My Little Family...

Here at the farm, we were lucky enough to have a family living with us for nearly 13 years.  They were fun, loving, energetic and very comical.  We had wisdom in the father, love was taught by the mother and many antics from the daughter, and now our family is gone, and it has left a hole in our heart and affected our very souls and the dogs around us.

Molly March 24, 2006, 3 months old.
We lost Clancy the Father several years ago, Molly the Mother and Abbie the Daughter in the last few months.  You know the story with Clancy and Abbie but now is the story of Molly Mae.

Abbie and Molly
Several months ago, we took Molly in for some test and bloodwork, and she is terrified of car rides.  The x-rays revealed there was a mass around her spleen.  The bloodwork was okay, but there was the mass.  As I was leaving the receptionist had overheard our conversation with the Vet and said her dog has had the same thing, and they chose to operate and the pet only lasted 5 weeks.

Several weeks later, Molly decided to stop eating and had not left her dog bed for nearly two days.  She was very subdued and showed no interest in anything.  Her stomach was extended and she was in pain.
One of the most frequent questions I hear from people with a sick dog, when is it time?  The best advice I ever got was from a Vet, “you’ll know when it’s time,” and I did.

We were lucky enough to have a Vet come to the house to check on Molly, I knew the news was going to be bad, but you always hold out hope.  Molly hated car rides, and someone would have to ride in the back seat with her if she went anywhere and I didn’t want to put her through it again.  When I met the Vet at the gate, we walked to the house.

Happier times, January 29, 2009,  Max, Clancy, Meggie Dutchess and Molly in front.
When we reached the house, Molly was standing at the back door, I looked at the Vet, and before I could say anything, she said: “a rally does not mean they are better.”  After an examination, she confirmed that her chest was filled with blood and she was struggling, it was time.  We all walked to Clancy's grave where just a few weeks earlier, Abbie and I said our goodbyes.  As I spread the blanket down, I sat with my legs open where Molly curled up in-between my legs.  As soon as we were comfortable, Dutchess, Molly’s arch-rival came and sat next to us and in my heart, I believe they both knew, Dutchess was as close to us as she could be and at one time reached out to Molly with her paw.  After all, they are half-sisters born only two weeks apart.

Clancy and Molly
As the medication was administered, Molly and I were looking at each other, and as it went into her veins, I bowed my head and took her last breath as I did with Abbie, Molly was gone from this earth but pain-free.  My work was just beginning, and I ask the Vet to leave.  Her grave was dug, and I brushed her hair and took clippings to add with Clancy and Abbie to be buried with us, along with all our dogs.

After Molly was inturned, as usually I sat in one of our Adirondack chairs by our revered place and pondered our life together.  Meggie and Dutchess were part of the original 5 dogs we had at the farm.  There always seemed to be a bond between all of them, and they played and worked together and were very close.  As I was sitting, Meggie laid quietly and watched while Dutchess stayed by Molly’s grave. 

In the dog world, we will never understand what they think and why they do some of the stuff they do.  I believe they are far smarter than we will ever know.  With the dogs I see, I suppose I just get a small glimpse of their world, but someday we will know.   The little family of Dogwood Ridge is no more but are buried together under the tall trees, where the sun shines through an open canopy with wind chimes that sing where I often sit in the Adirondack Chairs and think about the best dogs in the world and often speak to Clancy Man, Molly Girl, and Addie Dabby Do…  Ken

“He’s here… HE’S HERE!” Abbie barked, and she grabbed her Frisbee and spun circles of excitement.  “He’s almost across the bridge, hurry!”  “In time child,” Clancy said, but as Clancy and Mollie walked toward the bridge with alert ears and bright eyes, they knew it wouldn’t be too long.

Don't Ever...

