Sunday

Riley

Last week all but one of our pups went home to their forever home to start their new life away from the farm. Riley got to stay with us and become part of our family for a few weeks because his human parents had obligations before he was born. After just getting finished training Annie, we are now starting with Riley (Whew). He is a very sweet loveable boy that loves to explore and be in the thick of things with us and each of our dogs. As the next to last pup was pulling away, I picked up Riley and into the house we went. We anticipated this and had his bed and toys ready along with a blanket and a tennis ball, which I’m sure he will enjoy for as long as he lives.

Riley has had a rare opportunity to make friends with the pack and become one of them. He has adjusted well and wants to play and be with everyone. At times he gets too friendly with them, like the time he wanted to nurse on Clancy and didn’t understand “nothing there” or the time he got too close to Abbie’s food bowl and she “just didn’t want to share”, grrrrrrrrrr.  What has amazed me is the fact that he has bonded with Dutchess. Usually Dutchess is a little picky when it comes to who she wants to play with. She is not always a dog that plays well with other dogs, she likes humans because her brain works about the same as ours, in fact, harder at times. Dutchess will roll Riley around on the floor and they will paw at each other until both are exhausted and take a nap. When Meg is on the couch between Elaine and I, Riley will curl up between Meg’s front and back legs and get as close to her as possible, then they will sleep for hours. But what has surprised me the most is Molly. Even though Molly is his mother, she will usually not have much to do with any of her pups and will keep them at a distance. I would only assume this is a Mother Nature thing to force the pups to go out in the world on their own. Molly for some reason sees Riley as a playmate too. She will pretend bite and he will do the same back to her. They will gently grab each other and in a very loving and playful way pull and nip at each other. Then they will lick and wash each other’s ears. Molly will roll him over and wash his belly and lick his face just to make sure he is clean and well manicured, just as any young man should be.
Annie and he have become best friends. They both get into so much and play together. Riley will give her a go for her money and will pounce on Annie when she is not looking. They will play until both of them decide to give up, neither one wanting to admit defeat.
Even though it has rained buckets, we still go for long walks in “the big old world.” He has explored new smells and seen things he has never seen before.
We would walk through the woods and where the big dogs would just hop over a downed log, Riley would struggle and with much effort, he would wiggle his little body up and over, tumbling down the other side of the log, ready for the next one. The big dogs would walk and Riley would run just to keep up, always trying so hard to be one of the gang.
We would cross several small streams that were full of flowing water with little effort. Riley would come to the brook and with as much gusto, stop and jump straight into the cold water that came up to his chest. He would shake himself off and forge on. What a trooper.
After much hiking, he would stop and run to me and put both paws on my shins, letting me know he was done, he needed some help and was tired. I would pick him up and cradle him in my arms, letting him know he was safe and I would carry him. He was at peace and so was I. You see, at times we all need a little help and someone to cradle us in their arms and carry us. Riley is a special little dog and I’m so glad I can be part of his little life now, I just wonder if he will remember me and the walks we had when he becomes a big dog. I hope so, I know I will….

Meg...SLOW DOWN

Some of my Facebook followers may be aware that Meggie hurt her foot last week, but for those people not into Facebook, she was running with Abbie and impaled a stick or something sharp through her paw. It was between her paw pads that would usually protect her paw and it was a pretty severe injury that required an immediate trip to the Vet’s office. She could not walk on it at all and had to be carried most of the way and when she did walk, she sort of hopped on her good paw and I felt so sorry for her. This reminds me again that we are raising our children all over again because of the pain you feel for them. I have joked that raising border collies is like raising kids and this was meant to humor the reader but it does seem to be true in many different ways.

