Christmas Morning

Well the time finally arrived and I knew it would and with a big bang. It wasn’t two seconds past midnight and as the clock struck 12 midnight, they all woke up and I heard them running for the office and it sounded like thoroughbreds on a racetrack. I was up and doing some business on the computer and I heard them coming.
They barked all the way in and sat in a circle around my chair. “What are you doing?” they said, “business” I said. “What do you want, I’m busy” I said, just toying with them because I really knew what they wanted.
“IT’S CHRISTMAS MORNING, SANTA'S BEEN HERE” They all said in turn. “It’s barely past midnight” I said…”Let’s go and see, Let’s go and see” they said. I know he’s been here, let’s go, let’s go let’s go. Nothing to do but get up and go in the family room and see if Santa’s been here. As we walked down the hall, all the dogs ran around me in circles and by the time we got to the room they were staggering like drunken sailors
“Oh My Goodness, He’s been here, YEA, YEA, YEA!" they all exclaimed, over and over again. "OK, let’s go in order."  I said.
“Clancy, what did you ask for?" I said, “A big bag of Rawhide” “Did you get it?” I ask, “You bet and more and now I have so many, I can share with everyone. I’m glad Santa didn’t remember I wanted to be selfish once.”  "He usually doesn't" I said.
"OK Molly, your turn, what did you get."  “I got so many, just look at all the tennis balls I got, there is a hundred I bet.” “What are you going to do with them?” I ask. “We're all going to play, and play bunches."  “You look disappointed, is there something wrong?”I ask. “No” she said,"it’s just, just…never mind, It’s OK."
“Meg, what did you get?” I ask. She had slipped on her bright green collar and looked like a princess with her red fur. “Do I look pretty?” she asked. “Just like my Princess," I said, " you look beautiful, but it’s not the collar.”
“Abbie, your turn.” I said. She looked and said, “I don’t understand” and she looked puzzled. "What is it?"  She showed me a photo of a large area of land. “I can’t do anything with this” she said. I told her that Santa had left me instructions of a place where she could run as fast and far as she wanted to. “I can’t get there” she said. “That’s part of the present” I said, “We can do this together, just you and me” “Can we take a tennis ball?” Molly spoke up and said “You can take one of my new ones!” “Thank you Mom, I love you.” said Abbie. Clancy said “you can take a rawhide to chew on during the ride.” “Thank you too Dad, I love you too.”
"Annie what did you get?” I ask. “Books and more books, now I can learn to do things that everyone else can do!” she said. All the dogs spoke up and each took their turn and told her that they would help her fit in and learn things. “Thanks, everyone, now I am one of you and not a misfit.” "No you’re not a misfit, you"re family…we love you, because you are family."
And that brings us to Dutchess. I had to ask, “Dutchess, what did you get?” “Holy Cra*, look at all these Frisbees!" "DUTCHESS, I’m surprised you got anything." I said, “Just look at all of these things, I can play for days and even carry two of them in my mouth. This is great! Just look, I love them!” She said, and then I saw something I usually don’t see. You see, Dutchess is a dog that’s wants everything, just for her. She bowed her head and picked up the green Frisbee and took it to Meg. “Here, this is for you, it will look good with your red fur."  “Thank you Dutchess.” said Meg.
Well it was over for another year, all the presents were open and paper was all over the house and as I was cleaning up, I thought about what had happened. You see Christmas is about love and family. It’s about helping each other become better and growing and reaching out and thinking of someone else but ourselves. But I think it’s mostly about love.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. This is Love…
This is our family, we all have our strengths and weaknesses, but we love and help each other and are just a whisper away if needed.
“Molly, Come here”! I said. I went to the family room and sat in my recliner. I patted my lap and said come on, “I owe you some lap time” She looked surprised because she didn’t think she got everything she asked for. I told her that Santa sent me a special email just for her. As she sprang into my lap, she circled once and then twice and settled down into a deep sleep. I patted her head and thought to myself. “Yes” we've got everything we wanted, we usually do, and we just don’t know it.  Give your dog a hug....

Merry Christmas from the dogs. Life is good...God is Love...God is good

The "Stare"

This has been a very slow week for me and the dogs. If it wasn’t raining, it was at least cloudy and nobody wanted to get out in the weather…. I didn’t think you would believe that, but I tried, “I” didn’t want to get out in the weather. The dogs could care less, in fact the wetter and muddier they get, the better. It never ceases to amaze me of the energy the dogs have, and as I have said before, they always want to do SOMETHING and there is only so much Frisbee we can play in the house. I have even become pretty good at tossing a tennis ball or Frisbee while I watch the news and don’t even need to look at where I toss it because I have done it so many times.
They have all gotten the routine down pat. I will let them in just to spend some time with them and then they start “the stare”. I can ignore it, ignore it, ignore it, for only so long and "the stare” will always win. I can say “bathroom”, no change in "the stare” and then I will say “Ball” and they bounce and buck like little broncos. They dance all the way to the special drawer where they know the “toys” are kept. Then they will all turn circles and then “stare” at the drawer. Well duh dad, open the drawer, now! Dutchess (of course) will jump up with her front feet on the open drawer and get the toy she wants. There are about 10 tennis balls in various conditions and one ratty Frisbee. Dutchess always picks the Frisbee. 
If dog tails could speak, they would say with every wag, thank you, thank you, thank you and then stand in front of the recliner with the toy in their mouth until I get back in the chair and then it’s “game on”. We have a rule; if they don’t put the ball or Frisbee in my lap I won’t throw it (it’s less work for me). Dutchess will put the Frisbee in my lap and in one second, reposition it closer and if I don’t get it in the time she wants, she will reposition it again and again. Then they all stand back just a few feet and “stare” until I throw the toy. This can go on forever.

