Happy Birthday Dutchie Doo...

Last night I was sitting in my recliner, and as usual, a black and white fluffy dog slowly walked up to my chair and wanted up.  Years ago, this same dog would leap from nearly five feet away and land in the middle of my lap and turn over to scratch her back, wiggling from side to side and almost burning a hole in my pants. She would turn circles with her body, finding the right angle and land with a plop.  Today, I reached down and gently placed her feet on the side of the chair, grabbing behind her front legs and pulled her up.  Dutchess was now in her spot.

On December 19, 2005, Dutchess was born on a farm in southwest Kentucky near the Tennessee border, and last night, as she looked at me with her head upside down, I went back to the day she was born and to the day she came to the farm.  Dutchess came from a litter of four girls and five boys, and honestly, you could find her littermates from the police reports and trouble runs that have been filed over the years by her brothers and sisters but make no mistake, she is the ringleader.  To say she was mischevious is a vast understatement, no malice, just having fun, and will always be known as the original Party Girl here at the farm.

In her younger days, she had no boundaries when it came to fun and food, and the competition was equal; she wanted it all, all the time, and she usually got it.  She could multi-task with the best of them, no, she could multi-task better than any dog I have ever seen.  Dutchess came to the farm when we were in a breeding program with Clancy and Molly and Dutchess wasn't spayed. One of my favorite stories is when she came into season; she bred with Clancy. 

Not being very experienced dog owners, Dutchess was in heat.  Elaine and I were playing Frisbee with the dogs, and all the dogs were running and playing and having a grand time.  All of a sudden, we looked over at Dutchess, and Clancy was... well, you know!  We left them alone, and while it takes about 15 minutes, we moved away from them and Dutchess seeing this pulled Clancy to get a Frisbee and come with us.  When she went into labor, it started when she was playing Frisbee, and as she squatted oddly and low and behold, she had her first pup.  I guess its name should have been Frisbee.

Dutchess was always active in everything she did; she would run through any barrier and thicket on the barm.  She had a habit of running right to you, and when three or four feet away, she would turn around, stand on her back legs against your legs, and lick your face.  I once saw her do to a man with his family who came to visit.  She knocked him down because he wasn't prepared, and I rolled my eye and apologized.  I did mention that she was trying to kiss him, and he thought it was an odd way to do that.

Dutchess has always been a Superdog at the farm.  Loving, sweet, active, and would rather play than do anything else in the world.  Now her life has changed, and she will only walk at a quick pace, and when some of the dogs play, she will just sit and watch the others.  It's been a pleasure to and honor to be invited into her life, and hopefully, we will have many more days, but time will tell.

As I sit with her and she sleeps and dreams in my lap, she is comfortable.  She has lumps and bumps all over her, and her eyes are clouded.  I hope she will live forever, but as we know, death is always in the shadow of a dog.  As of now, I will rub and stroke her face, soothing her as she chased rabbits in my lap, but one day, it will stop.  I only hope that when she catches that rabbit and her final breath were taken, she is where her second home was, in Daddy's lap.  Happy birthday, Dutchess, have a great week.

Not Again...

Elaine has spent the weekend with her side of the family, and that means I can do anything I want, eat anything I want because I am king of the hill, sort of.  While I am in charge, that means I am also responsible too, but of course, I am never wrong in Elaine's eyes... HAHAHAHA Just the opposite...

After doing a load of laundry and straightening up the house, I was headed to the store to pick up a few things Elaine had on the list.  I like a list, and if something is on it, I buy it, and if not, I don't, makes it easier for me because I'm not an impulse buyer, Elaine is!

Elaine picking up bread and milk
Me using the list
Saturday was a sunny day, and as usual, we went for our morning walk, and while most of the dogs would run through the woods, Dutchess held back close to me, and we walked together, and it was very peaceful.  At one time, she was our most active dog and would outplay, out swim and out jump any other dog on the farm.  She is a wonder dog in more ways than one with me wondering what she will do next.

Putting my shoes on, getting my wallet, I grabbed the list and put the dogs in the kennel.  Each one always goes to their door and wait's their turn, but something is wrong, very wrong.  I am missing a dog.  I always count, but I'm one short, and it was Dutchess.  She must be outside the kennel.  "Dutchess, where you?"  She was nowhere to be found, which is concerning because she associates the kennel with a place to get food.  She has never, and I mean never misses a meal.  She must be in the house. 

