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News You Never Want To Hear About ANY Dog…

Posted on 01/22/18 216 Comments

It is something no one should ever have to hear about their not yet 7-year-old dog. I froze and my mind went whirling, I suddenly found it difficult to get out all of the questions that were racing through my head.  As my Uber driver was pulling into Los Angeles Airport, I was talking to Kim on the phone, she was back home in Canada. In my absence, Kim had taken my Border Collie, Swagger, to a vet appointment for me. It was kind of a precautionary visit that I had requested because of a slight “concern” I had… a weird vibe that I got when Swagger was running full out.

It has now been 7 months since Swag had surgery for Medial Shoulder Instability. I had been more patient than Swagger with the long rehab process. I wanted to give him the best chance possible to come back to agility stronger than ever. And that he did. His times were amazing when I worked him just last week. His turns tight… he had come back his same powerful, agility-self. We were now 9 weeks away from our Canadian World team tryouts, and I was flying high with anticipation based on how good Swagger had been looking in training.

All that changed with one phone call as Kim reported that the cardiologist was shocked to discover Swagger has Dilated Cardiomyopathy.

My heart sunk.

My sadness isn’t over the realization that we will never again compete as a team in agility. Nor is it from the immediate restriction of all of Swagger’s activities. No more flat-out running with the other dogs or any other activity that may cause him to want to give a sudden explosive burst of energy (if you know Swagger that basically means most everything he does).

But my sadness does not come from that. It comes from the unknown.

The question of “how long does he have?” is all I wanted to know… but of course, no one can know for sure. Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a disease that breaks the hearts of Doberman Pinscher owners on a regular basis however as the cardiologist shared, it is rare in Border Collies. She herself had never seen it in a Border Collie in her practice. That gave me some comfort. Because it is so rare his prognosis is less known… which immediately gave me reason to be more optimistic.

I’m sharing this news today for several reasons. I’m hopeful this blog post will be shared far and wide and that someone reading it, or referring it to a friend, maybe someone familiar with this condition in Border Collies. I want to search every corner of the world and review every strategy, feeding regime or supplement possibility. I’d especially love to talk to any cardiologists who has worked with Border Collies with this condition. 

I’m also writing to ask you all to keep Swagger in your prayers.

But what motivated me to write immediately was to share early diagnosis has potentially saved Swagger’s life. If I had continued to work his heart to the max, it could have eventually just given out. By following up on my hunch I have given him the best chance at the longest life possible.  I think the key take away is; know your dog. Know what “normal” should be in every situation. Working, running, sleeping, breathing. Record keep times in training…not just looking at ‘course times’ but know how fast your dog should be…do your dog’s time get significantly get faster or slower after a rest and repeat. If your dog starts to do things he normally doesn’t, like drinking more, sleeping more, moving differently, take note. Don’t just assume these little things are normal signs of ageing …check things out. Trust your gut instinct.

There were several little things that Swagger has shown me starting late last fall that were “different”.  All of these little things added up so that two weeks ago, I requested Swagger see a cardiologist before I continued with my plans for his return to agility. I was told the wait for an appointment would be a long because Swagger was, by all appearances, a normal, healthy dog, and it was difficult to see a cardiologist unless the situation was more serious.

 

As luck would have it, last week we got a call that there was a cancellation so Swagger could be seen earlier than planned. Since I was going to be in L.A. on business, Kim would take him. Which brings us up to my telephone call at LAX.

Yes, this sucks.

The nice thing about being in Los Angeles airport when you get this kind of news is that no one looks at you weird because you are sitting alone on a bench sobbing. Actually, all of the attention was diverted to what appeared to be a homeless man, who was hanging out two benches over randomly shouting out “My kitty is a good kitty…”  and “The Po-lice can’t get me…”  followed up by “I love dat kitty!” over and over and over. 

I admit I did sit there stunned and crying for a bit before I walked off, leaving the wailing-cat-lover behind in order to check in early for my flight and start to formulate a plan for Swagger.

I’m a big believer that life happens for us, not to us. 


When the highs in life with a dog are super high, the trade-off is that the lows are going to be like a massive kick in the guts. The thing is Swagger is still his same happy, kooky handsome self. Yes, I needed to grieve what I believe we’ve lost, an amazing partnership in the agility ring with a dog that I adore.  However, agility is a sport we play and, as much as we both love it, everyday life with a dog that you love transcends any sport. There is no need to be morose now.