Don’t ever teach your dog to bark.  Many years ago, when Dutchess was very young, I taught her some tricks.  Not too many just enough to get her into trouble, and it does most of the time.  Last Thursday night, I was sitting at my computer reading the news when I heard that familiar sound.  Woof… woof… woof… came the sound from the back door and I knew exactly who it was. 

Please give me a snack...
Every bark was the same, but when no one responded in a timely fashion or as quick as she wanted, it would go up an octave or two.  Not knowing I could see her and watching and at times she would lay down and bark, not giving it as much energy.   It one of those barks that you think will stop, it’s not too loud, and inevitably it will end you think, but it doesn't because she wants in.

Annie has the Frisbee...
When Dutchess was young, she wanted everything (and she still does), and I mean everything.  She would shove everyone out of the way when it came to snack time, not in a mean way but she felt she was entitled to it all.  Usually, it was never a problem because she did it with a smile on her face, and everyone would say, “that’s just Dutchess.”

I'm pissed...
When I taught her tricks, she was very good at paying attention as long as there was a reward after the fact.  I taught her to sit, down, shake right hand and even shake left hand.  She was great, but she saw things a little different than I did.  As time passed, and she was in a hurry to get into something the treat, I notice that when I would tell her to sit, she would keep going through the routine.  She would “sit” but immediately lay down and then sit again raising her right paw and then her left.  Barking after each trick the whole time, I assumed she wanted 5 treats because she did 5 tricks all at once without being asked, she just cut out the commands because to her, it’s not the tricks, it’s the treats.

Can we come in?
The barking has expanded to other areas in her daily routine.  When she is out, and we have a ball or Frisbee, she’s fine if no-one gets it from her.  If they do and they hole it without playing, she’ll look at me and will bark.  It not a lot of barking but it’s as if she is saying, “I want THAT, give it to me.”

Giving her a voice is something that Elaine warned me about.  While it is cute as a button, it has stepped up her communication skills drastically, and I really think she knows what she is saying, Dutchess is the smartest dog I have ever met.  While she is short on skills, where I see her excel, is that she can communicate and tell you what she wants by the bark, the intensity, and importance of her request, it’s also the way she will look at you, making eye contact and re-focusing on the desire or object. 

I'm cold now...
If Dutchess had been with someone who worked intensely with her, there would have been no boundaries where she could have gone.  She knows what she wants but also knows how to get it, and in my heart, if she had thumbs to turn the key, she could drive herself to the story for more treats.  She is quite the character but don't ever teach your dog to bark unless you’re prepared to be entertained and actually talked to…  Ken

The Package...

Several weeks ago, I received a package to my outhouse at the end of our drive next to the road.  It really is our parcel delivery box but I thought I would shake the neighbors up a little, and it did, quite the conversation piece.  With a fenced and gated driveway, it’s in an excellent spot for deliveries or just to hang out.  Someone sent a package to the farm last week, and it was for the dogs.  It wasn’t cumbersome, and when the dogs saw it, they were excited too.  They usually get their food delivered, and they thought chow time was right around the corner, but this time, it’s wasn't. 

As I sat the package in the kitchen counter, everyone gathered around, and Dutchess got on the table because she wanted to be first to taste her new treats.  While she was a little disappointed at first, she discovered it was her second favorite thing.  Someone sent the dogs on the farm Ten Indoor Chuckit Balls, and it was like Christmas again but in July. 

Bite marks from taking the tag off
I took two balls out of the package and off to the lake we went, even letting JoJo carry one while we walked.  She seemed fascinated with it and loved the way they felt because of the size and texture.   Now stop right now…  Something I don’t understand is why they carry some objects in their mouth.  They will pick up balls with dirt on them, sand, nasty things and even poop and why in the world would they do this?  At least with balls, they won’t eat it, usually.

