Spring Cleaning & Dog Playing

With the break in the weather, I have been energized to start some of the seasonal chores that occur every spring here at the farm. There are things in the fall that I must do, but most of the startup work happens in the spring and I look forward to getting started. However; it can be a pain in the butt. I will usually put off the things that I really don’t like to do. This year is NO different.
It has become a routine, clean and rake leaves, trim bushes before they start their new growth, cut ornamental grasses down before they start growing and many other things. The dogs always love it because I am outside more and they know they can steal some time from me and my work, which I really don’t mind.
 Abbie is the worst for wanting to play and she wants to play every minute, much more than the other dogs. The reason I know this is because she is the only dog that will find “stuff” to bring to me that remotely resembles a ball, you know, looks like, smells like, it has a round shape, usually a smooth surface. So it must be a ball, right? It always happens like this; I am plowing the garden and she comes toward me with something in her mouth and lays it down in front of me, it’s a piece of stick that was part of a root. I continue to plow by her and she will pick it up and move it so I can see it, just in case I didn’t see it the first time, if I ignore her, she will turn circles several times just to get me to look at her. She’s killing me, so full of energy and those pleading eyes, I stop the plow and reach down and grab it, tossing it in the air. Everyone is watching and with excitement, all join in and chase the round shaped stick. Everyone is so excited; we’re playing ball, thanks to Abbie. I do this about a thousand times, but they will all run in front of me making my job a little stressful but I’m careful. The next day I’m at it again and the round stick is nowhere to be found, so we get the next best thing. It’s a plant label that was plowed up, it’s the little thing that comes with a 4 pack of vegetables that will identify the kind of plant it is.
 When I saw this, I had to chuckle, but I picked it up and tried to toss it, and it just sputtered a few feet, but they could care less. As happy as they were, you would have thought I had thrown it a hundred feet. Everyone danced and pranced and was having a great time.
It really doesn’t matter what I am doing, as long as it is outside. Today I was cutting the ornamental grasses down with some hedge trimmers. There were no round root type, ball shaped or even a flat vegetable tab. It was just a plain old stick. Again, Abbie was the instigator, I was running the trimmers and she dropped it next to me. I wasn’t paying attention but I saw her right next to my leg. I looked at her and knew she was trying to tell me something so I questioned her, “What, What Girl” she repositioned the stick and then I realized that it was the stick she was moving again and again so I picked it up and threw it.
You would have thought I threw a big rare steak the way they all ran. On many occasions she will come to where ever I’m at with just a small piece of tennis ball with a little bit of fuzz on it that was hit with the lawn mower.
My heart tells me that I have to stop what I’m doing to play a little fetch. They sure love to play, and I’m glad they do. Good girl Abbie, Good Girl...

Several updates next week, just to fill in some blanks...
Follow the dogs on their own Facebook page at "Shuck's Border Collies"

Bodhi, You’ve Lived a Lifetime in Just A Year.

As most of you know, I mentioned Bodhi last week at the end of the Blog, “The Saga Continues”. Let me take you to that point of history.
Two weeks ago, I got a call on Saturday from the horse farm where he was living. “I’m sorry, he is not working out. He chaises the horses and there is no stopping him, he is so focused, and we can’t stop him”. Their options were to put him down or I could come and get him. Now before you get too angry, on a real farm and in certain circumstances, putting an animal down is the only option that is left, but it must be the last resort. I talked it over with Elaine and she said, “What are we going to do?”
That next day I left the house at 5:30 am traveling to a little town called Laurelville which is in Ohio. It was raining and the wind was blowing so hard that it was hard to keep the car in the center of the road. After 5 hours, I arrived at the farm. They were not going to be home and they told me where he would be. I went to the kennel he was in and walked to the gate. Inside was a big dog curled up in a little dog house with a torn and ratty piece of carpet sticking out of the front. I wondered how he even got in it because of his size, but he did. I was so glad to see him and when I did, I nearly broke down, I’m just glad no one was there to see me act like a fool. I hugged him and in the driving rain we just stood there, together, getting soaking wet, my arms around his neck and his mussel on my shoulder.
Off we went, another five hours on the road, back to our own little farm. The rain never let up and it was a hard drive all the way home, but once here, he jumped out. He was back on safe ground, but the story continues…
Just the next day, I got “two” calls from people wanting an older dog. After the interview, the first person turned out to be 83 years old and in my opinion, too old for a young border collie. Although it might be fine now, God forbid if the man gets down or dies before Bodhi, what will happen to Bodhi, something I did not want to chance. I then turned to the second caller; they had lost their Border Collie and did not want to go through the puppy stage, which I can understand. They were a wonderful couple who took right up to him and he to them. So it was set, Bodhi was going to a new home. Sunday, the day of his transfer, was a very bittersweet day. I was very uneasy because “This just needs to stop”, Bodhi needs a forever home where he can feel comfortable and just be a dog. He had been spending the night inside with us so we had re-established our bond again. As the time approached, I was getting uneasy and sentimental, even playing the piano, something I do when I’m stressed. The book on the piano was sentimental favorites and it seemed like everything was bringing me to the point of tears so the piano playing needed to stop, which it did. We were prepared for him to leave. Rawhide, check…favorite ball, check… shot records, check…my heart, check…again.
I couldn’t stand it. It was like giving up your heart again and again and again. How many times will I have to endure this? It’s like pulling a scab off and exposing the pain all over again. It was a beautiful day and the sun was out, it was warm and the birds were singing and everything in the world was right, or so I thought…
Outside as we played with his favorite ball, my ear was in tune to every sound that came from the road, knowing any minute a car would pull up and take him away again. They called when they got off the interstate, so I knew it was 15 minutes or less. At times it was just too much and my heart was breaking again, but I wanted what was best for Bodhi and that would be a home of his own where he was the center of attention.
The people were wonderful, in fact all of the people he has gone with were very nice and wanted to share their life with a good dog, but it was not meant to be and yes not even now. You see, Bodhi came back home to us yesterday.

