A Reunion ... Maybe...

As the beginning of this New Year, we started thinking about the things we wanted to change on the farm.  Some things we kept, some things we changed, but some things we stopped doing or cut out altogether.   On the top of the list, "what are we going to do about the Puppy Reunion?” 

The reunion started some years ago and has been a huge success but it’s a lot of work when you involve hundreds of people over several days.  It was Elaine’s idea in the beginning and a good one and it was fun for everyone.  We both are planners, but this year, it was on the chopping block because its hard to do with just two people.  It’s not that we didn't want to do it, but there is so much work, planning, food, activities, registration, safety and even overnight accommodations whither it’s camping at the farm or a hotel stay.  We enjoy the time we spend with our past puppies and owners and seeing our dogs again is wonderful but it's a full time job just to make it work. 

I was talking to one of our pup owners one day earlier this year, she ask the same question, “Are we having a puppy reunion this year?” she sensed my anxiety, offering to help and even suggested a committee to work together and make it happen.  Last Friday, we had the first official meeting to help organize the reunion and it was a big succession.  Past reunions were looked at, the good and bad things were analyzed and we worked on my apprehensions and looked at involving more people to help and passing out jobs.   I soon realized why we were doing this.

It has always been my mission to have the best pups possible, giving them a good start here at the farm and always being part of their life if possible, the good times along with the things that needed attention.   We have constantly tried to keep in contact with all of our dogs because I “just feel" it is the right thing to do, it not only helps our pup but the owner have someone they can turn to.   The Veterinarian is the expert and his advice and counsel is always recommended.  

Our mission continues even though we no longer have little ones.  “We” need to be a source of help, education and support being able to point you in the right direction and even boarding your dog when you go on vacation, because you know they will have freedom and fun back home on the farm and you will especially have piece of mind. 

Friday night we met at the host’s house for the meeting, along with our dogs, we even took Annie with us because the dogs were welcome to come and play.  Before we ate and got to the meeting, a hearty game of Frisbee was played wearing the dogs out and fun and fellowship was had by all. 

We arrived early for the meeting and as each couple arrived with their dog (our pups), they would spot me and run to see me again.  They would jump up and kiss me and my mind would flash back the time when they were small and do the same thing while their little ears were flopping as they ran to me, something I witnessed many times and I never grew tired of.

Welcome home soon little pups, see you all in September… The annual puppy reunion is on and I will once again wait for our adult dogs, knowing they will run down the driveway with flopping ears as I greet them with open arms and it will truly be a reunion, again… getting all the licks and kisses...  Ken

Note: All of the dogs pictured above are pups from the farm and were at the meeting... thanks to the committee for your help and love for our pups and your dogs...

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As I look around and look for places to sleep, I never thought I would be in this position, but here I am.  It came upon me gradually and I never saw it coming but here it is and how do you stop it.  OK, let’s not go where some of you are going… it’s not about that. 
When we first got dogs, they never came inside except for a very special occasion.  Sasha, Max and even Clancy had an “Igloo” doghouse on the porch if they wanted some shelter even though the porch is covered and out of the elements but they loved the freedom and outside life.   When it got cold outside, both Clancy and Max got into one Igloo dog house and was as toasty as can be, besides, they were usually wet or muddy and the house was off limits.  Funny how things change.

It started several years ago when we build a new kennel that would house 14 dogs with their own separate space, cozy blankets, individual water, refrigerator, monitors, FM radio, telephone, separate runs, ceiling fans and a forced air furnace for cold nights.  They were in heaven and no matter how hard they played or wet they got, they could relax, kick back and enjoy life.  Don't get me wrong, we would let at least two of them in to be with us and we would enjoy each dog at night and if they were lucky, they would sleep in the house or should I say sleep in “bed” with us… but Elaine got involved and of course, things changed.

I had a good plan, each night two of the dogs could come each night and the following night two different ones and so forth and then we would start over.  Everybody got to come in and spend time with “Mom and Dad”.  Life was good… Elaine ask one day, “Want me to get the dogs in tonight?”  It was always after feeding time and we were settling down for “our” time to relax.  When she came in that night, she had four dogs which wasn't too bad, they were calm because of a hard day and everyone was happy.  Each night seemed to increase with more dogs until all of them were inside looking at me, staring at me to do something with them. 

Finally I ask “why are all the dogs in?”  Well it’s simple she said… “They look at me with those sad eyes and I can’t make a decision.” 
Don't get me wrong, I love my dogs and I love to relax after a hard day and even have a dog on my lap but things have changed a little.  When I get my evening snack, I have ten dogs waiting in a half circle for whatever “Dad” has, whether it’s ice cream, cheese and crackers or popcorn, I always have to make sure there is enough for everyone.  There is much less room on the couch with 5 dogs trying to compete for a special spot while the others are spaced on their individual dog beds on the floor but after a potty break, there is a mad dash for my couch and lap when they come back.

Bedtime is a real hoot, I know most of my readers have a dog and some even get to sleep on the bed, but try ten, we even have dog beds next to our bed for the overflow, everyone except Dahlia and she had her own Daybed in the same room.

All in all, it’s not a bad thing because they are part of our life.  It’s come a long way from a dog or two in a warm Igloo on a covered porch to a house full of furry friends…

Hey, I've got an idea, I have a nice building that is not used, all I need is a splicer for the TV, and set the Wi-fi up and I'm in business, plenty of room and all the comforts of home.  Remember guys, I got 14 separate places to sleep, maybe I'll have to get a bigger refrigerator… Ken

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It Is Over...

