Do They Love Us?

Dogs have interacted with humans for thousands of years and in that time, people have learned that dogs have a special way of communicating with them that is unique to dogs. In recent years, there are an increasing number of studies examining the way dogs think and how they communicate and interact with humans.
They are also revealing ways that the bond between dogs and humans has created many ways in which dogs express how much they love their family.

1. When a dog stares at you, it means they love you.  Meggie will sit on the couch with me and she will always stare at me, not wanting anything just staring.  Some people say they are hugging you with their eyes.  One thing I learned, when we did agility with her, it was important to make eye contact and since then, she will always watch me.  Abbie will also stare at me and as I we sleep, she will put her nose right to mine on the pillow, watching and watching.

2. Bringing you a toy means more than just wanting to play. They want to share something they value with you.  While this may be true, usually mine will bring me a toy to play.  Dutchess will set at my feet and if I don’t pick it in a hurry or step away, she will reposition it several times right in front of me.

3. When a dog wants to sleep with you rather than alone, it means you are family to him.  They all want to sleep with us… I guess we’re family…

4. When a dog can’t wait to see you walk through the door, and smothers you with attention, it means he really misses you.  This is also true except Dutchess and I think she wants food or to play.

 5. If you catch your dog looking at you quietly before you leave them alone, it’s because they are relaxed and trust you to return.  Usually, if a dog panics when you leave its separation anxiety, something heartbreaking for dog owners, who often read it as meaning their dog loves you. Of course he does, but this form of anxiety can lead to destructive behavior in the home.

6. Dogs use their eyes and their body language to tell you if they trust you and tell you what they are feeling.  I love to watch their ears, sometimes it’s so comical and the movements they make so quickly.

7. If your dog is cuddly after a meal it’s not just because you fed them, it’s because you are their best friend.

8. A dog leaning or pressing against you is their version of a hug or a “hello”.  A dog will also lean on you sometimes when he’s anxious or afraid because he knows you will keep him safe and protect him.  I remember Roxie, she was the best at leaning into you.  If you stood still, she would walk up to you and push her head into you, it was heaven.

Roxie... Loved her, Great dog...  RIP
9. If your dog yawns…it could be a sign of submission…or that they feel safe and secure… Depends on the situation.
Ever notice how yawning is contagious between people? Well, it can happen between dogs and people too. A study found that when dogs mimic people’s yawns it is because the dog is bonded with that person. This usually happens in a relaxed situation. It should be noted that dogs yawning could also mean they’re anxious or upset, if they are in a stressful situation.

10. If dog sits on your feet, they’re being protective of you and it’s a little bit like he’s marking you. Jennifer Brent, from the non-profit animal welfare advocacy group Found Animals told Woman’s Day, “It’s not just that he wants to be close to you, he’s saying, ‘This is mine; now it smells like me, don’t go near it.’ He does this for three main reasons: to feel secure about his place in your life, to warn other dogs that you are spoken for and because he wants to protect you.”

11. Your dog will want to comfort you when you are upset.  Dogs are sensitive to our moods. A study revealed dogs truly do respond to human tears and will respond to our tears and will naturally try and reassure us if we are distressed. They may get close to you, put a paw on you or try to nuzzle you when you are upset.  I’ve seen this many times, they have a way of knowing us and attempting to comfort us.  Many times one of my dogs will lay next to me and stroke me with their paw…  They are quite remarkable…  Ken

Are there signs your dog’s makes that tell you that they love you?

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Is there a Doctor in the house?

Yes, there is a Doctor in the house but not who you think.   Nearly 4 years ago, Doc Holliday, not to be confused with the real Doc Holliday came into our life to live with us and be part of our pack.  

The Real Doc Holliday
As Clancy was retiring, we were going to carry on our puppy breeding program for a year or so and we need a male stud to carry the program on.  I will tell you, Clancy was not too happy about the decision including what followed with a trip to the Vet.

