Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Life with Sport Dogs

I have 5 dogs - 4 Australian Shepherds, and an Australian Cattle Dog. I am a chiropractor by profession and I perform disc dog shows and compete in disc dog contests with 4 of my 5 dogs. There's Stanley - 7 year old male, Mojo - 6 year old male, Fire - 5 year old female and Stella - 3 year old female ACD. There's also 3 year old Motley, our calm, good natured relaxed Aussie. Motley enjoys a few tosses of the disc or ball in the yard, but he's not quite driven enough to be a performance dog. No problem though, the other 4 generate enough energy to spare.

This blog will offer up my views on a variety of topics and experiences, ranging from our adventures in competition to observations on canine fitness, training and behavior to holistic canine health ideas. I believe in positive, reward based training. I believe in building bonds with dogs by being active together and by living together in an atmosphere based on love and mutual respect. Moreover, I believe that a dog's health can be constructively nurtured by raw diet, regular body work and appropriate supplementation.

I love training, playing with and exercising with my dogs. I feel like my purpose for having these amazing creatures is to help them realize their potential and spread joy to other people in the process. The joy and comfort that my dogs have brought to my life has been immeasurable and I hopefully can help whoever reads this blog series experience more joy as well.

On this evening, I am thinking of my friend Dan and his dog Carley. I met Dan 3 years ago at a disc dog event in Conneticut when he and Carley were just starting to get involved in the sport. What stood out with Dan and Carley was how much Dan LOVED his dog. Over the years they learned how to play the disc dog game better and better until last season they qualified for the USDDN World Finals in the Toss and Fetch competition. What a treat to see this pair among the top teams in the world and loving every minute of it!

I was informed over the weekend that Carley had somehow developed a severe kidney infection and was gravely ill. Earlier this evening, Dan posted on Facebook that he expected that Carley may pass sometime tonight. For those of us who have had and lost dogs, we all know how difficult a time this is. I must admit though, that while I have lost 4 dogs in my life, I have not experienced the loss of one of my sport dogs yet. The bond that develops between a sport dog and its handler is truly special. In Dan's case, friends have described Carley as the love of his life.

Dan, I cannot fathom the anguish you must be feeling. If Carley recovers, I look forward to raising a glass with you in relief. If its her time to pass on, please remember that you have many friends that care about you and love you. You have given Carley an amazing life that most dogs would love to have. I have no doubt that you will find the strength to heal and offer your love again to another lucky dog.

Please take a minute to appreciate your dog(s) today. Our time together is short, sometimes painfully so. Remember to appreciate every moment and take the time to be joyful together.

For Dan and Carley.

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