a little when I wanted another and asked again while holding my empty glass in the air but she helped out but not without a small scowl.

The life of a dog rescuer can take on many faces.  You are a hero on the one hand and a villain at times when you can’t help, or it is impossible.  Many don’t understand what we do or how we do it because they just see the surface and think we can do everything.  Oh, how I wish we could wave a magic wand and fix all the problems with all the dogs.  It’s usually not the dog’s problem, it comes with the surroundings or settings in the past home.  All in all, we have had great success trying to get them back where they need to be.

 Sometimes things are pretty hectic with dogs being introduced into the pack of a rescuer but they nearly always work out, and everyone gets on track.  The one thing most don’t know is the attachment you get with the dog you’re taking care of.  Nearly every foster we have used has adopted one of Clancy’s Dream’s dogs, becoming a foster failure.  You learn all the tricks they know, including counter suffering, or ball playing.  It’s always fun to see them come out of their shell blooming into a loving creature.

At times, rescuer’s are apprehensive about getting a new dog to care for and then, you fall for them, love them and see their loving heart that at times was buried deep down somewhere in their soul.  It’s always a great day when the right family is found, but the downside for anyone who took care of a dog is the small part of their heart that leaves with them.  Most times, Elaine wanted to keep the dogs that came through Clancy's Dream because they were unique.

The one thing no one ever sees is the heartache you get when they do go to their new home after you fall in love with them.  You keep saying they will be OK but always wonder.  Just several weeks ago, an exceptional dog came into one of our fosters that was sick.  Everything was done, and every attempt to fix the problem was made, and after many weeks, the dog died.   A separate cremation was arranged, and the ashes were transported to the farm where we had a ceremony that was private along with our dogs, and the sweet soul was laid to rest in the folds of the farmstead and around Clancy.

Noone knows what we all go through to help dogs in need.  The ups and downs, the love and the pain, but without the help of many people, it wouldn’t be possible.  The sad part, there is always more to follow, but we’ll do what we can.  We love them like they are our own, sleeping in our bed and running and playing with our dogs.  As I write this a 16-month-old purebred BC has his paws on my chair waiting for me to play ball with him, which I will until he goes to his new home very very soon.  I will miss him as I do with all of them and each has take a part of my soul.  Ken

A Beautiful Day…

Early Thursday morning of this week. I walked down the driveway toward the end of our lane to get the mail.  As usual, I veered to Clancy’s gravesite for a visit and I stood there soaking in the early sunlight and the cool breeze and reflected on the events of the past week and the things to come in the near future.  As always the windchimes were talking, and life was good.  I pondered for a moment and soaked everything in and felt good and in an audible voice as if I was speaking to someone, I said “it’s a beautiful day,”  and it was.

A friend of ours was coming over to our house and dog-sit for the day because we were heading out with friends.  When she arrived, bad news came with her.  She and her Veterinarian were treating Sapphi, her dog for an aggressive form of cancer. 

Sapphi is one of her beloved Austrian Shepherds, and just a few days ago, I saw her, and she was doing good, but since then, things went south... very fast.  As soon as our friend got out of her car, she said: “it’s time, the Vet is on the way.”  “Sapphi” had just an hour or so to walk this earth as she did many times before.  She smelled the last fragrances of the things she loved and rolled in the leaves, getting ready for her next venture.  While walking with her owner they walked the trails on the farm and said their goodbyes along with cuddles and kisses and all had a peaceful and treasured day to be remembered. 

When the Veterinarian arrived, arrangements were made, and Sapphi and her owner went to a spot that comforts all of us in times of need and reflection.  Her burial cloth was laid down, and her owner and Sapphi sat on top of Clancy’s grave where Sapphi rested in the arms of her beloved owner and closed her sweet eyes and went to sleep.  A moving moment for all and for anyone who has traveled this road.  Smokey her true brother and littermate was always nearby, and when the owner was weeping as we all do, he went to her and kisses and consolidated her telling her in his own way “all is ok, ” and it was.  It was time, and we all have been here if we have pets.

As we all sat and stood by and waited for her transition to her other life a slight wind blew, and the sun was shining through the open canopy with the wind chimes singing as if we were being spoken to and I'm sure we were.  Sapphi was welcomed home by a Border Collie friend she had and knew from this farm, our Clancy and her human father, Mark.  After she was interned, we stood and knew the correct decision was made and how peaceful and delightful Sapphi life was and knew everything was right.  With the birds singing, chimes speaking and the wind blowing our friend spoke of the 16 years she shared with her beloved pet and said “this is a beautiful day, ” and it was.  Rest well Sapphi, know Smokey is OK and give our big boy a hug from us.

Sapphire and Smokey were littermates
Annie and Fi were also laid to rest here at the farm the same weekend.  Their ashes were buried and placed in the cherished area of the spirits of our dogs.  They all have a sacred place somewhere else that we don’t understand but someday will and until then we can sit together in the Adirondack Chairs and talk about the best dogs in the world...  It truly was a Beautiful Day…   Ken

I'm Right Here...

Saturday night let to some excitement here on the farm.  It wasn’t necessarily good, but it was exciting for the some of the dogs.  Although we have had great weather for the last three weeks, we have not had any rain and need it very bad.  This changed last night.  We have a walking barometer with Shepp, and it appears he can tell the change in atmospheric pressure before we see any changes.

 He will lay his ears back and start into space and go into what we call the “zone.”  I have seen many dogs with this same issue but not to the point of how it affects Shepp.  We have tried many things with little success or no success at all.  It included oils, thunder coats, quite rooms, holding/loving and even calming sprays.  It not new to him, and it has been this way since he came back from Florida.  This is the very reason that he came back to us as his owner said “there are thunderstorms every day”  and I can only imagine.  Shepp is one of the most loving dogs that we have.  He is gentle and friendly and easy to get along with but when a storm comes, watch out when his ears are pinned back.