Doc was nearly 18 months old when he came to the farm and I remember the first think I noticed was that he disliked to be kenneled, even to the point of barking every 2 seconds, slinging saliva from his barking and at times even defecating in his own space.  It was an easy fix, he loved the outdoors and so he ran free on the farm, taking care of everything but he did not come inside the house for several reasons, some of which were his own wants and needs.  

 He enjoyed his liberty and I think some of the other dogs were a little jealous because they also wanted to stay outside because they felt that they were missing something.  Winter came and went the first year and I provided water, shelter and even a heated garage with a dog door but he resisted and still chose to stay on the covered porch with his dog bed.  I always felt for him but it’s what he wanted. 

Last summer, he went to visit Katelyn and Maddie Grace for most of the season and they played and played and played but he still wouldn’t get out of the rain and slept by the door on their open porch.  The one thing his guest home did was to slowly introduce Doc into the house.  He did great and even learned to sleep on the couch, minding his own business.  After his summer visit was over, he came home and we were back to normal, where he rejoined his old life and slept on the covered back porch.

After a few days of his return, I got the idea to build him a super duper dog house.  It was wind, sound and rain proof that sat on the covered back porch, out of the rain.  After much work and expense, he was introduced to it but still loved to sleep in front of it.  To this day, I really don’t know if he has been inside but all of my other dogs have. 

When the cold weather got here this winter, I just couldn’t take it anymore, "he’s coming in" I said.  At first he was a little reluctant but he soon got into the groove and felt comfortable inside without getting into trouble.  When it's cold, he comes and sleeps on our bed with the other dogs but when it’s warm he likes his freedom and goes outside, but he really loves to lay on the couch and stretch out…  Yes, their is a Doctor in the house, what's one more... Ken

Doc and Meggie...
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The most important days…

If you have a dog, there are two important days in its life and ours, one is marked as the happiest day and one is the saddest.  Both have emotions that go to the extreme and both will have an everlasting effects on you and the dog.  The first day is the day you bring a dog into your life whether a puppy or an adult dog and there is much excitement that surrounds the event.   When most people know they will get a dog, they will tell their family, friends and usually purchase all the necessary equipment that goes with it.   Sometimes it might be toys, beds, tennis balls, clothing, chew sticks and a plethora of things for the anticipated day and it’s a great day.  

When we bred Border Collies, even before the pet is born people would visit the parents and future “Mom” and many times, they would bring shirts and blankets to rub on the parents to get the “smell” for their home.  At times, they would also bring photos of the dog’s new home and show me toys that they were getting and this was even more fervent when their puppy was born.  It was a happy day they shared with everyone and when the big day came to go home, everyone was so excited, including the puppy.  Many times I have watched that very car pull away from our driveway and knew it was heaven for the family and it was pure joy to see this happen and life was good.

The second most significant day is when your pet crosses the Rainbow Bridge.  It’s even hard to write the words but it is inevitable and as Jon Kats said speaking from a dog’s point of view, “By now, you must know that there is always a goodbye hovering in the shadows of a dog. We are never here for long, or for long enough. We were never meant to share all of your life, only to mark its passage.”  And they do.

 For whatever reason, I have been swamped with messages and stories from dog parents that have made that dreadful decision this week via emails and notices.  Just Thursday, I was again “tagged” in a post from someone who had made that decision because of necessities and it took me to that time when we had to do the same thing with one of our pets.  We knew that it was time and we had exhausted all of the Vet care that could be done.  The Vet told us, “you will know when it’s time” and now it was, so we made an appointment as soon as we could but it was several days away.  We loved that sweet pet and dreaded the hours until it was time.  It was true hell and especially the last night as we sat and watched TV and he got in my lap but I knew he would be gone the next day and my heart was breaking.  I brought him home and as he laid between Elaine and me, I cried and stroked his fur as we drove home to bury him.   I will never forget the very day we got him and the precise day his life ended, never.  It is so vivid in my mind’s eye, as if both days were yesterday.  I still have his photo on the refrigerator and his bowl in the hutch and it’s been nearly 15 years.

