My Papillon Ricky died just 5 days after his third birthday. When I got him in 2009 at about 4 months of age, I had great hopes for him. I wanted him to not only be my OTCH dog but also a MACH dog. In December, 2010, though, he got sick, so sick that he nearly died. It was a shock when we finally learned what was wrong with him, a combination of Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency, Irritable Bowel Disorder, and food allergies (to rice, chicken, lamb, and many other foods.) Despite hundreds of dollars in treatments and a valiant little heart, he died October 18, 2011. I wasn’t with him when he passed but the vet assured me that he merely went to sleep and his heart stopped beating. For a while, I hated the world.
But in my email correspondence with a wise man, I realized what Ricky had probably known all along. My OTCH and MACh aspirations for him were not to be. He was the ultimate lap dog (at about 3 pounds at his healthiest, he was easy to carry around) and though he tried his hardest, he didn’t have the desire to compete. He wanted to love and be loved, nothing more. When he got sick, he knew what I refused to admit to myself: he wasn’t going to be the dog I wanted. I realized, finally, a few days after his death that I had been subconsciously mourning Ricky since he became sick. After nearly a year of it, I was ready to move on and that Ricky would have wanted me to do so.
So it is that I started contacting Australian Shepherd rescues, shelters and individuals about an Aussie pup. Lacey, my old girl, will be 13 in January, 2012. I know I’ll never replace her but I also knew that I didn’t want to raise my new Aussie without her. She’s brilliant at communicating with other dogs and is wonderful with people of all ages. I need her to show the pup an example of what an Aussie is capable of. That said, Lacey has had some issues in her life. We got CDs on her in several venues and she has an AKC RE title. But she’s growing deaf now, and the joints aren’t as fluid as they once were. Her competition days are over and I believe she’s relieved about that. She wanted to please me and never did understand that any disappointment I felt about our failures in the ring were not with her but with myself. She is just a dog, after all, and can’t cure me of my faults (of which there are many!)
To my surprise, I found my pup at the Nebraska Humane Society. I had to wait until she was spayed but she is now in my home, learning to live with my pack (5 cats, two birds, two guinea pigs, Lacey, 2 male Aussies and a female American Eskimo–owned by my sister.) She was taken home by a family at 6 weeks of age. I suspect they had no clue what they were doing with her because by 11 weeks she was escaping from the 4′ fence they expected to contain her. By 12 weeks of age, they were finished with her and turned her in to the shelter. I will not pass judgement on them but I will say that the day they turned her in to the shelter was the best day in her young life for it allowed me to adopt her. My pets stay with me for life so Sage will always have a home with me.
Looking at her now as she sleeps in her crate, I know she has no idea the big plans I have in store for her. Instead, she’s dreaming of treats, chasing the other dogs, barking at the squirrel in the tree, and smelling all the great smells in the world. At this point, that’s all she needs to know. Training starts tomorrow and that’s when the real fun begins.