The Nellie Effect...


They say that every day is important in your life, but some days have meanings that will last a lifetime or longer.  On October 16, 2018, of this year, Nellie, Daughter of Clancy, and Dutchess was coming home.

During Nellie's lifetime, we would take our dogs to herd sheep with Nellie at Shady Creek Farm, where she lived with her owner Karen Newhall.  She was the star attraction and was envied by every dog and every dog owner.  She had flair and zeal in her work and took command of the ewes, lambs, and rams, cutting and dividing them into manageable lots for their transportation and health check-ups nearly daily.  She could run and separate them from signals that Karen would give her, doing precisely what she was told.  As a sheepdog, she was the best.

Nellie was more… She would work hard with all of her heart, and after each session of herding, she would always cool off in the water trough. After a quick soak and drink, Nellie would be ready for a spirited game of ball or Frisbee with her pals.  Not only was she good at her natural craft, but she was also a teacher and mentor for those dogs wanting to know and learn her skills.  She was in her element in the field with the sheep, no matter what the weather was, and was always ready to do her God gifted chores on the farm.

Nellie and Clancy at Shady Creek Farm are now working together again.
But, there is still more to this story…  Nellie was a natural Dock Diver and would sail off a Dock or diving board, showing everyone around her how it's done.  She was also a registered Pet Therapy dog with Pet Partners and was one of the first dogs to enter the doors at Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis as a Pet Therapy dog. 

Nellie, May 25, 2015
 Nellie would comfort the children on the Oncology ward, helping them and their parents who were suffering so much. At times, Nellie was with them at the end of life visits.  Being a fixture for several years, Nellie was often requested by the children who would spend an extended time at the hospital, and she became best friends with "her" kids, and they patiently waited for her each week.
On one visit to Riley Children's Hospital, a Nurse came and asked:" can I steal your dog?" She took Nellie to a private area where only the Doctors and Nurses were allowed to go and laid down on the floor with her.  Because of her stressful day on the Oncology ward, the nurse felt overwhelmed and sobbed into Nellie's fur. Nellie always made a difference with everyone she touched, helping the lives of others.

Nellie with her family
Nellie was always associated with the farm and has come into the folds of Clancy's Dream. "The Nellie's Effect" has been formally set up through Clancy's Dream to be a driving force to help dogs with cancer and to assist their owner's through the treatment of this horrible disease. Nellie's second cause is reimbursing the fees associated with a Border Collie becoming a registered Pet therapy dog through Pet Partners.  Together Nellie and Clancy will spread their love and be able to help even more of our beloved breed.  
Karen Newhall with Ruby and Nellie
Karen, the owner of Nellie, has spent over 25 years developing therapeutic medicines for companion animals, the last 16 years at Elanco Animal Health.  Elanco has a strong commitment to developing and nurturing the Human-Animal Bond through their business and as a social cause.  They are a corporate sponsor of Pet Partners and have cultivated an employee based group of registered pet therapy teams that serve central Indiana. These teams visit Elanco for events, and on days they are volunteering at places such as Riley Children's Hospital.  Nellie was a regular fixture at Elanco's global headquarters in Greenfield, Indiana, for many years.  Annie Peters, the CEO of Pet Partners, spoke at a recent Elanco event held in Nellie's memory and expressed Pet Partner's gratitude for the service Nellie provided.  

Elanco's own CEO, Jeff Simmons, named Nellie "Elanco's Dog." He recently spoke about Nellie's service and how she has put a face on companionship at Elanco.  Because of the impact she has made with the employees of Elanco and her ability to provide comfort as an Elanco volunteer to the community, Elanco has generously given a substantial financial donation to Clancy's Dream, which will help fund the first wave of "The Nellie Effect."  