Feeling sad comes from focusing on the future rather than the present.  Thinking of the future will create anxiety as I’m left thinking “but he is barely 8 years old” and other thoughts that serve no other purpose than to take me to a very dark place. Thinking of the past will bring me to a similar place resulting in me once again, feeling sorry for myself and all that Swagger has been robbed of at such a young age.

Focusing on the past or the future can’t change this diagnosis, and can’t make Swagger’s life the best it can possibly be, but acting in the present can. So I’m going to use any sign of sadness I feel as a trigger to get my head back to the present and take action on the things within my control…like writing this blog post looking for help for Swag.

It’s not a time for sadness, it’s a time to spring forward and make plans.

Swagger loves to work. Luckily for me, he also loves to watch other dogs work. So he will be able to come to the building every day to watch me training Momentum, then he will get some low impact, low energy work to keep him physically fit and mentally happy. He will need all of that and more to replace the hours he spent running, jumping and swimming as a part of his every week routine.

Enter games of mental stimulation and low-level exercise.

Before my flight took off for Toronto I had already contacted Jane Book, a long time friend and student who also happens to be an expert at Nose Work and Tracking. She is both a judge and seminar presenter… and it just so happens she too loves Swagger. So yesterday Jane gave Swag and I a private session officially starting our new hobby of nose work. We played around with it a bit after his surgery last summer…and it seems he remembered a LOT!

Currently, Swagger has been put on a couple of heart meds and a healthy dose of Taurine (an amino acid), which in rare cases, has been shown to reverse this condition. Hope certainly does springs eternal here in Alberton, Ontario, Canada.

Today I am grateful for Swagger’s early diagnosis. No more sadness, time to celebrate every single day we get to have together from this day forward. ♥♥

52 Comments

  1. Melinda Griffin says:
    Thursday, February 1, 2018 at 5:51am

    So sorry yet optimistic for your future with Swagger. Hugs to you and yours.

    Reply

  2. Rose Bate says:
    Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 2:47pm

    I have had 2 Springer Spaniels with DCM. One diagnosed at 3years & one at 18 months. As a vet I panicked. At the time average expectation of life was 6 weeks in the Dobermann & 2 years in Cocker Spaniels. The treatment changed between the 2 dogs diagnosis & has moved on since. The first Spaniel was 13 years & the second was 10 years when their hearts failed, so try not to panic

    Reply

  3. Elle McKay says:
    Wednesday, January 31, 2018 at 7:40am

    Our Australian expert is [email protected]
    I hope Swagger improves.

    Reply

  4. Carol says:
    Monday, January 29, 2018 at 4:30pm

    Swagger is the journey and we get the dog we need…not always the dog we want. You never know, Swagger could be “that” dog that is able to pull through with greatness. Only more testing will tell. He has such a good mommy and support team and I believe in miracles!

    Reply

  5. Ana @ HappyJackRussell says:
    Monday, January 29, 2018 at 8:28am

    Sorry to hear about Swaggers health problems. Good call on following your instincts. Kala and I hope that everything’ll turn out all right in the end. Hang in there.

    Reply

  6. Lynne B says:
    Monday, January 29, 2018 at 6:18am

    If prayers are enough, Swagger will have millions! Sharing your pain…

    Reply

  7. Tonya says:
    Monday, January 29, 2018 at 2:06am

    I am thinking of Swagger and Da Mama. We are hoping Swagger will live a long life in spite of his heart condition. Hugs to sweet boy.

    Reply

  8. Sabine says:
    Sunday, January 28, 2018 at 6:21am

    Dear Susan,

    I’m so sorry to hear the news about Swagger. I am sure you will do everything, so that he can live a long, happy life. 🙂

    If you didnt already find out during your research: The disease is also very common in Great Danes, and here in Germany we have some phantastic vets that have been studying DCM (in Great Danes, but also in Doberman Pinschers) for a long time. Maybe you or your vet want to contact Dr. Kresken from Tierklinik Kaiserberg, just to exchange information, get a second opinion on Swaggers perspectives, or just to hear his thoughts.

