Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Good-bye Sweet Boy

Monday I found out that Seppel had a mass on his heart, likely hemangiosarcoma. I was supposed to bring him home for the week and then let him go but he started declining that afternoon and I had to make the decision then.

My heart is broken. That's what I keep saying but it is the best way to describe how I'm feeling.

I am so sad that our IPO journey is over.

I am so sad that my training partner and friend is gone.

I feel like the universe told me I could get Stuck, my next IPO dog for the price of losing my first training partner soon after. I know this is an irrational thought and I am not a religious person, but in some respects that is how it feels.

I am so sad that he is no longer in my home. His tail was always wagging and every time you touched him his whole body moved. He was always happy, all the time. He never had a bad day.

I miss him waiting at the end of the garage when I would call everyone in. His ears would go flat as if he was saying "I don't want to go in, I want to stay out here and do something with you."

He was always the first to the door, ready to go. He LOVED to play chuck-it and when I would take him out last he would come bounding out of the car like he was saying "I'm the best at this game! Play with me!" He would always put 100% into going after and bringing back the ball. He was my favorite to play with because he loved it so much.

He also loved the flirt pole. He would play with it forever with me.

I miss him being my copilot. He was the best car rider and was always in the front seat with me. When I would go get coffee he would inevitably drool on me - every time. It drove me nuts and grossed me out and now I wish he would do it one more time.

He was just starting to become more engaging with me and we were just starting to have fun training. I feel like we were closer than we have ever been.

I miss how expressive he was. He was so reactive to everything and you could read it in his eyes, his ears, and his forehead what he was thinking.

I miss how I could get him to bark at anything, he was easily wound up and it was great. 

I miss his love for cardboard boxes. He shredded so many boxes at work and if I tied him near the recycling cans he would steal things out of them and shred them. He was so crazy sometimes. It makes me sad that he will never be able to do that again.

It makes me sad that all of these things that he did and has done were the last time that he would do them. It is so hard to wrap my mind around the fact that he's gone and that it is all over with.

It makes me sad and angry that I couldn't even have a few more days with him to do the things he enjoyed. I am so sad that his last day was spent in a strange hospital and not at home with me. I know I made the best decision I could at the time but I am so sad because I had no idea I wouldn't be bringing him home.

I am so sad that he went out the way that he did, he was just about to turn 8 years old. That isn't old at all.

It feels so unfair.

I miss him so much. His presence in my life was so big. I know that I am fortunate because I have other dogs and my house isn't empty, but my other dogs are not him. I love them all individually and the hole he has left is huge.

Having Seppel completely and 100% changed my life. He taught me about responsibility and management. Because of his energy level he turned me into a better dog owner - because of him I exercised all of them regularly and made it a priority. He taught my parents that pit bulls were not bad dogs. He taught me so much about training, not just because of who he was but because of him I sought out classes and people to learn from. Seppel fit into my household really well. Our first year together there was a lot of learning and things were a little rough, but once I figured him out things got better and better. In our recent engagement class he did nearly anything I asked. It made me feel really proud of our relationship - that he trusted me to do some of the weird things I asked him to do, and he never questioned me.

The last several weeks I felt like something was wrong with him, I never could have imagined that thing was going to be as bad as it was. I don't know how I will repair myself. I just feel so devastated right now. A quote I found on Instagram says it perfectly:

"Cause you never think that the last time is the last time. You think there will be more. You think you have forever, but you don't."

Rest peacefully buddy. I love you so much, I miss you so much, but I am glad you are no longer suffering.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Three Years post FHO Surgery

I started this blog originally to chronicle my experience with my very first pit bull type dog. On June 19th of 2013 Seppel had FHO surgery on his right leg. I would say most folks find my blog researching this surgery. I chronicled our experience on this blog because when I was researching it I could only find information on dogs a few days post surgery and nothing really too detailed.