I do hate it when it is rainy and wet. I feel bad when they get in the rain and get all dirty, but they don’t seem to mind. The bad thing, it prevents them from coming in the house when we are done. A few times, I have actually “accidently” thrown the ball near the lake and they have “accidently” jumped in. Presto, they’re all clean and then I just dry them off.
One thing about border collies is they seem to clean themselves. They can be so dirty and when I put them up for the night, presto again, they’re clean the next day when I let them out of their kennel. Where does the dirt go, it just amazes me.
Another thing I don’t understand is if I do bathe them and the water temperature is a little on the cold side they complain and want to get out of their bath, yet, let a ball get near the lake or when they want to get a “real” drink (which is getting all the way in the water to drink) they don’t seem to have any problem getting in and out of the water, no matter how cold it is. I have seen all of them get in the water when there was just a small opening in the ice on the frozen lake. I have seen Abbie get in the water when the air temperature was so cold it froze the water on her coat and it was stiff, but let the bath water be just a little on the lukewarm side and they want out.
With the holidays upon us, we always get some of our adult dogs to visit while their owners go away for the holiday. We will see some new visitors and see some of our old friends that are coming to stay. We enjoy it so and look forward to it and I’m sure there will be some amazing things to write about.
Remember, Next Week Will be Christmas Morning and the Dogs Won't let me forget...What Will Santa Bring?

The Gift of Love and Life

Some people call them “Puppies” and some call them a gift of Love, but that night I found it to be a gift of Love, Life, and a Miracle. We have been raising puppies for a number of years and usually, like most expecting fathers, I might be in the vicinity or maybe in the room, but this night I was the "go-to guy, the all-knowing answer man and the wet nurse all in one”.

Let me explain, one of the dogs…. OK, it was Molly, was near her delivery date. I knew the time was close because her body temperature was falling from the 102 degrees which is normal to 98.6, and she had not eaten for a day, so the time was near, within 24 hours or less. We had her in the house and on the bed to take her temperature. Little did we know how close it was and the time was 10:30 pm. Elaine and I went to the family room to discuss the plans. Elaine is out of vacation time at work and taking off any more time was impossible, so this was going to be my “first” time as a helper. I was just a little apprehensive because I was a city boy and didn’t know the first thing about giving birth or what to do.

“Yelp, Yelp” We heard a noise and looked at each other in bewilderment. “Yelp”, there it was again, and it wasn’t Molly. We looked at the door and at each other. As fast as we could get both of our bodies through the door, we ran to the bedroom. As you probably guessed, right in the middle of our bed was Molly enthusiastically licking a little bundle of joy. We sprang into action, me taking the bundle of Joy and Molly, and Elaine getting the sheets and blankets headed for the washer. “Whew”, what a mess.

Off we went to the nesting box where all the dogs give birth. Thank goodness I had it ready and waiting for her. She went right in but wanted her baby. As soon as I cleaned it up, Molly licked it again to stimulate it and to clean it even more. After a few minutes, she picked it up with her mouth and turned a few circles and sat it down again and repeated this many times. I was worried, but Molly was in charge and seemed to know what she was doing, and after all, what did I know. I had been reading up on this stuff and it said that you can expect the pups to be born about every 30 minutes or so. The first one was born at 10:50pm and it was nearly 1:45am and no more pups.  I was getting a little worried so I came into the house and Googled “dog giving birth”. The bad part about doing this, you see every problem every dog has ever had giving birth and you relate to that. It did say there can be a lull, but to make sure there is no blockage. “Blockage”? It went on to say, sometimes, two pups will try to exit the birth canal at the same time, so you need to check. “Check”? All I will say is you can’t check from the outside. Everything was fine and she gave birth 15 minutes later and I said a little prayer of thanks because we were getting ready to head for the Vet’s office at 2am.

I had the radio on and Hotel California by the Eagles was playing so I thought a fitting name for the second puppy would be “Cali”.  She sure was a welcome sight. Through the rest of the night until about 5:30 am, Molly gave birth to 4 girls and 3 boys. As I said, I had never been in the driver’s seat until now and it was a spiritual experience. As the pups are born, they are still attached to Molly.  She and I would race to get the little pup free and start the circle of life. Each one took it's first breath, in the palm of my hand with its first gasp. Molly would rub and lick for what seemed like an eternity, just making sure that everything was OK. After she was finished, I would check their mouth just to make sure none of them had a cleft pallet, something that is fatal. I would insert my little finger in the pup’s mouth to check the roof of its mouth and as soon as I did, they would start sucking on my finger wanting their first nourishment of life and as soon as they checked out, the pup was delivered to Molly to start nursing, and yes, everyone was fine.

After a long night and after she had finished providing the miracles, I bid her goodnight with a clean bed and a big old hug. Thanks girl, you did all the work and I probably was in the way, but you made me feel special and needed. Thank you for letting this city boy feel like he made a difference in your world, I’ll never know if I did, but in my heart, I hope so.

