Morning Has Broken...

I have always been an early riser in the mornings.  I once had a job that started at 5 AM and now I guess I have just gotten into the habit of getting up early.  Just yesterday, I was up at 4:30 AM and even the dogs wouldn’t get up.  One of my favorite parts of the day with the dogs is the mornings as the sun rises and we are walking through the woods.  

We have many trails at the farm and the dogs will take me out and walk a couple of miles.  They love it because they can run, explore, chase each other and always relieve themselves.  It takes the edge off quickly and everyone then settles into their daily routine, what a great start to the day!  

We have had breathtaking sunrises this fall and when it comes through the trees and climbs the hills, it is almost spiritual. The first of this week was especially nice.  The weather was just right and the light coming through the trees was awe-inspiring

At one point we stopped and I stood still and watched and waited. Streaks of light was lowly coming through the trees and the dogs were exploring the day, following each other to each new discovery with a sense of vigor.  Not a sound was made except the wind and the wind chimes that we were close to and I thought, “It IS spiritual.” 

In the early 70’s (my wild years with long hair) there was a song called Morning Has Broken.  It was a cute little song and Cat Stevens had a pleasant voice and I liked the tune.  I never really thought about the words until I Googled it this week and I was surprised.  Morning has broken is the best known work of Eleanor Farjeon, children’s author and poet.  Eleanor was born in London on February 13, 1881. 

In “Morning has broken” Cat Stevens sang about creation in the way it should be heard. Who cares if the world was made in seven days or fourteen billion years?  We live in a kaleidoscope of wonder and never see it but walk past it every day.   Eden need not be a place in time and space. Eden can be a level of awareness available in the most ordinary moments. Heaven need not be a land outside of time, it can be a quality deep within every moment and it was that day.   The hymn reminds me that wonders lies everywhere hidden, like a treasure discoverable to anyone who can muster childlike reverence for the ordinary and the dogs make this happen by seeing the good in life and making the most unusual object the center of their world.

That very morning, I saw the first light of day differently here at the farm.  Time doesn’t matter, Eden is at my level of awareness and by taking an ordinary walk, I am truly in Heaven and it is like a treasure just discovered by me and the dogs, coming from the ordinary into that very moment, I saw the beauty and felt the peace of the day.  Though “Morning has broken” is clearly a hymn for children it has an appeal for adults too.  It praises God for the sights and sounds of the new day and likens each dawn to the very first day in the Garden of Eden.  Every new morning is so new in its freshness and newness, that Cat Stevens refers to it as "God's re-creation of the new day and I tell you, it was mystical that morning.  Here at the farm, I find comfort in the peaceful dawn of the day with the dogs that I love and the bond, friendship, companionship and love we share together where each morning is a new creation and adventure... always...     Ken

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Bucket List or Road Trip?…

Over the years, our dogs has gone with us most of the time or when possible.  It started many years ago when we took Meg and Abbie.  We went to Shipshewana, Indiana and they had fun and got to see horses in Amish country and had their own Hotel bed and bathroom with plenty of walks downtown, Abbie even got to bite the shoe of a little Amish girl, something she likes to do among other things.

Meggie and Abbie in Shipshewana, Indiana  ...

After playing an enormous bout of Frisbee, they both went running to a muddy pond but thank goodness for a hotel bathroom and hotel towels and no, they didn’t take any home, I don’t think. 

Another road trip was just south of Holland Michigan, we rented a small cabin and went to the beach and played in the water.  This trip we took Abbie and Clancy.  They traveled very well in the Jeep, looking out the back and side windows but also had enormous round of Frisbee at the cabin.  Everything was fine but the sand was a pain in the butt for them and was everywhere.  

Abbie and Clancy in Michigan
Another successful road trip was under our belt and Abbie’s but she wasn't done.  It looks like Abbie has traveled many roads in her life having fun and seeing many sights.  She has been to more places than anyone but was a trouper in situations both the good and bad.  We usually had a Frisbee with us and it was a good break for her and took it her mind off any un-pleasantries.  We even stopped before the Vet’s office last week for a Frisbee break just to take the edge off and it did.
We took Abbie on the paramount road trip last Sunday.  Something that most of our dogs have done but Abby never made it yet, but Sunday was her day.  We went to Shady Creek Farm for some sheep herding with Katelyn one of our grown pups. 
Katelyn in charge...

