Go Find...

"He was the best dog in the world." We have all said it.  I know I have, as I know most of you reading this have too.  You don't realize just how special the dog is in the beginning, but as time marches on, it slowly begins to dawn on you.  You can have other dogs, but this one stands out because he/she is the best dog you have ever come across!  You can't explain how you felt about this dog or even how you feel right now because the words to express your feelings break your heart each time you try to say them and at times you can't even say their name.   If I've heard it once I've heard it a million times, the phrase I can so identify with, "I can't breathe, I don't know how to go on," is said because someone has lost their Heart Dog who was the "Best Dog in the World."

On February 2, 2020, the best dog in the World went to his final home. He stepped across the Rainbow Bridge, where he waits for his earthly owner.  Now, it was his turn to be shown the ropes by other dogs who were waiting for their owners just like he was. The best dog in the world had a name and that name was Radar. Radar found his new mom and his life started on a special path when he was just five weeks old.  Lori was looking for a special dog to perform a very special life-saving task.  

Lori's teammate convinced her to go look at a new litter they had heard about from friends.  This one dog with an intense stare was the first one to run up to her.  She reached down scooping up the intense little pup, checked him out and put him back down. Grabbing another puppy, Lori also checked this one out and set that one back down.  Reaching for the next one, she paused because the intense little dog she had chosen first had made his way back into the loop. She passed him over, but try as she might, after each pup, he was right there for her to pick up again!  She acknowledged to herself his persistence and told him, "okay, I already saw you".  Trying to move on she finally realized this little puppy repeatedly engaged with her over and over again, begging for her attention!  She had heard it said that the right dog will raise their paw and say they want to be a search dog, but this dog was jumping up and down, barking at the top of his lungs that I CAN DO IT!  Quicker than the blink of an eye, "Radar" and Lori's life changed forever. It appeared "Radar" had found Lori, and a bond was formed that would take the two of them on a journey that would change their lives and the lives of countless others.

From Lori, "Someone told me it always helped them to put into words what his dog meant to him and suggested it might help a little. So I decided to give it a try!  RADAR was the best part of me! I just hope I can keep some of that with me moving forward. Radar LIVED life! From day one, that boy lived every day with enthusiasm, excitement, love, and pure joy! He never understood "easy" until he drew his last breath! 

Radar started his training as a "live find" wilderness search dog at 12 weeks of age in the summer of 2007.  I NEVER had to tell him twice to work. His command to start searching was "Go Find."  He was a National Association of Search and Rescue certified dog who could search a 60-acre area in 1.5 hours. We train every weekend. Either Friday night or Saturday morning. And work throughout the week as well. It takes about 2 years to get a dog certified and mission ready. I could not even begin to count the number of training hours, and actual search missions Radar attended. I am very proud of the fact that Radar knew his job right off the bat and did it VERY well.  Part of his job was to attend PR (public relations) events for the team. 

We receive calls all the time to participate in different functions and teach all ages what Search and Rescue is all about, how the dogs work, and how they can be safe. He truly loved doing the events and interacting with the public. The dogs must be well behaved and pass a basic obedience test as well. Radar was ALWAYS anxious to learn something new! Tricks, Agility, Dock Dogs, Rally, and Frisbee.... anything! He just wanted to be doing something every minute!

Radar endured TPLO surgery, upper respiratory infection, a heart condition, Lyme disease, and Ehrlichia! All at the age of 10 years and older. He even had 3 episodes of sudden collapse within 10 days in which we never found the cause and he never stopped.  I decided to retire him on December 11, 2019, from search and rescue. He was still more than willing to do his job, but it was irresponsible to take him to a search or PR event, never knowing when he would be affected. It was then I decided he and I should learn AKC Rally Obedience. At first, he thought this slow-paced game was quite silly, and I had to keep reminding him this was a non-speaking role as Radar was a very vocal guy. We only had the opportunity to compete in two trials. Still, in true Radar fashion, he qualified in all four runs with scores from 87-100 and earned his AKC Novice Rally Title! Not too shabby at the age of 12.5 years and his first time in an obedience ring. Radar was proof you can teach an old dog new tricks. Of course, you never told Radar he was old! His other recreational sport was playing agility. He loved it, as well. We humans couldn't keep up with him, and he was very vocal about that too!

