Memorial Day, Remember Your Dog

If you ever love an animal, there are three days in your life you will always remember...
The first is a day, blessed with happiness, when you bring home your new friend. You may have spent weeks deciding on a breed. You may have asked numerous opinions of many vets, or done long research in finding a breeder. Or, perhaps in a fleeting moment, you may have just chosen that silly looking mutt in a shelter--simply because something in her eyes reached your heart. But when you bring that chosen pet home, and watch her explore, and claim her special place in your hall or front room--and when you feel her brush against you for the first time--it instills a feeling of pure love you will carry with you through the many years to come.

The second day will occur eight or nine or ten years later. It will be a day like any other. Routine and unexceptional. But, for a surprising instant, you will look at your long-time friend and see age where you once saw youth. You will see slow deliberate steps where you once saw energy. And you will see sleep where you once saw activity. So you will begin to adjust your friend's diet--and you may add a pill or two to her food. And you may feel a growing fear deep within yourself, which bodes of a coming emptiness. And you will feel this uneasy feeling, on and off, until the third day finally arrives.

And on this day--if your friend and God have not decided for you, then you will be faced with making a decision of your own--on behalf of your lifelong friend, and with the guidance of your own deepest Spirit. But whichever way your friend eventually leaves you---you will feel as alone as a single star in the dark night. If you are wise, you will let the tears flow as freely and as often as they must. And if you are typical, you will find that not many in your circle of family or friends will be able to understand your grief, or be able to comfort you.

But if you are true to the love of the companion you cherished through the many joy-filled years, you may find that a soul--a bit smaller in size than your own---seems to walk with you, at times, during the lonely days to come. And at moments when you least expect anything out of the ordinary to happen, you may feel something brush against your leg--very very lightly. And looking down at the place where your dear, perhaps dearest, friend used to lay---you will remember those three significant days.

The memory will most likely be painful, and leave an ache in your heart---As time passes the ache will come and go as it has a life of its own. You will both reject it and embrace it, and it may confuse you. If you reject it, it will depress you. If you embrace it, it will deepen you. Either way, it will still be an ache. But there will be, I assure you, a fourth day when---along with the memory of your companion---and piercing through the heaviness in your heart---there will come a realization that belongs only to you. It will be as unique and strong as our relationship with each animal we have loved, and lost.

This realization takes the form of a Living Love---like the heavenly scent of a rose that remains after the petals have wilted, this love will remain and grow--and be there for us to remember. It is a love we have earned. It is the legacy our companions leave us when they go. And it is a gift we may keep with us as long as we live. It is a love which is ours alone. And until we ourselves leave, perhaps to join our beloved companions--it is a love that we will always possess.
- Martin Scot Kosins

Today I took a walk down our driveway. At the end, is our “family” graveyard where we have buried every pet that has passed since we left Kentucky. Alone with a ferret, we have two border collies, Midnight and Morgan and Patches, our cockier spaniel and a very special cat which we still have his food bowl. With Memorial Day upon us, I want us to think of our past pets we have lost in one way or another. I have spoken to literally hundreds of people who have lost their beloved pet and have even cried with them.  Some I never met, but they just needed to talk.  It is hard to lose a pet, but we are who we are because of our past, and our pets have shaped us more than we choose to believe or may know. I know the day will come when “that time” will come and it breaks my heart to even think of it and I know many of you have had to make the decision.

Because I love you so, your sorrow touches my spirit and grieves me. We have now, this very moment together.  So come,     sit down here next to me on the floor. And look deep into my eyes. What do you see? If you look hard and deep enough we will talk, you and I, heart to heart. Come to me not as “alpha” or as a “trainer” or even a “Mom or Dad”, come to me as a living soul and stroke my fur, and let us look deep into one another's eyes and talk. I may tell you something about the fun of chasing a tennis ball, or I may tell you something profound about myself, or even life in general. You decided to have me in your life (I hope) because you wanted a soul to share just such things with. Someone very different from you, and here I am. I am a dog, but I am alive. I feel emotion, I feel physical senses, and I can revel in the differences of our spirits and souls. I do not think of you as a “Dog on two feet” I know what you are. You are human, in all your quirkiness, and I love you still. Now, come sit with me, on the floor. Enter my world, and let time slow down if even for only 15 minutes. Look deep in my eyes, and whisper to my ears. Speak with your heart, with your joy and I will know your true self. We may not have tomorrow, and life is oh so very short.
Love, Your Beloved Dog

I will tell you that I have done this. There are times that I have got on the floor with each of my dogs, and I have seen another soul. I have looked deep into their eyes and they looked back and seemed to understand.

A letter from your dog;

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....
Jon Katz

Have a good Memorial Day, remember it is about remembering all that things that meant so much to so many of us and know it can also mean our past pets.  We meant everything to them…and they lived their life.... just to Love Us… Ken
Shepp, my little red headed boy, have a good Memorial Day...I have always said, I will never forget you and I won't....Dad


I Just Don't Have Time

No, it's not me, I’m retired, I have plenty of time, it’s just that I have too many jobs and try to do everything in one day. One thing the Good Lord did not bless me with is patience, and I think he forgot Dutchess, too. Yes, this IS another Dutchess story.

 She always provides me with plenty of material for the site and may even plan to do things, because she loves the limelight.

If Dutchess could speak and she almost can, the first thing she would say is “I just don’t have time to do that.” The reason she would say that is because she has to;

Play Frisbee
Play Ball
Play Frisbee
Play Frisbee
Play Frisbee
Go Fishing
Jumping in other people's cars when they visit

There are many things that she doesn’t have time for; because she just wants to do other things, some of them she hates are;

Nursing her babies
Going to bed
Going to her kennel
And last but not least is minding me.

