Saturday, September 17, 2016

Good By Magnum RIP

It is over two months since my handsome boy Magnum died  - he was 5 years old - and it is still so hard for me to believe it.  We took a wonderful trip out west to compete in the English Springer Nationals in the state of Washington.  We decided to make it a vacation.  We have a Casita travel trailer and so camped.  We visited a friend in Montana on the way to WA.  Magnum was great at the Nationals although it was not well attended.  We visited Mt. Olympic National Park, then camped and drove down the Oregon coast.  It was Magnum’s first experience with the Pacific Ocean and he loved it.  We camped in the redwoods in California then visited a friend along the northern coast as well as participating in an agility trial near Sacramento. The last big forest we stayed in was Sequoia.

Magnum was an awesome traveler, just a delightful companion.  He doesn’t bark at other dogs or people and is very friendly.  He traveled so well and he loved the little Casita because his humans were close to him.

Getting home, we discovered that he had an eye infection.  I took him to the Vet the next day.  We went about our normal classes in agility, tracking and competing in an agility trial.  2 weeks later he was lethargic, so we took him to the Vet and he had a series of seizures.  He had climbed up on Alan’s lap just before the first hit.  Alan said later that he felt Magnum died at that moment.  We ended up taking Magnum to a critical care facility in Cincinnati with a neurologist who did a CAT scan and spinal tap on him.  The C-scan showed a lesion on his brain. The radiologist thought it was probably an infection, so treatment was started.  He died within 10 hours of this. 

Reports from the spinal tap came in after his death, which showed a severe infection of his brain and spine – meningitis.  I assume he picked up something he was exposed to while we were traveling out west.

MACH Topguns Magnum TDX, TDU, MXS, MJG, T2B was my dream dog.  He was the result of Topgun Springer’s excellent breeding.  Patty breeds for conformation, but just as important is the personality, drive, and bid ability of the Springer.  He was such a lovely dog, a great competitor in agility and an incredible tracker.  I had so much fun with him.  We took 2 agility classes a week and tracked 3 to 4 days a week.  Alan was our wrangler and was there always to assist or step in for me if I was ill.  He laid many of the tracks for us.  My life revolved around Magnum.  He was my constant companion and always at my side.

It has been hard to deal with the guilt that our travels caused his death and that we couldn’t have done anything sooner to save him.  I needed him to comfort me. 

For a couple of weeks, I took the walk in the evening that Magnum and I took every day after dinner.  I imagined that he was still by my side.  I have looked for his sweet face in so many places.  Sometimes thinking that I felt the press of his body against my leg as he leaned in and put his chin on my knee so that I would pet him.

I thought I had at least 9 more years with him.  There was so much I looked forward to doing with him – but most of all, just having him with me.

Was it just a simple twist of fate that killed my dog?  It seems like Magnum’s future was taken from him.  How I wish I had a do over for his life.  I would trade years of my life to have him back.

It’s been about 30 years since I have been dog less.  I had someone at a Labor Day party tell me how much easier it is not to have a dog.  I guess it is easier, but my life also seems to be meaning less.

I think about him everyday and probably tear up a couple of times, but try not to just cry.  I have been hoping that if I behave and am good enough, then someone will bring my dog back to me.  That’s all I want.  I want my dog back.

This will be the last blog entry.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Blind Dog

Shadow, my blind dog, died on May 18, 2016.  She was 14 years and 4 months old.  She was blind for about the last 7 years of her life.  She was bred by Susan Stills in Howell Michigan who breeds for conformation.  I really didn’t understand the significance of this until later.  I wanted a Springer to do agility with me.  Shadow was about 3 months old when we got her.  I did obedience training with her and trained her in agility.  We competed and Shadow did well, but was never really fast. She had several C atch titles from CPE and had her Master titles from AKC.  I am sure that going blind slowed her down.  When I discovered that Shadow had progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), I contacted Susan Stills because I thought she would want to know.  PRA is genetic.  Susan already knew and for whatever reason choose not to tell me.  I discovered it because I was seeing issues on the agility course.  My Vet thought she had cataracts, so referred me to a specialist hoping that Shadow could have surgery to remove them.  Shadow did have cataracts, but removing them wouldn’t help her vision since her retinal was dying. PRA can’t be stopped, but it can be slowed down through vitamins and minerals.  It is the same as macular degeneration in humans.  Since I didn’t discover the issue until Shadow was almost blind, the vitamins and minerals I gave her had minimal effect.  Maybe I extended her vision by 6 months.  I would have liked to have given her more months or years of partial vision. It was heart breaking to me.