One week before her death, Nellie made her last visits to "her" Oncologist's office; she was getting an ultrasound to check on her cancer's progress, which was not good.  While waiting for her appointment in the clinic's waiting room, another family was waiting for the news on there dog's end of life decision.  As sick as Nellie was, she walked up to meet the family and sensed they needed comfort.  After they had greeted her, she then followed them to a private area while their dog's life was ending.  She sat on the foot of the man whose heart was breaking and put her head in his lap, giving comfort even as she herself was dying.

Her last day in the lake
Nellie's last hurrah was here at the farm.  Sixteen days before her death, she came to visit us for what we thought would be the last time.  Nellie appeared as healthy as ever, running and playing and jumping off of the diving board.  Even her mother, Dutchess, joined her, something she hadn't done for some time because of her age.

Maybe Dutchess knew it would be the last time she would see her daughter.  After the fun was over, we all went into the kitchen and attempted to get Nellie to eat, which she rarely did because of her stomach cancer.  Sitting on the floor with her, Karen and I tried everything and many kinds of food.  Tasting just a little of it, she again turned up her nose at it, wanting nothing.  Being upset, I started to cry, Nellie sensed my sadness.  In her usual way, she got up and walked to me and leaned into my body.  Nellie looked up at me, and I lost it. The tears began to roll down my cheek, and she put her head in my lap, trying to comfort me.  As sick and in as much pain as she was in, she was trying to help me, and we were trying to do anything just to get her to eat and feel better; she put us first as in everything she did.
On October 16, 2018, Nellie came home to the farm for good.  Knowing she was coming, I gathered my tools and put my work shoes on.  I traveled down that long road once again, making this trip three times this year.  Putting the shovel to the ground, I just couldn't start.  

I sat down in the Adirondack chair and pondered why the good died so young, but there was no answer.  As usual, Dutchess watched and laid by the grave as she did with Molly, Abbie, and Clancy; something tells me she knows what is going on when I started. 
Dutchess watching and waiting
When Nellie was laid to rest, she was with Clancy, and now their journey begins.  The sun was shining; the opening above the canopy of trees allowed the sunlight to shine on their graves.  In the quiet, the wind chimes in the trees began to tinkle, singing both sadness and joy of another of their own coming home.  We knew that anyone who knew our dogs would hear them speak, and Karen and I found solace sitting in the Adirondack Chairs talking about the best dogs in the world...   Rest well, my pups; we are who we are because of you!  Until we meet again and write the next chapter. 

After Nellie's death, she became part of Clancy's Dream.  It was only fitting she be buried next to Clancy, where they will travel together "Bringing Help and Hope to Border Collies and their Owners in Times of Need through Rescue Efforts or Veterinary Care Assistance."    

"Dad, I'm here," Nellie shouted. "I know," Clancy said, "I have watched your struggles, but now you're pain-free but have a new job," Abbie came running to her family with a Frisbee in her mouth; a new journey had started.  Not only to help Border Collies find new homes but to help promote the Human-Animal bond through Pet Therapy and help families and dogs fight cancer. "The Nellie Effect has started.   Ken...


Let's Eat...

Probably the best holiday for me is Thanksgiving.   It involves one of my most basic and coveted needs, “food,” and I always ask Elaine to make a lot because I love the leftovers. This year I wanted to include the dogs to help me share my beloved and much anticipated holiday.

In 2011, I wrote my annual Thanksgiving tribute about my dogs. As I looked back and re-read it, 3 of them have passed, and now we have three different dogs.  Clancy, Molly, and Abbie have passed but are waiting for me,  Dahlie, JoJo, and Whiskey needed a home, and even share their same kennel when it’s time to eat.  It is bittersweet when they go in, but I always look at my past dog's name above there door, it’s never been removed. 

A lot of water has passed under that bridge, but things and lessons have been learned.  I have always said, “we are who we are, because of our past.”  You can forever be looking back, but it can be a lonely place.  Things happen for a reason, and we will never know why things seem so cruel.   

