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


“Walter, ”  was a funny little guy who has spent the last five years here at the farm and been a companion to Elaine.   He was the first and last thing she usually saw before she went to bed and in the morning and every day they would talk, with her doing most of the talking.  He would watch her as she talks just like me too.  I was never jealous of Walter because he was her friend and kept her company when I wasn’t around.  He had his meals when we did and gobbled it up, while she cleaned up the kitchen, he would be close to her.  Elaine even taught him tricks and patted him on the head which know dogs like too.

Last week, Walter got sick.  This was not the first time she nursed him through some difficulties.  She would treat him with antibiotics, and he always came through.  He fell ill again and just didn’t feel good, and while the antibiotics only seemed to fix him for a day or two, higher powers were sought through Google, and extra things were done.  Special food and water but Walter passed away Thursday night.

The first of this week, I was notified that the marker I had ordered several weeks ago for our pet graveyard was being made.  A larger black granite stone was ordered and had come in, and the engraving had started.  Soon it will be delivered and placed at the entrance of our revered ground for all to see and for the future residents of Dogwood Ridge.  When we decided where to bury Clancy, it was a location we had to decide on and make fast because of the urgency.   It turned out to be a perfect spot for several reasons.

The new marker
Why do we feel so lost when our pet dies?  According to personal experience and experts,  friends have guiltily confided to me that they grieved more desperately over the loss of their dog than over the loss of their relatives, I know I did.  Research has confirmed that for most people, the loss of a dog is in almost every way comparable to the loss of a human loved one. Unfortunately, there’s little in our cultural playbook, no grief rituals, no obituary in the local newspaper, no religious service to help us get through the loss of our pet.  Friends are afraid to say anything, and to some, it’s not a big deal because it was only a pet.  We are even uncomfortable which can make us feel more than a bit embarrassed to show grief over our loss.

Since Clancy had passed away over a year ago, his peaceful site has been a comfort to all, and it even explains to other who we are.  Just last night, we interviewed someone for one of our fosters, and they are to get their new Buddy today.  As we walked the long drive back to their car after our interview, I stopped and pointed to Clancy’s grave and said, “that’s where Clancy is.”  Everyone is always grateful but honored to see who started an incredible program knowing they and there new loveable dog will benefit from him and our loss. 

If you have ever been here at the farm, you saw Walter on the counter, he was Elaine’s goldfish.  He was placed in a tiny box and buried right on top of Clancy.  They were friends as he would watch Walter swim in circles and Clancy would love to sit and follow him with his eyes.  Some think this is silly, but when you have an overwhelming loss, you hold on to anything and everything.  Ken

Fall starts soon...

It's now is getting dark early but I realized that we are winding down this summer and it’s kinda sad.  We will soon turn our clocks backward for daylight saving time and in a way, it’s sad that the season is changing.  I love spring and summer except for the hot humid weather but it’s worth putting up with for the long pretty days and dry weather.  The only good part of winter that I like, I can take longer naps and don’t feel that I have “be on the move” the whole time.  There is nothing like a long nap in front of the TV with several dogs in my lap and a fire.  Every season has its perks but spring is best for me.  Spring and summer are always busy and packed full of adventures of play and fun and especially work which never stops and I'm sure my dogs suffer a bit and miss "our" time. 

I’m sure the dogs will appreciate more time with “big daddy” and in truth, I will to, I just don’t want to deal with the mud from the fall rains.  Frozen ground is good but lots of rain and mud is brutal to everyone and then the nap time with dad is out until they are clean, something they never think about, just running and playing for the moment and as much as they think, I wish they would think about that.

Cold winters seem to bring the best out, I put on my sub zero coat and insulated boots and off we go on long walks several times a day around the lake and down the long trails.  In the evenings, Dutchess will park herself in front of the TV just to watch the local weatherman and when the word “snow” comes on, a loud bark follows from her with eager ears and a spring in her step.  I will tell you, around here snow is great.  The deeper the better and as long as it last, there is joy is in the air.

The one thing I won't miss at ALL is as we travel through the woods, there is a certain kind of spider that will spin its web across a trail that seems to go on for 10's of feet and it's always at face lever.  At night it's nothing to be hit be at least eight or ten of them o our walks.  I have started carrying a stick in front of me just to knock the ones down that I don't see.  They are never at dog level.  I often wonder if they are trying to catch a person?

So here we wrapping down another year, I just wonder what it will bring.  Hopefully no mud, no work and lots of time to relax before we start over again but I'm sure there will always be lots of work.  Ken

Abbie Dabbie Doo...

Abbie Dabbie Doo
What to say… it’s been nearly two years since Abbie was diagnosed with Lymphoma and was given weeks or months to live at best  I remember that day so well, and it is etched in my mind forever.

