A letter I got…

“Melody referred me to you. We found a border collie in an abandoned area and brought him home a few weeks ago, and we have tried everything to find out who he belongs to. The animal control gentlemen said where He was found is a hot spot for dumping animals. He was pretty skinny. You could feel his backbones and tail bones. He seems to get along great with other dogs and just wants to be petted, loved, and played with all the time. He gets along with our 3 dogs great. Our 3rd dog is a male and doesn't like him for being a male, but this dog still tries to win him over. We were told by Melody you have a rescue that would take amazing care of him. We don't want him to end up on the streets again and want him to have a great home. Here he has to be separated because of my boyfriend's male Labrador. We also worry, because we live off a road that is 55mph and he will try to run around to check everything out, and we're scared he'll get hit. From what Melody said, you are located in Indiana. If you are able to take him, I will do my best to figure out a way to get him up there. We just really want him to have a great home where he can run around and have so much love.  Thanks”

 We got this message last week, and at first, I check our foster rescues homes to see what is available because we are full and it might not work.  Lucky, our rescue dogs are scheduled to go home to their new homes as soon as we can coordinate their transportation, and this might work. 

Sadly this is not the first letter we received that has similar wording.  Scared, fearful, hurt, cold infected and even euthanasia are words that are common in the correspondences we see.  Always fearful of what we may get into, not of the dog but because of “what will we do if we can’t find a home” is always lurking in the shadow.  The last time it was mentioned, a friend of our organization that has a large rescue organization has 17 Border Collies that are unadoptable and live on their farm, and with my 9 dogs, it would make it challenging to keep others.
Just when you feel the concern running through your mind, you get that email or call.  “We lost our Border Collie and are looking for another.”  After explaining what and where we are at, including our current situation, they are interested if everything works out.  This has happened many times, and I have even written several blogs about the “miracles” that have happened.

When Elaine got home and “the dog with no name” jumped out, I was shocked… She had prepared a pallet in the back for him to ride comfortably on but when she pulled up to the garage, he was riding in the front seat and smiling.  I ask how he did she responded “beautifully”  He wanted to be near her, pawing her arm and trying to get as close to her as possible.  He was starved for love and attention and just wanted a normal life as we all do.

Last night, we headed out to the trails in our woods to walk off any urges that they may need to take to get ready for bed.  We had a full moon, and it was spiritual to see the splendor of the Creator in all of his glory.   As “the dog with no name” went with us, his tail was wagging, and his coat was shining in the moonlight and was happy.  He literally would prance and jump with joy, as he ran with the other dogs.  He was happy and safe and had a home even if it is temporary with a bed waiting for him that very night and no more abandonment, hunger or cold.  In the weeks he was abandoned, where did he get his food, water and where did he sleep, God knows and the very sad part, there was a second dog that would not come close to his saviors after many attempts and has vanished, hopefully, he's safe.

The postscript to this story is a potential new family that lost their Border Collie several weeks ago is traveling today to meet “the dog with no name, ” and a match in heaven may be made.  This morning I got up to this message from the savior who helped him find his salvation… and I'm sure he will have a name soon.

“Aww, I'm so glad he made it there. Did he do good on the car ride? I know he was whining a little bit when I put him in your wife's car. I felt bad because we had kind of gotten a little attached to him in the 3wks. But we also know he will have a better happier future where he's never abandoned again.”  
Thank you, Ashley and Melody, you saved another…   Ken

The things that are normal around here…

Over the years, I have obtained a new vocabulary in sayings that I picked up since I have dogs.  Just like a parent that learns and says new phrases when they get children.  It’s not typically something you may say until you have kids or dogs.  Some can be the same, but some are entirely different.

“ Don’t get a cookie”  you might tell your child and something you tell your dog is usually the same.  “Get off the cabinet” or “Get off the table.”  It's something that is said here at the farm on a regular basis.  

