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The trip I made to Glen Highland Farm in New York this week was met with a few obstacles.  When I landed in New Jersey for my connecting flight I sat and watched people shuffle along to their destination without looking or thinking where they were going as if it was automatic.  After eating a chicken salad, I discovered it had shredded bacon on it, which I am highly allergic to because of a tick bite.  My last bacon meal sent me to the hospital because of an Anaphylactic shock, spending time in ICU for nearly a week with a breathing tube.  My epi-pens were in my carry on and I would use them only if necessary, but it’s a sure trip to the hospital.   Benadryl was useful, if only I could find some but the very last store did have it.  I did a lot of quick reflections of my life while I waited and was relieved when the symptoms didn't get any worse but a lot of time was spent on reflecting on my past and future.  

Up arriving, I met the staff at the farm and everyone was wonderful and I also met my two roommates, Liam and Lennon who are young brothers. 

I learned they had a very rough start, both were treated for heartworms and now are free of them. Seems the dogs and I both have had some difficulties.  The three of us went to bed early, me in the middle and Liam on one side and Lennon on the other, just like at home.  I awoke to the customary licks and they both stood on my chest while they washed me, tails going in a circle the whole time.  It had snowed during the night and there was a fresh covering over several feet of snow already on the ground.  The sun was coming up and these little dogs and I walked to a hill where a chair was and we sat down and felt the wind blow and watched the day make itself known.  

There wasn't a sound anywhere to be heard except the wind, it was alive and so was I.  The dogs sat next to me and depended on my shelter and comfort.  It was serene and tranquil and even spiritual.  I thought how much work went into fixing a wrong, a wrong that man screwed up, sometimes unintentional but sometimes knowingly and that is the rough one.  After my chores for the day were done, my evening time was quiet except when Liam and Lennon wanted to play, which we did.  

There wasn't any TV in the cabin and I would sit in a chair and they would bounce all around me and even on me, once again, just like at home.  When they did settle down it was time to reflect again.  Glen Highland Farm and I have a common quest, helping and fixing a problem.  GHF has rehabilitated over 2500 dogs and it’s increasing every week, there is never a lull of broken dogs’ whether it’s from a relinquishment, puppy mills, injuries, Craigslist or word of mouth, there is always one or two more waiting. However, there are always willing hands, wanting to help the hurt, comfort the terrified or bandage the wound at the farm.

Even though I have boarded and worked with hundreds of dogs each year for 15 years, I have only just started to rescue, having rescued over 25 dogs in my home but every rescue starts with one dog, the “first.”  With Glen Highland, it was “Luke,” with me, it was “Bodhi.” And their life started us down a windy path of “Why’s and why not’s” Both had horrible starts and by the grace of love and perseverance they were saved, I would hate to think of where they would be, but I do know Bodhi was destined to be put down the day I drove 8 hours to get him.  When I found him, we stood in a hard rain before getting in the car, I cried, Bodhi just hung on to my waist burying his head in my lap.  While I know very little about “fixing” the problem, I am eager to learn and absorb anything and everything, and make a step.  I am somewhat envious of GHF because they seem to have it all and I wanted and needed to learn.
As I was on the plane flying back to Indiana, I thought about Liam and Lennon and the fun we had together and the future they will have.  I know I will never see them again but will think of them often.  As they find their new home, I know their new owner will never know the love and dedication that GHF put into them to give them a future, but I know, and I know it was from the hearts of the people involved. 

Until we meet again...
Something most people don't understand, when you see the broken spirits that some of the dogs have, you are defensive and protective of the underdog, the disadvantaged because you are their last hope and from my point of view and the view of others, we know… “No one loves them like we do” Thank you Glen Highland Farm… 

The Rainbow Bridge
"Hey, who is that" I said as I walked to the bridge.  I wonder who it is because all of my dogs are with me.  Running straight at me as fast as they can, one had a ball.  When they were in front of me, I got a strange feeling…”Could it be?” I say, and pointed to the ground, just to see… the ball dropped at my feet and I know, it was Liam and Lennon doing the trick I taught them.  They licked my face and spun in circles to greet me.  I dropped to my knees and hugged them and said “I love's good to see you” and before they ran off, I got my licks and love before they turned and continued on their journey, to the people who saved them and took care of them from GHF where many other friends and loved ones were at… We never know how our actions can and will effect the ones around us...    Ken

A Dream Come True...

