It’s A Wonderful Life…

On Saturday morning, I got up as 5:30 am as I usually do.  It was raining and the doors and windows were open because of the unusual cool nights.  Four of the dogs were in the house and were sleeping in various places and for some reason no one was on the bed at that particular time.  Clancy had spent the night outside and was sleeping next to the screen door looking so pitiful and dejected and of course, I let him in and in just a moment, he was on the bed between Elaine and me, his usual spot.  He nestled his body into position up near the pillow with his back to me.  I placed my arm around him as I have done so many times with my wife but the only difference was Clancy was in-between us.  I did something I hardly ever do and relish the thought of other people being able to do it too.  I went back to sleep in the comfort of things that make me happy and glad of the station of life I am experiencing now.  It’s a wonder Life I thought, and it is.
From the movie, “It’s a Wonder Life”
  • Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?
Funny, how this fits right in with my thoughts.  Each dog touches me and “you” in so many ways and when they are no longer around it does leave an awful hole, and it has at times.
  • You see, George, you've really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?
At times, I have failed with my dogs, failed miserable.  Yes, they get to run and romp and play all day but what do I really do with them, basic needs are met but they need structure.  Elaine and I have talked and we both agree that they need more and I challenge you to think along this line too and to do something about it.  Not only will your dog benefit from it, you, AND other people will too.   Most dogs will be very content lying around and going for an occasional walk or just tossing a ball or Frisbee once in awhile, but border collies are different, they need more and when you see the satisfaction in their eyes and body, you get that feeling that you have succeeded and you have.  We all know that a tired border collie is a happy border collie and I will tell you, every time I have taken mine out and fed their needs, not only were they satisfied, I was too.  It’s not always about how much space or land you have, it’s about how you funnel their energy and work their mind.  I've seen dogs ruined that had 100 acres of land to run on because the owner “Just let them run” and I've seen dogs in a apartment that have a very satisfied life because the owner did what it took and was responsible. 
Most people think that a border collie needs to only herd sheep.  I know of two special border collies that herd sheep on their farm and if that’s not enough, one is a certified Therapy Dog and the other will soon be, and not only will the owner work with kids in therapy work with the dogs, the son is getting certified too.  
You see it is a wonderful life and this week we sent home many wonderful pups to start their life with their new owners and I know that they will enhance everyones life they touch, if only allowed.  

Keep your mind open and look for the potential and possibilities of enhancing your dog’s life AND your life too.   It’s there; we just need to let it out. 

If I was in a hospital bed or in a facility that was caring for me, what a joy, if through that door walked “Abby the Border Collie”,  a therapy dog right here in my hometown and she got into my bed and  nestled her body up near the pillow and allowed me to drift back to “my” wonderful life, what a comfort that would be.

  • You see, George, you've really had a wonderful life. Don't you see what a mistake it would be to throw it away?
Get involved with your dog and make it a wonderful life for both of you....  Ken

Sometimes the Spots Do Change

Several years ago, we brought home a little pup that we called “Annie Belle”.  She was a cute little girl and was just a puppy of seven weeks.  She was a little independent and at times a little stubborn.  She would love you when she wanted to, but when you wanted to love on her, she was just a little distance at times.  
Most of our dogs will sleep with us or lay in our lap when we want to be near them, Annie on the other hand will keep her distance and at times walk a wide berth around you.  Don't get me wrong, she is a loving dog, but it’s on her terms and or when she needs something from you, but she always got along with the other dogs.

