Here We Go Again

Every year everyone makes resolutions for the New Year, well here we are at the beginning of the year and I’m sure most of us have plans to change things and do things different in 2013.  At least we made it without the world ending on December 21st and we have another year to look forward to.
As most of you know, I am a planner and will sit and think of ways I can make it better or easier.  While lying in  bed I will have images of projects spinning through my mind.  I have always done this and it has cost me many hours of sleep just because I can’t shut it off and in many ways this is a curse.
There are several projects that were started in my mind and even a few were physically started.  The biggest was the fence and that was a real blessing for us and any guest dog because of the peace of mind in knowing  my dogs and any others are safe.  I am so pleased with it and have seen many great benefits from it. 
The second is the chicken house; this was stalled because of cold weather and not wanting to bring day old chicks onto the farm and have to worry about them surviving.  To the many people who ask, “Great chicken house, but where are the chickens?”  The new chicks will arrive on April 1st via US Mail.  There are six varieties all picked because Elaine wanted “pretty” chickens and they are and I’m sure they will lay “pretty.” eggs. 
So what is planned for 2013?  There are several projects in the works here on the farm?   The first one is to expand the kennel and make it more efficient and dog friendly.  When we built it, we just had three dogs, so it was set up that way.  Well, as you all know, then there were 4, then 5, then 6, and now you get the picture.  I have contacted several contractors and there are plans in the works and construction should start as soon as the weather breaks in the spring.
The second project that has started is…I want to be a bee keeper.  I have always been fascinated with honey bees, so now, hopefully that dream will come true.  I have talked and met with several people and even attended a meeting or two, just to see what’s involved, like I need something else to do.
I did ask at one of the meetings, “We have dogs, will this be a problem?”  My answer was oblivious and I gave several people a chuckle.  “The dogs will only sniff the colony once, because the bees will defend their home”  Well in my mind, I was  thinking about Dutchess and her eagerness to get to something or to get to  food.  I might as well get Dutchess a beekeepers hood, just to keep the stinging down to a minimum.  So to all the family members, you’re getting honey for Christmas….Sweet
The next project that is in the works is the “1st Annual Shuck’s Border Collie” Puppy reunion.  It will be in late spring early summer and feature a weekend of puppy and dog fun here on the farm.  It will be free and will include dock diving, swimming for the kids, fishing and many activities for the dogs.  We can have campfires at night and enjoy nature.

It will be exclusively for our dogs that have grown up or rescued over the years.  It will last the whole weekend and if you want to camp, that’s fine or you can come for the day.  There will be a cookout on Saturday.  More plans to come as they develop.

2012 was a good year despite some problems and setbacks, but hopefully, we became stronger and wiser during that period.  Make 2013 the best year ever for yourself and your dog and remember, the more you do to improve your stance in life the bigger the reward you’ll receive in the long run.  
From us to you, Happy New Year, give your dog a hug and make it a great year for them too.  Ken

Another Year

Well here it is, another year gone by and its Christmas.  Dutchess has been extra good (really, she has) but it’s probably because she knows that Santa is coming and wants all the Frisbee's, sorry Dutchess.  

This week, we have received many Christmas cards and letters from our dog owners.  One person even wrote a very special story about her relationship with her dog, including her past “Heart dog” that passed away and her current “Heart dog” she got from us.  It was very touching and I had to turn away from Elaine as I read it, because I was embarrassed for getting emotional.   Thank You….

Our current litter from Molly’s was her last litter and Dutchess is soon to be spayed too, so she won’t have any more pups and both Dutchess and Molly will live here with us, as we grow old together. 
Molly's First Litter
Just Beautiful
Looks Just like Molly when she was small
Laddy, 4/16/2007 - 8/27/2010   R.I.P
1st Tri
Our only double blue eye, Katie We would love to see her again
Molly's First.
I thought about this as Elaine and I opened and shared the cards, reading them together, it was kind of sad, where has all the time gone.  All of the cards were centered around the adult dogs that Molly and Dutchess have provided and there were photos and stories and their dog seemed to be the center of their life, kinda like us.  What a wonderful moment, Elaine even decided to start a scrapbook with the many mementos we received over the years.

I guess because of the season,  it has cause me to appreciate everything the dogs do for us and I now realize that they do things for others too, making their owners as happy as we are.  As humans, we did receive a wonderful gift that we celebrate this time of year and the rewards will be everlasting.  With people that have our dogs they also received a gift from Molly and Dutchess that have had an effect that will last for a long time too.  OK just to make it clear, Dutchess will never be “Mary”, Dutchess is too rotten and spoiled, but Molly... that’s a possibility, Molly is so tender, unselfish and considerate.  But Dutchess… No way, she’s like Madonna, self centered, but sweet in her own way, but only when she wants something.

As I have said many times before, the people we have met have made such a difference in our life in a positive way and I can’t thank them enough.  This has been a journey that I regret not starting long before, but then again, we didn't know about border collies until we moved here 12 years ago and got our first one from the newspaper “free to good home” Thanks Max you started it all.

There have been a few regrets over the years and all of them, we didn't have any control over, but it’s still a regret and sometimes still hurts.  I will never forget my little “Shepp” he meant so much to us and we think of him on a daily basis.  I still have his photos in my photo editing program and will see him every time I edit a photo.  I haven’t heard from his owner for about a year and don’t want to bother them, but I do hope and pray he is happy and well.  Of course, I regret losing our little ones, Midnight, James Clancy and Gracie Mae, but what I don’t regret is all the little ones that have brought so much joy into someones life and I am grateful for being a small part of the big plan.

