Friday, January 15, 2010

It's been a hard week.

Yup, it's really true. I think I have had a mini breakdown this week with stress from everything going on and that is ok. I have found some perspective in the midst of chaos and I am feeling much better than I was, well, let's say yesterday.

So, what is going on? Well, I am teaching fulltime. I am taking one class this semester at the University. I know, that doesn't sound like lots but the class is over the top busy and I am barely keeping up with the readings. One class at this level is considered halftime so really, that sounds far more impressive, doesn't it?  And, I sit on various committees with the Saskatchewan Teachers Federation and my school board. I also have my two dogs, now Gemma who is quite an active puppy. And, I have a quirky old Buick that constantly has warning lights on which add a level of stress to my commuting to work. So, on top of that, I got it in my head I want another dog... a lovely, gorgeous lab from a breeder south of Regina. He is a 5 month old Sophie and yesterday it all kind of came a  head and I woke up to a realization. I am busy. I am stressed. I am not handling any of this well.

So, why another dog? Because Sophie officially retired from agility last Friday night. It was a sudden decision but not really- I have been pondering the wisdom of running Sophie for months and I suddenly realized over my Christmas holidays the foolishness of doing so. I knew when Sophie was about four or fice months that she had a problem with her hips, but when I asked the vet about it, I was told I had to wait it out and we would see once she was full grown. Sophie grew fast when she was really young and really has not changed weight much since she was about 6 months old. And, so the vet thought it could be growing pains , related to growing so fast (which, how did that happen?? Was it the large breed puppy kibble I fed at that point? I have no idea what I could have done to minimize this problem now, except I won't feed kibble to a puppy again if I have a choice). Anyway, I finally got her X-rays done just after her second birthday but we had been through chronic limping and stiffness at points all along. The X-rays showed up a problem and my fantastic vet called me and asked if I would consent to allowing Sophie to be a Penn-Hip case study for her. The results were devastating to me; Sophie is at the 20th percentile for hip laxity. Honestly, it's bad. And, while I don't completely understand the ins and outs of this whole laxity thing, I do know that Sophie's hips are crap and while the vet said agility would be ok, it's become more and more clear this winter it should not be an option. Even this morning, Sophie woke up in her usual chipper mood, and was ready to face the world. Except as she got off the bed, she couldn't put weight on her back left paw. This is chronic and happens more often than not. I understand that Sophie could have a long and happy life with me, and I hope she does but I look at her stiffness and mobility now when she isn't even a three year old dog and I wonder  if she will make it until 5 at this rate?

So, that very sad, devastating to me decision had to be made. Pursuing agility, which Soph loves does not entirely help her long term mobility. Asking her to do 22" jumps in competition is not realistic. In one moment of understanding about what I was asking my dog to do for me, I understood more clearly the long term implications of it. And a week later, I am still so sad about the whole situation I can hardly stand it. Noone wants to see their dog hurting, despite taking supplements and Deramaxx for pain management.

And, the reality is that while Spike runs agility and is great, he is not a puppy either. Each day I am seeing more gray around his muzzle and that tugs at my heart strings too. Someday I will tell the story behind Spike, but his life before coming to me was less than lovely too, and I can't make up for that first, so very important year of his life. He will be 5 before he gets to compete in Flyball or Agility and I am wondering how long he will want to run. I see no indications at this point that he will not want to play these games any time soon but  I also know that when it gets to be too much, I will stop.

So, I want an agility dog. There is no question about that. But, I also know that now is not the moment. So, to that little Black Lab puppy down south... sorry boy, I don't think you are meant to be the next agility dog in my home. And, I am going to try to be patient while I wait.


Casper and pals said...

Oh Jen, I feel for you. You are a wonderful dog owner and clearly are doing what is the best for your dogs. Spike and Sophie are very lucky to have you.

I believe you will one day have your agility dog when the time is right.

In the meantime have you considered doing Rally-O with Sophie? It is 'No impact' and is still challenging. I am doing Rally-O with Buddy and Casper and I am really liking it.

I also had to retire Nikki from agility. She has degenerative disk disease. After 2 injuries neither of which were on the agility course, I decided I just don't want to put her at risk of further injury.

So Nikki starts Rally-O on Sunday. Dayna D is our instructor.

PS If you ever want to go out for a Blizzard- you know if you are having a bad day (or week) give me a call.


Jen said...

Thanks Gwyn! Yup, Soph and I are going to start again with Rally O on Sunday. I did classes with both during the summer, and I took a break once I went back to work/school so now that agiity is probably a no go, it seems like the right thing to keep Sophie going at. She needs to do SOMETHING. So, that and some tracking.

And you're on for a blizzard... SOON! :)

Jen said...
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