A Breeder's Life

A Breeder is one who thirsts for knowledge
and never really knows it all, one who wrestles
with decisions of conscience, convenience, and commitment.

A Breeder is one who sacrifices
personal interests, finances, time, fancy furniture, and deep pile carpeting! 
They give up the dreams of a long, luxurious cruise
in favor of turning that all important Show into this year's "vacation".

The Breeder goes without sleep
(but never without coffee!) in hours spent planning a breeding
or watching anxiously over the birth process,
and afterwards, over every little sneeze, wiggle or cry.

The Breeder skips dinner parties
because that litter is due or the babies have to be fed at eight.
They disregard birth fluids and put mouth to mouth to save a gasping new-born,
literally blowing life into a tiny, helpless creature
that may be the culmination of a lifetime of dreams.

A Breeder's lap
is a marvelous place where generations
of proud and noble champions once snoozed.

A Breeder's hands
are strong and firm and often soiled,
but ever so gentle and sensitive to the thrusts of a puppy's wet nose.

A Breeder's back and knees
are usually arthritic from stooping, bending, and sitting in the birthing box,
but are strong enough to enable the breeder to
show the next choice pup to a Championship.

A Breeder's shoulders
are stooped and often heaped with abuse from competitors,
but they're wide enough to support the weight
of a thousand defeats and frustrations.

A Breeder's arms
are always able to wield a mop, support an armful of puppies,
or lend a helping hand to a newcomer.

A Breeder's ears
are wondrous things, sometimes red (from being talked about)
or strangely shaped (from being pressed against a phone receiver),
often deaf to criticism, yet always fine-tuned to the whimper of a sick puppy.

A Breeder's eyes
are blurred from pedigree research,
and sometimes blind to their own dog's faults;
but are ever so keen to the competition’s faults
and are always searching for the perfect specimen.

A Breeder's brain
is foggy on faces,
but can recall pedigrees faster than an IBM computer.
It's so full of knowledge that sometimes it blows a fuse:
it catalogues thousands of good boning's, fine ears, and perfect heads...
and buries in the soul the failures and the ones that didn't turn out.

The Breeder's heart
is often broken, but beats strongly with hope everlasting...
and it's always in the right place!
Oh, yes, there are breeders, and then, there are BREEDERS!!
"Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole."  - Roger Caras
FREEDOM FARMS
Rhodesian Ridgebacks
Author Unknown
"Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened." - Author Unkown

One More Dog

One Dog Is No Trouble And Two Are So Funny
The Third One Is Easy, The Fourth One's A Honey

The Fifth Is Delightful, The Sixth One's A Breeze
You Find You Can Live With A Housefull With Ease

So How 'Bout Another?  Would You Really Dare?
They're Really Quite Easy, But Oh Lord, The Hair!

With Dogs On The Sofa And Dogs On The Bed
And Crates In The Kitchen, Its No Bother You Said

They're Really No Trouble, Their Manners Are Great
What's Just One More Dog And One More Little Crate?

The Sofa Is Hairy, The Windows Are Crusty
The Floor Is All Footprints, The Furniture's Dusty

The Housekeeping Suffers But What Do You Care?
Who Minds A Few Noseprints And A Little More Hair?

So Let's Keep A Puppy, You Can Always Find Room
And A Little More Time For The Dust Cloth And Broom

There's Hardly A Limit To The Dogs You Can Add
The Thought Of A Cutback Sure Makes You Feel Sad

Each One Is Special, So Useful, So Funny
The Food Bill Grows Larger, You Owe The Vet Money

Your Folks Never Visit, Few Friends Come To Stay
Except Other Dog Folks Who Live The Same Way

Your Lawn Has Now Died And Our Shrubs Are Dead Too
Your Weekends Are Busy, Your Off With Your Crew

There's Dog Food And Vitamins, Training And Shots
And Entries And Travel And Motels Which Cost Lots

Is It Worth It You Wonder? Are You Caught In A Trap?
Then That Favorite Comes Up And Climbs In Your Lap