You can say what you want, but there are just some things that can’t be explained in life such as this. All the right things came together and everything is just perfect. Many people will say that this is “just” Mother Nature or evolution, but when you see it and live it, you know that there is a higher power that has put all the right things together just to make life and to make our world a little better. Thanks, Molly.   Give your dog a hug, I did tonight and to 7 more….Ken

That time of year…Again…..

As you know, it’s that time of year…. again. The first of the month of December…No, not the monthly check in the mail, not the car insurance payment due, not a check to the government, something very special and something we all have done or will do very soon.
It’s the annual time to write your letter to Santa. Don’t tell me you don’t believe in this, just ask my dogs and they will tell you otherwise. They watch the calendar and on December 1st, one minute after midnight, they gallop into the bedroon and announce…LETTERS TO SANTA TIME….YEA!!!

I will tell you, it’s a huge deal here to do this annual event. Everyone has big saucer eyes and pages torn from their favorite pet catalog magazine. With pencils and paper in their mouth, here they come as fast as they can. I try to calm them and tell them that it can wait until tomorrow, but they will have none of that, no none of that for them. They sit at my feet and look at page after page of dog toys and Frisbee’s. You’ll never guess who was looking at the Frisbees, No, you’ll never guess, really! Oh, okay, you’re right….”Dutchess” but how did you know…?

Clancy wants a big bag of rawhide bones. He says he wants them just for himself. I told him that it’s not nice to be selfish and that Santa would want him to share. He bowed his head and said you’re right. He said “I remember when Molly shared a big soup bone with me. I’m sorry” he says. Besides, Clancy you might want to keep the girls happy with your rawhide bones, “Right?”
Molly wants more tennis balls. “Not the ones that squeak” she said, “ just the plain ones.” But most of all, she wants more lap time with “the man”. I said Santa can’t bring that, but I will see what I can do.
Meg wants a bright green collar to go with her pretty red hair. “I’ll look so stunning” she says and she does look like a Princess when she goes to agility or to a show. She said “..after all, green matches my eyes.”

Abbie wants more land; I said “What?” She explained that she loves to run and run fast and just runs out of room. She will dart in and out of the trees and bushes, around fences and she wants something like a big flat area with a lake at the end so she can run straight into it. I said “I don’t know if Santa can bring that on the sleigh.” She said she would ask anyway. I said “Don’t be disappointed, you better ask for something else.”
Annie wants a few books on tricks. She said, “all the other dogs can do “things” that I can’t do.” I said “you can ask, but I bet it will come in time if you just watch the other dogs.” She’s still gonna ask anyway.

Last, but not least “Dutchess” She has filled up her page with just a few things, but a lot of writing. It started like this…

“Dear Santa, I have been a very good girl.” I stopped her right there and said, “Santa knows when you have been good or bad.” “Dear Santa, I have been a very good girl.” “Dutchess” I said. “Dear Santa, I have been a very good girl.” “Well at least you’re right on that.” I said. Then it went like this…
“I want 2 Frisbees…
I want treats and snacks
No, I want 3 Frisbees, NO, 5 of them
Can you bring me a dozen, a baker’s dozen, that means 13 of them, right?
Can you bring me a dozen donuts? That’s also means 13 of them, right?
NO, NO, NO, I want a hundred Frisbees, different colors and a hundred donuts.
NO, NO, NO I want a thousand of them, different colors with “my” picture on them.
Tell you what Santa, just fill up you sleigh with Frisbees and donuts and bring them all to me, okay, Santa?
I also want……..” “Dutchess!!!” I said.
Well, as you can see, all in all it went smooth and we got the letters in the envelopes with stamps in just the right spots, give or take a few sloppy licks. The return address was their paw print in ink, also just in the right place, cause Santa knows.
Remember with the Holiday Season Christmas Season fast approaching; remember what it’s all about. Give your dog a hug... and get those letters in the mail. Ken

It Was The Best of Times...

It was the Best of Times, It was the Worst of Times, Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.
And it certainly applies here. Last Sunday after church Elaine and I traveled to see Shepp several hours from home. If you are unaware of his plight, here is his story.

We received an email from his owner that they would be available, and if we wanted, we could see Shepp. We have exchanged emails for some time and just couldn't get a date to work, and I was determined to make this one work, no matter what.

Shepp 11-20-2011
We met with some friends of ours that live next door to Shepp's owners. They have two of our dogs that they purchased as pups a few years back, so it was going to be a grand visit. Bishop and Tessie, their dogs, are huge Frisbee dogs, so we had to have a few spirited tosses before we went to see Shepp. When we were done playing Frisbee, which they never are, I'm told, off we went. I will tell you, I had butterflies and was a little on edge because I just didn't know how I would react because this has been very painful and I missed him so. When we pulled into the driveway, out, he sprang from the house with the little bounce I always remembered. He took my breath, he was beautiful, and it was so good to see him. We took one of his favorite toys, a squeaky ball.  I have heard him walk around our house, squeaking that special toy for hours on end. After giving him the toy, he was lost in playing ball and paid little attention to us. I took my camera, and I got just a few shots before my camera battery was dead, maybe it was fate, I’ll never know.