The epilog of this story is I just don’t know what to do. Something, somewhere has happened to Bodie in his young life. He is a good dog but he is fearful that someone is going to hurt him and he tries to protect himself. My dogs will lick and kiss me whenever I let them, sometimes too much, but Bodhi will shy away if you attempt to hold or hug him. It’s like your old Aunt Nellie trying to give you a kiss on the lips. Bodhi wants to love you, but he is afraid someone will snatch the carpet from under his feet, so he is always on guard. He will only give part of his heart. He loves to be inside and will play and sit in our lap and let you rub him, but it’s always on his terms. Bodhi has been to more cities than most people I know. Just since January, I have traveled over 1000 miles to take and pick him up at various homes, trying to fine the right spot. I don’t think I am a dog fanatic, I just want to do the right thing for him and quite honestly, it’s my job to do it, remember it might be your dog, but it will always be my pup.
The perplexing part, is he is a good dog with a the hard shell around his heart that is pretty thick. He loves us and will follow us anywhere we go. I know he just needs and wants to feel loved.  Bodhi, you have lived a lifetime in just a year. I only hope and pray, (and yes, I have prayed for you) that things will work out. I don’t know what went wrong, if anything, but we’re all pulling for you in ways you’ll never know.

Rescuer's Rainbow Bridge

Unlike most days at Rainbow Bridge, this day dawned cold and gray, damp as a swamp and as dismal as could be imagined. All of the recent arrivals had no idea what to think, as they had never experienced a day like this before. But the animals who had been waiting for their beloved people knew exactly what was going on and started to gather at the pathway leading to The Bridge to watch.
It wasn't long before an elderly animal came into view, head hung low and tail dragging. The other animals, the ones who had been there for a while, knew what his story was right away, for they had seen this happen far too often.
He approached slowly, obviously in great emotional pain, but with no sign of injury or illness. Unlike all of the other animals waiting at The Bridge, this animal had not been restored to youth and made healthy and vigorous again. As he walked toward The Bridge, he watched all of the other animals watching him. He knew he was out of place here and the sooner he could cross over, the happier he would be. But, alas, as he approached The Bridge his way was barred by the appearance of an Angel who apologized, but told him that he would not be able to pass. Only those animals who were with their people could pass over Rainbow Bridge.
With no place else to turn to, the elderly animal turned towards the fields before The Bridge and saw a group of other animals like himself, also elderly and infirm. They weren't playing, but rather simply lying on the soft green grass, forlornly staring out at the pathway leading to The Bridge. And so, he took his place among them, watching the pathway and waiting. One of the newest arrivals at The Bridge didn't understand what he had just witnessed and asked one of the animals that had been there for awhile to explain it to him.
"You see, that poor animal was a rescue. He was turned in to rescue just as you see him now, an older animal with his fur graying and his eyes clouding. He never made it out of rescue and passed on with only the love of his rescuer to comfort him as he left his earthly existence. Because he had no family to give his love to, he has no one to escort him across The Bridge."
The first animal thought about this for a minute and then asked, "So what will happen now?" As he was about to receive his answer, the clouds suddenly parted and the gloom lifted.
Approaching The Bridge could be seen a single person and among the older animals, a whole group was suddenly bathed in a golden light and they were all young and healthy again, just as they were in the prime of life.
"Watch, and see.” said the second animal. A second group of animals from those waiting came to the pathway and bowed low as the person neared. At each bowed head, the person offered a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ears. The newly restored animals fell into line and followed him towards The Bridge. They all crossed The Bridge together.
"What happened?"
"That was a rescuer. The animals you saw bowing in respect were those who found new homes because of their work. They will cross when their new families arrive. Those you saw restored were those who never found homes. When a rescuer arrives, they are allowed to perform one, final act of rescue. They are allowed to escort those poor animals that they couldn't place on earth across The Rainbow Bridge."