As we got to the lake, I tossed one in, and they loved it, and most of them went out into the water, and they were a huge success and JoJo jumped off the dock for one, which was a first.  After much play, it was time to go back to the house.  Everyone was wet and tired, and I put the box with the new balls up until the next day.  While they are great, they are called an “indoor” toy, but they work great outside too and are great in the water.
JoJo jumping off the dock

Every day, there are chores to do and things that need to get done.  The dogs always want to play and will bring me items such as balls, sticks or anything they can find that may bring them some satisfaction if it’s thrown.  This day was no different.  While I said “no” to playing they didn’t want that answer, so they walked off, and I thought they would find something else to do. And they did. 

Plastic wrappers
I turned the corner and on the driveway, and to my surprise, (not really) the dogs were having a ball, literally.  Someone and I suspect it was JoJo, got the closed box from the counter and took it to the driveway where she had more room and opened it.  She and the others found the balls that were wrapped in plastic and opened all of them.  All of this is done without tearing up the box that they came in.  I can only assume she wanted the Chuckit balls that were inside.

Several days later and knowing they enjoyed them so much, we went back to the lake.  Everybody enjoyed the fun, Some would bark and run up and down the bank, some would jump off the dock, but all in all, it was a grand day with a new toy.  So far they have held up well and seemed to take the punishment the dogs give them.  My only problem is JoJo has not mastered the command, “drop it.” and she will run off into the woods or who knows where, but usually brings it back, usually.  Thanks, Dave for sending the balls, they were a huge success, and of course, they loved them.  No balls were damaged in this event.  Ken  

Grooming 101

Earlier in the week, I was petting Gabby and felt a clump of hair.  No problemo, I’ll get the brush and get that pesky think out.   I then thought that I would brush a few of them that needed it.  I did brush them several weeks ago, so I'm sure this will be quick.  

I got my tools, and as usual, I sat right in the middle of the driveway.  Before I sat down, I grabbed a floor fan and sat it about 10 feet from me to blow any loose hair into the driveway.  Good plan I thought.

The Fan...
The downside, it was pushing nearly 95 degrees outside, and the humidity was pretty high, but no problem, I’ve got the fan, and I am in the shade.  As I sat down and called one of the dogs, they must have thought it was “loving on Daddy time,” and I was inundated with furry critters all around me.  I put one between my legs and started brushing and getting mats out.  Hum… this mat is a little worse than I thought this might take a few minutes.  "Who is in front of the fan?"

As I worked on their coat, I seemed to be getting a little warm.  I looked around and right in front of the fan was two dogs cooling themselves.  “Dutchess  Meggy move, it’s getting hot,” I said.  Slowly but begrudgingly, they moved, and it was much better.  The fur was flying because I had a dethatching rake and it was getting the undercoat, and the fan was blowing it around.  "Please move."

“JoJo, it’s not your time, and besides, you need minimal brushing, but your nails need some work.”  She was happy and moved on and found something else to do.  The more I did, the hotter I got, and now I was sweating.  “Dutchess, move your butt, it’s hot, Gabby you too!”  Did they talk about this and are they are getting back at me I thought, surely not.  "Please get out from the front of the fan."

This really is JoJo wanting to be brushed...
Everybody was a little frisky and they thought I was sitting in the driveway for their entertainment.  JoJo found a toy somewhere, and that became the center of attention.  The only problem was in my area which was still the center of attention.  When she brought the toy, everything changed.  Now it’s play time they all assumed.

Keeps bring this toy...
JoJo was relentless with the toy.  Just last week, she learned to jump off the dock getting the ball and now she thinks it's better than dinnertime.  The all watched and were ready for someone to tose the toy, but we were busy.  She would lay it down, and the other would try to get it.  Needless, it was a distraction for the dog in my lap.
After what seemed like days in the hot weather trying to keep the dog from hogging the fan, I was done with two dogs, with 6 more to go.  "Please get out from in front of the fan."

Nail time...
Things I learned,

Dogs know what a fan is, trust me.
Put all the toys up.
Don’t brush a dog in hot weather.
Fur sticks to wet clothes and wet faces.
Hire a professional.

