Molly Girl...Where Are You?

Last Tuesday on a very cold, sunny afternoon with 10 inches of snow and below freezing temperature, I hobbled out to a play areas on the farm because the dogs needed some action.  The dogs and I played for as long as we could which meant as long as I could tolerate it because it was very cold.  When I gave the command “let’s go to the house” off they all went running through the woods back toward the house.  It was close to their dinner time so we went in the direction of the kennel.  As fast as they could, they galloped through obstacles, each other, hills and dales making it a race to get back first.  

In the kennel, each dog has their own stall and will stand in front of “their” door and wait until I open the door.  I start on one end, letting each of them in as Dutchess, Meggie, Dahlia and all the others are safely inside.  The last door is Molly’s stall, it is bigger because she is privileged because she is my Heart Dog and the oldest.  When I got to her door she wasn't there which is most unusual… “Molly, Molly, MOLLY where are you”, as I look around. 

As a young father I have been here before when the kids wandered off for just a second, the sudden panic of not being able to find your child and loved one is pure panic.  The fear of fear runs through your heart and mind and you think the worse or at least I do but everything always turns out alright and that sudden panic is quickly resolved when you find them, but this is not the case today.  I went to the back door of our house and knew she would be waiting for me.  “Molly, MOLLY”.  She was nowhere to be found.  I searched the entire house and she always comes to me, always, and now my mind starts to work, but not in a good way.

Earlier I remember she ran in another direction, not with the pack and blazing a different trail which is not is unusual for her.  What if she didn't make it to the kennel, what if she somewhere in the woods?  She always comes to me, always… “MOLLY, come here” as I started my trek to find her.
Molly...A Mother and family member
About 4 weeks earlier, my knee went out and after several Doctor Visits and medications, it still excruciatingly hurts but I had to find Molly and now the sun was starting to go down.  Knowing she wasn't in the house, she had to be outside.  I grabbed a walking stick for balance and off in the 10 inches of snow I went and in my heart, I know this didn't look good.   I had visions of her down in the snow from an injury or heart problem and this drove my determination even harder but the questions still popped up in my mind.  “Molly…… Molly…… Molly, where are you, MOLLY come on girl.”
My whole leg hurt and I don’t know if the cold made it better or worse but it hurt and the deep snow and heavy polar boots made it unbearable because I had to bend my knee further.  After several trips around the farm on foot and walking the fence line, nothing.  “MOLLY…MOLLY…MOLLY”, she has to be somewhere, good or bad, she has to be somewhere, but where.  If she is not outside, maybe she is still in the house?  I searched again, went out the back door and went in the garage, nothing.  “MOLLY…MOLLY…MOLLY where are you” and I walked around the wrap-around porch.  Nothing so off to the woods I went again and things looked very dim and so was the weather, it was getting dark.  
Clancy and Molly
I can’t give up, I got to find her or at least her injured or lifeless body.   “MOLLY…MOLLY, PLEASE MOLLY GIRL where are you?”   After a trip around the farm again I need help and knew it.  As I walked back to the house in the now zero weather, I was freezing but my heart was burning.  I was now headed to call my neighbors as soon as I reached home, It was my last step.  Once to the house, just to double check, I went in the garage for that last look, nothing, zilch, naught.  Our garage is attached with a utility room and I thought I would cut through to use the phone to call for help.  When I opened the door, my very frantic black and white heart dog was glad to see me.  “MOLLY… you're safe” and bent down on my throbbing knee and kissed her head and all anxiety flew out the room.  As I stood up, she danced a wiggle dance and put her head on my leg.  “Let’s go get warm girl” and we did.   I assume Molly had gone to the house, gone through the dog door on the garage, pushed her way into the house through to the utility room and the door shut behind her and she was trapped.  Searching the house three times and the farmland 4 times, the utility room was the only place I did not venture because she could not get in there or so I thought. 
That very night when my leg was wrapped and elevated to sooth it, for extra heat and comfort in several ways, I had a black and white furry companion lying in my lap looking into my eyes and both of us thought the same thing,  "Don't ever leave me" but I know that day will come too soon no matter how far away it is and it will never be forgotten, but "that" night it was only Molly's lap.  My Molly Girl…   Ken
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A Snowy Day...