As I set my alarm for 5:30 am on the morning of the puppy mill trial last week, I awoke a little apprehensive because there were so many things in the works and I had to travel 2 hours to get there.  

A Dog from the raid.
My glass is “always” half empty, and to say I am a pessimist is a true statement.  I am a deep thinker and will think and rethink a problem until I solve it, sometimes into the middle of the night.  When I worked for the government, at times, I would go to bed at a normal time, start thinking about a project, and by 1 AM, I was driving to work to complete my 16-hour shift because my job had consequences.  

President George H.W. Bush in my office.
I always have plan “B,” and plan “C” is not far behind.  To be honest, I do overthink things, and I straightaway form an opinion about people, and to my knowledge, I've always been right, but it is a curse.
One trait I have is “Why can't we do that” and to me, it always seems so simple.  One of my biggest problems, nothing is impossible if you work hard enough; there is no stopping on my part… never.
“It was now the best of times,” and it was, after the trial of a puppy miller who had his day in court.  My glass was half full…
This is Boone; he came to me from Sanders Border Collies, the puppy mill for re-homing last year.   This very photo came to me last night, unknown to the owners what I was writing about, and the caption was,  "Best, Day EVER.," and it is...
Thirty ordinance violations stemming from the February seizure of Sanders' dogs hit the rural Stockwell breeder in the wallet. He was fined $24,600, by the Judge and Randy Sanders already owes nearly $50,000 in fines from the county's successful court action taken last fall to restrict him to keeping no more than three dogs — a court order he was violating at the time the seven dogs were rescued in February.  Sanders has not made a single payment toward that fine.  The Judge severed breeder Thurman "Randy" Sanders Jr.'s ownership of the seven dogs.  "He can't own or possess a dog, except for Spud," Morrissey said, referring to one Border collie still in Sanders' possession. The judge barred Sanders from allowing Spud to breed.

This breeder has been in court before in the last 30 years with 33 court cases according to CourtView.  Eighteen of those times, he was the defendant with countless charges of Neglect of a Vertebrate Animal, Cruelty to Dogs, Food, Water, Shelter, and Animal Control Ordinance violations, but he was never convicted for many reasons, but this time, the prosecution and Judge did their job and thankfully so.  To say this was a small enterprise is a colossal understatement.  To the people who worked many tireless hours and spent whatever it took, we thank you, the dogs thank you, and the community thanks you.  In my heart, if not for several people, this would also have been brushed over as it had been for nearly 10 years of complaints, calls, and visits, and no one listened.  Three people were involved with the true “ins and outs” of the case, and most people don't even know their name, just as they want it.  Nearly all information was kept close to the cuff because of rumors and inaccuracy that could have hurt the case.  Many people helped in one way or another, but the three involved communicated several times daily via emails and calls to the real movers and shakers and kept the ball rolling, which gained speed because of them.  In addition, a thank you to Nina and Dr. Baker, who kept, watched and physically treated, and cared for each one.   It was the best of times…

But where do we go now?  Will this be the worst of times?  Compared to some cases, no.  In April 2011, an estimated 200 starving Border Collies were rescued in East Texas.

In October 2009, a puppy mill raid yielded 100 Border Collies in Portland, Tennessee,There are 15,000 puppy mills across this country and there is no such thing as a humane puppy mill.  We have put a great deal of focus on shutting down these mills, and we conduct one to two raids per month.” said Scotlund Haisley, Senior Director of Emergency Services for Humane Society of the United States.

As I sat down last week to write, I just didn't have anything left in me.  I was at a Border Collie rehabilitation farm in New York, and with the trial coming up, it was a lot to take in.  I reflected back to my visit at the puppy mill and work we did, but as I have said, unless you see it, feel it, hear it, smell it and even taste it, you have no idea of what you're talking about.  There are images I will never forget, and I will take to my grave, and as Oskar Schindler said: “I could have got more.” And in my heart, I know “I” could have done more too.

Because of the lack of ordinances in Texas and many states, these things go on because of the lack of sufficient laws to enforce.  Usually, there is just nothing that could be done; however, this can change.  Tippecanoe County in Indiana changed the animal ordinances as of December 15, 2014, and even today, they are being changed because of one person who remains nameless and ever vigilant.  Thank you!

Life is not about what I have done, what I should have done, what I could have done, it is about what I can do and what I will do.

Without the help of people who put everything before themselves, sacrificing their time, money, and even sanity, this circle would not have been broken.  A special thanks to two of the three…Karen and Sharon.

Before I did anything, I received nearly 20 calls on this very puppy mill, I worked with their dogs and comforted the caller each time, but one call got me.  It shook my soul, and I listened more than ever and heard the words I'll never forget, "you have to see it," and I did.  That one call started the process to right the wrong and stop the endless pain and suffering.  Thank you, Leanne, you made the difference.  

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Note:  I have always written about "What happened on the Farm."   Usually, it is funny and witty to tell stories about my dogs.  Sometimes, it tragic dealing with unpleasantries, but it's what happens during the week.  This event took 3 years of my life and left me with scars and a changed person. You have to ask yourself, "would I do it again?"  Not for me but for that chained dog that followed me with her eyes, unable to move and had not done so for months... you bet I would... but now I'm stronger... Ken