I guess my Christmas message is to be more like our dogs, now don’t get me wrong, no butt licking or passing gas, but to be more forgiving and tolerant, unlike me, holding a grudge for days.  With any dog, you just need to clap your hands and say “come here” and in a flash, all is forgiven and they are in your arms ready to shower you with licks and kisses.  They always meet you at the door like they haven’t seen you for weeks when in-fact you were gone for only 10 minutes and snuggling is the best, I can’t sleep well because they just want to be near me, laying all over me.  Dogs can show us how to live, be happy and give us piece of mind and want nothing in return.
Dutchess's First Litter

Thank you Molly and Dutchess for all the wonderful bundles of Joy you have brought to us and the many people over the years and for many years to come because of your off-springs.   You have changed the lives of many people and given so many of us a reason to move on and to live life to it's fullest with a companion at our side, even we have one of your pups, our Abbie.

Merry Christmas to everyone from all of us here at the farm, and to our little Shepp, Merry Christmas son, I love you, Dad.

Note:  In the beginning, I didn't keep very good records if any of our readers have any knowledge of Molly or Dutchess's 1st litter, Please let us know how they are doing,  It might be your dog, but they will always be our pup...Ken & Elaine

Is it Worth it?

The last two weeks have been very busy and I have been on a roller coaster with many hills and many low valleys.  Sometimes, I don’t know if there are more ups or more downs and this week, I am starting work on the 2012 taxes for the dogs including all the receipts for sales, boarding and ALL expenses, which were many.  This has been very expensive year for medical procedures and fencing and sometimes I have to wonder if it is worth doing all the work.  As you know, I am a stay home dad and dog parent to seven border collies and both are full time jobs.  Not only do I do these duties, I grade the roads with my tractor weekly for about 250 acres which includes removing any snow that might come our way or rain damage.  Working the farm of any duties that might crop up, all in all, I am a very busy man.  Projects that are coming up are the chickens for the new chicken coop along with the sort and sales of the eggs and the planning for the dog reunion this coming year not including anything else that I might venture into. 
As I sat and ponder my thoughts, I try to reflect on trying to make my life better, more productive and to asset everyone around me, including calls from all over the states about BC’s and their problems, but as everyone does I also feel unproductive and distant at times and just get fed up with life and want to sit and do nothing.
Two weeks ago, when Molly had all the problems she had during birth, I usually don’t post such things on our Facebook page but a few friends found out and would send me personal messages because they were interested, and to save time, I just started to answer them in the open forum.  I never imagined the results I would get from all over the world and at times, there were over 25,000 people reading, watching, posting and sending me private messages.  I have never seen an outpouring of concern, prayers and just best wishes from people that truly cared about a problem that I thought I was handling by myself.  Most did not know me or Molly and some even started the message “You don’t know me but I’ve been where you’re at”.  Several Vet techs would contact me about her progress.  Once, even our Vet, Dr “D” called because he did not see the daily update and just wanted to “check to see” and I told him I just didn’t have time to post, but I soon did, people truly cared. 
This brings me back to my point, is it worth it, all the trouble, mental pain, cost and time?  As I write this, Dutchess is laying a ball on my lap with Meggie standing by my side pushing my arm up so I can’t type because they want to be with me and hoping we can play ball.  I actually laughed out loud on Wednesday while I was sitting in the middle of the garage floor splitting kindling wood for the fireplace and as soon as I sat down, Clancy put his nose under my arm, Abbie put her head on my leg, Dutchess sat on the other side, putting her paw on my other leg and just when I thought I couldn’t handle any more, Annie came behind me and put both front feet on my shoulders and licked my neck.  At that point, I just stopped and we all played and rubbed bellies.
But is it really worth it?  Again as I sit in the recliner Gabby will runs as fast as she can, jumping in my lap, turns and spins settling down for a nap as we watch the news or while I’m in the hot tub, Meg will always jump behind me and lick my ears.  Once, I was so tired and it felt so good, I just let her and I will tell you, she did a good job.
Molly is getting back to normal and will soon get her stitches out.  I won’t let her jump up on my leg because of the stitches as she usually does, but she will still paw at my leg wanting some affection and attention.  I tell her “no jump” but I will lie down on the floor and she will curl in my arms and nestle next to me, me giving her what she wants and she giving me what I need.
To answer the question, Yes it’s worth it, I only wish I could give more, because they give their all.
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."  Anatole France
Thanks to everyone who prayed, contacted, consoled and even cried with me, I don't know how to thank you but to say, I am so grateful that there are people like you, you made things better.  Border Collies are different and Border Collie people are too and I am grateful.  Thank you again, Ken

What is a Heart Dog?

Last week I was telling the story of Molly and her medical difficulties on the dog’s Facebook page, I mentioned that she was my “Heart Dog” and I have always used this term and have heard a few others use it too, but one person sent me a message wanting to know what a Heart Dog was. 

 I pondered the question and even did a “Google” search.  Usually there are thousands and thousands of articles on any subject, but “What is a Heart Dog” was almost blank, there were only a few mentions and one was a Blog.  I was surprised, so I sent out a message to my Facebook followers and ask them, to explain to the best of their ability, “What is a Heart Dog”.  I received many responses from all over, some even from others countries.   The most amazing thing I discovered is most people don’t have any idea how to explain what a “Heart Dog” is, so I will try to explain it from my point of view, with the help from some readers.

