The Story of the Jolly Ball... Or is it?

Can you write about a red or blue Jolly Ball and is that the real story? You can write about it, but it’s not the real story, let me explain… A good friend told me about the Jolly Ball when I was complaining about “there is nothing that my dogs can’t bite into and pop, if it has air its history” I had purchases several basketballs only to see them flattened in 3 to 4 minutes. She explained that she has found a ball that will work and it’s great. She and her husband were coming over for a play day with her dogs and I ask if she would pick one up for me, just to be sure I got the right thing. When they arrived with Jolly Ball in hand, I was a little confused because I had seen it in the farm stores and it had a photo on the side of the package with a horse holding a Jolly Ball in its mouth. What does this have to do with dogs? “You’ll see”. After the play day, out came the Jolly Ball and off we went to the water.
Even before I got to the water, the dogs were jumping at it and trying to get it out of my hands, because they knew it was something fun to do and after much fun and excitement, they were happy, tired and wet. Time for rest, and while the dogs were asleep on the porch, I pondered the latest form of excitement.
Was it the Jolly Ball that brought so much excitement? Yes and No. As I thought back, I would see all the dogs running up to cars that would visit with their tails wagging and barks of enjoyment knowing they would play with the occupants. I saw Abbie run off the porch when I was nearing the back door because she thought it was play time. I saw Dutchess jump in the air when we would walk toward the lake. I saw Clancy bring a tennis ball and lay it at my feet while I am working on a project and if I ignored him or moved, he would reposition the ball, just to make sure I would see it. Many times all the dogs have brought me a piece of tennis ball, stick, piece of plastic or anything that could be a toy. But the story is, they want to be with us. Many times people will tell me that their dogs are so loving and devoted to them and I know this so well. It’s even hard for me to put on my outdoor work shoes because they will crowd me and shower me with kisses and licks and most of the times if they can’t get in, someone will jump on my back and lick my neck as I sit, trying to tie my shoes.

Is it the Jolly Ball? No, it’s the time they want to spend with me; it’s the bond that the dogs make with "us" humans. So many times we overlook this bubbling love or put it off and this is a shame. I am so lucky that I have time to be with mine which is nearly 24 hours a day. I see them in their excitement and when they are at rest and peace. I have the best of both worlds and I take advantage of it. I have said there is nothing as peaceful for me as I am in my recliner and a dog in my lap. I have had a lot of dogs in my lifetime and in my heart, I believe all dogs are not this way. Some dogs won’t give you the time of day but Border Collies will and will continue to give you their heart. I did a Google search on "Most Loyal Dog breed" and “Entirely Pets" said that the Number 1 Loyal dog is the Border Collie or "The Rough Collie. I know a lot of people will argue this, but I have seen it firsthand so many times. I truly think it’s bred into them because every litter starts the same.
As I approach the pups in their kennel to put them up for the night, I open the gate to wagging tails, little jumps and saucer shaped eyes, I will bend down, get on my knees and will get covered with whines and licks and puppy breath which is the only way they know to talk, but it speaks volumes and who would ever think a little pup with a licking tongue, could say so much.  Last night Meg was with me as I put them up. When I bent down, Meg knew her signal. She too, joined the pups showering me with all the love in her heart and in my heart; I knew it doesn’t get any better.
Is it the Jolly Ball? No, it’s the love that overflows from their heart because someone loves them back and the trust that humans and dogs have, but Border Collies have a little extra, I know because I see it every night.

A wonderful quote from the movie "Marley & Me" is so true. This quote came when Marley was at the end of his life and was being put to sleep and it was said by his master whose heart was breaking watching his best friend pass.
"A dog has no use for fancy cars, big homes, or designer clothes. A water log stick will do just fine. A dog doesn't care if you’re rich or poor, clever or dull, smart or dumb. Give him your heart and he'll give you his."

If you haven’t’ give your heart away, try it and it will pay you back more than you’ll ever know. Is it the Jolly Ball? I really don’t think so. It’s a gift we’ll never understand.  Ken

Back To Normal

Even though we are just getting into the summer season, we are near the end of the puppy season here at the farm. Dutchesses’ pups have all gone home and some of Meg’s have too with the rest going this week. This is a very bitter sweet time for me because I do enjoy them so, especially at this stage in their life. What I won’t miss is all the hard work that’s involved in raising the pups. Some might think that it’s pretty simple and the Mom takes care of everything and in most cases, they do. There is a point that “Mom” says to the pups, “you’re on your own” and then we step in.
Even before the pups are born there is a lot involved in the process that most people don’t think of, some of the things are taking Mom’s temperature, having the whelping box ready and watching her food intake and general moods which can help in letting you know when it’s time. I try to keep everything ready but they deliver when they want and usually it’s during the night, which means a very long night, once Molly delivered the first pup in the middle of our bed. Cleaning their whelping bedding is something that is a must and should be done on a regular basis for the health of mom and the pup which means doing extra wash every day.