A Snowy Day…
Last year, we had snow nearly all winter long and the dogs had a ball and life was good.  This year was expected to be another snowy year and we looked so forward to this winter season but as it got closer and we all were excited to see the cold weather arrive it meant that snow was soon behind, or so we thought…
We waited and waited and it appeared that the whole United States received snow but us.  It would get close to our area but always petered out.  Don't get me wrong, we have had a very harsh winter here on the farm with many rainy days which meant dirty dogs. 

A below zero cold front came in November which is unusual before January but as quick as it came in, it was gone and wet weather soon found us again.  February is always unpredictable but you expect some days that are not below the freezing mark, but this year, it’s the opposite.  It has been a very cold month, and at times the nights have been at below zero for days on end which brings up one special problem.  Doc hates to be kenneled, he just can't stand to be put up and as much as we have tried, there is just no doing it.  He loves the outside and enjoys his porch and laying by the back door.  He is welcome to come in, but his loves his outside space.  I installed a dog door to the heated garage, a heat light where he sleeps, an igloo doghouse on the back porch but his loves his space and will usually sleep on a rug on the covered porch leaving the heat behind.  I do worry about Doc and his health and try to make him comfortable and warm.  He has gotten better when it gets below freezing and seems to do well and will tolerate some inside time and I will make him stay warm even if he doesn't want to do it.
Last week, we got our first snow, it was about 4 inches and we were all happy, especially the dogs.  Running and scampering was in order for them but two days later, we received nearly 4 more inches and they were overjoyed. 

 None of the previous snow had melted so we had snow up to their bellies or higher. 
Friday night, we were only supposed to get just a few inches but received nearly 7 inches and it snowed most of the day.  Happy dogs are everywhere and the only bad part for me is snowshoes are needed because it’s like walking in deep sand.
 Now I know this is light compared to snow in the North East because one of my friends on Facebook stated she had three feet or better of snow and that’s hard to imagine, but very common there.  I would never find the dogs and lose every ball and Frisbee we ever owned until spring. 

We are all happy for the snow so enjoy some snow photos and a few from the past…  Dutchess can’t wait until spring when it’s “water” time… 
Ken and the Gang…
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Do they?...

While yesterday was Valentine Day, we all celebrated it in one way or another or we heard about it if we forgot. 
The day is special, and this year, I thought ahead and purchased a present AND card, something that slipped up on me once I have had to talk my way out of it s when I received MY gift... oops...

It is a cute way to have special time with the people who share your life and even your dogs, everyone loves the attention, gifts and candy and I wish everyday could be Valentine’s Day because it’s like a small Christmas.

John Grogan said;
“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day.  It is amazing how much love and laughter they bring into our lives and even how much closer we become with each other because of them.”  Families grow together when a dog is in the middle and at the very least, you talk more, even if it’s about the dog.

They give so much to us and while it’s not hard to make them happy, it shows from the tip of their nose to the tip of their tail.  Something as simple as a walk in the park or to chase a squirrel is the best of times and they soak in every moment as if it was their last, enjoying every minute and every breath and when it’s time to rest, they do it without any guilt or concern and sleep a sleep that anyone would be jealous of.  If only I could sleep one night like they do…

Heidi, sound asleep...
“No matter how close we are to another person, few human relationships are as free from strife, disagreement, and frustration as is the relationship you have with a good dog. Few human beings give of themselves to another as a dog gives of itself. I also suspect that we cherish dogs because their unblemished souls make us wish - consciously or unconsciously - that we were as innocent as they are, and make us yearn for a place where innocence is universal and where the meanness, the betrayals, and the cruelties of this world are unknown.”
― Dean Koontz, A Big Little Life: A Memoir of a Joyful Dog

But when we love our dog, do they really love us?  They have long been known as man’s best friend: loyal companions that adore their owners, but it’s not just an act to make sure they get fed – dogs really are capable of love, research has shown.

Scientists at the Claremont Graduate University in California found that domesticated dogs release oxytocin in intimate situations, The Atlantic reported, known as the “love hormone”, it is the same chemical used to create close bonds between humans. “We found that the dog had a 48 per cent increase in oxytocin.   Professor Paul Zak added: “The only time I have seen such a surge in oxytocin in humans is when someone sees their loved one, is romantically attracted to someone, or is shown an enormous kindness.”

“The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made His greatest gifts the commonest.”
― Martin Luther

So the next time you pet, kiss or stroke your dog, know that in their heart, they really love you too.  Just a night ago, Meggie sat by my recliner as I watched a game on TV.  She would raise her paw and stroke my leg wanting something.  “Do you want to go out? Do you want to eat?”  