Just yesterday, I was upstairs and heard that tell-tell nose that all dog owners can pick up.  I was typing on this blog when I heard the rustling of plastic.  In the short time it took me to run down the stairs, an empty plastic bag was on the floor, and every homemade dog biscuit was gone.  Three dogs were within 10 feet of it and just wanting to know, I smelled their breath hoping to discover “who” was the culprit was.  No luck…

“Don’t eat that.” or “don’t roll in that” is a common occurrence here at the farm too.  We spend thousands of dollars on the best food that can be bought and they turn their nose up at it.  But what do they eat?  

How many times have we seen them eat mulch, sticks, rocks, deer-duck-rabbit or sheep poop?  It’s like candy to dogs.  We give them the best, and they treat us to the smelly breath of their favorite poop, what a treat for us.  Once, Clancy came to the back porch with a gift for everyone.  Don’t know how it happened or want to know but he came prancing up the lane with the hind leg of a deer, and everyone was excited but me.  Go figure…  

“Don’t stand there” is something I say a lot.  As you try to sleep, they will get into bed and make themselves comfortable laying on top of me.  I just wonder what they would do if while they are in their dog bed, I decided to get on top of them or scoot them off and take their place, they probably wouldn't care.  

While I do enjoy the closeness of a dog sleeping with me, I also do enjoy my space.  Once, for whatever reason, most of them wanted to be near me and I was being smothered.  At 3 am, I got up from the bed and went to the couch where they could be close, but I would have some breathing room.  I still had a dog on my lap, but I could at least breath.

This is said every day… “I don’t need you to help me poop.”  Dogs are fascinating creatures, and they love smelly things.  I know they want to be near us but really, can’t I go to the bathroom by myself and at times I need a little privacy.  As soon as I enter the room, here they come and stand in a semi-circle, ears perked up and prancing around.  Some have even stood in my underwear.  It’s like they never seen this before and they will watch with such intense and bewilderment.  They poop, it’s natural, but I try to give them lots of privacy, I don’t even shine the light on them if it’s at night.  One of our dogs is very private, and I have only seen them go to the bathroom twice, and they were at a distance.  I guess I should have run toward them and said, “what are you doing, need some help?”

You can brush them, take care of their teeth, wash them and ever put bows in their ears on some dogs.  But the best thing they can do to pleasure themselves is to roll in a fresh stinky pile of critter crap.  I can see them and even smell them 100 feet away, and it’s usually after a bath or brushing.
As I said, dogs are fascinating.  In some of the things they do, I will never understand, but at times I have to step back and wonder, “where does that come from.”  Ken

A very difficult week…

A day late with the blog and I will tell you, I am exhausted.  It has been both a mental and physically exhausting week.  As fall quickly approached and the choirs are piling up, I was running out of time and know not everything would get done.  At the first of the week and as I do each year, I will populate some of our forest with maple trees.  Brown County Indiana is known for the fall colors that are produced throughout the fall by the many colors of the fall tree foliage. 

When we first built the house, we planted many varieties of maple trees for that very reason.  As time has moved on, the trees have grown, and in the spring they send out seed pods.  After sprouting and leaving the saplings alone for a few years letting them get a few feet tall, I will move them to various parts of the forest to produce even more trees on their own with lots of fall color.  The falls rains have been pretty severe this year throwing me behind schedule, but we are making progress.  We have had visitors at the farm along with planting new grass and cleaning gutters, but we will manage. 

Clancy’s Dream has been overwhelming with paperwork and meetings, and at times I will be at my desk for eight to ten hours with paperwork and phone calls.  If it weren't for Leah Lamb, we would never make it as she is a God Send for us, taking care of all the internet work and getting us on Amazon along with working on several other sights promoting Clancy’s Dream.
With everything going on, as most know, we took Gabby to the vet for what we thought was a simple removal of a fatty tumor.  The news was devastating when we found out it was cancer.  With all of this going on, I purchased a new computer for the foundation and have had nothing but trouble with it.  After many three to four hour conversation with Dell and replacing the week-old hard drive, it has been determined that it needs to go back to Dell for repair and it’s only one week old, always something…

With all of this going on, and while in my safe zone in my recliner Sunday evening, I saw Gabby across the room staring at me.  She looked so pitiful with her bandage, and I sensed she needed me.  I only had to tap my armrest, and she came running to me and dove into my lap.  In just a few seconds, Abbie also joined me in the recliner and curled up right next to me.  What I see is two sets of eyes looking so intensely at me and soothing my mind from all the activity racing through my head and in an instant, all is good in the world. 