 We started out with a little Frisbee, just to take the edge off again and then it was time to get to the sheep.  Katelyn did great and then it was Abbie’s turn.  She went into the sheep pin and was ready to go or so I thought.
After we were done, the dogs were dog-tired and thirsty so we went to the watering trough and cooled down and got a drink.  Abbie was a little unsure at first about getting in such a small pond but with a little coaxing, she fell into the groove and took to it like a duck to water with Nellie's help. 

Abbie cooling off...
We then played a little more Frisbee and everyone had a good day.  Cool drinks were in order again and she was pooped and even laid her head on the water bucket but she had a good day and that's what matters

But... Abbie hated the sheep and wanted nothing to do with them.  She kept looking at me and after a very few minutes, I called her out of the sheep pin and from then on, we played Frisbee and she was happy, but that's all that matters...

Wrong way Abbie at Shady Creek Herding...
Ruby and Abbie, Abbie likes this better...
Abbie is doing well with her illness and and seems fine but I will tell you, I give her a little extra of everything just because... Sometimes when a dog is terminally ill, the owners creates a Bucket List but Abbie has always had road trips throughout her life.  A year ago, when she was diagnosed, all I wanted was a warm summer day where she could play in the lake and she made it, and more... and I am so glad we never had to make one because her life has been filled with road trips.  If you haven't had a road trip with your dog lately, plan your road trips today...    Good girl Abbie, Good Girl... Ken

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Clancy's Dream

 "Does your dog jump in the water?" the kids ask, and inside my head, I was grinning, and I secretly said to myself, "Just watch." We had our church group over for a Saturday day of fun and fellowship and thus far it was a fantastic day by the lake with friends.  I tossed a ball into the water and off the diving board he jumped having a ball, just like the thousands of times Clancy had done before.  

As kids will be kids, "can he do it again?" they ask, and after a couple of more throws he got out of the water and took two steps, he wavered and fell over.  Elaine was only 3 feet away and immediately went to the ground to help him.  I was on the dock and ran to them from no more than 20 feet away.  As I grabbed him, his body felt like a bag of marbles and was unresponsive, no heartbeat and dilated pupils.  After CPR and every attempt to regain his life, I said the words I never ever wanted to say. "He's gone"  "Nooooooooooooooooo" Elaine cried as she bent over to hug her dog, "This can't be" but it was.  In the blink of an eye, our life as we knew it had forever changed, and things on the farm would never be the same. 

I gently gathered his body into my arms, with Elaine and other friends falling in behind me. I carried his lifeless body from the lake to the dog kennel, where I placed him carefully down on a quilt Elaine had acquired and spread out on the floor. Very few words were spoken, and I knew what I needed to do.  Saying nothing, I went to the tool shed and grabbed a shovel and pick-ax and went hunting for "his" spot.   

Several years before Clancy's death, I woke up from a sound sleep and sat straight up in bed and said out loud, "Where will we bury them." I had had a dream that one of the dogs had passed and I didn't know where to bury them, and then I asked myself, "where will we bury any of them, it has to be special!" It was a very distressing dream, and no decision was made until that fateful Saturday when we had to make it.  I walked down that long road no-one ever wants to travel and went to a beautiful place near the front gate, but inside the fence, a place he is familiar with and everyone will pass it several times a day.  Most of our past pets are buried elsewhere, but it is outside our fence that we installed several years ago.  Elaine asked if we would bury him with the others, and I immediately said, "no, he will be close always with us," and she agreed.  

As I put the shovel to the ground some of the men from our church group walked up and asked if there was anything they could do and I said "there are more shovels in the shed" not lifting my eyes, they got them, and we started.  I said, "The only condition is when we are finished, you need to leave," and they agreed and understood why.   In my mind, Clancy's life was racing before me with every shovel full of dirt I scooped, and I didn't want to stop because I knew what was coming next and I would never lay my eyes on my "Clancy Man' again.