As they grow, the first ten to twelve days are a snap, but as they get older, things get more hectic and involved. Everyone raises pups a little different. What works for me does not always work for others and so forth. I like to have the pups in an area where they can go outside when that want, which means they will “potty” away from their bed and this seems to help when they go home and also cuts down on clean up. Usually the pups are in an area that is about 25 feet by 25 feet and they will scamper all day and have a big time rolling around and playing with each other until they drop off to sleep. But before this happens and as they get older, I will puppy proof the area, making sure they can’t get out of their fenced area. At night, I always enclose the pups inside their own kennel in the big kennel house around midnight (which is a pain when you’re nodding off to sleep on the couch). I do this just to make sure they are safe during the night from any predators that might roam the area and get them and I will let them out at about 6 to 6:30 am. I will tell you, just last week, about 7:30 am, I heard the dogs barking which they usually don’t do, and I went to the kennel to investigate. Annie was herding three pups that had squeezed under the gate and were playing near of the edge of the woods. It was so comical, and trying to catch them was a hoot, but in the end, that could have been a tragedy if things would have happened a little different. It’s like having eight to ten preschoolers at the same time and this spring, I had 14 and was always on guard for problem.
All in all it’s fun and it keeps me busy and as I said, it’s a lot of work, especially if you’re a type of person that wants everything right and strives so the little pups will have a good start, but the ones that get a little slighted is our dogs. There is just not enough time to work with the pups teaching them to play ball and swim and to devote the time that the big dogs are used to.
It is nice to get back to a normal routine again and the big dogs will love all the attention that they deserve to have again. I was thinking about this last night and I called Molly’s name while she was sleeping on the couch and with her eyes still closed, her tail wiggles with joy, just knowing I called her name. Abbie can’t wait to cuddle in my arms during the night and Clancy loves to lick my leg. Dutchess will stand at my chair waiting for me to get a ball and Meg will put her head in my lap while she sleeps. Annie loves to play “dog fight” with me on the couch which is its own story. My dogs and most dogs, are very forgiving and it will be nice to spend the day playing and just being together. This is all normal at our house and I hope every pup will do some of the same things with their owners, they have a gift, and you just need to accept it.
Happy Father's day to Clancy, you deserve your rest,
We’ll have to wait and see if Molly is pregnant and if she is, it’s time to start again.

Today's Lesson

This has been a very busy week and things seem to be going full speed, sometime too fast as it’s hard to keep up. Sometimes, I like being busy, but this week was a challenge to keep up with everything. We are boarding 3 dogs and have company staying with us and they have a border collie too, which makes 10 adult dogs and 14 pups. All in all, things have gone smooth with just a few flair-ups but everyone is on great terms and are playing hard whenever they are out We even had two people who just wanted to talk about border collies stop by just to pick my brain, which was empty most of the time. I always tell them up-front that I’m not the expert; it’s just what works for me. Abbie had taken the sour side of life because she doesn’t want ANYONE to get in her space and this included the whole farm and it also includes any dogs that may visit. She was put into timeout several times and I just know she had on her report card “Does Not Play Well With Others”. To be the smallest dog other than Annie, she sure is bossy at times. She will even try to tell Clancy a thing or two at times, and with a very solemn look, he will look at her and his eyes will say “yeah, just try it”.

Dogs can be strange and mysterious creatures. Their behavior is amazing and they do things for many reasons that is hard for us to understand or even imagine.

One of the most interesting and disgusting thing dogs do is an obnoxious behavior and it stemmed from the practice of regurgitating food. Dogs in the wild live in packs. They hunt together and assist in feeding and caring for the young. Dogs in the wild would feed on the prey after the kill. When the dogs return to the den they would regurgitate the partially digested food to feed the young. Additionally, eating vomit and feces has something to do with hiding the traces of a dog’s presence from predators. After thousands of years of domestication, these habits still kick in. Domesticated dogs still regurgitate food to feed the puppies. Dogs are less discriminating with what they put in their mouth. No matter how well fed the dog is it, it would still forage food from the trash can every chance it could get. It is said that humans and canines are about 90% similar in genetics. The 10% would probably account for the difference in our choices of food. The insects, the dead animals, the feces and the vomit that are relished by the dogs are repulsive to humans. To my knowledge, dog are the only animal that will do this and it is even mentioned in the Bible.

