‘Twas the night before Christmas…

Christmas Eve night is always filled with excitement and mystery, and last night was no exception.   When I was a kid, I remembered so well that I couldn’t wait until Christmas morning and didn’t want to go to bed.  When I grew up, Mom confessed to me that I was so excited; she secretly gave me a couple of children aspirin or Benadryl, maybe both, and that was the way the dogs were last night; they couldn’t wait until morning.

We finally went to bed; the dogs cozied up on whatever bed they could get on, but they were mostly on mine.  As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was asleep.  When I drifted off, I was somewhere that I didn’t recognize.  Now, I’m sure it was a dream, but it seemed so real.  I was in my favorite spot; dogs surrounding me, everyone was happy, playful, and it was sunny with a gentle breeze.  I was in “my” heaven…

After picking up a ball that the dogs brought me, I gave it a few tosses; something seemed familiar to me!  I’ve seen "that" dog before, but this was a dream, right?  Time went on, and I saw several dogs that appeared in and out of my vision that also seemed familiar.

My Dad and I were best friends and very close, but after he had passed away, I would “see” him, or I thought.  Dad usually wore a floppy hat when he walked like some older men, but Dad's was unique.  Many times I would see “Dad” and in his hat; for a brief second, I knew it was him; I just knew it was!  When I got closer, it was someone else, but oh how I wished it was him.  I knew it wasn’t Dad's hat because the hat he had on when he died is in my Hope Chest, where I put it the very day he died.  It’s in a sealed plastic bag with “his” smell, something I don’t ever want to forget.

As I ran and played with the dogs in the dream, they seemed so animated and playful.  At one time, I even sat down in the grass and let them lick my face like I always do with mine at home; it’s our special time.  In the dream, we would explore the meadows and streams.  As much as we would run and play, some kept looking at a dog in the far distance but always refocused their attention back to me because I had the ball, but they kept looking.  I paid little attention to the dog because I focused on the delightful companions that were with me. 

I awoke in a shudder, and  I remembered the dream and even smiled because it was peaceful and pure.  I moved my hand and felt a warm spot on the bed with an indentation next to my head, but there were no dogs anywhere to be seen, but what I couldn’t get out of my head was a smell I recognized that filled my head.

Growing up, I was a very active little boy, doing all of the mischievous stuff but much more.  Fortunately, I got away with most of it and didn’t cause too much damage.  Two things directly take me back to my childhood, it was riding horses at my friend's farm and taking them into the lake to cool them off after a hard ride.  It was incredible to ride them bareback into the water and be on them when they swam, but what takes me back to that very moment is I remember the smell of the water; I don’t know why but it was fresh, clean, and energizing.  The second was when I would play in the front of the paneled milk delivery truck.     

Each dog of mine has a unique smell, but none are the same, and I didn’t know where "that" smell came from this morning.  There was black hair on the bed; it was warm to the touch, but the scent was what stumped me, but I know I had smelled it before and knew it.  The very morning Clancy passed away, he crept into my bed, burrowing his nose under my arm, and fell asleep.  As I watched him breathed and rubbed his head, he slept peacefully and dreamed… and Christmas Eve night, did he watch over me while I dreamed…

Christmas gifts come in many forms.  To some, it is a baby that was born for us.  To others, it is seeing and connecting with family.  Others it's stressful and depressing, to kids is presents and packages, but in the famous song “I’ll be home for Christmas,"  the last line says it all, I was home, and Clancy was too.  I was in his world, and he had come once again.

Christmas eve will find me
Where the love lights live
I'll be home for Christmas
If only in my dreams

As I look back on my dream, I remember it was our rescue dogs that I  recognize, and it all came back to me.  While I was in "my" heaven in the dream, I was really in their's,  free and having a home.  Time had passed for them, but it's not my time yet, but last night was so real, and in my heart, my Clancy watched over me on Christmas Eve waiting for his master to come home...  Merry Christmas.   Ken

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My little protector…

I have a four-legged guardian angel, and her name is Abbie.  Some may not be aware that she is the product of Clancy and Molly and was rehomed back to us on two occasions six years ago.  The second time, we just kept her because we loved her and felt sorry for her.  Nearly her whole life has been spent here on the farm, and we were the first and will be the last to hold her. 