Molly & Clancy

A “Heart Dog” from a point of view of many …
“They know when I'm sick or sad and will stay right by me, tending to me, making sure that I'm okay. They lick away my pain and my sadness. And they cover me with their body so to protect me from whatever it is that would dare upset me.  They have that part of my heart that only they can reach.  It is one who is so sweet and a little different from the rest and who will lick and love on you even on his/her final day, and they at you with those big brown eyes.”
“They start a passion in me that I did not know was even there. They awakened a new kind of bond that I could have with a living being. She showed me what it was like to have unconditional love and support.”
“They were so deeply embedded in my soul, I swear she was the only living being that 'got me'....perhaps I humanized her, but communication never needed to be conscious with her, she could read me. I believe she lived to please one else mattered to her and I even considered her in major life decisions, and what the impact on her would be. 
“A “Heart Dog” can wiggles into your heart and becomes one with you and your spirit. There is a special bond between you and your spirit or “Heart Dog”. They completely understand you without words or expression. with each other. Often times I think our “Heart Dog” comes along during a time of emotional hardship or longing for something deeper than ourselves. They often fill a void and the relationship grows from there.”
“A “Heart Dog” doesn't necessarily have a bigger place in your heart, but rather the opposite. This dog would be very sensitive, one that would wear it's feelings on its paw. One that would go out of its way to please you, even if that meant doing something that it didn't particularly want to do. But your approval, praise and to see your smiling face will mean everything to this dog.  This dog's heart would be as big as the Border Collie’s personality. This dog would have something special, something not many people have, and that is the ability to love with all its heart, forever and unconditionally. The “Heart Dog” dog doesn't hold a bigger place in your heart; rather you hold a place in their heart that leaves little room for anything else.  I like others who lose a special pet felt like there could never be another dog that could fill that void.  And well, in some ways that is true. But the heart is not made up of percentages. One dog doesn't take 45% leaving only 55% available for the rest of your life. The heart expands and allows others to enter in but never replace that part of your heart. Because really you don't even have possession of it anymore. You gave it away to them. It is theirs to take with them.”
I loved to get the definitions but one that summed it up best was “Anyone who really does not understand “Heart dog", probably does not have the capacity to fully understand no matter how much explanation they receive.”  I feel this is true because it means so many different things to so many people.  One statement that came out many times, “They Saved Me” and I’m sure they did.  I have a cousin that I love very much and when Elaine and I got married 22 years ago, we had a dog that I got for the kids, I thought they needed her but she soon became my dog.  Well I fell in love with her and she was a great dog, but Elaine didn’t particularly care for her.  Once “Patches” got into the trash while I was at work.  Elaine called me and stated that if this doesn’t stop, “you’ll have to get rid of her”.  I needed to vent because I was hurt and told the story to my cousin and she stated… “Well…you can always get another wife” Patches stopped getting into the garbage and Elaine and I laugh about it now.
People can have a special bond with dogs, some more than others, from a reader that lost her dog about 6 months ago,   “My dog was everything to me.  My Heart, soul and body. I still can't get over her lost. I have to sleep with her collar every night next to my heart.  I do believe Dogs go to Heaven. The other night I cried myself to sleep and prayed to the Lord to give her a hug for me. I told him I was sure she was setting in his lap. I prayed and wished I could just see and hold her again.....well...that night was the first time I had ever dreamed of her. She was playing and having a good time. I called her name and she came to me running so fast. We hugged and kissed and held onto each other. I thank the Lord that morning for letting me see her again. I honestly feel that he answered my prayer. So I know she is in Heaven and I WILL SEE HER AGAIN SOON!”
Sometimes we don’t realize the bond is so strong until it’s too late. Patches was a wonderful dog and lived with Elaine and me until the end.  When we worked at the Vet’s office in Louisville (Elaine worked there too) it became time to send Patches to the “Bridge”, we took her in and during lunch when the office was quite... We put her on the table, I couldn’t do it, in fact, I couldn’t even be in the room and left.  Elaine was with her and watched Patches take her last breath.   I’m angry now at myself that I left; I should have stayed in there for Patches, it was my duty and she always stayed with me during my tough times.
A reader sent me a tribute to their dog and ended the letter with this line…”We had to put her to sleep and I put my nose to hers and felt her last breath on my face and she went off to the Rainbow Bridge.”
Anyone who really does not understand by just reading “Heart dog", probably does not have the capacity to fully understand no matter how much explanation they receive.
Give your dog a hug...  Ken
Shuck's Border Collies Facebook Page

The Long Walk

As I made the long walk down the driveway, I realized that I was making it once again.  In one hand I carried a shovel and in the other hand the bodies of James Clancy and Gracie Mae, two little border collies that didn’t make the transition from their mother’s womb to this world.  It just wasn’t meant to be no matter how hard we tried.
 Molly went into labor a few days early and if you have been keeping up on the dog’s Facebook page, you know it has been a real struggle for her.  We all went without sleep for over 30 hours and spent two full days at the Vet’s office. Today’s blog will deal with the last visit and the emotions that we all shared together.
 As I drove to the office at 6 am on Friday, I knew that Molly was going into major surgery when we arrived.  Usually this type of surgery is routine, but we were trying to save her life from complications, she still carried a pup inside her and it would not move for birthing.  All of the options had run out, everything was discussed and tried.  Injections of Oxytocin were sent home and I gave them to her every hour to stimulate her labor, but she was worn out and ready to give up, but not me.  When we arrived at the office, they were waiting for us and after letting her nurse the living pups, it was time to let her go to surgery. 

