It’s Natural

I never thought it was, but it is.... because I’ve seen it too many times.  It’s something that border collies have in them that comes from the tip of their tail and it’s always there.  Unfortunately, most people never see it and luckily, some people see it every day and its even part of their workday, just like a tractor or a device that they use for their work and can’t do without.
Several years ago, when I was selling a litter of pups, I got a call from a lady named Karen.  As I always do, I went into the perils of owning a Border Collie, just to make sure she would be a good candidate to own such a spirited dog.  After several minutes, she stated she had a sheep farm and needed a good Border Collie to help with the sheep on her farm and knew what she was talking about.
A pup from Clancy and Dutchess was sold and went home with her.  After several months, I received an update of “Nelly’s” progress from Karen, “Wow” I thought, “Nelly is doing well”.  A few months later, Nelly was part of the sheep farm and was learning more every day, making some of the chores easier for Karen.  After a few years, Karen purchased a second Border Collie from us and she was a red one, which she named “Ruby”.
Something we had always talked about was taking Clancy up to Shady Creek Farm north/east of Indianapolis, which is owned by Karen.  On many occasions, Karen invited us to bring Clancy up just to see how he would do with her sheep and last week we were finally able to go.  We went with another Border Collie owner who owned a couple of our pups. They took “Hope” one of their dogs with them which had been there before and was learning some great moves with the sheep.

As we arrived, we met the dogs, Karen and the free range chickens.

I will admit, I was a little nervous about turning Clancy out with a flock of sheep, with no restraint, in a very large field with nothing but Karen and a “shepherds hook”. 

Clancy was led inside the gate and into the field he went.  He stood right beside Karen and was under her sole control.  Nelly who was helping, was given the command to “go get” the sheep which were in another pasture about 600 feet away grazing on the grass.  It was pure delight to see her run as fast as any dog could and gather the sheep together bringing them to the gate, steering them right through the small opening and bringing them to us for Clancy to practice on.  I will tell you, if you have never seen this in person, it will bring your emotions right to your throat.  

Remember, when Nelly left us the first time, she was just under 10 weeks old and now, she is the  master of a profession she was bred for, something most Border Collie  owners never get to experience.
Like ducks to water, Clancy got into the stance and went right to work, corralling, turning and moving  the sheep, but because he was a novice, and as much as he wanted to work, but didn't know how, he looked to  Karen to give him the directions that came natural to her and to Clancy.

Ruby, Karen’s second Border Collie, is learning to do the same thing that Nelly is doing with Karen. Nelly is also helping Ruby learn the ropes.  Many times, they work together doing the job that is needed to bring the sheep to the where they need to be, saving man and machine many hours of time and trouble and providing a couple of  Border Collies the passion for which they were bred.

It was a fun day at Shady Creek Farm.  We had good conversations, snacks and especially got to see the love of our lives do something they were bred to do which seemed so natural to them.  If this is something that you want to experience, it will set your heart on fire and your dogs too, Ken


It Always Comes Back to You

This was written on July 7th of this year from one of my post when I was talking about things to do with your dog…Ken

It's A Wonderful Life

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.
Get involved with your dog and make it a wonderful life for both of you....  Ken

Just a few weeks after writing the above but before my life threading ordeal I shadowed Greg Jones with his dog “Abby The Border Collie”, just to check out what a therapy dog does and only four days before I soon found out.

The following is a story from Greg Jones the owner of Abby The Border Collie, a therapy dog and his story of when I was in the CCU (critical care unit) at the hospital.

From Greg Jones,

Like many people that have a Border Collie, I occasionally surf the internet trying to learn about the breed. That is how I came across “Shucks Border Collies” and how I eventually met Kenny.  I am fortunate to live only 25 miles from the Shucks, and Abby even goes down for play days every now and then.
Over the past year or so I have gotten to know Kenny and Elaine, along with the members of their wonderful pack of dogs. Earlier this year I asked if they would mind if Prime Time Magazine, a publication of The Republic newspaper, did an article on them along with the dogs. I had the feeling Kenny was a private person, even though he is very much a people person, and I was happy when he agreed to the article, since I thought the picture taking opportunities would be awesome.  Kenny is a lot like me, in that he is more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it. When he told me he liked the article and pictures, I knew we had created something special. In the process of making the article happen and taking the photos, Kenny and I had several chances to talk, about dogs, photography, and life in general. In other words we were getting to know each other better. Somehow we always touched on the subject of doing the right thing, for the dogs and for others. Many of our core values just clicked.

