Spring Chores...

After the spring rains, it’s time to start the annual chores that occur every spring here at the farm.   It’s something that I never look forward to and always complete the easy ones first and wait on the hard ones until the last minute.   The same is not true of the dogs, they love it when I do anything but especially getting the equipment out, starting their motors and sending them into La La land on cloud nine. 

They love to help out even if it’s running down the driveway barking at the air, clearing any and all obstacles out of the way.  The best times for them is when I start the 4 wheeler and move it into position to put mulch in it.  They had many opportunities this year because I transported nearly 18 tons to various spots through-out the farm, so there was lots of barking and clearing the paths this year.  Dutchess is the worse of course.  Even if I walk remotely close to any implement her ears perk up and she watches my every footstep to see if I get close.  Sometimes just to fool her and I’m not going to start anything, I will go “varoom…varoom” and it will send her into orbit and Clancy and Annie are not far behind except Clancy will run in circles and crouch down as far as he can and wait for me to move. 

He will wait for ten to twenty minutes and even longer just to see the machine moves so he can lead the charge.  Annie will run toward me and jump and push off of me telling me to hurry up nearly knocking me down.  All in all, we get the work done once I turn the motor off and everyone settles down until I walk close to a machine again and we’re off again.
Grass cutting is entirely different, they will follow me around, back and forth, and back and forth until I stop.  Abbie will get a stick and bring it to me and if I pass her up which I usually do, she will re-position it over and over.  

Usually Clancy and Abbie will stand still watching me mow and will not move at all but when I pass them, they are covered with grass clippings.

Annie, God love her, loves to ride on the pontoon boat and we take frequent rides.  I have learned this because if I go out on the boat, she will run to the lake, no matter where she's at, jump in and swim to meet me and following the boat in the wake until I pull her in the boat.   Last year, while I was putting “pond dye” in the lake from the pontoon boat,  I assumed Annie was occupied and I was free to proceed.  As I started pouring the super concentrated dye in, from a distance I could see her running toward me. 

One gallon will treat 1,500,000 gallons and I had just poured 2 galling in one small area and she was swimming right toward it.  “Annie…ANNIE…NO” and I might as well have called her name and held a ball in the air.  Right to ward me she came, swimming right through the pond dye and my first thought was how much trouble I was going to get into.   I had a hard time convincing Elaine that our blue Merle dog just got bluer.  

This year, I called her to me before I started dying the pond and we went out on the boat together.  Thank God she didn’t move the whole time we were out and came back the same color…   Ken   

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Alone Time...

As I was getting ready to go outside to work last week, as always, the dogs watch me put on my shoes and as I touch the door, they are off to our play area wanting to play.  Usually, I get my chores done first and we have play time when I’m caught up, but this day, I grabbed a couple of balls and a Frisbee and off we went.  They all ran through the woods like their tail was on fire except Dutchess.  She spied the Frisbee in my hand and wouldn’t leave me alone so I just gave it to her and off she ran like her tail was on fire except she had a Frisbee in her mouth helping out.  We had a few guest dogs and it was pretty crazy with all the excitement going on.  

They were wired up and it showed.  Everyone was going after a ball or Frisbee and in just a few minutes, all three balls were lost and two Frisbee's were nowhere to be found.  They get excited and carry it and when another object flies, they will drop the one they have and go after the other, unable to find it again.  All in all, we only got about twenty minutes in and had nothing to do when everything was temporarily gone.  The older dogs were a little tired but Abbie was still raring to go.  She gave me her sad eyes and I said “another time” and she turned are ran toward the house with the others but I felt like a heel.  The next morning, Abbie sat as close to me as she could, while we were on the porch and literally wined like she was speaking, wanting something, but what?   
Every one of our dogs are excellent at playing ball of Frisbee but when you get them all together, it can be mayhem trying to keep up and there is just no simple solution, or so I thought.

I talked to Elaine about it and we mulled over a few ideas and came up with a solution.  The next morning, as usual everyone is up (except Elaine) between 6 and 6:30 and the dogs go for their morning constitution and we kennel them and feed them about 8 AM and they are usually ready for breakfast.  They are great about going to the kennel after the command and even stand at their own kennel door, waiting until you open it.   Everyone was let in but Abbie.  After everyone was secure, Elaine started the feeding process and I grabbed a Frisbee tucking it under my shirt and said “Abbie, come on girl” but softly.  Once outside the kennel door, I gave her the Frisbee and off to the lake we went, her tail on fire and a Frisbee in her mouth.  It was pure joy watching her spin and twist, doing the things she loves to do.  There was no hurry, except the speed of the Frisbee and no one to chase after her and she didn’t have to look over shoulder for fear of someone beating her.  Back and forth and back and forth she ran until she let me know she was finished and back to the house we went.  