Two dogs with cancer are at peace without a worry in the world and are living the dream, and at times I wish I could be like them.  No problems, live and love to have fun, play and eat, sleeping well and running hard and enjoying a good nap many times during the day.  All of which I need to do.  I can’t begin to tell you how they all improve my life just by wanting me but what no one knows, is that I need them when my life is upside down…   Ken

Dog doors and stuff...

I don’t know about you, but with the weather is getting cold, I worry about the dogs when they are outside.  I always think they are just as chilled as I am and still fret about them.  The one time I worry about them is when they get into the icy water to get a drink.  Mine are notorious for getting into the lake and drinking, not standing with both feet on solid ground but always getting in the water for a drink of water.  
Even Molly gets into the water to drink
Several times in the winter after they got out, the water on their fur would freeze, but they never seemed to mind.  Now if you give them a bath and the water isn’t warm, they raise a fuss, go figure.

I installed dog doors in the garage and the utility room door that leads into the house.  This fall will be the first time that they have an opportunity to use them.  They are so used to zooming out the back door, some still have the need to make a race out of it barking and nipping each other as they run out to the driveway which is a calamity, to say the least.

Dutchess leading the charge
Some may remember a dog house I made for Doc several years ago.  It was very sturdy and looked pretty sweet.  I worked on it for about 3 weeks, and it had an all-weather dog door on it and was thoroughly insulated and warm, what more could a dog want.  I soon found out. 

Dutchess Helping
Never used
Everyone helped me with the doghouse, and when it came together, we all rejoiced.  The unfortunate part, Doc never went inside it, he always laid on his dog bed that was outside.  I did get a bed that plugged in that had a built-in heater, he did like that, but the dog house was out of the question, never to be used.  I would sell it, but someone would need a forklift to move it, it’s cumbersome and very heavy.

After I installed a dog door to the attached garage door and then one to the utility room, it was open season.  Once they traveled the "tunnel of happiness," it was an open door policy to the Shuck house.   All in all, it has been a very good experience for the dogs.  They get to come and go without any problems, and I get no quiet time.  I want them to be able to have the comforts of home but also do the necessary things that need to be done.  Not every dog will wear the hinges off the dog-doors as like Abbie.  She will want to stay outside and survey her domain but the others love the house.  Because Abbie likes to lay near the outside porch steps, I will move a dog bed to where she is so she will be comfortable.  
Probably looking at the dog door
Just this morning before posting this, after Doc got off "my" bed, I let him out the sliding door.  As I turned around, standing to meet me was Doc after going through the two dog doors and returning.  "Really," I said.  "No way you did your business" and back out he went.  Thank God for a cover that blocks the entrance.  He loves the inside...   The things we do. Ken

It’s 3:30 am…

It’s 3:30 am and do you know where your Border Collie is?  As a matter of fact, I do.  Elaine was in Louisville helping her dad with some Doctor appointments for a few days, and I was tending to the house and all the chores which have its ups and downs.  First off, the good part is you can leave the toilet lid up which also may help if the dog’s water bowl is empty.  

You can watch what you want on TV, eat what you like and, when you want to.  Sounds like a sweet deal.   The bad part is if you run out of toilet paper, there is no more.  If you run out of dishes, no one will wash them, and no one will fix my drink if I have a dog in my lap.  Life can be tough, and it was.