Since Abby and I go to our Hospice and Columbus Regional Hospital in Indiana every Thursday evening, Kenny asked if he could shadow us one evening. After filling out all of the paperwork, he went with Abby and I on Thursday, August 22. It was not a typical night for us, as we simply did not interact with too many people; many were sleeping or did not wish to see the dog. If I said it once that night, I said it a hundred times, "This is not a typical night", we went out to eat and we talked about therapy dogs. It was good to hear Kenny start brainstorming ways to reach more people, ways to optimize the visits, or to put it another way, Kenny was putting his touch on it. Good stuff was discussed that night, and it was clear to me that Kenny really knew the value of a dog in the situations we saw that night.

The following Monday, just as I was getting ready to call it a night, my phone buzzed, announcing a new email. It was from Kenny’s Wife Elaine, she said Kenny was in the hospital and wanted Abby to visit him, and to please call her. It was later than I would normally call someone, but since she had just sent the email, I went ahead and called her. She was understandably upset and said Kenny had asked for Abby. As soon as I was dressed, Abby and I were off to the hospital at 11:30 pm.  Having left Abby in the car, I walked into CCU knowing therapy dogs were not allowed in the area, but I was hoping we could figure something out. One of the nurses recognized me and actually asked where Abby was and I told her why we were there. She looked at another nurse and said, I wouldn't see her, would you? After that was handled she went to see if he was sleeping, fortunately he was sound asleep, but I did write on his board that Abby and I tried to visit him.
The next day, Tuesday, Abby and I made a special trip over to the hospital and when we arrived, he was sleeping, but we did get to meet Brad, his son! Elaine came out of the room and we talked with the two of them before going into the room. Kenny was very sick but still wanted to see Abby, so I gave her the command to put her paws up on the rail and say hello. The bed was pretty high, and she could barely see over the rail standing up on her hind legs, so she went back to standing on four paws, but still totally paying attention to Kenny.  Keep in mind she and Kenny are great buddies, and as soon as she dropped down, Kenny patted on the bed and quietly called her. This is a standard command we use to tell her to get up on the bed, and no sooner had Kenny patted the bed and spoke, was she was up next to him. Keep in mind the bed was as high as your kitchen counter at home, and she had less than half of the hospital bed to land in if she was to miss hitting Kenny. I swear, only a Border Collie could have pulled that move off, with a standing still three foot vertical leap, totally miss IV lines, chest monitor, and not lay a paw on the patient. I was impressed. Elaine was still getting the sentence out of her mouth, “She can’t get up there…” but she did.
Wednesday was a little better, Abby stayed in the bed with Kenny and we talked a few minutes, he was rubbing Abby as she lay beside him the entire time. Elaine had been napping when we arrived, so Abby got into bed with her for a little puppy loving time as well. We were also able to bring him a slightly over-sized get well card.  As I was headed into Kenny’s room, a nurse that we know was coming out so I showed her the “card” and said we came to visit Mr. Border Collie. She did a double take and said, “That’s my patient!” I smiled and said “Yes, I know”.  At that point she turned back into the room with us to announce our arrival.
 We have been faithfully working for over two years as a therapy couple and I am pretty sure this nurse questioned at times the value of therapy dogs, but she soon learned not to.  Back to our Wednesday visit with Kenny. This same nurse had never seen Abby in the bed with a patient before.  Kenny was smiling, talking to Abby and he was rubbing his face next to hers as she lay next to him, upside down, and getting a belly rub. The nurse looked at me and said, “Is this normal for her?” I smiled and said, “Yes, if it is what the patient wants, and Abby knows it’s what they need, sure, it happens sometimes.” It was like the light bulb turned on inside her head, she figured it out it that moment, the dog’s help people heal.