 “This past Tuesday, I made a trip to Louisville with Abbie.  The road trip only lasted for part of the day, the mental journey will last my lifetime.  Abbie has inoperable cancer and is dying of lymphoma.  Everything was confirmed at the Oncologist’s office in Louisville from a complete exam along with many tests, and it can affect any dog at any age… During the entire trip in the car to and from Louisville, she sat and watched me with her big black eyes and would paw at my arm as a signal for me to touch her which I did.  Even at the Oncologist’s office, she jumped in my lap and peacefully slept as I stroked her face.  In my blog last week, I talked about my walk with Abbie in the early morning hours but what I left out was that I cried like a child most of the time.  She stayed by my side wondering what was wrong, trying to fix me in her own way, little did she know, I was trying to fix her but I can't.”

For those that didn’t follow our travels, she had stage 4 cancer, and we needed to make a decision of what our next step was.  Two choices, the first was to do nothing and let it progress knowing she would die within weeks, months at best.  Second, we would put her on a weekly Chemo therapy IV for nearly 4 months.  We chose the second.  It was expensive, time-consuming and very hard on her along with a reaction to her veins in her legs.  

A coat made especially for her from a dear friend in New York
She had a treatment this day and wanted to play ball.

Her socks, sometimes they were on both legs.
I had to drop her off for her treatment, and she got to where she didn’t want to get into the car and neither did I.  She would sit on my lap in the office until they were ready for her.  She knew what was going on and when the door opened, and they looked at me, she seemed to get a tighter grip on me but knew it was time.  After she jumped off my lap, she would look back at me with her large brown/black eyes and one at the door, she always stopped and paused looking for help, and there was none, and that part killed me.  If only I could go back with her but couldn’t, I felt helpless.

When you start Chemo, it’s never sure of anything or results are not guaranteed, but we tried.  After a few treatments, her veins in her legs began to have problems, and she lost her hair on her legs, and it scabbed over requiring homemade socks to keep her from licking which seemed to work.   At the end of 13 weeks, she went into remission, and we said “no more.” 

After we decided that we were done, it was February, and I just wanted her to live for one summer so she could swim and jump in the water one more season or at least part of one, I wanted her to have one last fling.

Abbie with the Frisbee...
Abbie going after a Frisbee...
Abbie is the most active dog I have ever seen.  She can be in a dead sleep, and the word play will arise, and she is up in a gallop looking for something, anything, to carry running toward the lake at full speed with everyone following.

It has been 18 months since her last Chemo IV treatment, and she is as good as ever.  She seems healthy, happy and still herself.  She sticks at close to me like Velcro and will not let me out of her site, and if she is laying on the floor at my feet and any other dogs get close, she hops in my lap and snuggles for all she is worth.  When we visit the Vet, he always reminds me that it will return and return with a vengeance.

I know the other dogs don’t understand, but while we have Abbie, she gets an extra snack, extra play time and even private time in the lake, chasing her Frisbee.  At times, we have taken “just” her in the car for a short trip to an open field where she can run until her heart is content without sharing any Frisbee time with her playmates.  We have been blessed with her longer than expected but I am sure the others understand and know I would do the same with them.  She is my little Abbie Dabbie Doo, and I love her so.  What she doesn't know, she gets a Chemo treatment three times a week in pill formula. 

Just last night, Dutchess got to play with her during one of our special times, and they had a ball.  Fortinially, we have had some time to fulfill her dreams and wants.  

Last night with Duchess...

On a daily basis, I check for the return of her Lymphoma and so far, so good.  Make time for your dog, they depend on us to make their life complete and happy.  Nearly every day I will rub all of them, their head, scratch their butt, hug and kiss them and if you don’t, one day you may regret it and wish for more time… We got it with Abbie…   Ken

Heaven Again...

Ranger has come to visit us for the last six years or so.  His dog parents are personal friends of ours, and they too will stay with us for some getaway time.  We make trips to Nashville, Indiana and socialize, eat fabulous meals and buying goodies and things for Christmas presents in their specialty shops.  It is always an enjoyable trip for all of us and especially their dog “Ranger.”  He is a spunky dog with lots of energy and loves to play Frisbee which is daily in their house and when they are here at the farm visiting he gets to swim too

Ranger is an offspring of Meggie, and he looks nothing like her except the pricked ears that, at times point straight up in the air.  When the parents of Ranger went on a trip, we agreed to dog-sit for them, and he was a hoot, getting into everything but was always wet and full of energy, keeping everyone on their toes.  The best part of that week was when they came back.  Rangers owners bought me a very nice burglary T-shirt as a souvenir that reads “You had me at woof.”   I love that shirt, and even though it’s been here for several years, it’s only worn on special occasions.  Never when I have something to eat, because I have ruined several shirts from stains, but not this one.