When nothing happened, I moved the pillow from my lap and Meggie jumped in and nestled down to sleep, she knew what she wanted, to love and be loved...

Happy belated Valentine Day…  Ken
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Once Upon a Throne...

In my years of experience being around dogs, there is always something in the back of your mind, that you don't really want to talk about. You know it happens to everyone and there is usually nothing you can do to prevent it.  It’s that little secret, that you would only share with your best friend or at a party, when you are trying to impress someone or had “one too many”. I will tell you, the next day, you will regret it and wish you could turn back the hands of the time and start over. Even if it means avoiding the person you spoke to the night before.  Hopefully it won't have been the office or neighborhood tattle-tail and you had just given them enough fodder for a whole week of stories .  We all have one of those experiences and will always avoid “that” conversation and pretend it never happened…but it does… we can only hide our heads in shame.

We all know that Border Collies are the smartest dogs and according to “Entirely  Pets”, the Collie and German Shepherd are at the top of the list of the most loyal dogs as well.  This can really be a dilemma and let me tell you why.  Just yesterday, as I was going to the “necessary” room and as usual, my many shadows followed close behind me.  I have tried to shut them out, but they always bark, whine or stretch their paws under the door, while I’m trying to enjoy a moment of private time which is pretty much impossible in these situations.

But now I pose this question to you, my readers, my expert pet-loving friends. Why do dogs always want to follow us into the bathroom, especially when they know we're going to have to stand or sit on that porcelain throne? 

Back to yesterday's tale, as I was being a stand-up guy in the "necessary" room, (I had snuck in without anyone hearing me), they were in the other part of the house and I thought, I was getting away with the whole process without being pestered by pets.  Several of the dogs zoomed into the room and began bouncing  about. One even excitingly snuck up behind me and poked his cold nose straight into my derriere and what a surprise it was and it misdirected my task at hand.  Once while I was reading and enjoying a sit, three of the dogs met me on their level and wanted their head scratched which is fine, but I'm trying to balance three heads and a book, I found myself trying to alternate the petting as one gets impatient and pokes their head up through the leg holes of my undergarments.  Then one will jump up on my leg getting some "real" face to face time because we're on the same level… so much for relaxing… and I have to grab my house shoes before one gets carried off.

While the bathroom is much more than a “bath” room, it’s a meeting place for the dogs especially if someone is using it.  It has a China porcelain dish that stays cooler longer and the water is magically refreshed several times a day. To add to their delight the porcelain adds no taste to the water and it can  get no better than this!  Dutchess has learned the art of raising the seat for a quick water refreshment, but to the others, the porcelain dog dish is blocked because they can't raise the lid. The other dogs can always refresh their thirst by eagerly licking water from someone who has just exited the bath or shower and by licking they can even assist with the drying process.  Although you have  just washed and cleaned yourself, the dogs are only assisting with your cleanliness efforts…just their way of helping...

So from their point of view, the bathroom is a wonderful place to entertain, drink, snuggle, play fetch and "surprise" you and basically just have a whale of a time.  Afterall, it even includes toys to play with...  
Note to dogs:  While I so enjoy playing with you and receiving all the kisses you have, just in case you don't know this, I do not enjoy ten dogs crowded around me in a semicircle with several paws in my underwear. Can you please...please give me one minute alone in the "necessary" room and I promise I'll be out as soon as I can...
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It Happens Again and Again…

Over the last several months, I have had nearly eight to ten notices about a dog that had done something that they shouldn't have done, my dogs included.  We do get many updates with photos of past pups that we once bred, most are funny and charming but one of the most serious issue is “my dog has eaten”… and fill in “your” blank because it can be anything.  I have a lot of experience about this and even a few of my dogs will try to eat anything, anytime they can.
Annie brings her utensils...

Dr. Jules Benson, VP of Veterinary Services says, “Typically, the insatiable hunger can be attributed to canine biology.”  He explains that a dog’s eat when food is presented mentality may be because of their wild ancestry. Looking at the domestic dogs nearest wild relative, the grey wolf, they are adapted to a feast-or-famine diet and can go many days without fresh prey,” Dr. Benson explains. “They achieve this through eating large amounts when food is available, food caching (may be analogous to burying bones in the garden!) and scavenging (watch out for the kitchen trash can!).”