Thursday came, our normal night to work, and we visited Kenny at the last of the shift, since I knew we would probably talk past the end of visiting hours, and we did. Kenny told me what had happened to him since he had been in there, not really remembering any of our other visits. The fact that he didn't remember our other visits, told me he wouldn't remember any of the events I have shared here. We talked about faith, and fate, family and friends, and the absolute truth that we never know from one day to the next what God has in store for us. We both feel the Lord has more work for us, and dogs, particularly; therapy dogs and how they will play a prominent role in a situation. It will be interesting to see where things go from here.  Kenny, I am ready whenever you are buddy, so let’s see what He has in store for us...

Just this last Thursday, as we had done several weeks ago, Greg and I went calling with "Abby The Border Collie" at the hospital, only seeing different people.  I walked the floor and saw "my" room and it did send chills down my back and I thought how luck I was that another chance was given to me to make a difference.  I did see the nurse that worked with me and we spoke but most importantly, we both knew what "Abby The Border Collie" did for both of us...Thank you Greg and especially for the things you volunteer to do, but especially to Abby for getting in my bed and nestling on my pillow and allowing me to drift back to my wonderful life...

Footnote...I have started the process to become a therapy dog handier with one of our dogs along with Elaine.   Ken

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Abby The Border Collie

We'll Never Know

This Friday evening Elaine and I were going out to eat and driving to town.  If you've never been here, we live in a pretty rural area and as we were driving through a very small town, I saw a pickup truck and it’s driver trying to pick up a dog.   He was driving very slow and watching the dog dart through a few of the houses in this very small town.  I saw the dog did have a collar with tags so I knew it belonged to someone but I didn't know who.  The driver would weave around the houses in the truck and it appeared he was looking through the side yards looking for the dog, I knew he was trying to catch this dog or steal one.  She was a beautiful German Shepherd about 6 months old, but would run from him when he approached her.  We stopped the car and I got out and went in the opposite direction and around a house.  There she stood looking at him and then at me and back at him and then she ran to me.  I got down on one knee and she ran into my arms and got as near to me as she could.  I consoled her and looked at her collar and her name was “Emma”.  It was an image that has been burned into my eyes I'll never forget. I had her as the man in his 30’s came up and said thanks.  He said it was his dog and she had gotten loose and she has run for a mile or so.  I ask her name (already knowing it) and he told me it was “Emma”. For a very brief second, I knew there would be a problem if he said any other name.  I had decided that the dog was not going and I believe I would have done whatever it took to assure that.  He had the name right and to tell the truth, I was disappointed for several reasons… He took her in a crude way and she was scared and I looked away as she was looking at me.

I am not a dog trainer, just a dog lover and I knew if a dog is in distress and this dog was.  In the owner’s defense, all dogs will run from the owner at times, but this was different, I could see it in Emma’s eyes.  In just a brief second, in my mind, I had her name on the kennel door and her food bowls was full, but she was not my dog.  He was aggravated and he took her back.  After handing her over, I never looked back and maybe it’s because I didn't want to see her face and eyes looking back at me, again something I didn't want to live with, there are just too many regrets and looks and should of’s that I will never get out of my mind and wished things were different.
We drove off feeling good on one hand and horrible on the other.  What could have I done what I should have said.  Even though she wasn't a border collie, my heart was still with her.  I guess on hind side I could have offered to board her, socialize her, train them both or teach him about dogs and what they can offer, but there just wasn't time.  It happened in a flash, but it wish I did make him listen or attempt.
As I sit here writing this it brings to my mind a beautiful black and brown face dog searching for an answer from someone she didn't know and not know where she was going.  Hopefully, Emma is in his lap, in his living room and there is peace in the world.  I will never know what happen to Emma but rest assured, when that time comes, and we are at the bridge, I will find out… Good luck Emma…

I'm sorry, I should have done more…

Many years ago, I was cutting my grass during a very hot time in August.  I saw a disheveled man walk up to the water sprinkler and attempt to get a drink of cool water.  I was far enough away and he didn't see me, but I watched.  He looked a mess, dirty, unshaven  and I wanted him to leave.  After several times without getting his fill of "Just a drink of water" he became discouraged and left and at that time I was glad, but I couldn't get the image out of my heart and I have never forgot it.  I should have done more....I'm sorry...

Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so, some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.  Hebrews 13:2


It Always Happens...

