Friday, November 14, 2014

I Killed My Best Friend Today

Yes, it's true. I killed my best friend today. I am heartbroken, angry, confused and tormented right now. My friends name was Jethro and he wasn't even two years old yet. Here's his picture.  He's quite handsome, don't you think?

Showing off his good side. He was so loveable and was loved.

He loved everyone and everyone loved him. I would take him to work with me during the summer when I worked at a local B&B. He would stand up along the fence and wait for the guests to arrive, so he could great them with slobbery kisses and a tail that never quit wagging. His long soft velvety ears were a regular hiding spot for the kittens. It wasn't unusual to see him sleeping with kittens curled up in his ears. There wasn't a mean bone in his body, he was a gentle soul and had a heart of gold.

I would never trade one moment of my time with Jethro, but I wish he had never been born.....Does that shock you? Well, let me explain.

Jethro was a product of greed. He was a product of a backyard breeder who was only interested in making money. (Trust me, it costs more money than you make if you're doing it right.) This so called breeder, like so many others, didn't do her homework. Didn't do a pedigree check to see if there were any genetic issues, such as hip dysplasia, hernias or neurological issues that could be handed down from generation to generation. She didn't look to see if there were unwanted traits that could be passed down, such as aggression or overly passiveness. No, she was all about the money.

Let me tell you a little about his breeding. A woman had a full blooded bloodhound, I don't know if she had papers or not, I'm going to assume not since the litter was never registered. She knew someone with a nice male bloodhound who was registered and decided to inquire about a mating between the two. The mating took place and a litter was produced.

I don't know how many pups were produced in this litter, but it's not uncommon for bloodhounds to have litters of a dozen or more pups, so it's safe to assume the litter was large. So now the woman starts advertising Bloodhound Puppies for Sale.....only to find out that nobody wanted them. Now she's stuck with a litter of fast growing bloodhound puppies who need food, inoculations, wormed and treated for fleas......and she has no money to do this. It's not uncommon for bloodhound pups to weigh 30 pounds or more at 8 weeks of age. They are big dogs and grow quickly as puppies. A mature blood hound can weigh well over 150 pounds.

Up steps someone who is willing to help her and they pay for the inoculations and take one of the puppies, plus help to place the rest of the litter. The puppy they choose was Jethro. They kept him for a period of time and decided he would be better with someone else who could spend more time with him and maybe continue to train him as a SAR dog. SAR stands for Search and Rescue or Recovery, depending on how your dog is trained. So they put him up for adoption and that's where me and my husband come in.

Jethro and his former owner who loved him dearly also. He was a good dog.

We had rescued a bloodhound 6 years earlier from a puppy mill situation and he had died of cancer at the age of 6 years, 11 months and 3 weeks. Was the cancer hereditary? I don't know, but I feel that his fear of everything may have been. He was so loveable, but we referred to him as our cowardly lion because he was afraid of everything and he never did outgrow that. I think he had neurological issues also. Duncan was killed on April 7th, 2014.

Yes, I use the word killed because that's what it is. You can call it Crossing the Rainbow Bridge, Put to Sleep, Euthanized or any other more civilized word you choose, but in all reality, it's killing. A vet puts a poison in a syringe and injects your pet with your permission. Do I blame my vet for killing my dogs, of course not. Do I blame myself for killing my dogs. No! I blame the backyard breeder who was only looking for a quick buck.

I blame the puppy mills who produce what ever breed is fashionable at the moment. I blame the backyard breeder who takes two dogs and produces a litter simply to make a few dollars or because they want another dog just like the mama or daddy of the litter. I blame the people who allow two dogs to breed simply because they want their children to see the miracle of birth. Show them the pain of death instead, it will make them more compassionate. I blame the people who continue to by dogs from the people who are breeding these animals. Why do you buy when so many die?

I hear people say..."but I bought mine off the internet and saw pictures of the puppies. They were so will taken care of and the breeder said they were raised in the house and were socialized." In most cases this simply isn't true. Sometimes the moms are brought into the house to whelp the pups and are kept inside just long enough to wean them....then it's back to the breeding shed where another litter can be made. Most moms though are left out to have puppies in the elements or maybe in a shed or barn where they have some shelter, but are really not taken care of. And as soon as possible the pups are taken away so she can be bred again.

Some people breed because they want another one just like the mom or dad. This is a stupid reason to breed a dog. No puppy will be just like the parent...not in personality or looks. Every dog is an individual...just like your children. Are they exactly like you? Of course not, so what makes you think your dogs puppies will be just like the parents??