Just to give some back story, Seppel came up sore back in 2013, his hip and iliopsoas muscle were painful. We xrayed his hips which revealed unilateral hip dysplasia. At the time we had been doing IPO protection training for a year and because he leads such an active lifestyle he was only going to continue to re-injure himself. I took him to an orthopedic specialist who didn't exactly recommend an FHO. The gold standard surgery is a total hip replacement that would set me back $4k even with a professional discount. However he agreed that my dog would continue to be painful if we didn't do anything.

I scoured the internet looking for resources on FHO dogs. I contacted a few people looking for FHO outcome information. It was extremely hard to find information on dogs after they had fully recovered. I decided to go through with the surgery and I really couldn't be happier. We've had no problems since the surgery and he is physically able to do all the things he could do before except he's not painful.

Here is a video I put together which shows his first few days after surgery, some rehab, and recent pictures and video of him doing things now.

Monday, June 13, 2016


I don't even know how to start this post.

Seppel and I had a terrible weekend, that ended up working out okay in the end.

This past weekend my IPO club put on a seminar with Joel Monroe - an amazing trainer.

 My training director and friend suggested that I work my new dog Stuck in obedience and work Seppel in protection because she wanted to hear what he had to say about Seppel's work.

When I brought Seppel out for protection on Friday he immediately started making his garbled growling noises. Joel asked me if he could do a hold and bark and if he would be dirty. I said he can be dirty but he can do a hold & bark. I sent him in and he immediately tried to bite the sleeve.

It pretty much just snowballed into a terrible time after that. It was really embarrassing to have a dog who I know is trained and knows what he should be doing, but chose to turn into a stress ball instead. This was in front of everyone else at the seminar and was very frustrating. In the hold & bark it's like he went into barrier frustration and no matter what would not bark. To top it off he seemed to get really stressed out.

I was bawling on the drive home that evening and the mood continued into the next morning. I was dreading working him in obedience and even started to get anxiety. I almost decided I wasn't going to work anyone at all. I took him out and he seemed a bit flat for his toy, just as I was beginning to lose all hope I got some food out and his eyes lit up. I took him out to the field and we did a little bit of heeling - he was great. We did some back-tie play and I was able to show his retrieve and jump. Joel suggested that if we weren't ready for a full IPO1 we should do Tracking and Obedience. It gave me something to think about. We went back out for protection that evening and kept everything light. We didn't worry about getting him to bark, just played around and even did a side transport. It ended really well and I felt my confidence get built back up.

Honestly, I went through so many emotions this weekend. It was absolutely terrifying walking onto the field Saturday afternoon after such a terrible protection session the night before. I had so much anxiety about having to do it and so much fear that my dog would let me down. In some ways it was very empowering (after the fact), that I was able to go back out there even though we had such a bad time the night before.

I'm sure the raging question is - if Seppel isn't very good at IPO and if more often than not I'm having a bad time, why don't I just retire him?

Honestly, I am getting closer to that point. If we start having more bad days than good days, I will stop. It isn't worth it to ruin our relationship because he's not really meant for this sport. However, I guess what helps to keep me going is all of the good days and good moments we have. When I look back at where we started and see where we are going now and feel like it's just within our reach. When I really sit down and realize how much he's taught me and how far we've gotten, I am just not ready to just throw it all away just yet.

There are a lot of things that no amount of training will change for this dog. I get that and I am trying to really put into perspective what I want to nitpick and what I realize I will just have to accept.

Since this past weekend I have set a goal - I want to go for our IPO1 tracking and obedience in the Fall. I am working out a tracking schedule and plan to buckle down and really get him tracking and hitting his articles. For the obedience portion we need to learn how to retrieve over the A frame and do a send out, as well as build duration with his heeling. I think this is an attainable goal. The protection portion will either take care of itself or will be something else we will have to work on. Ideally I want him to earn a full  IPO1, but we will just have to wait and see. I feel so thankful to have such a wonderful club to work with and wonderful people to help get me through the bad times and the good times. My IPO club and the experiences that have come with it have been invaluable.