Here We Go Again

Every year everyone makes resolutions for the New Year, well here we are at the beginning of the year and I’m sure most of us have plans to change things and do things different in 2013.  At least we made it without the world ending on December 21st and we have another year to look forward to.
As most of you know, I am a planner and will sit and think of ways I can make it better or easier.  While lying in  bed I will have images of projects spinning through my mind.  I have always done this and it has cost me many hours of sleep just because I can’t shut it off and in many ways this is a curse.
There are several projects that were started in my mind and even a few were physically started.  The biggest was the fence and that was a real blessing for us and any guest dog because of the peace of mind in knowing  my dogs and any others are safe.  I am so pleased with it and have seen many great benefits from it. 
The second is the chicken house; this was stalled because of cold weather and not wanting to bring day old chicks onto the farm and have to worry about them surviving.  To the many people who ask, “Great chicken house, but where are the chickens?”  The new chicks will arrive on April 1st via US Mail.  There are six varieties all picked because Elaine wanted “pretty” chickens and they are and I’m sure they will lay “pretty.” eggs. 
So what is planned for 2013?  There are several projects in the works here on the farm?   The first one is to expand the kennel and make it more efficient and dog friendly.  When we built it, we just had three dogs, so it was set up that way.  Well, as you all know, then there were 4, then 5, then 6, and now you get the picture.  I have contacted several contractors and there are plans in the works and construction should start as soon as the weather breaks in the spring.
The second project that has started is…I want to be a bee keeper.  I have always been fascinated with honey bees, so now, hopefully that dream will come true.  I have talked and met with several people and even attended a meeting or two, just to see what’s involved, like I need something else to do.
I did ask at one of the meetings, “We have dogs, will this be a problem?”  My answer was oblivious and I gave several people a chuckle.  “The dogs will only sniff the colony once, because the bees will defend their home”  Well in my mind, I was  thinking about Dutchess and her eagerness to get to something or to get to  food.  I might as well get Dutchess a beekeepers hood, just to keep the stinging down to a minimum.  So to all the family members, you’re getting honey for Christmas….Sweet
The next project that is in the works is the “1st Annual Shuck’s Border Collie” Puppy reunion.  It will be in late spring early summer and feature a weekend of puppy and dog fun here on the farm.  It will be free and will include dock diving, swimming for the kids, fishing and many activities for the dogs.  We can have campfires at night and enjoy nature.

It will be exclusively for our dogs that have grown up or rescued over the years.  It will last the whole weekend and if you want to camp, that’s fine or you can come for the day.  There will be a cookout on Saturday.  More plans to come as they develop.

2012 was a good year despite some problems and setbacks, but hopefully, we became stronger and wiser during that period.  Make 2013 the best year ever for yourself and your dog and remember, the more you do to improve your stance in life the bigger the reward you’ll receive in the long run.  
From us to you, Happy New Year, give your dog a hug and make it a great year for them too.  Ken

Another Year

Well here it is, another year gone by and its Christmas.  Dutchess has been extra good (really, she has) but it’s probably because she knows that Santa is coming and wants all the Frisbee's, sorry Dutchess.  

This week, we have received many Christmas cards and letters from our dog owners.  One person even wrote a very special story about her relationship with her dog, including her past “Heart dog” that passed away and her current “Heart dog” she got from us.  It was very touching and I had to turn away from Elaine as I read it, because I was embarrassed for getting emotional.   Thank You….

Our current litter from Molly’s was her last litter and Dutchess is soon to be spayed too, so she won’t have any more pups and both Dutchess and Molly will live here with us, as we grow old together. 
Molly's First Litter
Just Beautiful
Looks Just like Molly when she was small
Laddy, 4/16/2007 - 8/27/2010   R.I.P
1st Tri
Our only double blue eye, Katie We would love to see her again
Molly's First.
I thought about this as Elaine and I opened and shared the cards, reading them together, it was kind of sad, where has all the time gone.  All of the cards were centered around the adult dogs that Molly and Dutchess have provided and there were photos and stories and their dog seemed to be the center of their life, kinda like us.  What a wonderful moment, Elaine even decided to start a scrapbook with the many mementos we received over the years.