Related image

After staying up and watching the Discovery channel (no Hallmark channel tonight) at about 1:15 am, I was tired and ready for bed.  Usually, Elaine will take her group of dogs with her to her bedroom, and I will keep my team with me which works out nice, not too many dogs for any bedroom.  But Thursday night was a little different because they all stayed with me.  My area is a little unique because it’s our finished family room with a full bath and kitchenette and 2 sitting areas along with a king size bed.  I call it my apartment “B” and I love it, but we were crowded with Elaine gone and I had all of the dogs.

Everyone was happy, dogs everywhere with some on the floor and some on the bed.  Doc was outside because he likes to sleep in his dog bed when it’s not cold, all was at peace.  Just when I was dropping off to my deep sleep, Abbie suddenly jumped on the bed near my head.  She was more loving than usual, rubbing her head on my neck, laying down and staying close to me seeking attention.  In just a few minutes, she changed places and turned around a couple of times and laid her head on my back this time.  I was exhausted and didn’t mind too much.  It was loving, and I enjoyed her company.  This went on for 20 minutes, and I said “you really are affectionate tonight" as were several of the dogs.  Earlier Molly had climbed onto the bed and was working up between Annie and Gabby which is unusual, but nice.  Several dogs were walking on the wood floor, and I could hear them but thought nothing about it but wondered was going on.

With just a hint of sound I heard, I opened my eyes wondering what it was and then saw the problem… Lightning was flashing along with some very distant thunder, nothing terrible but they could tell.  Trying to calm them down was a chore because I had nearly every dog in bed wanting protection.  Everyone scooted closer smothering me, and it was time to get up and go to the recliner, the bed wasn't going to work.  While I was up, might as well take the dogs out to potty.  Doc was at the back door and came in, I felt sorry for him, what's another dog?   It got a little worse outside, and Shepp started going into the zone, so upstairs we went to get his “storm medication, ” but the only problem, it needs to be given one hour before and storm…ugh…  The storm lasted only 30 minutes or so, and I was wide awake, so I leaned back and attempted to get some sleep.  Nothing worked, and I was wide awake. I went to the cupboard and got a half bottle of Jack Daniels and supposed a night-time toddy would be in order.  

After watching TV and getting interested in something and having the rest of the JD, it was snack time at nearly 4:30 and Cheerios were in order.  After a large bowl with some almonds making it was a healthy snack, I was getting sleepy.  If I went to bed at that very moment, I would have two hours of sleep, seems like enough I thought.  Morning came with a vengeance in a very short time.  I awoke to dishes everywhere, an empty bottle and two dog messes to clean up which is very very unusual, must have been the Cheerios or Karma.  The lighting and thunder were gone except in my head.  Everyone was safe, but there was still no toilet paper on the dispenser.   What a night…   Ken  

You may never know…

“Elaine …  ELAINE … ELAAAAAINE … “WHAT,” she said in a panicked voice from upstares, knowing something was wrong.  “Can you come here?” I ask.  As she made her way to the family room in a hurried pace, I had two visitors in my lap.  Oden and Guiennis were stretched out, one facing one way and one the opposite, sound asleep and in doggie dreamland.  “What's the matter,” she quickly asked.  “Can you get me something to drink?” I said and looked at the dogs and looked back at her saying “they're comfortable.”  Smiling back at me, “I understand” and off she went to get me something.  I will tell you that I pushed that a little when I wanted another and asked again while holding my empty glass in the air but she helped out but not without a small scowl.

The life of a dog rescuer can take on many faces.  You are a hero on the one hand and a villain at times when you can’t help, or it is impossible.  Many don’t understand what we do or how we do it because they just see the surface and think we can do everything.  Oh, how I wish we could wave a magic wand and fix all the problems with all the dogs.  It’s usually not the dog’s problem, it comes with the surroundings or settings in the past home.  All in all, we have had great success trying to get them back where they need to be.