Because I am in several Border Collie circles and even a German Shepherd circle because of Dahlia, I see this sadness often.  It pains me to see, read and even think about the sting they are experiencing.  All in all, we have been very lucky with our dogs but it is inevitable and something we never think about on the happiest day of our life with a new dog or puppy.  One thing I learned from talking and reading about the worst day, it’s OK to grieve over your pet, that’s part of healing your soul.  I won’t say it’s easy because it’s not, at least not to me.

We can’t change the inevitable but we can change how we look and take care of our dogs now, even supporting a rescue or shelter, they were once a family member and need us because we're all they have.   Life has many twist and turns but one thing we can do, is never have any regrets when it comes to our furry friends.   Give your dog what it needs, today… They give so much, more than we can ever imagine but need so little, sometimes just our attention and a pat on the head.

Run free… to all the ones that have crossed before us.  Run to us as we meet again…   Ken

Note: This story was inspired by Pita, a 15 year old Border Collie that went to the Bridge this past Friday… All of the family came to say their goodbyes and had a family meal together with Pita the night before where he got his favorite meal. The Vet arrived at the home the next morning where a blanket was laying at the fireplace and he walked over into the arms of his owner as if saying “I’m ready, thank you for giving me the best 15 years of my life”   After the shot, he was pain free.  It was the second most important day in the life of Pita… pain free...
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Weather Woes

Well here it is, the 2nd week of January and a season of the year comes upon us that most of us don’t like.  It makes no difference to the dogs, but to us humans it makes all the difference in the world.  Fortunately we’ve had some sunny days for the last several days but yesterday it started raining and it appears that we will have several more in a row and this morning it is blowing snow with temperatures in the teens. 

There are two things that effects the dogs along with me around here.  The first is when it rains, they get dirty especially if we go for a walk.  

While I don’t mind a walk in the rain because I wear rain gear, some of the dogs do.  It’s usually not a problem if we go on a venture because they are excited, but when you let them out for their last bathroom break at night, some of the dogs will just stand by the back door and refuse to go into the rain.  Now we all know they “got to go” and it’s like taking a horse to water.  If they don’t want to do it, it’s not going to happen and we don’t want to get up in the middle of the night and fight this battle again.  So the answer is to put on your shoes, get your umbrella if it’s handy and stand in the rain and if one is not handy, you get wet because no matter how many times you tell some of them to “go potty” they look and stand still.  But if they think like a human, they have figured out if you’re not going out in the rain, then why should they and you have to go out in the rain just to watch them.  At least they feel better and you won’t have to get up or worse.

The next weather condition is one of my favorites.  A below freezing sunny day where the ground is frozen.  This is one of the ultimate times that we “all” can enjoy the day.  No-one gets muddy or wet and it’s not too hot and we can run all day.  The down side is when the sun starts to warm the ground, its’s always a mess for all of us.  Nothing better to play hard and they to run to us and jump on us leaving their wonderful brown paw prints.      

 The one thing I have noticed about a Border Collie is when they get muddy or dirty but when they completely dry off, they are as clean as if they have had a bath.  Many times in the past I have put them up in their dry warm kennel when they are grubby and the next morning, they are clean.  I’ve also had others tell me the same thing.  Something about their fur and it’s amazing and I’m glad.

Weather can be interesting this time of year and even more so when there are so many changes during a 24 hour period and if you don’t like the current conditions as we all know, it will change soon.  Give your wet and muddy dog a hug today…  Ken
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Happy New Year...