After she reached adulthood, we knew we would breed her and had prepared ourselves and her for the big moment.   Well that time came several months ago and to say the least, it wasn't very pleasant for her.  she became a little spooked and scared and I happened to be near her and saw the fear in her face and her saucer wide eyes.  Not wanting her to be scared, I sat with her and held her and comforted her while things occurred which can take some time with dogs.  Annie buried her face into my neck and she was scared and wanted to walk away, but couldn't.  For nearly 20 minutes, I held her and stroked her face talking to her, just to let her know I was there and everything would be OK, just trust me...  When she was free and was able to leave, I thought that would be the end of that, just another day on the farm and we would go on as usual, or so I thought…
After about 3 or 4 weeks I noticed my little shadow showing up and walking into the room I was in looking for me.  I will never forget the time I was sitting in the recliner and Annie jumped on the couch and walked into my lay and nuzzled down for a quick nap, but just a cat nap as she was gone in a flash.  Elaine noticed and even mentioned that “that’s a first” Annie jumped down and I know I had a little smile on my face as she walked away, because that WAS the first time Annie came to me and laid in my lap.  Little things seemed to change with her, she would lie next to me most every evening while I would rub her swollen belly, and she got close, but never too close…
As she progressed with her pregnancy, this routine never changed, but on the night of her delivery, things happened that I never expected.  Elaine was in bed because she had to go to work and I was on puppy duty and at 4:20 am, the first pup was born as I watched and assisted.  “Come on girl, help me out” as I stimulated the pup and cleaned its mouth and face, something the mother will usually do.   I then held it up to her, wanting her to take over, but to my surprise, she turned her head and ignored the pup.  “Elaine, I need you” I yelled into the bedroom “We've got a problem”.   Annie wanted nothing to do with the pup and would not help out at all and this is a very critical moment and it looks downhill from here if something doesn't change and change quickly.  With 7 more pups to be delivered, we had a big problem.  After some gentle persuasion and trust, she took the first lick on the nose of the pup and then another and then many more.  Thank you Lord, she has accepted it and things were looking up and it was for the rest of the night, all were delivered and everyone was healthy and whole, life was good and it actually was….
“Stop”  she signaled to Clancy as he wanted a peek into the pups.  She growled and snapped at him, even Clancy backed away from and Annie who is 20 pounds lighter forced him back.  It was known throughout the farm, “Don't mess with Annie or her pups” if you another dog and everyone steered clear.  I have seen Annie stand at the kennel door and ward off any dog that wants a peek except for the girls.
Annie has come from the worst example of a mother to the best and she is one of the only dogs that will come and get me or stand at the kennel door and patiently wait for me to let her in with her pups so she can nurse.  Even today, she will go to them and for just a quick second let them suckle for just a moment even though they were weaned several weeks ago the whole time clean and licking them.
“What a different dog” Elaine said as Annie jumped into my arms for a nap one night, something she will regularly do nearly every night.  Me and my little shadow are inseparable now and we will both be grateful for the trust we put into each other.
She will look or hunt for me and always expect a place on my lap which she has.  Sometimes spots do change for the better because trust, love and compassion replaced fear and anxiety as it did several months ago...My Sweet girl

Sweet Dreams & Going Home...

All of us will “go home” at one time or another.  It may be by choice or by some other factor that we cannot control.  I remember when I was a kid, we drove for what seemed like days to visit my Mom’s family in the country for “Decoration Day”.  It was an annual trip that we took to decorate the graves of family members that had passed, known today as Memorial Day.   Us kids had such a good time and it was a whole weekend of fun, excitement and  things I had never seen before.  There were 13 children in my Mom’s family of which my Mother was the youngest. We were the city folk side of the family, everyone else lived near the homestead.   When we would visit, we would stay at Aunt Maggie’s house because it was the only home that had indoor plumbing, something that I took for granted at our own home.  On Sunday after decorating the graves, we would gather at the homestead for the giant pot luck/pitch in dinner.   I remember that if we needed to “go”, we had to go to the “barn” to do our business, which as a little boy, I thought that was pretty cool.  All in all, it was a great weekend and I got to see my many cousins and play in the fields and get dirty.  We always brought home fresh eggs and homemade butter, something my Dad said always reminded him of his youth when he was a boy.

As I have mentioned on the dog’s Facebook page this week, this is the first weekend that some of our pups start their journey to their “home”. 
I can only hope and actually do pray that they have a good transition into their new environment.  If you are a dog owner or one of our pup owners, remember what you do with them now, will set the memories or behavior of your  new pup.  Hopefully, when they are in their senior years, they can, and will dream of the “good old dog days” of when they played for hours and ran and scampered gathering the sheep or livestock, fetching balls, playing Frisbee or in Dutchess’ case…eating.  I know many of you are thinking “do they remember”?  Of course they do, just look at their everyday life, they fetch a ball and bring it, they will tell you when it’s time to eat, they remember where you keep the balls and Frisbees. This I know because Dutchess will stand at the ball drawer and bark until we get up and get one for her to play with.   I assure you  that when they are lying at your feet in their twilight years, they will remember when they were invincible and could fly in the air to catch a ball or Frisbee or gather the sheep without even getting winded and they will be content.

We have friends that will bring their three dogs for visits to the farm and two of them are senior dogs.  When we go to the play area with their young “Scout” (who is just full of herself), Kiwi and Sweet Pea will usually walk out with us while we watch the youngin’s play.  I do know from the owners that in Kiwi and Sweet Pea’s younger days, they were “full of it” too and were quite good at playing Frisbee, swimming and all the activities that dogs will do and were very active dogs.

Because of their limited activities now, Kiwi and Sweet Pea will stand close to us while all of the other dogs are playing within a few feet, but in their mind, they are running and scampering and chasing the Frisbee like in the old days, I know…, I can see it in their clouded eyes and in their faces.  At this time of their life, their eyes are a little cloudy but they still hear the familiar sounds of the ball bouncing and smell the water that they use to get in and did many times in their youth.  As they now sleep in their twilight years, I know in my heart that they dream of the times they too, were running, playing and getting in the water.  Kiwi and Sweat Pea... sleep well and enjoy your twilight years and dream of forever running and playing from your youth, you deserve it, rest now because another adventure awaits you and life starts anew….
We are all going home sooner or later.  Gabrielle, James Clancy, Gracie Mae, Midnight, Ruby, Oreo and Chloe Mae, all went home a little sooner than we expected, something we did not have any control over.
As our new pups leave to go to their forever homes, please remember, if you are the owner or an owner of any dog, remember, their journey is just beginning and the foundation of their dreams start now.
Hopefully in your dogs twilight years, as they sleep at your feet, because they can't jump up on the couch any longer, they will dream of sheep, Frisbees, balls or chasing rabbits through the tall grass that they once did with ease. However,  before this time comes,  do remember one thing, it’s up to you to create the dreams they will dream…I beg you to make those dreams come true and that they are good dreams of things they loved to do...Good Night All,    Sweet Dreams.  Ken

