Even though we knew Neptune was on limited time since the diagnosis, it was still devasting when the time came. Ironically, that year we had been saying "if he can just make it to the Stowe trip". See we took the dogs with us to Stowe every year when we went skiing. It was great. We would walk a few miles in the snow with the guys early in the morning. They would be exhausted and sleep in the dog-friendly hotel afterwards. We went skiing, and then came home and played on the grounds with the dogs or cuddled in front of the fire. Everyone looked forward to this trip for the last five years.
Neptune had a great time on the trip, but seemed unusually tired. When we came home, he seemed in pain. We thought maybe he pulled something running, as his back seemed to be hurt. Found out at the vet, that it was a reaction to one of the meds, and he was bleeding out internally. We should have let him go right there, and we decided the next morning that was what we were going to do, but he left us that morning. I regret not being there with him. It was weird that he died right after that trip was over, almost like he gave us that one last time with him as a present.
Jazz and I mourned together. We were both depressed. As I knew this was going to be the case soon, I had started putting out some feelers regarding puppies that may be out there from breeders. I was a trainer now and needed a working dog. I didn't want to get another while Neptune was with us, so as not to put stress on him with his health issues, and he liked a lot of attention from me and my husband. We wanted his final months to be great. Me and Jazz were just unable to get out of bed.
A breeder called and let me know that she heard that a really good breeder had a couple of returned puppies or one not taken. (actually Leon was one not taken, the returned one had found a new home before I got in touch) Now I was mostly interested in temperment and health. I was not interested in conformation for showing the dog. Pam let me know they had an older red male, Ogre, there who had been passed up as he was too husky a build for showing. She also said he had a cute friendly temperment, and was probably what I was looking for. I needed a dog (and this is also my responsibility through training) that would be able to interact with other dogs, children, and human adults very easily. I have been trying to find the pictures the breeder sent me at the time, they are adorable. He is sitting on a cot littered with puppy toys, and sitting in such a way that his pink belly and giant toes are showing. He just looks so happy and mischievous. It's hard to say how his personality got captured so accurrately in his photos, but it did.
He arrived 1/4/2005 (he was born 10/18/2004) by plane in cargo. I was going to fly over myself and get him, but he was too big at that point to have in the passenger part of the plane, so he would have had to go cargo anyway or be driven up from Georgia.
One of my friends had said "get a puppy so you can see how much it truly sucks"!! Now I wanted a puppy because as a trainer you know more of what you have if you start early on. You can not see the unexpected issues in a rescue. This is not so important when the dog will only be a pet and not need to be out in public too much, but it is sooooo important when this dog will be interacting with clients.
Any way, Leon was an extremely easy puppy. House training was probably the worst of it, only because we were in a winter from hell!!! Puppies also need to learn to control their little muscles to control this. But that wasn't that bad at all, once we got through me standing outside freezing my buns off pleading with Leon to go now so we could all go inside
. Instead of rushing him back into the crate and then outside again every twenty minutes. We made it through though, and there have been no unusual problems including the house training which went normally.
At six months, Leon and I took a road trip to Missouri to take a seminar with Martin Deeley at George Hobson's place. Poor thing started out with diareah the morning of our trip, so pepto and that stuff you give babies so they don't get dehydrated were packed. Leon was a trouper though, and this was not an easy trip for a puppy. 13 hours of driving for two days following two othe trainers and a few stops for meals and getting the dogs out and OH YES gas. Leon was not happy, but he weathered it and snuggled up with me at night and went fast asleep in the gross dog-friendly hotels we were at.
He was great at the seminar too, and started feeling better about two days in of the week long seminar. He had a great time during breaks from working where he chased other dogs and puppies around. He was the youngest puppy there, and so everyone got a kick out of him and his baby puppy toys that I had brought. The other dogs really enjoyed the chase games he did as well. That was in June, and then we moved to Maine in November.
Two bad accidents happened to Leon. He fell down the stairs one day. No injury appeared to have happened, but you could see he was stunned after he landed on his belly at the bottom. Then when our tenants got Brie, who is Leon's best friend, she ran through him one day instead of around.
Nothing really appeared out of the ordinary, and then I was training for the March show. His sits were always slow and I didn't want to physically force him to be faster, as his body was still developing. It did always seem weird to me that he didn't try jumping (not that you allow it, but Dobermans are known for their jumping skills) or getting himself in the Suv as would be normal. I just figured his muscles and structure were developing a bit slowly, and we didn't have to worry about that until we got our first CD. The March show went okay, and we might have gotten it if i didn't NQ us by signalling and giving the command in error. So we were disqualified, but I was just glad to have gotten my first obedience show under our belt.
Next show was in May, and suddenly Leon did not want to do autosits (very bad) during the program. This was actually the first time he just didn't. I just figured, you know "shit happens" and we will work that out in training. He did other stuff great that day, and it almost looked like we might get the leg without the auto sits, but other stuff knocked a few more points off. So when we got home, I had Leon nap. He woke up screaming and not using one leg. It was horrible.
Well, long story short, he has an anterior cruciate ligament at least partial tear. We could have done surgery for this. This surgery does not have a real high rate of success. Also, we have since managed it so the only part of Leon's life that has changed is that he doesn't do reps for competitions or compete. So soley as a way for me to compete with Leon, the risk was too big for us to take that we wouldn't get our dog back OR that we would get him back in bad shape and his life would diminish instead of improve due to the surgery.
Leon is very active with these steps we have taken, and his knee's scar tissue seems to be cushioning the joint just as some research had suggested it would. In reading other people's horror stories about going through with the surgery, I am glad (so far----knock on wood) we have come to the deicision that we did. Leon is such a cute and loving dog. He still does help out with clients and their dogs for obedience work, I just limit the number of sits that I will have him do, and watch to see if he appears at all stiff in his hind legs.