Together Again...

For nearly 18 years, Smokey and Sapphire were best friends and lived together.  As much as they look different, they are the very same age and from the very same litter.  They were best friends to the very end.

“Early Thursday morning of this week. I walked down the driveway toward the end of our lane to get the mail.  As usual, I walked to Clancy’s gravesite for a visit, and I stood there soaking in the early sunlight and the cool breeze I reflected on the events of the past week and the things to come soon.  As always, the wind chimes were talking, and life was good.  I pondered for a moment and soaked everything in and felt grand and in an audible voice as if I was speaking to someone, I said “it’s a beautiful day,”  and it was.”  Two hours later, Sapphire was laid to rest here at the farm.

I got to know Smokey and Sapphire several years ago.  Their owner moved from out west when life circumstances changed for her.  The owner moved to our community, and we became friends because of our dogs.  We exchanged pleasantries and ideas and spoke of the topics of the world.  When Sapphire passed, it was decided that she would be buried here with Clancy and our dogs.  Saffey, as we all called her, loved the farm and enjoyed rolling in the leaves as she would slide down the hill on her back. 

One of the hardest decisions that anyone can make in the dog world is when is “it time.”  I have pondered that decision for years.  We had a cat that we brought from Louisville that was our only pet, and we loved him so.  He came to us as a stray and just stayed, I guess he liked us.  He loved it and had trees and meadows to run in and explore.  He got sick, and when an ultrasound was run, he had a large tumor that could not be removed.  The Vet said to take him home and love him and when “it’s time” come back.  “How do I know when that is?”  “You’ll know,” he said.  And I did.   “Tat’s” food bowl is in the china cabinet and his photo is still on the refrigerator even after 18 years of his passing.  It was "time" for Smokey...

Several weeks ago, Smokey took a turn, but not for the better.  He always fought a good battle, always winning the fight, but he was not to win this one.  He moved a little slower than the other dogs, but after all, he was 119 in human years.  He loved to take long walks at the farm and doze in the sunlight. When Sapphire passed, it was plain to see just how much he missed her.  He was a robust, gentle dog, taking nothing from anyone and he loved life and lived it to the very fullest.

On an early sunny day, I got that call, “it’s time,” from Smokey’s owner.  After doing everything that could be done, there was nothing left to do for him.  I grabbed my shovel and went to a peaceful place where there are several Adirondack chairs and a canopy of trees that lets sunlight in and started my task.  The spot had already been picked, right next to his best friend and littermate Sapphire and they were to be together again along with Clancy.

Smokey and Sapphire led a whirlwind life.  Living right on the California coast, meeting celebrities and living the good life and it was grand.  They both were greatly loved by their owners, friends, and neighbors and spent their time doing the things they loved to do and being outdoors.

Smokey, Mark, and Saphirre together again
Smokey was placed in his burial shroud, but before he was gently lowered to his new final resting place, he was loved on and caressed, and tales were told of his happy life.  It wasn't a sad day, it was a beautiful day,  Smokey, Sapphire, and Mark are together again.   Sometimes it hard to imagine how much dogs make an impact on our lives and some will never know.  Ken...

You Silly Girl…

If I have said it once, I’ve said it thousand times.  “We’re not getting another dog.”  I should have known that eating crow can choke you and leave a bad taste in your mouth and it did because I ate those words.

Many dogs have come through our foundation, and nearly every one of them was a keeper.  That’s how I would always judge a dog, is it one that I would keep?  When we have rehomed a dog, and I often state to the new owner, “I would keep him,” and I actually would have.  Now Elaine would keep all of them, and my comeback to her was always the same. “if we keep them, we won’t have room for another one that needs help.”  Well… that’s where I was served the crow…

JoJo came to us a couple of months ago.  She was very loved and spoiled and had great dog parents.  They also have her brother Jett, and he is a stunning and a majestic dog but several large dogs playing and running through the house is a bit much.  We kept them when they were 14 weeks old, and I fell in love with both of them.  When something needs to be done to halt the bedlam, I was contacted.  Needless to say, JoJo first came to visit and then to live, and I was thrilled, to say the least.
JoJo and Jett, on their first visit to the farm, they were about a few months old.

Jett, JoJo's brother.
Nearly 20 years ago, when we moved to Dogwood Ridge, we looked for a dog.  We both wanted a German Shepherd and looked in the newspaper.  There was minimal internet availability then, and we watched the paper.  Only one was listed for weeks, and we couldn’t afford the $600 they wanted so we got Max from the “Free to a good home” section in the same paper.  Max was a Border Collie, and we loved him so, and it was him who started Shuck’s Border Collies, and you know the rest of the story.
JoJo settled in very nicely, as she had visited here before with her brother, so she knew the lay of the land so to speak.  It was like putting a pre-schooler in with a room full of senior citizens with my dogs.  The older dogs want to rest and watch TV, and the child wants to run in circles which is about the same here.

She is so comical, she flops around on my desk, slapping my keyboard when she visits which is every time I come to my office.  She lays under my desk, popping her head up to get her ears rubbed between my legs and then going back to sleep until her ears need scratching again.  
JoJo's spot on my bed
Sleeping… you ask, she sleeps next to me putting her head on my pillow right next to my nose which leads to a few nose kisses during the night.  I have taught her tricks, she can eat from my fork and will even take food from my mouth which leads to her making a visit when I’m eating, and I have taught to jump up on me.  While this is unacceptable to some, I think it’s endearing.  Just today as she greeted me, she jumped up, putting her paws around my neck and licking my nose.