During this last trip to the Vet, it reminded me of another time I had to rush Meg to the Vet’s office because she had impaled herself on a piece of pig wire. This type of wire fence was cut off on the end and had many exposed 3/8 inch spikes that were sharp. It was, “I thought” in a safe place and out of the way where no one could get to it. She was running and turned a corner and ran went right into it and collapsed, the bad part, I was only about 5 feet from her and saw the whole thing happen.  It was awful; it went into her chest in several places and I had to pull it out of her. On the way to the Vet’s office, her head was in my lap and she didn’t bleed a drop.  At one point, her eyes rolled to the back of her head and she took a big breath. I thought she was gone, but we continued to the Vet. When we got there, she responded and appeared to “come to”. After doing x-rays and a good check, everything turned out OK and after loads of antibiotics, she just had to rest for a while, but it was real scary.
Meg At 10 Weeks Old
During this episode this past week with her foot injury, I have to soak her foot twice a day, take antibiotics and she has to wear protection on her foot so not to get it wet. This was especially hard since we have had solid rain for several days and now ice.  Meggie is a real trooper, she lets me do anything to her foot and will let me examine it without even a cringe, but her eyes tell me that it hurts. She will just look in my eyes as if she is saying “I understand”. She seems to trust me, knowing that I won’t do anything that would cause her needless pain or suffering.
Meg has always been a real trooper. She has endured more injuries than most of the other dogs put together, but I believe she has a “can do” attitude and is willing to do anything physical, especially if it involves running or jumping. She is the most gentle of any of the dogs we have (except Molly) and loves to cuddle and lay in your lap and just follow me around.
I am a little concerned with her paw, it appears to be taking a long time to heal, but maybe that’s just me. You see when we got Meg, we also got her sister “Gaia”. She came to visit with us until her human parents could make arrangements to fly her to South America, this was because we had boarding facilities.  Six months after Gaia left, we were notified that Gaia had passed away for no apparent reason. Since then, we have always felt Meg was just a little special and we have always protected her, just like one of our kids.  
This is Meg and Gaia, before Gaia left for South America
If you have kids, you always worry about them, what they are doing and where they are at.  You want what's best for them and guide them along, because chances are, you have made that mistake and don't want them to go through that pain.  You love them more that they will ever know.  My father once told me that you really don't know what love is, until you have children.  I really didn't think about this until I had mine, and now I know.  Until now, I have never had dogs that are so devoted to me and love and give me so much in return.  I guess that's why I try to protect them so...

Meg is a strong little dog and has a heart of gold, but for Christ sake Meg, SLOW DOWN AND WATCH WHERE YOU ARE RUNNING!!!   Dad

Run Free Gaia, see you at the Bridge...

Note: Now you can follow our dogs daily on Facebook, we’re at Shuck’s Border Collies. Feel free to ask me, or the dogs, questions or advice either open or by private message about your dog.

My Time To Vent

If any of you follow my “Shucks Border Collie” Facebook page, you have seen a few hints that we went to Louisville on Saturday to pick up a dog. It was a pup that went to his “forever” home on Christmas Eve of 2010. He is a pup from Molly and Clancy and came from a litter of 10 beautiful pups that were all equal when they left here.
When someone contacts me about a dog, the first thing I usually ask is “Have you ever had a border collie?” Usually that determines how far the conversation will go. The problem, some people will tell you what you want to hear just to get a pup, not thinking about the life of the dog and what it takes to make it work. Every puppy is a challenge and Lord knows I have raised a few dogs in my life, but border collies present special needs and special problems.
The popularity of the movie, Babe, and the agility shows on Animal Planet, have created a desire for many people to want a border collie as a pet. So very often, my experience has been that children are driving this desire or some other rationale for having “the smartest dog” or they saw one on TV doing tricks. While I encourage everyone to consider this breed because they are the best breed in the world, I also caution everyone on their traits if you have never owned one. Border collies are high intensity, brilliant dogs capable of outthinking some people I know, including myself at times. They create havoc and challenge you to no end. They are not couch potatoes and will not be content to wait until you come home. They offer an unparalleled human/dog experience or a nightmare. This is especially true of a young border collie.
Back to the story. We have taken four dogs back since we started raising border collies and that is made very clear upfront, “if this does not work out, the dogs comes back to us.” In every case it was because they wanted one and had no experience with this breed or very little. Sometimes it was because they had too little yard or had too much and did nothing with the dogs, but let them run free with No supervision or they wanted it for their kids. Don’t get me wrong, it not’s the commitment of the dog, it’s the commitment of the owner. The dog will follow you into Hades if you just call its name.
I compare border collies to a 3 year old in many ways. Having raised four kids, I am a little familiar with kids and dogs and see a lot of similarities in both. If you have raised a child, then you have raised a BC, you just didn’t know it. It takes doing the things that you don’t want to do, at a time you want to do something else. Every dog that came back was because the owner did not live up to the responsibility of being a dog parent. Sometimes the owner will make it too complicated by doing things that they want for the dog or for the owner and not the real needs of the dog.
Some of things you should do;
Research the breed, I can’t say this enough. You need to know what you’re getting into. We got a Husky once and knew nothing about the breed, but they were soooo pretty, but boy were we surprised of the running ability they had. This dog was all over the county and it was our fault we did not know what we were getting into and this decision was regretted many times over.
Border Collies need to run freely and will not do well in small outdoor pens, tied out or roaming freely where they often chase cars, deer and/or children on bikes, all of which have been reasons for dogs to be relinquished into rescue and sometimes death. The dog may just need a dog companion, somebody that they can play with and share times together. I can’t imagine any of my dogs living by themselves because they depend on each other so much and interact with each other so well. They do best on at least one acre where they can actively race around and engage in activities such as Frisbee or ball chasing. If yards are smaller, then other free run locations need to be available and used almost daily. I have seen many homes that have a smaller yard that is a wonderful situation, because the owner will do things with the dog and compensate for the small yard, but it means being in charge and doing what it takes to provide the dog with mental and physical stimulation. Just last night, I had Dutchess inside (it was her night) and she needed some activity because of the weather. I took her in the family room and we played ball for about 20 minutes and she was exhausted and content. She was at peace and so was I, after playing, she got in my lap and slept for about an hour.
As I said earlier, many people want border collies, but the fact of the matter is, there are many border collies in shelters and rescue situations because the previous owners wanted a smart dog or the kids saw “Babe”. But if it’s not the right situation, and it doesn’t work out for the dog, somebody has to take it from there and it will either be the breeder, a rescue shelter or a man who flips the switch to put them to sleep because the owner screwed it up.
Just this morning, I took all the dogs, which are seven now, because of the dog that was returned for a walk before dawn. It was 6 am and 11 degrees outside. Did I want to do it? No, did I need to do it for the dogs? Yes. As a person who breeds on a limited basis. I have responsibilities to the dog until it dies even if he/she lives somewhere else. If you have met me or talked to me in depth, you have heard me say. “It will be your dog, but it will always be my pup” and I mean it…
We will evaluate Bodhi and see what he needs to fit in and make sure he gets all the love and attention that he needs and wants. It is amazing to see him run free and have a life full of joy without any worries. If you are interested in him, he will make a wonderful pet, feel free to give me a call. When we re-home a dog, they are a gift but there is a catch, you must love him as much as we do. Ken
Some info and suggestions was found at http://www.glenhighlandfarm.com/ which is a rescue farm in New York.  It is a wonderful place than does wonderful things for border collies. 