His Look Says You're Special And You Know That You Will
Keep All The Critters In Spite Of The Bill

Some Just For Showing And Some Just To Breed
And Some Just For Loving, They All Fill A Need

Winter Is A Hassle But The Dogs Love It True
And They Must Have Their Walks Tho' You Are Numb And Blue

Late Evening Is Awful, You Scream And You Shout
At The Dogs On The Sofa Who Refuse To Go Out

The Dogs And The Dog Shows, The Travel, The Thrills
The Work And The Worry, The Pressure, The Bills

The Whole Thing Seems Worth It, The Dogs Are Your Life
They're Charming And Funny And Offset The Strife

Your Lifestyle Has Changed, Things Just Won't Be The Same
Yes Those Dogs Are Addictive And So's The Dog Game!

Author Unknown

A man and his dog were walking along a road.
The man was enjoying the scenery,
when it suddenly occurred to him that he was dead.
He remembered dying, and that the dog walking beside him
had been dead for years.
He wondered where the road was leading them.
After a while, they came to a high,
white stone wall along one side of the road.
It looked like fine marble..
At the top of a long hill,
it was broken by a tall arch that glowed in the sunlight.
         When he was standing before it, he saw a magnificent gate
in the arch that looked like mother-of-pearl,
and the street that led to the gate looked like pure gold.
He and the dog walked toward the gate, and as he got closer,
he saw a man at a desk to one side.
When he was close enough, he called out, 'Excuse me, where are we?'
'This is Heaven, sir,' the man answered.
'Wow! Would you happen to have some water?' the man asked.
'Of course, sir. Come right in, and I'll have some ice water brought right up.'

The man gestured, and the gate began to open.
'Can my friend,' gesturing toward his dog,
'come in, too?' the traveller asked.
'I'm sorry, sir, but we don't accept pets.'
The man thought a moment and then turned back toward the road
and continued the way he had been going with his dog.
After another long walk, and at the top of another long hill,
he came to a dirt road leading through a farm gate
that looked as if it had never been closed.
There was no fence.
As he approached the gate, he saw a man inside,
leaning against a tree and reading a book....
'Excuse me!' he called to the man. 'Do you have any water?'
'Yeah, sure, there's a pump over there, come on in.'
'How about my friend here?' the traveller gestured to the dog.
'There should be a bowl by the pump,' said the man.
They went through the gate, and sure enough,
there was an old-fashioned hand pump with a bowl beside it.
The traveller filled the water bowl and took a long drink himself, then he gave some to the dog.
When they were full, he and the dog walked back toward the man who was standing by the tree.
'What do you call this place?' the traveller asked.
'This is Heaven,' he answered.  'Well, that's confusing,' the traveller said.
'The man down the road said that was Heaven, too.'
'Oh, you mean the place with the gold street and pearly gates? Nope. That's hell.'
'Doesn't it make you mad for them to use your name like that?'
'No, we're just happy that they screen out the folks who would leave their best friends behind.'
The Last Battle
Author Unknown

If it should be that I grow frail and weak
And pain should keep me from my sleep,

Then will you do what must be done,
For this -- the last battle -- can't be won.

You will be sad I understand,
But don't let grief then stay your hand,
For on this day, more than the rest,
Your love and friendship must stand the test.

We have had so many happy years,
You wouldn't want me to suffer so.

When the time comes, please, let me go.
Take me to where to my needs they'll tend,
Only, stay with me till the end
And hold me firm and speak to me
Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time you will agree
It is a kindness you do to me.

Although my tail its last has waved,
From pain and suffering I have been saved.

Don't grieve that it must be you
Who has to decide this thing to do;
We've been so close -- we two -- these years,
Don't let your heart hold any tears.


Two Horses
Author Unknown
Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it.

From a distance, each horse looks like any other horse.
But if you stop your car, or are walking by, you will notice something quite amazing....

Looking into the eyes of one horse will disclose that he is blind.
His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him.
This alone is amazing.