    Sending lots of hugs to you and Swagger!

    Reply

  9. Cathy says:
    Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 6:46pm

    Prayers are with you and Swagger. Thank you for sharing. Please keep us posted on your journey through this.

    Reply

  10. Melissa says:
    Saturday, January 27, 2018 at 12:20pm

    My hat is off to Kim. What a treasure she is. To have been the point person in this process has to have been a seriously difficult job. So grateful that she is there for Susan and Swagger.

    Reply

  11. Melissa says:
    Friday, January 26, 2018 at 11:23pm

    Such sad news. You and Swagger have so very many people, all over the world, who love you and send you the best thoughts.

    Reply

  12. Susan says:
    Friday, January 26, 2018 at 10:50pm

    Susan, I am so sorry to hear this news about Swagger. I’ve watched him grow up with you from that cute little singleton puppy to the amazing agility star and family member that he is now. I was just watching his antics last night in your new blind cross videos. It’s clear Swagger truly enjoys life no matter what he is doing,even if it’s just being a spectator! I hope you are able to find some answers to your questions about treatment. But mostly, I wish for you and Swagger many more years together.

    Reply

  13. Barbara Novak says:
    Friday, January 26, 2018 at 5:14pm

    I have Dobermans so I am well aware of this disease. Didn’t even know it could be an issue with BC’s. Most of my fellow Dobe owners medicate, supplement and let their dogs be dogs for as long as they have. I love your attitude. BTW, Nosework is awesome. Healing thoughts being sent Swagger’s way.

    Reply

  14. Marjorie says:
    Friday, January 26, 2018 at 11:28am

    Swagger and Susan. Sending hugs your way. You both have that personality that says we ant beat we gonna fight this and have fun all the way. Love to you both.

    Reply

  15. Cheryl says:
    Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 8:26pm

    Susan- Dpca has been funding a study on stem cells to treat disease. You can find info on their website Early results have been very promising.

    Reply

  16. Barbara Sevier says:
    Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 10:47am

    Susan Nichols’ suggestion to contact Dr. Josh Stein at UC Davis is perfect, if you haven’t already done so. He has been a beacon of light to many Golden retriever owners. DCM has been turned around in some cases.
    Sending prayers for Swagger.

    Reply

  17. Betsy Browder says:
    Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 10:21am

    Dearest Susan,
    You continue to be an incredible inspiration, and you touch my heart and soul. What you give to your dogs and to those of us that are a part of your Say Yes family is so huge that it defies words. I could say much more about how much I appreciate your influence in my life, but I will close by thanking you and holding you close to my heart as you continue to lead by example, hard work, dedication and LOVE!
    Namaste
    Betsy

    Reply

    • Barb Baron says:
      Thursday, January 25, 2018 at 9:27pm

      Susan this news made me sad . My prayers go out to you and prayers for handsome Swagger. Having such a positive attitude will help on a daily basis! I know your dogs are your family as are mine and when they hurt we hurt. There are so many of us that have never even met you that feel a strong family connection to you, your dogs and the entire Say Yes team through your generous sharing of Your Dog training knowledge. If there was a way I could make this go away for you I would do it in an instant.
      Hugs and ❤️
      Barb Baron, Echo and baby Quinney 🐩🐩

      Reply

  18. Lesley says:
    Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 10:53pm

    Your courage and determination to do everything you can to help Swagger brought me to tears for you and for him. Your massive worldwide network will give you a huge chance to find what you need to help him through this devastating condition. All of us who love our dogs will take more particular notice of the little things – so thats one tiny positive. Swagger’s life will be different good, and while I give my dogs the best of everything my attention to all things concerning their livelihood will be more intent with the reinforced knowledge that gut feelings are not to be ignored. Blessings to you both and wishing you the best of outcomes. xxx

    Reply

  19. MaryVW says:
    Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 10:22pm

    Your post about Swagger’s DCM had me on an emotional roller coaster (as one poster wrote we have known him and followed his antics since he was born!) At first the roller coaster had me heading downward fast….and then after continuing to read……hopeful. Hopeful for the very best outcome possible for you and Swagger.