Ranger is very photogenic, and I have thousands of photos of him playing in the water and catching a Frisbee with our pack.  Ranger is a great dog and is very loved by all and came to visit yesterday.  He is a little calmer and more sure of himself and fits in right nicely, maybe a bit more than usual for some reason.

As we went to the family room last night, he galloped down the stairs to be with the pack and us and gets into his favorite seat.  He sprang up into the chair and curled in a ball but one where he could still watch TV just like someone else I knew.

As I settled into my usual spot on the recliner, Ranger got up and came to me and looked at me, and I patted my legs, up on my lap he came.  After making his nest, he laid down and he was in heaven and so was I.  I have talked to many people about their dog and the things they do or something they are not allowed to do.  At our house, each dog has permission to lay in a chair, sleep in the bed or lay in my lap.  Sometimes there is a waiting list, and if one jumps down, someone will always take their spot, always.

Last night was different, Ranger came to me with his big brown eyes and pricked ears, and I saw something in him I didn’t want to see but did.  I rubbed his head and said “come on big boy, ” and he did.  As I stroked his fur and rubbed his ears, I was taken back to when I would do the same thing to “my big boy.”  I was in heaven again, and sweet-sweet memories flooded my mind.  You see, Rander is the son of Clancy and out of the many pups he sired, Ranger is nearly an exact copy of him in many ways, no-one else comes close.

Clancy and Ranger
I sometimes feel I need to make an apology for writing about Clancy, but sometimes I don’t think I can stop.  Traveling in the world of Facebook, in solace, I see others that feel the same about their dog that passes, and I know why.  Not a day goes by that I don’t think of him or talk to him as I walk down our lane which is next to his grave.  When we took Clancy to assisted living homes, I remember an elderly lady that came to me after our performance and said: “let me tell you about my dogs.”  She spoke for an hour about the black and white Border Collies she had, and I loved every minute of it.  I hung on every word and even shed a tear when she did.  I don’t remember her name but I remember her dogs and her love for them, she was so happy to share, and I was so happy to receive.  Someday, maybe someone will listen to me when I’m in her shoes.

Thank you, Tom and Terri, Ranger is a dream in more ways than you know and last night as he was asleep on my lap and I was stroking his face and rubbing his ears, I was with "my big boy" again…  Ken

8 miles to Nashville...

On Monday of this week, we took one of our rescue dogs to Bloomington Indiana to be spayed as part of the things that we do to get them ready for their new home.  It’s pretty routine and usually pretty easy going and uneventful, but Monday was a little different.  We have transported dogs for the foundation for some time and have even transported our own dog's many miles and visited many states.  The only problem I have ever had in the past was when I was taking Doc for a ride to Seymour to run some errands.  Starting to return home, I discovered I was hungry, so I pulled into the golden arches, and I ordered some food.  Up to this point, Doc was not too interested in the things around him, but his ears immediately perked up as we stopped at the drive-through.  The attendant said, “boy, he’s a little spunky,” and my response was “Oh...he’ll be fine.”  “Hold on Doc, I’ll give you a bite” as I started to pull into traffic with a soft drink between my legs, French fries in a bag on my lap and a chicken sandwich in my right-hand driving with my left hand and knees trying not to get lettuce my lap.  Doc is food obsesses just like Dutchess, but I was in a hurry to get home.  As I pulled into traffic, Doc lunged into my lap again and attempted to get his nose into the bag.  There was nothing to do but give him a bite.  “Doc, sit” which he did, and he gobbled the French fry out of my hand but the problem, he nearly took my finger off.  OK, new plan…I threw the French fry to the back seat.  He leaped over the seat and found it and returned in a second.  “Ooh, that didn’t take long,” I then just threw the sandwich in the back seat, and up till last Monday, this was the worse.

Monday morning was rainy and dark, and we left before sunrise because they want you there at eight o'clock and it takes an hour to get there.  We had a calm trip in the light rain until we got into light traffic.  Because everyone had their lights on, it immediately changed our trip. 

Knowing she is always calm during a car ride, she was unrestrained laying in the passenger seat.  As the cars started approaching us from the opposite direction, ears perked up, and the chase was on.  Running from the front of the car to the back was a very intense dog chasing the lights on the cars we met, and we were only eight miles from Nashville, Indiana, only a quarter of the way there.  Things got worse because of more traffic, and we were still on very rural roads.  Once we got to Nashville and headed to Bloomington, things really changed because it is a bustling road with lots of trucks and more lights with colossal engine noises to boot.  It was a calamity of errors, and all I could hope for is daylight but was in trouble because on the heavily clouded skies.  I’m sure if anyone could see us they would wonder what in the world was happening and truth be known, I’m sure she enjoyed it because it was fun for her and no different than Dutchess jumping from front to back looking for a drive thru restaurants and I'm sure she was worn out after she has an hour of intense exercise. We made it home fine, and the trip home was very calm because the sun was out and no lighted missiles were heading our way.

