Monday, February 9, 2015

A Tribute to Serena

Several years into my retirement, I decided I needed a dog. After much research, I decided to get a German Shepherd Dog. My sister, who has had many GSDs said, “You know they shed.” I replied, “No problem”. She repeated, “No, I mean they really shed a lot.” I continued to ignore the warning and set out to find a GSD.

I decided to go the rescue route and found Westside German Shepherd Rescue in Los Angeles. I made an appointment and drove to their facility. The first dog presented to me was an older dog, very docile but just did not seem to have much spark. Robin said she had another dog that had just been spayed. We went to the vets and the vet tech said she hated the dog. Misty was put on a leash and proceeded to race around the block with me attempting to follow. Robin said, “I think you can handle her.” Several weeks later I called Westside to let them know how we were doing. The response was, “We thought you would bring her back within two weeks.” Sorry, I don’t give up that easily.

I am now the owner of a dog who is completely out of control, showing no signs of being co-operative. She has a whine that is ear piercing and becomes overly excited at the drop of the hat. I quickly determined she has no off button. She was on from dawn to dusk. I started looking for trainers and knew it would take a really skilled trainer to work with me and newly named, Serena. I found K-9 Companions in Woodcrest. Serena’s trainer was a no nonsense woman in the military who managed to get Serena on the right track to becoming a well-behaved dog. She went into training knowing the down command and came out knowing heel, sit, stay and wait. She never learned the Come command. It just wasn’t in her. Even with some commands under her belt she was a handful when walking. Everything distracted her. Anything small and moving set Serena’s prey instinct in motion. I took her everywhere with me. We went camping, hiked Mt. Rubidoux, and later in New Mexico we hiked Gomez Peak a couple of times. I tried to teach her to fetch. I threw grapefruit for her to bring to me. She would drop them half way, behind me , to my side, that is when she bothered to bring them to me at all. She could play with her Kong solo, never sharing. She would toss it, bounce it and run around with it. She knew toys were not to go outside and would be on a dead run to go out and drop her Kong just before she hit the door.  If she lost her Kong she could show me where it was three days later.

Serena never met a person she did not like. She greeted everyone who came to visit me as if they had come to visit her personally. She got along with some dogs but I never knew which dogs might set her off. If she spotted another dog while in the car she would bark until we got out of sight. Her babysitters loved her.

Her hips were bad from the beginning. As she got older, her hips began to fail her. I got wheels for her and meds to ease the pain. It took about a week for her to get the hang of walking in her wheels. It helped when she saw my neighbor (remember she loves people). She would forget she was in her wheels and begin to run to greet him.

On Monday of this week I left for Tucson for a dental appointment. Serena stayed home with a babysitter. She was somewhat feisty when I left so I felt confident she would be fine. The night before I was scheduled to come home Serena took a turn for the worse. Bree notified me and I got on the phone to make arrangements and to get my neighbor to help Bree get Serena into the car. The vet determined that multiple failures where taking place. I said, “No heroics. Just keep her stable until I get there. She was on oxygen and an IV but went into cardiac arrest an hour before arrive. As I was driving up highway 90 I looked out over the mountains and saw a ghost image of Serena running over the mountains. She ran beside the car and was gone. I will miss that crazy dog.

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