I guess the just of this story is that time has no time.  We moved on to the world of Border Collies when we couldn’t find a GSD, and it was a fantastic ride that has helped many dogs through Clancy’s Dream, it was meant to be, and we loved it.  We don’t always understand why things happen, but I’ve always thought it was like throwing a rock in a calm pond.  It makes a splash, and the ripples travel, getting smaller but not going away.  If you really watch them, they hit the shore and return back to you, just like life at times.  


Jett and JoJo have visited each other and it's fun to watch them play and run together during a play day and they pick up running, playing and play fighting.

Dogs are different than any other animal on the face of this earth, and I can’t think of any other animal that can connect with us.   Remember what you ask for because it may come to pass.  Twenty years ago, I would never have thought we would have two well behaved GSD that fit in with our pack.  I guess I’ll play the Lottery…  Ken

Are you ready?

If you think Border Collies are the same, then you probably only have one or two of them.  I use to think that too until I got into more than nine and with the rescues, I see from time to time and hear from their fosters, no two are alike.  Oh sure, most have a hearing instinct. But some are far different than others.  Clancy was a natural leader and herder while Dutchess is a ball and Frisbee freak, not to mention a foodaholic.  Annie and Gabby along with Molly could care less about sheep and Annie will kill chickens and ducks. 

Abbie is not a sheep herder either, and when we went to try her on them, she could care less and wanted to play ball.  After just a few minutes, she was brought out of the sheep run and went for something she knew about, and it was her ball.  To this day, she is obsessed with it.  Because the age of our dogs and they have gotten older, we don’t play ball like we use to.  It was a ritual, we would usually play on the hills and straightaways, jumping the water with every other throw.  We would do this 3 times a day for 30 minutes or so.  Now, when we play ball or Frisbee for 15 minutes, Dutchess, Molly, and Meggie will have a hard time getting up off their bed because they are so stiff.

Abbie is different…  She has the energy of any dog I have seen, and she is always ready to go.  Sometimes she will bring me a stick and place it by my feet, and I will ignore it, but if I move, she moves it in front of me again.  One of the problems I encounter is when we all play ball, some of the dogs do not play well with others.  Shepp, for example, is a great ball player, he runs and fetches and will drop it at your feel.  If anyone is invited to play with him, he goes into his ninja mode. 

He will ignore the dog but focused on the player and run at them and nip them.  Doc, Dahlia, and Gabby will stalk them and just keep right beside them, never looking at the ball.

A solution to all of this is to take individual turns with the ballplayers, but Abbie is the always the most interested.  Inside, she will look at the door at then at me and then back with her dark eyes.  As hard as it is to schedule, she knows it’s “game on” when I look at her and just mouth the words “are you ready?” her eyes perk up, and she walked to the door.  

We usually go out the garage door because no one else has figured it out, but it’s our secret.  Abbie loves the alone time and is so talented, I will sit in a chair, and she will lay the ball right in my hands.  If for some reason it rolls out, she’s right back fetching it from the ground and placing it back in my palm.  As she plays, her tail is wagging as fast as it can and will let me know when it’s enough and back to the house we go, and no one is wiser but us.  Ken

Where have you been?

The weather is getting warmer, and things are starting to move outside and dry-up.  Spring is getting close, and things are starting to pop around the farm.  We have even had some “warm” weather, and I have even worn shorts on one beautiful day.  The dogs scampered through the woods and forest and discovered new things and sometimes not so new things… it's coming, spring is almost here...

The sun was out, Elaine had a few windows open, and a slight breeze was cleaning the stale air from the house… Life was sweet and clean.  “Was that you” Elaine ask while I was standing in the kitchen, also giving me a scowl.  “What,” I said, “You know, are you walking off a little air?”  “NO, I thought it was you,” I said and then ask her, “was it was you?”  “You know girls NEVER do that!” “Right,” I said, rolling my eyes and left it alone.  

“Could be something outside” and we both agreed not knowing the smell was standing at our feet.  Looking down, Shepp was sitting and looking at us with a Chesser Cat smile on his face.  The closer we got, the worse things were.  “Where have you been!” we ask in unison, and he rolled on his back for a belly rub.  “Out,” Elaine said, and while walking to the door, he left the aroma as a treat for us, giving back, he thought.  Shepp was covered with something, but it wasn’t poop or skunk, but it left a crusty residue on both sides of his neck.

That afternoon, Elaine cleaned him up and much to her dismay, it still lingered a little, not as bad, but it was still there.  She powdered and perfumed him, and he looked good.  Usually, in the warmer months, we will toss something in the lake for them to fetch a couple of times to wash it off but not this time it seemed too cold.  He was better, but the smell was still there.

During the afternoon, the dogs came inside after many trips running around the lake, down the trails, and through the woods.  Life was good again, we thought.  “Where have you been” and we were speaking to Meggie and Annie this time.  Same smell same crusty stuff on their neck and right behind them was Shepp, dirty again.  “Jesus, Joseph, and Mary,” I said, “where in the double hockey sticks have you been?”  With wide eyes and a scowl covering my face, I thought how can this happen and what is out there, call the EPA.

Somewhere on the farm, there must be a body of something, maybe an Elephant or Whale.  It’s got to be a carcass that is big enough for them to get inside I thought.  I’ve smelled a lot of shi… "stuff"  before and this is different.  It oily, brown, gooey and hard to wash off but smells like fish and I only hope they don’t think it’s something good to eat but I doubt it.

JoJo's favorite place
After cleaning the best we could, night fell, and things were back to normal.  JoJo is the sweetest young dog I know, she sleeps on my bed and gets as close to me as she can at night.  I will stroke her head, and she puts her head on my pillow facing me, we will drift to LaLa land together but that night, Dammit, JoJo, where have you been?   Ken