This has been a whirlwind time of year at the farm with a few guests and the activities around the holidays.  As we settle into the New Year, a lot of things happened in 2015, some good and some bad but we grow from both sets of circumstances and we are who we are today because of our past.  The dogs had a good year, seems like we had a few more bangs and bruises and one major problem than years past but all in all we are pretty healthy. 
A new year always brings new beginnings, I hate resolutions for a New Year because I usually don’t keep them and get depressed afterwards but the dogs have a few that they wanted to mention to me and I will respond…

In order of their arrival here at the farm,

Molly Mae said, ”I would like to have some couch time with you because you are the first person I ever saw.  I know I’m getting slow and can hardly jump on the couch but I do try and you always help me, you are my heart person”   “Molly” I said, “we’re all getting old and I will always help you.  My job to take of you and the others, but you are my Heart dog”

Clancy,  “I would like to always be in charge because that’s who I am.  You can be first, but can I always be second?”   “Yes Clancy” I said,  You will always be first as long as you are here and if something happens to me, I know you will take care of things.”  And I know he would do a great job.

Dutchess,  “I want more food… no-no-no, I want more Frisbee's, that’s it, more Frisbee's, nothing else just that.  Can you get me a fork that I can hold with my paw, no, no make it a spoon, it will hold more.”  “Dutchess” I said, “I’m sorry, you’re not getting your resolutions because we have hundreds of tennis balls and dozens of Frisbee's and don’t think about a spoon or fork.  You’re on a diet now and you don’t know it.”  “I thought my food tasted a little different, Hmmm” she said.

Meggie,  “I would like to have more sunny days.  I hate all the rain we’ve had, it makes us dirty and cold.  More sun is what I want."  “Meggie” I said, “I couldn’t agree more.  I get blue with the rain and I hate it as much as you do about getting dirty and wet more than you know and maybe it will get better soon.”

Abbie,  “I want to feel better and get rid of this stupid cone so I can run through the woods without hitting a branch and I want to lay on the couch and lick your hand.”  “Abbie” I said “I also agree, I want you to have the best time ever and if you remember, last night I stuck my head inside your cone so you could lick my face, someday it will be gone,"  hopefully someday  I thought.

Annie,  “I want to run and run and run, and have the zoomies throughout the house.  I also want everyone to let me kiss and lick their face. because that's how I say hello.”   “Annie” I said, you do run and run and run and also have the zoomies throughout the house.  As far as you licking and kissing everyone’s face, just watch it and back off when they tell you to stop”

Gabby,  “I want more lap time too, it seems like I get the short end of the stick because I so little and don’t make a fuss except when I stand in front of you while you're walking to get my butt scratched."   "I always stop when you get in-front of you and do scratch your butt and let's try on the lap time."  I said.

Shepp, “I want to play more.  I know I have worn some of my teeth down because of playing tennis balls but can you get me some rubber ones?  "This should not be a problem, I'll stop tomorrow"  I said.

Doc,  “I want to come inside more.  I know I guard the house at night but I love to lay on the couch too.  Can we make this work?  "Doc" I said, we can also make this work.  Just don't climb on top of me when you get close and if you lay real still, I will scratch your head."

Dahlia,  “I want a buddy to play with.”  “What” I said, there are nine other dogs here.”  I said.  “But I am the biggest and too large to play with the little ones” but as she looks at Clancy, she then says “I’m bigger than most, not everyone” as Clancy sits back down and unpins his ears as if saying he is the biggest and top dog.

As I sit thinking about their New Year resolutions, not everything seems impossible.  It’s easy to get a rubber ball for Shepp, more lap time for Molly and Gabby and Doc can come inside more and maybe become an inside dog too, something we’re working at.   Clancy can always be in charge but I will not get a spoon for Dutchess nor a playmate for Dahlia.  Annie and Meggie can hopefully play and run in sunny weather but Abbie, you’re a tough one.   While I do take your cone off when we play, I do need to keep it on when we’re in the house.  I don’t know if you know it, I doing everything in my power to save your life, everything…

That’s the part our dogs don’t always understand, it’s our job to make life better for them and no matter how hard we try, hurt feelings can make you uncomfortable but its best at times.  While I do hate resolutions, this year I will do everything I can to make it all possible even if I need to stick my head in Abbie's cone so she can kiss me.   Hug your dog today...  Ken
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