With the task completed and handshakes shared with turned down eyes, our friends quickly and quietly left without a word.  I walked to the kennel where he was, and Elaine was laying down with him holding him in the comfort of her arms. "It's time," I said, "just a few more minutes," she whispered. I went to the cabinet to get a brush, scissors, and nail trimmers to prepare him for his last trip.  We brushed him out and stroked his beautiful face and tied one of my bandannas around his neck.  We looked at each other, then back at him and wordlessly decided he was ready.  I selected two more tasks needed to be done, so I cut a lock of hair from his white-collar and clipped his nails for the final time, placing these items in a plastic bag and zipped it closed.   If we outlive all of our pets, the hair will be divided between Elaine and me and buried with us when we pass on.

I gathered him in his blanket, cradling him in my arms and Elaine and I walked together along with all of our dogs to "his" new forever spot.  It was fitting to carry him once again as we did when we got him 10 years ago.  As a puppy, we carried him to his first home here at the farm, and now I was carrying him to his final home.   Clancy was still wet from his swimming and even had some dirt on his feet. It's just like he liked to be and very suitable.  He died proud, doing the things he loved to do.  Slowly I lowered him to his new home, and after he was wrapped entirely in his blanket, one last look and kiss was make "Goodbye Clancy Man, We love you." Every one of the dogs watched and sniffed him and was allowed to say goodbye to their leader, friend, lover, and playmate.  Buried with him was his tennis ball, Frisbee and two broken hearts that will never mend. "I can't believe it" was said a thousand times… "It will never be the same…" Digging his grave, I developed a blister on my hand and would find myself touching it for weeks, just to remember.   Slowly it went away, and I was disappointed because that was the last physical evidence that I had of him.

As I pulled up to our farm gate the next day, I looked for Clancy. He always heard us from the house and would run down our lane to meet us, taking his usual shortcut through the woods and then ride back with us to the house in the car. Painfully, that day, there was no Clancy, and the shortcut that he always took is where his grave is.  Clancy has gone away, and life is not the same, the greatest gift that you can give us is just to speak his name. I need to hear your stories and the tales of days gone past, I need for you to understand these memories must last, this is all we have. We'll never make more memories since he is no longer here, so when you say "Clancy" to me it's music to our soul, and I know he's not gone…

I find solace sitting in the woods at Clancy's gravesite.  It started with just his grave, which led to a peaceful place of comfort and a place to reflect.  It now has a bench, two Adirondack Chairs, one small table and his two tombstones that appeared at our house just a few days after his death from people who loved him.   We find ourselves going to see him every day just to sit, and I ponder our life and in my mind's eye, wonder what is next.  The dogs will always go and sit with us, acting on their best behavior, some sitting near his grave, most will sniff his grave as if saying hello to him. It's beautiful under the tall trees, and when the sun is shining, the open tree canopy allows sunlight to shine on his grave.  Very near are his new wind chimes that tinkle when we have a slight breeze and I would like to think he is talking to me, but I also know that anyone who knew him will hear him speak too, as, for me, I hear him daily.   Rest well my "Clancy Man" We are who we are because of you!  Until we meet again and write our next chapter.  Clancy James was named after me, but he belonged to Elaine and was her heart dog.  

Clancy James was a born leader, and he demonstrated it many times.  Every dog followed him, and most humans admired his skills.  The very morning Clancy passed away he crept into my bed, burrowing his nose under my arm, falling asleep.  As I watched him breathe and rubbed his head, he slept peacefully and dreamed… I wonder what he dreamed, did he know?  One hot day many years ago, I was with my Dad working on a project, and out of nowhere he said "I'm ready to go" I ask if I could take him home and he said "No" but also said, "I'm ready to go to Heaven." I laughed, and in 2 hours, he went to Heaven. 

If you knew Clancy, he touched all of us in one way or another.  I had cried more than I did for my parents when they passed, I have felt helpless and in a fog, not knowing what to do.  Some days are better than others, but just when I feel better, something... anything takes me back to that day and the pain.  Living in a dog world, and if I have learned anything, I have seen and heard the grief that many people have shared with me about losing their beloved pet.  Even though my pain and heartache are enormous to me, it is no worse or more significant than yours when you lost your pet.  We just have something in common, and only we will always be able to understand that horrible pain we share.

