A Thousand Books…

There are a thousand books on how to communicate with your dog and they all say the same thing in one way or another.  While I’m not getting into the book business, I can only tell you what works for me.  Elaine is taking Annie to  training and is starting to communicate with her and I know of a few other people that are also starting some training with their dog.
Again, I am not the expert but I've seen some pretty funny things.  I have told this story a thousand times and even in front of Elaine…She was in the kitchen and “ask” Clancy to go outside…”Clancy, let’s go outside…Clancy come here…Clancy…Clancy…Clancy…CLANCY don’t make me come over there and get you…”  I am upstairs and laughing under my breath at the debacle.  I walked over, leaned over the railing and said…”Clancy – outside” he nearly ran to the back door, right by Elaine.  I walked down with a smile on my face (I know better) and said, He doesn't understand and in short, too many words, wrong order and who is in charge?  Elaine is very good natured (whew) and after I explained it to her, it sunk in.  In some of the reading I have done on dogs, everything leads to usually one thing.  Who is in charge? 
Always watching...
Weather we realize it or not, we are part of their pack, are we in charge or are they?  I believe if you tell them “NO” they will try it again and again and if they get away with something one time out of ten, they rationalize in their mind that they won.  It’s like trying to herd cats or having a room full of two year olds.  Even with Clancy, I need to be vigilant and always make corrections.  He knows I am in charge and I can even give him the evil eye and he will bow his head and look away which is submission but that stubborn streak is always close.
Now the problem…in the pack of the dog world, there is one alpha male and one alpha female, the male being in charge.  In our unicorn, rose colored glass world, we want to treat everything with grace and respect but in the dog world, “they” want to be followers and need to follow us which makes it much better and easier.  Remember in the outside world, the strong is in charge and rules for the furtherance of the pack and species and in our world we should be the alpha in charge.  I remember once going to training and the instructor said to a student, “control your dog” a little confused she didn’t know what to do and the instructor said, “you're in charge, not the dog” and it sunk in.
All dogs want to be the leader, it’s in their nature.  It’s nice when someone takes care of us and provides us with guidance and security and in the dog world, it’s the same but the alpha needs get the respect.  Once we establish our role, theirs falls into place, but we must establish it and hold it.  Remember in the animal world, someone always tries to buck the system and the leader needs to re-establish on a constant basis, we are in their world, not them in ours.
A reserved and shy dog was once staying with us and it was hard to crack her shell.   We were in the family room and one of my dogs misbehaved.  When the correction was made, the reserved and shy dog jumped in my lap, which it had never done.  Why? Because she felt secure and safe, the pack was now established to her and she was no longer confused.  
Most women allow the dogs to control them and I always believe it’s their loving nature, but they can be taken advantage of too.  Usually, if Elaine calls any of the dogs, it’s 50/50 if they will come and if I do, they know they need to obey.  It’s not a man or woman thing it’s a control thing.  We have a female friend that has several BC’s and she is in total control and the dogs mind impeccable, and it shows and the dogs are a delight to be around.  Nearly everything the dogs do is for a reason and to check on how far they can push it.
Remember, it’s a safety thing, you don't want your dog to bolt out the door or get itself into a situation that it can’t control and it depends on you to protect it, just like the alpha of the pack.
Remember, I am not the expert but this works for me, get a good book, read and control and put on your big boy/girl voice.  Life will be so much easier on everyone.  If the correct order is established it’s something they want and need.  I have said it many times…” Someone will be in charge and it does not need to be the dog”  Ken

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Father of our Breed...

 Some dog breeds can be traced back to ancient times for thousands of years but the Border Collie as we know it can be traced back to 1894.   The Border Collie as a breed didn't exist, according to Cimmiekris Border Collies and Shetland Sheepdogs, until a Northumbrian farmer (Northumberland is in northern England, on the border with Scotland), Adam Telfer, crossbred two types of sheepdogs in 1894 and the “father” of our breed was born in September of that year from Hemp's mother, Meg, who was a quiet and very strong-eyed black sheepdog, while Hemp's father, Roy, was a loose-eyed black, white, and tan sheepdog with a good-natured temperament.  Unlike many modern border collies, Hemp was a tri-colored dog with only a small amount of white fur on his body.  

Old Hemp, September 1893 - May 1901
The Border Collie as we know it today is descended from Old Hemp. And his style was reportedly different from that commonly seen during his era, as he worked more quietly than other sheepdogs of the time. 
His owner, Telfer, was thoroughly impressed with the dog, once saying Hemp "flashed like a meteor across the sheepdog horizon. There was never such an outstanding personality."
Author and commentator Eric Halsell was also impressed by Hemp's skill, once said of the dog, "none who saw him work ever forgot him... Almost faultless in his work... he was born with such knowledge of his craft that he never required training and went to his work naturally.”   First following sheep at the age of six weeks, Hemp grew to have a great ability to herd. He moved sheep quietly unlike the louder sheepdogs of the era and was far more mild-mannered, although sometimes worked so intensely that he physically trembled and within a few generations his style had been adopted by almost all Border Collies and became known as the Border Collie style.
Old Hemp got around, and he wasn't all work and no play. Estimates place Old Hemp's offspring at more than 200, due to his stud services being widely sought after and each of the 29 collies that won the Farmers Championship for sheepdogs between 1906 and 1951 was descendants from Old Hemp.
It was surprising that Old Hemp was this talented because his Father Roy was a good dog, but did not possess a special talent for herding sheep.  His mother Meg was such an intense worker that she hypnotized herself instead of the sheep.
So you see, all of us that are owners of Border Collies are related in one way or another to a farmer in Cambo, Northumberland UK, a shining example of the breed and will always be remembered as the father of the Border Collie breed.  Our Clancy whose Grandparents were born in Selkirk, UK is only 48 miles from the birthplace of Old Hemp.

