Sunday

The Journey Starts…

Where to start...   I've pondered this story since its conception three years ago from one of the worst possible situations to absolutely the best situation.  For several years, we have done everything to save/rescue border collies because of our love for the breed and the uniqueness of the dogs. Wrong placement in a home can be fatal to the breed and if you have never had a BC, take caution and research them before you get one, they are not for the faint of heart.
But...this story begins here, saving a soul...
A Year or two ago, I had volunteered to help Glen Highland Farm (GHF) in upstate New York with help or assistance in transporting a dog if needed.  Several weeks ago, I was contacted for some transportation and I ask Karen Newhall if she wanted to go on a road trip which she agreed.  GHF is a Border Collie rescue that focuses on rehabilitation and love, not quick re-homing of a BC.  They will spend as much time as needed to get the BC rehabilitated and will be sure that the Border Collie is properly placed, sometime taking years and if the dog is not place-able, they will live on the farm forever in loving care with the Founder of Glen Highland Farm.


On September 5th at 10 pm, Karen and I began a journey of "hope". We were to pick up five dogs in Lafayette, Indiana at the Wildcat Valley Animal Clinic run by Dr. Heather Baker and drive to GHF.  They were 5 dogs of nearly 40 border collies that were given up after a 3 year court battle and were now known as the "Lucky 5".  
Dr. Baker with one of the Lucky 5

Dr. Baker
Arriving shortly after midnight, we met up with Dr. Baker, who was waiting for us and had the Lucky 5 dogs ready to go that we were to transport.  After meeting and talking briefly with Dr. Baker, we soon found out that she too is an animal lover. She informed us that her practice is prepared to handle any large or small animal crisis in a loving way and saw this firsthand.  We met the staff and even a pot belly pig that was housed in the bathroom for the night.  Surprisingly, we found him to be quite joyful and pleasant to be around.  Once the five dogs were packed up and ready for travel on our 1500 mile, round trip journey, we had the opportunity to meet the other dogs that were rescued out of the same facility. They were still there, but on their way to other rescue groups.  

In the back of the Jeep, and the last cage they'll ever be in...

Going in for the trip
We were told that all of the rescued dogs that came to Dr. Baker had been given the necessary shots, medications and were spayed or neutered by Dr. Baker. They all enjoyed a good cleaning, the first bath any of them had ever had.  All their records were in a folder with donated Heartworm medication ready for them to take to their new home.  Everything was done with the best of care and each dog's needs were donated by Dr. Baker. Dr. Baker stepped up and did what was necessary, something many people talk about doing, but few rarely follow through.
Getting instructions
At 2 am we hit the road, finally on our way.  We had not planned on stopping for food so Karen packed sandwich meat and bread. Snacks and drinks were also provided by a true friend from Lafayette who has assisted us many times via phone and emails for support and we finally met for the first time and they too carried a great love for animals. We were headed east or so we thought… but 10 minutes into the trip, we need to stop to clean out a cage, one of 4 times during this trip and had to stop for more towels, wet wipes and disinfectant, but then we were off to border collie nirvana.   If only the Lucky 5 knew it…

The night was somewhat uneventful and of course as the sun started to rise, sleep occupied my brain. It was a long trip, but the cage cleaning kept us active. Not one dog barked the whole trip, they were good as gold but I believe they were fearful from no socialization or contact with humans and they were out of their usual element. As the hours passed and we were getting closer, we became chatty, one question was asked, “What do you think it will be like?”.  I was a little nervous because I always hope for the best, but expect the worst, it’s just my nature…

As we turned down the final road and saw their sign, my heart started pounding, we were there...

Note...
I have watched GHF for several years and keep up with them on their Website and Facebook page. Since learning and knowing about them, we made the trip but “Why Glen Highland Farm?  Please read the link below and in their own words, you will get a feel of what I am about to tell you from a firsthand view...and meet Lillie Goodrich the founder and as we heard about “Luke” the dog that started it all, my life started to change before me…


A placard on the front fence...
As there is so much I need to share, but this will have to be in parts…

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Friday

It Had to be Done...