In my heart, I had visions of him watching us pull up and running to greet us and getting in the car when we stopped, wanting to go “home,” but he didn't and my heart broke again, but only my selfish heart. What I actually saw, was a beautiful dog, playing with two beautiful children in a beautiful wooded location with many acres and ponds, getting everything and more than I could ever give him and knew that he needed.
After watching Shepp and Tessie play "ball", we were invited in for coffee and to chat. Of course, Shepp came in too because he is their "house dog."  I saw every member of that family touch, rub and pet him, and I knew right then, that Shepp was happy and I would never have any worries again. Shepp had everything any dog could ever begin to covet. He was the luckiest dog that ever lived.
At one point, I wanted Shepp to come to me, one of the children brought me a dog treat to give Shepp, he said "here, this is for you to give him" maybe he sensed what I wanted, but this was a wonderful jester for me, from that little boy.
Oh, Shepp did pay attention to us, but I knew he was “home, ” and I knew that everyone loved him, it was so obvious. My heart broke, but I was also happy for him and actually, the visit helped me know, he was happy, and he was...
After some good conversation, it was time to go, I just felt it. We all walked toward our car except Shepp. Oh, how I wanted him to jump in the car, but he didn't  He stopped with his owner and sat down next to him, just inside the garage and I swear I saw Shepp lean into him as if saying to us, “I’m OK, Thank You Dad.”
As hard as it was to leave, I’m happy because Shepp is happy. Goodbye old Friend, I’ll never, never, forget you……I will tell you, It was a long trip back home. Give your dog a hug, we hugged ours, that night……every single one of them, except Shepp...


Thanksgiving Day

Probably the best holiday for me is Thanksgiving, other than Christmas. It involves one of my most basic and coveted needs, “food,” and I always ask Elaine to make a lot because I love the leftovers. This year I wanted to include the dogs to help me share my beloved and much anticipated holiday.

In my conversations with the dogs, and don’t tell me you don’t talk to yours, we pondered what they were thankful for too. This year they let me in on some of their thoughts.

Clancy said he is thankful to be the “man” around the farm. He likes to strut his stuff and be in charge and thinks he looks so handsome when the wind blows in his hair, and the girls look at him with a gleam in their eye, and they swish their tail, just right. He also likes to come in and sleep on the bed with everyone and he likes it that he is “King of his Hill,” but he didn’t want me to tell the part where he loves to curl up, and just be a little puppy again without any worries or cares in the world. He is thankful that he has a big family and lots of little pups running around all over the world. Oh, he also said he loves to chew on rawhide and to be with Maddie Grace.

Just to Take the Edge Off.......OK?
Molly said she likes it that she is my Heart Dog but knows that everyone else needs attention too. She said she likes for me to pay attention to her, but understands that she has to share me with the others. Molly also said she likes to come in and sleep on the bed and also loves it when I talk silly to her. She always answers with grunts and groans and the funny part, I think I can understand her. She tries to keep her girls in order and does well, but it’s a big job when it comes to Dutchess. Nobody can control Dutchess, not even Dutchess…

I Want Some NOW.........
Dutchess spoke up and said, “I like my Frisbee, no my food, I mean my Frisbee…Can you put my food on my Frisbee?” She also said she likes to run and run rel fast. She can’t understand why people can’t run as fast as she can. She likes to play Frisbee in the house when the “man” is in his chair trying to sleep. “If I can’t find a Frisbee, then I’ll play ball, did I say I like Frisbee? And food, I mean real food off of a fork or spoon, it doesn’t matter? Do they make a Frisbee you can eat?” She also likes to talk and speak, something you should never teach a dog to do, “Bark.” She loves to get in all the cars when they pull in the driveway, no matter who is in them. I’m sure she is looking for a Frisbee or food.

She got Her Wish...Frisbee with Food
Meg said she is thankful that we let her make spoons in bed with us. She said thanks for going to agility class with her even though she threw up on the console of the car as we were pulling in for class. She also said thanks for not getting mad for doing it 3 times in a row. It’s the same console I thought she took her last breath on when she impaled herself on a piece of steel, and I rushed her to the dog hospital. She said thanks for all her tennis balls and Frisbee's that we have, even though Dutchess hides them.

Is It OK To Be Here?
Abbie said she is thankful that she has a home. She said when she left us as a little puppy, she thought she was going to a real home with kids and things. She didn’t understand why she came back here, only to go away again, just to come back again. She said she didn’t know where her home was, but now she knows. It’s with us, forever, never to leave again. She is also thankful for the warm spot that I make when I get out of bed. She likes to get right on the warm spot before I come back to bed.

Annie said in her puppy way, “I’m thankful everyone likes me, even though I am different” I felt like a misfit toy once, but you made me one of you, even though I “am” different. “I love my brothers and sisters, ” and you teach me a lot of stuff, especially love, and now I can jump in your lap all by myself.

“Well guys, you told me what you are thankful for, I guess it’s my turn.” “It’s a little more complicated than what you are thankful for. But let’s start. You are my friends and my companions. You are always near me, even when I’m in the hot tub or just trying to put my shoes on, always giving me licks and kisses.  You listen to me and have no idea what I am saying except “Let’s Eat, Ball and Frisbee” But, your vocabulary will far exceed mine on many fronts because you can say so much with your eyes. You know just when I need something or everything. Watching you enjoy life, makes my heart skip a beat because you really do know how, something we all should learn to do, but never have time, until it’s too late and then we can’t.