Note: Now you can follow our dogs daily on Facebook, we’re at Shucks Border Collies. Feel free to ask me, or the dogs, questions or advice either open or by private message.

Our Holiday Guest

With the Christmas Season and New Year over, it’s time to get back to normal and get back to our routine here at the farm. In addition to having to travel and family visits, we had two dog guests for the holidays. Maggie and Bob both came to visit just a few days of each other and stayed for 10 days here on the farm. It was a wonderful experience for all of us and we had a blast. It always starts the same, they are so excited when they get here and I hear from their owners that when they pull off the main road, both dogs know where they are going and they bounce around inside the car.
After everybody settles down into the routine, which takes about a day or so, they fit right into the pack and start making their mark. In past visits, Maggie has tore some skin off her paw pads because she ran so much, and had to walk with booties or she had to stay in the house a lot and miss out running with the farm dogs.
This time I was determined to not let this happen and it didn't, but with a price.  We stayed on soft surfaces, which just happened to be mud and slop but, Maggie was injury free for the whole time.  She got to run and play every day she was here.
Every morning started out the same. We would rise from bed and get our breakfast together and then feed the other dogs. After a hearty breakfast of kibble, except for me, I had yogurt, we would go on our morning walk of a couple of miles. This gives all the dogs a chance to smell all the deer and raccoon poop and any other thing that they want to, and then do their business in the woods, which is new for the guest. I say this because my dogs will always go to a remote part of the farm or deep in the woods to do their business. There are a few of mine that I have only seen do their business once or twice in their life, no clean up, ever, sweet….
About half way through, we will meet up on the dam of the lake and I will get a ball and Frisbee that I have hidden where they can’t see it, and play a round or two of activities. Everybody enjoys it and it sets the tone for the day. During this stay, we had a gambit of weather. It rained for a couple of days and then had beautiful, bright, sunny days and it even snowed for two days, which every one enjoyed.
We had warm days and freezing weather, but never too cold that they couldn’t get in the water.
Maggie has visited us for a number of years. She usually comes for Christmas and during one of the summer months for a few weeks while her family goes on vacation down south. Her family will usually drive and they drop her off or pick her up as they travel I-65. She is a pro staying here and has all the moves that make her one of us. She always gets on the couch and gets behind the cushions and will stay there forever which we don’t mind.
She interacts with our whole family and is even part of our Christmas. She is a great bed buddy and has always let us know when she wants out. She is a sweetheart.

Bob is only about 9 months old. He is a big puppy with a big heart and is the one dog that seems to smile.
One thing he does that I enjoy is he will put both paws around your neck and give you a hug. He will even put his head next to yours and hold it there. He is also a good bed buddy and I will tell you, sometimes it got a little jam-packed.
His owners had a hard time leaving him and would have taken him with them if they could have.  I understand this so well. I have joked with Elaine that we should try to take ours on the Cruises we take, telling the agent that they are our service dogs.  We are very needy, that’s why we need six. I can only imagine taking them on a big ship, what a hoot.
As I said, we enjoyed their stay and Bob and Maggie became best friends and enjoyed each other. It’s always good to see the dogs again and to see the pups grown up.

