My Best Girl

‎”She is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are her life, her love, her leader. She will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of her heart. You owe it to her to be worthy of such devotion.” 

RIP Sookie

Sookie was my foster failure dog. I crossed paths with her one day while walking thru the kennels at the SFSPCA where I teach public dog training classes and where I used to be a staff trainer. I was at the shelter to teach so I didn’t really need to walk thru the kennels. I don’t know why I did that day. But there she was this beautiful purebred old english sheepdog. She looked lost, a big mop of hair covering her eyes, sitting awkwardly on a pile of blankets she had been given to help her be a little more comfortable on the slippery floors. I marched right into the kennel and said hi. She struggled a little but got up and bashed her giant head into me and then fell over. I hugged her. I never act like this with the shelter dogs. I’m usually so much more careful to get a read on them first. I left the kennel and she staggered around looking for me and barking. The adoption staff told me she was about 10 or 12 , blind and crippled. 
She was found living all alone in Golden gate park. Someone just left this beautiful dog alone to die in a park. She had been spotted there for about 2 weeks before she was rescued. She was taken to animal care & control. During her 5 day stray hold she was unable to stand unassisted and no one came to claim her so she was slated for euthanasia. Who’s going to adopt an old crippled blind dog after all. When her time came, just as she was being helped into the euthanasia room, a trainer from the sfspca asked to pull her for their shelter. At the SFSPCA she had a medical eval and was found to be in heat, with an oozing smelly uterine infection, abscessed fox tails in her ears and feet, a fractured pelvis and serious joint abnormalities. But she was sweet, great with people & dogs and all try. They rehabbed her medically for about a month and put her up for adoption. She had a few Old English Sheepdog people come by but no one wanted this poor crippled girl and she was having a hard time in the kennel with the flooring.
I  had a pretty full house and an even fuller schedule so I tried to put her out of my mind and just hope that some great person would adopt her. I avoided walking thru the kennels. A few weeks later I was working out at the gym. Just staring out the window while running on the treadmill when I saw a shelter volunteer walking Maggie the sheepdog across the street. She was hopping along with her awkward robot spider gait. She looked so happy to be out and really enjoying her walk. 

I offered to take her home for a foster for awhile. She turned out to not actually be blind or old, she was a bout 6 and just needed a hairclip. The first week was hard. She was stressy and pushy. mean to our other dogs and frantic for attention. She fell down constantly and almost broke my finger taking a cookie out of my hand. She started compulsively nesting small toys and worrying about them. Walked around the house with little plush toys in her mouth whimpering and hiding them in dog beds. I stuck her in a crate, gave her boundaries asked the shelter if I could bring her back in immediately. They said they were full, could I wait a week, LOL. Thank god they did because she settled down, she loved her crate. She loved walks, she got stronger and stopped falling down. She fell in love with the other dogs.
We went to the beach, fort funston, marched up the hills in potrero. She learned how to get a running start to jump onto the couch to cuddle. She played tug all day with True. She stared at me for hours and followed me everywhere. Her shelter name was Maggie. The first season of True Blood was on and I started calling her Sookie. After a month the shelter asked me to bring her back in to go back up for adoption. I gave myself the day to think about it. I loved her and she loved me. I couldn’t take her back.
I knew she wasn’t long for this earth. I kept telling myself one more day, one more week, one more month. It turned out to be 2 years and 2 months.
She was bossy, sassy and all love. I put her on metacam, supplements, got her adequin injections and massages. I bought her jackets and pink collars and took her everywhere I could so she could explore the world. Going for a walk with her was the most fun because she was so happy just to be walking. One day she got the zoomies  ran UP A HILL and I couldnt catch up with her, I was so proud of her. She loved her boys True & Roosevelt and they loved her. True was her advocate, running to get me if she fell, staying behind to walk with her. Roosevelt was her house husband.  She LOVED to eat out of food toys, kongs, raw bones but the Tricky Treat Ball was her favorite. She was so crippled but she would bat that ball all over the house with her giant feet. I got a puppy and she raised him with me. She was the bravest dog ever, firm but fair with a huge sense of humor. 