Just a Little Pre-Clean, You Don't Mind Do You?
You have saved me many times in so many ways, even once when I fell and knocked myself out on a cold and icy walkway. I was home by myself, and you all licked my face until I woke up. There is no doubt that you would give your life for me and I hope you know mine for you. I remember once Max fell through the ice and was trapped and couldn’t get out. My shoes were off, but he climbed out on his own. I knew my duty, just like you know yours. Thank You…

You pick up my spirit and allow me to wander through your world, making me part of "your" pack, which is an honor, something, not every human can do. You love me for just being me, taking me as I am. I never have to dress up or comb my hair or put on my fancy clothes. Shorts or suits, it doesn’t matter, you love me as I am.
You have always been loyal and have never left my side, even when I have scolded you, you crawl to my feet, looking up from your bowed head, your eyes take me straight to your heart, teaching me another lesson. They say Border Collies are the most loyal friends, and I believe it. You are more dependable than most humans, and we should all take lessons from you.

I am thankful for the many many beautiful people that we have met that have a small part of us with them. Your little pups, I have seen it time and time again. People are so happy when they arrive on the day that the little puppy goes home. I see so much happiness in their eyes and know that they can’t wait to call their little dog their own. I get stories all the time about how the pups and the big dogs are doing. Thank you, Clancy, Molly, Dutchess, Meg, Abbie, Annie, Gabby, Doc, and Shepp for making me what I am today. I am living a dream I didn’t know was possible.

Happy Thanksgiving; give your dog a hug today. Thank you for a wonderful holiday and an incredible journey. Ken and the Crew


Puppy Breath

There is just something about a puppy.  Sammy is going home today and he has been here with us inside the house enjoying all the comforts of home.  We will surly miss him.  He has learned many things in just the short time he has been inside with us.  The most important is that he is potty trained.  He has not had one "accident" yet.  As soon as he goes out to do his "business", he goes, and we scoop him up and love all over him and right back inside.  He has not even had an accident in his kennel cab, which he has become accustom to through the night.  He has done great and is a very loving puppy.  Today he will go home and be a farm dog and will have plenty of things to do and kids to play with.  He is one lucky dog, and the new owners can't wait.
One thing that I will miss, is something that is somewhat of a mystery.  It occurs in every dog and is unique.  Because we usually get in the floor and play with them, (and of course, they will lick your nose right off your face if you let them), we get to sample this quite a lot.  Puppy Breath....
I use to think it was because they were nursing with mom.  When I would pick them up at around 2 weeks or so, they will nurse the tip of my nose if you get them too close to your face and you can smell their breath, but when I would wean them, they still had the same sweet order and would last until they went home.
It's seems like a lot of people like the smell and there is even several Facebook pages devoted to it 
Whatever the reason it reminds me of the innocence of a puppy and the tender times that they have, just rolling around on the floor and puling your shoestrings. 

Just a few updates on other things.

Dutchess had an injury that kept her quite for a while.  She has cause some soft tissue damage to her right front paw and it has been a real trick trying to keep her quite for two weeks, but that's soon to be over and back to wiggles and twists.

We are going to take a much anticipated road trip today after church to see Shepp.  His owners have invited us to see him and see how he is doing.  We'll take one of his favorite squeaky tennis balls that he would carry in his mouth (new)  and squeak time and time again just walking around the house.  OH how I miss that noise.  See you soon Sheppie...More Later

Note:  I will be posting a special Thanksgiving Issue on Thursday morning from a dog's point of view...

It's OK to Grieve - Update

For the last few weeks, I have posted events on the website that have led people to believe we may have puppies for sale. The readership ranges from 2500 to 3000 people a month that read the blog, and when I mention the pups, I will get nearly a hundred or so calls and emails a week from people who want one. Nearly 90% of the people, who call, have had a border collie before, and just wanted to experience the joy and thrill of the breed again.
The sad part, the same people have lost their best friend, companion and a large part of their life is empty because of a multitude of reasons including accidents and illness and old age of their pet.  Most everyone will share their stories and photos with me and I love to hear them, sometimes, bringing both of us to tears. I have even shared some of their stories on my “Rainbow Bridge” Section. Some people that I have never met or talked with before, will call and tell me their story about their pet and they “just wanted me to know” because they knew I would understand, and I do, only too much.

At one time I use to think it was un-manly to express grief when a dog or cat of mine had passed on, and I was even embarrassed by my grief. I was burying my beloved “TaT” in our "family" graveyard and a neighbor passed and stopped the car just to talk. I stopped him and motion for him to move on, because I was crying so hard and I didn’t want him to see me. Grief is very real and can affect a person in many ways. Everybody reacted different, but I know I was hurting and at times I still do. I even remember my very first dog, her name was “Daisy”.  I was five years old and she came to the house because she was cold and hungry. Little did I know, her stay would be very short, she had distemper and passed away a few days later. To cheer me up, my Mother bought me new crisp pair of blue jeans and a green button down shirt that I can still see in my mind's eye. Tears were streamed down my face as I tried them on but nothing would stop them. Little did I know how that event would shape my life.

I got an email from a friend about a new book by one of my favorite author, Jon Katz. He writes about border collies and life on his farm. He was a city dweller and purchased a farm to help with his border collie “Orson”. It’s a wonderful book called “A Good Dog”, until the end of the book. The only thing I will tell you, He did everything he could do to help Orson.   I would recommend the book.
The name of his new book is “Going Home, Finding Peace When Pets Die”. It puts a lot of things in prospective and in a positive way, helps with grief. It is an easy read I would highly recommend it too, especially if you have lost a pet.
Here are a few excerpts from one of the last chapters.