This week, several life chapters have opened and several have closed and each one brings so many emotions to ones state of mind.  This post will be a little earlier and shorter and if you read it this weekend, know that Karen Newhall and I are on a mission to close a chapter that was started over 3 years ago and we will travel nearly 1800 miles to do what we need to do and close a huge chapter…More very soon…

But as I said, chapters do open and close with everyone and they certainly do in my life too.  As most of you know, we presently have puppies with most going home in about 5 weeks to their new owners.  Just a few days ago, I received an email telling me the fate of one of our pups that left the farm last year.  It was involved in a very serious accident and I will tell you, this is an email I hate to get but I am so grateful people trust me and let me know because I do truly care about my pups that venture into this world.  Things happen with no fault of our own at times and I have had it happen here and it’s a feeling that is easily carried on your shoulder.  
Over the years, we have lost several pups to accidents and when I get that notice, it's devastating.  I will tell you, I have cried with every notice and always drift back to the time when they left.   I am so glad that that I am alone when I read it, those chapters close and new ones may open. 

Many times I have said “there are dog owners and dog lovers” but I know you can change from one to the other but I don’t know why, I am the lover but I always wasn't however when that little face looks into your eyes and that little paw reaches for you, extending into your heart, thing change…trust me.

Just recently, I was informed of three families that faced a tragedy with their dog.  In all of the cases, everything possible was done and things did changed for the better, but not without struggles and inconveniences to all involved, including the dog because “it had to be done”.

There is that little spark that kicks in and common sense is not always present but in most cases, the end justifies the means and in your heart, you know it’s the right thing to do.  As we travel to Glen Highland Farm tonight, I’m sure that the struggles we had will surface in our conversation and the burning images of past visits to a puppy mill will also surface too, but there is a great satisfaction knowing we did the right thing for the things we love…Run Free everyone Run Free…Now you can...  Ken

I went out to help some dogs today
To give them a really good life
To take them away from the life that they led
And free them from trouble and strife

I thought I would do them a favor
And be a good person to them
And go do my bit for the country
I didn't go out on a whim

But what do you think really did happen?
The day that I did my good deed,
I discovered a love that I’d dreamed of
And fulfilled in myself a strong need.

I helped the dogs that I care for,
I see things that I needed to see.
Those lovely dog that I rescued
Really ended up rescuing me...

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Sunday

How Many Kisses?

Our dogs are so expressive and with their kisses, they are so different and do things in such a different way.  Take Abby for example, she will lay next to the bed when I am asleep and when she hears my eyelids open, like a jack-in-the-box she springs into the “soon to be” war zone and will place one paw on one side of my head and the other on the other and with her Brillo pad tongue washing my face even if it doesn’t need it and at times nearly taking my breath and getting my pillow wet, but to her, she is giving me much needed attention that I’m sure is needed according to her. 
Tools of the Trade
  But how many kisses a day is enough?  One, Two, tens or even hundreds?  I can safely say that someone upstairs feels that I need thousands because that’s what I get.  I would venture to say that nearly every aspect with my dogs is somehow filled with wet, sloppy, messy, cluttered kisses.  As I stop and think about it, they are like a forever fountain of dog slobber that is painted with a very long warm paint brush always on the move.  Not only is it wet and slimy, it can reach from one ear to the other, going straight through my head, not to mention cleaning my nose and mouth hole along the way when it is least expected.  Don’t take this wrong, it’s something that I don’t advocate, it just happens in the most unusual times and when I least expect it, which is often for affection or just a cleanup.  At times they will put on their “Red Cross Dog Hat” and clean and treat any booboo, cut or pain making the recipient relaxed and pain free like no other medication can.  It’s nothing for Clancy to lick a cut or bug bite when he feels the need to take care of me and I can honestly tell you, it does make me feel better and in a weird way, I like it.
I'm Ready...
There are many ways you can get kisses, tying your shoes, sitting on the couch, fixing a pain, waking you up, going to sleep and anytime you’re down, they seem to be there with the right amount of sugar.  Probably the most aggressive time I get the attention is when I walk out on the porch with my shoes in my hand and sit on the back step trying to tie my shoes because I am in the right position.  Every dog will RUN to greet me with their tongues primed, bouncing from side to side ready to give thanks that we are going somewhere or to play and how can you turn them down? 
I would assume I get licks for every event of the way, waking up, going outside, coming in, eating every meal and every function and if you have trouble with this just having one or two dogs, try nine but the absolute worse time for this when you’re trying to have some private time in the "necessary room" and the door is left ajar and in just a flash, presto you’ve been loved by multiple tongues at the most private time of your life.
It sounds like I’m complaining about the attention or trouble with all the events or even trying to get sympathy, but if you want to feel sorry for someone, feel sorry for the person who had a dog that never gets his daily quota of kisses… How many is too many?  It’s never enough…Ken

Curious Annie...

Since Annie's first pups were born last year, she has been curious about the newborn pups and very attentive to our new moms that were born last week and she’s now known as “Curious Annie”, but I won’t let her eat bananas like Curious George.

