Summer Begins...

As always, “This Week’s” story comes with a bang.  Most are usually something that happens at the end of the week and as you might envision, I am never short of material and usually it’s because of the dogs and “This Week” is no exception.  Although I had a little accident on the mower Saturday, and as I was walking back to the house to get the tractor to right the wrong.
“This Week’s” story came to me and it was another “aha moment” and as I looked heavenly upward, I thought “This is another theatrical moment and you really drove the point home…again” but it’s known that I am a good learner…sometimes.
Spring is the dog’s favorite time, the grass starts to grow, the days get warm and long, the lake gets warm (but it never makes a difference to them) the mud dries up and most importantly the mower starts again.  During the winter months, not much machinery runs for various reasons but summer time is game on.  Once the season starts, they think that every time I walk out the back door and walk to the pole barn to get a machine, it’s only for their sole pleasure.  Just walking that way starts the excitement.  If they are laying or sitting anywhere in the vicinity, their eyes get big, ears perk up, prancing is everywhere and some ever start to bark.  Keely will take off running, jumping the decorative fence taking Abbie with her even if the gate open just because they can.  The others will run nearly 30 feet and stop and wait but barking all the time.  Whether it’s the tractor, Gater, chain saw, blower or lawnmower, if it goes varoom-varoom, it means to start running, and I don’t know where, just somewhere.
As we all know it can be dangerous.  Years ago, one of our first dogs “Max” was running alongside our neighbor’s 4 wheeler and he got so excited, he turned the wrong way and they ran directly over him, they sped to the house and Max followed and was good as new.  They were so apologetic but everything was fine and Max wanted more.  If I cut grass, they will lay a ball or a stick in front of the mower so I will have to stop and play and I will tell you, there are times when I don’t see the ball and boy does it fly across the yard.  I’m sure they have figured it out and think I drive a big ball launcher and it is their personal toy.  The thing that worries me the most is when they run through the woods.  They will bob in and out of the trees, not really watching the trail ahead, only each other and I can’t imagine the processing that is going through their brain in milliseconds.  “Just be careful kids” is always on my mind and shouted at times but nothing can break them from running and having a good time.

I like water sports best, there is usually no collisions except the time when Clancy jumped on top of me as I relaxed on a raft and I’m sure they all want the raft to themselves.  
As always, be careful with automobiles, even mine have no fear of them and will walk as close as they can as someone pulls in.  Dutchess does it to be the first in the car, just to see if they brought her anything or she may even discovers something under the seat.  All in all be careful with cars.  They can be deadly for I know… we have lost 7 of our adult pups to vehicle accidents and of course just last week Roxie left is... 
Roxie's last home on this earth...
but I know she is patiently waiting with a "chuck-it ball launcher" in her mouth.
This is the beginning of the summer season and keep it safe and remember…don’t drive your mower up a steep hill near gravel, water, sticker bushes at full speed, you will come down even faster, sometimes upside down…Ken

The Untold Story...