"Where will we bury them?" the question that was unanswered for several years now has been answered with a prominent place here at the farm.  It is laid out and arranged with Clancy at the head, and his mates will be buried around him as time dictates. A granite memorial was placed at the entrance of our gravesite for the new owners someday that will live here when we are gone that reads;

When that time comes and if you need a place for your pet and want them to be buried under the tall trees, where the sun shines through an open canopy with wind chimes that sing with the breeze, your pet is welcome.  I have several shovels and will lovingly help you as I was helped. Together we can give them a special place to be by the sides of our dogs, and we can sit together in the Adirondack Chairs and talk about the best dogs in the world...

As I walked from Clancy's grave the day after his unexpected death, I said out loud through tears "I didn't want this to happen," I remember the exact spot on the driveway when I turned back to look and said again, "I want him to live forever…somehow" as I knew this is impossible, there has got to be a way to do this.  Clancy had National and International lineage and had sired many offspring's in his life and will live for many many years, but they too shall pass.  There has to be more, and there is…

Clancy with one of our last litters, some are asleep under him.
For many years we had worked with Border Collies in need because they are a special and unique breed.  Most people don't know what they are getting into, especially if it's their first dog, and no research was done on Border Collies. I've said many times to prospective owners, "They demand, literally require lots of attention and lots of activity. If you don't have the time or energy to devote to the dog, don't get it.  There are better choices; it will be the best decision or the worst decision of your life and for the life of the dog.

Working in a Veterinarian's office, I saw many times where drastic decisions were made for the pet because the owner of the pet could not pay for the treatment that the dog required to survive.  Hearts were broken, and lives were changed because the owner saw no other option than to put the dog down.  Knowing what I have seen and what Elaine and I have done, it seemed like a perfect fit to reach out and help dogs receive the best care they can get and help even more with BC's that need rehabilitation and rescue. 

A road trip, nearly to the Canadian Border, was made to help a BC in need.  It was to rescue a little 14-month-old female Border Collie who had been in 7 homes and shuffled a few times.  Once at the farm, both Elaine and I quickly discovered that she is a true sweetheart.  

Luna just needs a chance
If Clancy's Dream had not stepped in to pick her up, chances are Luna would have gone back to another shelter or someone would have taken advantage of a “free to good home” dog possibly to be used for something very evil.  

Where does Clancy come into this picture, you ask?  I talked to Elaine, and we agreed there is more work to be done by our Clancy.  I spoke to our Veterinarian's office the Monday after his death, and there is a real need for this according to them, more than we know. "Clancy's Dream" went from an idea to a conversation, to a registered Nonprofit Corporation in just ten days after his death.  A Board of Director has come together to form a much-needed resource for other BC owners to keep my boy's memory alive.  We have a 501-c3 Federal tax-exempt status, a business bank account has been opened, complete with its own debit card and a professional website.   We were well on our way to help our first Border Collie in need, and we did...     

Our Clancy always took care of us, along with all his playmates and the frequent visitors to the farm, keeping an ever-vigilant eye on his domain.  His dream was introduced to people and dogs in need, and I will tell you there is plenty of work out there.  There may be challenges ahead for us, but we as a group are ready for whatever may come our way. 100 percent of all money raised is spent on the cause of helping the dogs that can't speak or heal themselves.  We do this because they have given so much to us, it's only fair.  

Bringing Help and Hope to Border Collies and their Owners in Times of Need through Rescue Efforts or Veterinary Care Assistance.

We miss Clancy as do others.  We pine over his death but now know that because of him, many other dogs will be rescued or given the medical attention they need including the Nellie Effect through the donations and support from others. Our beautiful Clancy will live on through the Border Collies he will save… 

 "I was the protector of the pack, but more importantly, I was a mentor for the rescued dogs that were lucky enough to enter our gates at Dogwood Ridge and now Clancy's Dream and the Nellie Effect, will lead and watch from far away, our spirits living forever" Clancy and Nellie.

Clancy’s and Nellie's Grandparents and Great Grandparents
2004 International Supreme Champion
98/96 Scotland National Champion
1994 Irish National Champion
94/91 International Supreme Champion
92/89 International Supreme Champion
1985 Welsh National Champion
1984 England National Sheep Dog Champion
And it continues until 1925

“Mom... Dad..., I’ll be watching and waiting, but there is more to come”    Clancy…  

Note... I have put off writing this story because it meant I had to face this reality again.  I did not write this to make you sad but to help me heal and hopefully, you will appreciate what you have with your beloved four-legged friend… I know I do and did… Love Ken

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