Right Before the Surgery on Floor at the Vet's Office
I couldn’t be more pleased with the office and staff, but what impressed me more than anything was the dedication of the Doctors.  Over the couple of days that we were there, the Doctors that worked on her were never ready to give up and did the work as if they were working on their “heart Dog”. 
Molly was lead back to the surgery area, but not without one last kiss to me and a lick to her pups that were now in a box sitting next to me.  Dr Davidson told me that I and the pups could wait in his office during the surgery.  His office was right in the main hub where all the action was and as I watched them prepare Molly, I knew she was in the right hands, Dr Davidson’s, his Crew and GOD’s hands.  Before the surgery, I was told that it did not look good for Molly or the pup and that the pup was most assuredly deceased.  As the other Doctors and I exchanged chit-chat in the office during the surgery, one of the Vet techs brought the pup that was lodged inside Molly to a table just a few feet from me stating “we have a heart beat”.  The Doctors and I sprang into action and stimulation was given along with shots directly to the heart and into the tongue, along with small chest compressions, but nothing was working.    She just wouldn’t take a breath, but the heartbeat was still evident.  I had hope and the little pup was a real fighter.  The Vet tech and I worked for over 30 minutes and at times I just took over, trying everything and even giving mouth to mouth.  In my heart, I knew brain damage was setting in and it was time to let this little girl go.  But she wasn’t ready to go just yet, her heartbeat was still there, though weaker and slower.  Without oxygen, there was no hope, so the only thing I could do was to hold her and stroke her little face and keep her as comfortable as I could.  For the next 15 minutes I held little Gracie Mae in the palm of my hands until she left this world. 
Little Gracie Mae, From my Hands to God
 When she passed, I placed her perfect little body in the small box with her litter mates that were waiting for her.  It was amazing, all the little pups gravitated to her, curling and cuddling together around Gracie Mae because she smelled like their mother.  Gracie Mae was with her litter mates once more and she and they were going back home to be with their mother Molly, as it should be.  
 When we got home, and after getting Molly and the pups situated in the whelping box in the bedroom, I took James Clancy and Gracie Mae and began preparing their forever home here on Dogwood Ridge.  Lovingly I wrapped James Clancy in a blue towel and a pink one for my sweet Gracie Mae.  I tenderly placed them side by side just as if they were still in their mother’s womb.  After a final kiss from Molly, I headed down the driveway to “our special area” where we keep our pets that have passed.  All the dogs were with me except Molly who had already said her goodbyes and as I dug the grave the dogs stood and watched.  Not a sound was heard except the wind and an occasional bark from Dutchess as she gave them her parting farewell, as she "is" Molly's 1/2 sister.  Abbie had a ball in her mouth but didn’t dare move and Clancy stood and watched guard, ever so proud but hurt.  After thanking the good Lord for the Joy the dogs have given me and Elaine, and allowing me to hold Gracie Mae until she became his, James and Gracie were buried along with a piece of our heart in a spot that I pass each and every day.
Molly at home right after the surgery
"Hey, who’s this”?  Someone said as a few new arrivals arrived at Rainbow Bridge.  A small crowd gathers around the new dogs, there was Midnight, Lillie, Patches, Morgan and even Bandit and Tat,  they all gathered around to meet and welcome Gracie Mae and James Clancy, the new kids.  There was jumping, barking and running around and lots of licks and kisses for the new pups.  "We know you"! and for some reason, they all did, something was familiar and they seemed to know each other,  and then it was discovered that the "one" thing they all had in common was a piece of my heart.
Someday we'll all be together... Take care little ones…I Love You, Dad
"Heaven is the place of final and complete happiness that God has prepared for us - and if animals are necessary to make us happy in heaven, then you can be sure God will have them there."--Rev. Billy Graham 

Note:  James Clancy is named after his dad Clancy James and Gracie Mae is named after Molly Mae.  The name that I originally gave this Blog is “What Happened This Week”.  Usually I try to keep the reader up-to-date with the events that happened during the week. This week is no different but much sadder with a story I hate to share, but I have found that sharing not only tells the story, it helps to heal me and gives me comfort.  This has been very difficult to tell and I thank you for being a part of my therapy.  Give your dog a hug today.   Ken

A "What" House?

