There’s No Place Like Home

“Close your eyes and tap your heels together three times. And think to yourself, there’s no place like home.” ~ L. Frank Baum, The Wizard of Oz

This has been a very busy week for me, I have been driving back & forth to Louisville to finish up a construction project that has been pending for a while for my son. I usually leave the house about 4:30 am and leave Louisville anywhere from 4 to 7 pm and some nights I even stay the night. It had taken a toll on me because it has hovered around 100 degrees and we worked in the direct sun. My hands would cramp up driving back and I even lost a tire on the way back home, again. Whew….It was sure hot.
As worn out as I was and down trodden as I felt, I always felt a little better the closer I got to home. I knew what was coming and with great joy, I always experienced it. When I turned onto our gravel road, I knew I was almost there and as I turned into our drive, I also knew, because I have seen it many times before, what was going to happen, and here it came…

Six very happy border collies running to greet me, the only way they know. Most people are concerned when they drive in the driveway, but I know just what they are going to do. They were meeting me because they know the sound of the motor and they were excited to see dad again and I knew I was now “Home”.

Home is the place your heart resides
Home is the place that you decide
Home is the womb that holds the soul
Home is the place where one is whole

Home is the glow you hold in your eye
Home is the emotion that makes you cry
Home is safe and a place of peace
Home is where all strivings cease
By Aisha Patterson

As I parked my truck, I knew what was coming so I prepared for it. Of course Dutchess jumped in the truck as I opened the door, but with me it’s different than most people. She’s not looking for food, she’s looking for me. She will sit in my lap and lick my face and it doesn’t matter if it’s sweaty or not, she will give me a good licking from head to toe. As I get out, they all want their turn so last night I just sit on the back step and let then love me the only way they know and I will tell you, it lifted my spirits and it was almost as good as a shower.

As I sat, Molly was in-between my legs with her front legs on my legs licking me on my face, Abbie and Meg was on my back licking my neck, Clancy had his head under my arm wanting me to pat his head, which I did. Annie was standing back because she was the smallest and knew better to get in with the big dogs. When I saw her patiently waiting, I called her over and she jumped in my lap. All the other dogs knew it was OK because I called her over. Everyone got their turn, I saw to it, because it’s only fair. By this time Dutchess was standing in front of me with a ball in her mouth because, to her, it’s time to move on, let’s play.

This is what I enjoy about my dogs, in my heart, I think they really love me and I also think I get this greeting because I love them back. They are consumed with me, and at time, I with them. We give each other what we need and it’s always returned.

As things settle down and after I took my shower, I looked around and saw all the things I have to be grateful for, a wife that loves me, a home filled with memories and six noses and wagging tails on the back porch staring in the back door. “All right, let’s go” as I open the back door, everyone heads down to the TV room to jump on the couch with me in the middle.

They always say “Home is where your Heart is”, but if I may… It’s also where your dog is….Just click your heals together and know to yourself, there's no place like home, if it's with your best friend.

It’s good to be home…Ken

Misfit Dogs, “It Just Didn’t Work Out”

As I was sitting on the couch this Saturday, I had Tess in my lap, Abbie was under my arm and Dutchess curled up around at my feet. All of us were sound asleep watching the news. It came to me that I am encircled with a bunch of misfit dogs. Tess was re-homed three times, Abbie three times and even Dutchess twice. Sometimes it was beyond circumstances and sometimes, “it just didn’t work out”. I think back to the dogs that we have re-homed and there are a total of seven, with three of them lying within two feet of me. Of all of the dogs that have found new forever homes, only one has never reconnected with us and I hope and pray he is OK. 
Bodie (Tucker), Gem, Ernie and even my Abbie and Dutchess were misfits at one time.

