My boy is turning 13 this year. I never talk about him much, because he is just 'always there', quiet unless Chaos bugs him, its feeding time or he sees my parents's gardener, Frans. He knows countless tricks, is easy to travel with, easy to groom, easy to live with, easy to talk to.
Echo was my first real 'own' dog and my first real competitive dog. I brought a very fluffy BC pup home when I was 13 years old. Echo finished High School with me, finished College with me, went through quite a few relationships with me, married with me, moved with me OFTEN. He took my to my first South African Champs, my first World Champs, my first 'away' shows, my first Championship Qualifications. He taught me a lot. I cannot even start to tell you how much this dog taught me. He raised countless puppies. He got me 'noticed' in the Agility world. I made friends because of him. I could share countless 'Echo Anecdotes', including the time he ran out of the ring to the top of the stands to get Biltong from some spectators. I could tell you how he has an unhealthy obsession with AR, he will not leave her alone. I could tell you many things about him, but for the most part, me and him have a relationship that I will never be able to describe. He is my first dog, but both him and I know he will never be my last dog. But he will always be My Echo and I will always be His Alett.
When he was 3, Echo managed to get a thorn straight in his eye, straight through the cornea and lens. After the op, he recovered almost 100%, just a small little dormant cataract that never bugged him. When he was 6 he dislocated 2 vertebrae, keeping him out of Agility for more than a year. Other than that he never ever went to vet other than inoculations. He is a big, big BC boy standing at 56.3cm and weighing in at 25kg's when he is at his thinnest. So all in all that is not too bad. A couple of years ago he developed a tiny, minute little lump on his flank, nothing to worry about the vet said. But in the last two months it has grown, so we have decided to have it removed and do a biopsy tomorrow. Nothing serious. The vet is very positive. During his check-up today the vet also discovered a heart murmur (that wasn't there with his last check-up 4 months ago). Once again, nothing serious, just a tablet a day. It is inevitable, I mean the poor dude is getting old.
I am not heart-broken, I am not worried (well not in THAT way). This is life, it is inevitable. He is doing better than most dogs of his size at his age, which I ascribe to good nutrition and good conditioning through out his life. I love that dog. So much. And I will miss him once he is gone. And of course tonight I am sitting here thinking of all these things and accepting them, because that is life and I have to. He might not see the end of this year, he might live for another four. I think what matters is that I will never forget and he will never forget.
I dug around in my old videos today and found some of the old man. These were taken in 2006 (when I first got my video camera), he was eight already, after his prime and after he recovered from the back injury. The handling sucks, my dress sense is horrid and we have no contact method to speak of... but that is Echo, barking like a mad hatter on the course and jumping into my arms at the end (which he still attempts every now and again).
Love you old man.