Friday, December 19, 2014

Kipp, an epilogue

I lost Kipp at the end of May. He was a little dog with a heart as big as he was and determination in spades. He gave it all he could and kept bouncing back but cancer is cruel and eventually his little body just couldn't anymore. As it often is, at the end the decision to euthanize became the easiest hardest decision to make.

Kipp was the dog who was just there. Unassuming yet driven. Steady. Consistent. Willing. Pushy yet trainable. Right up to the end.

I got him when he was a few months shy of 2 years old. I was his second home (not counting the in between stint back at his breeder). Apparently if one gets a Border Collie puppy and doesn't do anything with him, he develops bad habits. Like obsessing over cats and being reactive. So the breeder took him back, saw his potential and suggest I take him on when I asked about a working bred puppy to train for sheep chores. He took Kipp into a pen with sheep to show me his instinct and I saw potential. I had wanted a traditionally marked, rough coated 40# dog. I got a smooth, 30# prick eared, split faced tri.

I'll always be grateful.

Kipp matured and learned but otherwise remained pretty much the same for the next seven and a half years. A picture of two year old Kipp looks like a picture of nine year old Kipp. When I decided to train him as a search dog instead of pursuing herding dog trials, he was willing, quick learner. He was ready to work up until just a couple weeks before I lost him. Actually he was ready even then but I made him take it easy because he was incredibly anemic from the cancer.

He drove me nuts on a few occasions, too. More than once in the first year I thought “what was I thinking getting this dog?!?” Where Missy had just wanted to please, Kipp often seem to ask “why” first. But he pushed me and made me learn. While Missy taught me about dog behavior and what a partnership with a dog felt like, Kipp actually taught me how to train a dog. He made me work, learn and earn the partnership we developed. 

He was the dog I could make mistakes with but would get a second (and third and fourth) chance to go back and try get it right. When things weren't going right or he was unsure he'd try harder because he wanted to work. 

People would comment on his small size but I never really noticed it because nothing else about him was small. He would work searches in grass twice his height and not seem to notice. And his personality filled the room. 

Life cheated you, buddy. You deserved so much better than the stupid cancer. I always pictured you eventually being a fourteen year old senior house dog who ate out of kongs and still grabbed a chuckit squirrel when it was time to go outside.

Thanks Little Dude for joining me in the journey of life and making me a better person.  

These pictures were both taken in the last few weeks of his life. To me they are the essence of Kipp. By this point his red blood cell count was ridiculously low - like in the mid teens. Yet he was happy. And wanted to do stuff.  I would look at him, shake my head and smile in awe of his drive and *heart*. He was a gift.