Sunday

Autumn Of His Life

“Buddy”…”Buddy”…”BUDDY”     I clapped my hands together and then I knew buddy was a little hard of hearing.  He turned and saw me and started to run toward me but not as fast as the others, but as fast as “HE” could and he came with his tail wagging from side to side.  Buddy is a border collie that is getting along in years and is 13 ½ years old.  When I first saw Buddy just a few days ago, I  noticed his clouded eyes and rough coat, but Buddy is still a proud border collie that has all the beauty of his breed.  He has come to stay with us for a few days along with his sister which is one of our pups that came into his world this summer thanks to Dutchess and Clancy. 

I was taken with Buddy for several reasons, first, because he was trying as hard as he could with all the determination of any border collie to do things. There were times when we went on a walk with “just the boys” and I had to help him get up and over things and even his owner said they had to help him with things that he once could do by himself, but he still tried.  I was also taken by his curiosity as we went for walks and noticed that even though his eyesight and hearing seemed to be failing, he would explore strange sounds, shapes and smells that we came upon but he still gave them a good going over and "what for" and even marked "his" territory.  His gate seemed unsure but steady and determined with a mindset of where he wanted to go.  Yesterday evening Buddy and I were walking next to the lake, he stood next to me for comfort and support and I reached down and rubbed his fur, it was warm to the touch as I felt the sun soaking his hair but knew it was good for his sore tired bones, I knew then, he was happy and it was a good day for both of us.  Buddy is a Prince of a dog.
Clancy and Buddy
This has set me to thinking about my own dogs and "this" fate that waits for them too.  You see just 13 short years ago, but a lifetime for Buddy, he was only 6 months old and getting into things and causing fun and trouble wherever he went just like any 6 month old pup would.  As he grew and matured, I can only imagine the tennis balls and Frisbees that he has played with and the many times his shinny black fur flowed in the wind as he ran, but now his coat is a little dull, his teeth are a little bad and he stumbles a little but in his mind he is still 6 months old and just as proud.  He has had a good life and taught many lessons to many people if they would just watch and listen and I’m sure he has made a difference in many people’s lives, but you have to wonder why he would make a difference in mine, yes Buddy you did, what a Prince of a dog…and for just for a second, I saw a little of you in Clancy, but I also saw a little of Clancy in you too.

Knowing Buddy is a border collie, I know in my heart he has had a full and active life full of things that all border collies like to do.  Buddy, it's OK to take more naps and sleep as much as you want.  It's time to rest and enjoy your life in your Autumn years.  I know it's hard not to play because it hurts and you fall, but as you sleep, dream of the times you did run and your shinny black fur would blow in the wind, your ears pined back, just because you could.  Remember, you still have one more job to do, in due time and that's to meet someone at the bridge when it's their time too, and again you will be back to your youth able to run, jump and spin just like you love to do.  Rest well Old Friend, you deserve it...Your most important job is yet to come...

Before you know it, your best friend has gotten old.  Cherish them now...  I am so amazed at the things I learn from the dogs that visit Dogwood Ridge and my own, we just need to watch and listen...they're trying to teach us...

Autumn by Christy Caballero

What do we do when our loving pets face the last leg of the race? We do all we

can to help them finish well, of course. We take time to read the unspoken needs

of the friends we've come to know so well.

We give the simple reassurance of a loving touch when the old boy seems

confused for no reason.

We groom them faithfully, but more gently, as age brings muscle wasting,

and the arthritic bones aren't so well padded.

We learn to slow down for their sake, as they enjoy the scent of the wind,

or track a visitors trail across their yard.

We watch for pain and treat it, watch for changes in vision and hearing and do

what we can to help preserve those precious senses for as long as possible.

We take care of their teeth, and make sure their food is a manageable texture for them.

We remind them of the need for a potty walk when they seem to forget.

We remember the little rewards. We scratch the graying ears and tummy, and go

for car rides together. When the pet we love has an unexplained need for comfort,

we give it freely. When infirmities bring a sense of vulnerability, we become our old

guardian's protector.

We watch their deepest slumbers, when dreams take them running across long-forgotten

fields, and we remember those fields too. When they cannot stand alone, we lift them.