Going Home, Finding Peace When Pets Die  By Jon Katz
“Letters from a dog
Dear Friend,
It is my time to say goodbye. My legs are weakened, my sight is failing, smells are faint. I am wearying . My spirit is fading, and I have been called home and away from you.
I wish to be strong again, to roll in gross stuff, to snatch greasy bones, to eat all the things you hated me to eat, to have my belly scratched for all time, to run through the fields and the woods, to smell the stories of life, and to raise my nose to the wind and see the world all over again.
I am going home. I know I leave you in loneliness and pain. That is the way of people when they say goodbye. Dogs are different. We don’t have regrets or wish that we could alter the story of life.
Although I have been called away, I leave you with the memories of our life together.
I remember a cold winter’s night when you sang to me in the dark as the wind howled and snow drifted outside the window. I felt your loneliness and knew my work.
When you looked at me and the corners of your mouth turned up, you smelled and looked different. Lighter, happier. That was my life, my work. Nothing more clearly defined my purpose. When you smiled, I knew why I was here.
I never tired of watching you, of being with you while you lived your life. I sat by your side, entering into the spirit of the moment. I supported your life, wherever it went, whatever you felt, whatever you did. I was your witness, your testament.
I remember my heart jumping out of my chest when you came home and called my name, or grabbed a ball, or took me outside, or fed me. I hope you know that I loved all of these things-whatever you chose to bring me and give me, whatever time you spend with me, I loved.
And I thank you.
I always knew where you were, even when you forgot me or couldn’t see me. You had no secrets from me. You showed me everything. We trusted each other.
I smelled and felt all of the worries in a human life, but I am different. Like other animals, I want only what I need. Your life is too complex for me to grasp. There are so many things in it that are meaningless to me.
I am so much simpler that you.
I love you and I love all the people and animals in our home. And I love food and smelly things in the woods and balls and Frisbees and bones. There is not much more to me than that, and yet you loved me for that, and despite it.
By now, you must know that there is always a goodbye hovering in the shadows of a dog. We are never here for long, or for long enough. We were never meant to share all of your life, only to mark its passage. We come and we go. We come when we are needed. We leave when it is time. Death is necessary. It defines life.
I will see you again.
I will watch over you.
I hope, in your grief and loneliness, that you will consider how sad it would have been had we not had this time together, not had the chance to give each other so much.
I do not morn or grieve, but I will miss standing beside you, bound together on our walks through life, even as I know that there is a long line of others waiting to take my place and stand with you.
Thank you. It was nothing but a gift.
And finally, I ask these things of you:
Remember me.
Celebrate me.
Grieve for me.
And then, when you can, let me go, freely and in peace.
When you are ready, do me the great honor of bringing another dog into your life, so you can give and receive this gift again....

I see a lot of  simularies in this story about myself, grief and also my dogs. One thing I learned from reading this book, it’s OK to grieve over your pet, that’s part of healing your soul.  As I think about my own four legged friends and companions and the hardships that will surly come, Lord knows I will need to understand it.
Thanks for letting me share part of my life today and to the many people that call for a pup, I'm so sorry for your loss, but "do me the great honor of bringing another dog into your life, so you can give and receive this gift again", no matter where you get them from...
Run Free Daisy, I'll see you at the bridge.  In just a few short days, you made a big difference in the life of a 5 year old....Thank You.
Give your pet a hug today, they’re waiting for you, and always will.   Ken

I got this email just a few hours after I made this post...

It is with a very heavy heart that I send this email.  Our beloved Oreo was killed yesterday when a delivery truck hit her.    To say that we are devastated is a great understatement.  She lived with all us, but she "belonged" to my 8 year old daughter.  Telling her the news was the hardest thing we've had to do as parents this far.  Her little heart is broken-She cried herself to sleep last night.  Today is no better.  Oreo was absolutely the sweetest dog we've ever met, let alone owned.  We just wanted to say thank you for allowing her into our lives for the short year she was on this planet. We will always be grateful to have known her.   I just wanted to let you know.
Grief is tough, my heart goes out to the family.  Again give your dog a hug.  Ken

Their Guardian Angel

There is a little unknown ritual that takes place with every litter of pups that leaves our farm. It started with the first litter and continues today and it is something I have come to cherish and look forward to. Every pup that has been born and leaves our farm, with the exception of just one, (because of a snowstorm) has been loved and cooed over by a person that holds them very close to their heart. I guess you could say they have a Guardian Angel that checks them out and gives them their final approval for this big old world.

My cousin Peg is making the trip from Kentucky today to say goodbye and good luck to the little ones that will venture into the world next week. It is sometimes hard to imagine all the dog kisses and untied shoestrings that she has endured, and I know she loved every minute of it. In just a short time, she gets to know them and will call them by name. She will ask me about certain ones years after they have left, if I have not heard from the owners, I will email them and send her updates and photos when possible.
Peggy’s Mom and Dad and my parents were very good friends and at times they lived just a few blocks from each other. Her Mom and my Dad were brother and sister and we are alike in many ways. I remember spending time with her parents and her Dad would teach me things, that I still carry today and have even taught my son the same lessons.
But she comes today. She loves to cook and today she is bringing my favorite, “meat loaf”. We always have a nice sit down meal and then go to the kennel to see the pups. Sometime we will sit in the yard or just play in the kennel with them. She is so tender with them and will allow them to kiss and lick her, and of course, they all do. It almost seems like they know why she is there, because they all make a special effort to get her approval, or so it seems. All of them will gather at her feet and jump for attention, and in time they all will have their turn in her arms, safe and secure and out of harm’s way.

