Saturday, August 21, 2010

Miller's future

Been thinking alot about Miller's future here lately, espcially after the loss of berry. I seem to have not been really paying attention to how much miller really is aging. Call it denial or whatever, it really didn't hit me till berry was gone and he became the resident "old dog". Miller is still running great and loves going running with me on the track and in agility (we do about 2 miles on the track), but I am constantly worrying about how much longer I have to do these kinds of things with him. I flip flop between am I running him too much and injuring him versus not running him enough and injuring him. I have been debating about moving him down but don't want to too early if he still is doing well at 2o inches, plus I am still chasing my top title in USDAA and don't want to move him down to 16 in training and in the ring in AKC but still have him jump at 22 in USDAA. SO, I think I have finally got my mind made up on a plan. I think I am going to jump him at 2o for the two september shows that are AKC and then do USDAA nationals at 22 and then do only USDAA for the rest of the year and then move him down to 16 inches for AKC. I can do more local shows at novice preferred in the winter season anyway when traveling isn't as big a deal. I think that is fair for Miller and I and I will just forget the plan of getting his second MACH and think longevity more than what we can accomplish.

Deuce is also still a question. While he is progressing nicely, i do see moments of pure puppy brain. Take class the other night. He didn't want to do anything, was more interested in sniffing, visiting, and doing anything other than agility. I was so disappointed as he had been doing so great in the backyard with his weaves and with his contacts and then at Lori's house he wouldn't even send over a jump and decided creeping down the a-frame rather than driving into position was more fun. It was almost like, who the heck is this dog and what happened to my good doggy? I am leaning towards waiting till he is 2 but not sure. On one hand, you want to get them in early, on the other hand, you don't want to risk bad experiences due to not being ready. It is a pure balancing act between getting good ring experience and getting quality runs, versus letting bad habits form or stress increasing due to not being ready.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Berry dog April 17, 1997-August 5, 2010

I guess I knew this day was coming. I guess I knew in my gut when she got sick that there was no getting well. I had hope but I knew the odds were stacked against us. I thought I had mentally prepared myself for this but I was wrong. I feel like someone has ripped my heart out and stomped on it a million times. I feel like I am slowly falling apart. My heart dog is gone and all I can do is cry. Why I am acting so selfishly? I keep telling myself that berry lived a great life with me and she always got the best of what I could give her. I keep telling myself that she is in a better place and is whole again with no bum knee and no rules. She can be the fun police all she wants to and chase all the horses she wants to without me yelling at her, but for some reason, I still cry. I mourn for my baby, my sweet, sweet berry dog. I want this pain to lessen but I know time is the only healer. I have had tons of emails and FB posts and they all help me but this flat out plain sucks. I tried to sleep last night but every time I closed my eyes, I saw that look on her face as the medicine acted on her body. I wanted to be so calm so that her passing was smooth and not stressful for her but I am afraid that the last thing she saw was me freaking out and sobbing. Barb, my best friend in the whole world was there with me as was my favorite vet and vet tech, but it didn't matter. As she left this world, she took a huge hunk of my heart with her and it hurts like hell.

I have been trying to think of all the good times this morning and the things I will miss and wanted to share some of those funny stories here. I think blogging and talking to people is how I deal the best with tough situations so there may be many blogs and posts until I can heal.

This was probably one of the funniest pictures I have of berry. I was living in CO at the time in a little one bedroom apartment working a job in Golden. This had been a very hard time for me with grad school ending after a very bad time with a very bad major professor in which I had basically given up getting my degree and left KSU and KS for that matter. Anyway, Tony was still in KS in electrical apprentice school and had one more year till he could transfer anywhere. He and the dogs were just hanging out till they could join me in CO. I was super lonely, knew no one there, traveled so I couldn't keep the dogs with me and for that matter, the apartment complex didn't even allow dogs anyway. Well, christmas time came that year and Tony and all three dogs came out to visit for a while. My mom, who always out does herself at christmas, had as usual done more than she should. Carebears had come back into style as they were when I was a kid and she had looked far and wide for me a grumpy bear. That was my favorite carebear for some reason growing up and I had had one for years. Well, as you can see from the picture, as soon as I unwrapped it, Berry was very interested in it so much so that we put it up really high so she couldn't interact with it while we were gone for the day. I still to this day don't know how she got it down with her bum knee, but when we got home, grumpy bear was missing his nose and stuffing had been surgically removed from his nose hole and from a hole in his butt. The other dogs did not posses surgical skills like berry as they would shred toys to bits so we knew it was her. We still wonder if she bribed harley and miller into getting that bear down for her to do surgery on. She looked so guilty and when I got this film developed, I had to laugh so hard at this picture! Do you think she looked guilty? I DO!

I had taught berry to wave as a trick. Berry was a very smart dog but at the time I got her, I knew nothing of dog training per se. We had been asked to be in a church play where we ran on the stage and the dogs did agility stuff and then we ran off. Unfortunatley, the dogs got freaked out by the circus music and the lights so we had to go to plan B. We all ran onto the stage and then I had berry sit and wave for a cookie because she would do anything for food. Berry always saved the day! This picture was taken at aussie nationals in St. Louis. I think my mom took them with her 35 mm camera and they all turned out so great. Berry was a very photogenic pup so I have tons of pictures of her. One of my favorites was taken by Mickey Rabeneck as a professional portrait. We have it in our hall way with the boy's photos under it. She is and always will be the alpha bitch in our household and I will so miss her bossiness and her cheerleading.

