Reggie...It Can Happen...

If you have been following the dog’s Facebook page, you may have noticed a story about a military serviceman that was deployed to war.  He had to leave his beloved dog “Reggie” at home with instructions, if something bad happened...  The story is a very good read, but it is a story.  
The Story of "Reggie"
Many attempts were made to authenticate it, but they could not, but I am sure that many servicemen and women have had to leave their pet and I'm also sure some servicemen lost their life due to the war and their pet was left without them and a home.
This caused me to thinking, have you ever ask yourself “what would happen to my dog if something happened to me?” and have you ever given any thought to your pet/pets at that time of need.  Most of us have not, but I will tell you, something bad things can happen, I know, I've been there.
Several years ago, I was contacted by someone who wanted a pup.  Karen was only 62 years old and I never gave any thought to her age, and yes, I have turned people down because of their age and I may ask the question to an elderly prospective buyers, “What will happen to the dog if you pass away”, while this seems harsh, my only concern is the entire life of the pup and not wanting it to go to a shelter or something worse. 
From an email I received from Karen.
"I just got home from the pet store.  Tess has a new toy........Yes, we are ready to pick, would Friday be OK with you.  Anytime Friday is OK for Ross and me.  Let me know what works for you.  I am so excited"  Karen!!
One cold January day, “Tess” went home to her new home and everyone was so excited.
I remember the day so well,  Karen would come every weekend and see her pup before it went home and we became friends.  Karen passed away just 3 months after the pup was picked up, March 16th, her unexpected death was a shock to all of us.  Tess was now in Florida with Karen's daughter and she was flown back to us here at the farm.  She was rehomed to a wonderful family near Indianapolis. 
I'm just glad we were able to get involved and we were able to re-home the dog to the perfect family, and all is well.
We never know when something can happen, but as dog owners, we need to at least think about it.  Usually things will stay the same and the dog will stay in the same house and things are OK, but in the event it’s not, what will happen.  I can't imagine any of my dog’s being separated or not being taken care of like they should be.  In my heart I know things will be OK, but I do wonder…No one will ever love my dogs like me and I know you feel the same way.
It’s easy to make arrangement for your dogs if needed or because of a bad occurrence and it might be as easy as asking a family member or a friend and at least you have planned, and remember, you can always call us at the farm.  It does dwell on some dog owners mind and I have been ask by two families to take care of the family dog, just in case... and I will.
Something I have always wanted people to know is that it is a full lifetime commitment to own a dog, for you, the dog and both.  They count on us for everything they need and want, and it’s up to us to remember their total needs.  This is part of our "going home" talk with the pup...As much as Dutchess lets me know things, there is some things that I need to take care of myself... Ken


The "Hot" Word...

I have talked about this before with much vigor and it’s even a “Hot” topic with Border Collie owners.   It’s something that each of us have experienced many times, but put yourself in my shoes and follow me around the farm.
I have a lot of things that need to be done especially around the fall of the year, and the only time that is worse is the springtime when everything is getting started and there are many chores to do and now, even the daylight time is getting shorter.
It always starts the same, I wake up and plan my day depending on the weather and how cold it is.  It has been a lot cooler this year and we already had some snow on the ground which has even pressed my time just a little closer.  After breakfast and after I have dressed, I go out and feed the dogs, they are SO excited because they want to get out as fast as they can so they can run and play.  This is always a challenge, but it always starts the same.
After they hastily eat, it’s time to open their kennel door for the mad dash.  If one dog is first to get out, then they wait and bark inside the kennel for someone else so you can race together.  This will happen for about 4 dogs and as the 5th dog is let out, it’s time for all of them to run through the door at the same time, which is impossible, but they try, and yes, they really do try to fit all 5 dogs through the small door.  What a bottleneck but as it clears, the rest come running and try to catch up which they do.  Of course the whole time everyone is barking and yelping and I even had someone here when this happened and they ask…”Do they do this every time”  and I answered, “of course, they do”.   But that’s not the Hot” topic.
"Do you know what I'm thinking?"
“Ball” is the “Hot” word.  Nearly everyone that I talk to will say the same thing, “My Border Collie” is obsessed with a ball and I will always answer the same way, “Mine too”, but give it some thought, I have 8 that are obsessed with a ball. And it’s hard to get things done because of it.  So follow me through the day as they jump and skip, wanting to play.  