    Reply

  20. Annette says:
    Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 10:06pm

    Susan,
    Heart issues are very common in Poms, and yes the ones I had trialed. We have found that it is late onset, usually as 7 when it starts. If you start him in meds right away, he can live long healthy life. My Poms that we’re put on meds early (at 7) lived to we almost 15. I kept them lean and well excercised. Think of it this way, let him live life the way he wants, he will be happier and stronger. Let him run trials occasionally, just not push him like you would. I cannot stress enough, Starting meds asap is the key. If you would like to ask me any questions, please do not hesitate.

    Reply

  21. Diane Thompson says:
    Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 8:39pm

    I’m so sorry to read about swagger. I had a Rottweiler that was diagnosed with CM at 20 months old. It ended her schutzhund career. But With daily enecard & CQ10 she had a successful Rally & tracking career and live a fun filled life. My vet said since it was caught early don’t treat her like a China doll. We didn’t. She lived til 12 yrs. old. Have faith in meds, your vet, look at every day as a gift. Hope Swagger has many more healthy years.

    Reply

  22. Norma Nelson says:
    Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 10:41am

    I am so sorry for what is happening to you and Swagger. But, life is a crap shoot and we must deal with what gets dealt. Knowing your work ethic, Swagger will be introduced to such wonderful activities that you will make fun and enjoyable for the both of you.
    My thoughts and prayers are with you .

    Reply

  23. Marie says:
    Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 8:35am

    Susan I am stunned and shocked to to read this sad news. Your positive attitude is truly inspirational he is so lucky to have you by his side. Thankfully catching it early will give him a full life with new activities that you will both enjoy together. I have loved following all the training you do and watched him grow into a beautiful stunning boy. You, Swagger and your family are in my thoughts and prayers, thank you for sharing such an emotional post. xx

    Reply

  24. Helen says:
    Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 4:57am

    Hi Susan,
    So sorry about your devastating news about Swagger, really surprised his condition was not picked up earlier at his surgery but as you say it is there.
    Wishing you and Swagger the best of fun together exploring other activities xx

    Reply

  25. Peter says:
    Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 12:51am

    It is sad what activities are lost or restricted now. You will still enjoy each day with him. In the end you will remember his backwards glance when he is ahead. His playful leaning on you. Cueing you to fill the water bowl. The agility courses will seem less important but you will remember the unusual. I remember when the middle of the dog walk bridge blew off in the wind with Buster on top of it even though he wasn’t hurt. He had 9 years post injury without agility. I am glad for every day I had with him. I had heart failure 2 years ago and nearly died. I am one of the few who made a good recovery. Maybe Swagger can get better too. My thoughts are with you both.

    Reply

  26. Lynn says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 11:50pm

    I’m so sorry to read about Swagger (on FB – shared by Sharon Nelson). I want to tell you about my border collie who was given to me when he was 5-½ years old. Shortly after he came into my home, he became very ill, so I took him to Angell Memorial in Boston. They diagnosed endocarditis, with bacterial damage to one of his heart valves — the bacteria had put a hole in the valve flap. They treated him with the “gold standard” antibiotics and kept him in their care for about 6 weeks. When it was time for me to bring him home, they told me that the hole in his heart valve will never close and that eventually his heart will be compromised to the point where it will give out. They would not let me leave without being sure I understood that he would likely live no longer than 8 months, but that if he was still living at 6 months, I should bring him back for a check. It was a sad drive home and his prognosis was so dire that I decided I was not going to curtail his activities (I was not training him anything close to the level you have Swagger), because if he was going to die soon anyway, I wanted it to be while he was doing what he loved. I did contact a homeopathic veterinarian who, after a phone consultation, sent me a “remedy” that I wasn’t sure I believed in, but I decided it wouldn’t hurt him. At 6 months I took him back to Angell Memorial and the cardiologist was amazed that his heart showed no sign of being compromised — the hole was still there (I saw it in the ultrasound), and we lamented that valve-replacement was not available for dogs, and so the expectation was that, at some point, his heart would eventually give out. I stopped agility with him because he was otherwise not sound enough to continue that, but we continued to play lots of games that he loved. Right how, eight years later, he is comfortably lying at my feet while I type this to you.

    I learn a lot from every dog who comes into my life. From him, I learned that there’s much more to “life” and living than diagnoses and limitations. I have no doubt that the antibiotics saved his life, but I also have no doubt that his “heart” was just too big to be bothered by that hole.