"I think I like rescuers", said the first animal.
"So does GOD", was the reply… Author Unknown

Bodhi, If we don’t find your family, I will be honored, if you walk with me across the bridge… Dad…

Breakfast With Dutchess...OMG

Saturday morning, I got up early and piddled around the house a little. I usually grade the roads with my tractor on Friday’s, but I waited until the roads dried out a little because of the rain and ranked them this morning. It was cold on the tractor, and when I got back to the house, I noticed that Elaine was up and was fixing a hot breakfast. As I went in the back door, I noticed a black and white dog with its head in a yogurt container. It only took one guess of who it was, and I’m sure you could guess too. “Dutchess” The worse dog to have anywhere around food unless you want her to get most of it. Elaine had invited her in for breakfast. Dutchess looked at me and barked as if saying, “please let me eat with you, please?”

Why not, I said, knowing I would regret this decision. Elaine made enough for all three of us, and Dutchess even had her own plate. We had eggs, yogurt, sausage, bagel, coffee, and milk (Dutchess did not have coffee; it makes her hyper).
Now some of you might think Dutchess would eat in a dog bowl, but Nooooo, she had her own plate, including a glass of milk. It started with our prayer, and as we prayed, Dutchess tried to get a head start, so I made the prayer quick, knowing God would understand. He of all should know about Dutchess because he gave her to us. After that fiasco, Dutchess was eager to get started on breakfast. “I want eggs, I want eggs NOW, NOW, give me eggs.”

She was so comical with everything, even eating off a fork, and she does it with the best of anyone. She would sit next to me and bark when she wanted a bite. Of course, it sounded like a kennel of dogs inside the house with all the barking going on, but it was cute. I would feed her a bite off the fork and then give her a drink from the glass.

Some people think this is disgusting. I remember my mother telling me she had once seen a family member set their plate on the floor so their dog could “clean it,” and she was disgusted to no end. I’m just glad Mom can’t see us, and our dogs do this. Sorry, Mom.

Dutchess even spoofed me and looked out the back door and cocked her ears up as if she saw something, which she did. She saw me take my eyes off my plate and turn to look out the door, and before I could turn back around, a third of my bagel was gone, and she sat there like a Cheshire cat, but the butter on her nose gave her away.

I’m telling you, Dutchess is more like a human than some humans I know, but I love her anyway. No matter what she is doing, she does it with gusto and with all her heart. We finished breakfast and had a good time with her. She, like all of our dogs, is a hoot to be around. And no, I was wrong, I didn’t regret “Breakfast with Dutchess.”

Here we go.....Again

I would never have thought we would be getting a thunderstorm and a tornado the first of March, but here we go again. That’s right we’re getting ready for bad weather and by the looks of the weather radar it’s headed our way. It just seemed like a few weeks ago that we were dodging the bad storm in August.

Right now we are having our first thunder storm for the season and it is a doozie . I usually don’t watch the local weather and I was sitting at the computer when the phone rang. It was my cousin Peg. She said just a few words, “Better get the dogs in, the storm is coming”. Peg lives in Louisville and saw the situation on their local weather station and called, and I’m glad she did. As I approached the back door, all the dogs were all waiting to come in. I’m sure they sensed it and I have always heard animals can feel an approaching storm. As soon as I opened the door, they raced for cover, trying to be the first one under the desk. Dutchess got the post possession and there was no taking it from her. While the internet was out (because we use a satellite), I worked on this blog and did some busy work that didn’t require a connection and watched the dogs react to the storm.

One thing I noticed, while sitting here, every dog took turns putting their head in my lap while I typed, usually there was a dog on each side of the chair at once. Even Dutchess gave up her post under the desk to come to me to be comforted. Each one would lay their head ever so tenderly and then look up at me. And as I was typing, I would stop and rub their head and talk to them, they would seem to relax and would lay down so the next one could take their place. I think they just needed to be reassured that everything would be OK and it was. As I would check on the storm and go outside, all the dogs would follow me to the door and stop, not wanting to go outside themselves, except Annie who has no fear of anything. When I came back in, it was like a homecoming, all jumping and spinning; just glad to see me and giving me kisses and licks. Everywhere I went in the house; it was like a Border Collie parade, all in a row as to their pecking order. The storm passed and the sun came back out for us, however we were lucky. At least fourteen people were killed in the areas around us with millions of dollars of damage and countless heartaches. But by the grace of God we made it, and everyone was fine. Thank you Jesus…

Many dogs are scared of storms and loud noises such as fireworks or even riding in a car. I have read many articles about this and there is a new product that is catching on and seems to help with these types of fear. It’s called a Thunder Coat and I just saw one at Petco. Some call it a Thunder Shirt, but they all work about the same. There are several YouTube video’s about it, here’s one of many:

Remember it won’t work for every problem, but it might be worth a try if your dog gets really nervous or frightened. The ads say it will work with storms, fireworks and even traveling in a car. If anyone has any feedback, please let me know so I can pass it along. I am very lucky that mine are just a little frightened with noises, and I guess it’s because we’re always banging around with something. I think if your dog has problems with any of these issues, it might be worth a look see and I’m sure they all work about the same.

Thanks to everyone who called and emailed us just to check if we and the dogs were OK during the storms it means a lot. Ken