I always hate to see them leave because they become part of our life for a short time.  We always make a CD of all the photos that we take during their visit and it's nice to look at them, remembering our times together, which I still need to make the CD (Sorry).  The last day is always tough and you try to emotionally prepare for it, but I know how much their owners will want to see them again, so there is comfort in it. While they are here, I always send daily emails and photos to the owners just to let them know everything is “OK” and their dog is in good hands. After they leave, Elaine and I always will look at each other and ask, “Wonder what they are doing?” As I have said many times before, “It might be your dog, but it will always be my pup.”
Miss you guys….Dad
Note:  Now you can follow our dogs daily on Facebook, they wanted to go high tech, we're at Shucks Border Collies.  Feel free to ask me, or the dogs, questions or advice either open or by private message on Facebook.

"It's Only A dog"....Really?

As many know we have more than one dog and that being said, I get to see more than one personality in them and I will tell you they are all different, not good, not bad, just different. Elaine and I also have four children and children like dogs are different too. Each one has different needs, personalities, wants and desires. We seem to think they should be the same, but they are not. Dogs are the same in that respect too. Some are needy, some independent, some loving, outgoing and some are even standoffish. I have often wondered why this happens. I have seen dogs come back to visit all over the spectrum. But I know they left with the same upbringing and personality and I also think that all dogs start out the same, it’s the human aspect that makes them different. We have a lot of people that visit just to see the dogs and watch them and play with them. We always come in the house with the dogs of their choice and play and interact with them. Everybody wants Clancy. He will always put on the charm, jump on the couch with them and put his head in their lap. Recently, we had a couple come to visit and he was in between them on the couch and both of them had their hand on him and was petting him, everyone was content. I saw Clancy’s eyes roll back in his head and he was gone, fast asleep in minutes. In my mind, I know this was his plan to get some attention. Clancy knows how to “butter his bread”, so to speak. But I tell them if you want Clancy, you have to make him, it’s there in your pup, but you have to work at it. I tell everyone that leaves with a pup, “Remember, whatever you put in, you will get out, nothing more, nothing less” It’s up to them, the fate of their dog is in their hands, it’s that simple.

This brings me to my point. Why are they different? I think when a dog gets comfortable with the owner, and I do think there is only one owner or master, anyone else is a caretaker for them. They take on the personality and traits of the master in a small way. Sometimes we make it too complicated with our “stuff”. They are simple animals, and want nothing more to be lead and loved throughout their life. They look for a leader, someone that is strong and that they know will take care of them, no matter what. They look to us as the “alpha” in their life. I have seen it time and time again, when something goes wrong, the human stops being the alpha and the dog takes up the position and this should never happen. Even in their own pack and in the wild, the females will only breed with the strongest male that’s available. We need to be stronger than the dog and be in charge.
As I said earlier, mine are different. Abbie came back to us as a pup, she went to a house with 3 young kids, came back and was re-homed again. Well, number two home did not work out either. When she came back the second time, we wanted to evaluate her and just see what was going on. After just a few days, Elaine and I looked at her and then at each other. We wondered what had gone wrong. To be fair, the second attempt to re-home her, nothing was wrong, the family had circumstances come into their life that would not be fair to them or to Abbie. Finally, Abbie was now at her forever home, never to leave again, but I do think this whole process had a profound effect on her.
Abbie is no doubt my dog. She protects me and tries to keep every dog at bay that comes into my “range”. She will position herself between my legs while I am standing and just watch, protecting me, she thinks from any ill will. She has that Border Collie look and a face that will melt your heart.
Several days ago, I had most of the dogs up except Abbie. I had just got in the hot tub and as usual, Abbie got up on a small corner of the tub and stood there looking at me for just a minute. Then she wanted to get comfortable so she knelt down like a lamb folding both front legs down and resting on them before she curled into a small circle. At that point, she watched me on that very small space that had to be uncomfortable for her, where just a few feet away, she could have stretched out and lain on a comfortable throw. A few days earlier, I was in the family room and had shooed her away because I didn’t want her to be involved in what I was doing. Elaine, knowing I had done this, watched her go to my “fuzzy” house slippers and push them together with her nose. She gathered them between her paws and laid her head on them. Elaine told me later Abbie “just missed you” and wanted to be near you, but you sent her away and she was crushed.
All the dogs want to be near us in one way or another and the reason I think they do, is because, we have always loved them, touched them, played with them and included them in the many things we do each and every day. They are a part of our life and we are a part of theirs. Something that has always angered me is when I hear the comment, “it’s only a dog”. They are correct in that statement, but they are only a dog, because that is all “they” made/trained them to be. I happen to want more than that. They are my friend, companion, cohort and at times my playmate. They make me feel special, needed and full of life. For the people that say that, they have never been loved by a dog. I feel sorry that you have never had that relationship and you have missed a great deal. I will tell you, it is wonderful.
Just my way of thinking. Happy New Year. Give your dog a hug, you might be surprised in what you get in return. Ken