Getting There...

Getting there;
Approaching or progressing toward a particular goal or outcome.

While this is true, it's not always the goal.  Most of our lives we work so hard to get "there."  All of our life we finagle to do things that may not be pleasant such as working two jobs, pinching pennies and we do without things to make ends meet.  Each of us has a story that most of us can relate too because we probably have done the same thing.

From birth, we strive for goals, we crawl, walk, sleep all night, learn the potty chair, 1st grade, middle school, graduation, marriage, and depending on your lifestyle, sex.  We all have goals, and we reach then at different intervals in our personal life.  One goal we all reach is getting old.

Mom are we here yet?  Yes, Jonnie we're here!

Years ago, I would get mail about Credit Card offers, vacations now I get mail about old-person things: hearing aids, catheters, investment dinners and one night I turned to Elaine after seeing a TV ad and said: "Who wears a catheter, is there really a market for this?"  That's right: I get catheter mail, who knows, it may be heading my way.  I can see this in the future, "Kenny, are you ready to leave for the movie, do you have your wallet, phone, and catheters," "sure, thank you, I brought two." 

I I also, get a lot of letters from AARP.  AARP is, of course, the last sound you make before you die. AARP!  I remember when I first got my AARP card, I would pay for three years ahead of time now I only get it one year because I don't want to give them money if I'm not around.  But they also help older people deal with being old, by telling us that age doesn't really matter; that no matter how old we get, we can still do anything we set our minds to.  Of course, this is a lie, I mean, no matter what, aging, sucks. For people, anyway. But not for dogs.  Dutchess turned 13 around the same time I turned 65, so if you go by dog years, she is 91  But I've noticed that Dutchess seems a lot happier in her old age than I am. Everything makes her happy and excited. Like when it's time to go outside, she will grab a ball, I'll be like, "Oh crap, I gotta take the dogs out to pee, we don't have time." But Dutchess sees it like, "A WALK!! WHAT A GREAT IDEA!! HOW DO YOU THINK THIS STUFF UP?"  and I would say "It's because I don't want you to poop on the floor."

Dutchess loves to make new friends. I seldom make new friends. I'm not even sure all my old friends are still around and if they are, they don't remember me. But Dutchess immediately makes friends with everybody she meets. She has lots more friends than I do, but only because she thinks they are carrying a snack in their pocket and she will effectually check them out wagging her tail but sniffing.

She also has more fun. Despite her age, she still loves to play. I'll be sitting around wondering who wears a catheter, and Dutchess will find a ball trotting up and taunting me, daring me to try to take it away from her.  Dutchess is old, but she finds joy in life, all the time.  I envy that, and I'm going to try to be more like Dutchess, to take the time to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like play and sleeping. I'm going to make a point of doing the things that Dutchess does that make her happy.

Although I draw the line at sniffing your pockets, drinking from the toilet, licking my butt and eating rabbit poop.  Maybe that's not a good idea.    Ken

The Follow-up...

In my heart, I wish we could save every Border Collie, but sometimes it's impossible.  I remember when I worked at a Veterinarian's office and an emergency came in, it wasn't in the cards that the dogs who was injured would be saved.  While I was visibly upset, I remember so well when the Vet put his arm around me and said: "Ken, we can't save them all."  In my perfect world, I dream that we can, and I believe all of us share that same dream but it's not possible.

Saved, one happy Boy...
While Clancy's Dream is a Border Collie specific organization, we owe that to the breed and to the people who want a Border Collie.  Just because a dog is black, and white doesn't make it a BC.  I remember driving several hours to a shelter in northern Indiana with a board member, and after evaluating the dog, the worker took the dog inside, and the two of us discussed it.  Nearly at the same time, we looked at each other and said: "I don't think this is going to work," and it wouldn't work for several reasons.  We went inside and spoke to the shelter worker, and I said: "We won't be able to take the dog, I feel like a heel, and we let you and the dog down."  I learned a valuable lesson at that very moment when the worker said "Sometimes, you can't fix something somebody else screwed up," and she was right, sometimes you can't.

Several months ago, we took in a little girl into Clancy's Dream who was a senior dog and very active.  She was with a Foster, and after a few weeks, they mentioned that they would like to keep her, it was perfect.  Just a few days after that statement, the unthinkable happened, her attitude changed, issues occurred, and this was not the same dog.  When they called me, I said: "take her to the Vet, and let's get her checked out."  I called the Vet and talked about her behavior and made an appointment as soon as they could get her in.  On my way to Louisville to get her, the Veterinarian called with bad news.  She had gone into a seizure and would not come out of it.  Knowing the Vet and trusting his opinion, and after everything was tried, he was sure it was a brain tumor.  Nothing helped at all, and the decision was made to take the pain away and let her pass with dignity. 