It happened every year, just like clockwork.  It’s something that happens twice a year and it was getting close.  The dog’s sensed something was going on and they were a little antsy too, not sure what was going on, but knew it would be an adventure.  This year, Doc would be in the mix and it would be new to him.  He can sometime be just a little shy about things, so I was a little unsure of how he would react. 
In the past, it was always took a day or so getting ready for the big event and the work was always shared by all of the dogs.  Each wanted to help and pull their weight.  In the past, Abbie and Meg would do the most work and then Annie.  Dutchess would always want something to do, but it was always with a tennis ball in her mouth. 
Molly would express little interest, but Clancy could care less.  Doc on the other hand, this would be new to him….so let’s see….
So with all of the work done, it was time to enjoy the fruits of our labor.  Everyone watched me and as I prepared for the big event, everyone stood still waiting for me to make the move that they were so familiar with except Clancy, he was watching something in the forest but Dutchess has the tennis ball in her mouth eagerly waiting. 
Usually about the middle of September, this rite of passage is something we always do, but this year, with the cool nights, it started just a little early and I was excited, but the dogs were just a little unsure, so here we go…
As I eased into the water, all saucer eyes were watching me, some with excitement, some with fear and some didn't care, but down I went.

Dutchess and Abbie were so excited, they could hardly contain them-self, they remembered all the fun thay had and were ready to get started again this fall, or almost fall...
Even little gabby got into it and wanted to play, she usually follows the other dogs, but she did express a little interest to play "Hot-Tub", but we should see.

It's always so relaxing to enjoy the heated water and just to relax and drift off in never never land.  As I shut my eyes, Dutchess will throw a ball in the water and paw at it until she gets it to the side, and toss it again.  Meg will lick my neck from the side, moving up to my side and into my ear, this usually feels good until she gets into my brain, Abbie will bark at me and will balance herself and when she gets bored, she will try to walk along the narrow edge, falling usually one way or the other, usually in.  Molly only fell in once on Saturday.  Doc and Gabby were nervous into what to do, so I guess Clancy is the best Hot Tub dog, really not caring and just looking into the woods.  My day in the Hot Tub.  Maybe someday I can have a day all be myself, but then it's wouldn't be a hot tub day...  Ken
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What, Why and Now

This story will be very hard for me to write because it is about me in a serious nature.  At heart, I am an introvert.  I don't like birthday parties, praise, attention or anything that puts me in the limelight.  But it gives you a little insight about me and the condition that I have been blessed with.  This story is about me and I owe it to you.  It’s not for praise, pity or glorification to anything or anyone, it is just the meat of my life so far.  The later will be embraced with things I believe in, some right some wrong, but it’s what I believe.  I have written my “What Happened This Week” column for nearly three years and feel I owe it to you…This is what happened this week…
Death has come easy for me; since I was a young lad I have always felt it was right at my back.  It started when I was 5 years old and having asthma attacks and I would not be able to breathe.  I would hide in the bathroom and wheeze and gasp for air in the towel so my mother would not take me to the hospital because I was told that I would die of it someday and I didn't want it to be that day.  So far it has not, so far…
Death, true death is not the ugly monster we always think of, it is just the absence of life here on this earth.  At times it can hang for an extended period of time, living longer than it should and at times it may be in an instance and be upon you before you even realize it.  The five times for me, it came very quick and if you have never experienced it, it’s not always ugly, but peaceful.  If you are at peace, death is a blessing and something we should look forward to.  Going to Heaven is my ultimate goal.
The first experiences were when I was in law enforcement.  Once in a gun battle, I could actually hear the bullets wiz by my head and I knew I had a job to do and did it.  At that time I was invincible and didn't care, but I was at peace.  The other work related one was when I was traveling down a two lane road at nearly 130 miles trying to get to a buddy and help him out because he called for a “10-30”, Officer Needs assistance. Something that is only called in extreme emergence.  I lost control and the road was lined with large trees and I knew I was doomed.  As God is my wittiness, this is the truth…Everything went into slow motion, yes it really did, a peace came over me and it came to my mind that I would be OK.  I spun that 1974 Ford nearly 50 times straight down the road and when it stopped on the right side of the road facing the right direction I went on my job and assisted.  In both cases, I remember dates, times and the names of the officers and people that were arrested and I don't know why. 
Several years ago, I had a diverticulitis attack.  I knew it was coming on (it feels like the flu) and I just happened to have started taking antibiotics two days before.  Things progressed south very quickly and I ask Elaine to drive me to the hospital in the early morning.  At the ER, my appendix burst and after I had a CAT scan and the ER Doctor saw the damage, I was told to “Make your peace now, you’re not leaving here, call your family in”, which we did.   The specialist, who was an older Doctor, said weeks later that the only thing that saved me was I had started taking the antibiotic two days earlier, something I had done on my own.  It’s funny; I was placed in the delivery room and placed on mothers’ newborn pink and blue sheets for life as I was dying because there was no room anywhere else.  The worst time of that event was when I facing ultimate death right after being told, “You won’t leave”.   My biggest regret was that I knew I could, and should have done more…I was embarrassed in front of God, which I still am.  Three weeks later as we were trying to get my colon calmed down, it busted again and we operated.
Monday morning August 26th of this year, after waking up, I walked 15 feet to the bathroom and while standing, my chest started itching.  I ran upstairs and took two Benadryl and started a cold shower.  I tried to blow my nose and my sinus cavities were already stopped up and I had large hives over by entire body.  I opened the door and told Elaine, “were in trouble” and we were.  We needed to go to the hospital right now and we did, but not before trying to find an epi-pen which we did not.  I was grasping for every breath and it just wouldn't come and I struggled for each small ounce of air and felt we wouldn't make it to the ER, but did.  I was whisk into the ER again and as I laying and watching from the bed, I could hear the Doctors talking, but nothing came out, I was locked up, no movement no speech, no pointing or no asking.  I only heard them say “We've got to do something”. As the tears ran from the side of my eyes I left this world.   They performed their works and did what they do and I was saved.  Two days later I woke up in the ICU unit and vaguely knew where I was.  I was transfer to a regular room where I had cerebellar stroke that they think was brought on from the anaphylactic shock.  Again, I was lucky; there is no damage, no muscle spasms, just a mild loss of balance that they say will soon leave.   This is the third time over three years this has happened, each time getting worse and they don’t know why.
I have often wondered why all of this has happened.  Is there more?  I’m sure there is.  This is the story, something’s even I don't understand.  There are many morally to this story, I hope you can find most of them, but most importantly;