For whatever reason, she is my dog.  Let me stop you there…  Elaine and I were sitting on the couch one night, and three dogs were trying to get into my lap, now Elaine would love to have a lap dog and may have one if my lap is full.  Elaine called one of the dogs over, and she begrudgingly went to her.  After a few minutes, she came back.  Elaine looked puzzled and said, “I just don’t understand it.”  “It’s simple,” I said, and she said “tell me”  This was my opening and I took it.  “They don’t like you” I laughed when I said it and then she did too.  The truth is I am their Alpha and they see me as the one in charge.  A dog’s mind is full of wonders, and at times I don’t think we’ll ever understand it all.

A few days ago, I posted on Facebook “ So touching... Abbie always needs to be near me and wherever I'm at, she curls up next to my feet.”  and many people responded.   It’s so funny to watch her in action.  She loves to be where ever I go or sit.  She will take a position next to my feet, looking away from me and scan the room just to see if anyone is anywhere near.  If there is not, she will jump into my lap but if someone is near, she will give that low guttural grrrrrrrrr and stare.  She thinks she is so bad and she is one of the smallest dogs we have. 

At times I have even seen Clancy made a wide birth around my chair because she is protecting me from any and all harm in her mind.  If only she and I are in the family room and any dogs start down the steps, up in my lap she jumps so no one else can get there.  One of the cutest things I do to get her excited is out of the blue; I will go grrrrrrr and she will too, looking around to see who is getting near but no-one is there.  I do it again and so does she and then I bark and she will too.  She is such a hoot and loves me with all of her heart.  Every morning and night, she will come to my office and put her head between the armrest and seat waiting for a hug, which she gets.  Last week, knowing she wanted to be as close as she can be, I picked her up and sat her on my desk while we read emails together. 

Abbie is a sweetie to me and what sealed her fate here at the farm was when she came back to us the second time, I was lying on the bed, she jumped up and laid next to me.  But what really captured my heart was when she scooted and pulled herself right next to the inside of my arm, putting her head on my chest, letting out a big sigh...  She was home.

Abbie is doing well with her illness...   Ken


Have you ever?...

Have you ever, is a question that I ask if you have a Border Collie, I’m sure you will answer the question with a yes!

Have you ever sat down in your favorite chair just to relax and a Border Collie was in your lap within seconds? I know I have because my little stink pot will be next to the chair and even in front of it where I can’t even recline the chair yet.  I also feel like a human dog bed that moves from spot to spot, just for them.

Have you ever sat the remote for the TV down while you were sitting and they see or hear the noise it makes, and they know they are going outside, and they run to the door?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever picked up your shoes and started a frenzy of dogs scrambling for the door and while you were trying to tie your shoes, five tongues were washing your face while four others were turning circles at the door?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever tried to write on your computer or laptop and a cold nose pushes your hand up off the keyboard over a million times and you learn to type with one hand just so you can rub their head?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever turned off the TV for bed and the dogs wake up from your lap or dog bed and beat you to the bed and you shake your head and wonder where you are going to sleep?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever been woken up from a deep sleep with a tongue trying to clean your nose whether you needed it or not?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever has a snack and not been surrounded by several dogs want their share with you?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever gone up or down a set of stairs and been nearly knocked down by a pack of very eager dogs  trying to win the race?  Then you own a Border Collie.

Have you ever been down in the dumps with the world against you and you feel no one cares about you?  Have you ever needed someone to talk to and hear your problems without passing judgment?  

Have you ever looked into the eyes and seen the soul of another and seen love, compassion, kindness?  Have you ever seen that all is good in the world and it just can’t get any better?  Have you ever been loved by a dog without any questions and with ALL of their heart?  If you can answer yes, then you own a Border Collie…

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A Big Weekend...

As most know, our Granddaughter spent the weekend with us here at the farm which she has done before.  There is always something to do with all the activities that we have available and chores to do. 

When I was a kid, we only had two TV channels, but when cable and video games came into play, everything changed if you were a kid.  My life was wrapped around family time, and playtime but the latter was the most important as we did everything as a kid.  Most every night, the neighborhoods kids stayed out till dark, doing everything from building a clubhouse with wood we acquired to building a dam in the local creek.  I won’t go into everything because I don't know if the statutes of limitations are over or not, but all in all, I was a good kid but stayed extremely active as we all did.

Today's kids are different because there is so much more to do and their attention is drawn to so many different levels.  There are more opportunities but more ways to be sucked into that vacuum of nothingness.  The one thing I can say is that with our Granddaughter, things seem different.  Right from the begging, she was introduced to things that are educational, fun and away from the devices that can trap your mind.  She is still better than me on an iPad or phone, but she is well rounded.