Our Clancy James...
Most people do not know of Old Hemp but if you own a Border Collie, you are part of a family of dogs that came from good insight and a rough coated, tri-colored Border Collie…Old Hemp…

Another Lesson Learned...

These past weeks seems to be the weeks of things learned around the farm.  Three the dogs learned a new trick and I learned a lesson too, and I’m sure I got the biggest surprise of them all.
I have more than one pet and in fact I have eight Border Collies and sometimes, things get lost in all the confusion.  What I am talking about is there is not always time, space and concentration to make everything jell together because of the activity that always goes on and there is just not enough hours in the day.  
Two weeks ago, we were playing ball near the water.  Keely, a guest dog wants to play and jump in, but she always had some hesitation in jumping off the dock.  Now, not all of mine will do this either, in fact only four of them will but hopefully, that will change from what I learned.  I decided to work with Keely, one on one, so early one morning after shutting all the other dogs up in the kennel we walked to the lake and was going to work on jumping.  
Keely's first jump
Usually I keep a Jolly Ball and several tennis balls on the dock just in case I need to make a quick throw.  I picked up a tennis ball and she wagged her tail and I decided to throw it in the water in front of her and to my surprise, off she went after the ball and after all the hesitation for months she did it.  After swimming back to shore and bring it back to me, we did it again and again and I honestly think it’s because there was no competition or stress because of the other dogs.

Katelyn was staying with us for a week and she is a little over 3 months, she is Annie’s pup and was so much fun to watch.  While we were playing in the water, she would never make the lunge or get in.  We gently  sat her in the water, about 10 feet from shore and she swam to the side, we make no big deal of it and she seemed to like it.
Her first swim from the boat
The next day we did the same thing but once in, she didn't swim to the shore, she swam to another dog to play.  She is now a water dog.
Went to see Wilson
Early last week, after I was telling the owner of our Kacie about Keely, they ask “could we work with Kacie on jumping off the dock?”  After thinking about Keely and knowing that no other dogs were around to distract her, we did the same thing with Kacie.  
Kacie, from Annie and Doc
Her favorite toy is a Frisbee and they brought one to play with and after putting all the dogs up, off to the lake we went.  She was a little cautious but curious.  She would run up to the edge of the dock and back again.  At one point, she got between my legs and watched and as we put the Frisbee in the water just a few feet off the dock but right in front of her, I was getting ready to gently nudge her in but off she went by herself, grabbed the Frisbee and came back to us to do again.  Not wanting to push it, we moved the activity to the next day where great improvement was made.  By the third day, she is a champ and that is where I learned “my” lesson.
I will tell you, it is natural for them to get into the water but its how it’s done and if it’s fearful to them and the introduction is not gentle, it can have devastating effects.  I know some dogs where the owner have worked years and the effects are the same.
As all of this was going on, I remembered back to giving Doc his medication and while I had his full attention, I taught him to shake hands in just three attempts and now when I tell him to “shake”, up comes his hand ready for more.   Like children, each dog is different and need different things and attention.  I learned this and have started to give each one of them my undivided attention with their favorite toy and let them be themselves for a period of time.  This usually includes running and playing and focusing on one thing without any distractions from any others.  While it’s good to socialize them, they also need our undivided attention and we all will see a different dog.
Not often, but at least once a week Dutchess will adamantly want in the house for no reason, but “just because”.  Not taking “NO” for an answer she will jump, bark and reach for the door handle.  When I let her in the utility door, she will leap toward the swinging door, throwing it open and hurry her way through.  I have learned that she really doesn't want anything but just to be inside and have attention and usually curl her 50 pound body in my lap and we're both in heaven but she wants individual attention which she gets.

I have learned that I want to do this and have this time just for “us” and not only do I share feelings about the dog, the dog shares with me and we both see a different kind of relationship.   If you have more than dog, make time for each, you might be surprised…While dogs are pack animals, they do want their own attention…trust me…Ken

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The Angels...

