Tuesday, February 1, 2011

OTCh. U-CDX Riversides Magen’s Starbucks UDX2 RE AX AXJ; Can CD; RL3
March 2, 1997 - January 30, 2011

I realize this is long. It is a vital part of the way I grieve for my dogs, writing up their life in this way. It is something I will go back to at some future date to reflect on Java's life. Java was a wonderful part of my life for nearly 14 years. He lived with great gusto right up to the end. Isn't that what we all wish for ourselves and our loved ones?

I first heard about Java's litter sometime in early 1997. I think the puppies (2 boys) were a couple of weeks old. I was still reeling from the sudden death of my beloved Australian Terrier, Rio, the previous Halloween of acute kidney failure (he was only 8.5 years old). My 1st dog, Australian terrier Casey was slowing dying of kidney disease. I told the breeder that I could not consider a new puppy while Casey was still alive - she required a fair bit of extra care, and I didn't feel it would be fair to either her or a new puppy or my family or me.

I first met Java when he was 6 weeks old. Jim Ham, long-time Border Terrier owner and AKC obedience judge, happened to attend the same AKC Judging seminar as I did at the Ann Arbor DTC, and he was willing to take a look at the puppies on his way home. Java's breeder, Genie Dethloff conveniently lived in east Ann Arbor. One of the two boy puppies wandered off and played by himself under the table, but the other one ended up curled up in my lap near the end of our visit. I think that is the one whose head Jim complimented.

Time passed. Genie kept nudging me. We put Casey down on Good Friday, right before a vacation trip. I continued to resist the thought of a new puppy. I wasn't emotionally ready. More time passed. But my family was ready, and our one remaining dog, Flat-Coated Retriever Treasure, was lonely. She had grown up with 3 older dogs, and she really didn't like being an only dog.

Finally in June, I reluctantly relented and went back to see him. His brother had gone to his new home. I figured I would have to ask Genie to leave the kitchen so the puppy would be interested in me. Much to my surprise, he immediately ran to me, jumped into my lap, and started licking my face enthusiastically. So he came home on trial. By the next day, as he lay curled up in my lap snuggling, I realized something very important. If we never stepped into a ring to compete in anything, I wanted him to stay. He was already helping to fill the gaping hole left in my heart when Rio died so suddenly.

So stay he did. He was 12 weeks old when I brought him home. Genie had done a fabulous job raising him to that point. He knew what a crate was for and what grass was for. I think he slept through the night from the beginning. He already had a marvelous fast sit and was quickly attentive to me.

One of the characteristics I had noted in the BTs I had met before getting Java is that as a breed, they tend to be smart. Sometimes, unfortunately, smarter than the owners :-). He was no exception. In fact, he was the smartest dog I've ever owned. He typically learned something very quickly, but would also test my level of commitment to the meaning of a command on a regular basis.

Training Java was pretty easy. He learned things fast and loved the opportunities for cookies. He earned his AKC novice agility titles zippety quick in the fall of 1999, and eventually earned his AX/AXJ. We showed in CKC Novice first in the fall of 1999, and he had a splendid first weekend out, earning his CKC CD, including a 199.5 High in Trial in the 4th trial under judge Chuck Bush. What a thrill! And he also qualified just in time to attend the Classic tournament. He had seven 1st places in seven Novice B classes in AKC, earning two HIT and three more ties for HIT. We attended the Classic and placed 3rd in the Novice division. Another huge thrill. The following summer, he placed 3rd again in the Novice division of the Detroit-Windsor World Series obedience tournament.

He earned his CDX in the fall of 2000, and his UD in just 6 tries, earning the 3rd leg in January 2002. He earned his 1st UDX leg on 2/23/02 @ Sportsmen's and his 10th leg on 2/23/03 also @ Sportsmen's. Along the way, he earned a HIT out of Open B and a couple of High Combined awards. His OTCh point total mostly crept up slowly, a few points at a time. On one memorable weekend at Cleveland All-Breed, he earned a 2nd in Open B the 1st day and then won both Open B & Utility B the next day, netting him 27 OTCh points in one weekend. I am pretty sure that was the only time any of my dogs won both Open B and Utility B at the same trial.

In January 2004, he worked a fantastic Utility B class. I found out later that we had 1st place wrapped up until Bridget Carlson and her NOC Golden Soupy, the last team to show, walked in the ring. We earned a 2nd place with a 198, good for 5 points (on the same day that young Gryffin earned a 5-point major in conformation).

Going into the Toledo KC trials in February 2004, he still needed 24 points, so finishing his OTCh wasn't a huge stressor, because I didn't expect it to happen in the immediate future. On Saturday, he got 2nd in UB for 4 points. The next day, he again had a fabulous performance, earned 1st place, netting him exactly 20 points, which finished his OTCh. None of my other dogs finished that unexpectedly, nor with exactly 100 points. While there have been other OTCH Border terriers before him, it had been 10 years since the one before him.

We continued to show, and he ended up halfway to his UDX3 before he told me he was ready for retirement. He had more qualifying scores in AKC obedience than any of my other dogs (60 in Open B, 44 in Utility B. I love AKC reports!), and is my only UDX2 and AX/AXJ title earner to date.