From her early life, she was introduced to things that were interesting and fun and even getting her own puppy, something I never had.  Dogs were not important to my parents so I never knew the fun you could have or love that they could give.  I credit this to Maddie's parents, my son, and Daughter-in-Law who has kept her interested in things of this world.

It is a pleasure to see her develop into a young lady with the interest of nature and animals, something some kids may not discover but hopefully, they will as I did.
This weekend was a hoot, and we had fun as we always do.  The dogs were great with Maddie, giving her kisses and even sleeping in bed with her.


It’s always a pleasure for her to visit and we enjoy the time with just her.  Last night, we watched old home movies of her dad and siblings when they were kids, and I’m sure she will have many questions when she gets home, but “Dad” will have to answer them…
When she got here, one of the first things she said was that she missed Clancy, I told her I did too, they were buddies...

Dogs and outside activities are great for kids.  It’s not that other things are not beneficial, but it just gives them a good perspective of life, and I know Maddy has received that.  I know there are bigger and better adventures down the road and look forward them...  
Brad, Angie, Maddie and her dog Katelyn 
Thanks, Mom & Dad for a great kid and being good parents...  Daddo...

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This last Friday night at about 8 pm, I was made aware that the website for Clancy’s Dream was up and running.   I should have been happy, but I put my head in my hands and cried while sitting at the computer looking at it.  I’m ashamed to admit it because I have always been a strong and rugged kind of guy but that evening was different.

Since August 8th of this year, six people have been on a mission to complete the impossible to make a legacy for Clancy, and we are well on our way, but it has been a struggle for us to make square pegs go into round holes, but somehow we have.  As I think about what we are doing, I am very aware that it’s not about Clancy or any of the directors or even our donors.  It’s about the unknown or unseen dogs that are in need of either medical help or a place to live and to be loved again possible for the first time in their life.  It is beyond my furthest imagination why some people do the things they do.  We don’t know what or why it happens; I have my suspicions, and I will address it at some other time, but someone needs to pick up the pieces of the puzzle, and I tell you, it is a puzzle with many pieces. 

Trust me... This is nothing
My life changed when Karen Newhall and I worked tirelessly for nearly three years on a Border Collie puppy mill in Indiana.  After much labor and determination on our part and with the much-needed help from an anonymous helper, it finally came to an end.  

The individual was fined over $90,000.00 and banned for life of ever owning an animal.  This person was ultimately stopped forever but just last month I learned of another puppy mill that had shut down in Kentucky and over 60 Border Collies were relinquished.  Will it ever stop? I don’t think so; that’s why none of us can never stop working and helping.

The first day at GHF
After the puppy mill in Indiana was shut down, again Karen Newhall and I drove to New York to Glen Highland Farm to turn over five dogs that needed extra help.  

Just a few month ago, I was made aware that the last dog that we took finally found a home, but it took several years with lots of rehabilitation.   GHF also made me want to be part of the solution, not the problem, and hopefully, I have, but there is always more to do, much more.

I, along with the Board of Directors can only do so much to help the dogs and this will take all of us giving just a bit of out heart, time and money to make a huge difference in the life of a Border Collie.

When I found out that the website was finished on Friday, it saddened me because I knew again, it was a reality, and our Clancy Man was gone.  Seeing him in the photos and writings I had to do has been a struggle, but one of the most important things, I know Border Collies need assistance with medical issues, and others need loving homes.  It’s not just me, the Board of Directors that can help, it’s you…

Beverly Hornback said, “Clancy's legacy is all of those who loved him, all of his pups, all of those who will be helped and cared for by his “rescue.”  It is all his, we are all just blessed to be part of it.”

Out of the 250 calendars we ordered, we still have 241 to sell; please help us help them… Ken

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Read What changed my life a four part story.

The Twilight Zone...

It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call… the Twilight Zone... this must be a dream I thought…

We have all been there.  It seems that when you have a Border Collie, life changes, neither good nor bad, it just changes.  In the beginning, it can be maddening but as time passes, it’s the norm.

Dutchess playing with the Jolly Ball in the Koi pond
Just this Friday, I was working outside in the garage when I wanted to work on a few small projects.  Doc is the worst at times, when I stop walking, he jumps on me and his dew claws dig into my side and I tell myself he only wants attention and he loves me but it stills hurts.  At one point, I got on the floor and looked under a bench for something I dropped and Abbie came from behind and started licking my ears and stuck her tongue inside my ear giving me a wet willie with her tongue. Next, Doc started licking my face, oh no, I was trapped. 