 Sometimes things are pretty hectic with dogs being introduced into the pack of a rescuer but they nearly always work out, and everyone gets on track.  The one thing most don’t know is the attachment you get with the dog you’re taking care of.  Nearly every foster we have used has adopted one of Clancy’s Dream’s dogs, becoming a foster failure.  You learn all the tricks they know, including counter suffering, or ball playing.  It’s always fun to see them come out of their shell blooming into a loving creature.

At times, rescuer’s are apprehensive about getting a new dog to care for and then, you fall for them, love them and see their loving heart that at times was buried deep down somewhere in their soul.  It’s always a great day when the right family is found, but the downside for anyone who took care of a dog is the small part of their heart that leaves with them.  Most times, Elaine wanted to keep the dogs that came through Clancy's Dream because they were unique.

The one thing no one ever sees is the heartache you get when they do go to their new home after you fall in love with them.  You keep saying they will be OK but always wonder.  Just several weeks ago, an exceptional dog came into one of our fosters that was sick.  Everything was done, and every attempt to fix the problem was made, and after many weeks, the dog died.   A separate cremation was arranged, and the ashes were transported to the farm where we had a ceremony that was private along with our dogs, and the sweet soul was laid to rest in the folds of the farmstead and around Clancy.

Noone knows what we all go through to help dogs in need.  The ups and downs, the love and the pain, but without the help of many people, it wouldn’t be possible.  The sad part, there is always more to follow, but we’ll do what we can.  We love them like they are our own, sleeping in our bed and running and playing with our dogs.  As I write this a 16-month-old purebred BC has his paws on my chair waiting for me to play ball with him, which I will until he goes to his new home very very soon.  I will miss him as I do with all of them and each has take a part of my soul.  Ken

A Beautiful Day…

Early Thursday morning of this week. I walked down the driveway toward the end of our lane to get the mail.  As usual, I veered to Clancy’s gravesite for a visit and I stood there soaking in the early sunlight and the cool breeze and reflected on the events of the past week and the things to come in the near future.  As always the windchimes were talking, and life was good.  I pondered for a moment and soaked everything in and felt good and in an audible voice as if I was speaking to someone, I said “it’s a beautiful day,”  and it was.

A friend of ours was coming over to our house and dog-sit for the day because we were heading out with friends.  When she arrived, bad news came with her.  She and her Veterinarian were treating Sapphi, her dog for an aggressive form of cancer. 

Sapphi is one of her beloved Austrian Shepherds, and just a few days ago, I saw her, and she was doing good, but since then, things went south... very fast.  As soon as our friend got out of her car, she said: “it’s time, the Vet is on the way.”  “Sapphi” had just an hour or so to walk this earth as she did many times before.  She smelled the last fragrances of the things she loved and rolled in the leaves, getting ready for her next venture.  While walking with her owner they walked the trails on the farm and said their goodbyes along with cuddles and kisses and all had a peaceful and treasured day to be remembered. 

When the Veterinarian arrived, arrangements were made, and Sapphi and her owner went to a spot that comforts all of us in times of need and reflection.  Her burial cloth was laid down, and her owner and Sapphi sat on top of Clancy’s grave where Sapphi rested in the arms of her beloved owner and closed her sweet eyes and went to sleep.  A moving moment for all and for anyone who has traveled this road.  Smokey her true brother and littermate was always nearby, and when the owner was weeping as we all do, he went to her and kisses and consolidated her telling her in his own way “all is ok, ” and it was.  It was time, and we all have been here if we have pets.

As we all sat and stood by and waited for her transition to her other life a slight wind blew, and the sun was shining through the open canopy with the wind chimes singing as if we were being spoken to and I'm sure we were.  Sapphi was welcomed home by a Border Collie friend she had and knew from this farm, our Clancy and her human father, Mark.  After she was interned, we stood and knew the correct decision was made and how peaceful and delightful Sapphi life was and knew everything was right.  With the birds singing, chimes speaking and the wind blowing our friend spoke of the 16 years she shared with her beloved pet and said “this is a beautiful day, ” and it was.  Rest well Sapphi, know Smokey is OK and give our big boy a hug from us.