I did tracking training with Shadow, hoping it would help in her ability to get around. It probably did. I can remember walking Shadow after I thought she was totally blind and she would stop and look up at the sun.  I realized that she could still see a little light. It always hurt my heart.  She did adjust well, but it did change our relationship. 

About 5 years ago, she began to have some problems walking.  These problems got progressively worse as she aged.  The last few years, she walked slowly and sort of dragged her rear legs.  My tracking buddy reminded me that I stopped tracking with Shadow due to her difficulties with walking.  The last year was the hardest with her being carried a lot.

Since her death and time to mourn, I am now remembering her when she was younger and such a sweet dog.  I have a lot of wonderful memories.  She got along well with people and was okay with dogs.  She and another dog, Kinsey, would get into fights ever so often, which was a challenge.  It didn’t happen often, but was awful when it did occur.

So, my sweet girl on the opening page on this blog is no more.  I have one more blog to write and then I won’t be doing any more.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tracking Dog Urban Test - Passed!

Magnum and I are on a high due to passing the Tracking Dog Urban (TDU) test on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2015 at the Purina Farm in Missouri.  It was during the English Springer Spaniel Field Trial Association’s Nationals.  I am so excited.  He did a great job and was totally focused on tracking. 

His first corner he overshot and I could tell because he was searching.  He went to the left, then the right, and then straight – clearly searching.  He is a fast tracker, so he has a tendency to overshoot his corners.  He is usually about 20 feet out then indicates by searching that he has lost the scent.  So we backtracked and found the corner.  Backtracking is a skill to practice.  The dog has to lead you, not you leading the dog.  I kept telling myself before hand to just follow my dog.  The next leg was short, but he turned and on the 3rd leg he found the article left by the tracklayer.  It felt so good to find it and to know that we were on the track.  One of the judges, Ken Barna, had asked us to wave the article.  I almost forgot.  Magnum downed at it, I told him good boy, put the article in my apron, then remembered to take it out and wave it.  We were totally on grass at that point and I was thinking - where is the hard surface?  He started to make an open turn to the right.  It went over a road and then to grass, so I thought - I bet this is it.  But Magnum then went left, so I said to myself, “Follow your dog” and followed.  Good thing because of course he was correct.  Then we came to a hard surface road and crossed it, went on grass, then crossed a parking lot, then back on grass and he found the end glove.  Boy was I happy.  Magnum was happy and clearly had so much fun tracking.  Our track was 485 yards with 5 turns.

I needed to pass this for my confidence, which had a downturn.  I didn’t have a good day tracking before I left and wondered how we would do.  I just tried to stay positive and said my dog can do it.  I just need to follow him.

After we finished, one of the judges said that I did an excellent job of handing.  He said I was really good at back tracking when we overshot the corner.  It was so good to hear it. 

It was so great to see that Magnum is really a great enthusiastic tracker and can do what is asked of him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

English Spring Spaniel Dance

It looks like my video didn’t quite work.  So I am attaching a make-up picture of Magnum performing an old ancient north woods tale.  It has been told, as passed down from dog owner to dog owner, a story about a handsome English Springer Spaniel.   When the full-moon rises and the camp fire is blazing, then the springer will begin to dance around the fire.  He performs a dance that is felt to his bones and calls out to him from springers of ancient times.  He dances with all his heart.  
The attached photo shows Magnum enacting this ancient tail.  Hope you enjoy it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Michigan and fair