I guess because of the season,  it has cause me to appreciate everything the dogs do for us and I now realize that they do things for others too, making their owners as happy as we are.  As humans, we did receive a wonderful gift that we celebrate this time of year and the rewards will be everlasting.  With people that have our dogs they also received a gift from Molly and Dutchess that have had an effect that will last for a long time too.  OK just to make it clear, Dutchess will never be “Mary”, Dutchess is too rotten and spoiled, but Molly... that’s a possibility, Molly is so tender, unselfish and considerate.  But Dutchess… No way, she’s like Madonna, self centered, but sweet in her own way, but only when she wants something.

As I have said many times before, the people we have met have made such a difference in our life in a positive way and I can’t thank them enough.  This has been a journey that I regret not starting long before, but then again, we didn't know about border collies until we moved here 12 years ago and got our first one from the newspaper “free to good home” Thanks Max you started it all.

There have been a few regrets over the years and all of them, we didn't have any control over, but it’s still a regret and sometimes still hurts.  I will never forget my little “Shepp” he meant so much to us and we think of him on a daily basis.  I still have his photos in my photo editing program and will see him every time I edit a photo.  I haven’t heard from his owner for about a year and don’t want to bother them, but I do hope and pray he is happy and well.  Of course, I regret losing our little ones, Midnight, James Clancy and Gracie Mae, but what I don’t regret is all the little ones that have brought so much joy into someones life and I am grateful for being a small part of the big plan.

I guess my Christmas message is to be more like our dogs, now don’t get me wrong, no butt licking or passing gas, but to be more forgiving and tolerant, unlike me, holding a grudge for days.  With any dog, you just need to clap your hands and say “come here” and in a flash, all is forgiven and they are in your arms ready to shower you with licks and kisses.  They always meet you at the door like they haven’t seen you for weeks when in-fact you were gone for only 10 minutes and snuggling is the best, I can’t sleep well because they just want to be near me, laying all over me.  Dogs can show us how to live, be happy and give us piece of mind and want nothing in return.
Dutchess's First Litter

Thank you Molly and Dutchess for all the wonderful bundles of Joy you have brought to us and the many people over the years and for many years to come because of your off-springs.   You have changed the lives of many people and given so many of us a reason to move on and to live life to it's fullest with a companion at our side, even we have one of your pups, our Abbie.

Merry Christmas to everyone from all of us here at the farm, and to our little Shepp, Merry Christmas son, I love you, Dad.

Note:  In the beginning, I didn't keep very good records if any of our readers have any knowledge of Molly or Dutchess's 1st litter, Please let us know how they are doing,  It might be your dog, but they will always be our pup...Ken & Elaine

Is it Worth it?