Another thing that dogs do that is amazing is their heat seasons will start to adjust and will eventually be at the same time. I have noticed this over the years with our dogs. Duchess was bred and 8 days later Meg was bred and then along came Molly who may be pregnant now. This is another trait that goes back to the wild when the alpha female would breed with the alpha male to produce the best and strongest litter. In the pack, subordinate wild dog, and wolf females that have never conceived (and may never do so) sometimes undergo a “pseudo pregnancy,” developing a swollen belly and mammary glands. Then, once the alpha female’s pups are born, the non-mothers secrete milk for the alpha’s pups. By becoming a wet-nurse, a subordinate may increase her chances of being tolerated in the group. Had she given birth herself, her young might have been killed by the alpha female. The alpha female will be responsible to get the food, eat it and then bring it back to the pack and provide it to the for all to eat, thus this is where she would regurgitate it up for them. Some believe this is why some dogs will lick the mouths of each other. This is a sign of respect and a signal that they want to be fed. Dogs like to lick human skin not only for the salt from the sweat, but also as a form of greeting, such as by briefly licking a person's hand after sniffing it. Licking is also used as a social bonding analogous to primate social grooming and stroking. This can indicate intimacy. Such licking is longer and slower, as compared to the brief licking of faces during a greeting. Before we had dogs many years ago, when my brother’s dog or any other dog would lick my leg or hand, I thought it was kinda yucky. Now that I have such loving dogs, when they do it and it’s usually Clancy, I find it endearing. The dog world is a strange and wonderful place and I have learned so much, but there is a lifetime of more to come.

As far as the busy week, things will calm down and there will be peace in the world, very soon.  Ken

They Have Changed Our Life

“They have changed my life” is something I hear quite often from people who have one of our border collies and I am sure they are right because my dogs have changed mine in such a good way.
This week and for the next few weeks our pups will be traveling to their new forever home to start their new life. It’s always a sad day for me but a very happy day for their owner. In just the last few days, we have had 8 families that traveled to the farm just to see their pup and we always welcome this, sometimes they even bring their dog. Everyone is so excited to play and cuddle with them and spend a just s few moments with “their” new pup.
This image has caused me to think of the impact our pups  have had on their families. I’m sure it has changed their life in some way or another and I always encourage people to keep me informed of how their dog is doing, for no other reason but just to keep up with their life and to see our little one again. Some don’t, but many do and it’s always a great joy for me when I get that message or email. If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times “They have changed our life”. I have never really realized the impact that Molly, Meg and Dutchess have had on people in a positive way. I hear so many stories about the dogs and the things they do and the joy they have on a broken heart that they never thought would be mended, but did.
So here we go again, you see from my point of view, I get to see it all. From the point of the planned “deed” to the time when they go home. With each dog that has gone to its new home, we have held every one in the palm of our hand at their birth, checking them out and making sure everything was in place and just right. Hopefully, they are born during the day, but usually “mother” has other plans for a night delivery and that makes for a long night, but I wouldn’t miss it for anything, not only for the pups, but for the mom. It is a miracle to watch as everything comes together in such a perfect way. Then the fun starts because they grow so much, and oh so fast. Every day is a new adventure, learning new things, exploring objects that they have never seen before and living in their little world.  I enjoy it so when they find their voice and their first little bark and don't get me started on puppy breath, it's from heaven.  I often wonder if they know what a big world waits for them as they hurry to get there.  After my job is through, and as everyone drives away with their pup, I say a prayer…”Lord, let them all be happy and let them bring joy to each other” My prayer…. simple but true. You see, if you give, you’ll receive, if not, you won’t. We humans sometimes make it more complicated that it is, the dogs never do.
The last few days, I have had the pleasure to host some great “play days” here on the farm. I can’t think of a better way than to spend some good quality time and a afternoon with one of my pups “all” grown up.  They have changed so much from the little round faces and the big eyes that take everything in.  I can remember each new pup as they leave and also the family that takes them. There are smiles on all the faces and during every visit at some point, someone will ask “How can you do it, give them up?”, It’s simple, because of the joy and love I want other people to share.
Every one of my pups take away a small piece of my heart when they go to their new home, but when we get old and we all go "home" and cross that heavenly bridge together, they’ll bring it back to me with licks and kisses and we'll all be reborn and explore a new and wonderful place with big eyes that take everything in.  Good luck little pups, until that day…. Dad