I'm trying to relax in the Hot-Tub
Everything is different.  I once wrote a story about sitting on the “throne” in the bathroom.  My loyal subjects (four legged, that is) gathered around me to pay homage with one even stepping in my underpants that were down.   Help!  “Please…let me have some time alone…Please” 

Snack time is worse than ever.  I even hesitate getting a snack when they are all in the room and at times wait until some of them go upstairs with Elaine to go to bed.  The times I can’t wait for my nightly treat, I have 9 pairs of sad eyes, all “starving” dogs with turtle heads stretching for a closer smell and hopefully a bite.  So out of 10 treats, I get one, along with each one of them... I need a bigger bag.

They have hijacked my vehicles
Lawn work can be the worst.  If I just walk to a machine, whether it be the Gator or the 4-wheeler, it’s like they sense my direction and look at the 4-wheeler, then at me and then the wheels start turning in their minds and they’re off to the races.  Times like this I just use the wheelbarrow. It doesn’t have an engine but, I can trick them while pushing it and make a motor noise, then off they go running and barking.  Grass cutting is just a hoot, no explanation needed.

Gabby, Doc and Annie
Sit back and relax… You are getting sleepy… very sleepy.  Let yourself sink into the chair as you relax deeply.  Your eyes may feel heavy and want to close.  Let your body sink naturally down as your muscles relax. Listen to your body and my voice as you begin to feel calm, you’ve entered the Twilight Zone or Dogwood Ridge.  Most people have only one or two Border Collies but here at the farm, we have 9 so multiply your dog’s activity 4 or 5-fold and you have entered the zone… Just imagine the difference and the change in “your” household…
"I'm going to count from one to five, and at the count of five you will be feeling wide awake, fully alert, and completely refreshed."
We know that a dream can be real, but who ever thought that reality could be a dream? We exist, of course, but how, in what way? As we believe, as flesh-and-blood human beings, or are we simply parts of someone's feverish, complicated nightmare? Think about it and then ask yourself, do you live here, in this country, in this world, or do you live instead in the Twilight Zone at Dogwood Ridge?

But I wouldn’t have it any other way…  Ken
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A little different at home...

As I woke up this past Wednesday morning, I got a treat, that is becoming a regular thing now and I really like it.  When I opened my eyes, which must have been really loud, all the sleeping dogs at my side begin to...
By this little girl...
Many years ago when I was 14 years old, my mother was telling a story to my sister about a camping trip she had taken with my brother and his wife.  They went camping someplace where she could fish, something she loved.  As the story went, after dinner they were sitting around the campfire and my sister-in-law set a plate on the ground that had a few morsels of food left on it from dinner for their dog to enjoy.  I assume this was a common thing for her to do at their house.  Well, Mom said to my sister “I will never eat with them again.” She was so upset because the dog had eaten off the same plate that a person had eaten off of.  Needless to say, Mom would never eat at my house with us if she was alive, God rest her soul.  When I was young, we were not a dog family and the only one we had, never came into the house, ever!  But at “our” house things are a little different…

From the very first day we got a dog, they were part of the family.  Elaine and I moved to the farm after our kids left home for college and the dogs became our new children.  They would ride with us, eat when we did and sleep in their kennel which was built for them when it was bedtime.  After some time, things slowly started to change for the dogs.  At one time, they all slept in the kennel but now we have 6 dog beds in the TV room, a couch and a single recliner and they will find a spot or get on my lap that they all occupy one time or another. 


Dinner is a little different too, they do eat in the kennel but once done, they’re inside after a long walk.  We usually eat watching TV during dinner and my rule is no eating with us until we’re done.  Just last night, Abbie and Meggie got to pre-wash my plate before it went into the dishwasher.  I know, I know, it’s not the right thing to do, but those sad eyes kill me.

…Well, back to the original story.  When I first woke up Wednesday morning, Lily moved up to my head.  She put her head on my neck and nuzzled my neck for several minutes.  She then curled up on my chest and slid down to where her head was resting on my arm.  She is a licker and it shows by the cleanliness or the lack thereof of my face.  She went on and on and I knew right then she was now comfortable with people.  I don’t advocate dog licking and some even say it’s not healthy but it’s one of the ways dogs have of showing their affection to us.