Somewhere in her past, someone played with a laser light with her.  I have seen this several times and can be devastating to a high energy dog.  According to the AKC, “The movement of a laser pointer triggers a dog's prey drive, which means they want to chase it. It's an unending game with no closure for the dog since they can't ever catch that beam of light, like they can when chasing a toy or food.

Many dogs continue looking for the light beam after the laser pointer has been put away; this is confusing for your dog because the prey has simply disappeared. This can create obsessive compulsive behaviors like frantically looking around for the light, staring at the last location they saw the light, and becoming reactive to flashes of light (such as your watch face catching the sunlight and reflecting on the wall, or the glare of your tablet screen on the floor). Dogs that exhibit behavioral issues are frustrated, confused, and anxious.”

The moral of this story is never play with a laser light with an animal and make sure the dog seatbelt is in the car.  We have 3 of them…  Ken

Oh Dutchess…

As I was feeding the dogs last night in the kennel and as they finished, I opened their kennel door to let them out.  Dutchess is nearly always last because there “might” be a smidgen of food or Salmon oil left behind.  Everyone eagerly goes out the door but Dutchess.  She will linger behind and check all the bowls in each stall.  Every single one gets a good licking, and we can be there for hours if she gets even a whiff of food.  “Dutchess,” I said in a stern voice because this is a daily routine and she knows what I want sadly walks away.  Her next trick is to stand next to the food container and sit.  She looks at me, then at the container and back at me and barks as if saying “I’m hungry”  Really, when has she never been hungry?

Just last week, I was on the phone and making breakfast too.  I had made poached eggs with cheese and a little-smoked paprika along with a piece of a breakfast roll.  I heard some grunting, and as I looked around knowing Dutchess was inside, so I was cautious.  Everything appeared fine, and I looked back at the sink.  “Hey” where is my bread but now I knew.  Dutchess was hunkered under the table attempting to get the whole thing in her mouth.  I rounded the corner and with her mouth down and full, her eyes up but looking at me, she knew I was on to her.  She slowly walked to the door with half of the roll out her mouth gobbling as fast as she could, she knew…

When she was training to become a therapy dog, she was picking it up pretty good until she became bored and wanted to do something else.  A trick I learned was to rub a pepperoni slice between my fingers and she will follow me to California and back just for a lick.  About half way through, we started training for the test.  The instructor said part of it was to let the dog take a treat from the qualifier.  STOP… Dutchess will gladly take a treat from you but be prepared to have your fingers washed, and she will scrape anything off your hand with her teeth.   If any dog touched the hand with any part of their teeth, they are disqualified.  After class I went to the instructor and said, we’re finished, she can’t do it and the instructor said that I can deny their request if I wanted to.

The big day came, and I was nervous because how will it look if I don’t do it.  It was not a good thing to do, and so I thought we would skip it.  As we walked into the testing area and to her glory was a table of food for the instructors and staff.  Her ears perked up, and she was in heaven.  She looked at me, and in her eyes, I knew we were in trouble.  “Can we move a little away from the food?” I said.  Knowing if we moved across the street it wouldn’t make a difference, but I had to try.

The test started, and she looked like she was actually interested but maybe it was because she thought she was in for a big buffet after she was finished.  Then the question came “can I give your dog a treat?”  Knowing she was doing pretty good, and I didn’t have to honor their request, it came out of nowhere, I said “Sure”  Oh my God, what did I just say and now it was too late to say no.  I don’t know what came over me and we were going to fail on the last command.  Everything went into slow motion, the treat came from her pocket, and her hand extended and as it was beginning to lower to her… I screeched “please keep your hand closed until it’s under her chin and place it palm up.”  

We were at the finish line and about to fall down, and possibly get kicked out of town.  As her hand opened up, Dutchess looked at me, and I nodded an OK she turned and went for it.  Not in a thousand years would it happen.  Dutchess’s long tongue extended and in a flash, the treat was gone.  I nearly peed my pants, and I don’t know if it was from fear or joy.  She did it, and like a proud trainer who has just won the international championship in sheep herding, I patted her head and said: “that'll do.”  I couldn’t believe we passed and with flying colors.  Everybody was happy except Dutchess, The buffet wasn’t for her.  What a mess…  You may be excited to know that is is one gene that she passed to many of her pups, lucky you...Ken