It's not that she really hates it, she just wants to do the things she wants to.  There is no doubt that Dutchess is a free spirit girl. I think she is a layover of the early 70’s and would wear a headband if she could find one. I know she was a hippie in her past life.

You don't mind if I drop these off for a while...Do you?
One of the problems we are having now is she is bored taking care of her pups. In her mind, I can just hear her…”Heck, they have teeth and can walk, they should be able to find food for themselves, I do, you just have to beg enough, they’ll give in”. She always weans her pups herself, when she thinks they are ready; because she wants to do other things.

The last couple of days, I have had to make her lie down and sit with her just to make sure the pups get some milk. She will give me the evil eye, and I can only imagine what she is thinking, but I usually win, usually.

You might win, but I don't like it...
She hates to go to bed or go in her kennel because the dogs usually stay out all day unless someone is coming over.   I will put all the dogs up; because they will charge the car, not to chase it, but to get to the driver, hoping that they might have a ball or in Dutchess’s case, “food.” Once, just as the car door was open, she went under the driver's legs to the passenger’s side of the car and tore open his McDonalds bag looking for at least one French fry. I was right there and did say, “I really do feed her” he took it in good strides, and we both laughed. He even got a few licks from her in case there were some crumbs still on his face.

One of the most amusing things I have ever seen her do was during a mating with Clancy (A little PG rating here). Elaine and I were taking a walk with the dogs, and as always, we have a Frisbee in hand. Well, Mother Nature took charge during the walk, and the deed was done, and as with dogs, they will stay this way for a period of time. Dutchess, seeing the Frisbee nearby decided she wanted the Frisbee and went for it. Well, Clancy could not see the Frisbee, nor wanted anything to do with it and was comfortable just to stay put. Off she went, pulling Clancy to the toy, his eyes getting bigger with every step. Fortunately, it was just a few feet away, and when she got there, she picked the Frisbee up and just held it in her mouth until they were finished, and in her mind, she wanted to be ready to play Frisbee.

Dutchess is an exquisite dog if she could tell it. She is just a free thinker and has a free spirit that wants to do what she wants to do when she wants to do it. She is a leader and has never been a follower. I once saw her knock a gentleman down. He and his family were looking at the dogs just to get a feel for their personality. Dutchess was looking for a faster way to get to a toy, and he was in her way. This made perfect sense to her; but the only thing I saw was a lawsuit, again, he took it in good stride and said, “she sure is spirited, ” and I agreed. Whew!

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Tess Comes Home

Tess had come full circle in 2012.  She was born in December 2011 and went to her new home.  Just a few months later, her original owner had suddenly passed away and after the funeral, her daughter took her home to Florida just to give her a temporary home.  After we were contacted, Tess was on Delta flight 1618, departing Orlando at about 7:30 am to come back to the farm. She was picked up and brought down to the farm for a little debriefing and just to get her feet back on the ground before she goes to her forever home.  She also played with our pack just to get socialized a little more

I thought about Tess all day on the flight day because I knew she would be in a crate in a cargo hold on a big plane. I know I get the willies when I fly and can't imagine how scared a little 5-month-old pup would be. She had to change planes in Atlanta, doesn't everybody, I guess dogs are the same about changing planes too and then on to Indianapolis.

The new owners and I had made plans to bring her back to the farm as I said earlier just to re-adjust her because so much has gone on in her life, and Saturday was packed full. When I knew she was getting close to the farm, I got a little nervous and a little excited to see her. I wonder how she would act and will she remember the farm or me. All the dogs were put up (because as we all know, my dogs will get in the car with anyone), and when the new owners arrived, Tess was a little scared and unsure about the new place. I gave my distinctive yelp, which we do with all the pups. "Here Pup, Here Pup," and her head snapped my way, and out she ran straight to me. Tess was home, she smelled me, and she was around familiar surroundings. She was a little unsure of all the big dogs at first, but as the afternoon wore on, she was playing and trying to fit in, which she did.

We all went to play near the water and had plenty of tennis balls and a Frisbee for Dutchess and Meg. Tess did very well and can catch and even fetch, bringing back the ball right back to your feet. She is a little pistol and is very loving, jumping on everyone's to get some love and attention. As the owners were getting ready to leave, I started to put the dogs up, not wanting my dogs to get in their car, so I called mine. As they were walking to the kennel, I called Tess "Here Pup, Here Pup," and Tess came running and went inside her old kennel area where she was born and raised and spent her young life playing with her littermates.

It's always good to see our pups again, I am so sorry for the sudden death of Karen and know her family is grieving, but know again, with all the power I have, I want my pups to be happy and if it wasn't for the help of many people who shared cost, made arrangements and the many people who went out of their way to help little Tess, none of this would be possible, and she might be in a shelter or worse.

Thank you all for your help. My heart also goes out to the special couple in Florida who gave Tess a home, even if it was temporary. As I write this, I know your heart broke as you put little Tess on that plane saying goodbye, knowing you will never see her again. Thank you for your understanding and for doing what was best for her. The right decisions are not always the easiest.  I know. I've been there. Karen, Rest in Peace, your little girl is just beautiful…and will be well taken care of, just as you wanted.

Followup... Last week, Tess, who had had a wonderful life, passed away, she was sick just a few days, and she went to sleep in her owner's arms. I knew about her illness from an earlier call and got the call when it was over. Tess will come full circle again when her ashes come back to the farm to be with Clancy and Molly. Rest in peace sweet girl.  Ken