While I will never get over the pain of Clancy's death, I am thankful that something good came out of it.  I can’t tell you the times I’ve cried when I looked into the eyes of a rescue dog that had no hope.  Some were on chains, some had broken bones, some were scheduled to be euthanized (a nice word for killed), but they were saved because of Clancy.  In honesty, if Clancy were still alive, none of these dogs would have been helped by us and who knows where they would now be.

June 20, 2018, This was her life.

June 23, 2018, This is the same dog.
When I look at Thanksgiving, it’s not about the food and football, to me, it’s really about the dogs and how thankful I am that our foundation has the Directors, volunteers, and supporters that care about the plight of these dogs as much as I do.

On Thanksgiving Day in 2011 I wrote this in my Blog;

“Well guys, you told me what you are thankful for, I guess it’s my turn.  It’s a little more complicated than what you are thankful for. But let’s start. You are my friends and my companions.  You listen to me and have no idea what I am saying except “Let’s Eat, Ball and Frisbee” But, your vocabulary will far exceed mine on many fronts because you say so much with your eyes. Watching you enjoy life, makes my heart skip a beat because you really do enjoy life, something we all should learn to do, but never have time until it’s too late.
You have saved me many times in so many ways, even once when I fell and knocked myself out on a cold on an icy walkway. I was home by myself, and you all licked my face until I woke up. There is no doubt that you would give your life for me and I hope you know, mine for you. I remember once Max fell through the ice and was trapped and couldn’t get out. My shoes were off, I knew my duty, just like you know yours.

You pick up my spirit and allow me to wander through your world, making me part of "your" pack, which is an honor, something, not every human has done. You love me for just being me, taking me as I am. I never have to dress up or comb my hair or put on my fancy clothes.
You have always been loyal and have never left my side, even when I have scolded you, you crawl to my feet, looking up from your bowed head, your eyes take me straight to your heart, teaching me another lesson. You are more dependable than most humans, and we should all take lessons from you.
Thank you, Clancy, for making me what I am today. I am living a dream I didn’t know was possible.”

And I further add to those who can’t speak except through their eyes that they say “thank you, Clancy, for hope, shelter, freedom along with a warm bed and loving people who will not only give me my basic needs but a family to call my own. 

While my Thanksgiving Day will be bittersweet, I know a lot of dogs and new dog parents are thrilled that something happened and fate came together to make a better life for everyone.

A letter from Clancy.  

I hope, in your grief and loneliness, that you will consider how sad it would have been had we not have this time together, not had the chance to give each other so much.
I do not mourn or grieve, but I will miss standing beside you, bound together on our walks through life, but now there is a long line of dogs to save.

Thank you. It was nothing but a gift.
And finally, I ask these things of you:

Remember me.
Celebrate me.
Rescue for me.

And then, when you can, let me go, freely and in peace.
Do me the great honor of saving another dog so they can have a life as I had, and they can give and receive love and life again...

Have a great Thanksgiving Week, Ken

All Quite…

Friday night Elaine was working late putting up Christmas decorations at her work, and I was on dog duty.  Knowing that I was to fend for myself, I planned for a nice dinner of Orange Chicken and homemade fried rice.  The dogs and I went for a long walk in the crisp air, and they got some of the zoomies out before my gourmet meal.

After dinner, we settled down to some quiet time, and I read and watched a little Television.  Everyone settled into their special place, and some spaces is first come first serve arrangements.  Whiskey is always quick to claim her spot and can outsmart everyone.  She looks at me, and as soon as I make eye contact, she circles around all the others and run along the top of the couch and leaps into my lap.

Once the spots fill up, everyone settles in for a long nap until you pull out your snack.  This is the critical part.  After you decide to settle into a relaxing evening, you must plan ahead.  This night, Elaine was not home, and I did not have anyone to fetch and tote for me.  I had to plan my evening because I couldn’t get up.  As a general rule, I have Whiskey of Dutchess in my lap, JoJo’s head on my leg with Meggie, Gabby, and Annie sleeping on the rest of the couch but this changes daily.