So it’s possible your dog is not actually hungry, but eating whenever food is offered in case you stop offering it and if they don’t always get it, they will find it in a form of a cake on the table or anything on the counter.   Dutchess, is by far the worse about this.  She licks the dishwasher, gets on the table, walks the counter and begs for food to the point that we now put her outside when we eat. 

What always amazes me, you can spend sixty dollars for a fifteen pound bag of the best dog food made and they will turn their nose up at it but go outside and eat dear, rabbit and raccoon poop, like it was caviar.  I have seen dogs eat sticks, rocks, toys and last week, mine were surrounded around a dead bird in the driveway each getting a lick of it.  Once when we had company over, one of our dogs came running to the house with the rotten hind leg of a dear and was proud as punch he had gathered his lunch, which was quickly taken away.
Dutchess in on the table
One thing I found about bringing a dog home, you have to puppy and dog proof your home just like a child but I found you need to do it even more vigilant than with a young child because of the dogs determination, which we know is unlimited and Dutchess can think like us and outsmart us. 
The drive of the dog industry also plays a part in this problem because they continue to make adorable and cute toys for little “Ralphie” to play with.  We all have purchased certified “dog” toys that were “indestructible” only to find out in five minutes or less that the “parts” of the object are scattered throughout the house or even worse… missing. This is why we do not purchase or use dog toys because of the understandable craving they have.  Not every dog is like this but when they are, there is no holding back on what they will do.  Once Clancy got on top of the washer to get a leftover chicken package that we were getting ready to put in the garbage and Dahlia and Annie ate an entire unopened large package of Baklava over Christmas.  I can't think of how many times I have had to make them throw up or be on poop “patrol” watching for the evidence in the rain and cold.  

They are just attracted to anything and I've had people call about their dog eating underwear, socks, rocks, wash rags and especially toys.  I've even made a Fort Knox garbage container in the garbage, but it doesn't do any good when I don’t put the lid on.  Doc has learned this and will test the waters daily.  The good news is when it’s passed without a problem, but when it doesn’t it can be life threatening and requires extensive surgery with lots of down time.  Once, because Dutchess is resentful to give up her food, we took her on a drive on a curvy back road until the deed was done.
All in all, from experience and multiple callers please puppy/dog proof your house, yard, car, garage and anywhere your dogs can go but have a plan of action for immediate reaction because time matters. If you see me in the cold rain standing with a dog sniffing the ground, you know what we are doing… again…Ken

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Funny How It Happens...

I have noticed that over the years when we have dogs that visit us, they learn so much and even and some things that you don't want them to learn. Some are a perfect example of learning some things from one or most of our dogs, it’s like they share ideas and thoughts.  Last year for some reason, Annie started digging for moles that were in the ground.  If you have never had this problem, I am happy for you because they can be a pain in the backside.  

Just when you get your lawn in great shape in the spring, here they come with their construction crews out of nowhere.  For years, we were never bothered by them but last year, things changed and Annie, the "mole stalker" found a new resolve for life.  Clancy even got into the act while he watched her pound the ground and dig with her nose, tearing up the yard.  I once remember in the fall of last year, Annie was digging and apparently got tired and when she backed off, Clancy was “Johnny on the Spot” and was crazy about it as much as Annie was, they were a tag team, taking turns.  My saving grace is usually my dogs search for moles in the woods usually leaving the yard alone and luckily none of the other dogs will follow suit until now…
When we have visitors, at first a new guest will be a little apprehensive of what to do.  They will stand back and watch the “old pros” do their thing and soak everything up.  After a while, they will get curious and follow suite jumping in with all 4 feet, literally.  
Some of the best examples are when we are playing Jolly Ball and they are a little afraid of the water.  When they are not thinking about their fear, it’s not as severe as they believe or they just don’t think about it with all the activity going on and get carried up.  