I love this picture too. Berry loved frisbees and agility more than anything. Okay well maybe chasing horses too.

Okay for whatever reason this one won't load in correctly but I love it so I am not going to delete it. Tony could only come up once a month when I lived in CO so he would initially only bring one dog up at a time. The first time he came up, he asked what dog I wanted to see first and of course it was my berry dog. We went up into the mountains and did all the typical CO things. This is at the Contenential Divide. The prairie dogs were driving her nuts.

Okay tired from crying and typing so taking a break. More to come after I rest. This truly is making me feel better. I will have to get some really old pics of her out and scan them in for sure now. They are classic and I want to share them. Going to try and get some sleep.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Well, today has been a hard day. My eldest aussie Berry has been sick a couple of days and at 13, little illnesses hit her hard. I hate not knowing what to do, and knowing that a big decision may have to be made today. I keep thinking I am done crying but then I just start all over and it just hurts all over again. Berry is my first aussie, my first agility dog, and my first dog that I was totally responsible for from puppy to now. She is my heart dog and I have done alot for her over the years. I will not take this decision lightly but I will not prolong her suffering for my selfish reasons. I just hate not knowing what is the right decision and when is the right time. So, to make myself feel better, I want to tell Berry's story and celebrate the awesome life we have had together.

I remember seeing berry and her siblings in the closet right after they had been born. We had been to the rodeo and we knew berry's mom (my roomies aussie) was getting close to having the pups. Berry's mom was a nobody, just a working aussie that had been bred to another working aussie. Nothing special but alot of drive and alot of instinct. I had played around with the idea of owning a dog as I was a sophomore in college and working at the equestrian facility at UTM. Sometimes later at night or early in the am, I would see coyotes or other critters and I felt like having a dog with me would make me feel a little better. Plus, having a dog to work the rodeo stock would be nice too so I had been thinking about it. I have to admit, I feel in love with berry's sister, a little red merle I had named Margarita. I watched as people came to pick up their pups one by one till all that was left was little berry. She was the runt of the litter and usually hid when others came to look so they never really saw her. I like to think she had already chosen me and was making sure that no one else picked her out so I could have her. I was still on the fence about taking her as I knew the financial responsibility a dog carried with it and I already had two horses to care for. My roomie suggested I take her home that weekend to my parent's house as there was a rodeo in town and maybe if some of the rodeo folks saw her that they might buy her. She even said I could have part of the money if I could find her a home. I remember loading her into my truck and putting her in a bucket next to my seat so she was confined while I drove, but could still see out. Of course my mom fell in love with her and convinced me to keep her. Thus begins berry's story with me in earnest.

It just so happened that right after I decided to keep berry, I had to move. The new rodeo coach wanted the house we lived in as part of his contract so we had to quickly find a place to live. There was a little trailer park down the street from us and they had openings so in we moved, except they really didn't want dogs. So, my poor mom got stuck training, socializing and potty training berry for a few months till I could convince my landlords that I was a good dog owner. My mom would call me at night cussing me because berry didn't want to go potty and mom didn't want her to go in the house! Berry also went through a very serious chewing phase in which she ate an antique bed frame among other things. Finally, I convinced the landlord I could handle having berry there and not have her inside with me (hard to believe they were really that worried about the piece of crap trailers we called home but whatever). Berry lived on a little chain on our front porch with a nice dog house and plenty of water and food. She went to work with me every morning and helped me with chores and then every night same thing plus she went everywhere I rode. She was a happy dog and life was good!

Fast forward a couple of years to me in grad school. When I initially moved in, once again I couldn't find a place that took dogs so berry lived with my then fiance while I looked for a place for all of us. He was planning on moving out as soon as he graduated and then we were to be married that December. Berry loved Jody and his family as they always took her when she went into heat. Jody's dad Joe did alot of her initial obedience training and also taught her the love of the Frisbee. She was like their grandchild. I finally found a little house to rent and once again, berry had a little chain and a little dog house and went with me twice a day to feed and ride. About this time, Jody and I ended our relationship and berry and I became single ladies. I rode pretty much every day and made lots of friends at the barn, one of which became my best friend barb. Barb is solely responsible for getting me started in agility so I blame her for all of my addictions.

Berry and I started agility with a beginner class at the local kennel club on matted concrete and tiny equipment. After one class I decided I was ready to show (i laugh at this mentality now) and we started out at show and gos. Well, I quickly learned that I didn't know a quarter of what I needed to know to show so I started taking lessons/classes from Joan Meyer and Lori Michaels. We started competing after many classes and seminars and of course did well for what we knew. Back then contacts were point and pray and crosses were just becoming more well defined. We always seemed to muddle through courses and even made it to excellent A JWW and open standard before berry had to be retired. Berry blew her knee out during a non-related agility accident and even though we elected to do surgery, it never really healed well enough for her to compete seriously again. Berry retired to head cheerleader of the red Aussie crew as Miller and Harley took over the reins of showing.

Berry beat mass cell cancer during this time and other various little health issues and has always been as healthy as a horse. She has been with me through a major relationship and break up, a horrible grad school experience, a marriage that is still going strong, countless foster dogs, two silly puppies (Harley and deuce) long trips to TN and to CO, and showing in agility. She is my first Aussie and first agility dog and my heart dog. No matter what happens today, I will always love her. She is what an Aussie should be, tough, determined, full of instinct, and loyal. This dog would follow me to hell and back if I asked her too. I would do the same. I love you berry dog and no matter what happens today, you will always be in my heart and in my soul.