Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Last Hurrah--- farewell Pre

This is much harder than I anticipated.  Pre has not been the easiest dog to keep.  He is destructive and has cost me alot of money in repairs, both to himself and everything around him.  He chewed the dog house and broke teeth.  He tore up the tarp that covered the outdoor kennel. He plays tug with any bucket in his kennel, and chews up the rubber ones  He climbs on top of the dog house and hangs out over the top of an uncovered kennel if he thinks I am leaving him.  I have spent hundreds and hundreds on training seminars, working to hone his skills specifically with the Malinois National Championship as our end goal.  He is a nervous traveler, and I am overly familiar with the trick of actually picking up stool the consistency of butter.  He eats better food than the dogs in my kennel and I buy raw food for him when we travel because of that.

Oh, but when he is performing he is a sight to behold! He prances and flows and exudes joy.  Looking at him makes me smile.  He can be a total goof, and a cuddler.  If I wore lipstick, his face would be a panorama of colors from all the smooches I've given him.  I knew that after this weekend I would be saying goodbye to him and leaving him with Sam's family to retire.  I kept reminding myself of the bad stuff, the unpleasant or costly pieces so that it will make it easier to say goodbye.  And then I look at him, and I smile.

Being able to work with Pre this past year has made a better handler of me, and we have learned so much together.  We have traveled to Kentucky, Iowa, Illinois,New York and Minnesota to train and compete.  As I write this,  the two of us are resting at my hotel room where we attended the Malinois National Schutzhund Championship.  Pre passed tracking yesterday with 86 points, in 50 mph winds. Not all the dogs were successful, and I was very proud of him.  This afternoon, we prepped for obedience and I felt good about it.  We heeled beautifully onto the field, but Pre became distracted by the dog next to him. He sat next to me, but looked at the other reporting team.  The other dog took Pre's look as a challenge and as the handler reached for his collar, the dog attacked Pre. Fortunately, only minor injuries were suffered and we didn't have to make a run to the emergency vet, but that ended our competition.  Afterwards, as is, unfortunately, usual, there was talk and rumor and I heard someone say that Pre is dog aggressive.  He has NEVER been dog aggressive.  His best buddy is my young male German Shepherd, and he is in a sick love relationship with my elderly Dutch Shepherd female. Humping? yes.  Fighting? no.  He is most apt to go into a play bow and act the fool.  He was stupid to be eyeballing another dog who did not have the same intentions, and it was a lack of control and focus for him to do that, it is true.  Ideally, he should have been looking at me, and not the other team.

I am very disappointed.  This is not how I envisioned Pre's last trial to be.  Selfishly, I wanted glory.  I have to be honest and acknowledge that Pre has no such agenda.  He lives only to play and have fun showing off his skills, which earn him the praise, food and tugs he desires.  And so, tomorrow afternoon I will drive north and leave him behind. I'm trying to steel my heart to that moment, but he makes it difficult by flopping over for a belly rub.  I hope that he enjoys his retirement and is a good boy.