As I sit in the airport on Saturday morning, many things flood my mind, and today it all seems to come together, maybe because of my long anticipated trip to “my” heaven.  As most of you know I traveled to Glen Highland Farm in upstate New York last year.  It is a Border Collie Rescue that works, rehabilitates and re-homes the breed.  I have always wanted to return since Karen Newhall and I brought 5 dogs here last year.  This week, I hope to tell their story from my point of view and explain to the readers what they actually do.

Their website is beautiful and fun to leaf through, the dogs are striking and there is not one that I would not take home, many people have, only to have their forever companion, giving a great dog a great home. 

Its late evening at the “Adoption House” where I am staying with two dogs that are being transitioned to go to their new home.  Liam and Lennon are brothers, I don’t know their history but they are very sweet dogs.  They will be staying with me during the night and they have already scoped out the bed and I look forward to being with them and their companionship.  Just a few night ago Abby and Dutchess were with me in their usual station in the bed and as I woke that morning, I got my morning sugar, hopefully tomorrow I will also get some.
Liam and Lennon

You see, this would not be a vacation to some, because it's work.  Tonight I had my assignments and tomorrow is full, with much more to come.   The dogs are the first priority to everyone here.  The staff is knowledgeable and willing to work in whatever weather condition it takes.  Liam and Lennon are with me because I am being put to work acclimating them to men and socializing them to different environments.  They have done wonderful, a little shy at first but by Saturday evening, they were crawling all over me licking my face and wanting their butt scratched.  Some may call this work but to the lovers of the breed, this is heaven, trust me…
Liam and Lennon

On Saturday, after I was picked up at the airport by a friend of the farm, but before we traveled to GHF, another passenger was picked up too.  It was a 15 week old Border Collie that needed a good home.  Off we both went, to a place that transforms our minds and hearts, both learning and expanding our wings to live a life we should live… Ken

See you next week or follow my GHF experience on Facebook 

Note:  This Sunday morning, it is snowing and when the alarm went off, as fast as they could, Liam and Lennon ran as quickly as they could and jumped in bed and smothered me with kisses and as I type this footnote, I have discovered that you "can" type with two puppies in your lap and 4 paws on the keyboard, just like home...maybe I am... 

A Big Day Coming...

I have watched the calendar for the last six months, waiting for this coming week to arrive, but it doesn't compare to the anticipation for this Saturday, the 21st of March.  Several years ago after learning that a dog nirvana rescue place accepted volunteers during the winter, I knew I had to go.  I made phone calls, sent emails and watched their website for information.  That first year, I was too late to apply and didn't make it. The second year, had already been booked full and I was out again but in November of 2014 I got an email from the director, “Hey Ken, just checking in if you think you still want to come for a week this winter?”  My heart skipped a beat and hopefully I was in.  I immediately sent a response back and said just a few words, “Yes, I would love to come” and I was in.  

Dates were exchanged and my week was set for March 21st, I’m on the way I said to myself, I just needed to convince Elaine.  It is something we both have talked about for nearly two years but now it was to be a reality.  I got a big hug and all of her support and then the planning had to take place.  We cleared our calendar for our farm and any services, Elaine even arranged her part time job to be home the whole time while I was away and her dad is also going to visit for the week, they can spend some quality time together.  This would be the first night I would be away from the farm for over two years and is well needed.  After contacting some of the past volunteers, I got the inside scoop on things to bring, everyone was very helpful and lots of ideas were given to me that I didn't think about.

Glen Highland Farm has been a place that I would visit in my mind on many occasions, I would watch their website and read their stories but what really got me was a video of a dog they took in with several medical problems and had little hope.  The video shows the progress the dog made because of their help and became part of their family, no cost, care or time is held back to “right the wrong,” this was a place I needed to go… Why Glen Highland Farm

As many of you already know Karen Newhall and I took 5 dogs to GHF in September 2014 and I vowed to go back.  I knew if I went, there would be work to do, dogs to clean, laundry to wash and around the clock care for the dogs which is ever changing.  I'm sure I'll be under strict supervision because this is not playtime, their job is important and the last thing they need is to coddle a newbie.  Hopefully my Veterinarian experience, my 9 Border Collies and the boarding we do, will help, but until you walk in their shoes, you don't have a clue. 

I do know it was the best place that I have seen for the total care and rehabilitation of the Border Collie breed and it changed my opinion, practices and work we do on our farm.  Because of GHF, I have “seen the light” with the work of the breed we do, knowing they are special because of their intelligence, and I can't wait to get there.