I’ve been in Michigan for about a week and a half.  It is incredibly peaceful up here in the great north, just below the Mackinaw Bridge.  I’ve been staying up late watching videos, movies, and reading.  Then I sleep in late, walk the dogs, go canoeing, and swim.  Some days I ride my bike for an hour or so.  Last Wednesday Magnum and I participated in the Emmett/Charlevoix County Fair (in Petoskey) in an agility show.  We did it last year on probably one of the hottest days here – 90 plus degrees.  Fortunately the fairgrounds are up on a hill right by Lake Michigan so there was a wonderful breeze to help cool us.  This year the weather was more typical for this time of year – in the 70’s.   There were about 25 of us from beginners with dogs on leashes to about 2 other dogs like Magnum that were very good.  Magnum had so much fun.  I have attached a video that Alan took with a new digital video camera.  What is great is that it was so easy to transfer it to my Mac.  One woman came up to me before my run and said she missed Magnum’s first run and wanted to see him.  So she watched our next run.  When we finished, she said with Magnum’s ears, it looks like he might take off flying.  The course was really easy with only 6 weave poles because it was for intermediate and advanced.  So even Magnum is having fun on vacation.  Shadow was also with us and enjoyed the sounds.  The agility ring was right next to the rides, so it was really noisy. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Home from Ireland

I am just back from a walking tour of Ireland.  We walked between 8 and 10 miles a day travelling all around the Island for 15 days.  It was beautiful with perfect weather for hiking  - mid 60’s.  We quickly learned to always have a raincoat with us because it mists or rains most days.  We were fortunate that there were only two days that it really rained, but not all day.  We walked along the cliffs, beaches, through fields climbing over styles, in fields with sheep and cows, in forests, and on back roads.  One of our hikes took us around the Guinness estate and we saw a wedding party going to the house.

We were surprised with the length of the days.  It was light by 5:00 AM and didn’t get dark until about 10:30.  One of the most beautiful beaches was Inch Beach on the Dingle Peninsula.  The wide beach went on for miles.  There were few people on it with cars driving where ever they choose.  At the beginning of the beach there were at the most 80 people or so and a surf shop, which gave lessons.  We saw beginning surfers out in the water wearing wetsuits.  Walking just a short way, we left the crowd behind.  Across the ocean we could see parts of the peninsula and mountains in the mist.  It was so lovely.

Our tour included 4 from the US, 4 Canadians, and 4 Australians.  Several had family in Ireland and planned to visit them after the walking tour.  I would have loved to stay longer, but missed the dogs and cats.

Just days after getting home, I had an agility trial.  Magnum and I had a master’s standard run on Saturday that I think was our best ever.  We placed first beating out a couple of great border collies that tied and had a run off for 2nd and 3rd place.  It was a small trial, which is probably the only kind in which we have a chance of placing first.  As we finished our run, someone yelled, “Very nice!”  And, it really was.  We were both running great and were in sync.  Now if we can only do it on a regular basis.

The photo is on a beach in Ireland!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Birthday Double Q

What is a double Q?  For all you non-agility folks, a Q is a qualified run (a run with no errors) in either a standard course or a jumpers with weaves course.  A double Q means the dog had qualifying runs in standard and jumpers with weaves on the same day. 

I am of the age that birthdays aren’t that important.  It is nice to remembered.  I was fortunate to be remembered by friends, my sister, my husband, lots of facebook comments, and even a Native American school and my insurance agent.  Alan made me a lovely birthday card of Magnum sitting in my irises.  Magnum looks solemn in the picture, probably because he isn’t supposed to be in the irises and was afraid I would catch him.

This Memorial Day weekend, for the first time, I entered an AKC agility trial for three days.  When my son was young we used to spend the weekend at Alan’s family farm in Indiana with his parents.  Then for the last eight years we have gone to our place in northern Michigan.  But this year I was competing in an agility trial.  I told Magnum that the one thing I wanted for my birthday was a double Q.

On Saturday Magnum got one Q for a jumpers with weaves course.  I messed him up on the standard course.  Sunday was my birthday and Magnum and I made it – a double Q!!   Memorial Day we did it again and got another double Q. 

Double Q’s are important for our MACH (Master’s Agility Championship Title).  We need 20 double Q’s and 750 points.  Points are earned as the difference from our running time subtracted from the standard course time.  This weekend we earned about 57 points.

In all honesty I can say that two double Q’s in a weekend is Priceless.