The last two weeks have been very busy and I have been on a roller coaster with many hills and many low valleys.  Sometimes, I don’t know if there are more ups or more downs and this week, I am starting work on the 2012 taxes for the dogs including all the receipts for sales, boarding and ALL expenses, which were many.  This has been very expensive year for medical procedures and fencing and sometimes I have to wonder if it is worth doing all the work.  As you know, I am a stay home dad and dog parent to seven border collies and both are full time jobs.  Not only do I do these duties, I grade the roads with my tractor weekly for about 250 acres which includes removing any snow that might come our way or rain damage.  Working the farm of any duties that might crop up, all in all, I am a very busy man.  Projects that are coming up are the chickens for the new chicken coop along with the sort and sales of the eggs and the planning for the dog reunion this coming year not including anything else that I might venture into. 
As I sat and ponder my thoughts, I try to reflect on trying to make my life better, more productive and to asset everyone around me, including calls from all over the states about BC’s and their problems, but as everyone does I also feel unproductive and distant at times and just get fed up with life and want to sit and do nothing.
Two weeks ago, when Molly had all the problems she had during birth, I usually don’t post such things on our Facebook page but a few friends found out and would send me personal messages because they were interested, and to save time, I just started to answer them in the open forum.  I never imagined the results I would get from all over the world and at times, there were over 25,000 people reading, watching, posting and sending me private messages.  I have never seen an outpouring of concern, prayers and just best wishes from people that truly cared about a problem that I thought I was handling by myself.  Most did not know me or Molly and some even started the message “You don’t know me but I’ve been where you’re at”.  Several Vet techs would contact me about her progress.  Once, even our Vet, Dr “D” called because he did not see the daily update and just wanted to “check to see” and I told him I just didn’t have time to post, but I soon did, people truly cared. 
This brings me back to my point, is it worth it, all the trouble, mental pain, cost and time?  As I write this, Dutchess is laying a ball on my lap with Meggie standing by my side pushing my arm up so I can’t type because they want to be with me and hoping we can play ball.  I actually laughed out loud on Wednesday while I was sitting in the middle of the garage floor splitting kindling wood for the fireplace and as soon as I sat down, Clancy put his nose under my arm, Abbie put her head on my leg, Dutchess sat on the other side, putting her paw on my other leg and just when I thought I couldn’t handle any more, Annie came behind me and put both front feet on my shoulders and licked my neck.  At that point, I just stopped and we all played and rubbed bellies.
But is it really worth it?  Again as I sit in the recliner Gabby will runs as fast as she can, jumping in my lap, turns and spins settling down for a nap as we watch the news or while I’m in the hot tub, Meg will always jump behind me and lick my ears.  Once, I was so tired and it felt so good, I just let her and I will tell you, she did a good job.
Molly is getting back to normal and will soon get her stitches out.  I won’t let her jump up on my leg because of the stitches as she usually does, but she will still paw at my leg wanting some affection and attention.  I tell her “no jump” but I will lie down on the floor and she will curl in my arms and nestle next to me, me giving her what she wants and she giving me what I need.
To answer the question, Yes it’s worth it, I only wish I could give more, because they give their all.
"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened."  Anatole France
Thanks to everyone who prayed, contacted, consoled and even cried with me, I don't know how to thank you but to say, I am so grateful that there are people like you, you made things better.  Border Collies are different and Border Collie people are too and I am grateful.  Thank you again, Ken

What is a Heart Dog?

Last week I was telling the story of Molly and her medical difficulties on the dog’s Facebook page, I mentioned that she was my “Heart Dog” and I have always used this term and have heard a few others use it too, but one person sent me a message wanting to know what a Heart Dog was. 

 I pondered the question and even did a “Google” search.  Usually there are thousands and thousands of articles on any subject, but “What is a Heart Dog” was almost blank, there were only a few mentions and one was a Blog.  I was surprised, so I sent out a message to my Facebook followers and ask them, to explain to the best of their ability, “What is a Heart Dog”.  I received many responses from all over, some even from others countries.   The most amazing thing I discovered is most people don’t have any idea how to explain what a “Heart Dog” is, so I will try to explain it from my point of view, with the help from some readers.