While watching TV in the bedroom last night, I was laying on the bed getting some cuddles from Molly and Dahlia when a clap of thunder sounded.  All of a sudden, nearly every dog jumped from their dog bed into mine.  Molly scooted closer to me, Abbie came right to my side profusely licking my arm, Annie had “help me” eyes and nearly every dog came to me from somewhere in the house looking for safety. 

Elaine took Shepp down into the family room and comforted him by himself which did help him.  It’s bad enough that Shepp in miserable but when he is into the “zone.,” he gets destructive and will lash out at things such at doors or carpets.  Before the cruise, after much debate with his Vet, we decided to try a medication for anxiety hoping for good results.  Not only does he take something each day, but he also should take something at least an hour before anything appears.  This is hard because it’s sometimes difficult to know a storm is blowing into our region.  It's not just the thunder that affects him, it also just the rain.

Ironically I was talking to a Vet in Floride Wednesday night talking about a rescue dog we are getting at the end of the month.  This topic came up when I ask about the dog, and it turned to Shepp and his problems, and she gave me some advice and ideas that are new on the market including a ThunderCap which she has had some great luck with.

All in all, things worked out, and as much as I enjoyed the licks and snuggles, it reminded me that we all have weaknesses and need attention from each other.  Nearly every night, as I sit in my recliner, I am reminded how they comfort me in my struggles and keep me focused on the simple things in life that are really important and from a dog’s point of view, it’s pretty simple which gies both ways...   Ken

"In all my lives as a dog, here's what I've learned. Have fun, obviously. Whenever possible, find someone to save, and save them. Lick the ones you love. Don't get all sad-faced about what happened and scrunchy-faced about what could. Just be here now. Be... here... now."

- A Dog's Purpose 2017


Last day...

We had a busy evening last night on our cruise, and we hit the sack after midnight for the 6th time in a row.  The cruise director thinks of things to keep you busy and content if you want to, but at times, I just like to sit and watch.  Over the last 20 years, we have taken a ship to most places in the east and western Caribbean and even the Canadian coast and Alaska.  There are many memorable moments that I remembered and some I would like to forget.  Most were when you got wrapped up in the free drinks while out in the sun on a beach or traveling on a catamaran with your hair blowing in the breeze and the Bahama Mamas tasted like Kool-Aid on more than one occasion.

This trip was very relaxing in so much as I took to take a nap every day after pool time and lunch.  It wasn't a hard decision because the bed kept calling us and we always succumb to its invitation just like the “all you can eat” meals including all the soft serve ice cream you can get in a bowl along with walnuts and almonds.  No matter how full you are, this is the last thing you get as you exit one of the dining rooms or the 24-hour Pizzeria where the people know our name.

Elaine and I have traveled to all 50 states, all the provenances of Canada and nearly every tropical island in the Caribbean.  We’ve taken thousands of photos that are stuffed in some drawer somewhere in the house that our kids will probably pitch in the big Dempsey Dumpster when we’re gone, but the trips were fun. 

I did not bring a camera with me this trip because there are just so many photos that you can take of people and places.  As usual, if the kids ever look back on the photos before they toss them, they will wonder who Mom went with.  As God is my witness, I bet there are not two photos with me in them.  I always carried the camera and took shots of everyone else, and no one ever made any pictures of me.  Maybe there are some somewhere taken by an unknown person where I am in the background of their personal trip taking pictures of our family, but in a way, this is OK.

With the thousands of things I have done, you might be surprised at the things that are at the top of my “memory” list.  First, is the time that my son and daughter-in-law made the trip with us on one of our cruises.  One of the best parts of the voyage was the evenings we spent in our adjoining rooms on our balcony.  We would have coffee in the early mornings and at night watch the ocean and the waves and laugh into the wee hours of the morning.  One particular night, there was a storm a great distance from us, and the clouds and lighting seemed to be dancing and entertaining us with the lighting.  While it was calm and clear all around us, it was breathtaking to watch and ponder how small we are in the mighty, majestic realm of nature. 

Once we also saw a mystery when on a beach in Hawaii.  It also took place at sunset and was something I never heard about but told to watch for it.  As the sun would set on the horizon and as it got closer and closer to the water which in itself is beautiful but when the sky is clear, a green flash just above the sun's edge can be seen for a second or so when the sun touches the distant horizon. Green is the hue that is bent most, allowing an intensity of green immediately following sunset. The flash happens so quickly it is nearly impossible to catch the event on film.

Our trip ends in less than 12 hours.  Two of our rituals have and will happen today.  This morning I awoke at 5am and bounced out of bed, grabbed a pot of coffee and went to the top deck of the ship and found my spot where the wind was blowing, and I felt reckless with nature.  In just a short time, the horizon started to lighten.  There was a cloud cover that covered the lower part of the sky but ended, several hundred feet up and it was clear.  Puffy clouds abounded, and as the sun crept up, rays of gold, orange, yellow and white sprinted across the entire sky.  The colorless clouds started to take on a pink tinge, and the edges were as bright as gold.  In my mind, it was spiritual, and literally brought tears to my eyes.  I watched until the sun was up and felt like I had seen a miracle and in reality, I did.

Tonight before we turn in for our last evening, and as usual, we will visit the fantail of the ship with a bottle of Chardonnay and two glasses.  Under the stars along with the wind, we will sit and ponder life as we have many times.  We will talk about the things we love and tell stories and antidotes and speak of the things we enjoyed, and as usual, we will talk about our dogs and how much we missed them and how much we can't wait until we see them again.  The one thing I miss most is touching them and the way they smell except when they roll in poop.   Ken