A Border Collie Christmas...

This poem goes straight to my heart, I read it last year and loved it but when I read it, I had a feeling of indifference until I revisited it several times and thought about it.  I soon loved it because it was seen though an obedient, loving Border Collie who told the story of his  shepherd “lads” who made the trip to the manger at the first Christmas.

After the very bright light,
And the talking bird,
And the singing,
And the sky filled up wi' wings,
And then the silence,

Our lads sez
We'd better go, then.
Stay, Shep. Good dog, stay.
So I stayed wi' t' sheep.

After they'd cum back
It sounded grand, what they'd seen.
Camels and kings, and such,
Wi' presents - human sort,
Not the kind you eat -
And a baby. Presents wes for him
Our lads took him a lamb.

I had to stay behind wi' t' sheep.
Pity they didn't tek me along too.
I'm good wi' lambs,
And the baby might have liked a dog
After all that myrrh and such.     by U.A. Fanthorpe

The language is so modest-almost simple. “ the singing/ And the sky filled up wi’ wings.” But then you gently catch on to what is going on, it’s the birth of the Christ child and the shepherds are going to see what is going on and the dog is talking about the Angels. 
They leave the Border Collie behind to tend after the sheep because that’s his job and can be trusted. And there’s a hint of sadness in the line,

Our lads sez
We'd better go, then.
Stay, Shep. Good dog, stay.
So I stayed wi' t' sheep.  

“And after the’d cum back/ it sounded grand, what they’ve seen”

And then the presents the shepherds took, ”Our lads took him a lamb”

But the dog has responsibilities. He has to miss the greatest event the world has known because he has sheep to look after- and that’s what sheepdogs must do.

The last few lines are precious,

“Pity they didn’t tek me along too.
I’m good wi lambs”  

I think the Collie regretted he couldn’t go, I know mine would.

The Border Collie understands somewhat why he couldn't go, even as mine do when I can't take them.   They may not agree, but they understand and know it’s their duty of what is expected.  Dutchess will fight me to get her way but in the end, she knows it’s her duty and will bow her head and comply.

As I said last year,  "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

Merry Christmas from us here at the farm...  Ken...

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A Christmas Story?

As we continue our Christmas theme, I have had another gift from the 10 Magi’s and would you believe, they are Border Collies and live right here at the farm.  While this is not a Christmas story of sorts, I did get a very special gift and a few similar occurrences of the real thing, sorta.

As I have mentioned on the blog, I am in the process of clearing some additional trails through the woods for hiking.  I like to take walks with the dogs and while I take the paths, the dogs will gallop through the woods checking out everything that smells and moves.  If you are a dog owner, you can relate to this but just imagine ten dogs doing this and the things they get into.

Because of the mild weather, it has been great to get outside this December and do some fun yard work along with making plans and getting some equipment out when it’s usually too cold to do anything.   It also gets me off of the couch and makes me productive and even better for my mood.

While I was running the chipper this week, I noticed the dogs running and playing and stopping at one particular place and sniffing.  At one time I saw Annie roll on her back, and I would only assume she was scratching a flea because of the mild weather.  You can’t be too careful you know! 

Once back at the house, the truth was revealed, I noticed one of our old favorite treats, they have found a pile of Poo…  The first word I said to Annie, “NO, you’re not coming in.” and I closed the sliding door while she just sat and stared at us, not understanding at all but I did.  It was late in the evening and most of the dogs got to come in but Annie needed to stay outside which also resulted in a night in the Kennel for her.  As I settled down for the evening, I also found that some of the other dogs had made a visit to the honey pot and also carried the “gift” which also resulted in a trip to the Kennel.  After all the hubbub with the dogs, bath time and bedtime soon followed.

Getting ready to crawl into bed, I went to Dahlia for her good night hug and in my surprise, she too had brought me a gift along with most of all the dogs.  “Well enough” I said, after a brushing, I still hugged them and off to bed we all went.  Clancy, Abbie and Meg stayed with me and as I pulled the covers up, Clancy, as usual jumped on the bed and put his nose on the pillow.  