When their steps are uncertain, we steady them.

And if their health fails, it falls to us to make the choice that will gently put them to rest.

But until that is absolutely necessary, we pause to let the autumn sun warm our old friend's

bones. And we realize, autumn is not a bad time of year at all.

Old age is not a disease or a reason to give up. It is a stage of life that brings its own

changes. Autumn can be a beautiful time of harvest.

And, sometimes, the harvest is love.

Abbie-Dabby-Do



What a sweetheart, my little Dabby-do, or to most, Abbie.  She is the product of Molly Mae and Clancy and was born Abbigale Leigh in April, 2008.  She has been with for a number of years and is with us because she came back to us, but that’s OK because she is a big part of our dog family.  We are presently trying to keep Clancy away from the girls (if you know what I mean) and he has been with us inside the house most of the time with Abbie and Molly.  Elaine said last night that with all three, it is our little family, Molly the mom, Clancy the dad and of course Abbie-Dabby-Do, the child.  You can certainly tell Abbie is the offspring of the two of them because she acts like both of them in many ways. She is loving but stern when she needs to protect me or get the other dogs in shape but she does pick her battles very carefully because she is the smallest.
Yesterday, while everyone was busy, Abbie and I went to the hot tub and relaxed a little.  Abbie has a routine, she will get on the corner and just watch me and every move I make, but that changed just a little.  While sitting and watching from her perch, she spied a tennis ball and jumped down and got it. She wanted to play, but didn’t know what to do with the ball.  As she was standing on her hind feet with the ball in her mouth looking at me in the water, I said “drop it” and she did.  I was a little surprised because we have never taught her that command, but she did.  I threw it again and again from the hot tub and she caught it and came to me, everytime doing what I wanted and for a brief moment I said to myself “can she understand me?”  I thought about it for a few minutes and thought about all the times I talk to my dogs and they seem to know what I wanted.  Are they smarter than we think?  Probably so, how many times do they do things to make our day a little better or seem to know what we need at that very moment.  I can think of a few times that they were right by my side and at just the right time that I needed them.  I know there have been many studies done and they say they can border collies can learn over 3000 words, I just hope she didn’t hear all the words that I have said at times.

Billy Graham once said "Heaven is the place of final and complete happiness, God has prepared for us - and if animals are necessary to make us happy in heaven, then you can be sure God will have them there." It is a reality that we will “all” cross over that bridge one day and if what Dr Graham said is true, then what a day that will be. I can just see it, First Clancy will meet me along with Molly, our first dogs, then Dutchess and Meg along with Abbie, Annie and even little Gabby, all running and turning circles, barking and jumping ,wanting their time with me.  Next to show up would be a special visit from Shepp and even Max our very first Border Collie who is responsible for starting our love for the BC breed.  They would take me to the places that they liked to visit but then we would all go to an open field with a lake much like ours here at the farm. What a beautiful place it would be, just like home, and the old days when we were healthy and happy and strong, but this would be heaven and everything would be right and good. After standing and looking at each other for a few minutes,
Dutchess would turn to me and in her own voice would speak.  I heard her but could not believe my ears. I was dumbfounded, I could not believe it, my mind went blank for a moment, I said “What, What did you say” And again with her mouth and her lips moving, she looked at me and with much fortitude, she said it again and then again just to make sure I heard her…”Did you bring the Jolly Ball?”…only Dutchess, My Beloved companion…

What would your dog say to you...
Max, our first...