Maybe because we start early...
If I'm really busy, I will ignore them (can't be done) but they always “bring” me things to play with.  As we walk or work, mysteriously a tennis ball will show up at my feet and 8 Border Collie faces look at the ball, and then at me, and then back at the ball, wanting me to pick it up and I sometimes walk by the ball but again, it’s by my feet and so on.   The're very persistent...
Clancy learned this from Tucker
At times, they will go and find as many as 6 or 8 balls after I hide the first one that they discovered in the weeds or leaves, trying until one works and I will get tired and just throw it, if only they could bring me a dollar.  Just today, Abbie brought me “part” of a ball.  It had one side out, but in her mind, it’s a ball, something that should be thrown. 
If all fails, she will bring me a stick.  As I said I know your dog is obsessed with a ball but 8?  
Even Molly....
God bless them, I feel so sorry and will pick up the ball and throw it and off we go, trying to work and throwing…The cycle continues but I wouldn't have it any other way...It's a Border Collie thing...Ken

The "Test"

If you have been reading anything on Facebook or saw it mentioned on this blog, you know we are getting a couple of our dogs certified as therapy dogs.  Clancy the “dog of dogs” and Dutchess the famous “party” girl. 
Web Definition
A therapy dog is a dog trained to provide affection and comfort to people in hospitals, retirement homes, nursing homes, schools, hospices, disaster areas, and to people with learning difficulties. Therapy dogs come in all sizes and breeds. ...
As most of you know, I was blessed to have a visit with a therapy dog while in the hospital a few months ago.  I had already started my therapy dog training just a few weeks earlier and it was such a comfort to be able to hold and hug a beautiful four legged creature during my hospital stay.
It was actually Elaine’s decision to become a therapy dog handler years ago when she witnessed a therapy dog visit the nursing home her mother was temporarily in.   She saw how the patients’ eyes just lit up and a smile immediately shone on their faces and how some even laughed and spoke baby talk to the dog. It made such an impression on her, she began to dream about the possibilities of how she could do this with one of our dogs.  The more she thought about it, the more she realized she had the perfect dog…Clancy…, she knew he was the one…
Clancy has met hundreds of people and dogs here at the farm and even out at festivals in the area or trips to town.  He has played with kids, kittens, dogs and has had every puppy that has been born here at the farm craw all over him.  He just takes it and usually closes his eyes and tries to relax or sleeps, such a tender soul.  When Clancy was our stud dog, we always allowed him in the house for our meet and greet with the prospective buyers and as always, once he entered the house, he climbed upon the sofa and gave kisses or went to sleep in the visitors lap.  Many readers can attest to this very fact the first time they came to our house to meet us and our dogs.
 The stage was set… and after classes and a lot of training of the dogs and Elaine and I were ready to take the evaluation and test.  This was a piece of cake because we knew if anyone failed their part, it would be Elaine or I, Clancy was great, Dutchess was along for the ride.  One of the training instructors even told us after she gave Clancy a big hug and a kiss at one of our classes, “You…will make a wonderful therapy dog” as she looked into his eyes and he licked the tip of her nose.
Elaine was first, the evaluations are away from the public for a variety of reasons and we waited outside the room.  “No sweat” I said, he’s doing fine and when the test was nearly done, it was stopped, one of the evaluators came out to us and said Clancy had failed.  I don’t know why she came out except to warn us of Elaine’s appearance and emotions.  When Elaine did come out, she asked for the car keys and she and Clancy went to the car so she could pull herself together and as she turned, I saw her wipe a tear from her eye.  To say the least, I was shocked.  Clancy knew everything and would make a great partner, but what happened?
My exam was next and to say the least, I was concerned and worried.  I didn't know what to expect and had to admit that if Clancy couldn't pass, was their any hope for Dutchess and me.  There were nearly 8 to 10 people in the room that were there to evaluate Dutchess and me.  Sometimes more than one or the whole group participated in the teting.  When dogs test, they are taken through many pretend "situations" that could be experenced in a nusing home or hospitl envirenment just to make sure they are fit to serve in this capisity.
Before the class started, knowing I was Elaine’s husband, they shared with me what happened in the test with Clancy and Elaine.  They said the test was nearly complete when  a “neutral” dog was brought to within a couple of feet of Clancy so they could witness his reaction to the dog, of course hoping there would not be one…but it didn’t quite happen the way we all wanted it to.  Clancy took the Border Collie stance and as they were circling Elaine with the neutral dog, Clancy backed up to Elaine, touching her leg and as they circled, he circled too, not making a move or changing expression, except to circle and protect Elaine from what he took as an aggressive act toward her from the “neutral” dog.  The evaluator immediately stopped the test. This was taken as unacceptable behavior on Clancy’s part and they quite firmly stated to Elaine that he would never be able to serve as a therapy dog with their organization.
Elaine is still a certified dog handler and our new goal is to train one of our other dogs to be her partner so she can go with me and Dutchess, who incidentally came within one point of getting the highest rating.  Go figure…