As some of you have followed the dog’s Facebook page, you have learned that we here have gone “green” on some of our facilities, namely our bathroom.  Not only are we saving water for our future generations, we are making our property a little more Eco friendly and are able to provide our neighbors and guest a place to meditate and reflect on the meaning of life…
I was also thinking that this could be a place to teach our young generations what our forefathers did in a time of “need”.  I also see an opportunity to make a little scratch and keep us in supplies for the privy.  I thought it could be a tourist attraction because it is so close to the road and even envision providing a photo opportunity for the kiddos.  I can just see it, “Be the first on your block to have your photo taken with a part of American history” for a small fee of course.  Why heck, even the parents could take part in the photo opt making it a day of events. 
While building the facility, I had everyone in the neighborhood stop by, some even getting out of the car and asking questions and “What in the heck are you building”  Some were surprised and some were shocked, but here it is, my outhouse.
After doing some research on Outhouses I came up with some interesting tidbits.
  • I've heard about 2 seater outhouses-I just thought it was so more than one person could use the potty at a time-not true. One seat was made larger for adults-one smaller for kids.
  • One theory about the moon on the door-the moon was the symbol for women-the star burst was the symbol for men. Since men's outhouses usually weren't kept up as well, they deteriorated faster. The women's outhouses being taken better care of-lasted longer-thus we associate the moon with outhouses.
  • Thomas Crapper was one of the first installers of water-closets.
  • Folks had different names for outhouses such as: I'm going to; the white house, the garden house, the la-la, the throne, the summer house, the library, the shiver shanty, and many others. One I still hear on regular basis-I'm going to see a man about a dog. (from The Deer Hunter)
  • Outhouse diggers are folks who find old outhouses and dig for treasure. They find all manner of items-mostly very old bottles.
I remember so well when we went to the country to visit the family farm, I thought it was so neat to visit the little shack in the back yard.  I was so excited… funny how the simple things made a kid happy…
All in all and all kidding aside, the little outhouse is where the UPS or FedEx man would place our delivered packages to the farm.  We usually get several packages a week and now he can leave them on the outside of the fence without coming in and they will stay dry. 

It was fun to plan and build the little event and who knows what the next project could be, Elaine even said “you’re a building fool” and I agree.  With the outhouse, chicken house and a real tractor that even works, we are well on our way to becoming real farmers, but I will draw the line on bib overalls…  
Shuck's Border Collie Facebook Page

Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle

That’s what happens….She wiggles so hard when she wags her tail, it appears to take her back feet off the ground.  I’m talking about Gabby.  She has been with us for several months and it just can’t get any better.  As most of you know, we now have seven dogs and if you have more than one, you know their personalities are different or at least mine are.  I remember when she came to live with us, I thought who is she going to be like.  I thought Molly? no, Molly is to laid back, Abbie, no, Abbie is too active.  Meg, no, Meg is too shy and there is no way she is anything like Dutchess, in fact no one will ever be like Dutchess, thank goodness…
Gabby is her own dog and isn’t like any of the others.  She seems to be starving for attention and always has “the can’t help it’s”.  On a typical day she will follow me around and will let me pick her up and carry her.  Because she is the lightest dog we have, it’s pretty easy and I think she would go to sleep while you were carrying her because she is soooo relaxed.  If I am writing or doing something at my desk and Elaine lets her in from outside, I try to be very very quiet because as soon as she hears me upstairs, she's off and I can hear her running and sliding on the floor toward me and the moment she sees me, she leaps toward me and throws herself in my lap.   If I am really busy and trying to keep working, I will put her down, she will then get between my legs and put her front paws on the keyboard and try to tap along with me, and of course, all of the Microsoft windows pop up from her hitting the “F” keys.  I have just come to the conclusion that when she hits the stares, I will just turn around and face the steps and let her jump and wiggle until she has her fill, which seems to take a long time, but that’s OK…
The most relaxing thing she will do is jump up and lay in my lap whenever I’m in the recliner.  She weighs about 30 pounds and will fit right in between my legs while I’m sitting, wiggling all the way.  She will stretch out as far as she can and drop off to sleep in just a matter of seconds while I rub her face.  Her mouth drops open and she snores while laying on her back, feet straing up in the air.  The good thing about Gabby if you like a lap dog, when you move or have to get up, she will wait by the chair and when you sit back down, in just a flash, she is back in and sound asleep in just seconds. 
The most annoying thing she does, and something that none of our other dogs will do, is she will burrow her nose into whatever she can get her snout in, wanting you to rub her head, she is relentless and won’t stop until she gets her way making you pet her on the head or lift her up in your lap.  I use to think she had a skin problem on her nose because her nose was rough, but little did I know that she wears her hide off it trying to get me to do something, which is most of the time.  She is the only dog I have seen that will talk with her nose...and is so expressive.

She and Annie have become good friends and we call both of them “The Twins”.  They are so cute together but such a contrast in colors.  Gabby is a red Merle and Annie is a blue Merle but they are within 5 pounds of each other and will run and bark, playing the whole time and of course getting into trouble.
All in all, Gabby is a wonderful fit to our extended dog family even though my son Brad said “I swear to God if you get one more dog, I’m calling the TV show Hoarders”.  I just wonder what the next one will be like?
Gabby is a wonderful addition to our family...and we love her so...

How Far Would You Go?