As I put my hand on his head to rub him, I got another surprise.  He too had made a “visit” and brought me a “gift”.   Et tu, Clancy?  Never have I known him to do this, it must be something in the season…  Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh were given as a gift on that Christmas night and they were rare, precious and expensive but not typical gifts for a baby.  Just a few days before our Christmas night, Ten Border Collies Magi’s brought me “their” special gifts and while it’s not that important to me, it’s everything to them.

Merry Christmas and remember that our dogs will give us everything and anything, if only we could be like them, we all would be happier... give your dog a hug, they will give you their life...  

“A dog has no use for fancy cars or big homes or designer clothes. Status symbol means nothing to him. A waterlogged stick will do just fine. A dog judges others not by their color or creed or class but by who they are inside. A dog doesn't care if you are rich or poor, educated or illiterate, clever or dull. Give him your heart and he will give you his. It was really quite simple, and yet we humans, so much wiser and more sophisticated, have always had trouble figuring out what really counts and what does not. As I wrote that farewell column to Marley, I realized it was all right there in front of us, if only we opened our eyes. Sometimes it took a dog with bad breath, worse manners, and pure intentions to help us see.”
― John Grogan

Merry Christmas,  Ken and the Gang...

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Pizza Night and more...

Friday night is always pizza night at the Shuck household, and we will bake a pizza pie every week and add all the toppings we love, making it one of the best pizzas in the world.  After taking it out and letting it cool, all the dogs will stand around the counter and just look at it and then look at me, then back at the pie.  Something that will not end as most of you know if you have a Border Collie.

When I was just eight years old; nearly every Sunday afternoon, my parents would take my sister and me to see Aunt Minnie after Sunday dinner.  She and Uncle George lived about 50 miles away, and something we did nearly every weekend to see my Mother’s favorite sister.  We would pile into the 1961 Chevy Bel-Air and hear off for the long journey to Lebanon Junction, Kentucky, which to us kids was near across the country. Me standing on the car's floorboard looking out the front windshield while Mom held me and my sister Diane coloring in the back was the norm. 

After slicing the pizza Friday night, it’s time to make the trip to the family room for dinner to watch TV, but not after getting my pizza slices first and me secretly taking the largest pieces.  Going down the stairs is a challenge to say the least, because all of the dogs are heading with us wanting their piece, sometimes getting underfoot.

During to trip to Lebanon Junction, Dad would always stop at a small town that had a small store.  It had wonderful things to look at and things to eat for people making a journey.  It was customary to take a bathroom break for us kids, and we always got a snack for the rest of the “road trip” if we had been good so far.  Both my Dad and Uncle George worked for the railroad, and Lebanon Junction was a small railroad community making the sights worthwhile to me.

Settling down into my recliner, I placed the plate of pizza on my lap but now have a ring of dogs watching me, and every hand movement is followed by their eyes, especially when I go to the plate.   I always tell the dogs the same thing, “I don’t eat your food, so don’t expect to eat my food.” but I know they know better as they continue to watch every movement I make, hoping I would drop something.

I can still smell that very store on the way to Aunt Minnie’s house on that little two-lane road and see the images of it in my mind, but what I remember the most are the soft-drink machine sitting on the floor.  Dad would always give us a dime, and we would feed the machine sliding our treat through a few channels pulling our drink up through the gate that released it after paying for it, and I do remember Dad helping me because I was too little.

After watching me nearly finish my pizza, the dogs can’t stand it.  “It’s mine,” I said, but I still had a piece of crust left, and I think they knew what was coming because they would look at me and at the crust and then back at me.  I know it’s also wrong to feed them human food, and I know I’m making the problem worse, and the drama continues.