Sapphire and Smokey were littermates
Annie and Fi were also laid to rest here at the farm the same weekend.  Their ashes were buried and placed in the cherished area of the spirits of our dogs.  They all have a sacred place somewhere else that we don’t understand but someday will and until then we can sit together in the Adirondack Chairs and talk about the best dogs in the world...  It truly was a Beautiful Day…   Ken

I'm Right Here...

Saturday night let to some excitement here on the farm.  It wasn’t necessarily good, but it was exciting for the some of the dogs.  Although we have had great weather for the last three weeks, we have not had any rain and need it very bad.  This changed last night.  We have a walking barometer with Shepp, and it appears he can tell the change in atmospheric pressure before we see any changes.

 He will lay his ears back and start into space and go into what we call the “zone.”  I have seen many dogs with this same issue but not to the point of how it affects Shepp.  We have tried many things with little success or no success at all.  It included oils, thunder coats, quite rooms, holding/loving and even calming sprays.  It not new to him, and it has been this way since he came back from Florida.  This is the very reason that he came back to us as his owner said “there are thunderstorms every day”  and I can only imagine.  Shepp is one of the most loving dogs that we have.  He is gentle and friendly and easy to get along with but when a storm comes, watch out when his ears are pinned back.

While watching TV in the bedroom last night, I was laying on the bed getting some cuddles from Molly and Dahlia when a clap of thunder sounded.  All of a sudden, nearly every dog jumped from their dog bed into mine.  Molly scooted closer to me, Abbie came right to my side profusely licking my arm, Annie had “help me” eyes and nearly every dog came to me from somewhere in the house looking for safety. 

Elaine took Shepp down into the family room and comforted him by himself which did help him.  It’s bad enough that Shepp in miserable but when he is into the “zone.,” he gets destructive and will lash out at things such at doors or carpets.  Before the cruise, after much debate with his Vet, we decided to try a medication for anxiety hoping for good results.  Not only does he take something each day, but he also should take something at least an hour before anything appears.  This is hard because it’s sometimes difficult to know a storm is blowing into our region.  It's not just the thunder that affects him, it also just the rain.

Ironically I was talking to a Vet in Floride Wednesday night talking about a rescue dog we are getting at the end of the month.  This topic came up when I ask about the dog, and it turned to Shepp and his problems, and she gave me some advice and ideas that are new on the market including a ThunderCap which she has had some great luck with.

All in all, things worked out, and as much as I enjoyed the licks and snuggles, it reminded me that we all have weaknesses and need attention from each other.  Nearly every night, as I sit in my recliner, I am reminded how they comfort me in my struggles and keep me focused on the simple things in life that are really important and from a dog’s point of view, it’s pretty simple which gies both ways...   Ken

"In all my lives as a dog, here's what I've learned. Have fun, obviously. Whenever possible, find someone to save, and save them. Lick the ones you love. Don't get all sad-faced about what happened and scrunchy-faced about what could. Just be here now. Be... here... now."

- A Dog's Purpose 2017


Last day...

We had a busy evening last night on our cruise, and we hit the sack after midnight for the 6th time in a row.  The cruise director thinks of things to keep you busy and content if you want to, but at times, I just like to sit and watch.  Over the last 20 years, we have taken a ship to most places in the east and western Caribbean and even the Canadian coast and Alaska.  There are many memorable moments that I remembered and some I would like to forget.  Most were when you got wrapped up in the free drinks while out in the sun on a beach or traveling on a catamaran with your hair blowing in the breeze and the Bahama Mamas tasted like Kool-Aid on more than one occasion.

This trip was very relaxing in so much as I took to take a nap every day after pool time and lunch.  It wasn't a hard decision because the bed kept calling us and we always succumb to its invitation just like the “all you can eat” meals including all the soft serve ice cream you can get in a bowl along with walnuts and almonds.  No matter how full you are, this is the last thing you get as you exit one of the dining rooms or the 24-hour Pizzeria where the people know our name.