Most nights all of our dogs at our farm comes in-doors after a hard day of playing.  They sit in my lap, sleep next to me on the couch or lay by my feet. If one jumps down from my lap or couch, another one takes their place.  At Glen Highland, I have been told that the cottage I will stay in has at least two dog as residents.  I know they will be at home as this is “their” home and in my heart, this is mine too…  Ken

See you next week or follow us today on Facebook

Note:  I am taking my laptop on this trip and hopefully I'll be able to post daily stories about my antics and the dogs I meet.

Glen Highland Farm Facebook Page

For more information about Glen Highland Farm

A Long Drive Home...

As I walked down the corridor of the kennel at the Tippecanoe County Dog Shelter looking at the dogs one last time, an employee came in, I turned my head away so no one would see my tears, I was embarrassed…

As I turned out of my driveway on Saturday morning headed to the Tippecanoe County Dog Shelter, my mind flashed back to another time, when I made a visit to a dog farm.  All the negative emotions came flooding back to my conscience as it still does so many times.  Another long road was ahead of me and I have travelled many miles along with others.   I turned onto the interstate with my thoughts flooding into hundreds of directions of what to do.  I remembered back to when Karen Newhall and I transported five Border Collies to Glen Highland Farm in September of last year.  It was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had.  It changed me forever and changed my practices with Border Collies too.  We have worked in rescue for several years but last year, we had our last set of pups.  All of our attention now is directed at helping to restore, re-home and comfort the Border Collies in need because we love them so very much.
Saturday’s trip was planned at the last minute and I think it was because I “just” needed to see the dogs and hold them in my arms and in my own way, let them know we will do everything we can. 

A week or so earlier, I was sent a news article,Seven dogs removed from deplorable conditions and this is the very place where the “Lucky 5” Border Collies came from last year bringing the total to nearly 60 dogs confiscated or relinquished from the same place.  As I pulled into the shelter where the dogs were at, my emotions that I thought had healed came rushing back in a torrent.  I knew what I was going to see again but I didn't know it would be so bad.   I had been watching the progress of the confiscated dogs in the news and it broke my heart that one of the seven dogs, an eight-month-old, had to have his eye removed for medical reasons, but some others needed dentals, x-rays, lice removal and all needed vaccinations from lack of care I was told. 

I met Nita Pollock, the owner of the kennel, along with Sharon Dull who works with the dogs frequently, giving attention to every one of the confiscated dogs.  The dogs look great in the photos but the photos are deceiving and many months of work and rehabilitation will be needed, and to think, four of them are only 8 months old.  The kennel has had these seven, confiscated dogs for nearly two weeks.  They were groomed by Purdue students and were brushed, cutting fecal matter from their fur, which is stained so bad from urine and feces, it will take months just to get the colour back and the fur has a texture of a Vaseline type material that will not release except for time.

All of the brown except the face is urine and fecal stains.
Sharon and I each were sitting in the runs with each dog just talking and touching them. We didn’t force ourselves on them, we allowed them to do what was comforting for them. Sometimes that just meant we sat there with them and that appeared to soothe them.  When we tried to get them to walk with us, the first thing I noticed was that when the kennel door was opened they would not walk forward or try to get out at all.   

Sharon Dull and Graham who lost his eye, he's only 8 months old
The outside was a new world to them and the kennel was their safe place and as much as I coaxed them they would put on the brakes at the threshold.  When I lifted their front legs over, their back legs would stop them from going any further, they would cowl down close to the ground frozen in that spot. I noticed that sometimes some of them would cowl in the corner with their head staring up at the ceiling.

It was a very moving experience on Saturday and I was told that they are light-years ahead of where they were just 12 days ago. With time, patience, socialization and most of all love, something I suspect they have had little of, these things will make all the difference.  What help they initially needed for the urine stained fur, removed eye, dentals, x-rays, and vaccinations is so important, but what they will surely need now to survive, is someone willing to fight for their very life because at times, they were left out in the cold literally with frozen water, if any and living in their own waste.

As I walked that final walk down the long corridor for my last glimpse before going home and to tell them I loved them, I stuck my fingers into each kennel door to touch their nose, most would touch and lick my fingers, some would back away but as I walked a little further and looked back, they always walked to the front, peeking around the door, curious of what this is all about and I always saw “just” a small tail wag, hopefully, there is hope because people care and hopefully do what it takes.  Thanks to all involved…

Run Free Angels and know Someday We'll Run Together…

Note: the dogs need many months of work just for basic survival, my trip was lacklustre to them and everything to me, just to see what I have been told many times “You just can’t imagine”.  Truer words were never spoken, No you can't imagine, trust me…  Ken


Molly Girl...Where Are You?