Several weeks ago, I received a message asking for help with an urgent plea about a dog that had been hit by a car.  I was included in a loop of messages that had been generated to reach out and grasp at anything or anyone that could help.  It’s usually begging, pleading, persuasion or any means necessary to help in the time of need.  We all do this in some form or another when we are passionate about a cause, and yes, we all have our causes that are important to us but to some, animals and the love and care for them is their passion.
The real heroes are the ones that fight for a cause, for someone or something and usually “what” they are fighting for doesn't have a voice or can’t speak.  A cause is taken up and a stand is taken for what they know is right, to do the unthinkable for someone or something.
In the message, someone found and dropped off a dog at a clinic that needed emergency treatment.  It was found injured on the side of the road and at least they brought it in for help.  No one claimed the dog and it’s not sure if the dog was a runaway, stray or someones family pet.  Because it was a holiday weekend, everyone was getting ready to celebrate Memorial Day and the staff was pretty thin but a call went out for help.  It was serious and an “expert” was needed for a dog that was in great pain.  People were contacted, care was given, x-rays were taken but a special surgeon was needed and that couldn’t happen until the following Tuesday.  
Very serious breaks, compound fractures
It was heartbreaking to watch this story unfold in messages in the private group.  A plea went out to everyone involved who may know someone that could get in touch with a bone doctor but nothing seemed to be working and none were found.  The heroes stayed at the clinic and worked with the staff making the dog as comfortable as possible until the special help arrived.
The right decision is always the hardest decision and as things got worse someone had to make the right decision, which was not good, because of the serious injuries and the great pain the dog was in.  Something that most people don’t think about is the anonymous staff, the rescue people, the complete strangers, and the techs that get involved, also feel the pain and  shed  tears over situations just like this one and will again.  
Someone lost a great Border Collie that day and we'll never know if he was a stray or a pet. We do know, he was loved and cared for by new friends and a new family that he had just met.  They are the heroes that were with him until the very end…when it really counted, doing everything they could for a dog in great need.  
“Gabriel” was the name they gave him and he was laid to rest with most people not knowing  where he is buried. His owner doesn't even know.   I only hope the last thing Gabriel saw were the rescuers' face that loved him, if only for a short time and he was able to feel the gentle hand of comfort that touched him for the last time as he closed his eyes for the final time.  
Gabriel, before he left for home...
People do this because there is a need, someone has to pick up the slack, but make no mistake they are the unsung heroes, with hidden wings, that make our race "humans".  Because of the unseen goodness they do, I am proud to know them.
“Hey…who is that?” someone says as they all  gather together at Rainbow Bridge, as the new human arrives.  “I don’t know their name" Gabriel shouts, "but I remember  they helped me when I was hurt” and it was revealed that the person was the rescuer that did everything in their power to help…and then, many more animals came forward because this same rescuer helped them too…strangers no more...and the circle is complete...

It takes a great love to help a person or a dog that can’t help themselves. Thanks to the Angels that helped Gabriel… May you meet your Angel at the Bridge…God Speed Gabriel… Ken
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Last week I mentioned summer is here and with the very nice and warm weather, we have been doing a lot of water and summer activity this week.  The weather has been great and the mornings are perfect for a walk in the cool air and warm sunshine.  A friend of the family, came over last Sunday with their dogs.  It’s always a pleasure to enjoy the company with someone who has the same passion that we have about our Border Collies and the day was filled with lots of water sports and dock diving.
Nellie & Ruby
The dogs were raring to go and even seemed to anticipate the fun and as predicted, they were the stars of the day.  The hardest job I had was to push the button on the camera but they really turned on.  I did post some of the photos on our Facebook page and there were many comments and questions about the skill of swimming and diving.  One question that seems to always pup up, is “how do they do it or how can I get my dog to do that?”  The answer is I really don’t know except for a few observations that I have seen in the past.  Lots of people seem to become the expert when getting a dog into the water.  Molly was young and we semi-forced her into the water and she couldn’t be any more scared and it’s something she will never do except where she can touch the ground, only getting her belly wet.  I know she can swim because once she was so excited and was at the edge and fell off the dock and swam to shore.
We are watching Katelyn Grace this week and she learned the art of swimming is just about 15 seconds and has taken to it in a natural way.  I had her on the platoon boat and slowly lowered her into the water and after she swam to shore, and shook off, she went right back to playing and the next day, the same thing, but yesterday, she got in herself and getting slopping wet.
Today, she will follow the big dogs in and actually swim to anything that peeked her interest.  When we have pups, I will usually get in the water and coax them to me with a ball or by calling their name and once they take their first step, its party on and they are hooked for life.  
Annie's first time in the water
“Captain Jack” comes several times a year and although he loves the water, he would never jump off the dock but last week, he did.  He would get so excited, and watch in earnest while the others did it and in a flash, off he went into 18 feet of water, swam to shore and repeated the same scene 10 times in a roll.  They do it because they want to, want to please and peer pressure with the other dogs.  Not all my dogs will jump so it’s not a given in all cases, but I think they might if we worded one on one but they seem content watching and barking at the others.  I would be very hesitant to pick up a dog and throw it in the water and this can have lasting effects.
When Nelly and Ruby came over, we had a ball.  Ruby was always a little hesitant but she wouldn't let her big sister show her up and she did learn this week with each dive, there was great improvement and I’m sure each time will get better. 

Ruby's first day and lot's of improvement
 It’s always a pleasure to watch them in action. Enjoy...

Whether they are graceful or just fall in, they have a ball and I enjoy watching...  Ken
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