It started last week when Meggie was having her pups and we were all in the family room with the soon to be mother and the whelping box.  As Elaine was sitting on the floor with Meg, Annie was right behind her stretching her head and neck over Elaine’s shoulder and kept trying to inch closer and closer just to get a look, and she did, her eyes as big as saucers.  She would often go around Elaine to attempt to sniff or just get a closer look or maybe even a welcome lick to the newborn pups but she was always called off by Meg with a small but very subtle snarl with her upper lip.  No other action was needed from Meg, and Annie got the picture and went back behind Elaine but continued to look over her shoulder taking in all she could.
Even at a young age, Annie was curious, going after her first ball...
Curious Annie continued to watch the pups. She always wants to be in the thick of things and she always is.  We keep her inside because of her condition and we always want to know where she is, just for our piece of mind. 
At the beginning of this week, we were getting ready for bed and it was “potty” time for the new moms and Annie, I was sitting in the recliner and saw the whole thing.  Meg, Gabby and Annie trotted to the back door when Elaine called them and they all eagerly went out for “business”  and after Annie left with the others, she returned to the nesting box and ever so gently, picked up a puppy with her mouth and off she went toward the back door, headed for outside.  Before they made it, Elaine also ever so gently suggested to Curious Annie that the pup doesn’t need to go potty and back to the nesting box the little fellow went, but Curious Annie was happy and got to touch her little buddy that she often watched.
Always being Curious...
Just yesterday, we had visitors looking at their new pup and while Meggie was resting on the couch, I was sitting on the floor with the pups, Curious Annie saw an opportunity to get a close look again.  Curious Annie stepped in the whelping box and Annie and I looked at Meg on the couch, no reaction, she continued to step in and started to sniff and started licking the pups, no reaction from Meg.  Everyone seemed to enjoy it and Curious Annie was in Heaven as were the pups with all the attention.  What happened next surprised all of us in the room.  Curious Annie laid on her side and presented herself to the always hungry little ones and in a flash, a few scampered to the meal and Curious Annie was now an official surrogate mom.  Meg didn’t seem to mind, but I called Annie out of the whelping area much to her dismay, but she had once more experienced the joys of being a mother.
One thing that I have learned from my experiences with dogs and pups, you just can't comprehend or even imagine the miracles that are performed every day…
Annie with her first litter last year...
Annie is being groomed by her sisters because she is getting ready for her journey into motherhood, for you see, her delivery day is just a few days ahead and we're waiting for her to have her own bundle of joys....  Ken
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"I Have Two Moms"

The pup was the fifth born and it took nearly an hour and a half to move into the birth canal which in itself is not unusual.  It weighed 7.4 ounces which was small compared to the 13 & 14 ounces that the others weighed at birth.  It was a large litter which would contribute to some of that.  Research says some pups have weighed less than half of that and still have very successful and long live.
Usually mom’s milk doesn’t come in until birth but this can vary a little and but nursing stimulates more milk.  According to Dr. Laura, “If all puppies are nursing, this stimulates the release of Oxytocin and then milk production is at its best as long as the puppies are still nursing. There are some dogs that do not have sufficient milk available for their puppies and in this case, you will have to alternate the puppies so that they all get the amount of milk that they need”.  This presented a problem, the pup known as “lit Bit” needed milk and needed it now.  After talking to the Vet, it was suggested that “moms milk” would be best if possible in every case and that is the direction we would take. 
Taking all the other pups off of mom for a private feeding helped “lit Bit”, but we had to do it every hour.  While we regularly checked the weight, it was starting to drop, mom was just slow to get all of the nutrients that were needed and especially for one special pup.  From 7.4 to 7 ounces then 6.8 and 6.4 was drastic and this wasn’t helping but when we reached 6.0 a miracle occurred here on the farm.  Our other female went into labor and her milk was already in before the birthing occurred and right after the last pup was born, “Lit Bit” may get a new mom with all the nutrients that are needed but we still have a large concern and decision…

According to the Daily Puppy,
Mother dogs aren't always able to produce enough milk, and if yours senses that she can't feed her litter, she may reject some or all of them. 
What to do now?  Will both moms reject “lit Bit” and then we are into hand feeding around the clock or would one or both moms reject the whole litter and then we would be feeding all 16 pups?  As fate and faith have it, “lit Bit” got a new mom and after they were placed on the teat, it went right to work.  After a lick on the head and a sniff from the new mom, “Lit Bit” was going to town.  After a good feeding, “Lit Bit” was placed back into “old mom’s” cradle and she also welcomed it in, but after he lick on the head and belly.