Just a few days before he passed, he played with exuberance and joy!! Jumping and bouncing like a kid! He ran, carried sticks, and chased his sisters and little Mateo, his playmate on their walk to the woods and back. He came in the house a very happy boy and took Mateo in with him for a drink, then walked over to me and told me with those beautiful eyes that something wasn't right. Within a couple minutes, he became paralyzed and unable to stand. A trip to see his Veterinarian, to determine the cause was not good. We all decided to try a couple treatments and give him 24-48 hours. We came home and laid him on his bed, and I slept next to him on the floor that night. We had several conversations throughout the night. He made sure he scooted closer to me and showered me with kisses through the night. By morning he was nearly totally paralyzed. He couldn't lift his head, eat out of my hand, or drink without us helping hold his head up. He was totally alert mentally. We had a thing. I would say I love you, Radar, do you love me? And he always answered with a bark and a kiss! I asked him that morning, and he responded as always with love.  Dr. Schafer, Dad, Aunt Lisa, and I were there to help him cross that Bridge a few days later on February 2, 2020. I want to give a very special thank you to Dr. Schafer, Dr. Buss, and their staff for helping Radar live life feeling the best he could feel! And to Dr. Schafer for helping ease his pain and frustration because he couldn't get up and LIVE LIFE any longer.

I now have to force myself to breathe as my lungs keep losing all their air. How do I go on without the best part of me? How do I stop the constant flood of tears?  Well..... I've decided to learn the best lesson, my "Bestest Boy Ever" taught me.  LIVE LIFE!  

Radar's Legacy was to live like he did! LIVE LIFE! Don't just sit back and watch it go by! Try new and different things and do it with enthusiasm, joy, and LOVE doing it! Help people and other animals every chance you get! He so dearly loved his #1 job as a search and rescue dog!  He was BORN to search, and boy did he did it well!  I would always ask him... "Are you ready? Somebody needs help... can you help them?" He would answer with a resounding "woof woof"!!! Then I gave his command to "Go Find,"  Off he went and never stopped until we cleared our area or found who we were looking for. Whether at training or a real search, he always gave it everything he had! You always knew when he caught their scent and took off! His tail went up like a flag waving in the wind!"


Radar played a huge role in helping locate many lost and injured individuals over the years.  He was the ultimate pack leader, accepting foster dogs over the years teaching them things I could not. When potential dog adopters came for a meet and greet, they were always impressed with Radar’s gentle but firm leadership. Many contacted me after the adoption and told me to thank Radar for helping teach their new furry friend good manners and fun games. From young puppies to mature adults, he helped them all. Many of those adopted parents, upon learning of his passing, have sent me heartfelt messages thanking Radar once again and sending their love.

Lori Wassmer  
Radar 2/2/2020
Ohio Valley Search and Rescue

Most of you have had that "Best Dog in the World," but if you," haven't, be prepared, they will teach you to love like you have never loved before!  I never had the opportunity to meet Radar, but I felt I knew him through the beautiful story Lori shared with me.  I understand her helpless sorrow because I too have met and lost "my" Best Dog in the World.  We can all relate to this kind of pain and sorrow when losing that special dog.  Try to remember and celebrate their life and the many things you did with them.  I encourage you to never feel guilty about the things you “should of" or "could have” done.  To them, it’s enough that you gave them your heart, you gave them a gentle hand and loved them with everything. Trust me, it's not how many times you threw a Frisbee or slung that ball with all your might, make no mistake, they have loved you with all their strength and will carry that love beyond their last breath as you will too. You will never be the same when they are gone. Even though their loss hurts so much, I will celebrate their life and our relationship together but at times, it still takes my breath.

Standing on the edge of Rainbow Bridge, the last command to Radar was said, "Go Find,” “GO FIND HIM RADAR."  Find Clancy and tell him I love and miss him...   Once Upon a Time the best dog in the world, was born, and he was ours...   Ken


Charlie Comes Home...