Gabby


Dear Mr. Ken,
I was so happy when we went to the airport in July of 2011 to pick up my new dog Gabby. We couldn't wait to take her to our farm to meet all the other animals we had, including two other border collies. She has always been the sweetest dog I ever had.
 She used to just watch our bigger border collie, Gus, and I could tell she was learning so much from him at the farm. In October of that same year, my family and I decided to move to Indianapolis for my dad's work. It was very tough for me because I had to leave my horses, my barn cats, and my chickens all behind.
But we brought Gabby, Meg, and two of my favorite barn cats. We wanted to keep Gabby with us and were able to get a house that had plenty of space for her to run. After we had moved here, I loved going outside and playing with her in our new yard, and she was my best friend during this time. As time went by, our other dog Meg was getting very anxious to be around other livestock again, so we had to do what was right for her and found her a new home on a sheep farm. We kept Gabby for a couple of months but could see that she needed more of a social life with other border collies to run and play with. We knew it would be hard to find a new home for her that we would be comfortable with, but we started looking. That is when we found you. The night before we drove to your place to see if it would be a good home for Gabby, I cried a lot and asked if we could keep her. We decided that we would come see you and try to make a decision from there. We were so happy when we got to your place to see her immediately happy and running with the other border collies. She seemed to love the pond, the porch, and even your couch.
Gracie and Gabby
I am sad in my heart to not see her in my backyard but am happy to know she is now in your care. I can't wait to come see her again soon. Thank you for loving her as much as I do.
Gracie

Dear Gracie,
What a wise little person you are and to be so young. You have made a very important and wise decision that most adults cannot make. Last week when you arrived with Gabby and your parents at our farm, my heart skipped a beat. She is beautiful, and she seemed to fit right in with my dogs. You have done a wonderful job training her and making her a sweet and loving dog. I will tell you, most dogs don’t always know to be nice, it’s something that usually rubs off from their owner, and with Gabby, it truly has. You can take comfort in knowing that Gabby has been in the house and sleeps with us every night and she loves to cuddle. Every day, she runs with the big dogs and Meg has taken her under her wing, maybe because they are so close in color.
I am pleased you found us too. Sometimes, things have a way of working out, and we may never understand it, and I think it has with Gabby too. I know you are sad and I really do understand, you see, I had to give up my little “Shepp” a few years ago for almost the same reason, he needs something I couldn’t give him, and now he has it and is very happy. Maybe you found me because God knew I was sad, and someday there may be a new “Gabby” in your life too. Thank you so much for making a hard decision, and know it’s OK to cry because you're sad, and just between us, I still cry and miss Shepp too. They both will always live in our heart, and all we have to do is close our eyes, and they're here with us. Gabby will always remember you, and I know your parents will bring you to see her, and she will be so excited when you arrive, and until then I will give her a hug and kiss for you as she goes to sleep in our arms every night, Thank You...You're a very special little girl.

Your Friend,
Mr. Ken

Note:  I have always said that we will not get or keep another dog, but something just felt right about this and with Gabby.  Who knows maybe, this decision was made long ago when my little Shepp left....
Things have a way of working out, not in our timeline, but his....
This is the last photo I took of Shepp, he left us, about an hour after this.......


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Monday

A Busy Week

Wow, what a busy week, we had a few dogs that boarded with us and Maddie along with my son and daughter-in-law came up for the weekend. The weather was perfect and high spirits were all around. Maddie is getting along and doing so well, she is growing like a weed talking in sentences. One thing we have always liked to do is go to Nashville Indiana and go shopping, so off we went with credit cards in hand.
But the second highlight was going to the Columbus Scottish Festival. We have done this for years and it always has been a joy to see all the activities. We usually take a couple of our dogs and let them experience the activities too. This year it was Clancy and Meg. Both were a little stressed at first and Clancy was always on guard for something that needed correcting. This year we met up with one of our dog owners that have a working dog along with a new pup of ours. Nellie is a working dog that works sheep a few hours from us and she is the light of everyone’s eye along with her little sister Ruby

The bagpipes were wonderful and played many of my favorites such Amazing Grace and Scotland the Brave.  It it truly amazing to watch the people play and I have been told, this is a very hard musical instrument to work with, but these men and women did a wonderful job.
Nellie and Ruby watching the sheep,  Nellie was wanting to get out and show her talents so much, she could not hardly contain herself.
Meg, Clancy and Ruby and not seeing anything else, but the sheep.
There were about 140 dogs that competing in five different classes and the handlers are competing for prize money and for qualification points for the USBCHA National Finals.  It was a wonderful day and we all enjoy watching the dogs work and do the things they are bred to do.  Who knows someday we might just get sheep, Clancy's great grandfather was the 2004 International Supreme Champion.  If you have never attended one of these events, I suggest you do, it will truly amaze you what the dogs and handlers can do and maybe next year, we'll can watch you.... 