Last Tuesday on a very cold, sunny afternoon with 10 inches of snow and below freezing temperature, I hobbled out to a play areas on the farm because the dogs needed some action.  The dogs and I played for as long as we could which meant as long as I could tolerate it because it was very cold.  When I gave the command “let’s go to the house” off they all went running through the woods back toward the house.  It was close to their dinner time so we went in the direction of the kennel.  As fast as they could, they galloped through obstacles, each other, hills and dales making it a race to get back first.  

In the kennel, each dog has their own stall and will stand in front of “their” door and wait until I open the door.  I start on one end, letting each of them in as Dutchess, Meggie, Dahlia and all the others are safely inside.  The last door is Molly’s stall, it is bigger because she is privileged because she is my Heart Dog and the oldest.  When I got to her door she wasn't there which is most unusual… “Molly, Molly, MOLLY where are you”, as I look around. 

As a young father I have been here before when the kids wandered off for just a second, the sudden panic of not being able to find your child and loved one is pure panic.  The fear of fear runs through your heart and mind and you think the worse or at least I do but everything always turns out alright and that sudden panic is quickly resolved when you find them, but this is not the case today.  I went to the back door of our house and knew she would be waiting for me.  “Molly, MOLLY”.  She was nowhere to be found.  I searched the entire house and she always comes to me, always, and now my mind starts to work, but not in a good way.

Earlier I remember she ran in another direction, not with the pack and blazing a different trail which is not is unusual for her.  What if she didn't make it to the kennel, what if she somewhere in the woods?  She always comes to me, always… “MOLLY, come here” as I started my trek to find her.
Molly...A Mother and family member
About 4 weeks earlier, my knee went out and after several Doctor Visits and medications, it still excruciatingly hurts but I had to find Molly and now the sun was starting to go down.  Knowing she wasn't in the house, she had to be outside.  I grabbed a walking stick for balance and off in the 10 inches of snow I went and in my heart, I know this didn't look good.   I had visions of her down in the snow from an injury or heart problem and this drove my determination even harder but the questions still popped up in my mind.  “Molly…… Molly…… Molly, where are you, MOLLY come on girl.”
My whole leg hurt and I don’t know if the cold made it better or worse but it hurt and the deep snow and heavy polar boots made it unbearable because I had to bend my knee further.  After several trips around the farm on foot and walking the fence line, nothing.  “MOLLY…MOLLY…MOLLY”, she has to be somewhere, good or bad, she has to be somewhere, but where.  If she is not outside, maybe she is still in the house?  I searched again, went out the back door and went in the garage, nothing.  “MOLLY…MOLLY…MOLLY where are you” and I walked around the wrap-around porch.  Nothing so off to the woods I went again and things looked very dim and so was the weather, it was getting dark.  
Clancy and Molly
I can’t give up, I got to find her or at least her injured or lifeless body.   “MOLLY…MOLLY, PLEASE MOLLY GIRL where are you?”   After a trip around the farm again I need help and knew it.  As I walked back to the house in the now zero weather, I was freezing but my heart was burning.  I was now headed to call my neighbors as soon as I reached home, It was my last step.  Once to the house, just to double check, I went in the garage for that last look, nothing, zilch, naught.  Our garage is attached with a utility room and I thought I would cut through to use the phone to call for help.  When I opened the door, my very frantic black and white heart dog was glad to see me.  “MOLLY… you're safe” and bent down on my throbbing knee and kissed her head and all anxiety flew out the room.  As I stood up, she danced a wiggle dance and put her head on my leg.  “Let’s go get warm girl” and we did.   I assume Molly had gone to the house, gone through the dog door on the garage, pushed her way into the house through to the utility room and the door shut behind her and she was trapped.  Searching the house three times and the farmland 4 times, the utility room was the only place I did not venture because she could not get in there or so I thought. 
That very night when my leg was wrapped and elevated to sooth it, for extra heat and comfort in several ways, I had a black and white furry companion lying in my lap looking into my eyes and both of us thought the same thing,  "Don't ever leave me" but I know that day will come too soon no matter how far away it is and it will never be forgotten, but "that" night it was only Molly's lap.  My Molly Girl…   Ken
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