Yesterday Candy and her littermates Gracie and Rocket celebrated their 10th birthday. Candy came from the only litter of Aussies that Dave and I have bred together. Her mother, Cutie, was Dave’s agility partner for many years and her grandmother, Whim, had been Dave’s first Aussie.
This was a special birthday for these dogs, because there was a time when I worried that they wouldn’t still be with us now. In 2005, when these dogs were puppies just starting their show and agility careers, we suddenly lost Whim to hemangiosarcoma. Over the following years, we said goodbye to Cutie and her brother Cass-Man from the same disease, which also took 2 of their other siblings in the prime of their lives. Candy was spayed since it was clear to us that we had a genetic issue. Gracie and Rocket’s owners were very understanding and we all collectively decided to enjoy every day with our dogs, because no matter how long you have it won’t be enough.
In 2005, the genetic nature of cancers like hemagiosarcoma was not discussed much in the Aussie world. Things have come a long way, but the reactions we got at the time ranged from sympathetic nods and quiet reports of similar problems to outraged declarations that the problem must be environmental. This never made sense to me since many of the affected dogs had not lived with us and at the time we had PBGVs who were well into their teens. No genetic problem is easy for a breeder to face, but one that is often undiagnosed until the affected dog has passed away is especially tragic.
My birthday wish for Candy, Gracie, and Rocket is that they will enjoy many more birthdays- and many more agility runs, pet therapy visits, swims in the pool, and all the other things they love doing with their people.