    It sounds like you and Swagger will have a great time together for as long as he has — and I’m hoping it’s a long time.

    Reply

  27. Lorry Minor says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 7:23pm

    Susan. I’m so sorry. My doberman was diagnosed age 8. We went to 2 cardiologist. Started all meds. Went to 2014 akc agility at Westminster and ten days later she stood up at midnight out of a cold sleep and dropped dead. I’m so thankful we continued to do agility together as i know now even from a deep sleep they can go anytime. Will hope more border collie genes trump all and thanks for sharing.

    Reply

  28. Paula says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 2:12pm

    Hi Susan, I feel your pain. My 2 year old was diagnosed with MMM recently. I just enjoy every day with him. My border collies love Nosework. I think you and Swagger will love it too!! It is amazing to watch their natural talent. We will be praying for you guys.

    Reply

  29. Rosalyn Russell says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 1:51pm

    Hi Susan,

    Your story resonates with me as I, too, have a border collie with a heart condition. My Mojo was born with Ventricular Septal Defect-a hole in the heart wall between both chambers- grade 5/6. He was diagnosed at 12 weeks, with a grim prognosis. At age 9 months, it was discovered he also had an enlarged heart, too. 2 years life expectancy. Mojo will turn 5 in June.

    When I was told of his condition, my mind went every where… how long will I have him? What will his quality of life be? What if he dies while playing? Of those 3, I can control 1- quality of life.

    Mojo is everything that’s amazing about border collies, and everything that drives you nuts. High drive, high energy, crazy stupid herding drive, and a natural runner. How would I protect him from who he truly is?

    The answer for me was simple: He had to be the dog he was born to be. Having him ‘wrapped in bubble wrap’ would be the worst possible thing for him. So I made the conscious effort to let him be HIM (all in moderation).

    He plays disc, swims, has herded a few sheep, and plays flyball part time- all under a watchful eye, and within reason.

    In his 2 year old echo, the cardiologist told me I should change his name to Clark Kent. I didn’t make the connect and asked why. ‘Because he’s Superman’. His heart had reduced in size, and he was thriving. Appropriate exercise and a great diet part of the reason. The biggest reason? He was happy. He was being himself.

    Mojo goes for echo #5 on Valentines Day. He’s at the next age threshold (almost 5) when clinical cases show a gradual decline. We don’t know what the future brings. His time may be short, or he may live until he’s 10+.

    But I do know he is living the life he was meant to. And I will always find peace and joy in that.

    Why am I writing this? Because your dear Swagger is the same. This is simply a new chapter in his remarkable life. He gets to do other things he was meant to do. He gets to be himself. And he still has a meaningful, purposeful life with you at the center.

    You have asked all the right questions with amazing answers. I wish you and Swagger nothing but the best and will continue to follow his progress as the next chapter begins.

    All my best,
    Rosalyn and Mojo

    Reply

  30. Leah says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 1:32pm

    Wow, just wow. I have no words, except that is one of the bravest posts I have ever read. You find the positive, and seek answers. You and Swagger will handle this with the world by your side. There is an army of support on here. I have followed Swagger since the beginning of Puppy Peaks, and I enjoy everything you do!! You got this!!

    Reply

  31. Linda Nichols says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 1:02pm

    I’m very sorry Swagger and you are going through this. There is a study being done by UC Davis (Dr. Joshua Stern). It’s related to DCM in Goldens linked to low taurine levels. They believe it is because of too much pea protein. You probably feed raw but it might not hurt talking to him.

    Reply

  32. Stephanie Burns says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 11:19am

    Susan – I’m so glad you listened to your gut about Swagger not being his normal self. You and Swagger will love nose work! Give Swagger a big hug from me and all his fans.

    Reply

  33. Elaine says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 10:25am

    I am on my SECOND BC with Dilated Cardiomyopathy – and both returned to agility at full speed! Find the source – sometimes a tick-borne disease can cause it and that can be treated and the DCM basically goes away. With my 2nd dog that has it, she is still competing and was diagnosed at 4.5. We took time off to balance everything- about a year as she also has liver issues. Heart meds and supplements and love. Good luck!