She has always said “how can you let them go” and I know if she had the space, she would keep them all and to my knowledge, she has never owned a Border Collie of her own, but I feel that she is part owner of mine. You see, it was Peg who rode with me to a farmhouse in southern Kentucky to help me pick out our first full blooded Border Collie. I remember so well, like it was yesterday going to the old farmer who at the time had two litters in the old barn, all of them running and scampering and barking. It was quite an ordeal and hard to pick. With Peg’s assistance, we chose “Molly” my heart dog, and on the long way home, Molly slept on her lap, and the bond was made with Border Collies for both of us.
So to all of my dog owners, before your pup met you, they met Peg who started them on their wonderful pathway to your door step. I can assure you, they were loved, hugged and even cuddled beyond belief. You might even say they are who they are, because of her. When I get updates and photos from our little ones, I will forward them to her and she is so pleased of their progress. Don’t ever think that she is not watching over my shoulder, making sure her baby’s are doing OK. Thanks Peg, you have made a difference in so many lives and pups and even mine.


24 Hours

No, not the TV show, but 24 hours with 6 Border Collies. I only hope you have enough time to read it all, and this was a dull day.
10 pm - Dutchess, Clancy and Annie are all in for the night. Dutchess is restless, because she wants to play, she keeps going to the drawer where we have the tennis balls, and 3 dogs playing in the house is impossible, one is OK. Everyone settles down and goes to sleep, Annie's on my lap, Dutchess on the floor and Clancy in the recliner. Bedtime, I go to the kennel and check on the pups, 1,2,3,4, and 5 yep, there all here.
6:30 am – I get up and fix coffee, turn the pot off, Elaine won’t be up for hours, save energy. Let all the dogs out of the house and they start running as soon as they hit the door, off they go. Back to the kennel, to feed and count. 1,2,3,4, and 5, yep all here. Lots of little barks, their hungry, food now!! Change water and feed, happy pups.
7:00 am - let them all out even Dutchess with a hurt paw, she’s better but I don’t want to push it. I tell her not to run (sure), never heard a word.  Meg and Abbie run and make 100 trips around the property without even stopping, barking along the way and even jumping in the lake.
7:30 am - working on a fence, Annie helps by rearranging my tools.   I blow the leaves on the ground. Annie wants to play again with the blower, found the glove that Annie got out of the garage two days ago, now I have a pair again, plus a hole.
8:30 am - cut the grass and leaves. Abbie finds and brings a tennis ball and places it in front of the riding mower. You would be surprised how far the riding mower will send it. Off they go to find it.
9:30 am – Move the big tractor and yard equipment around for winter, the dogs want to play and bring another tennis ball and drop it at my feet. We play just a little.
10:00 am – Puppy check, all here. They are getting big and barking and scampering all over the place. Elaine’s up, she comes out to help clean up the yard for winter.
10:30 am – We take a walk with all the dogs through the woods. We stop at the second lake and plan a cabin.  While sitting, enjoying the weather, Annie finds something to roll in, you guessed it, “Poop” Just like Meg, ( she seemed to enjoy it, and this was her first roll. “Tonight you’re in the kennel”
11:30 am – I cut kenneling for the fireplace, and for every piece I cut, Annie takes one and runs off with it. I find kenneling all over the place.
12:30 pm – Lunchtime, feed the pups and then myself. Annie comes in and brings a piece of kenneling in with her, her contribution to the lunch. I don’t care for it, but she is pleased.
1:30 pm – I wash the 4 wheeler and all the dogs stand around it thinking we are going for a ride and a run.  Annie carries off the brush and rag, something else to find.. 
2:30 pm – Nap time, Molly and Clancy think so too. We watch some mundane TV, so we don’t miss anything good. Molly is in my lap and Clancy climbs in too. I will tell you, I had a lap full of dogs with both of them.
5:30 pm - Supper time, everyone out…
6:30 pm – Everyone back in, time to check emails, few request for pups are answered. It’s hard to write when you have two dogs lifting your elbows for attention on each side.  I stop trying to work and rub their heads. 
7:30 pm – Back to the kennel, everyone up, it’s dark and there is nothing but trouble out there. Clancy is always out and when Dutchess and Abbie are finished with their supper, there back in the house, it's their turn.
8:00 pm – Hot tub time, Elaine is busy so I’m solo in the tub, or so I thought. Dutchess is on the rail in a second, but she just wants to give me sugar.
8:30 pm – Go in with Dutchess.  She goes straight to the kitchen and starts to counter surf. She pulls a bowl of kibble on to the floor that was Annie's, no problem, she quickly cleans it up.
9:30 pm – Relax time, TV and lap time for the dogs. Abbie on my lap, Dutchess on the floor, good dogs…
10:00 pm - Go back to the kennel to count 1,2,3,4 and 5.  All here.  Lots of sad faces,  Open all doors, everyone in, but the pups.  Bath time for Annie.  She's all clean.  Back to the recliner.  Meg craws in my lap and Molly follows too, Annie got a rawhide on the floor. we all fall asleep.