How far would you go to make your dog happy, comfortable or safe?  On our dog’s Facebook page, I have posted a few snippets about a fence we were having built.  It was totally finished Saturday and I am so glad.  The owner of the company was short a worker and ask me if I would want to “help out”. I thought “Oh well”  it can’t be too bad and the kicker was, he would take my salary off the bottom line and help divert some of the cost, which was high because we were fencing over 10 acres.  I was the “new” guy and the gopher, but the money was good. 
I remember when he ask why did I want a fence, I said it was for the dogs and I got that puzzled look, but he let me keep talking and I’m sure he wondered why I was spending so much money.  He did a wonderful job and I was a great gopher, we worked 15 days in a row, even on Saturdays and Sundays and when the weather forecast called for rain, I ask about working, I was told “You have a raincoat don’t you”  the rain did not deter us.  Dogs…I hope you’re happy…
This set me to thinking about what I do for the dogs and how far would I go.  I once remember Max our first border collie.  We were walking one winter several years ago and Max started across the lake which was frozen.  About 20 feet out, he fell through the ice.  Max continued across the pond trying to break the ice as he went, but kept heading across the lake which was a much longer distance to the other side.  “Max…Max… come here, turn around…Max!” He kept going and I could see he was getting tired and moving slower and slower.  “Max!!!!!!”  My mind was racing and I knew he wasn’t going to make it.  Against my better judgment, I had to go in, he wasn’t going to die before my eyes.  I made up my mind and started to take off my heavy boots but just when Max reached the middle, he turned and started to head back toward my voice, the look in his eyes was frightful and I’m sure mine were too.  Max made it back, but never got on the ice again.  How far would you go?
There are dog owners and dog lovers and I happen to be a dog lover.  I know of many people who would do the same thing and to some people, it’s crazy because “it’s only a dog”.  We have friends that have a movie night with their dogs a few nights a month.  They pull the mattress to the TV room and lay with their three dogs on the mattress and watch movies and eat snacks, all falling asleep together and how wonderful it is for everyone.  I know of people who prepare special food or even have a birthday cake or birthday steak for their beloved Border Collie and cost is never an option when it comes to their needs. 
Americans Spent over $50 Billion on Pets
1. Pets are stress-busters — and we need that now more than ever. In 1994, roughly 15% of Americans reported increased anxiety in their lives. By 2009 that number had risen 49%, and it’s predicted to be even higher now.
When we cuddle, play with, and even just look at our pets we get a hefty boost of oxytocin, our body’s naturally occurring feel-good, stress-relieving, emotional-bonding hormone. So do our pets, by the way. Which makes all parties more relaxed and happy, and more deeply bonded.
That bond, and our appreciation of the stress relief we get from our pets, is a partial explanation for why 77% of Americans give birthday presents to their pets, and why we spend $5 billion on holiday gifts for our pets.
2. Pets have more status today. Compared to previous eras, there is currently much less hierarchical distance, and more equality, between parents, kids, and pets. More than 9 in 10 owners consider their pets to be members of the family, and 81% say pets are equal members of the family.  Still need more proof? There are one million dogs in the U.S. that have been named the primary beneficiary of their owners will.
3. Pets fill connection and friendship vacuums. Americans have about a third fewer close friends today than they did 20 years ago — averaging two rather than the three they had, on average, in 1985. And though online connections alleviate some of that loss, we’re neurologically less satisfied by online friends than we are by personal contact. Pets provide companionship and connection that we need more than ever today. Dogs, in particular, also increase human social circles through gatherings at parks and getting out into neighborhoods more often through walks.
4. Pets fulfill our need to nurture. An unprecedented number of people live alone today – 1 in 7 Americans. Plus, our years without children stretch longer on both ends. Empty nesters live longer and people have children later in life. Regardless of a person’s household composition, the need to nurture is universal. Which partly explains why 78% of animal owners think of their animals as their children and themselves as pet parents, not pet owners. In fact, 58% of pet owners call themselves “mommy” or “daddy.”
5. There are simply more things to buy today. Undoubtedly, many pet owners would have been game to pamper their dogs and cats a decade ago. But the options were more limited. An abundance of choice gives us psychological permission to take a step toward indulgence.
Last year, more than $11 billion dollars was spent on pet supplies. Many are products that weren’t available a decade ago, such designer pet bowls, orthopedic dog beds, fancy puppy carriers, and of course a plethora of toys. We’re not just talking about basic squeaky toy or Frisbee, but things like “Jimmy Chew” plush toys and doggie puzzles that provide your pet with “mental stimulation.”
Even though the sharp rise in pet spending may seem puzzling, when all things are considered, pets are a bargain. The emotional gratification most people receive from their pets is immense – far outweighing whatever money is spent.
So what do we want in return?  A cold nose under your arm or just a small piece of the bed, but it’s all worth it when they come to us with those dog eyes and lift their paw as if to reach for us and our heart melts.  As I sit here writing this article, I am surrounded by seven furry companions that would give their life and have given their heart to me and it’s worth every penny that I have spent…

So Long Son...

I remember so well saying those words several years ago when my oldest son went off to college.  I also remember standing at the front door and watching him pull away in the car and knowing that he would never “really” live with us again, his life was changing for the better, he was going on a great adventure, but it still made me sad to see him go.  We had a special bond, we were close and I shed a tear as he left because my life was changing…

Kemba came to stay with us last week and has been here for a little over a week.  We were very excited when we got the call to board him while his human parents were on vacation.  When he arrived, he ran and jumped and came to greet us once again, giving us many kisses upon arrival.  You see Kemba has been here many times before and is part of our own family, always fitting right in.  As we  were talking when he was dropped off by his human family, I was told some news I didn’t want to hear.  This would probably be the last time we would see him… He was moving very far away…my heart sank and I had a knot in my stomach.  Knowing this as he was dropped off, my mind starting thinking of all the good times we have had in the last year or so.  He is leaving today and it will be bitter sweet and sad and I will miss him.  He is just one of those dogs that captures your heart and latches onto it.  He is very well behaved and will take commands without hesitation, even showing my dogs how it's done.
Kemba was born in March of 2011 and he is the product of Clancy and Meg and was one of 4 males born to a litter that only had 1 girl.  I remember so well when the time came, Meg and I were sitting on the couch and I was rubbing her back for comfort.   I had made her a pallet because I knew she was close and was starting to go into labor and as she was lying next to me, I felt my leg get warm and when I looked down a little bundle of life was next to me.  Meg had delivered the first pup and it was Kemba.
Just like when the kids leave, whether its marriage, college ,moving away or a new job, you always wonder if they are OK and things are good.  You want the best for them even though it’s painful because that’s what a parent’s job is.  I have solace in knowing that Kemba will do well, because his human parents have done a wonderful job with him.  He is a true border collie in every aspect, he loves to run and play and is a whizz at playing Frisbee and ball.  I call him the “little sneak” because he hides behind my back and grabs the Frisbee before I can throw it. 