Sitting in the back seat of the 61 Bel-Air, Diane and I had our most coveted treasure.  We had an ice-cold, super sweet, and delicious bottle of Choc-ola.  We ran to the car before Mom and Dad, bopping with joy.  Each of us putting our thumb over the opening of the bottle to shake it because of its settled chocolate, drinking it in nearly a few swallows, and then it was over… or was it?

After my pizza was gone, and my soft drink was finished, the looks from the dogs never stopped because there was one piece of crust still on the plate, so they knew there was a chance.

After finishing our CHOC-OLA, we saved our bottles to get our 2 cent bottle deposit back.  Mom and Dad got a single ice cream cone; Mom liked Vanilla and Dad loved Maple-nut.  Without fail, Dad would eat most of the cone except the very bottom and pass it back to me.  The best part of any ice cream cone is the last bite, and he gave it to me.   I never realized until later in life how much he loved me and to think a soggy cone bottom and pizza would flood me with memories like it did on Friday night.

As usual, I took the last piece of pizza crust, broke it into small pieces, and gave each dog a share, just like someone once shared with me.  I now know how much he loved me, and I know how much I love the dogs because the last bite is the best...  Ken

A Little Early…

With the first of December coming this week, Christmas has arrived a little early this season at the farm.   Usually this early everyone just thinks about what they are going to get for a loved one but I have receive a taste of a few of my “gifts” and I will tell you… much thought has gone into selecting them.  Like everyone, there is a lot of planning that goes into picking a gift, not just any gift but one that has much meaning and something that is dear to the heart of the giver and this week, I was “gifted” to say the least.

For starters, I have been given a very early gift for spring which was hard to prepare and took a lot of time.  A few of the dogs have esthetically cultivated the yard, and nearly everything around the farm.  They seem to have worked tirelessly and without any complaints and I’m sure they highly enjoyed it because it shows.  

We have holes, grottos and thrown dirt everywhere.  When they ran up to me to show me, they were so excited and proud of their accomplishments that they jumped on me also giving me another coveted gift of dirty clothes.   But wait, it doesn’t stop there.  Before I could get them all scrubbed off, they ran to the house door and in Dutchess’s eagerness to share, she opened the sliding door by pawing at it, and gave another gift to the top of the bed, their paw prints, until we changed the bed which was very soon..  They were so happy and proud and the excitement in their eyes was wonderful…  Even though the cultivating gift was early it was much appreciated by them, I had a little different thought on this… and so did Elaine and because it rained the night before making it even more wonderful.

The second gift was a stick, many sticks.  It was long and natural, something they labored over just to pick the right ones.  Target and Heidi, knowing they won’t be here for Christmas, decided to give me there sticks this week too.   I will tell you, the sticks are pretty and when we took walks, they would go out into the woods and get the longest one and drag it to me with tails wagging and hearts beating.  Unknown to them, this is now part of the kindling for the house fireplaces.  Thank you girls.

Heidi, Target, and Abbie
Target and Abbie
The third gift was the best.  It goes along with the gift of garden cultivating but with a surprise, one of the most coveted treats of practically every dog.  It’s the gift of a varmint, not one I tell you, but three, just this morning I found one at the back door.  Just think, three moles in one week from different locations of course.  The ground Gods were with them during the digging, all that burrowing for a boat-load of varmints and it doesn’t get any better.  Sadly when I tried to display them in a prominent place in the house, I was sadly overridden, and their final destination of importance was the top of a fence post for all to see.  This way, it’s eye level for optimal viewing and they can’t change their mind for a later play toy.  This is nearly as good as when one of our dogs brought a hind leg of a deer to the porch for all to see and play with and who knows where that came from.

It seems like every dog has had a pre-gift gift to give this week, maybe they have the “30” days of Christmas spirit on their calendar and this is just the beginning.  But whatever it is, I do like it, some gifts more than others, but it’s what is in heart that counts…

Just like Frank Costanza on Seinfeld who created Festivus which is "A Festivus for the rest of us!" it appears the dogs created a “Festivus” just for us at the farm.   I can’t wait to see what’s next, it may be a long December…  Ken

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