Once A Dog Parent…

It can be said that once you are a parent, you will always be a parent, no matter what.  You watch in anticipation as they grow and even before they are born you wonder what kind of child they will be.  Is it a boy, girl, tall, short, brown eyes or blue?  As a parent,  there will always be  questions unanswered, but the one fact that will always ring true is that you will worry about them from the moment they are born until the moment you die.
In the dog world it’s the same.  Last weekend, we had the first annual 2 day “Puppy Reunion” here at the farm.  IT WAS A BLAST!  We had nearly 100 people show up and over 50 of our pups came back to visit, including some guest dogs we invited, (after all, what’s a few more).  It was so nice to see our dogs again thriving in the adult world on their own with their human parent.  Some of the dogs were less than a year old and some were nearly senior dogs that had gotten to the relaxed stage of their life. That is, until you pick up a ball or a Frisbee.  Both days were filled with lots of activities. So many of which happened at  the same time, but somehow it all gelled together as I knew it would.  If you are reading this and are not a Border Collie owner, then it might be hard to understand the camaraderie between owners.  We enjoy telling stories, giving tips and sharing things that work for us.  It would be a good place to start a Border Collie Fan Club where we get together and just have fun.  We also had many people meet each other for the first time that are friends on Facebook and everyone seemed to have one common bond…a Border Collie. 

As the person responsible (other than Clancy and Doc) I also have a common bond with every dog that was here.  I held and cuddled each and every one of those dogs for 8 weeks. I can't tell you the countless times my shoes were untied during the eight weeks and the wet faces I received from the pups.  Many nights before I turned in for the night, the last thing the puppies saw was me leaning into their kennel wishing them a good night and softly singing to them.  Something I eminently enjoyed.  As I have said to anyone that would listen, “It might be your dog, but it will always be my pup”.
Being a limited breeder, I try to keep up with all of our pups if possible.  Some I do, some, I never hear from again, by their choice.

During the reunion we only had one foot injury but after the reunion, I was informed via emails and social networks that two of my pups were in trouble from injuries and sickness.  For several days life was touchy and things did not look so good.  Both made multiple trips to the Vet and to a Vet Emergency facility.  Two of my dogs were in real trouble,  I was devastated and because both of them were special pups and adult dogs, it hit me pretty hard, all within several hours and it was such a let down after a great weekend.  As they left, I knew both dogs were a little under the weather, but we attributed it to all the running and playing.  Little did we know in just a few hours both of them, many states apart would be in trouble, and both for several days.  You see, it might be your dog, but it will always be my pup.   I sat on pins and needles waiting for the test results and even gave my advice on what test should be run and told them “make sure to take their temperature and watch for infection”!  I just wanted the best for them but I also knew they were in good hands, and they were.  
Tucker after a major surgery that had to be redone fighting an infection.

Hope before going into the ER for an extended stay sitting with her owner.

Both are doing better and are home now.

Over the years, I have watched our little pups grow up and become adult dogs.  I have seen all the good and even the bad when something horrible happens.  I have been informed too many times that one of my pups was tragically killed or died of a disease and I want to tell you right now, I have cried many tears with you, only in silence and by myself.  I have prayed for your pups when there was a problem, I have called your Vet for information and given any assistance I could and probably stuck my nose where it should not have gone. 

Once we had a pup die from a preventable disease in another state, I only had the name of the town where the dog was at and the owners info.  After calling nearly all the Vets offices, I finally got the right one and I remember the receptionist telling me they can't give any info out.  I wouldn't take no for an answer and after telling her that I was the breeder and because she felt sorry for me I found out that my pup had just died from neglect of the owner because they did not get all of the booster shots.  I cried like a child.  Ruby's Story  

I try to do want what is best for my pups and dogs, and at times probably have been a little sharp with an owner.  If I have, please forgive me, it’s nothing personal or a reflection on you, it’s a parent wanting what is best for their dog child.  Remember “It might be your dog, but it will always be my pup” I held all of them as the first breath of life was taken into their little body and suffered with you when things went horribly wrong.

As the reunion was winding down, I looked around and saw all the beautiful dogs and thought to myself, this was not a reunion; it was a family gathering…only Heaven could be better...Ken
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The song I sing as they fall asleep...

If I had words to make a day for you
I'd sing you a song golden and true
I would make this day last for all time
Give you a night in deep moonshine

Soundtrack from "Babe"