Merry Christmas from the Farm…

It’s Christmas morning at the farm and all the dogs are gathered around the Christmas tree to reflect on 2014 and to bring in the New Year.
Upon hearing the news about having pups, “What are we going to do” Annie says.  “I love to play with our puppies and let them chase me and to think there won't be anymore.”  Dutchess and Molly who are half-sisters sat down together.  Dutchess looked at Molly and got a little teary eyed as she licked Molly’s ears and face and said.  “I will miss not seeing the little pups, it reminded me of the times “we” had pups and we were still young,” as she looked at Molly and hung her head.  Clancy ever so strong also bowed his head and looked remorseful.  “I know I never acted like it, but I am proud of my pups and the things they do.  I tried to be tough to show them what a strong dog is supposed to do, to teach them their trade.”  Meggie, the silent one spoke up.  

We've all had our hand in having little ones around here.   Dutchess, you and Molly have shown us both sides of our personality, Molly you are lover, Dutchess you are active and skillful.  You both were the “yin and yang” of the farm.  Annie, you are the kid and “play partner” to everyone and Gabby you are the roust-a-bout, always watching and Doc, you are everything Clancy is not, you're the lover and jumper-upper and will run 200 feet just to jump in someone’s arms just to get a hug and you always do.  Abby and Shepp, you are “our” kids, Abby by birth and Shepp by love, you are products of all of us in this room.”  Everyone understood I think, but there was a lot of head tilting as if to catch the reason from the air.  One dog, not to be mentioned by name said, “It’s not that I don't want to help with other dogs, I don't want to share, I like it the way it is, just us.”  I looked around the room and said, “Where would we all be now if we didn't share” pointing to Dutchess, Doc, Gabby, Abby, Shepp and Dahlia, “remember we took you in when you needed a home.”  To get love, sometimes you need to give love and you're in the best home ever.”  Heads bent and eyes watered but I think they understood we all need a second chance.
I spoke up again and said, “It’s not the end of the world, we see other dogs all the time when they come to visit, we play with all of them and even though it’s not the same as “our” little pups, we’re all from the same cut of cloth.   We are all related, some of us are black and white, some red and some are all kinds of colors,” as I looked at Annie and Gabby, “besides, we will still see dogs that need our help.  Just like you help our pups learn to walk, play, swim and the valuable lessons of life, you can still teach dogs that were not born here, and help them just like you did with your pups.  Remember Nya and Boone,” I said.  “Yeah we do, they were so much fun and we hated to see them go,” me too I said “but you helped them in more ways than you'll ever know and they weren't our pups, but because of you, they will have better homes.”
Then all of the dogs piped up and started telling each other what they will do and it was fun to listen to them tell their stories and how they would show them about life, Dutchess even said “I will teach them how to speak to play Frisbee.”  

Clancy said “I will teach them how to be strong when needed but gentle which is also desired.”  Doc said “I will teach them how to jump up on humans,” but I said “that might not be a good idea, even though you do it with such flair.”  Everyone had a lesson to teach and Annie even offered to teach them how to roll in poop.  

They were excited to support other dogs that needed help and especially the ones that need a second chance… because most of us do. 
You see, as the Christmas Season is upon us, it’s really about second chances, something we all need.  It is a gift that we don’t deserve but was given because of love many years ago, it’s only fitting that we give others a second chance too, whether it’s for people or pets.
“Some stories are told with Claymation, puppets, and cheesy musical numbers but don’t miss their deep and abiding meaning! These stories have lasted for decades, if not centuries, because their message connects with us on a deeply human level by inviting simple truths into our souls, truths like “beauty comes from brokenness,” “joy isn't about what we own, but who we are,” and “even the worst of us deserve a second chance.”
Christmas is a gift from God.

It is a gentle reminder of the plot to this whole story called Life: that we once were lost and are now found, once broken and now restored. The Gospel of the Second Chance brought by the helpless baby-king born in a barn is a gift for all of us”…  Mike Foster

Whilst we are a person or a dog, we need second chances… Ken

Merry Christmas from the Farm…Ken, Elaine and the dogs…

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Two Peas in a Pod…

Several years ago, before Clancy's Dream, Elaine and I stepped out into the unknown and out of our comfort zone.  I got a message that there was a Border Collie "free to a good home" on Craigslist;  

Border Collie-Purebred (Radcliff)
"Beautiful female Border Collie Free to a home, around 9 months old. Great with kids, but very active. Will require a farm home or a good piece of land. She does not do well with small breed dogs and not likely with cats either."

