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