Stay Calm and…

I will admit, I am a news junkie, I don’t watch the new too much or ever watch the local news, but I do read several news sites from top to bottom and even one that is overseas for a balanced update of events. 
When I was young, we watched Walker Cronkite at 6 pm but that was pretty sterile and nowhere close to what we get today which at times is a shame.  News can become addicting and will pull you down into a funk if you let it.  In the last week or so, I have seen things on the world news that is so common place for some but it would send a gasp through me and literally made me sick to my stomach and I’ve ask myself “how can this happen”.  The only think that helps me is that I believe whatever goes around comes around and in the end we will all face our maker and answer to our transgressions and I think some of us may be pleasantly surprised or tragically stunned but we all have a choice. 
With that being said, how do we get out of the whirlwind of the news…? What is the answer to calming our heart and minds?  Nothing that we physically do, can change a thing in world events and the more we think about the turmoil, the worse it seems to me at times, so what do we physically do?

The answer is usually in my lap or laying at my feet and how many times have we missed the opportunity to be comforted?   Is this one of the reasons that we have dogs?  They have many purposes but the one that works for me, calms me and shows me my faults is usually close by.  Just last night, I was sitting in a chair out on the porch trying to cool off and relax.  As usual, several dogs were trying to squeeze into my lap or lick my face and I wanted to just relax.  Doc is the ultimate lover and the one who will knock me out of the chair trying to get on top of me, just to be near.  This time, he squeezed his head between the arm rest and seat, picking up his head nearly turning me over.  “Doc be still” and he walked away dejected because he felt reprimanded and I guess he was.  After a few minutes, I got up and went to him and gave him what he wanted… just some attention and love which he gladly accepted.  Abby kept poking my arm as I type this so I pulled another chair over just so she could sit with me. 
For me, when the day is done or we’re ready to relax, they all have their way to teach me the meaning of life and this is what I have learned from them if I would just watch and listen…

1. Live in the moment...

2. Overcome fear with love...

3. Don't hold grudges..

4. Play every day...

5. Jump for joy when you're happy...

6. Accept yourself...

7. Enjoy the journey...

8. Eat good...

9. Be loyal and dependable...

10. Love unconditionally...

No matter what, dogs love us unconditionally. They wag their tails or lick our face when they see us, no matter what mood we’re in. They still want to give you big wet kisses or get in your lap, even if you've just yelled at them. And they instantly forgive you no matter how you behave. Loving others unconditionally is a difficult task, but it's the one that would surely make the world a better place if we all just tried and listened.

Everyone should have a dog just to teach us how to live, but it only works if we follow their advice…   Ken

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Back Home...

Everything was packed in the Jeep the night before and we packed the essentials the morning we left.  I had planned to leave at 8 am and we actually got on the road about 7:30 which was a first.  Elaine did a great job getting everything ready and taking care of me by packing my stuff.  She will work on packing for days and when it comes to me, I put the suitcase in the middle of the bed, and open the chest of drawer… shorts, tee shirts, socks...OK I’m ready.  Elaine does everything else and I will tell you, she does a fine job.  Off we were, Clancy and Abby were in the back of the Jeep, ready to go.  Both are excellent riders and right away snuggled in the back of the vehicle on their dog beds and off to sleep.  No more than 2 minutes into the trip, Elaine asked me if I brought my pillows…which she reminded me to do.  “No” I forgot, but there is always Walmart and we now have new pillows thanks to my forgetfulness…  The drive was uneventful and we made good time to Michigan and was at the beach in no time.  After unpacking, off the beach we went.  

The dogs were a little confused and we were too because of the new territory were had traveling.  After finding the park, out the door they went and when I grabbed the Frisbee, they really perked up and Abby even carried it from the Jeep to the beach.  Twisting and turning, both of them were in rare form itching for the fun to start.  They didn’t know where, but all the signs looked good for them to have some Frisbee time with just two of them.  As we took just one step onto the beach, Abby dropped the Frisbee at my feet and ran down the shoreline looking back at me. 