I have often thought of what a handicap it must be, not to be able to grasp something with my hand, but a dog uses its mouth every day fetching something, opening something and by giving kisses showing us affection with their mouth.  Heaven help us if they had thumbs. When all is at peace and things are calm around here, some dog, any dog, will get near me and lick me even if it is just on the tip of my nose, just to say Daddy, I love you…

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They Really Really Love You...

As I settled down in my recliner several nights ago, I had one dog standing at the foot of the chair waiting to jump up into my lap.  While this is not unusual, this night it was not one of mine.  They stood and looked at my lap and then at my face and back down at the open spot until I said “come on.”  Up she sprang like a bottle rocket into a place most dogs that visit us at the farm end up one time or another.  A place where they find comfort and that comforts me.

Of late, we have been blessed to be able to help 3 dogs that were in need of comfort for several reasons.  I remember the day little Luna first arrived. Her real name was Autumn but her last owner always called her Luna because in her words, “she acts like a lunatic.”  Before she came here and I had received the update about her, I was more than a little worried and apprehensive about her behavior.  Quite truthfully I wondered what we had gotten ourselves into.  Meeting our transporter in Indianapolis for the exchange, I saw that Lula was one scared little girl and even got away once and ran under the car for protection.  After retrieving her, she just wanted a place to hide and did so in the car until I got her back to the farm.  Once here, her life soon blossomed and the first report to her transporter reads as follows; “She did great, goes to the door when she wants out, plays with the other dogs.  She is very loving to each of us and comes when we call her.  She is very curious about everything and doesn’t bark at all. She has calmed down a great deal.  She is playing with a pillow right now.  I think she still has a lot of puppy in her.”   I soon discovered she was not a lunatic at all, what a change had taken place in her with good communication.  She went to her new home just yesterday and I hope she knows she will be greatly missed.
Luna was not the first we have helped but was the first Border Collie we assisted since we established “Clancy’s Dream” which is now a 501 (c)(3) public charity.  As one of our Directors said, “Pretty cool to see Clancy's name on a government issued document!  This is for real!" and it is but the real pleasure is seeing a dog change right before your eyes.

Several days ago, I received a call from a distressed owner that heard about us and was in dire need of help.  He told me a story about his Border Collie and her short 11 month history beginning with her extended stay in a backroom at a pet store because she was sick.  He was moving in two days and knew she would not make it in an apartment in a hot southern state.  He was desperate and he mentioned he was at a Pharmacy filling a prescription for the dog for Prozac.  I agreed to help but told him NOT to give the Prozac to her so we could honestly evaluate her.  He along with the dog were at my door at 8am the next morning and when she was let off the lead, things seemed alien to her.  She appeared happy but unsure and the owner asked “Will she be alright out here in the open?”  I asked “what do you mean?”  The answer dumbfounded me…”she has never been in open spaces.”  My heart broke in two, but in just a few minutes I watched as she came alive and started to explore her surroundings. Off she went into the woods while the owner anxiously watched her leave, but I knew what was happining, she was alive and free.
After two days, Lily finally came to me and wanted attention. Quite slowly at first but when she sensed humans are good, she became my dog and now follows me everywhere, runs to jump in my lap when I'm sitting and even sleeps in bed with me.  

Last night while sitting on the couch with Luna on Elaine’s lap, Lily on my lap and Becca in the middle touching both of us with her feet, all was at peace.  They were all sleeping and dreaming of their future while I shut my eyes and dreamed of our Clancy and what he started… Our boy is still proudly watching over his flock… He taught us well…

Always watching
When Luna’s new owners came to pick her up, we took a walk around the farm burning off some energy for the dogs.  Sending a rescue dog to a new home is much harder that sending a young puppy with a new owner.  You see, when they are an adult, they lick your face, sleep in bed with you, run across a field to meet you, lay in your lap when you watch TV and most of all really really love you. 

Before leaving yesterday, the owners stood on the driveway and talked to us.  After my instructions and suggestions I reinforced to them that she is always welcome to come back if it doesn’t seem to be a good fit.  At one point, I rudely said “we need to wrap this up” but in my mind I knew my time was growing short with her and I was getting upset.  Elaine said her goodbyes and took some of our dogs into the house.  I said mine as I was leaning into the backseat of their car to hug Luna one more time and get my goodbye kisses.  Closing the gate as they were leaving I waived to Luna and broke into tears as I was walking away.  I wanted to talk to Clancy and as God is my witness, while I was approaching his grave, the wind picked up and a gentle breeze tinkled his wind chimes by his grave-site allowing  me to know he was there listening… What a good boy...  Ken

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