Alone Time...

As I was getting ready to go outside to work last week, as always, the dogs watch me put on my shoes and as I touch the door, they are off to our play area wanting to play.  Usually, I get my chores done first and we have play time when I’m caught up, but this day, I grabbed a couple of balls and a Frisbee and off we went.  They all ran through the woods like their tail was on fire except Dutchess.  She spied the Frisbee in my hand and wouldn’t leave me alone so I just gave it to her and off she ran like her tail was on fire except she had a Frisbee in her mouth helping out.  We had a few guest dogs and it was pretty crazy with all the excitement going on.  

They were wired up and it showed.  Everyone was going after a ball or Frisbee and in just a few minutes, all three balls were lost and two Frisbee's were nowhere to be found.  They get excited and carry it and when another object flies, they will drop the one they have and go after the other, unable to find it again.  All in all, we only got about twenty minutes in and had nothing to do when everything was temporarily gone.  The older dogs were a little tired but Abbie was still raring to go.  She gave me her sad eyes and I said “another time” and she turned are ran toward the house with the others but I felt like a heel.  The next morning, Abbie sat as close to me as she could, while we were on the porch and literally wined like she was speaking, wanting something, but what?   
Every one of our dogs are excellent at playing ball of Frisbee but when you get them all together, it can be mayhem trying to keep up and there is just no simple solution, or so I thought.

I talked to Elaine about it and we mulled over a few ideas and came up with a solution.  The next morning, as usual everyone is up (except Elaine) between 6 and 6:30 and the dogs go for their morning constitution and we kennel them and feed them about 8 AM and they are usually ready for breakfast.  They are great about going to the kennel after the command and even stand at their own kennel door, waiting until you open it.   Everyone was let in but Abbie.  After everyone was secure, Elaine started the feeding process and I grabbed a Frisbee tucking it under my shirt and said “Abbie, come on girl” but softly.  Once outside the kennel door, I gave her the Frisbee and off to the lake we went, her tail on fire and a Frisbee in her mouth.  It was pure joy watching her spin and twist, doing the things she loves to do.  There was no hurry, except the speed of the Frisbee and no one to chase after her and she didn’t have to look over shoulder for fear of someone beating her.  Back and forth and back and forth she ran until she let me know she was finished and back to the house we went.  

She stayed out to catch her breath and dry off and then had breakfast in her kennel run, it was “her” special time.  The rest of the day went as normal and everyone got to play and scamper but that night Abbie followed me to bed when it was time, as usual she got in her spot near my head an laid down but this night, she scooted just a little closer putting her head on my pillow, licked my face and I reached over and petted her saying “that'll do” and it did.  Fast to sleep she went, chasing Frisbee's… 

Our new routine is when we feed them in the morning, one dog doesn’t get kenneled and it’s their time to do what they want while one dog gets brushed right after eating, everyone needs they alone time too...

They do talk to us… if we would only listen and it took me a long time to understand this…  Ken

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They Know Before Us…

I usually don’t watch the local news, so I don’t see what the weather is going to be for the day, Elaine might share it, but usually I don’t care and will wait to see what happens for the day, but some of my dogs do know something is in the air.  It can be a warm sunny day and the sky is clear, the wind has a slight breeze but trouble is in the air according to some of the dogs.  All of a sudden, I see Shepp, his ears are pinned back and he has “that” look on his face and I know it is coming.  Even though there is not a sound in the air or a dark cloud anywhere to be seen, Shepp will dart from shelter to shelter, looking for places to hide because he senses a storm is coming.  He will literally zone out, not seeing anything or hearing a word, he’s in another world.

I don’t know why some dogs are frightened of storms but some of mine are uncomfortable but some are terrified and one of our early dogs was defiant.  For some time, “Max” would get restless and we would try to console him but he wouldn't have any of it.  Once we put him in the house and we thought he was going to go crazy because he wanted out.  

Max and Molly as a pup...
It was a real summer downpour with lots of thunder and lighting and off Max went, running on the dam of the lake and barking at the sky.  He would run as hard as he could, back and forth, time after time.  When he was exhausted, he would just sit in the pouring rain and look at the heavens and bark.  After it cleared, Max would come back to the house and sleep, he was now content, he had won and was happy.   
Many dogs are afraid of thunder simply because they don't understand what it is. Dogs hear this loud noise and perceive it as something threatening and it can come up at any time.

Headed toward our house a few years ago...
According to Dr. Lauren Brickman, “some dogs try to go under tables, in bathtubs, or in any other places that make them feel secure. It is OK to allow them to do this.  It is important, however, not to try to soothe your pet too much. Doing so can actually encourage his fear if he senses any insecurity in your voice.  During a thunderstorm, try to provide a background noise for your dog, such as TV or radio. This may help to somewhat drown out the noise of the thunder. You can also try to get your dog’s mind off the storm by playing with him.  There are some dogs that require sedation when there is a storm. Consult your veterinarian so that they can prescribe something to calm your dog during a storm.”

Shepp once lived in Florida and when he moved back home, his owner brought his “storm pills” which he needed nearly every day because of the daily storms.  There has been a lot of discussion on this matter but some think it’s just related to storms.  Shepp will even jump from a deep sleep if a low noise comes from the television.  He’s a happy little chap when the weather is clear but he is my weather guide.
Just two nights ago, a thunderstorm rolled through and Shepp discovered that an open shower door is his new haven.  We've tried many things, but on the first distance noise or change, he’s in the zone…
Most of the other dogs are fine except Dutchess.  She isn't too bad but she will always find me and give that "Lauren Bacall" look as if to say “keep me safe and hold me” which I do. 