We had a wonderful day and the dogs were the attraction of the beach croud.  We were going to stay on the shoreline with the dogs because we were just a little unsure of the waves, sand and wide open space but once they got sand in their mouth, they showed us the way to get in, even cleaning themselves off, and they did. 

Every morning, even before breakfast, I took them to an open field just to wear them out and play.  Both of them were so good and minded well, even in crowded places but the real fun was the water and playtime.  

I will tell you, sleep came early and easy for them each night.  We had their dog beds but at home, they usually sleep on the bed and they didn’t disappointed us and made us feel right at home by getting on the beds.  It was somewhat rustic where we stayed and we had plenty of together time with the dogs.  Lots of fun and exploring for all of us and a well-rounded trip.

The trip was a huge success and everyone had fun even the mosquitoes but the fun has to end as we packed the Jeep and pulled out one bright morning and for the entire drive, not a peep was heard from the back of the Jeep and every time we looked at them, they were sound asleep…  Happy Dogs and Happy Dog Parents... Ken

Note:  I don't think I ever planned a vacation solely for the dogs.  From the time we went to the place we stayed and the activities we did, it was all about the dogs... just don't tell Dutchess...

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About Time...

After our four kids moved away, Elaine and I moved to Indiana and enjoyed quiet time and spending time doing things we wanted to do without any distractions or interruptions but that was before dogs.  At one time we drove across the USA, going to every state out West and the next year, each state on the East coast.  In all we have been to all 50 states except Maine and we hope to make it soon.  We always enjoyed our vacations and time away from home just to see this beautiful land and see all the many wonderful things the states have to offer. 

That all stopped when we had to share our time with several four legged furry friends and the more that was added to the pack meant, the less time we had for trips and our ventures both inside and outside the country, but that should briefly stop this very week because we are going on vacation and I am actually leaving the farm for some fun.  During the last four years, Elaine has gone to see her Dad every 6 weeks or so and travels to Louisville.  She also goes on a trip to “Covered Bridge” Indiana with her girlfriends every year and I would always stay home and take care of the chores and dogs. 

This coming week, we are taking a road trip to Michigan Beach and rent a cabin along with two of our dogs.  Clancy and Abby will ride shotgun in the Jeep and off we go to a real beach with real sand and waves. 
As you might imagine, it’s a real chore to get all the cards to fall into place and as you know with any plans, something always falls through and falls apart but this time, it looks like we are on our way for a real vacation. 
Friends of ours will stay with our dogs here at the house and take care of everything while we are having a fun time.  Dutchess wanted to go but I just can’t trust her to stay out of the donut shop, licks kids ice cream cones and jump on the table at every restaurant, barking for more food.  

This is Clancy’s first road trip except for a day trip but Abby is an old pro.  She and Meggie went with us many years ago and in the room they jumped from bed to bed with a Frisbee in their mouth.

All in all, it will be fun and well deserved… lets see... what do we need to take with us;
Rawhide chews
Dog Food
Water bowl
Dog brush
Toys, more Frisbee's

According to them, nothing more is needed and I will tell you, Dutchess is pissed...  Ken
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Orange Crocks...

“Hello” I said to the caller, “Hey…there is a small fawn inside our fence and one of the dogs is chasing it.” Elaine exclaimed while she was pulling away from the driveway going to work.  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 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.  

In one hand, I held my 38 snub-nose revolver but pointing it in the air and the other hand was holding up my loose fitting sleeping pants and ran toward the distance barking.  In my mind, I could see a vicious dog tearing into a poor innocent fawn or a mother deer tearing into a 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, Clancy and a friend’s dog that was staying with us for the night and was going home that morning. 

The grass was wet because of the heavy dew on the ground and I was running with one hand pointed up holding the gun, the other hand holding my pants and my feet shuffling and scooting to keep my shoes on because my feet were wet.  Note to readers; running with 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 levy of the dam rather than around, I headed down the slope.  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 my coveted 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 dangerous. 