It's sad not knowing if we will ever see Kemba again, but I  take great pleasure in knowing that he is one of us and always will be.  As they were pulling away, I watched him from a distance knowing that he would never “really” live with us again, his life was changing for the better, he was going on a great adventure, but it still made me sad to see him go.  We have a special bond and are close.  I shed a tear as he left because my life was changing once again…

Goodbye, "little sneak," you always made me smile,  Dad…

I take great joy in hearing about our dogs and pups and nothing thrills me more than to get updates on their life and see them through words, photos or visits, no matter how far or close they are.  As I have always said, "It might be your dog, but it will always be my pup"  That part of their life is deeply rooted and will always be mine to keep and treasure... Ken


Git Along Little Doggies

Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
Don't fence me in
Let me ride through the wide open country that I love
Don't fence me in
Let me be by myself in the evenin' breeze
Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees
Send me off forever but I ask you please
Don't fence me in

Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies
On my Cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise

I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences
And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses
And I can't look at hovels and I can't stand fences
Don't fence me in

Sorry little doggies….

This has been a busy week in that we are moving right along on the new fence here on the farm.  If you haven’t kept up with the dog’s Facebook page, we are fencing nearly ¾’s of a mile that will cover most of the farm.  We are doing this for several reasons, the first to keep my dogs safe from other dogs that sometimes roam onto our property, but mostly to allow any guest dogs that stay with us, the ability to run loose or just roam around, doing as they please.  When we have dog boarders, they are never allowed to stay out if I’m not with them unless they have proven themselves of being able to stay with the pack.  I have never had a problem except once when Gabby was frightened by a low flying plane that even scared me, she ran into the woods and kept running, when she did come back 3 hours later, she was covered with briers and had cut her paw.  She was a mess, but hopefully, this won’t happen again.
The fence will be 5’ tall with a strand of barbed-wire on top in case we were ever to aquire livestock.  It will be easier to do it now as opposed to later. 
This job was hired out, but of course I am helping and supervising, but mostly getting in the way. But I really do think I am helping, I think?  The company is very nice and we are getting along well and having fun.
The bad part about going through the woods is that we need at least an 8 foot path to get the equipment through because the job is too big to do by hand.  I am glad we didn’t have to cut any big trees, we either went around them or moved the fence. 
There will be 4 drive-through gates and at least one walk-through gate.  I know people think we are crazy and that’s a lot of space for the dogs, but I want peace of mind.  I want to know my dogs are safe and any guest dog is safe and can run as much as they want and as far as they want. 
Another good thing about this project is; where we have cleared for the fence row will make a wonderful place to walk or ride the 4-wheeler, which my dogs will love.  They get so excited even when I walk close to the 4-wheeler, and I can just say “verooooom” and they're  off and running.  This will add a lot of peace of mind not only for me, but for the owners of the dogs that stay.  I don’t imagine the dogs will ever know it is there.   We should finish by the second week of November.  

I Need some input.  Elaine had a suggestion last week that I actually thought was good (Elaine never reads this, I think, but I'm sure I'll know soon enough).  She suggested that we have a puppy renunion sometime during the summer.  I have visions of a weekend of play, Frisbee and ball and all the running your dogs can do.  I have had 14 dogs here at once and what's a few more.  If you have a suggestion or think it's good or bad idea, let me know on the dog's facebook Page My Dog's Facebook Page.  Suimming, food, music, campfires at night and camping if you want to stay overnight and of cource, all of our pups are invited.   Great Idea Elaine, hope she reads this part.  KS
PS... Dogs can run free, because of the fence...Sweet...


Please God...It's Got To End

Because of our website about border collies and the life of our dogs, we get several calls a week about dogs and puppies.  We usually don’t have any to sell, but people will want a recommendation for a breeder or have a question about one or want advice about their BC.  I don’t mind giving my thoughts, if I know, on recommending or a breeder, but I have to actually know who I'm talking about, only to be fair to them.  In the last two years, I have received several dozen calls about a BC breeder in Lafayette, Indiana, and all of them were people that had concerns about the border collies that were there.  

Two calls really stuck with me.  The first was a man who had made a visit and was upset because of the kennel's conditions.  I listened to him and tried to console him thinking it couldn't have been that bad.  He called back and stated that he had made another visit only to be more upset.  He didn't know who to call, and I gave him some information and contacts he could use.  After he had vented for a while, he broke down and cried because of their treatment and abuse and didn't understand how anybody could do that to an animal.  I took it upon myself to call the local authorities “just to talk” one retired investigator to an active one.  The officer was well aware of the breeder and stated that 80% of ALL their calls are from the same breeder and abuse.  They did state that there was a court hearing at the end of the month.  All was well; problem solved…or, so I thought…

In August of this year, I received a lengthy email about the same breeder and abuse.  After reading it, I asked her to call me so we could talk.  It was a woman who made a stop from Florida going to her home up north.  She was shocked and just needed to vent and a shoulder to cry on.  She stated that she couldn't go any further inside the kennel after she saw the first of the 43 dogs that were caged, it was just too much, and she left the; we crying while her husband spoke to the breeder.