From a Social Media post, January 24, 2020

Charlie is headed to his new home tomorrow. 1,180 miles and 17 1/2 hours away. I watched it come together like an elegant wound clock, never missing a tick. Many people who have never met came together from across the country in cause and spirit to save and make a better life for a dog that needed help and a home. Never have so few changed so many lives, both dog and human. I am humbled, truly humbles at the love and compassion these people have. When our Clancy passed away in a blink of an eye, I thought his memory would fade and be gone in weeks, but in truth, it has not. To the transporters for Charlie for this trip, Clancy is with you as he is with all of our rescues he has saved. Despite the tears and pain that Elaine and I have gone through, thinking we would never see Clancy again, we now see him every day. His spirit is with the dogs he sends our way that needs help, and the abandoned ones who have nothing. They will have a safe and loving home because they will be healed and starting Clancy's circle of life again. Thanks to all who have helped. Kenny and Elaine, Founders of Clancy's Dream

Charlie, what a ride you have had in your short life, and you took the ultimate ride before you found your perfect home. From the beginning, your life was doomed. Purchased from a Pet Store, you were marked as an Australian Shepherd, little did they know you were a Border Collie through and through. Your first home was a full family with 7 children, but you spent most of your time in a crate. From the inside of your cage, you watched the children child run and play and wondered why you weren't included.

At one point, the owner felt that you needed and deserved a better life beyond what they were prepared to offer. You were placed on Socal Media, and a friend saw you and contacted our Foster Director. Soon after that, you came into Clancy's Dream, where you literally had the ride of "your" life.

From the Evaluator and Foster

"We were asked to assess Charlie and all we knew he was a ~1yr old male-intact- bought at a pet store- which was a solo dog in the house mostly crated. My first thought was aggression. We arrive to evaluate, and there was NO aggression- but I've never seen a tail tucked so tightly. Charlie was right to bring into the foster - knowing he would be easy to foster and get him ready to live a typical border collie life. Charlie needed and deserved a better life beyond what they were prepared to offer. We never planned to foster Charlie- only evaluate him. Yet we fostered Charlie for 3 months. That's long for a foster. We've fostered probably a dozen dogs or more. They stay one night, one week, one month. Charlie needed to stay with us extra time because he basically didn't know how to be a social pack dog. He spent the first 3 days at our house cowering in a kitchen cabinet. At Thanksgiving, Charlie traveled to a long weekend to be off-leash, where a family owned a full square mile of land. After much work and tender love and care, he started to learn to be more subtle with his enthusiasm and barking. But we were trying to ensure we were doing our best knowing it wouldn't be enough. Was he always going potty outside? Was he Unwanted chewing anything? Was he chewing toys? How was his recall? Did he fetch? Did he frisbee? How was his leash manners? How was he with kids? Did he bark? Did he mind? The questions you can ask of an unknown foster dog are endless. The only certain thing is you'll be surprised. Charlie had become one of my favorite fosters. And that's a pretty hard-earned coveted spot. Charlie has an enthusiasm for life and never-ending positivity that became infectious. We weren't mean to foster him on paper. Except like most things, there's a reason for every twist of fate. A married couple in Colorado, both Medical doctors with tricky schedules, flew from Colorado to decide if he was the right match for them. They each spent hours one on one Charlie. 
With that kind of devotion they showed, it should be easy to let Charlie go. You know they have a loving home most dogs never get. But Charlie has to get from Indiana to Colorado. And I wasn't ready to let him go." 

Charlie goes home.
"I'm not a morning person AT ALL. My alarm goes off on transfer Saturday at 6am. My partner rolls out of bed to make coffee for our trip. Charlie jumps into bed and snuggles up next to me. I pet him and cry. Cry for supreme happiness, he gets THE coolest most spoiled life. And crying because being selfish is easy, and I'm not ready for him to not be at the door every day when I come home. We ride in silence for just under 2 hrs. This isn't our first foster to forever home transfer. But Charlie won't hop into the next transports car. He doesn't want to leave me- I've become what he wants to protect. So I lift him up and tether him in the next car. Depending on flight conditions, he's got at least 8 more handoffs. I make it back home convincing myself the first transfer was the worst because of the 3-month bond and protectiveness. And I get back home, crawl into bed, and stay there nearly all weekend. Mostly because I'm sad. And also because I share his fear of the unknown of the transfer. Fostering is hard. They all take a part of your heart forever. But it's ALWAYS worth it to know you helped give a dog a better life." Liz Crawley