By the grace of the Crock 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 guest dog.  It appeared that there was no problem but the dog was curious and no mamma deer was anywhere to be seen… Whew…  The guest dog turned toward the house and started running which I assumed he was wanting 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 guest dog up and the fawn would surly walks 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 one levy and back up the one I had just flown down.  The guest dog was standing at the kennel door but when I was about 10 feet from the dog, his instinct kicked in 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 man 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 guest 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, hopping the dog was still inside.
I walked back to the house not seeing the dog but hopping he was inside the gate.  I had to take a few breaks just to catch my breath 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 a 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 crossword puzzle… Maybe I should have had that first cup of coffee… and pants that would stay up…

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The Little Diggers…

It started several years ago, when some of the dogs would come back to the house from running and exploring the farm and I noticed a color chance on some of them. 

Rather than a black nose, a few of them would have a brown nose.  After examining them, it appeared to be dirt…
This is something that has just started here in the last year or so and seems to be worse at times.  My main little digger is Annie with Doc and Dahlia coming in for a close second.  After much thought and concern for my yard, mulch, vegetable garden and flower garden I tried to discover what was going on. 

There are times that I will “discover” their little habit and many times when we are on a walk I would see them in the yard digging and their head in the dirt and tail in the air.  But that is not the only time they mess with the dirt.  Just yesterday, I went out the back door and one of my favorite flower pots looked just a little different.  A large clay pot that had been beautiful was now in shambles. 

I really don’t know who is doing it because there are several dogs and guest dogs that will cuddle up for a comfortable place on some soft dirt.  

Little Oscar...
Yesterday after I saw the clay pot, I looked at each one of their feet and noses trying to determine who the culprit was but I was too late as everyone’s nose and paws were clean, I guess they outsmarted me again.

It seems to be a conspiracy on what they are doing here, they get together with friends and team up on me even bring Kacie, Lit Bit and Izzy into their fold, what is it with dirt... They sure love the clay pots...

"Kacie"... I'm sure she would never chase a mole... Look at that sweet face...
It’s just a hootenanny here but you just deal with it… as many of you know.  Ken

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Dad’s Day...

On a hot July day when I was 32 years old, my Dad and I were digging a 16 inch tree stump out of the ground from a tree that I had cut down the day before.  We were digging it out by hand with shovels and axes.   It was hard and he could work circles around me.  He was 70 years old and as I walked to the house to get a cool glass of water, I looked back at him and in an instant, he became the smartest man in the world.  I remember that day like it was yesterday even through it was 30 years ago. 
Dad before he worked at  the Railroad
We purchased Clancy when he was 8 weeks old and he was our second choice.  The pup we first picked out was sold to someone right before we made the long journey.  We were not disappointed because we were excited to get a puppy but in the back of our mind, I thought about it and wondered... was this the right choice?

In Dad's forty four years of railroad work, he “never” called in sick.  He was late for work once because we had gotten fourteen inches of snow but he walked to work, taking nearly four hours one way.  He worked 2nd shift all his life and any holidays he could get.  I was decent with sports and in my freshman year of high school, placed 2nd in the state.  He never made any of my games or performances, because of work…

Clancy grew fast and strong.  He was my first male Border Collie and I didn’t know what to expect but I know what I saw and I liked it.  He was not marked like a traditional BC with a full collar, he was not the “standard.”  Our first choice was marked like a “standard” and I always wondered… was he the right choice?

As a child, my Mother was the disciplinarian in the house and boy did she do a good job, but I will tell you, I needed it, like the time I climbed up the China cabinet at my favorite Aunt house and pulled it over on top of me breaking ALL the dishes or the time when I was six, we were all sitting in church and I got inside Mom’s purse and retrieved a Tampon and turned around facing the rear of the church pretending to “smoke” it.  Unfortunately we sat in the front pew and mom turned around when she heard the laughs… Needless to say, I was in trouble again.  Dad never used a hand on anyone but his words commanded everything.