We try so hard to make Clancy's Dream and the Nellie Effect happy, pleasing, and safe, but at times, it's not, it hurts deeply.  She had a private cremation, and she came to the farm with our past dogs and became a part of Clancy's Dream along with The Border Collies of Dogwood Ridge.  When her ashes were picked up, I called her Foster parent and told them they were here.  When time allowed, the Foster came up, and we took that walk down the driveway to a place under the tall trees, where the sun shines through an open canopy and wind chimes that sing with the breeze.  Our Senior rescue girl was home, and we sprinkled her ashes to forever rest with Clancy, Mollie Abbie Nellie and friends and rescues dogs who also passed before...

Several days after the Fosters Dogs passed, this was found and the photo was sent to me, sweet but sad memories
Walking to the gravesite, I noticed the wind chimes tinkling and thought how normal and pleasant it is every time I visit.  After her ashes were scattered, we hugged, and I said, "I'm so sorry," and I was.  We talked about the dogs that have crossed the bridge, at one point, our Foster said: "the wind chimes are singing, but there is no wind, look at the leaves."  "It usually happens this way," I said, "but I believe they are talking to us," and in my heart, I know they are...

Scattered Ashes
The very day our Foster came up to spread the ashes, she also transported a dog that had significant medical issues who was picked up for us from another state and she had been doomed until this day.   Later that day, that very dog was transferred to a Foster who would treat her special needs and has.  Fate has a funny way of working when one door shuts, another one opens.  Laying to rest, our senior girl was heartbreaking, but today our special needs girl is thriving and living in a home where she is loved and coddled and well on her way to recovery and a new life.  There are many happy moments here at the farm but sad ones too.

Just this Saturday another Border Collie was adopted from the farm, and as I walked to the main gate to open it as the adopters left, I walked by Clancy's grave.  As it is a custom when I approached Clancy's resting place, I heard the sweet tones of the chimes, but this time I heard "One more is saved, but more are coming."  Ken

My life as a rescuer:
Always up
Always down
Always anxious
Always looking
Always more...

The Face...

In my past life, I have seen many faces in many situations, some pleasant and some painful.  Some I will never forget and will haunt me forever.  Be assured this is not a gloom and doom article, but it is the reality I deal with nearly every day.  Most don't know, but in my past, I retired as a Detective with a major police department in another state.  For sixteen years, I worked the streets going from one call to another with one call nearly always waiting.  No one ever wanted to call the police to tell them "Have a good day," but it was usually the worst day of their life, and we saw it from the beginning and had to deal with the pieces of their life that was in front of us. 

My last career move, I was assigned to the Homicide Unit.   What I remember most is the faces of the people involved in the crime or the victim that stood before us, and nearly every call was a nightmare at least to the people who called for help.  Death was present almost every day, sometimes several and I carry scars in my head that will be buried with me.  At times, everyone lives in their own hell but as a police officer, not only do you live in you'rs but theirs too.  But the faces...
Our first Clancy's Dream Rescue
Working with dogs and puppy mills for the last 20 years, you will never forget the face of the dog in the cages that had no hope.  To walk into a death row shelter and rescue one dog, whereas 100 dogs are left behind is heartbreaking.  You try not to look into the eyes and see the faces of the dogs left behind.  Leaving with the dog you saved in your arms crying into its fur as you walked that long corridor is common.  "You're safe now" as you know, the others aren't.
The other faces I see are the ones where they are safe, and you can actually see them smile.  When they are prepared for their new home with shots, surgeries, and love, their life is transformed right in front of you, but your mind always goes back to the faces of the ones you left and the guilt you carry.

Oskar Schindler:
I could have got more out. I could have got more. I don't know. If I'd just... I could have got more.
Just this past Saturday, a little girl saw the face of death several months ago.  She was hit by a car, left at a Veterinarian office to die when the owner couldn't pay.  Something, maybe fate, or whatever you believe in came into play.  After two significant surgeries where she nearly touched the hand of death but didn't, she was saved by many people who came together and put a foot forward and took a step.  To us, it may be a small step, but to her, it's a giant step.  Saturday, she went to her fosters home and will be loved and coddled, for the rest of her life, she deserves it, but then they all do don't they.  Unfortunately, they all don't get that chance, even when you try so hard, it's devastating, and I find little soleus in knowing we tried.

Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth,
Put out my paw and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee, Jr (edited)
Today I am reminded of the faces again.  I see them every day in my mind when they pop in and out of my conscious.  I'm reminded why so many give so much whether it's your time or donations but know the face you bring me is pleasing to my heart and drowns out the ones I can't forget, I wish I could have got more... 

Every year Clancy's Dream has saved more dogs that the year before.  Just in the last 6 weeks, we have rescues more dogs than in our first year.  Thank you for making smiles...  Ken

Part 1