Molly & Clancy

A “Heart Dog” from a point of view of many …
“They know when I'm sick or sad and will stay right by me, tending to me, making sure that I'm okay. They lick away my pain and my sadness. And they cover me with their body so to protect me from whatever it is that would dare upset me.  They have that part of my heart that only they can reach.  It is one who is so sweet and a little different from the rest and who will lick and love on you even on his/her final day, and they at you with those big brown eyes.”
“They start a passion in me that I did not know was even there. They awakened a new kind of bond that I could have with a living being. She showed me what it was like to have unconditional love and support.”
“They were so deeply embedded in my soul, I swear she was the only living being that 'got me'....perhaps I humanized her, but communication never needed to be conscious with her, she could read me. I believe she lived to please one else mattered to her and I even considered her in major life decisions, and what the impact on her would be. 
“A “Heart Dog” can wiggles into your heart and becomes one with you and your spirit. There is a special bond between you and your spirit or “Heart Dog”. They completely understand you without words or expression. with each other. Often times I think our “Heart Dog” comes along during a time of emotional hardship or longing for something deeper than ourselves. They often fill a void and the relationship grows from there.”
“A “Heart Dog” doesn't necessarily have a bigger place in your heart, but rather the opposite. This dog would be very sensitive, one that would wear it's feelings on its paw. One that would go out of its way to please you, even if that meant doing something that it didn't particularly want to do. But your approval, praise and to see your smiling face will mean everything to this dog.  This dog's heart would be as big as the Border Collie’s personality. This dog would have something special, something not many people have, and that is the ability to love with all its heart, forever and unconditionally. The “Heart Dog” dog doesn't hold a bigger place in your heart; rather you hold a place in their heart that leaves little room for anything else.  I like others who lose a special pet felt like there could never be another dog that could fill that void.  And well, in some ways that is true. But the heart is not made up of percentages. One dog doesn't take 45% leaving only 55% available for the rest of your life. The heart expands and allows others to enter in but never replace that part of your heart. Because really you don't even have possession of it anymore. You gave it away to them. It is theirs to take with them.”
I loved to get the definitions but one that summed it up best was “Anyone who really does not understand “Heart dog", probably does not have the capacity to fully understand no matter how much explanation they receive.”  I feel this is true because it means so many different things to so many people.  One statement that came out many times, “They Saved Me” and I’m sure they did.  I have a cousin that I love very much and when Elaine and I got married 22 years ago, we had a dog that I got for the kids, I thought they needed her but she soon became my dog.  Well I fell in love with her and she was a great dog, but Elaine didn’t particularly care for her.  Once “Patches” got into the trash while I was at work.  Elaine called me and stated that if this doesn’t stop, “you’ll have to get rid of her”.  I needed to vent because I was hurt and told the story to my cousin and she stated… “Well…you can always get another wife” Patches stopped getting into the garbage and Elaine and I laugh about it now.
People can have a special bond with dogs, some more than others, from a reader that lost her dog about 6 months ago,   “My dog was everything to me.  My Heart, soul and body. I still can't get over her lost. I have to sleep with her collar every night next to my heart.  I do believe Dogs go to Heaven. The other night I cried myself to sleep and prayed to the Lord to give her a hug for me. I told him I was sure she was setting in his lap. I prayed and wished I could just see and hold her again.....well...that night was the first time I had ever dreamed of her. She was playing and having a good time. I called her name and she came to me running so fast. We hugged and kissed and held onto each other. I thank the Lord that morning for letting me see her again. I honestly feel that he answered my prayer. So I know she is in Heaven and I WILL SEE HER AGAIN SOON!”
Sometimes we don’t realize the bond is so strong until it’s too late. Patches was a wonderful dog and lived with Elaine and me until the end.  When we worked at the Vet’s office in Louisville (Elaine worked there too) it became time to send Patches to the “Bridge”, we took her in and during lunch when the office was quite... We put her on the table, I couldn’t do it, in fact, I couldn’t even be in the room and left.  Elaine was with her and watched Patches take her last breath.   I’m angry now at myself that I left; I should have stayed in there for Patches, it was my duty and she always stayed with me during my tough times.
A reader sent me a tribute to their dog and ended the letter with this line…”We had to put her to sleep and I put my nose to hers and felt her last breath on my face and she went off to the Rainbow Bridge.”
Anyone who really does not understand by just reading “Heart dog", probably does not have the capacity to fully understand no matter how much explanation they receive.
Give your dog a hug...  Ken
Shuck's Border Collies Facebook Page

The Long Walk

As I made the long walk down the driveway, I realized that I was making it once again.  In one hand I carried a shovel and in the other hand the bodies of James Clancy and Gracie Mae, two little border collies that didn’t make the transition from their mother’s womb to this world.  It just wasn’t meant to be no matter how hard we tried.
 Molly went into labor a few days early and if you have been keeping up on the dog’s Facebook page, you know it has been a real struggle for her.  We all went without sleep for over 30 hours and spent two full days at the Vet’s office. Today’s blog will deal with the last visit and the emotions that we all shared together.
 As I drove to the office at 6 am on Friday, I knew that Molly was going into major surgery when we arrived.  Usually this type of surgery is routine, but we were trying to save her life from complications, she still carried a pup inside her and it would not move for birthing.  All of the options had run out, everything was discussed and tried.  Injections of Oxytocin were sent home and I gave them to her every hour to stimulate her labor, but she was worn out and ready to give up, but not me.  When we arrived at the office, they were waiting for us and after letting her nurse the living pups, it was time to let her go to surgery. 