She stayed out to catch her breath and dry off and then had breakfast in her kennel run, it was “her” special time.  The rest of the day went as normal and everyone got to play and scamper but that night Abbie followed me to bed when it was time, as usual she got in her spot near my head an laid down but this night, she scooted just a little closer putting her head on my pillow, licked my face and I reached over and petted her saying “that'll do” and it did.  Fast to sleep she went, chasing Frisbee's… 

Our new routine is when we feed them in the morning, one dog doesn’t get kenneled and it’s their time to do what they want while one dog gets brushed right after eating, everyone needs they alone time too...

They do talk to us… if we would only listen and it took me a long time to understand this…  Ken

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They Know Before Us…

I usually don’t watch the local news, so I don’t see what the weather is going to be for the day, Elaine might share it, but usually I don’t care and will wait to see what happens for the day, but some of my dogs do know something is in the air.  It can be a warm sunny day and the sky is clear, the wind has a slight breeze but trouble is in the air according to some of the dogs.  All of a sudden, I see Shepp, his ears are pinned back and he has “that” look on his face and I know it is coming.  Even though there is not a sound in the air or a dark cloud anywhere to be seen, Shepp will dart from shelter to shelter, looking for places to hide because he senses a storm is coming.  He will literally zone out, not seeing anything or hearing a word, he’s in another world.

I don’t know why some dogs are frightened of storms but some of mine are uncomfortable but some are terrified and one of our early dogs was defiant.  For some time, “Max” would get restless and we would try to console him but he wouldn't have any of it.  Once we put him in the house and we thought he was going to go crazy because he wanted out.  

Max and Molly as a pup...
It was a real summer downpour with lots of thunder and lighting and off Max went, running on the dam of the lake and barking at the sky.  He would run as hard as he could, back and forth, time after time.  When he was exhausted, he would just sit in the pouring rain and look at the heavens and bark.  After it cleared, Max would come back to the house and sleep, he was now content, he had won and was happy.   
Many dogs are afraid of thunder simply because they don't understand what it is. Dogs hear this loud noise and perceive it as something threatening and it can come up at any time.

Headed toward our house a few years ago...
According to Dr. Lauren Brickman, “some dogs try to go under tables, in bathtubs, or in any other places that make them feel secure. It is OK to allow them to do this.  It is important, however, not to try to soothe your pet too much. Doing so can actually encourage his fear if he senses any insecurity in your voice.  During a thunderstorm, try to provide a background noise for your dog, such as TV or radio. This may help to somewhat drown out the noise of the thunder. You can also try to get your dog’s mind off the storm by playing with him.  There are some dogs that require sedation when there is a storm. Consult your veterinarian so that they can prescribe something to calm your dog during a storm.”

Shepp once lived in Florida and when he moved back home, his owner brought his “storm pills” which he needed nearly every day because of the daily storms.  There has been a lot of discussion on this matter but some think it’s just related to storms.  Shepp will even jump from a deep sleep if a low noise comes from the television.  He’s a happy little chap when the weather is clear but he is my weather guide.
Just two nights ago, a thunderstorm rolled through and Shepp discovered that an open shower door is his new haven.  We've tried many things, but on the first distance noise or change, he’s in the zone…
Most of the other dogs are fine except Dutchess.  She isn't too bad but she will always find me and give that "Lauren Bacall" look as if to say “keep me safe and hold me” which I do. 

Not to be confused, this is Dutchess...
What You Can Do to Help
Create a Safe Place: Try to create a safe place for your dog to go to when she hears the noises that frighten her. But remember, this must be a safe location from her perspective, not yours. Notice where she goes, or tries to go, when she's frightened, and if at all possible, give her access to that place. If she's trying to get under your bed, give her access to your bedroom.
You can also create a "hidey hole" that is dark, small, and shielded from the frightening sound as much as possible. Encourage her to go there when you're home and the thunder or other noise occurs. Consider using a fan or radio near the spot to help block out the sound. Feed her in that location and help your dog associate that spot with other "good things" happening to her there. She must be able to come and go from this location freely. Confining her in the "hidey hole" when she doesn't want to be there will only cause more problems. The "safe place" approach may work with some dogs, but not all. Some dogs are motivated to move and be active when frightened and "hiding out" won't help them feel less fearful.