    Reply

  34. Yanna says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 10:03am

    Susan, I am so sorry to hear this about Swagger.Following you and Swagger since Puppy Peaks, it breaks my heart. But I understand how you feel 🙁 I was in the similar situation 6 years ago. We joined Puppy Peaks but after two months our vets said that my sweet 6 months puppy has only 1-2 years. Thanks God that he is still with me. If I can give you advice, don’t look back or to the future. Look at him now, make a plan a enjoy every second with him. I know that you find other way how to improve his life 🙂 God bless you and we pray for you both. I will share your blog on my FB and hope that someone could send you more to Swagger’s diagnosis.

    Reply

  35. Bridget Bodine says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 9:49am

    I do know that some dog foods lack taurine and Golden Retrievers and English Setters and I am sure others get cardiac issues because of it. https://caninelifetimehealth.org/…/researchers-getting…/
    Manage

    Researchers getting closer to understanding dietary taurine and heart…
    CANINELIFETIMEHEALTH.ORG

    Reply

  36. Betty says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 9:42am

    Bunches of hugs and prayers for Swagger and you. Once again you inspire me by putting the focus on having a plan to seek knowledge and to focus on the day in front of us.

    Reply

  37. Lynn M says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 9:17am

    Stunned at the news about Swagger,taking the positives from your post,you’ got an early diagnosis,and you will make his life fun and the best,I loved his scentwork,taking a different road,but with your fantastic positive outlook I know you will both enjoy it. Thinking of you x

    Reply

  38. Narelle says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 5:57am

    Hi Susan. I have read your story and have complete empathy with you
    I have a seven year old cocker spaniel who was diagnosed in September 2017 with the same heart condition. (We live in Australia)
    Like you, we were shattered, as we seemed to have an incredibly healthy dog, who had boundless energy and seemed so full of life. He is on heart medication for the rest of his life (we were told about 2 years). I also give him Taurine 3 times a day. Charlie is a delightful boy and it so sad to think that he may not see his 10th birthday !!
    We live each day filled with as much fun and good things as we can. We go to dog training each week, which he loves and walks each day.
    You just never know what cards you are dealt. We cherish each day.
    Good luck to you both
    Narelle and Charlie (cocker spaniel).

    Reply

  39. Carol Bentley says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 5:49am

    So sorry Susan, especially so soon after losing Decaf. I do hope our Professor Noel Fitzpatrick is able to offer some good advice or contacts to help Swagger. (A fellow Brit had passed contact info to LOH).
    Meantime, maybe Rally-O is another low impact sport you & Swagger might enjoy.

    Reply

  40. Liz Mitchell says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 5:06am

    I am so sorry Susan. Nosework sounds an excellant way of keeping Swagger happy and entertained, and it can really tire a dog out.
    Never give up though. My Staffie collapsed at agiity almost exactly a year ago. After some tests, she was diagnosed with cancer of the spleen and given a few weeks to live. She is still here, ruling the house and still having fun on her walks. She may even make her 14th birthday at the start of April.
    Love to you and Swagger.

    Reply

  41. Patti Stern says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 3:27am

    Hi Susan, sorry to hear about Swagger! He is an outstanding dog, and you are blessed to have him and he to have you. Your instincts were right on, and I know you will do the best for him. Nosework is a great sport too, my dog Coop does agility and nosework, and he enjoys both. Nosework gives your dog a great workout, so take it slow too. Coop does a class for 2 hours, with 7 other dogs, and when we get home he is tired. My prayers are with you both, I know how I would feel if this about my dog. You are a strong and caring dog owner, and I know Swagger is in the very best of hands. Take care, and hoping the Meds help him, and he lives out his golden years as a happy dog. All our love to you and Swagger. Your student PAtti and Cooper.