Few people know the untold story of Roxie.  It would have been a secret that I would have taken to my grave, but today I will tell it because Roxie has passed away.
She was a young dog just over a year old when she first started coming here to board with us.  Some people are intimidated at first, I was too because she was the first Doberman I had really been around and she was so big compared to my dogs… and then she showed me her heart which was also big and we all fell in love with her right from the beginning.  At first, she was so shy with all the dog activity around the farm, when the dogs would run full speed, she would run to me and stand by my side for protection, which she got or so she at least thought.  In just a few days, she was one of the pact dogs, but a little different, just a tall muscular Border Collie with short brown hair, cropped ears and no tail.  She loved to play in the water and would bite at it as she swam and even go after the jolly ball, not always getting it, but she tried.  
One of the fondest things I remember about her visits, she would lope with the other dogs as they ran.  She had a beautiful stride and it was so amusing to watch the whole pack run through the woods and Roxie would stand out because of her stature.  She was quite a dog and I loved her…
Two events occurred because of her and the first was life threatening for both of us.  Roxie is the unknown dog that I wrote about that fell in the lake and I went through the solid ice to rescue her.  She was trapped nearly 30 feet away from shore and couldn’t get out, so I went in after her.  We both made it out but not without bruises and cuts. For me it created the bond for both of us that a situation like this can cause.  I never told her owner because I didn’t want them to worry and never mentioned who it was publicly.  It was our secret, the one thing I was going to carry myself.  The last time we kept her, her owner was picking Roxie up and mentioned that she had just taken her other dog to the Vet for a routine exam.  Her other dog had tested positive for a treatable tick disease and she suggested that I get my dogs tested too, which I did.  Roxie then went home after our goodbyes six weeks ago and that was the last time I saw her, little did I know...   Doc tested negative for that disease but tested positive for Heartworms.  I had no intention to test my dogs because they were being treated and were fine or so I thought…Did Roxie’s visit save Doc’s life?  I actually think it did because early detection is critical.   I called the owner this last Friday when I heard the sad news and told her how I felt.  I spoke in broken phrases because I was so upset.  I did tell her about Roxie falling through the ice because I felt she needed to know.  Later that same day I got an email back from her…”Don't you think it is funny how things work?  You saved Roxie's life on that frozen pond and in return she may have saved Doc's life.”  No truer words were ever spoken.
It is funny how things work.  Sometimes we see it but I imagine most of the time we don’t but this time I did.  Roxie would allow me to pick her up by her front feet and kiss her face and rub her belly at the same time…she was quite a dog.  What’s also strange, Roxie and Doc were best friends and would run together and wrestle and scamper through the woods, Roxie loping all the way.
Roxie had a real job.  She was a guard/protection dog at a scrapyard and we called her “Roxie the Junkyard dog”.  According to her caretaker, every morning when the staff would arrive, she would meet them with a “Chuck-it Ball Launcher” in her mouth and every day, they would play before work.  This Friday morning, they didn’t play, she had been hit by a car and nothing could save her.  She was just two years old and in her two short years, she touched many lives.  She was quite a dog and we loved her and will surely miss her.
As I sit here, Doc is still being treated for Heartworms and is sitting next to me because he needs to be quiet.  Every few minutes he sits up just to make sure I’m close and usually I command him to “Lay Down” but today, I didn’t.  I looked into his loving eyes and thought about Roxie loping through the woods with Doc and happier days.  I gave Doc a big hug and couldn’t help but shed a tear.  Good bye Sweet Girl, I will never forget you…and thank you for all you did with us and helping Doc…Meet you at the Bridge for your belly rub… Ken
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And They Were Free...

This Saturday afternoon, I ask Elaine to help me with straightening up my office, just to “start” it and assist me to get a handle on it.  I have things in piles and drawers that need some organization.  I found my first digital camera in the bottom of a drawer that was a whopper and when I opened the battery cast it had corroded because of the old batteries.  Just as I raised it up to throw it in the trash can, I thought I need to check for the memory card.  Low and behold, there was an old memory card in the camera and when I looked at it, they don’t make that size anymore so I tossed the camera back in the trash.  As I continued to clean out the drawer, I found the adaptor to download the information on the camera.  First the computer would not recognize the card and I had nothing but trouble but I was now captivated.  After many attempts, I finally did get it to open and download…
I was shocked and dumfounded.  I found 19 photos and 3 videos which are priceless to me that I never saw.  They are 10 years old and it is the only video I have of it…if I only knew then what I know now…
We all rush around and overlook the things that are really important to us and miss the things that really matter and I am at the front of the line with this and if anyone should listen, it needs to be me.