Find Peace with God

Life IS short
Choose to Laugh
Choose to Create
Choose to Persevere
Choose to Praise
Choose to Heal
Choose to Heal
Choose to Give
Choose to Act
Choose to Grow
Choose to Live
Choose to Pray
But an epi-pin and know where it is

Read 1st Corinthians 13: 4-13

Most of this advice is hard and I don't always follow it, I wish I could but it’s because I'm weak.  I am a very opinionated person and it shows and I know it.  People I love, it shows, people I dislike it also shows.  I have hated and been wronged to the core of my depth and had reason to, but someone said that “forgiveness is a gift you give yourself” and after I thought of that, it was right and somehow the hate left and sometime things just cannot be changed, no matter how hard you try.  It is what it is, no matter what you do. 
What has happened to me is nothing compared to the pain many people have had, I have been very lucky and blessed and I have never had a prayer I have never had answered..  I have not had any problems compared to people who had real problems.  My dad once said “A man felt sorry for a gentleman who had no shoes, until he met a man who had no feet”  I have never felt sorry for myself nor want any pity, life is what you make it and I seem to always make it good, because it is.  A lot of people want to try to figure out the kingdom of God and know what he is up to, well, you're not…It’s God, he’s a lot smarter and we are, we're mere humans and it’s his secrets and he can share them or not.  If we knew, could we even understand?  Why it is important anyway and we're trying to put ourselves on his playing field and we never will.
This is the story; it’s more than has been asked for by many.  I have had several dozen people ask through emails or PM’s and many didn't want to ask but wanted to know.  I've meant to offend no one, just the facts and my opinion.
I've always believed you get out of life what you put into it and, live it to the fullest; it can be a nice place…A new journey has started and an old one has ended; let’s see what can come of it.   Ken

PS.  This was hard for me, I sat and wrote it at one time without any edits or corrections, just some of my thoughts and I won't do it often.  There is one more serious story that I will write and it’s about a Therapy dog, “Abbie the Border Collie” that came to visit me.  Little did I know that just one week before this event, while I was work shadowing them, I would be in the very hospital that they worked at….