Her testimony was heartbreaking, and I knew at that very moment, I had to do something, I didn't know what, but I had to do something.  Before I could take anyone's word, I had to make a visit.  It would not be fair to discuss the situation or make an opinion if I did not witness the “so-called” abuse for myself, so I made my mind up; I was going to make a visit, just to see…and our journey starts.

The date was set, and I asked Elaine to go, but she was busy at church and couldn't.  I then asked a friend of ours, Karen Newhall, who has 20 years of experience in developing drugs for animal health and has a working sheep farm with two border collies.  We chose a day to go, and off to Lafayette, we went.   A lot of small talk in the 3-hour drive, but the conversation was getting serious about the dogs as we got closer.  "What are we going to say?"  "What are we going to ask?"  I told Karen I was getting a little nervous.  I was a detective for 25 years in a major city in my past life, but what I was about to do hit close to home and concerned me more than anything I had done in those twenty-five years.  As we pulled in, I turned to Karen and said, "I hope it's not as bad as we've been told," and she said, "Me too."

The farm property was located at 10112 South 700 East, Clarks Hill, Indiana, which is a rural farm property; there is a mobile home and at least two metal pole buildings, and four-wire corn cribs.  Many of the dogs are housed in a 30 x 60 metal pole building. The property is overgrown and unkempt. Some dogs are housed in the corn cribs, one dog was tied outside, and one dog was loose. The border collies totaled at 43; that’s all we could see.
As we got in the car and pulled away from our visit, both Karen and I didn’t say anything at first, and I think we were in shock.  The first words were spoken, and I would like to remember what they were, but I can't.  That period is a buzz, and my mind is flashing images from one kennel to another. Throughout the entire visit, we both kept our composure and asked many questions and were given complete answers, most of which we didn’t agree with, but he did respond to questions. We found him to be a very proud man of his accomplishments, and when we asked if we could take photos, he gladly agreed and even encouraged us to “take photos of anything we wanted, except him,” which we agreed to. There is nothing I can write or say that can describe this trip, and as I have said many times, “you just have to visit” to get the full effect of his kennel. I will tell you, this trip has affected me in ways that will haunt me for the rest of my life. As I sit here at my keyboard at 4 am on the very Sunday that this post needs to go up, I should tell you something, sleep has escaped me on more than one night; in fact, it usually escapes me on most nights, either going to sleep or waking at 3 am with the images spinning in my mind.

What to do?  Karen and I were on a mission now…Letters were written, phone calls were made, and visits were scheduled. There were many people that helped, but most did not. Of all the animal groups out there that are advertised to help, all of them kept referring us back to the local authorities, but they did want our money.  I even called PETA, and even they were aware of him but referred us back to the locals. The Captain of the local sheriff’s department was well aware of him and even stated that 80% of their complaints and workload was about this breeder, so the fight was on again. We had to do it for the dogs; we were their voice.

After much work and many phone calls, we were summoned to the sheriff’s department for a meeting. At first, we thought they were just trying to blow us off and coddle us, and the meeting started a little shaky because of me; I just wanted to say my piece.  Little did I know who was in attendance. There were Detectives, Captains, Prosecutors, and even the National Director of “Puppy Mills” of the National Humane Society from Washington DC, she had flown in just for this meeting and the raid, and after the meeting, I hugged her.   The wheels were finally turning. At the raid a few days later, the kennel was cited with over 50 citations, and various charges were filed from the health department. All of which are pending, but it's not over.

One night a week or so ago, I was sitting in my recliner, and Clancy had crawled in my lap and was sound asleep; Abbie was right next to me as close as she could get, with Dutchess laying at my feet. Clancy was knocked completely out, fast asleep, and I was rubbing him from his snout down his back; it was heaven for both of us. Just then, I thought about Randy and his dogs, and I don’t know why.  I don't know if he cares for them but has he experienced this, the bond and love of a dog. Has he experienced the speed of them running and playing and being happy watching them play and jump? With 43 dogs on his property, it would be hard. He has stated that he can’t let them out because he’s afraid they will run off or get hurt, so they stay in their kennel all day begging for attention and just a chance to run.

As I lay in bed every night, I see the scared faces of dogs that I know need more than they are getting. Sometimes, my dogs are a handful, and I can’t imagine 43, and I know it would hard to do under the best circumstances. But in my thoughts, late at night… I do feel sorry for the breeder and wonder what happened in the 40 years he has been breeding border collies. In my suffering, I pray… I pray for him, and I also pray for the dogs in his care and hope that this will be resolved soon.  Let’s just hope.
As I drift off, I see the faces of the dogs, some of which look like mine, and wonder if things were different…but rain falls on the just and the unjust.

To the dogs I left behind, know this, we did everything we could do.  It's in God's hands now, and hopefully, I'll see you again, maybe even at the bridge where you'll finally be able to run and scamper and have someone hug and hold you, stroking your face looking into your sad eyes...I'm sure I'll know you; your faces will live with me forever...

Give your dog a hug today.... some Border Collies have never had one...  Ken