Not to be confused, this is Dutchess...
What You Can Do to Help
Create a Safe Place: Try to create a safe place for your dog to go to when she hears the noises that frighten her. But remember, this must be a safe location from her perspective, not yours. Notice where she goes, or tries to go, when she's frightened, and if at all possible, give her access to that place. If she's trying to get under your bed, give her access to your bedroom.
You can also create a "hidey hole" that is dark, small, and shielded from the frightening sound as much as possible. Encourage her to go there when you're home and the thunder or other noise occurs. Consider using a fan or radio near the spot to help block out the sound. Feed her in that location and help your dog associate that spot with other "good things" happening to her there. She must be able to come and go from this location freely. Confining her in the "hidey hole" when she doesn't want to be there will only cause more problems. The "safe place" approach may work with some dogs, but not all. Some dogs are motivated to move and be active when frightened and "hiding out" won't help them feel less fearful.

The weather forecast I use...   Ken

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It’s amazing to see…

While we have several dogs, and as I have said before, it is amazing to appreciate what they do and think and the shenanigans they get into.  Each one is different and has their own personality in several different areas. 
They all have their own idiosyncrasies in eating, sleeping and getting attention.  This not only applies to my dogs getting my attention, it also applies to a guest dog getting my attention when they visit here too.  Once the visitors dogs get comfortable, they fall into their usual pattern, even with me.  Just a few weeks ago, we had a dog over and he wanted some attention and kept backing into me for a butt scratching just like our Annie.  Both of them would take turns getting between my legs and stopping at the right spot for just the right angle and prance on their back feet so I would scratch their butt, something they never got tired of, but after a while my arms got tired and I had things to do even though butt scratching is really important.

As a rule, my dogs don’t need that much attention except when it’s my quiet time.  They are out most of the time at the farm between 6 am and 11 pm and get plenty of action.  They do need their time when they come inside after dinner while I’m trying to relax and watch a little TV.  As a rule, Meg is on the far end of the couch, Annie and Molly are in the middle of the couch and someone (anybody) gets in my lap.  Meg will stand up and stare at me and paw the air waiting for me to pet her.  Molly will paw my side if she can reach me and if she isn't close enough, she will scoot until she can, and Annie will jump in my lap for her butt rub even if it’s on top of someone already in my lap.  After they get what they want, they usually settle down for some rest. 

Something I never thought of that they will do when they want attention, they will “block your path”.  Until I read something about this, I never thought of this trick.  It never fails, if I’m in a hurry and need to get from point “A” to point “B” and it’s in a dash of course, it’s like running an optical course through the maze of our dogs.  They see me clipping along at a pretty face pace and then the game is on.  While I might have a clear path when I started, suddenly there are dogs walking “in” the path and I know they are watching me out of the corner of their eye, mumbling to themselves “he has to touch me, he has to touch me” which I do and they are happy. 

There are many ways they get your attention, they stare at you, bring us toys, they grunt, licks your ankle, helps us type, licks my face, A cold nose that nudges your hand, and some dogs will even “play” hurt to get your sympathy.   There are a million things they do and know they lie around and think up things to get the “man” to pay attention to them.
All in all, it’s a pretty even keel around here except for Abby sleeping at my head in bed, who watches me sleep.  At the split second I open my eyes from a deep sleep, I get a tongue to the holes of my nose.  I know she never closes her eyes because she might miss it and Dutchess has learned if she wants something, anything, she barks and will continue until I submit.  It’s not often but she actually speaks but the worse encounter is when I’m trying to put my shoes sitting on the steps of the porch where all of the dogs can reach me on their level.  

I wonder what your dog does to get your attention…  Gotta love um, Ken

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Tell me Why...

This week I read in the paper that a dog was found in Iowa which was lost.  It’s a big thing, but somewhat normal to find a lost dog.  The person that found the dog, took it to a shelter for help and to possibly get the dog back to the owner which in some cases in itself can be challenging.  

After the examining was done and the dog appeared fine, it was discovered that the dog had a microchip and hopefully it was current with the right information and the dog could go home by evening.  Problem solved, call the owner and hopefully the dog will be picked up in an hour or so.  That is where the problem started… the dog was from New Orleans and had been lost since 2011 and had been on the road since then.
We never know the extent of things we would do for our dogs until the need arises and we never give up.  

Our lives change, our pocketbooks change, out attitude changes and nearly everything in our house changes but our heart change.  Why is this?  I've seen some pretty amazing transformations, myself included.  My mother once saw my brothers dog lick from a plate when they set it down, something that is dirty to her and vowed to never eat with them again.  I will tell you, she would never eat with us because I make a point to feed them off my fork, (not recommended), but I do it.  Not only have we changed in our minds, we have changed in our house as many of “us” dog owners know, but why is this?  I know one family that spent 12 years or so caring for a dog spending in upwards of $50,000 to make sure the best care for the dog was obtained and it was, they never gave up. 

Dogs are keys to our souls, something that can touch our most inter and secret part of our heart.  They have transformed our ever being into something some people and family will never understand and in my heart, I don’t understand.  But why?
Maybe it’s because they love us like we have never been loved, oh yes, we do love and are loved by family member and friends, but “it’s” different, but why?

United Airlines stepped in and paid for Sam the lost dog in Iowa, and a animal service worker to fly one-way fare back to Louisiana—in the first class section --a ticket that starts around $500.
When Sam saw the owner, he recognized her and went straight for her, licking her face because they both remembered the bond they had and missed.  I’m sure the person that made the decision at United Airline has owned a dog or two and knew what to do…

That’s why… we all have been here, just in different circumstances… Give your dog a hug today and never give up because they don't, Ken

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A Reunion ... Maybe...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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It Is Over...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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