So after a night of no sleep and several very trying days of stress “lit Bit” was steady gaining .10’s of ounces and was a very active little pup.  Many people will assume “lit Bit” is a runt, however, I have seen a runt from a litter long ago and this may not be true.  It was a pup that was born from Dutchess and Clancy and he was named after mom.  Dutchess’s pup started nearly the same was and we also had to do special feedings but today, “Dutch” is as big or bigger than Clancy and just as beautiful.

I am truly sorry that I was a little late on the post, however “Lit Bit” is doing well and gaining weight and lucky enough to have two two moms…
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Dog Heaven?

I had an interesting question this week from a friend of mine who asked “Do dogs go to Heaven?”  Some folks might think this is an odd question and at times I probably did too, but as I have grown to see what love they share and how much I always want to be around them, I have also thought the same thing because I want it to be true.

Because we all have free will with thinking and opinions, many people can answer this in a very short sentence and the answer would be “No, there is no Heaven” and I am not here to debate this or sway opinions or to give a lesson but that’s what free will is all about, the right to believe what you want.  There are so many unanswered questions throughout the universe and this is a minor question in the grand scheme of things, but to a dog lover, it is a big deal and I will take the point that there is a higher order/power and I know many people have asked this same question. 

I grew up in a religious home and I so remember my Father would always tune in Reverend Billy Graham's Revival during his heydays on our old black and white TV and we always listened to the fire and brimstone sermons that he gave.  I have always had a great admiration for him and especially when he said, "God will prepare everything for our perfect happiness in heaven, and if it takes my dog being there, I believe he'll be there." Animals aren’t nearly as valuable as people, but God made the animals and he has touched many people’s lives through these animals.

We live in a world as complicated as Chinese arithmetic and no two people can agree on any one thing except that the love for a dog can melt your heart in an instant and change the whole way you look at the world.  So to answer the question, I don’t know, but I know what I want.  I am a pessimist and sometimes believe the worst about things but hope for the best, but if I believed in heaven and I do, and I could pick the things I wanted.  At the top of the list would be a reunion of me and my dogs…and again I would see that tail wag at “just” the tip when I said their name, that head burrow between my armrest and arm, just to get a pat on the head as I type and just last night, as I write this blog, Abbie wanted to get closer to me and I backed away from the keyboard she jumped in my lap while I leaned all the way back in my chair while she licked my brow and I will tell you, if this is anything like Heaven, I’m looking forward to it…

As I suddenly appear in a beautiful unfamiliar forever home, my dogs run to meet me in all their splendor and robustness, jumping and barking and turning circles.  I sit down in the cool tall grass while they all smother we with lick’s and kisses as we all roll and play and I know the Lord provided me with everything for my perfect happiness in heaven…and running from a distance like a young child would to its parent are my pups with their tongue and ears flopping from side to side, I would again see, Ranger, Ruby, Bob, Keely, Ellie, Keko, Toby, Max, Katelyn, Nelly, Thaddeus, Grace, Kacie and many many others who came to welcome me home before they ran back to their own loved ones, truly this is a dog’s lovers heaven and our journey begins…and as Dutchess can now finally speak…”Did you bring a Frisbee?”  Ken