Once Charlie's journey started the group was updated every hour,  "This was an awesome transport. Everything just seemed to flow together smoothly for Charlie. The volunteers were all just great, as some were really not getting the information on their leg of the transport until literally the last minute. This may have been the longest transport, but it was also one of the smoothest considering the number of volunteers involved. With all of the stress and different places, people, and things, Charlie did remarkably well. " I was is if everyone who read the comments were there.  "To each and everyone in this group who had a hand in helping Charlie get to his new family. Thank you so very much. Without people like you who give freely of, they’re time and energy to help these dogs who cannot help themselves, we truly cannot do this without you. I hope this has been a great experience for you all. Some of you are experienced transporters, and some are new, but without one of you, the journey would not have been successful. Thank you." "Charlie is on the last leg of his journey now. Jumped up to meet Jason again after the plane landed in Kansas because he remembered him. Charlie is home."

Just when you think you can't make it work or it's too hard or expensive, and you want to give in to a problem, a spirit moves and doors open. Since the beginning of Clancy's Dream, the impossible is possible, and the unknown is known, and things seem to always work out. While it is a mystery why things sometimes happen, to us who knew Clancy, we know because he had his paw and spirit in it.  We never understand the pain or hurt, but sometimes things come together.   Why did people from thousands of miles apart, using their cars, homes, money, and airplane to help a dog they never met?  Most did not know each other and never will, but there is a driving force in us to help the unloved, abandoned, unsafe, and broken dogs.  The reason may be they give so much back to us in true love and they can't speak for themself, but we can.  Thank you all, who helped with Charlie.  His life is forever changed because of you, and in truth, a part of ours did too.  In one day, everything changed for all of us.  Ken

Thank you  Pilots n Paws 

Charlie, Indy to Denver
Sat. Jan. 25 and Sun Jan. 26

SAT. JAN 25th
Leg 1:
Indy to Terra Haute IN
1 hr, 17 min. (EST)
8:10am - 9:30am EST

Terra Haute IN to Glen Carbon, IL
2 hr 20 min (Time Zone Change to CST)
9:40am EST - 11:00am CST 

Leg 3:
Glen Carbon to Columbia MO
2 hr 10 min
11:10am CST - 1:20pm CST

Leg 4:
Columbia MO to Independence, MO
1 hr 40min
1:30pm - 3:10PM

Leg 5:
Independence MO to Topeka, KS
1 hr 15 min
3:20pm - 4:35pm



LEG 6:
Topeka KS to Manhattan Airport (KMHK)
1 hr
9:30 am - 10:30 am

Leg 7:
Manhattan Airport, KS to Oberlin Airport (KOIN), KS
11:00 am to 1:00 pm
2 hrs
Pilot: Ken

Oberlin, KS to Denver CO
3 hr 45 min
1:15pm CST - 4:00pm MST

Do they Remember?

Every night I have a routine, after working from catching up on paperwork and desk duties, I will settle down in my easy-chair.  Because it's a couch with a recliner, it's pretty comfortable for all of us, including the dogs.  Elaine has her own rocking chair, so the whole sofa is for the dogs and me.  Once I sit down, the procession starts.  Meggie goes to the opposite end, JoJo heads to the middle, and Whiskey hops up in my lap, and sometimes whoever else can fit it.

Meggie and Whiskey
Whiskey always has this thing where she stares at me when I stroke and rub her face.  She will lay on her back, and the stress vanishes form both of us, but especially me.  Most days are very stressful, with dogs looking for homes and needing care and surgeries going on.  The last three weeks have been externally stressful because of Stevie/Sadie and the broken leg from being kicked off the porch by her owner.  She had two significant surgeries to repair the problems, and hopefully, she is on her way to recovery without any nerve injuries, time will tell.

Sadie who is now named Stevie after her first surgery.
As I sit and stroke Whiskey's face, JoJo will put her head in what lap I have left, and I will rub both of their faces.  It seems with each rub, I am rubbing away all my problems and concerns for all of us.  I have to think about what Whiskey is thinking.  Is she happy and letting me know, is she trying to tell me to keep her safe, does she think about the dogs that were left behind?  Elaine is always thought that dogs can remember their past.  I have my doubts because some of the dogs we deal with would have problems for years from where they came from.  While I believe they can acclimate from most circumstances, and I do think they are pretty resilient.