Many times when a concerned dog watches a herd of BC’s run after a Jolly Ball or Frisbee straight into the water, they are pretty adapt to run with them, not evening thinking about it. 
One of my favorite lessons to get them to go to the kennel, is when it’s time to eat, I tell them “let’s go eat” and mine will knock over trees, shrubs and people if they're in the way.  I do think Dutchess will aim for a person because she likes the excitement but the visitors will soon associate the “let’s go eat” to something pleasant and quickly run with them for their treat.  I will tell you that I have said the magic words when it’s not time to eat, but there is consequences and it’s in the form of 10 pair of evil eyes watching me and every step I make with a scowl on their face…
As I said they learn so much from each other just by watching and waiting and I know when some dogs go their home after a visit, the owners are scratching their hear and saying “I wonder where they learned that” or “where did that come from”, well.. now you know and to tell you the the truth, mine can be a little rowdy and teach your dog to eat off a fork, lay on the couch, and even stay up late and watch TV with the writer of this article until the cows come home.  The last month or so, we had a new lesson learned here on the farm and she learned it with such style and grace.  Bless her little heart…
Dahlia...tired after hunting for her new predator...
Not only does she have a dirty nose and front feet, she is flopped on our (her) couch getting ready to dream about catching that mole…Ken
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Melancholy... You Bet...

Early in 2014, we were contacted by a friend and owner of one of our pups and the owner wanted to breed her dog named “Annie.”  They live not far from us and we have boarded “Annie” on several occasions.  She is a wonderful, sweet dog and we agreed to the breeding. 
Annie as a pup...
 Doc was the only stud dog available and we all thought it would be a perfect fit.  He is loving, loyal and always seeks your attention and “Annie” is a dog from Clancy and Molly.  Clancy is the dog of dogs and he has everything you want in a dog but also, in a Border Collie. 
He is obedient, strong and carries himself well and his hair is hardly ever mussed and he is a striking dog to look at.  But what you don't see is he is the most loving and gentle of all our dogs.    
Molly Mae is my "Heart Dog".  For those that don't know what that means, she is my forever dog, my soul mate dog and usually humans have only one heart dog.  
She is so gentle and loving and she is our only dog that will speak in whines and grunts.  We were excited to breed “Annie” who is one of Clancy & Molly’s dogs to Doc.  On the first attempt nothing happened.  Many months later, when “Annie” came into season again, her owner wanted to try one more time.  We knew going into this, it was the last time that “Annie” could be bred because of her age.  While chances of a mating seemed remote, the special event eventually took place. Weeks passed before we knew for sure and “Annie” delivered her little bundles of joy.  However, this time, I was on the outside looking in.  As the puppies grew, Elaine and I would visit to see how they were doing and they were always doing great and so was Mother.  Two of the puppies were going to friends of our and we offered to bring the pups to our house for them to pick up.  As the time approached for them to go to their forever homes we became excited at the prospect of bringing them to our house.  One underlying reason was so we could see them, hold them and love on them because they are entirely a part of the Shuck’s Border Collies.  Knowing this could very well be the last time we would hold a Clancy and Molly offspring, the thought was bittersweet.  Clancy and Molly appeared happy to see them and gave them a few licks of approval.  
Clancy and Molly
Doc just sniffed, seemed proud of his accomplishment and walked away.
“Annie” and Doc are the parents.

As we brought the pups home this week, little howls and trills were heard throughout the car and the smell of puppy breath was in the air.  Little did I know the impact this ride would have on me. 
Heidi and Jack
That evening I had promised to send photos to one of the owners of “Annie’s” pups because she lives out of town and had not seen any pictures of the Mother yet.  As I perused though countless numbers of photos, I found several photos of “Annie” and her litter mates. It made me feel very melancholy as I reflected on times and litters past.   Victor Hugo once said “Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad” and it struck me that it is a pleasure to be sad, but in a good way.  Once again we were holding our little Molly and Clancy as we played with their Grand-pups and it was pure heaven.  Even though we have moved on in different directions, our mind is filled with memories of little squeaks and trills along with puppy breath and all the pleasures that go along with it.  Our torch has been passed, but know that our last prodigies were from the best and they were all ours.  
Jack and Heidi looks like Mom
In an email I sent to one of the owners after the puppy went home, I told them “you have my Clancy, Mollie and Doc, all in one... something only a few people will ever have... Know that she is special”....  In another email  I received from the other owner, it had a video of “our” pup playing ball at 8 weeks old and I said to her “I had to stop and wipe a tear, for many reasons, it moved me...” and it did… In the emails from the owners, I saw my little Clancy and Molly again for the last time as they were pups and as it's said, “Melancholy is the pleasure of being sad” and it truly is… Run Free my little ones, run free... Ken

Note; Annie had four pups and we are lucky to personally know all of the owners and two of them will live within 25 miles of us...
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