By The Rev. Dale Chrisman Rector
Billy Graham tells this story: "Early in my ministry, I arrived in a small town to preach at a revival. I had a letter to mail and asked a young boy how to get to the post office. The boy told me and I said thank you. Then, I invited the boy to come to the revival meeting. I said "If you come to church this evening, you can hear me tell everyone how to get to Heaven." The boy said "No. I don't think so. You don't even know the way to the post office."
I've been thinking about Heaven lately. I've experienced several deaths of church members, family and friends. But I've also experienced several deaths of pets. Jacque and I lost our beloved yellow lab a couple of months ago. Several other members and friends have lost their pets. So, the question comes up "will we see our pets in Heaven?"
Before I address the answer to that question, let's look a minute at Heaven itself. First, I believe many ministers fail to engage this subject very often. Additionally, I think in today's society we have such a strong focus on money, sex, drugs, youth, fashion, food, that I think Heaven just gets overlooked. The Bible and subjects such as Heaven are just not very popular.
Now you might be thinking at this point:  what do YOU know about Heaven, anyway? Have you ever been there?" My answer, of course is "No, not personally. But I have a very dear and close friend who has. He came here and told us about it and showed it to us. His name is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. The Prince of Peace. The King of Kings."
Let's approach the answer to the question of will we see our pets in Heaven this way.
Will We Know Each Other in Heaven?
Absolutely! On the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah knew each other and Peter recognized them. In Jesus's story about Lazarus and the rich man, didn't the rich man, after he died, recognize Lazarus and Abraham? There's a lot of scriptural evidence that we'll know each other. Fathers will know their children, wives will know their husbands. It'll be a family reunion like no other!
We're told that, at the moment of our death, angels will accompany us. Lazarus was accompanied to Heaven by angels and in Hebrews it says "God's angels are ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation."
Will Our Pets Be in Heaven?
• Everything needed for our total happiness will be in Heaven. Because Heaven is a place of eternal joy, and if being with our pets is what it would take to make us eternally joyful, then I believe there will be animals in Heaven.
• We know that God created animals when he created man and woman when everything was perfect. It was man and woman who disobeyed God and created sin as a barrier between us and God ... not the animals.
• We know that in the book of Elijah, he was picked up and taken to Heaven by a chariot drawn by a team of horses.
• In Isaiah, he describes what will happen once God's creation is restored: "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid; the calf and the young lion together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall feed together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain."
• If "to die is to gain" as Paul said, why shouldn't we enjoy even more in Heaven the things we loved on earth? Why wouldn't that include our beloved pets?
• And in Revelation, John describes God "making ALL things new." I believe that includes animals.
Please listen to the Words of Jesus as written in John and consider how we are to prepare for Heaven.
"Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's House are many mansions... I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also."

What a place! Remember. As the old hymn says: "This world is not my home, I'm just a passing through." Heaven is our home, not earth. I believe firmly that there will be animals in Heaven and that means we'll be reunited with our pets that have gone on before us.  Billy Graham
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Can you Tell?

As I sit here with a dog/dogs, I ponder the things that we both enjoy.  I know with just “one” dog, it can be confusing at times but if you have a pack or even more than one, it can get mind boggling at times but we quickly learn them by their touch or sound.   When I have had my eyes shut sleeping sitting in the chair, one will jump on my lap and even while sleeping watching TV, I can tell who it is by the sounds they make and texture of their hair. 
There are some that are so obvious, I can tell right away.  Doc will knock you down trying to get at your face to look into your mouth and stare at you.  He has learned that if he walks on his hind legs, he can walk with me nearly the length of the driveway, whining as he walks and he will get louder.  I usually stop walking to pay attention to him and we whine together and he loves it holding his head up in the air. 
Abbie will jump in the bed when she hears my breathing change in the early morning and as soon as that happens, she attacks my face with her tongue and lick as fast as she can, moving to my ears and standing on my chest.  It’s no wonder that I get up between 5:30 and 6 am, today it was 3:30 am. 
You can hear Gabby prance in place when she approaches you from behind.  She will stand in one place and shuffle her feet making herself known just by the sound of her nails hitting the floor and of course, every time I’m at the computer she will stick her head between the armrest and put her head on my lap until she gets her butt scratched.
Annie is another butt scratcher fanatic, but she will do it with much more robustness than Gabby.  She will turn around on the couch and as soon as you put your hand on her back, she will position her backend toward you and get the maximum scratch, bouncing all the time and I swear, her eyes will roll back in her head.
However, can you tell who it is by sound or smell, each are unique and will make a different sigh and even have a unique smell and texture but did you know their paw pads smell like popcorn?
As I sit doing busy work and am focused on a job, I can tell who walks in or who runs off after something.  We share so many thing in our daily paces that sometimes it is scary that we know what the other is thinking.  I know I/we do this with our wife or husband, but with a dog?  I do think so, and have seen it many times especially with a few of the dogs and the one that immediately comes to mind is Dutchess…
Who me...What mud?
I can tell when she runs through the house looking for food because she barks in every direction licking every plate in site.
I know she wants to play because she gets a Frisbee and holds it in her mouth and follows me around laying it down long enough to bark, like I don’t see her…picks it up and moves with me…and barks...
I know she wants attention because she runs to me while I’m walking and jumps on me barking all the time…I once saw her knock a man down…
I know where she is as she runs down the driveway as a car approaches because she barks with joy and the guest receive a free “food clean up” and inspection…
On the table
I know where she is when she is looking at me and then at Clancy while he is holding the Frisbee because she is telling me to tell Clancy to give it up, because she wants the toy…
But most especially I know where she is when she looks at me with those sad eyes and crawls up and circles twice…in my lap…where she should be…and we dream together...
Note to self…NEVER teach a dog to bark when they want something because they always want something…Ken
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