The weather forecast I use...   Ken

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It’s amazing to see…

While we have several dogs, and as I have said before, it is amazing to appreciate what they do and think and the shenanigans they get into.  Each one is different and has their own personality in several different areas. 
They all have their own idiosyncrasies in eating, sleeping and getting attention.  This not only applies to my dogs getting my attention, it also applies to a guest dog getting my attention when they visit here too.  Once the visitors dogs get comfortable, they fall into their usual pattern, even with me.  Just a few weeks ago, we had a dog over and he wanted some attention and kept backing into me for a butt scratching just like our Annie.  Both of them would take turns getting between my legs and stopping at the right spot for just the right angle and prance on their back feet so I would scratch their butt, something they never got tired of, but after a while my arms got tired and I had things to do even though butt scratching is really important.

As a rule, my dogs don’t need that much attention except when it’s my quiet time.  They are out most of the time at the farm between 6 am and 11 pm and get plenty of action.  They do need their time when they come inside after dinner while I’m trying to relax and watch a little TV.  As a rule, Meg is on the far end of the couch, Annie and Molly are in the middle of the couch and someone (anybody) gets in my lap.  Meg will stand up and stare at me and paw the air waiting for me to pet her.  Molly will paw my side if she can reach me and if she isn't close enough, she will scoot until she can, and Annie will jump in my lap for her butt rub even if it’s on top of someone already in my lap.  After they get what they want, they usually settle down for some rest. 

Something I never thought of that they will do when they want attention, they will “block your path”.  Until I read something about this, I never thought of this trick.  It never fails, if I’m in a hurry and need to get from point “A” to point “B” and it’s in a dash of course, it’s like running an optical course through the maze of our dogs.  They see me clipping along at a pretty face pace and then the game is on.  While I might have a clear path when I started, suddenly there are dogs walking “in” the path and I know they are watching me out of the corner of their eye, mumbling to themselves “he has to touch me, he has to touch me” which I do and they are happy. 

There are many ways they get your attention, they stare at you, bring us toys, they grunt, licks your ankle, helps us type, licks my face, A cold nose that nudges your hand, and some dogs will even “play” hurt to get your sympathy.   There are a million things they do and know they lie around and think up things to get the “man” to pay attention to them.
All in all, it’s a pretty even keel around here except for Abby sleeping at my head in bed, who watches me sleep.  At the split second I open my eyes from a deep sleep, I get a tongue to the holes of my nose.  I know she never closes her eyes because she might miss it and Dutchess has learned if she wants something, anything, she barks and will continue until I submit.  It’s not often but she actually speaks but the worse encounter is when I’m trying to put my shoes sitting on the steps of the porch where all of the dogs can reach me on their level.  

I wonder what your dog does to get your attention…  Gotta love um, Ken

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Tell me Why...

This week I read in the paper that a dog was found in Iowa, which was lost.  It’s a big thing, but somewhat normal to find a lost dog.  The person that found the dog, took it to a shelter for help and to possibly get the dog back to the owner, which in some cases in itself can be challenging.  

After the examination was done and the dog appeared fine, it was discovered that the dog had a microchip, and hopefully, it was current with the right information, and the dog could go home by evening.  Problem solved, call the owner, and hopefully, the dog will be picked up in an hour or so.  That is where the problem started… the dog was from New Orleans and had been lost since 2011 and had been on the road since then.
We never know the extent of things we would do for our dogs until the need arises, and we never give up.  

Our lives change, our pocketbooks change, our attitude changes, and nearly everything in our house changes but our heart changes?  Why is this?  I've seen some pretty amazing transformations, myself included.  My mother once saw my brother's dog lick from a plate when they set it down, something that is dirty to her, and vowed to never eat with them again.  I will tell you, she would never eat with us because I make a point to feed them off my fork (not recommended), but I do it.  Not only have we changed in our minds, we have changed in our house as many of “us” dog owners know, but why is this?  I know one family that spent 12 years or so caring for a dog, spending upwards of $50,000 to make sure the dog's best care was obtained and it was, they never gave up. 

Dogs are keys to our souls, something that can touch our most inter and secret part of our hearts.  They have transformed our lives into something some people and family will never understand, and in my heart, I don’t understand.  But why?
Maybe it’s because they love us like we have never been loved, oh yes, we do love and are loved by family members and friends, but “it’s” different, but why?

United Airlines stepped in and paid for Sam the lost dog in Iowa, and an animal service worker to fly one-way fare back to Louisiana—in the first-class section --a ticket that starts around $500.
When Sam saw the owner, he recognized her and went straight for her, licking her face because they both remembered the bond they had and missed.  I’m sure the person that made the decision at United Airlines has owned a dog or two and knew what to do…

That’s why… we all have been here, just in different circumstances… Give your dog a hug today and never give up because they don't, Ken

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