A Neccessary Untruth

Posted on 03/23/10 23 Comments

So John and I have had this agreement when I go away to teach. It is that he will lie to me. I think it may be unfair to him, but he doesn’t complain and luckily he has rarely had to lie. So the agreement is, that if anything happens to one of my dogs while I am away teaching, and there is nothing I can do to help the situation, he will not tell me about it. In other words, when I call home and ask about my dogs, he lies and says everyone is great. I try not to ask so he doesn’t have to lie.

The thought process is that knowing there is something wrong at home, but not being able to do anything about it will only detract from being the best teacher I can be. I must say knowing this I try to call home around a dog’s meal time so I can hear them rushing around in the background:). Of course no major decisions will be made without my knowledge if something serious did come up, but basically I am kept from knowing anything until I get home.

Unfortunately during my trip to Italy was one of these such times. When we where almost home from the airport John told me that Buzzy was not well, but it was not serious so I shouldn’t get upset. It seems Buzz had a bout with Geriatric Vestibular Disorder last week. Shelby also suffered with this during one of my trips away.  It really makes me sad because it is the first time my dog looks aged, plus it is hard to see your dog in distress.

Buzzy has been limping or sore for most of his life. It is just the way he goes about living. So as he has aged, seeing him stumble or get up a bit stiff has never equated to him being old. It is just being Buzz. Today he looks old and it makes me sad. I know he will improve but I don’t want to think of Buzzy as getting old. He will be 14 in September so to me, he is not yet old. I expect my dogs to stay with me at a minimum until they are 16, ideally beyond that. Even if I lose them before that, in my mind expecting longevity puts your message out there to the universe, my dogs live long happy lives!  I lost Shelby as she was approaching her 17th birthday, Stoni was 14.5 years and Twister was 15.5.  John’s Border Collie “Crash” was also almost 17.

So just in case Buzzy is reading today, he should know is not old, he has just been giving a yield sign to help him ease into a more comfortable pace for his age.

My favourite picture of Buzz. to me it personifies who he is. Running all out, with 3 paws dangling off of the dog walk and onlly 2 toes on (btw he did not fall off).

Today I am grateful that Buzz is feeling better and although a bit slower, this morning he is still his happy self!


  1. Sue C. says:
    Monday, March 29, 2010 at 10:40am

    Sorry to hear about this. This is a scary thing to happen – Tess had a bout of this when she was 14 years while I was on my way to teach out of town. Ted was sure she was having a stroke… I drove white knuckled waiting for the phone call to tell me she was gone. Luckily they diagnosed her correctly and, while she was never quite the same again, she lived another very happy 12 months. You are right in that it is a signal to slow down a bit, but there is every chance that he will continue to live a long and happy life.


  2. Mary Jo says:
    Friday, March 26, 2010 at 2:13pm

    I feel blessed to have been able to see Buzz as a youngster and through the early years of training and of course seeing the growth of you as a team, everyone always would stop to watch Buzz (and no matter where you were at a trial, you always knew when he was running, LOL!) You are so blessed to have had your dogs for such long lives, and hope that Buzz is next on the list. I always seem to lose mine earlier than I expect to, and it’s always so hard, no matter when they go.


  3. Teri says:
    Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 9:53pm

    My 14 year old lab just had her second bout of vestibular (first one was in Nov). We unfortunately were away on holidays and mom was looking after them. Scared the crap out of her but luckily we were only a few hours drive away so I went home to check and recognized the situation and then smuggled the old girl back on holidays with us so I could look after her. I’m starting to think maybe she plotted the whole thing to be included (hehehe). It sucks seeing them age, my heart breaks a wee bit with every old dog problem but until she stops smiling we will fight the good fight.


  4. Sarah Mairs says:
    Thursday, March 25, 2010 at 7:25pm

    HUGS to Buzz!!!!!!!!


  5. Kim Collins says:
    Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 3:59pm

    Yup he is an amazing dog and taught us all so much. I think Sierra benefitted from me meeting Buzz in 1999 when you brought him and Stoni out to PG. It’s a bitch getting old…for all of us….give him a hug for all of us here…



  6. Nat Kirkwood says:
    Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 8:04am

    Hi Susan,
    I too went through tis with 2 old dogs earlier this year (14 & 15). But an amazing thing happened when I took them to see the specialist (re chiro/physi/vet/Dr Doolittle), she did some maipulation stuff on their skulls and within 3 hours they were significantly improved. One I had to her within 3 hours of onset (just fortunate I already had an appointment that day with a different dog), the other had a bout a month later and had to wait 6 days for an appointment (there was no improvement in those 6 days, but within 3 hours of seeing her, she was also significantly improved). Neither have looked back.