When I saw the video, I actually gasped and then a tear ran down my cheek and whenever I watch it, it still happens.  Oh how things have changed…

You see, the real things are free and nothing or no-one can buy happiness or peace of mind and if you try, the more you spend the deeper in life’s debit you get.  We worry about what others think, we worry about what they say and what they think of us and what really matters is what makes us happy and should care less about their concerns and take care of our inner self.   The best vacation we ever took was a cross country trip for three weeks and it was free except for the gas and food and we even carried a cooler and ate out of the back seat and it was grand.  We saw all the sights and out of the “100 places in America” to see, we saw eighty nine of them, and I would go again tomorrow if possible and it was free.  In hindsight, every planned vacation was expensive and we always came back more stressful than when we left.
Henry David Thoreau: "Happiness is like a butterfly: the more you chase it, the more it will elude you, but if you turn your attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder."
The short and only video portrays our first dogs that were “free to a good home” and they brought to us so much happiness.  What started out as a lap companion for Elaine and deer chaser for the farm, turned us into what we are today.  I can’t even imagine where we would be right now if either one of these events did not happen…Funny how this stuff works…  I’ve always said that “when you throw a rock into a pond, the ripples may be subtle, but they can last forever.” And they usually do.  As I’ve said before, because of Max, our life, the lives of others, our children and children of our pup owners have and will be changed because of “free to a good home.”
The camera was discarded 10 years ago and was nearly thrown in the garbage twice on Saturday but something made me check it and because I did, I was swooped back 10 years into a simple time that shaped my life forever.  Look around and see what you might be missing, it just might be priceless…I know I now have.  Thanks Max and Lilly…Dad

I Didn’t Want a Dog…

Saturday evening I was giving Doc his oral medication and we were on the back porch but were separated from the other dogs by a wire barrier.  He was doing his tricks and getting a small piece of cheese. 
Next trick...Please
Well the dogs on the driveway very soon realized what we were doing, and that was snacking.  Most of them came to the steps like quiet children wanting something except Dutchess and she was barking.  
Dutchess getting ready to bark
They were all together on the steps except the older dogs that were just behind the gang, watching.  With all those puppy dog eyes and sad looks they were telling me “they wanted a snack too”.  Like a good dad, I went to them and tried to comfort them but when Dutchess would do the same tricks that Doc did at the same time, I gave in.  She is so obsessed and knows what she wants, and as I would give Doc a command, she would “shake”, “sit” and even went “down” on that command too.  I couldn’t stand it, I went inside for another piece of cheese just so we all could share.
Like little birds, I would break off a small piece and feed each one.  I have learned that if I call their name, the others won’t try to get the snack, but would watch intensely for the one receiving it, to drop it, but none did, the snack barely saw the light of day before it was gone.  Clancy and Abbie would hold back and watch.  They wanted it but just waited their turn.  “Abbie” I said, holding a piece of cheese, worked her way up to me and received the piece while all eyes watched her and then it was Clancy’s turn and the other dogs gave him a wide birth.  All went well and we soon ran out of cheese and off they went to another adventure.
The things I do, you would thing I like dogs…In the beginning I didn’t want one but it was the only alternative to keep the deer out of our garden and off our property and the Border Collie we got from the newspaper was free, it was just a dog or so I thought.    
Out of this last litter a couple with a child acquired a “first” puppy.  The wife had dog experience and the gentleman just a little.  I know the child and mother would love the dog and the husband would tolerate the dog for them…or so I thought. 
In a phone conversation with the gentleman, he told me of all the places they went together and how much they enjoyed the new “dog” company, along with the walks they took and tricks they taught their new pet.  A lot of the exchange was about the dog and this sounded familiar, funny how this changes.  Border Collie owners have a tendency to tell stories about their dog/dogs as you well know and I have to watch myself when talking to someone, because it always ends up about the dog, as it should.
It’s funny how they get into your heart and change your life, even for the future.  Once I was talking to a new owner and they had mentioned that they would like to purchase a new house.  “You’ll have to buy one that has a big yard or some land” I said, “remember, you have to think of the needs of the dog,” something they had already thought of too. 

As I sit back and think of all the changes I have willingly made and seen the changes others have made too, it amazes me what we are willing to do. 

I know that most people will never understand the depth and love that we share together, but then, they have never owned a Border Collie…and to think, I didn’t want a dog…Ken