If you stand nearby and listen, you will hear the sound of a bell. 
Looking around for the source of the sound,
you will see that it comes from the smaller horse in the field.

Attached to the horse's halter is a small bell.
It lets the blind friend know where the other horse is, so he can follow.

As you stand and watch these two friends,
You'll see that the horse with the bell is always checking on the blind horse,
And that the blind horse will listen for the bell and then slowly walk
To where the other horse is, Trusting that he will not be led astray.

When the horse with the bell returns to the shelter of the barn each evening,
It stops occasionally and looks back,
Making sure that the blind friend isn't too far behind to hear the bell.
Like the owners of these two horses,
God does not throw us away just because we are not perfect
Or because we have problems or challenges.

He watches over us and even brings others into our lives
To help us when we are in need..

Sometimes we are the blind horse
Being guided by the little ringing bell of those who God places in our lives.

Other times we are the guide horse, helping others to find their way....

Good friends are like that...
You may not always see them, but you know they are always there..

Please listen for my bell and I'll listen for yours.

And remember... Be kinder than necessary.
Everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle.
Live simply, Love generously, Care deeply, Speak kindly.......
And leave the rest to God! 

FOR WE WALK BY FAITH AND NOT BY SIGHT!
SIX BOYS AND 13 HANDS

Each year I am hired to go to Washington, DC, with the eighth grade class from Clinton, WI, where I grew up, to videotape their trip.
I greatly enjoy visiting our nation's capitol, and each year I take some special memories back with me. This fall's trip was especially memorable.

On the last night of our trip, we stopped at the Iwo Jima memorial.
This memorial is the largest bronze statue in the world and depicts one of the most famous photographs in history --
that of the six brave soldiers raising the American Flag at the top of a rocky hill on the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, during WW II.

Over one hundred students and chaperones piled off the buses and headed towards the memorial.  I noticed a solitary figure at the base of the statue, and as I got closer he asked, 'Where are you guys from?'

I told him that we were from Wisconsin. 'Hey, I'm a cheese head, too!  Come gather around, Cheese heads, and I will tell you a story.'

It was James Bradley who just happened to be in Washington, DC, to speak at the memorial the following day.
He was there that night to say good night to his dad, who had passed away.  He was just about to leave when he saw our buses pull up.
I videotaped him as he spoke to us, and received his permission to share what he said from my videotape.
It is one thing to tour the incredible monuments filled with history in Washington, DC, but it is quite another to get the kind of insight we
received that night.

When all had gathered around, he reverently began to speak. Here are his words that night-

'My name is James Bradley and I'm from Antigo, Wisconsin.  My dad is on that statue, and I wrote a book called 'Flags of Our Fathers'.
It is the story of the six boys you see behind me.  'Six boys raised the flag.  The first guy putting the pole in the ground is Harlon
Block.  Harlon was an all-state football player.  He enlisted in the Marine Corps with all the senior members of his football team.  They
were off to play another type of game.  A game called 'War.'  But it didn't turn out to be a game.  Harlon, at the age of 21, died with his
intestines in his hands.  I don't say that to gross you out, I say that because there are people who stand in front of this statue and talk
about the glory of war.  You guys need to know that most of the boys in Iwo Jima were 17, 18, and 19 years old - and it was so hard that the ones who did make it home never even would talk to their families about it.

(He pointed to the statue) 'You see this next guy? That's Rene Gagnon from New Hampshire.  If you took Rene's helmet off at the moment this photo was taken and looked in the webbing of that helmet, you would find a photograph... a photograph of his girlfriend. Rene put that in there for protection because he was scared.  He was 18 years old.  It was just boys who won the battle of Iwo Jima.  Boys.  Not old men.

'The next guy here, the third guy in this tableau, was Sergeant Mike Strank.  Mike is my hero.  He was the hero of all these guys.  They called him the 'old man' because he was so old.  He was already 24.  When Mike would motivate his boys in training camp, he didn't say, 'Let's go kill some Japanese' or 'Let's die for our country'.  He knew he was talking to little boys.  Instead he would say, 'You do what I say, and I'll get you home to your mothers.'