Her last summer her body started to fail her. She fell more often. She stopped being able to get up without help. She started to lose bowel then bladder function. When I left the house without her she was stuck wherever she fell, sometimes it was a bad place. But she still lit up when she saw me or the other dogs. Her little nub of a tail wagging away. She tried so hard, she never complained, she never gave up. 

She had a perfect last day, she got a bath(she loved baths), chased Royal around, went for a family walk, hung out with her pack and ate all the cookies and bananas she wanted. We all drove together to the vet office and had a giant cookie party in the back of the van. At the vet office I held her in my lap and told her all about how much I loved her and what a good dog she was and she left this earth in my arms with her nose in a big jar of peanut butter. Then I drove home without my girl.

She filled my day with love and followed me everywhere I went, she lit my path. She was love.
Im going to miss her so much. 
Goodbye Sookie, run fast jump high eat cookies.

Last family photo

Our last walk
She was very stern with the vacumn

True was her protector & adovocate

Thanksgiving Sunday

Its thanksgiving weekend, I would love to go shopping(I am a girl) but I have an obligation to exercise the dogs. This was also one of my personal-worst thanksgiving/birthdays/years ever so I probably needed to go to the beach. I grew up on water, sailing/swimming/snorkeling, water is my oldest friend.

Sunday at Crissy and we were waiting for Roy’s bestfriendforever Charlie to arrive, 

finding stuff to keep dogs busy.

True stood on this pile of rocks,
Roy stood on them.
and Roosevelt p’d on them.

Roy spent some time obsessing about  what True might be doing or thinking.
True spent the entire time obsessing on me, his ball and swimming.

Then came Charlie

Charlie & Roy were in puppy class together.

They were best friends from the second they met.

They like to do all the same things.

Charlie’s awesome and if I say Royal-Come, Charlie always comes to me, Im pretty sure I need a cattle dog.
Royal could now split his time between obsessing about Charlie
and  teaching Charlie how to obsess about True, Roosevelt spent his time obsessing about the bag of cookies Charlies dad brought with him.
staring at True
There’s True, hey True, True True True….

True is a month shy of 11, he swam for 2+ hours in the chilly bay, then came home
and now he is running circles through the house with a tennis ball in his mouth.


Charlie was my first dog.
He was 5 years old when I was born, he died when I was 17. He was 22 years old when he died. I still miss him. He was a saint and my best friend. He was a border collie cross of some kind. He bit a porcupine almost every year(i got really good at pulling quills out of his mouth with pliers). He & I got skunked several times a summer, we went fishing, boating, swimming, hiking together. Rich summer tourists would pay me to dive for items that fell off their boats in the marina. Charlie would wait patiently on the dock for me, standing guard. He pulled me on my sled every winter. Forgave me all my tantrums and rudeness. Walked me to school and walked me back home again. He slept on my bed, kissed my face and loved me no matter what.

Years past his passing he still visits my dreams. He is a kind and good soul and I always listen to what he tells me.

Ring Prep Class

October Ring Prep class with the super fancy dogs

This is Cisu, Cisu is a Belgian Tervurun.She is titled at upper levels for Shutzhund and Competition Obedience. Cisu is so fast most of my pictures of her are out of focus.

Little dog & big dog waiting their turn.

Stacey & Roo, this team sums up why we all train with Denise. Look at how good Stacey & Roo look working together.

Denise & Raika, dont you want your teamwork to look like that, I sure do(admittedly I am a bit of a performance dog training geek). Raika is insanely fancy, jolly and cool. She has major titles in AKC Obedience(she’ll be showing this December at the invitationals) and Shutzhund.

Training with Denise makes Raika pretty happy. 
Denise is pretty fun to be around and a completely brilliant trainer. 
She’s also completely  hilarious.

Look at how much her dogs love her.
Poor Roy first hair clip ever and in front of the fancy dogs and everything.