I contacted the owner within 10 minutes of getting the message because Craigslist can be deadly for a dog when it's placed there.  I told them I would be there in the morning, but my one condition was for him to take the ad off Craigslist so I could make sure we get her to a safe home, and he did.  When I spoke to Elaine and told her what I was doing, we both looked at each other and said simultaneous, "do we really want to do this?" I told her I have a bad feeling about this, and it was against my better judgment, but I moved to help.   I was on the road at 5 am to pick up a dog that I knew nothing about or what I would do when I got her.  She was in a cage, soaked in urine when I arrived, and the owner was very friendly even though he had a gun tucked in his back waistband.  As soon as we were on the road, I called a Veterinarian in Louisville and made arrangements to stop and get all the necessary shots, a good bath, and spay.  Nya was so scared because she didn't know what to expect, but when we finally got home, she settled in quickly, she just wanted to be touched and loved. 

Just a few days later, I received another message from several concerned people, one as far away as New Jersey about a male dog also on Craiglist.  We soon learned that he was starving for attention and came from a puppy mill.  He needed to be something more than a breeding machine for profit as most of his other Border Collies companions were just months ago.  In his first 9 months of life, he was unsure of everything, living in 4 different places, born in a puppy mill and never seeing or being on grass.  His first new home was because of a court order.  He was brought to me because he was relinquished and had been placed in an environment where he had to defend himself from Doberman Pinschers.  We were familiar with this dog and knew he was confiscated because of a court order shutting a puppy mill down.

"We have a 9-month-old male BC from a puppy mill that didn't work out.  This is one that was given away on Craigslist, would you guys be willing to find him a foster home?  He should be ready to go by the weekend."

In just a few days, we were guardians of two Border Collies that were on Craigslist and to think I was hesitant about one, but two?  What are we getting ourselves into, this is officially something that is new to us and to tell you the truth, I am just a little unconvinced of this at this point we can do any good.

We have worked with recusing Border Collies for several years, and it was always pretty, straightforward, but we would never rehabilitate "and" home a dog at the same time.  What have we gotten ourselves into?  In just a few days, we had both dogs, and they were "two peas in a pod," and they were dreamboats and fun to have around.  Boone and Nya would play and scamper around the farm, playing and chasing each other, and just in those short days, they changed for the better. 

Nya went home first and met her new brother, and Boone was pledged to a family with a Border Collie and went soon after. 

After both of them left, Elaine and I looked at each other and wondered what we were now going to do.  We became so attached to the dogs and, in a way, wanted them to stay, but I put my foot down (in a kind way) and said if we keep them, there is no more room for other rescues.  It was a sad day when they went home, and as usual, we said our goodbyes outside at the gate and took that long walk down the drive toward the house.  We had done this many times before when we sold a pup, and we honestly felt the same, a part of our heart was missing.  Something that we discovered is that although we were unsure of what we were getting into, these dogs brought so much joy to our family and fit right in, and we now know it was the right decision.  We do miss them and know they are in good hands and in loving homes.  Two days after Boone went home, I received "that" call again… "I am looking for help," and on the road, we were, and "Jack" came to the farm and soon found his forever home too. 

Boone, Nya, and Jack showed me the way in just a week, the same way my dogs have nudged me many times, but then again, I guess I wasn't listening.  There are many ways you can help dogs that are doomed, and I know you can be anxious, that first step in the hardest, trust me, I know.  The rewards are heartwarming and uplifting, and you may save a dog or two.  When we don't have any fosters available, we cannot help, no matter what the circumstances are...  Ken

For more information and if you want to help, 

Foster, What's it like

Foster Application

The Hard Part

“The hard part about “this puppy thing”, I wonder if the new puppy owners will love them as much as I do.  I hope and pray they do.”  Ken

This quote is from a post many years ago on our newly developed web page from the first litter we ever had and I still wonder…

Molly's First Litter

I have thought about writing this blog for nearly 10 years, even today it’s hard to put everything into words and I get misty eyed thinking about it.
Many years ago we had two great dogs and loved them so much that we wanted other people to share in what we had, the joys of a great Border Collie.  We were green and unknowing as to what to do and never planned or thought it out much.  “How can this be difficult?” not knowing that breeding and selling the pups could be the only problems.   Because I am an “A” type person and my glass is always half empty, I always strive to better any situation, including the dogs and doing the right thing whether it’s my dogs or someone else’s that needs help.

Dutchess's First Litter

Our first female was bred on February 14th, Valentine’s Day.  I remember saying, “it’s got to be love” and it was.  We helped deliver every pup that was born with the exception of one litter that Dutchess had while we were at work and when I came home, she and the pups were sleeping peacefully and all was right with the world, especially here at the farm.   I worked hard to learn and do the right thing, always wanting the best for my dogs and pups, making sure they went to good responsible and loving homes.  From the very first litter we had, we always had two hard and fast rules, #1, “Don’t over feed the dog” #2.  “If it doesn’t work out, the dog comes back home to us.” And some did.   We always had a “come to Jesus” talk with every owner about every pup that went home concerning their responsibility and I meant every word that I said.  Some listened, some didn’t.  I didn’t always understand why, because it’s so simple, to make a puppy into a good dog if you really want to…