'The last guy on this side of the statue is Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian from Arizona.  Ira Hayes was one of them who lived to walk off Iwo Jima. He went into the White House with my dad.  President Truman told him, "You're a hero".  Ira told reporters, 'How can I feel like a hero when 250 of my buddies hit the island with me, and only 27 of us walked off alive?"

So you take your class at school, 250 of you spending a year together having fun, doing everything together.  Then all 250 of you hit the beach, but only 27 of your classmates walk off alive.  That was Ira Hayes.  He had images of horror in his mind.  Ira Hayes carried the pain home with him and eventually died dead drunk, face down, drowned in a very shallow puddle, at the age of 32 (ten years after this picture was taken).

'The next guy, going around the statue, is Franklin Sousley from Hilltop, Kentucky. A fun-lovin' hillbilly boy. His best friend, who is now 70, told me, "Yeah, you know, we took two cows up on the porch of the Hilltop General Store.  Then we strung wire across the stairs so the cows couldn't get down.  Then we fed them Epsom salts.  Those cows crapped all night."  Yes, he was a fun-lovin' hillbilly boy.  Franklin died on Iwo Jima at the age of 19.  When the telegram came to tell his mother that he was dead, it went to the Hilltop General Store.  A barefoot boy ran that telegram up to his mother's farm.  The neighbors could hear her scream all night and into the morning.  Those neighbors lived a quarter of a mile away.

'The next guy, as we continue to go around the statue, is my dad, John Bradley, from Antigo, Wisconsin, where I was raised.  My dad lived until 1994, but he would never give interviews. When Walter Cronkite's producers or the New York Times would call, we were trained as little kids to say, "No, I'm sorry, sir, my dad's not here. He is in Canada fishing.  No, there is no phone there, sir.  No, we don't know when he is coming back."  My dad never fished in or even went to Canada.  Usually, he was sitting there right at the table eating his Campbell's soup.  But we had to tell the press that he was out fishing.  He didn't want to talk to the press.

'You see, like Ira Hayes, my dad didn't see himself as a hero.  Everyone thinks these guys are heroes, 'cause they are in a photo and on a monument.  My dad knew better.  He was a medic.  John Bradley from Wisconsin was a combat caregiver.  On Iwo Jima he probably held over 200 boys as they died.  And when boys died on Iwo Jima, they writhed and screamed, without any medication or help with the pain.

'When I was a little boy, my third grade teacher told me that my dad was a hero.  When I went home and told my dad that, he looked at me and said, 'I want you always to remember that the heroes of Iwo Jima are the guys who did not come back.  Did NOT come back.'

'So that's the story about six nice young boys.  Three died on Iwo Jima, and three came back as national heroes.  Overall, 7,000 boys died on Iwo Jima in the worst battle in the history of the Marine Corps.  My voice is giving out, so I will end here.  Thank you for your time.'

Suddenly, the monument wasn't just a big old piece of metal with a flag sticking out of the top.  It came to life before our eyes with the heartfelt words of a son who did indeed have a father who was a hero.  Maybe not a hero for the reasons most people would believe, but a hero nonetheless.

We need to remember that God created this vast and glorious world for us to live in, freely, but also at great sacrifice.

Let us never forget from the Revolutionary War to the current War on Terrorism and all the wars in-between that sacrifice was made for our freedom...please pray for our troops.

Remember to pray praises for this great country of ours and also... please pray for our troops still in murderous places around the world.

STOP and thank God for being alive and being free due to someone else's sacrifice.

God Bless You and God Bless America.

REMINDER: Everyday that you can wake up free, it's going to be a great day.

One thing I learned while on tour with my 8th grade students in DC that is not mentioned here is that if you look at the statue very closely and count the number of 'hands' raising the flag, there are 13. When the man who made the statue was asked why there were 13, he simply said the 13th hand was the hand of God.