    Reply

  42. francisca mcdonald says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 3:22am

    My heart goes out to you Susan as you deal with this knowledge about the one and only Swagger……….. You have taught and continue to teach us all on so many levels. Coaching, Dog training, Agility and Life Skills as hard as it is I believe this is putting you on another journey for whatever reason it maybe. As hard as it is, I know in my heart of hearts you and Swagger will take this to a whole new level. (((Hugs))) my friend. Love from Brent and I xxxxx

    Reply

  43. Becky says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 2:54am

    I don’t know you, or Swagger, but as a life long border collie lover, and owner of a border collie service puppy in training, my heart goes out to you. My baby, Kai, means the world to me, they form such strong attachment to their person.
    But as a rescuer, cat and dog, of twenty+ years, please keep in mind that no matter where this leads, you’ve given Swagger something priceless.. you. Regardless of our time on this planet, we have the choice to go for quality or quantity. Ideally, we get both, but the quality is always going to outweigh the rest. That quality is something he may not have found elsewhere, and YOU gave it to him, and are continuing to do so. Own that in those scary moments, because you made a HUGE difference in the life of another being. . And who can really ask for more than that?

    Sending you, Swagger, and all of your loved ones positive energy, white healing light, and the wish that we can all make such a difference. (((Hugs))) from Kai and I, and he’s a great hugger 🙂

    Reply

  44. Carolyn Clark says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 2:23am

    Thinking of you and Swagger, Susan, and appreciating your acceptance and redirection of focus. For you and Swagger . I think he is lucky to have you. Nose work will be a fine new “career”.

    Reply

  45. Maggie Eslinger says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 2:21am

    Hi Susan,
    I am saddened by the news about Swagger, but you always said you wanted to get back into the Obedience ring one day. Maybe this presents this opportunity if you think obedience would be less impact? We will keep you & Swagger in our thoughts and prayers. I will also follow any info you share as we have a half sister to him (Via Excel). Thank you for always sharing the good, the bad and the ugly. It is one of your best traits. So many learn so much from you because you do. 💜& 🍪 For Swagger & you.
    Maggie & Darren

    Reply

  46. Vickie says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 2:19am

    may I use your sentence about feeling sad is when you are focusing on the future? so profound. Swagger and his pack are in my thots and prayers. I’ve so enjoyed his journey with you.

    Reply

  47. Didie01 says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 2:15am

    So very sorry to hear, sending you both all best thoughts and prayers. Also, appreciate reading your emotive post. I know the feeling; My best dog has just ruptured her ACL, 6 yrs 8mths, I had her entered in so many upcoming big events including Agility Nationals with a big road trip over 4 weeks. Devastating and gut wrenching. However She has not had such a bad diagnosis as Swagger, I very much feel for you. I hope to be able to continue Tracking at least when rehab is complete. It’s a wonderful sport for dogs, and can be done at walking pace.

    Reply

  48. Didie01 says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 2:15am

    So very sorry to hear, sending you both all best thoughts and prayers. Also, appreciate reading your emotive post. I know the feeling; My best dog has just ruptured her ACL, 6 yrs 8mths, I had her entered in so many upcoming big events including Agility Nationals with a big road trip over 4 weeks. Devastating and gut wrenching. However She has not had such a bad diagnosis as Swagger, I very much feel for you. I hope to be able to continue Tracking at least when rehab is complete. It’s a wonderful sport for dogs, and can be done at walking pace.

    Reply

  49. Debra, Snap & Puff says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 2:11am

    Susan, I saw this post this morning as I was getting ready for training. I couldn’t read it when I saw Swagger and dilated Cardiomyopathy. I wanted to have some time to fully read your post. First, I am so truly sorry. Following you and Swagger since Puppy Peaks, it breaks my heart. I know you have a lot of super love and support near you. Just know this Arizona girl hugs you in my heart.

    I am so happy you caught this early and I feel Swagger is going to have a full life. It may not be what you strived for, but another bend around the river to a new and exciting journey together.

    Nose work is awesome. You know Snap and Puff are certified search dogs now. I love nose work. You will love watching the change in behavior when Swagger is in scent and just watching them think and work gives me goose bumps.

    Onward and Upward… I will share your blog on my FB. Hopefully someone will have some insight for you. God bless

    Debra Jones, Snap & Puff

    Reply

  50. Jamee says:
    Tuesday, January 23, 2018 at 1:42am

    Susan I am so sorry to hear this about Swagger. I will definitely keep you both in my prayers. Hopefully you’ll get some information and good treatment options from someone. I’ll share your post as I have a friend who’s Labrador sees a cardiologist in PA. Maybe they’ll have some information for you. God bless

    Reply

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