Clancy grew into a strong adult dog and needed a strong hand as most do.  I wanted him to be a self-controlled dog and we worked hard to get there.  He would mind me for any occasion and would come to me even when he knew he was in trouble.  He didn’t want to, but he did out of respect.  Clancy never got a lot of pampering from me because it would make him soft or so I thought.  He would not get in my lap but lay at me feet, knowing his station in life.

I was twenty one years old before I told my dad I loved him and when I did, it was also the first time he told me.  He had been rushed to the hospital for what we thought was a heart attack and as I sat alone in the mustard yellow un-air conditioned room, I thought it was now or never, I wanted to tell him but was afraid of what I would not hear. We thought he was dying but thank God, it was a heat stroke, he had been working outside too hard without any breaks… go figure… but that brief moment changed our lives forever.  Not a day went by that I didn’t see or talk to Dad and we always told each other “I love you.”  At times, I still see him walking and whisper to him.

As Clancy became the number one dog on the farm, I saw a wonderful change.  He was self-assured, confident, willing to help and would take care of the needs of the farm.  I saw him protect us from critters and even stray dogs, protecting his turf, the girls and our home and at times sending unwanted dogs to the Vet for repair.  He is a gentle giant of a dog both inside and out, afraid of nothing or anyone, and his eyes will pierce your soul and command any dog. 

My Dad passed away unexpectedly in front of me.  Earlier that very day, he told me he was ready to “go home”.  We were again cutting a tree down and I said “you can go home, I got it from here” He said he was “ready to go to heaven.” I laughed and told him I was too.  He went "Home" thirty minutes later.   Packed away, I have a branch from that very tree and the hat he was wearing in an airtight container and I will take it out at times, just to smell him again. 
Before that hot day in July when I was thirty two, we didn’t have much of a relationship.  I respected him and always did what I was told.  Was he a great dad?  He was raised in an orphanage home and got out when he was fifteen and worked on his own during the depression.  As a Dad myself, I learned many lessons from him, what to do and what not to do, but I learned.  Dad knew everything and could fix anything, and as I stood over him while he took his last breath, I thought of all the knowledge he has would soon vanish, but what I didn’t know, I would pick it up and did. 

Clancy sired many wonderful pups, he is what he is because of his lineage, family and work ethics.  His make-up was almost predetermined, little did I know when we got our "second choice."  When he was about 2 years old, I researched his pedigree and was surprised, but it never mattered, he was our Clancy.

Clancy's Great Grandfather, Del-Mar Turk
Some might say that the best Dad is always there and I’m sure that may be true but it wasn’t in the cards that were dealt to me.  But what I learned from Dad was not taught at a ball game or at a swing set.   It was learned from watching him keep his word, teach Sunday School, doing for others, doing what it took to make things right and watching him literally get on his knees to give “thanks” before bed.   

Clancy wasn’t our first choice at the time but I’m glad it worked out the way it did, but I will tell you, I wouldn’t change a thing… Clancy was a great Dad, he may not have pampered the pups with licks and attention but he was their rock and protector not only of his pups but any dog or pup that was from the farm.  I was walking to the kennel and looked back at Clancy last week and in an instance realized he is the best dog in the world.  It’s funny how things work out the way they do and I’m glad it did…  Happy Father’s Day, 

Dad… I love you… Kenny…

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Following are some of Clancy's Great Grandfathers accomplishments over the last 7 years that he competed:

1997 British Columbia Open Cow Dog of the year.
1998 British Columbia Open Super Dog (Must stand in the top 30% in both sheep and cattle trials. Turk is the only dog in British Columbia to win the Super Dog Award since these standards were established)
1999 Calgary Stampede Stock Dog $hoot-Out finalist.
2000 CBCA Canadian National Finals 2nd Runner-up.
2001 Calgary Stampede Stock Dog $hoot-Out finalist.
2001 CBCA Canadian National Finals, 5th. Place.
2001 British Columbia Open Sheep Dog of the year.
2002 Calgary Stampede Stock Dog $hoot-Out $10,000.00 Grand Champion.
2002 British Columbia Open Sheep Dog of the year.
2002 Farm Fair International Stock Dog Trial 3rd. Place. 
2002 Wild West Cattle Dog Grand Champion at the North American Sheep Dog Championship, Tejon Ranch, Lebec, CA.
2003 Winner of the San Pasqual Sheep Dog Trial at Murietta, CA and 3rd overall in the three trial Hospitality series at 10 years of age.
Has placed in the top ten at the Western Canadian Championships for the last 5 years.
2003 Winner of the Del'mar Driving Championship at the Western Canadian Championship.
2003 CBCA Canadian National Finals 7th Place.
2003 Reserve British Columbia Open Sheep Dog at 10 1/2 years of age.
Has won the Perpetual Trophy for Best BC Dog and Handler at the CBCA Nationals the last 4 years.
Has won the Perpetual Trophy for Best BC Dog and Handler at the Western Canadian Championship the last 3 years.
Winner of numerous sheep and cattle dog trials both in Canada and the United States.

Drop it...Starting Young

If I have said any phrase of words in my life more, I would have to say it was “Drop it, Drop it! Or DROP IT!!!” speaking to one of my dogs when they were holding something in their mouth.  

Starting Young...
Most all dogs will pick up things that could include sticks, rocks, bones or anything that strikes their fancy at that particular moment and according to Google there are some pretty good reasons.

Presenting a gift

While these are good reasons, apparently they never talked to a Border Collie because they have their own ideas.  Just last night, I was on the driveway and one of my dogs (Dutchess) came to me with a tennis ball in her mouth.  All the dogs were standing around looking at her and looking at me wanting me to do something, “Drop it!” I said, It's not play time because there was a big storm coming in and I was trying to get everything ready, putting stuff away and she did and all of them are pretty good about it.  I took the ball and put it up and in just a few seconds, she had another one, and again I said, “Drop it” and put that one up too.  You may wonder where they get the balls from and that’s a simple answer.  Dutchess can open most anything and knows where to look.

We have thousands of them and when we go out to play, I will take at least 4 or 5 with us and a few of them will carry one in their mouth.  They get excited and see another ball zoom by and they will drop that one and go after the other, leaving them all around the farm for a later find.  I’m sure someway there is a big stump with tennis balls stacked behind it. 
When we do play, I will always chuck the ball far away, wait for them to return and then go again.  Well… this came to a stop, Abby, Molly and Annie like to hold the ball in their mouth but will run after the another ball too.

I don’t know why they do this but maybe it’s because they will always have one in the “ready,” position just in case they need it.  They will run appearing that they are going to fetch the ball but even if they beat the others, they just turn and run back to the launch area and wait.  Usually, most dogs will “drop it” but on occasions, a few dogs that come over for a play day will get the ball and run in circles driving my dogs crazy.  Mine will just watch the confusion, not understanding, but Clancy and Dutchess will both look at me and I will utter “Get it” and they will follow the dog holding the ball and while one is getting their attention, my other will pluck the ball right from its mouth before they know, and the game will resume and everybody is happy.

To the amazement of everyone… Some Border Collies could care less about a ball or Frisbee.  “What” you say, at least that’s true around here.  Gabby and Doc could care less about catching something.  They will always run as hard as they can with the others after a ball but will following one particular dog, keeping a very short distance.  They will become their shadow and will not even look at the ball.  I have attempted to interest them by throwing a ball or Frisbee and I don’t think they ever saw it.  A few times, I called their name, getting their attention and the ball would fall right in front of them or even hit them… no response but they still have a good time.
I know my dogs understand what I say, it just depends if they want to understand,  Most time they do but they can be a little hard headed but can talk too.  The times they speak the loudest is when they use their eyes or tongue and then they speak.  When they look in your eyes searching for a connection and find it or lick your hand or face just to express their love, they have spoken more words that we could ever fathom... If you just look back at them and accept what they give.   Ken

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