I went back to the house and called her name, "Dutchess, where you?"  I walked to the upstairs, nothing, middle floor, nothing, and the 1st floor, nothing.  This is a little concerning.  The thing about Dutchess is if she can't find you, she will bark at the back door wanting in, no matter what.    Back to the porch, I go and walk all the way around it, no Dutchess.  I go back inside and go into each room and check every nook and cranny from the top of the house to the bottom, nothing.  I check the garage and mudroom, nothing.  Dutchess is never late or unresponsive.  After my third trip scouring the house, now I'm worried.

Knowing she is not in the house and rechecking the kennel, Dutchess is gone.  She has to be here, but where and as I change to my boots to walk the muddy trails in the woods, I think the worse.  Several things pop into my mind, and none of them are good.  Is she hurt? Did she take a nap, or has she lay down and pass away somewhere in the woods?  My mind is going in a thousand directions.  Elaine is not home, and she always finds stuff even if I need to call her, she knows, but this time, I'm on my own.  Just two days ago, Shepp's grave marker was delivered and placed, and will I need to get another? 

As I head out with my work boots on, I dread the sight I may find, and all of the emotions of the last few months are coming up with the losses I have had.  The thought in my head are bouncing like ping balls falling on a concrete floor.  I head into the woods to look for her, but before I make that final turn.

I'm right here
Dutchess is snacking on an appetizer of deer poop on a small patch of grass where the deer sometimes graze.  "Dutchess," I say "DUTCHESS" and nothing, she is busy feasting on her favorite food.  I go up and touch her, and she responds with a wagging tail and happy eyes.  In her old age, she has lost some of her hearing and can't hear everything.  Getting old sucks, even for dogs.  Happily, we trot to the kennel where she gets the main course.  No dog kisses tonight...


Memories, The Way We Were...

Midnight, not a sound from the pavement
Has the moon lost her Memory?
She is smiling alone
In the lamplight, the withered leaves collect at my feet
And the wind begins to moan

In the last week of February 2016, a friend came to the farm that had captured some memories. He had contacted me via social media, and we had written back and forth a few times, and he wanted to try out his new camera, little did I know... 

Memory, all alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
It was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the Memory live again

It was a sunny day, and the dogs were in rare form while spinning, twisting, and barking, ready to show off and be the life of the party which they usually are. It was a fun-filled day, and with lots of action and for once, I was not behind the camera. I've told Elaine many times that when I'm gone, no one would ever think I ever went on vacation because I'm rarely in a photo, or maybe she doesn't think I'm very photogenic. Hopefully, it's not the latter.

Many times, I see on social media a "memory" photo will pop up, sometimes the photo is our dog that has crossed the Rainbow Bridge, and it's bittersweet and brings back lots of memories and happier times. It happens to me all the time because I have posted thousands of pictures, and in the last few years, four of my dogs and have crossed the bridge but they come to visit on Facebook. While I am grateful to see my dogs again, it comes with a price. The memory brings up emotions that have been buried in a small box in a little corner of my brain — it's like pulling off a scab from a wound that will never heal.

As most of us know, when we are reminded of this, it brings pain in our hearts. Not many days go by when you don't think of your past life with your best friend and companion and you want so much to see them again.  Often we see them out of the corner of our eye or in a field, but we do see them if only in our hearts.

Last week, I was tagged by the friend that had taken the photos with a link to them that was made in 2016. My heart skipped a beat when I saw them, and my mind went back to that day, and how much fun we had, my heart was happy but heavy. They were all with me again, Clancy, Molly, and Abbie, and our little family was together again. I could scratch their ears, rub their fur and even smell their scent. They were home again, and life was happy, but it was short.  

Some may say our dogs don't even know who we are, beyond the hand that feeds them, but I disagree. They have changed our lives in many ways and the life of others. The song The Way We Were, may say it all.

Memories may be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget
So it's the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember...
The way we were...

It was a wonderful trip down Memory Lane, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Thank you, Joe, you'll never know how much it meant to me to touch, rub and smell them again, if only in my mind.  That afternoon I sat under the tall trees, where the sun shines through an open canopy.  With wind chimes that sing with the breeze, in the Adirondack Chairs and thought about the best dogs in the world and the Way We Were...  Ken

I can smile at the old days
It was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was
Let the Memory live again...

Rest in Peace   "Hope"  5/17/2011 - 11-20/2019