Elaine and I have traveled to all 50 states, all the provenances of Canada and nearly every tropical island in the Caribbean.  We’ve taken thousands of photos that are stuffed in some drawer somewhere in the house that our kids will probably pitch in the big Dempsey Dumpster when we’re gone, but the trips were fun. 

I did not bring a camera with me this trip because there are just so many photos that you can take of people and places.  As usual, if the kids ever look back on the photos before they toss them, they will wonder who Mom went with.  As God is my witness, I bet there are not two photos with me in them.  I always carried the camera and took shots of everyone else, and no one ever made any pictures of me.  Maybe there are some somewhere taken by an unknown person where I am in the background of their personal trip taking pictures of our family, but in a way, this is OK.

With the thousands of things I have done, you might be surprised at the things that are at the top of my “memory” list.  First, is the time that my son and daughter-in-law made the trip with us on one of our cruises.  One of the best parts of the voyage was the evenings we spent in our adjoining rooms on our balcony.  We would have coffee in the early mornings and at night watch the ocean and the waves and laugh into the wee hours of the morning.  One particular night, there was a storm a great distance from us, and the clouds and lighting seemed to be dancing and entertaining us with the lighting.  While it was calm and clear all around us, it was breathtaking to watch and ponder how small we are in the mighty, majestic realm of nature. 

Once we also saw a mystery when on a beach in Hawaii.  It also took place at sunset and was something I never heard about but told to watch for it.  As the sun would set on the horizon and as it got closer and closer to the water which in itself is beautiful but when the sky is clear, a green flash just above the sun's edge can be seen for a second or so when the sun touches the distant horizon. Green is the hue that is bent most, allowing an intensity of green immediately following sunset. The flash happens so quickly it is nearly impossible to catch the event on film.

Our trip ends in less than 12 hours.  Two of our rituals have and will happen today.  This morning I awoke at 5am and bounced out of bed, grabbed a pot of coffee and went to the top deck of the ship and found my spot where the wind was blowing, and I felt reckless with nature.  In just a short time, the horizon started to lighten.  There was a cloud cover that covered the lower part of the sky but ended, several hundred feet up and it was clear.  Puffy clouds abounded, and as the sun crept up, rays of gold, orange, yellow and white sprinted across the entire sky.  The colorless clouds started to take on a pink tinge, and the edges were as bright as gold.  In my mind, it was spiritual, and literally brought tears to my eyes.  I watched until the sun was up and felt like I had seen a miracle and in reality, I did.

Tonight before we turn in for our last evening, and as usual, we will visit the fantail of the ship with a bottle of Chardonnay and two glasses.  Under the stars along with the wind, we will sit and ponder life as we have many times.  We will talk about the things we love and tell stories and antidotes and speak of the things we enjoyed, and as usual, we will talk about our dogs and how much we missed them and how much we can't wait until we see them again.  The one thing I miss most is touching them and the way they smell except when they roll in poop.   Ken


Vacation Time...

As I sit at my computer in the middle of the ocean on a ship headed south; I can share my thoughts and feelings with the world, something I couldn’t do several years ago because of the lack of technology.  We have taken cruises for the last 20 years, and it is one of the best forms of vacations I like for several reasons.  The first is the beauty of the scenery all around us and many wonders of the ocean and foreign countries, but some things never change.  Secretly it’s a place where I can relax and do things that I can't do at home.  The first day and only being on the ship for a few hours I took a nap, and it was splendid.  You see, I have one of those minds that can’t and won’t shut off, but here I can because you make your itinerary and are forced to relax, which I like.

There is a curse to having nine dogs, and that is “what do you do with them when you leave?”  When we had a couple of dogs, it was a breeze to find loving homes for them to stay at but who would love to keep nine dogs with Dutchess entertaining everyone with her counter suffering and barking to play Frisbee.  She would change the dramatics of any home.