We attended 2 AKC NOI tournaments in Tampa, FL. The 1st year, 2005, we failed the 2nd Signal Exercise because of an unlucky sneeze that caused him to miss my stand signal. The 2nd year, he missed an article, but was fabulous on everything else, and earned a placement in the Terrier group, which got us into the Sunday rounds. We won our 1st round, but a failed glove in the 2nd round dropped us. During our final heeling in that ring, I remember thinking that I didn't want it to end - his heeling was brilliant that weekend, and his scores reflected it. He lost fewer points on the heeling exercises than all but the highest placing dogs (just call me a statistics geek).

Java loved to demo obedience exercises with me - cookies were usually on offer - and he was very willing to heel with anyone who tried. It was a great way for someone new to obedience to experience first hand what it felt like to heel with a well trained and very responsive dog.

I often said that Java taught me several things that I wished I hadn't had to learn. I had to be very careful in how I used food with him. Getting him to put forth effort at the start of a class was one of our biggest challenges. He was the first dog I campaigned under the 6 possible orders in Open B & Utility B, so it wasn't a particular exercise that challenged him, but where it fell in a particular order. Directed Jumping was probably his most-often failed exercise, especially when it was early in the class. He would often heel nearly perfectly when it fell near or at the end of a class.

Java was a great swimmer and did not want to be left behind if we went out in a canoe when at our Canadian cabin on a lake. He pursued me one last time last summer at 13+ when I tried to paddle off without him. I had to circle back to pull him on board. He loved to wait at the water's edge, poised to steal whatever the swimming Flat-Coat was returning with, whether Treasure, Gryffin, or Ty. He also loved to chase and retrieve tennis balls when he was younger. As he aged, he much preferred going out to the big fenced yard to sniff the good smells, every now and then stealing a tennis ball for a while from the big black dogs. He frequently chased them with a ball in his mouth, barking more quietly through that muffler. He also loved to go out to the parking area by the training building, hunting for snacks, and would often squeeze his way out under one of the gates to do so. He got quite deaf in the past year, but could still outrun me easily, so I finally got smart and kept him on leash when outside of the dog yard.

Java loved running with Fritz more than anything in the world, and would fuss ecstatically (and annoyingly) whenever Fritz appeared in what Java saw as The Running Uniform. Java would get all of the other dogs wound up tight, dashing about, carrying on, clamoring to go run with Dad. I learned after only a couple of attempts that trying to do any obedience with him when he thought a run was imminent was futile. They took their final run together just a week before Java's sudden death.

Java was easy as pie to teach tricks to, and he knew more than any other dog I've trained. It was hard to be uptight when he would do his oh-so-cute wave, so it was something I used before stepping in the obedience ring to help calm my nerves.

When he was a young dog, before Joker the BT joined our family in 2001, our boys nicknamed Java 'Funny' because he did so many funny things. His nickname as he got older was The Curmudgeon because he his expression was so serious much of the time.

He was a very healthy boy, except for having some never-resolved issue that caused him to drink a lot and pee a lot, and not concentrate his urine. This went on well over half his life. About 6-8 weeks ago, he suddenly started drinking a lot more than usual again, and having to go outside much more frequently, with several frustrating accidents. While I consulted his vet, I didn't pursue a solution, since it just seemed to be the old problem returned.

We've been doing a lot of trips out the building to walk and exercise Gryff, and Java was loving the chance to dash about the building, chasing the other dogs and hunting for treats. I took a lot of pleasure in watching the old boy zooming about, obviously enjoying himself.

When I returned with the other 3 dogs from a recent trip to Pennsylvania where I taught a seminar, when I walked in the door, he snatched up a nylabone and proceeded to gleefully play his favorite game of keep away for several minutes. On this past Saturday night, he went out to the building with the rest of the dogs and ran and played while I finished setting up for the fun match scheduled for the next day. Sunday morning, he was doing his whine/moan fussing because he wanted to go out with me. He was fine when I fed them at noon. When I finally came in at 5 PM, I knew immediately that something wasn't right. I checked his gums. I've never seen such pale gums. I took his temp. 95.6. Never seen such a low temp. We trotted off to the emergency clinic. After some consultation, he was admitted for diagnostics. When I heard back from them a couple hours later, the news was not good. He had an orange-sized mass in his abdomen - this in a 19 lb dog - along with fluid. One option was exploratory surgery to see if the mass could be removed, but he was so unstable because of the abdominal bleeding, chances were low that he would survive the surgery. The other choice was euthanasia. And I had to decide fast. After a brief and tearful consultation with my dear friend Helen Szostak I made that awful choice. Fritz, Ryan, and I drove back to the clinic and hugged and petted him for a short time, saying goodbye. He went very peacefully in my arms.

I've never had a dog live past 12.5 years, so every day Java lived was a new record for us. As wrenching as such a sudden death can be, I am grateful that he lived life to the fullest to the very end. Isn't that what we all want to be able to do? Java filled a gaping hole when he came home in 1997, and he leaves one behind with his departure.

When my friend Jan's dog Sadie died, someone sent her this, which I just love:

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are" (Author unknown)

Rest well, Java Man. You were a blessing in our lives, and I'm so much richer for having known and loved you.

1 comment:

kelstrincollies said...

“No matter how little money and how few possessions you own, having a dog makes you rich” - Louis Sabin

Adele, I was at the Pennsylvania Seminar the week prior and knew from your comments and stories about Java that he was a "wise old soul." Remember, he will always be by your side, and in the perfect 'heel.' May God Bless. Stephanie Barber and Lily Rose, Kelstrin Collies