How Many Times...

I know some of us have asked how many times can our heart break? While I don't keep a record, it seems pretty often with me.  When we raised Border Collies years ago, we never thought about the end run of our venture.  Many times, when a new puppy would go home with their new owner, standing in the driveway after they were gone, big tears ran down my cheeks.  "Will they love them as much as I do" I always wondered.  "Will they take care of them when they hurt or are sick?"  The unfortunate part, sometimes they do but a few times they didn't.  All in all, just a few slipped through the cracks, but most grew up having a happy life, but my heart broke and I always worried.

Then, as our once little puppies get older and more feeble, some have injuries or get a dreaded disease.  The worst phone call or email I get is  "Kenny, and I am so sorry, our dog passed away, we did everything we could have done."  My heart breaks because my mind immediately goes back to the little pups that I would carry around and love on, how many times have I been there?  The last Blog I wrote, was about "Dutch," I got this from his owner.  "Good afternoon, I can barely write this note to you because we are so sad and heartbroken, we had to put Dutch to sleep on Wednesday.  We can't express enough gratitude for you letting us take care of him for the last 12 years and eight months. It has been our honor. Thank you and Elaine for what you do for this great breed."  I literally broke down.

As most know, we went to rescuing Border Collies after Clancy died, but that brings pain too.  Just this week on our Social Media page, someone said it for me in a post.  That is the hardest thing about fostering, letting them go. I was so emotional and could not stop crying, the morning I was taking this little cutie in to help find her a home until I met the perfect family!  Dana Carney Riddle.

There is a part of my job that most in the outside world have never thought of before.  If you are a true dog lover, the dog you take care of and foster, even for a brief time, steals your heart.  In most cases, you see them transform right in front of your eyes each day.  Dogs that seemed to be broken to others come out of their shell, dogs that have shut down become interested again in life, and their life starts over.  At times, see a miracle in just days, and then it happens.  Whether they find a home or move to a foster, it happens.  You didn't know it at the time, but it happened your heart breaks again

Billy Joe was going to his new foster.  One that had more time, space, and experience to give him the best start of his new life.  You see, Billy Joe came into our rescue and was very loved where he was, but in one day everything changed.  Twelve years ago, he was a little puppy and went to a very loving home.  Six years ago, Billy Joe lost his best buddy, Robert or Preacher, as some call him who passed away.  His wife took care of him until her death, and their son took on the responsibility to love him, and he did until he suddenly passed away. 

My heart broke again as I heard the story about Billy Joe, we needed to help and after discussion and visits, Billy Joe came to the farm.  He soon learned to explore and meet new dogs and people.  His world drastically changed, you see, other than going to the Vet, the farm was the only place he had been to, but he fit right in.  Because Dogwood Ridge is only a layover place for the rescues, he was going to his new foster. 

Billy Joe on his way on Saturday
This last Saturday, as I was feeding my dogs in the kennel, Billy Joe came to visit me.  He walked up to my leg and rubbed his head against me.  I knew what he wanted, so I sat down beside him and stroked his face and scratched his ears.  I buried my face into his fur and cried.  I don't know if it was tears of sorrow or happiness, but we both needed it.  Did he know his time was short with me, was he saying 'Thank you or goodbye."  Later that day, I knew he was happy and going to his new beginning. 

Things happen for a reason; how did someone find us on a whim or from a Google search.  There are forces in play we'll never know, but I often wonder if a fuzzy black and white paw was involved.  Robert and Jeff were Billy Joe's caretakers until the end of their life, but who knows, maybe they met my Clancy, and Billy Joe was directed to us by forces we'll never understand. 

How many times has my heart been broken, thousands, but now it is breaking because I am happy...  another Border Collie was helped.  To Billy Joe's extended family... I know you dearly love and miss him, I do too, my heart breaks from happiness.   Ken