Tuesday, April 23, 2013

7 Months, 4 Weeks: Training - Day 83

Emma and Attitude rest with my son Walter.
This was taken the Tuesday before she died.
The house is quiet and sullen today.  On Sunday, April 21st, 2013 Attitude, my tiny Dachshund, lost her battle with heart disease.  I woke for the first time in 10 years without my tiny girl curled up under the covers on her side of my bed.  I woke for the first time in 4 years as the owner of two dogs instead of three.  Max is quiet and watching me like I am made of glass and Dieter is depressed and sedate in his behaviors.  Today my home woke on the first morning after loosing Attitude.

Jack had arrived about 30 minutes before Emma and quickly discovered her body, which lay on the top of his crate, and sniffed it.  He'd been happy and ready to start our day when he arrived, but the moment he circled her body and got a good sniff and realized who he'd found, he lowered his head and came and laid it in my lap and just stayed there while I dripped tears on his head.

When Emma came in she started the game of wrestling with the other dogs and I realized it was the first time this happened and Attitude's sharp "knock it off you kids" bark would never be heard again.  Max and Jack were trying to move away and stop the game - they were still watching me closely and didn't want to play.  I scooped Emma up and took her to Attitude's body and let her smell.  In an instant Emma's head lowered and she too fell into the quiet, give Mom space, mode the adult dogs were in.

It's a quiet and sullen day today.  I chose not to train during the day.  I can't stand the thought of a kibble hitting the floor and my Little Red Vacuum not hoping off of my chair to eat it.  I can't stand the thought of training Go To Mat and not having to pick her up and put her back on my chair so the dog I am training can get on the mat.  I can't stand the thought of training and not having her trail behind me to scoop up the random kibble I drop or stopping her from racing the big dog to the kibble I tossed or even of all of the dogs hovering waiting for her to finish her meal.  It's a quiet and sullen day today.

Emma has class tonight and I will take her.  Until then, this home is in mourning and will spend the day reflecting on a small, but important, hole in our lives.

Today's Lessons:

Finishing School

I left early for class because I wanted to stop at Hunter Vet Clinic to drop off Attitude's remaining medications.  I had just refilled her medications on Thursday, before she died, and had an almost full prescription of Vetmedin and Enalapril and just over a week of Salix left.  Since, by law, the vet cannot purchase back the medication if it had been opened, I decided to donate the medication for another family who has a dog with a heart condition - I know the cost of those medications and know a donated dosage of them will make their lives so much easier when dealing with a chronic heart condition.

I cannot thank Dr. Brian Hunter and his fabulous staff and fellow vets for the amazing care they gave Attitude during this past two years.  The care they gave in supporting her heart when they cleaned her teeth the final time and the way they worked with me to ensure Attitude always had her medication made my life as a care giver of an animal with a chronic heart condition so much easier overall.  They are the best vets in town in my book.

When I was there I weighed Emma and found her to be 25.2 pounds.  She's at the peek of her growth and I suspect she won't get much bigger or heavier than she is now.  I figure between now and 18 months of age when her joints seal, she should put on no more than 2 more inches and between now and 3 years of age I suspect no more than 10 pounds.  It appears Emma will be a small dog and this will adjust how I will train her to pay for items for her handler when that training period happens.

My visit at Hunter Vet Clinic left me in tears.  I was crying when Dr. Hunter came out and he gave me a hug and told me how sorry he was I had lost her.  I dried my eyes and fought the tight, sick feeling in my stomach as I drove over to Diamonds in the Ruff.  I had almost gotten myself together when I entered and Stacy, Carol's assistant trainer for this class, asked if she could give me a hug.  After the hug she said she would not ask me any questions about my baby girl, since she knew how close I was to loosing it.

Carol gave me a gentle rub on the back and gave silent support.  They knew my heart was not into working Emma, but I had to take her anyway.  I was clicking automatically, not even thinking of it, as Emma offered a down with focus on her mat.  I kept that up until she settled her head and relaxed at my feet.  She did a fantastic job during class and truly made me shine.

I want to thank Carol and Stacy for their patience with me when I was reporting Emma's week prior - since the moment I mentioned Attitude and her passing over the weekend I began to cry and had to fight to regain my control.

Emma did some amazing stuff in class.  She relaxed nicely at my feet for an extended period of time, and when one puppy came in and actually touched her and invaded her space, she kept her focus on me as much as she could and didn't get up or engage the puppy!  Great job, Little Girl.

When it came time to show off door manners, she did a perfect down and kept eye contact as I opened the door, didn't twitch a muscle and only moved when I gave her my release cue.  Fantastic job.

When we did the dropped item leave it she caught on quickly and would look at the item and then up to me and made eye contact.  Fantastic job.

In truth, Emma made me look good this class - even when my heart and brain weren't in the training.  I am very proud of her for how she performed in class.


  • Level 1 and Level 2 Comeafters for Zen.
  • Level 1 and Level 2 Comeafters for Come.
  • Continue Hide-N-Seek games
  • Continue having B cue Emma on Sit, Down, Come and Target with his speech machine.
If you have any questions please call me and ask.


Many would ask why did I show Emma Attitude's body and I have a very good reason for it.  When a beloved companion dies and it's possible to let the other dogs in the home check and see they have passed it makes their grief period less painful.  They don't go through the prolonged period of searching and trying to locate a missed friend.  Emma and Jack had not been present when Attitude passed, but she's been a big part of their lives - Emma since she was 14 weeks old and Jack for the past 30 training days he's come to my home.  Letting Emma know that Attitude had passed was a kindness to her - it let her know that she didn't need to go and try to find the missing dog in the home.

She's quiet and sad, but she'll recover from Attitude's loss faster than I.  She's also aware now of why Max and Dieter smell sad.  She went to pester Dieter just after sniffing Attitude and after a brief sniff pulled away and has since left him alone.  She is respecting his deep grief.  Dieter and Attitude were as close as Little Ann and Big Dan in Where the Red Fern Grows and his grief is profound.  He was less than a foot away from her when she died and he witnessed the onset of her heart attack - he was shaking and closed in on himself after her loss and wouldn't even look at her body until today.

After letting Emma and Jack check Attitude, I picked up Dieter and took him to her.  He sniffed and checked and looked at her for the first time and I saw that head drop and then he looked up at me.  He's known she died since yesterday, but today he could face it.  Though he's eating, he's not as wound up happy about his food like he used to be and I have watched him decline every time Attitude did.

Emma, Max and Jack may be facing yet another loss soon.  I don't know if Dieter will last much longer after her death or not.  Even Victoria, who's checked Attitude's body, is sedate and quiet.  A hard lesson for all of them, but with Attitude dying at home and my not having to take her away and then never return with her, they at least know why their friend is no longer telling them to cool it or leading the barking brigade in my defense.

It's a quiet and sullen day today.

No comments:

Post a Comment