My heart aches so much for Elaine and Clancy, because I know what he is. I know how awesome he is with people and what Elaine feels in her heart.  I have sat a hundred times across from a couple sitting on our couch who wanted a puppy and wanted it to be just like Clancy. Some have even wanted to purchase him, but I always tell them “Sorry, he’s not for sale” as he lays his head in their lap giving them his love and affection.  Clancy will always be our therapy dog and the only down side to that is most of his love and attention will stay here at the farm and not shared with a deserving person whose life he can cheer up, but all in all, we’ll take his love except for when he comes inside to visit and to share the couch with a couple looking for a puppy.  

Just a thought…

As most of you know, I don’t write the blog until the last minute for Sunday morning.  It is now Saturday night and nearly 9:20 PM and I have just sat down to write about the dogs and “what happened this week”.  I sometimes ponder about what I will write about because it was a slow week or I will have enough stories for a month from that same week.  As I sit at the keyboard, I thought back to when I put the dogs in their kennel tonight.  
Just this very night as I said “Let’s go eat”, everyone mechanically goes to their own kennel door and stands and waits for me to open the gate if it’s closed, but if it’s open they will proceed into their own kennel and wait for me.  Tonight, Doc was first and as I looked into his eyes, he seemed so content and I took both hands and stroked his face and while I was doing it, he closed his eyes and seemed to drift into a dream world.  He seemed so content, and so was I.  It was a dream for both of us. 
Molly was next and when I opened her door, as always she wilted to the floor on her bed and as her eyes followed me, just the very tip of her tail wags and anticipates when I will rub her head, which I do. 
Meg just flops down and waits for her food.  She is the smallest dog that makes so much commotion of any dog I have ever seen when she lies down but will watch me for instructions.
The twins, Annie and Gabby are about the same to each other, except, Gabby is the very last to go in, and always needs a little extra coaxing because she wants every last minute to stay out and play, she never gives it up willingly and always walks to the kennel with her head down to the ground, but she lets me know she is not happy.
Abbie goes right in and always looks weathered because she played so much and is usually limping or has scratches here and there, but those eyes will pierce your soul and you can't help rubbing her head and like her mother as just the very tip of her tail will start to wiggle for me.
Clancy and Dutchess don't have to go in because early Sunday morning, we are heading up to Indianapolis for some dog work and they are going inside, just so we can keep an “eye” on them and they don’t get dirty or into mischief.  As I sit and watch everyone eat tonight, each one has their own routine and after they eat, they will usually make a “nest” and settle in for the night. 
Tonight, we have two guest border collies too, Keely is from Molly and Clancy and looks a little bigger than Abbie and they even look like twins.  Tuki a guest we are watching and trying to get a little socializing in before her sheep training.  Even both of them know the routine and will submit to the rules and are such a pleasure to be around because they are good dogs and only want to share their love, which they do.
Now... the hard part.  Who gets to come in tonight?  Sometime the decision is easy.  Who is wet or dirty and who came in last night is sometimes a deciding factor, but tonight everyone is dry and clean.  Once, when Elaine had to make the decision, all 8 of them came in and there was no room for me to sleep and I just gave them my part of the bed.   She just didn't want to make a decision, but tonight it is Abbie, my little misfit confidante, it was the eyes that decided and the very small wiggle of her tail, nothing else.
There are many times I wish I only had one dog because I don’t like making decisions and there are times I wish I had a hundred dogs and a room and bed big enough for all of them.  If you only have one or two, count your blessings, most chairs and beds are big enough for all of you but in my case it’s a little different and I must share.
As I say goodnight tonight, I look at all the sad faces, sing them a song and close the door, but they never know I peek in the window just to see them once again and only wish there was room…
Even now and at times I will lie down on the driveway and let all of them have their turn kissing, licking and showering me with the only love they know and I will be in heaven. With every litter of pups we have ever had, this was our routine and if you're an owner of one of ours, just lie down and see what you are missing.
Someday soon, and as time marches on, I will lay in the "big meadow" and all of my dogs will meet me and there will be room and time enough for the fun and love we have to share before we cross together…Hopefully, God will have Frisbees.   Ken

Heaven is the place of final and complete happiness that God has prepared for us...and if animals are necessary to make us happy, then you can be sure God will have them there.  "Reverend Billy Graham