Sunday

No Place Like Home, Part 2




'Mid pleasures and palaces though we may roam,
Be it ever so humble, there 's no place like home;
A charm from the skies seems to hallow us there,
Which sought through the world is ne'er met with elsewhere.

JOHN HOWARD PAYNE, Home, Sweet Home


As we were driving home from vacation and as we were getting close to the house, I called our house guest at home and told them we were about 30 minutes from arriving.  They said, “Do you want us to put the dogs up?” because they will rush to the car.   I thought for just a second and said “no, but thanks, we’ll see you soon” In my mind’s eye, I just wanted to sit in the driveway when we arrived and let them lick and jump on me, and they did.  It was a joyous occurrence. Jumps, spins and barks were everywhere to be seen when we arrived and even the guest dogs Hope, Sofe and Gunny joined in too which made it even better.  The prodigal parents have come home and even Dutchess was in on the act. Mad no more because she didn’t get to go, but, all is forgiven.  After the hugs and licks, they wanted to play ball but what the dogs didn’t tell me was they were playing ball before we got there only to want to play even more.  What we didn’t actually count on was getting wet and dirty because they had been in the lake too, but we welcomed it and it was glorious. All is at peace, Mom and Dad are home…

I do want to mention our house guest and friends that devoted part of their vacation to watching our dogs, Daniel and Chrystal Tingley along with their dogs, Hope, Sofe and Gunny.  All three dogs are products of our dogs and are always welcome.  Daniel and Chrystal have been a wonderful part of our family and will bring their dogs over for a play day often which we always look forward to.

On the first full day of vacation, I got the “phone call” from home.  Of course, you panic because you, or at least “I” think the worst.  As it turned out the electricity was out and I was sure I had paid the bill, but it turned out, a transformer had blown out and the power returned several hours later.  Christal and Daniel did a wonderful job for us and the dogs love them so.  I had all the confidence in both of them and knew they would do a great job, which they did, Thank you for taking care of our babies.

Just like a new parent, I wanted to call everyday but it was $1.99 a minute from the ship so I didn’t.  At one point, from Freeport, I found a hotspot Internet connection from a little dive just off the ship and got a connection.  I checked my email first and then Facebook just to see if there was a problem.  The only thing I found were photos from Chrystal on Facebook of MY dogs having fun without me.  They looked so happy and seemed to be having a ball.  Chrystal is a wonder photographer and I enjoy her work and the flair she puts into the shots, they were wonderful. All in all I think it worked out for both of us, and it is always nice to see Hope, Sofe and Gunny when Chrystal and Daniel go on vacation, and it was nice for them to see our dogs when we’re not here too, just to see a different side, which they did.  You learn a lot about the dogs when the dog human parents are not around.

Daniel and Chrystal ask if they could fish while we were here.  I didn’t know how they would do, but I never mind.  I don’t fish, but as we were going through Chrystal’s photos, Daniel had caught quite a few 16 to 18 inch largemouth bass and just as many 10 to 12 inch ones too and I know the size was right because he had a ruler next to the fish in the photo.  He also caught many channel cats and blue gills, but the strange thing, the large lake had never been stocked; only transferred from fishing the small lake, 40 to fifty fish at best.  To my knowledge, only one 3 inch bass was ever transferred.  I was more shocked than Daniel, but was glad he had good luck.  Chrystal even had a few break her line.

After everyone settled in, there were hugs for everyone.  At one point, each dog took turns getting as close as they could as we sat on the couch.  Even today, they just hovered around us and want to at least be in touching distance, which we do.  At one point, Abbie found a ball and brought it to me while I was sitting in the recliner.  With all six dogs inside, it is usually difficult to do this, but I found a way.  With all six staring at me with saucer eyes and hanging tongues, I found a way.  As I called their name, it was their time to catch the ball which they did and the only snafu was if they missed it or the ball took a bad bounce, then it was game on…Dutchess still had her grass skirt on...Mom & Dad are home, all it at peace, for now... Ken

Check out Chrystal's "Tingley's Tails" for photos

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