I've seen this a lot, but this is two of my dogs... 6 to go.
All in all, it wasn’t too bad, they loved the fan, attention, and toy all together was a little too much for grooming, they made a game of it.  Me on the other hand, it was hot, sticky with fur on my clothes and face which always tickled and couldn’t get off.  I took a shower, cooled off and then it was off to play, should of just jumpted in the water...  Ken  

The New Doc Holliday…

Several months ago, I mentioned to my readers that Doc was going blind.  After a visit to Blue Pearl in Louisville with a certified Ophthalmologist for dogs, and going back for a recheck a month later, it was final, Doc will lose his sight after he failed all the test that would determine if he was a candidate.  While he does have cataracts, it’s scar damage from a strong medication he had to take several years ago.  When Doc arrived at the farm, he was rescued from a breeder in Kentucky who got him from Texas.  He was underweight and need some attention which he got, plenty of it!

Doc is always a lover and knocks you down getting in your lap or on top of you, he is a climber when it comes to attention.  At first, we did not notice much change in his eyesight and behavior but would pick up little things he would do when he was active.  Several months after the two visits to Blue Pearl he would still do everything he would do when he could see in shadows, but that changed soon.

In the last two weeks, I would imagine, his vision as he knows it is gone.  The good thing about having your sight and then losing it, I believe you do know how things look and remember some.  We see this today, He will follow me and stay close by, trying to use his nose when he can.

After reading all I can on the wide world of Google, most of the tips were for dogs in small areas or regular backyards with a fence.  This doesn't apply to us, we have acreage, two lakes, lots of woods and hills and dells for the dogs to play on. 
The hard part is Doc still wants to play with the pack  He will run out the back door with the crew and head down the driveway like a freight train at full speed.  Barking all the way and bouncing off anything that was in the way but he has learned his path to follow.  He will still run through the woods after the “seeing” dogs and will be close behind, even getting into the lake with them.

When it breaks my heart is when it’s "dog snack time" around my chair.  They will get in a semi-circle, and all the dogs wait patiently for their turn and gently open their mouth (except Dutchess) and take the snack.  When it comes to Doc’s turn, he will hold his head up in the air for the treat and bob his head searching, smelling for it.  I call his name, and he moves closer to me, and I feed it to him, he will never see my hand and looks off center of me.  It breaks my heart.

Always ready to go...
In dog years, he is still pretty young at only 7 ½ and has lots of time left.  What do you do?  I had a friend told me that I should put him down and put him out of his misery.  It is a dilemma of what to do and how to adjust.  A week or so ago, he was running, and I had moved the lawn mower on to a walking path, and the dogs were running, and while all of them missed, Doc didn't.  After getting up, he shook it off and rejoined the pack.  After playing, I check and no harm was done except a scratch on his nose, and he got a little extra loving.  He wants to be normal but can't.

Doc will live the rest of his life here with us.  I cringe when he runs with the pack, sometimes leading, sometimes following and sometimes swimming, but he is happy.  He may have lost his sight, but he can still dig holes for moles and loves it.  I have noticed, he is adjusting well with his lack of site but is confused with it.  When he walks down the stairs, he hugs the wall for guidance, and he seems more alert, trying to figure out his surroundings tilting his head from side to side turning to catch sounds with his ears.  He still is loveable and sweet and possibly even more than he was before, which was a lot. 

Now it is my time for him...
Last night, he wanted in my lap so bad, but the couch was full of dogs.  I touched his nose, and he followed my hand onto my legs and laid there.  He was restless, and I started brushing him which he loves, and he soon drifted off into his world where he can see again.  Rubbing his head and especially over his eyes, I wondered where he was in his dreams, but I’m sure he was chasing rabbits and looking at the things he loved and being the King of his world again in his dreams.  Now he is the King of my world.  Ken

As long as Forever,
My Heart will be True,
For as long as I live,
I'll always love you...