Diving into this topic, I remember the first day each of my dogs came home to live with me because it was very poignant for me. But does my dogs remember when they met me for the first time? The short answer is, they probably don't. But that doesn't mean they don't remember me.  Dogs may have some type of episodic memory, or the ability to remember specific events in the past? A recent study suggests this is possible. However, the same study shows that there are real limits to that type of memory for dogs. So your dog isn't probably able to reflect back on your first moments together in the same way you do unless you're Dutchess who remembers everything and where the treats are.

JoJo in my lap watching TV before she settles in.
When the dogs are in my lap, it's peaceful for everyone except Elaine, who becomes the person who refills my drink and gets my slippers or comforter.  While she is very sympathetic about helping, I will say, "I've got dogs in my lap," and she understands and lovingly helps out. I don't know what it is, the dogs seem to gravitate to me and the couch even much more than the bed.  There is something magical for both the dogs and me when they put all their trust in me.  They totally relax, but then again, I rub their ears, stroke their body, rub their feet and toes and give them a deep massage.  Then again, I guess I would like it too.  Make no mistake, Dutchess knows where every snack is at, she is the Einstein of dogs in more ways than one. 

A Busy Morning...

Several summers ago I got a call. “Hello,” I said, “Hey…there is a small fawn inside your fence, and one of the dogs is chasing it,” I had only been awake for just a few minutes and was making myself a cup of coffee. Going into survival mode, I grabbed my 38 chief special revolver that is hidden at the back door for emergencies and slipped on the only shoes that were anywhere near me.  My famous Orange Crocks and I headed out to the far end of the property where I could hear a dog going through the woods barking after something, but this time, I knew what it was. 

I held my 38 snub-nose in one hand while my other hand I was holding up my loose-fitting sleeping pants that were falling around my ankles.  Running toward the distance barking, I could see a vicious dog tearing into an innocent fawn or a mother deer tearing into my dog that was protecting her young, and the latter is the most probable. The good part, there were only two dogs outside at the time.

The grass was wet because of the heavy dew on the ground.  I was running with the gun in one hand, my other hand holding my pants with my feet shuffling and scooting to keep my shoes on because my feet were wet. Note to readers; running with Orange Crocks that are wet inside, slick on the bottom, wet grass with no arms that can balance you, can be dangerous.

Once I reached the lake and knowing it would be shorter to go down the hill of the dam rather than around, I headed down. About 20 feet into my decline, I knew I was in trouble as I hadn’t slowed down at all, in fact, I was speeding up and unable to stop. My little feet were high stepping as fast as I could manage, especially with one arm in the air with 38 and one hand holding up my pants… Note to readers; do not run fast down a hill on wet grass with Orange Crocks with no hands for balance; it can be really dangerous.

By the grace of whatever or dog gods, I made it down the 50-foot embankment without falling down. I still had to run up another hill and nearly five hundred feet to get close to the dog and fawn. The barking was continuing, and my mind was running wild as to who was in trouble and didn’t realize it was probably me.

I saw the spotted fawn and the dog. It appeared that there was no problem, but the dog was curious, and no mamma deer was anywhere to be seen… Whew… The dog turned toward the house and started running, which I assumed he wanted to get breakfast. The fawn was scared and nearly came up to me looking for help, we were close to one of the twelve-foot gates on the farm that exited out of the property. Case closed… open the gate and walk back to the kennel putting the dog up, and the fawn would surely walk back to mamma deer when it has a chance.

So off to the house I went, my gun arm by my side, my other arm holding my pants up and dew in my crocks. Out of breath, I walked down and back up the hill I had just run down. The dog was standing at the kennel door, but when I was about 10 feet from him, his instinct kicked in again, and off he went as fast as he had ever run. I don’t know if it was “get the fawn” or “I’m out of here,” and I suspect it was the latter.