Probably the most discussed and talked about has been my Bodie. He was re-homed 5 times and at one time, one of his owner’s spoke of putting him down if I didn’t want to come and pick him up, he “just didn’t work out”. The next day and 9 hours of driving later, I took Bodie from a small cage in a yard in the pouring rain. He jumped up and put his paws around me and I cried like a child as I said to him “Let’s go home”. Back in the car we went, the mud didn’t matter, we were going home, again, chasing the windshield wipers all along the way. Tucker is now with the perfect couple. He is living with his sister Errin and they are happy as ever. He went with someone who understood and said “He just needs a job” and he has several. He is involved in obedience and agility and from what I am told, doing very well. They even bought a large swimming pool so Errin and Tucker can take a swim when they want. I miss him so…
Gem was a little girl that first went home with a very busy couple who could not devote the time she needed and she “just didn’t work out”. Gem came back home and as fate would happen; I got a call from someone looking for a dog but not a puppy. They wanted a dog for their daughter in 4-H doing obedience and agility, which Gem now does. I have kept up with Gen and Elaine and I went to watch her perform some time ago. We were like grandparents in the stands and took lots of photos. Gem and her young owner preformed in the county fair and also in the State Fair. We are so proud of both of them.
Shadow, now Ernest Dexter or “Ernie” for short, went to his new home on August 28, 2009. After first leaving us, he went to live on a large 100 acre farm with his brother. This was the perfect set up, two boys around 12 years old and lots of room to run. Shadow came back to us because he was never given a job, in-fact he was just turned loose to run, which he did and was nearly killed by the neighbor who got tired of chasing the dogs off his cattle farm. In desperation, I got the call, “it’s just not working out”. Ernie (Shadow) is now working out. He lives in Indianapolis and has a mom and dad who love him very much and spoil him too. He has the one thing now he needed most, someone to correct him. Dogs never need to be in charge… I have never heard from his brother who left us the 1st of September 2009.
My Abbie was re-homes 3 times because “it just didn’t work out. The last time she came back, and after evaluating her, we enjoyed her so much, and we just kept her because we could not find a problem and she was so sweet.  Even my beloved Dutchess was re-homed for the same reason… “didn’t work out”…
So, here I am sitting in my recliner with three dogs that you would think were Satan’s right hand followers. Tess in my lap, Abbie next to me with her head on my leg and Dutchess with her head on my foot, all asleep. I have said it a thousand times, whatever you put in, you’ll get out. Nothing more, nothing less.  

Dutchess and Abbie are the light of my life. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of my dogs equal, but I can’t help feeling a little closer to them because their life could have been very short or at best, lived a life of misery and in my minds furthest corner, I can’t imagine not having them, or God forbid, one of them going to a shelter or put down. At times, we are all misfits, aren't we, and things can be difficult and usually are.  I’m glad someone took a chance with our misfit dogs and now they live a life of happiness.

If people were put down like dogs, because of their behavior, this would be a lonely place to live. There are dog lovers and dog owners. Maybe some of the dog owners shouldn’t have dogs… Ken

Can It Get Any Hotter?

Several years ago, we went through a heat spell here in Indiana and had some pretty dry weather and heat.  I remember talking to people and we always referred to that time  “you remember several years ago when it didn’t rain for at least 2 months” and everybody would shake their head and nod and say “yup, that was really bad.” Well let me tell you, we haven’t had rain since “before I planted my garden in May”. The sad part, it’s been over 100 degrees for nearly a week.
If I had solar panels, I could sell the electricity back to the co-op and be a rich man. I’ve even reexamined by spiritual beliefs because if this is a sample of the heat, I don’t want anything to do with the REAL hot place.

This brings up a point, what do you do with a dog when it’s get this hot, especially a dog that is mostly black and absorbs the heat?  I thought I had the perfect solution with having two lakes, but yesterday, after the dogs got in only once, I decided to get in and enjoy myself if they weren’t.  Well again, dogs are smarter than the owner, the water was too hot to enjoy, and it really was. Still, the point is, what to do?

Some health experts say;

• Give an ice treat to keep your dog cool.

• When the temperature gets real hot, walk you dog early in the morning and in the evenings when the temperature cools down.

• A good water hose cool down can do wonders for keeping your dog cool.

• Use dog booties on hot surfaces.

• Watch for signs of dehydration, Molly had a heat stroke before and it comes up fast.

• Dogs cool from the bottom up.

When checking this today, I did find out that dogs do cool from the bottom which I didn’t know.  This is good because I always worried about Molly not getting all the way in the water to cool off, but will at least get in up her belly.

For most people, it’s not a problem to bring their dog inside, but for us, it can be a challenge for many reasons.

Meals, they know the routine, I enjoy watching TV when I eat dinner or snack, and with all the dogs in, it starts with one and before long, I have 6 dogs eating with me. The rule is no begging or jumping. You must sit down and just watch. Here I am giving a dog a bite off my fork, then another, then another and so forth. I get one bite to their six, which doesn’t seem too fare to me.  I asked Dutchess “When was the last time I ate your food?” and she didn’t respond, just turned her head and looked at me, knowing I was right.
 All in all it has not been too bad, I have kept them in most of the day for the last week or so because they just won’t slow down at all when they do go outside, most of the time we just read, sleep or watch TV, but I can see they are starting to get a little antsy and want to run for a few hours and cooler weather should come in a week or so, Please.

As I was writing this Saturday afternoon, I pulled up the weather radar and too my delight, I saw a huge storm approaching our area. I was thrilled and jumped with joy….but my tools that I am using to build the chicken coop are scattered around the building.  I had several compound saws and electrical tools all over because there is no need to put them up because “it’s never going to rain again”. I jumped from my chair and ran outside and sure enough, there is a storm approaching, yea, yea and more yea’s.  I told the dogs and they started barking with joy too and turning circles.  I had to move the tractor (hurry, rain is a coming) and put the truck with materials under the shed, where tractor was (hurry, rain is a coming). Put tarp on roof (hurry, rain is a coming) gather electrical tools put them under tarp (hurry, rain is a coming). Thank, Thank…. THANK YOU…RAIN IS A COMING. Gotta hurry back to the house, rain is a coming.  I ran back to the computer dripping wet with sweat just to see the big red area on the radar.    Wha-Wha-Wha….Rain not a coming, it went north and missed us.  I looked out the window and saw a beautiful sunny day….The dogs thought I had lost my mind, and maybe I did, because of the heat....

