The Most Difficult Decision

While I have been writing about Pyra these past two months I haven't been sharing everything.  I noticed Pyra's feet turnout and jutting elbows starting around 10wks of age and have been closely monitoring.  It's been quite the roller coaster ride of feeling optimistic she will outgrow it and feeling completely wrung out with worry that her body will never be able to handle the impact of dog sports.  Around 14 weeks of age I was fully panicked with worry and by 15wks of age I called to make an appointment with a specialist to discuss her options and predictions for the future.

In the meantime I've went back and forth several times a day on what I would do if her body could not handle training for dog sports.  On one hand, the amount of time I spend on a daily basis training for sports is a miniscule amount of the time we spend just hanging out together, going for walks, and cuddling.  But on the flip side,  the time I do spend training each dog one on one is priceless to me and I believe it forms the foundation for the strong bond I have with my dogs.  I know that without the push to train for the sports I love, I would need to make a much greater effort to get that same type of effortless communication and teamwork with her.

I've also thought immensely about whether it would be even be doable to keep Pyra, and get another puppy in a year as my performance prospect.  Do I have the time and money to devote to 4 dogs?  If so, what about the future when Vito gets close retirement and I have 2 retired older dogs?  So many questions and so many thoughts whirling around.

The discussions I've had this last week with the specialist left the decision I needed to make a reality and not just a "what if".  The radius (or maybe the ulna?) isn't growing at it's normal rate and it the cause of both the leg turnout and the elbow issue.  It's not going to get better.  It is possible it may not get any worse and she may not have any symptoms of limping or pain.  By the time she's 8 months we should have a pretty good idea.  Any problems she could have will likely stem from the elbows and not her feet.

According to the orthopedic specialist she could possibly do agility just fine.  But from others I've talked to about the impact that jumping and turning creates on the dog's front end, I don't think I could ever feel comfortable trying it and could never forgive myself if she was in pain and just not showing signs right away.  From discussion with rehab specialist, the risk of arthritis is high and the chance of injury greater.

Ultimately I've decided to return Pyra to her breeder to find her a good home as a pet.  As you can imagine this has not been an easy decision and the choice will only get harder as the day to hand her over comes.  Currently we are still working out the details and deciding what comes next.

I'm so sorry Py.

Finally mastered backing up to her 2o2o position!

Ximena  – ( November 7, 2014 at 8:28 AM )  

Elli front feet turn out just like that. I have often wondered if agility would be nice to her body or not. Paired with my noted lack of interest in training agility, I kinda decided it would be best to pursue sports she showed promise in: primarily those that test instinct. As long as she's happy, I'll be happy with whatever we achieve. I hope that Pyra can find someone like that.

I'm so sorry you had to make this decision. Your interest and love for agility is important and I think you did what you and Pyra both needed.

Merinda  – ( November 7, 2014 at 8:38 AM )  

I am so sorry you had to make this decision! What a tough one :( But with all the training you've already given her, she will make someone else VERY happy. You did a good job & should take pride in that.

Merciel  – ( November 7, 2014 at 8:53 AM )  

What a difficult decision! I'm so sorry for both you and Pyra being put into this position.

I think you absolutely made the right call, though. I kept a dog (Crookytail) who has no real aptitude for sports (he has some mental limitations and also spondylosis), and... honestly, I wish I hadn't. We have an okay relationship, but I feel that the mismatch has been a disservice to both of us, and if I had it to do over, I'd have chosen differently.

A dog deserves a home that loves him completely for who he is, and an owner who doesn't regard him with a constant little flicker of disappointment that he can't be something else. I regret that the most about my life with Crooky.

achieve1dream  – ( November 7, 2014 at 9:55 AM )  

I am so far behind on your blog! I'm so sorry to hear about this. I think you made the right decision. You already have your hands full with Vito's anxiety, so trying to take on another high maintenance dog would be crazy. I hope you can find a great agility prospect when you are ready. This has to have been such an emotional roller coaster! *hugs* I think Pyra will find a fantastic pet home with the start you've given her. She's lucky she had you to teach her how to be a good puppy. :D

Kristen  – ( November 7, 2014 at 2:31 PM )  

I'm so sorry.This sort of thing makes me not want to get another dog or puppy. I think it's wonderful that you are able to think about the big picture and find a dog who will be right for your long-term goals and the implications of a restricted-activity dog on your household. I see many, many great puppies who are sometimes the wrong physical or behavior match for the families they are with and it's never an enjoyable conversation.

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