Note… do not forget this.  Before you settle in, make sure that you go to the bathroom and by all means get your drink and snacks together because you can’t get up.  Now if Elaine is home, she is great at keeping me supplied me with my provisions.  I had to get a bigger glass along with a large bowl of shacks. 

The reason for this is when the dogs are settled in, you don’t want to disturb them when they are so comfortable.  This is our wind-down-time, and it’s heaven for all of us.  There is nothing better than seeing them so content that they totally trust you and there is peace in the there world and yours too.  If you can get by the puppy stage, this is what it’s all about.

They make a point to find a place to lay down, but the most sought-after location is when I settle into the recliner.  They will look at me with there soulful eyes and as soon as I say “come up,” they will climb into my lap where they sleep for hours in-between my legs as I rub their head, they dream of younger days, occasionally licking my hand with gratitude.  As I rub there face, as I do with each one, I too think of the younger times that we all have shared with each other and the life bridges we have crossed.  

We’ve seen the good and bad in each other, but we also know we are family and love and respect each other.  As I rub their faces and stroke their fur, I too remember the days when they all had the zoomies, wiggling, running, twisting and barking.  I do know that they have “slowed down” and there is not a better place than in my lap as we both drift off to dreamland.  And then off to my bed.  Ken

The Visitor...

Several weeks ago, we picked Jackson up at a shelter in Kentucky because he was abandoned.  As I had mentioned earlier in a post, he had been there for two months, longer than they usually stay and it was urgent that he be rescued from the shelter because he was on their euthanasia list and I just happened to come into the picture.  Maybe he was waiting for the right person.

When I went to evaluate him, we went into a “Meet & Greet” room where you can visit and check each other out.  Jackson sat in one corner, and I sat in the opposite one.  While on the floor, he walked toward me and lay next to my leg.  “You are the first person he has accepted and greeted in two months,” the shelter worker said, “and I can’t believe it, he must know you,” in a comical way.   Jackson initially made eye contact at me, and we stared at each other searching and thinking...

When Jackson came to the farm, he walked and smelled things and seemed to be searching for something, we all take journeys searching for things we know and like and it’s nice to be in a familiar place.  Jackson came into the house and went to a dog bed, folding his front paw under his body as I had seen someone else do so many times before, he seemed to be home, if for just a little while but I remembered he “is” a rescue dog.

Later that night, Elaine said, “It’s almost too painful to look at Jackson.”  “Don’t go there, I know, it’s killing me too,” and we both knew what we were talking about.  Jackson is the splitting image of Clancy, and all my emotions were coming out as I knew Jackson’s only had a few days with us and it was getting shorter because he goes to his new home in a few days.   I am torn what to do.  “Do we need another dog?” I ask myself, but my question was answered.

“No, I’m passing through, you needed me, I’m more than you know and yes, you do know.”  In my mind, I could hear him talking but could I?  “We all have bumps in the road, and sometimes things don’t go as planned, I have seen you struggle, and I came to help.  I’m always close by, never leaving your side just like you told me once.  I must leave, I go to where I'm needed, and others are waiting."

I closed my eyes and had to think.  Why does a dog come into my life that looked exactly like my Clancy?  The same ears, hair, eyes, and build.  He even has a half collar on the same side which is very unique.  There must be a reason.
Jackson left this Sunday morning to his new home in upstate New York.  His new parent has acres of land for him to run and play on. 

I have to ask myself why does "That" dog that looks identical to Clancy, come into a shelter in another state.  I take the evaluation on a fluke because I was traveling through Kentucky and just stopped by.  Why does Jackson feel at home and slept in Clancy’s old dog bed when we have nearly 10 of them?  Something may be in the works that we don’t know, but just a week ago, I sat in the Adirondack chairs at his grave and said, “Clancy, we need some help on this one.”  It’s been a rough week, and a visitor just happened to stop by the farm to help out.  His Dream Lives…  Ken