Keep your dog cool…..Ken

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They Grow So Fast

This has been a wonderful week, in fact; it has been a great 2 months. We have had a couple of sets of pups (lots of hugs and licks), met a lot of wonderful people that took a bundle of joy to their home and we shared time on the weekends with some amazing dogs and people who came for a visit. All in all, we have had a good summer except for the dry weather and the heat. One of the most amazing things thus far is, you got it, is “The Jolly Ball”. It has been so much fun and it’s indestructible, so far.
This has been a busy summer with boarders and we have had great dogs staying at the farm while their human owners went on vacation. Everyone has gotten along great and many lasting friendships have been made. It amazes me that you can get as many as 14 border collies together and they all get along with each other. We have had some nips and growls at times, the worst when Abbie and a guest dog were going after a ball under a chair and Abbie went for the nip and took off part of the tip of the guest dog’s ear. After some blood and a call to a friend that is a Vet, off we went to the local vet here in Columbus, just to have peace of mind and to make sure there were no problems down the road. Everything was fine and some antibiotic powder did the trick. Whew…..Abbie of course went to time out for a while, but no fights or problems other than that. Abbie, Bad Girl….

One thing I enjoy so much is how a dog that is staying for a week or so will transform into a new dog, something most people don’t ever get to see. Let me explain. It always starts out the same. Let’s face it, it can be a little intimidating when you pull into the driveway and 6 border collies run at the front of your car as fast as they can sending shivers down your spine and the truth is, they also do this to me when I leave and come back, I get the same treatment too. If you’re an active reader of the posts, you know Dutchess is the worst and will get in your car or jump on the side. Any door is an open invitation to enter your vehicle just so she can explore and gobble any and all snacks. Let’s just say, she has a very good southern custom of making herself at home, even if it’s your car. Dutchess, Bad Girl…

If you think you’re intimidated, think how your dog may feel when they get swamped by six noses that are poking you in the ears, mouth, woo-woo and butt just to see and smell where you have been and what your last meal was. After that, it’s game on unless the dog comes in with an attitude and then it’s Alpha instructions by Clancy and the new pecking order is established and I assure you, the guest dog is at the bottom of this pecking order, Clancy is very good with the instructions and will quickly take care of that. With that out of the way, then it’s a dash to the water and play time, because if someone comes over, It’s a Dutchess rule that you must play before anything else and we usually do. Last night, everyone was on the porch lying under the fan, Captain “Jack” and Annie were nowhere to be seen, but I wasn’t worried, I knew right where they were. I went to the lake and like children, they were playing and jumping in and out of the water together, having a blast.



As I have said, boarding is enjoyable but for a reason you may have never thought of. As you know, we usually board only our dogs. This is for a reason, not only do we meet wonderful people, we get to see a dog that we cuddled and held and started its life that brought love and joy to people like us. But the other reason is, although the dog is a product of ours, it’s really a product of Molly, Dutchess, Meg and Clancy. I think it is so obvious that I love my dogs but I am starting to see signs of ageing. Just a day ago, Elaine said “have you seen the gray on Dutchess face”, well I have, and I see it in all of the dogs. 
It seems like it was just a couple of months ago that we were going through puppy training with them and now, they are getting a little gray and a little slower. There not old by any means in dog years, but I do see a little change. I see their battle scars where they played hard and a few missing teeth where they caught a Frisbee the wrong way.  Elaine and I have attended events that “our” pups have competed in, we sat in the stands and cheered like it was our son or daughter and enjoyed every moment. When someone sends us photos, I will send them to Elaine at work or we will look at the Facebook site together and marvel at the post of our dogs that we see posted by their owners. Just last night, we saw “Nellie” bring and sort sheep to catch and load a ram for a customer, we were so proud and when I looked back at Elaine, I saw that big crocodile tear trying to escape and she said, “That’s our Nellie” and it was. I’ve seen "Hope" and "Sofe" play and have played with them, but I am playing with part of Molly and Clancy too as with all the dogs that come to stay with us, the're part of us and our pack. 
It is nice to see dogs and return and stay, we do enjoy them to visit, but when I look at them, I really see a young Molly, Dutchess, Meg and Clancy. I see their spots, colors and even their mannerisms, and in your dog, I see my dogs and that’s something that is pretty special. As long as your dogs are alive, mine will always be here too. The thought of mine crossing the bridge, sends shivers through me and it’s something I can’t even think of, but all life has death, so cherish the life of your dog now, because it’s so short and they grow so fast. Give your dog a hug today…I know I will... Ken

Molly, Dutchess, Meg and Clancy...Good Dogs...