Abbie and Clancy on vacation in Michigan
We have taken Clancy and Abbie and even Meggie and Abbie with us at times, and it was pretty cool, but nine, we need a converted school bus.  The hard part is to get ready for a trip when we leave the country.  There are so many things to do, scheduling arrivals, getting food in for the dogs, ordering medication for Abbie and even ordering a case of pill pockets, from Amazon of course.   Two of our dogs went with our neighbor because of their activities, and their dogs love Frisbee too, Dutchess and Abbie will have a ball.  Dutchess has already presented her suffering skills, and this is the first time for Abbie.  Hopefully, they will do great, playing lots of Frisbee, and they will love it. 
Dash and Zena
We are blessed to have a couple from northern Indiana who has been coming to help us for the last five years.  They are Border Collie enthusiast and have two of their own which is very talented and loving.  The couple will do things to take care of the farm and dogs treating everything as their own.  I ask nothing but the care of the dogs, but the husband (Roy) is like me and can’t stay still and will fix everything in sight, including my tractor, rototiller and yesterday; I saw where he ordered parts to repair the compressor from an order he placed on my Amazon account.  This was something I ask if he knew anything about before I left and it looks like he will fix it before we get home.  Quite the couple and such great people and dog lovers.    
But everything stays the same with the dogs, you miss them and worry about them and miss them like crazy.  Our first-night last night, in the middle of the night, I wondered where Gabby was.  She sleeps on my bed on the pillow next to me and many times during the night, I will rub her head, and she will lick my ear.  She wasn't there.  We do miss them and wonder what they are doing.  Maybe we need to look at the big used school bus and convert it into a vacation vehicle for all of us…  Can you imagine us traveling across the USA?  I do wish I could take them.  Ken

PS    Thanks Roy and Taney and Doug and Sharon, you made it work...

The dogs would love it
From a Blog post over five years ago.   Some things change, some do not…

Well, here we are going on vacation, without the dogs.  When we go, It's a real dilemma to find someone that is reliable that we can trust with the dogs.  If you think it's hard to find a kennel or someone with one or two dogs, try it with all of ours.  Some people will run when you mention it, and if you board them at a kennel, then they are stuck in a small pin for two weeks while we're gone.  I have had a few success stories, and it has worked out great, but I have had some disasters too.  I once found women's clothing in my bed and a young man was staying here, and I don't want to even think about it.  Once when we got home, there was a phone message from a neighbor asking "Did you know your dogs are running in the road” I ran to the kennel just to check, they were all there, Whew...but it seemed that the dog's had a lot of free time in our absence.

As we were pulling away today, I turned to Elaine and said, "wonder what the dogs are doing."  We always look at each other, and a sign of panic comes across our faces, and then we snicker and say, "Oh, they're all right."  If you have ever left your dog or dogs, you do worry about them, because no one can watch or love them as much as you can.  Trust me; I feel your pain, I have been there.  Many times we have been on a cruise, and we were sitting on the fantail of the ship with a glass of wine, and one of us will look at the other and say "wonder what the dogs are doing” and then we will try to guess, and I'm sure we're never right.  There are so many things that will go through your mind.  You worry if they will eat, get hurt, get cranky with each other or "run in the road"  just don't let Dutchess see the women's clothing...she'll have them on...


Time with them...

As I was getting ready to go outside, 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 as happy as can be with a Frisbee in her mouth helping out.  

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 but I'm sure they will find them and bring them to me.  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 and 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 is 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.

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, 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 a 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, it was “her” special time.  That night Abbie followed me to bed when it was time.  As usual, she got in her spot near my head and laid down but this night, she scooted just a little closer putting her head on my pillow, licked my face.  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…  

Some of this I wrote several years ago and it holds so true.  Just this Sunday morning right before uploading this, I took Abbie and Dutchess out for a round of Frisbee.  Abbie knew what we were doing and when we got to the cabinet with all the toys, Dutchess caught on and grabbed a brand new Frisbee and off we went.  Afterwards, and while I was feeding them I took Shepp out and he was by himself and was in heaven.  Ken