Bed time and it was a great day to reflect on. Abbie jumps in bed and snuggles up close to me and puts her head on the pillow. Sweet Dreams…

Even as I write this, again so common, but always appreciated, Abbie puts her head in my lap and looks into my eyes and I see the contentment and peace.   There all the best.....Life is Good.........

A dog is the only thing on earth that loves you more than he loves himself.
Josh Billings

The dog is the most faithful of animals and would be much esteemed were it not so common. Our Lord God has made his greatest gift the commonest.
Martin Luther


A Dark Day

Elaine said it, and I guess it was true. It was a dark day. Let me explain. A lot of things have been going on in my life, nothing bad, but just a lot of things and I am really busier now than when I worked. I sometimes forget to take time for myself, but the dogs seem to bring me back to center.
I was in the house when she told me and I thought “yeah, she’s right”. I started think about it, but in the meantime, Dutchess was in the house too because she has hurt her foot again and I was keeping her off of it, keeping her quite. I was playing the piano and she was next to me. I range from classical to country but I ended with “Cattle Call”, which I like. Dutchess seemed to enjoy it and so I got in the floor and started singing and yodeling, just like LeAnn Rimes would do. Dutchess loved it and we had a hoot doing it, even Elaine jumped in. Dutchess flipped over on her back and she was kicking her feet in the air and was wiggling all over the floor. We all laughed. I tried to get Dutchess to sing with me, and I will tell you, she tried. She would try to pucker and shape her face like me.

I started thinking about how the dogs cheer us up. Here are a few quotes I like;

Dogs have given us their absolute all. We are the center of their universe. We are the focus of their love and faith and trust. They serve us in return for scraps. It is without a doubt the best deal man has ever made.
Roger Caras

No one can fully understand the meaning of love unless he's owned a dog. A dog can show you more honest affection with a flick of his tail than a man can gather through a lifetime of handshakes.

I can't think of anything that brings me closer to tears than when my old dog — completely exhausted after a hard day in the field — limps away from her nice spot in front of the fire and comes over to where I'm sitting and puts her head in my lap, a paw over my knee, and closes her eyes, and goes back to sleep. I don't know what I've done to deserve that kind of friend.
Gene Hill

Just two nights ago, I was building a fire in the family room fireplace and Molly was lying on her blanket in the corner across the room and when I got on my knees, she got up from her sleep and came to me and sat down next to me and she also put her paw on my leg and gave me a kiss. What a girl.

Dogs can be pretty amazing and will bring your spirits up. The biggest problem is when I go to the kennel after I have fed them and I will bring two of them in for the night. When those sad eyes look at you, it’s hard to say no to anyone, and yes, sometimes I get in trouble for bringing too many in for the night.
For me the best part of having pups is seeing other people happy. I LOVE updates when they come in and I enjoy seeing the dogs all grown up in their photos. My dogs bring a lot of happiness to me and Elaine and I know they do the same for you. Give your best friend a hug, Life Is Good. Ken


It's That Time Of Year.... Again

Well, it is...Elaine and I have had a hot tub most of our married life.  It has always been very relaxing, but now it seems to be a necessity for us or at least for me, with my aches and pains.  So, we fired it up in September.  Today was a busy day here on the farm, I went to town and got a truckload of mulch and spread it. I have also been splitting firewood for a few days, so I'm sore and a little chilled.  I got chilled from playing with the dogs, and of course, they just had to get in the water, and they ALWAYS shake off next to me, getting me and anyone close to them wet; of course,  I just happened to be taking photo's of them playing. 
IDEA.....I'll get in the hot tub.  For the followers of this blog, you know that Dutchess was the center of attention on a hot tub episode a year or so ago.  Well, there is a new dog in the spotlight.  We have a border that is staying with us for the weekend.  His name is "Scout," and he is the son of Meg and Clancy.  Just look at those eyes...."trouble," with a capital "T."

Let me set up the story... 
"Hey, Possum, What's the big square box with water"? asked Scout.  "I don't know," said Possum,  "but the man gets in it and shuts his eyes for a while," "it seems like he's lost..."
"What does it feel like, is it cold like the lake"? asked Scout.  "I don't know, just stick your paw in, but whatever you do, DON'T jump in!  The man will be really Pee-ode" said Possum

"I told you NOT to jump in, I was supposed to be watching you, and now the man will get us both," said Possum. Note: My foot can be seen here... 
Dad, Can I Get In Too, Please?
Abbie asked... "Possum, what's the man doing"?  "I don't know," said Possum, "but whatever you do, don't jump in!"

All in all, we had a blast, it was a great day.  You can't make this stuff up, it just happens.  These dogs are the most animated creatures that I have ever seen, they make life worth living, I love them so...
After we all dried off, we ate supper and cuddled for a little while, and then it was off to bed for a good night of sleep and dreams of chasing bunnies and catching Frisbees because we never know what adventures will come tomorrow...
As I walked  away from tucking them in bed, I could hear them say...."Goodnight, Dutchess", "Goodnight Abbie," "Goodnight Clancy," "Goodnight Molly," "Goodnight Meggie," "Goodnight Possum," said Scout, "Goodnight Scout," said Possum, "I told you not to jump in,...I still think he was lost"......, and as I walked away, I said to myself, "Goodnight Shepp, wherever you are."  Dad