  7. Anne Stocum says:
    Wednesday, March 24, 2010 at 6:15am

    Susan – I have a lot of Buzz memories but your photo reminded me of a Y agility trial moment. You sent Buzz onto the DW and ran way ahead and lateral. He never took his eyes off you and as you cut lateral, He couldn’t bare to be left behind so he simply jumped off the DW horizontal plank to follow you, screaming (well – loudly barking) until he caught up. Took my breath away!


  8. Mary M says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 10:15pm

    I am sure Buzzy is happy to have the mama home….it has to be difficult to be on the road so often for the people and the pups!


  9. Karen M says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 7:27pm

    Thank you Susan for sharing this. For those of us who have old dogs, it arms us with that extra information for our vets to consider at consultations.


  10. Julie Stokes says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 6:38pm

    My old girl had a bout with the same thing a few weeks ago but she is up and running again. She will be 14 in August. Hope Buzz recovers as well as Shandy.


  11. Sydney says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 4:26pm

    Your messages often seem to be timely. In 12 years I have lost 4 dogs near their 8th birthday – all disease related. My current 7 1/2 yr old had a melanoma growth removed from her long Collie snout this month. Everything internally looks clear for now. I’m letting everyone know she will live a long happy life and I will tell her so many times a day! Thank you Susan.

    I’m glad Buzz is feeling better and I wish him more good years ahead with you and your gang.


  12. Karey says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 2:38pm

    Sending healing thoughts buzzy’s way :-).


  13. Trudie says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 1:25pm

    Funny, about an hour ago it popped into my head to wonder how you do it when you go far away from your dogs


  14. Marcy says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 1:19pm


    Glad to read that Buzz is feeling better. A friend of mine had a 13-yr-old Golden who had a very bad bout of GVD and recovered fully from it. She lost him at 16. Buzz will do the same, I am sure. In the meantime I will keep Buzz, you and John in my thoughts and prayers.


  15. Christine says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 1:05pm

    I couldn’t get through this post quick enough. Here’s hoping he takes it a little easier on himself, and besides…if he has the head tilt it just adds more personality!

    Buzz looks very proud of himself in the DW shot!


  16. Kelly says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 12:04pm

    Buzzy is the keeper of a great and powerful spirit. I trust he will be with you for a long time yet, but it is never easy to see them age. Here’s to many more years of special big adventures for Buzzy and his mama.


  17. Pat in KY says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 10:20am

    Today I am thankful that Buzz will recover from this and that he has you there to love him. I’m so happy for you that it is not a serious illness. I love the picture. It’s hard to believe that he didn’t fall off.


  18. Helen Verte says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 10:14am

    I know the feeling, Susan. My first Dobie, my Baby and the Queen Mother of the household, is going to be 13 next month. She started showing her age about two years ago, and sometimes, she falls down going into the house, or when the other dogs whirlwind by. She’s also gone a bit senile and barks at night out of confusion, or when she wants to get up and can’t. When she had started going downhill at 11, I envisioned her being at least 14 before she could make any decisions of going anywhere. I agree with you that envisioning such things puts out to the Universe a silent and powerful communication. Everyday she has is a good day, and some are super days.

    That first big bump, like Buzzy had, is such a perspective changer and emotional moment. Settling into the fact that there’s a physical change happening is challenging. After some time, and mental adjustment, there is a softening and acceptance of how the relationship changes. But they are still who they are even with the phsyical changes. My Baby is still bossy, and a Diva. She could be on the ground and unable to get up, but by God, I and everyone within a 100 foot radius will know. She is very vocal about her needs.

    You and John have a good agreement. I will keep you and Buzzy in my prayers. He is a super dog from what I’ve read about him on your blog. He couldn’t be loved and respected more by anyone.


  19. A&J says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 9:43am

    I feel like I know Buzz from Shaping Success, so it made me sad to read this … I couldn’t help smiling though when I scrolled down – what a great pic – it’s so Buzzy (at least what I envision Buzzy to be like).


  20. Taryn says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 9:41am

    It is definitely hard to watch our canine friends get old ahead of us. Here’s wishing Buzz many more happy and healthy years!


  21. barrie says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 9:07am

    I am just getting around to reading all about Buzz in Shaping Success, such an amazing read!!


  22. Renee says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 9:05am

    Ah, Buzz!!!! My buddy! I am so happy to hear that he is okay and feeling a bit better now. I LOVE the pic on the DW!!!!!! TRUE Buzz! If I listen in my head, I can hear him barking now. 🙂 What a special guy!


  23. denise says:
    Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 8:19am

    That’s a great photo! He looks like he is having the time of his life 🙂


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