Our First...
As many have read or heard, we will no longer raise pups.  Gabby and Meggie were spayed this week and Annie will be spayed next week.  Doc’s neutering will soon follow. 
I had anticipated this day but believed it was a long way off. Reality hit when we got involved in a puppy mill a few years ago.  The other significant factor came when Karen Newhall and I transported 5 dogs from that same puppy mill to Glen Highland Farm.  We saw the never ending work that took place just to fix “one” broken Border Collie and at times it couldn’t be done… my heart broke.   Was this my wake-up call?  Did this affect me more than I thought it would?  You bet it did.  I want to help and not hinder the breed because I love them. However, I will miss the little squeaks, yelps, and barks and oh I love the puppy breath and smell.  Over the years, we have met so many wonderful people, some continue to be cherished friends and we get together often.  I have talked with people about dogs from all over the world most of whom I have never met.  I have even cried with them when they told me their tragic story about their best friend passing away.   They wanted me to know because they felt I would understand how they felt and I did.  People have even told me that their dog “saved them” and I believe that to be true, because mine has saved me too, in so many ways.

In the Beginning
I started this blog when we were selling pups from an ad in the newspaper.  Everyone wanted to see the pups when they called and wanted me to send an individual photo to them.  My plan was to post them on a website, so I only had to do it once, and it worked, but it worked too well.  Presently, we’ve had nearly five hundred thousand hits and it’s growing all the time, but at times too much.  We’ve spoken to thousands of people that wanted a dog, wanted to sell a dog, wanted to rehabilitate a dog, and wanted help with a breeder.  Google even tries to sell me a front page location on their search engine, which we already have because of our volume, if they would only look, they would realize that that is not necessary.
The long and short of it is, we love the breed, and it was never about money because there is none.
It was about watching the miracle of life.  It was helping people who had a need and the joy of watching a little handful of fur turn into the most loyal and smartest dog in the world.  I have seen hundreds of people pick up their pup and the excitement is overwhelming for both of us.  Little did they know the pain that was left behind as they drove off down the drive way.  Elaine and I shed a tear for each of our pups as they left us, not knowing if we would ever see that pup again. The walk back to the house was always way too long and in our minds, we could still smell the puppy’s breath. 
Remember, from birth until they leave for their new home, we were their birthing assistant, caretaker, nurse, comforter, teacher and the person who picks each pup up and cradles them in our arms thousands of times.  Many nights before bed, I would sing to them while they would sit perfectly still, turning their head from side to side watching and listing to every word.  We used to have a rocking chair in the kennel and at times either Elaine or I would rock the puppies to sleep, cherishing every moment they were still with us. The last pup from a litter that went home was always the worse.  I would go to their kennel area afterward and change it back for an adult dog, but I will tell you the very last litter was so very hard.  Each one that went home meant it was closer to that final pup leaving and the knowledge that we’ll never do this again.  There were many wonderful moments that I will never forget but there are ones that I would like to forget because of a tragedy, but that’s reality and sometimes it just plain sucks.
To my knowledge, we have lost nearly ten dogs to car hits and after each family notifies us, I would always go back to the litter photos and remember them in my own way.   We have always tried to keep in contact with each family, either by email, reunions and even the boarding.  We do this, just to make sure they are alright, plus it allows us to watch “our” pups grow.
Time moves on and life changes.  It was a hard decision made not to breed again, but it’s the right decision.  I’ve always said, “The right decision is usually the hardest ones” and I believe it.  I will miss all of them so much, but I do have memories, videos and nearly 80 gigabits of photos just of the dogs and pups.

My fondest moments with the pups were always singing to them before bed and sitting in the middle of the floor while they climbed all over me, untying my shoestrings, biting my fingers and licking my face.  Some would even suckle my nose looking for food and thinking it was their mom, this was heaven as it should be.  Someday when I cross that bridge… Hopefully I will experience this again…

"Hey, who’s this”?  A Border Collie speaks as someone new arrives at Rainbow Bridge.  A small crowd of Border Collies, that know each other, gather around the new arrival.  There is jumping, barking and running in circles with lots of licks and kisses for the stranger.  "We know you" and for some reason, they did.  Something was familiar, they seemed to know the stranger, but weren’t sure, until he sat down in the middle of the meadow, the dogs gathering around the stranger, discovered that the "one" thing they all had in common with each other was a piece of the strangers heart and “I” was a stranger no more when I started to sing…
Someday we'll all be together again...until that day…take care little ones…I Love You, Dad

Note: This weekly blog has been written every Sunday since June 2010.  It is called “What Happened this Week” and every post is about the dogs and puppies and the things they do during the week, it’s happy, or sad, but always the truth.  I’ve tried to share the good, the bad and even my mistakes.  It’s not written with flair or the best punctuation, but it’s from my heart.  Thanks for reading…  Ken
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