I looked down at the ground at my wet Orange Crocks… then toward the heavens and said, “SHI……. Sugar,” … and off I went back toward the open gate and I just knew that I would never find a running dog in the four thousand undeveloped acres of the Hoosier Nation Forrest. I took about ten steps, kicked off my Orange Crocks, threw the gun on the ground, and started running like a madman except I was still holding up my pants up. I again ran down the hill, up the hill, and over the levy toward the gate. Again, by the fate of the dog gods, the dog turned away from the open gate for some reason and sprinted off in another direction. The gate is over a small knoll, and I could not see it, but I’m sure the dog didn’t either. I kicked in everything I had, running the last 50 yards like a high school kid, topped the hill, and slammed the 5” high gate shut, hoping the dog was still inside.

I walked back to the house, not seeing the dog but hoping he was inside the gate. I had to take a few breaks just to catch my breath and pull up my pants, and when I got near the house, sitting on the back porch wagging his tail was a very happy, well-exercised dog…

Moral of this story;
Don’t run in wet Crocks down a hill with no hands...
Don’t leave a gate open when you want to keep something inside...
Don’t expect a curious dog to mind...
And why would I take my S & W 38 Chief Special revolver with me? I’ve tried to answer that myself. I might as well have taken a picnic basket, a book or a crossword puzzle… Maybe I should have had that first cup of coffee… and pants that would stay up…


Happy Birthday Dutchie Doo...

Last night I was sitting in my recliner, and as usual, a black and white fluffy dog slowly walked up to my chair and wanted up.  Years ago, this same dog would leap from nearly five feet away and land in the middle of my lap and turn over to scratch her back, wiggling from side to side and almost burning a hole in my pants. She would turn circles with her body, finding the right angle and land with a plop.  Today, I reached down and gently placed her feet on the side of the chair, grabbing behind her front legs and pulled her up.  Dutchess was now in her spot.

On December 19, 2005, Dutchess was born on a farm in southwest Kentucky near the Tennessee border, and last night, as she looked at me with her head upside down, I went back to the day she was born and to the day she came to the farm.  Dutchess came from a litter of four girls and five boys, and honestly, you could find her littermates from the police reports and trouble runs that have been filed over the years by her brothers and sisters but make no mistake, she is the ringleader.  To say she was mischevious is a vast understatement, no malice, just having fun, and will always be known as the original Party Girl here at the farm.

In her younger days, she had no boundaries when it came to fun and food, and the competition was equal; she wanted it all, all the time, and she usually got it.  She could multi-task with the best of them, no, she could multi-task better than any dog I have ever seen.  Dutchess came to the farm when we were in a breeding program with Clancy and Molly and Dutchess wasn't spayed. One of my favorite stories is when she came into season; she bred with Clancy. 

Not being very experienced dog owners, Dutchess was in heat.  Elaine and I were playing Frisbee with the dogs, and all the dogs were running and playing and having a grand time.  All of a sudden, we looked over at Dutchess, and Clancy was... well, you know!  We left them alone, and while it takes about 15 minutes, we moved away from them and Dutchess seeing this pulled Clancy to get a Frisbee and come with us.  When she went into labor, it started when she was playing Frisbee, and as she squatted oddly and low and behold, she had her first pup.  I guess its name should have been Frisbee.

Dutchess was always active in everything she did; she would run through any barrier and thicket on the barm.  She had a habit of running right to you, and when three or four feet away, she would turn around, stand on her back legs against your legs, and lick your face.  I once saw her do to a man with his family who came to visit.  She knocked him down because he wasn't prepared, and I rolled my eye and apologized.  I did mention that she was trying to kiss him, and he thought it was an odd way to do that.

Dutchess has always been a Superdog at the farm.  Loving, sweet, active, and would rather play than do anything else in the world.  Now her life has changed, and she will only walk at a quick pace, and when some of the dogs play, she will just sit and watch the others.  It's been a pleasure to and honor to be invited into her life, and hopefully, we will have many more days, but time will tell.

As I sit with her and she sleeps and dreams in my lap, she is comfortable.  She has lumps and bumps all over her, and her eyes are clouded.  I hope she will live forever, but as we know, death is always in the shadow of a dog.  As of now, I will rub and stroke her face, soothing her as she chased rabbits in my lap, but one day, it will stop.  I only hope that when she catches that rabbit and her final breath were taken, she is where her second home was, in Daddy's lap.  Happy birthday, Dutchess, have a great week.