Right Before the Surgery on Floor at the Vet's Office
I couldn’t be more pleased with the office and staff, but what impressed me more than anything was the dedication of the Doctors.  Over the couple of days that we were there, the Doctors that worked on her were never ready to give up and did the work as if they were working on their “heart Dog”. 
Molly was lead back to the surgery area, but not without one last kiss to me and a lick to her pups that were now in a box sitting next to me.  Dr Davidson told me that I and the pups could wait in his office during the surgery.  His office was right in the main hub where all the action was and as I watched them prepare Molly, I knew she was in the right hands, Dr Davidson’s, his Crew and GOD’s hands.  Before the surgery, I was told that it did not look good for Molly or the pup and that the pup was most assuredly deceased.  As the other Doctors and I exchanged chit-chat in the office during the surgery, one of the Vet techs brought the pup that was lodged inside Molly to a table just a few feet from me stating “we have a heart beat”.  The Doctors and I sprang into action and stimulation was given along with shots directly to the heart and into the tongue, along with small chest compressions, but nothing was working.    She just wouldn’t take a breath, but the heartbeat was still evident.  I had hope and the little pup was a real fighter.  The Vet tech and I worked for over 30 minutes and at times I just took over, trying everything and even giving mouth to mouth.  In my heart, I knew brain damage was setting in and it was time to let this little girl go.  But she wasn’t ready to go just yet, her heartbeat was still there, though weaker and slower.  Without oxygen, there was no hope, so the only thing I could do was to hold her and stroke her little face and keep her as comfortable as I could.  For the next 15 minutes I held little Gracie Mae in the palm of my hands until she left this world. 
Little Gracie Mae, From my Hands to God
 When she passed, I placed her perfect little body in the small box with her litter mates that were waiting for her.  It was amazing, all the little pups gravitated to her, curling and cuddling together around Gracie Mae because she smelled like their mother.  Gracie Mae was with her litter mates once more and she and they were going back home to be with their mother Molly, as it should be.  
 When we got home, and after getting Molly and the pups situated in the whelping box in the bedroom, I took James Clancy and Gracie Mae and began preparing their forever home here on Dogwood Ridge.  Lovingly I wrapped James Clancy in a blue towel and a pink one for my sweet Gracie Mae.  I tenderly placed them side by side just as if they were still in their mother’s womb.  After a final kiss from Molly, I headed down the driveway to “our special area” where we keep our pets that have passed.  All the dogs were with me except Molly who had already said her goodbyes and as I dug the grave the dogs stood and watched.  Not a sound was heard except the wind and an occasional bark from Dutchess as she gave them her parting farewell, as she "is" Molly's 1/2 sister.  Abbie had a ball in her mouth but didn’t dare move and Clancy stood and watched guard, ever so proud but hurt.  After thanking the good Lord for the Joy the dogs have given me and Elaine, and allowing me to hold Gracie Mae until she became his, James and Gracie were buried along with a piece of our heart in a spot that I pass each and every day.
Molly at home right after the surgery
"Hey, who’s this”?  Someone said as a few new arrivals arrived at Rainbow Bridge.  A small crowd gathers around the new dogs, there was Midnight, Lillie, Patches, Morgan and even Bandit and Tat,  they all gathered around to meet and welcome Gracie Mae and James Clancy, the new kids.  There was jumping, barking and running around and lots of licks and kisses for the new pups.  "We know you"! and for some reason, they all did, something was familiar and they seemed to know each other,  and then it was discovered that the "one" thing they all had in common was a piece of my heart.
Someday we'll all be together... Take care little ones…I Love You, Dad
"Heaven is the place of final and complete happiness that God has prepared for us - and if animals are necessary to make us happy in heaven, then you can be sure God will have them there."--Rev. Billy Graham 

Note:  James Clancy is named after his dad Clancy James and Gracie Mae is named after Molly Mae.  The name that I originally gave this Blog is “What Happened This Week”.  Usually I try to keep the reader up-to-date with the events that happened during the week. This week is no different but much sadder with a story I hate to share, but I have found that sharing not only tells the story, it helps to heal me and gives me comfort.  This has been very difficult to tell and I thank you for being a part of my therapy.  Give your dog a hug today.   Ken