I hear people say...."but I have AKC papers, so my dog is a good dog to breed." First let me say that the AKC supports puppy mills because they make millions of dollars on registration fees every year. I know for a fact that just because a dog is AKC registered, that doesn't make it a good candidate for breeding. My Duncan was duel registered...AKC and NPR (National Pet Registry) but never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought about breeding him to any female....Registered or not. He had too many quirks and I would never pass those traits on to some other poor puppy. Oh, we had several people say that if we ever did breed him, they wanted a puppy by him. My reply was always the same. we're not breeding him, but if you want a bloodhound I'll help you find one that needs rescued.

Playing Frisbee with my Hubby. He love to play Frisbee. He was a good dog.

Now, I'll continue my story about Jethro. My husband and I traveled to North Carolina to meet Jethro in July of 2014. He was a beautiful dog and so full of energy. I spoke with his current owners and Hubby played Frisbee for over an hour with Jethro. He was more interested in Jethro than he was in talking to his owners. He's like that, give him a dog and he's happy. His owners were very nice and had taken great care of Jethro, but knew he could be so much more than what they could offer him. We were looking for a dog to start training for search and rescue. Needless to say, we left with Jethro taking up the entire back seat of our Sonata along with his Frisbee, food dish and a few other things. He was such a happy dog.

When we got home we introduced him to the rest of the family which included other dogs ranging in size from a 4.5 pound Chihuahua to a 35 pound beagle mix and of course kittens. We do a lot of rescues here. Jethro wasn't a rescue though he was on his way to becoming a working dog. A dog who would save lives and track the lawless if needed. A dog who would be an accepted member of society with a purpose and a job. Yes, that  was how Jethros life was supposed to be. But it didn't turn out that way.

We continued with Jethros training and made sure he continued to be socialized with  people. We took him to farmers markets, our local winery, the B&B, the dog park and just about any other place we could take him. Everybody loved Jethro and Jethro loved everybody. He was such a gentle giant and so happy.

On November 11th of 2014 at 11:45 in the morning I went to meet a friend for lunch, it was a beautiful November day. Temps in the low 70s, blue sky and lots of sunshine. Jethro was laying in the yard soaking up some of the last rays of sunshine he would ever see. He looked up to see me off and laid his big floppy head back in on his grassy pillow and went back to sleep. He was so peaceful and such a happy dog.

I came home at about 2:30 only to find Jethro in a grand mal seizure. He had been lying there seizing for a while because where there should  have been grass that was now a muddy hole that his was thrashing in. We had had a lot of rain and the ground was soft. I dropped everything I had in my hand and ran to his side. "Jethro, Jethro....Wake up!! Please baby wake up!!" I shook him hollered out his name, held him and cried. I pulled my car around back and drug him to my car by his legs. Only by Gods grace was I able to put his thrashing 120 pounds of muddy body in the back of my car. I rushed to the nearest vet which was a mile away. It was open, I ran in, covered in mud and yelled I need a stretcher and I need help. The two girls at the counter just looked at me in horror and said there was no vet there at that time. I didn't have time to deal with them so I jumped back in my car and took off for my vets office which was half an hour away and I didn't have his number on me to let them know I was on the way with an emergency.

I was crying and praying the entire time, with Jethro thrashing in the back seat. When he would stop seizing I would worry that he had died, and as strange as it sounds, I was somewhat relieved when he would start seizing again. At least I knew he was still alive.

When I finally made it to my vets office I burst through the door again crying and covered in mud and told them I needed a stretcher and help. Both the women at the counter spring into action. One went to get the stretcher and the other followed me out to my car. We got Jethro out of the back seat and by this time he had slid between the back see and the front seat so he was a little difficult to remove. We laid him on the ground and waited for the stretcher. It was only a few seconds, but to me it seemed like an eternity. We loaded him on the stretcher, wheeled him through the waiting room and I was told to wait there. The people there were just staring at me in a state of disbelief and shock, I'm sure I looked like a crazy woman.

I sat down next to a lady with a cat in an crate and she asked me what was wrong with Jethro, so I told her. I was just numb and in shock, she patted me on the shoulder and tried to say some comforting words, which I'm sure she did, I just don't remember them. Next I got up and went outside to call my husband and let him know what was going on. I had called him on the way to the vets office, and told him I would call him as soon as I got there. I told him I had nothing to report and I would call him back as soon as I did. I then went into the restroom and tried to wash the tears, mud and slobber off my hands and face. When I came out the assistant was waiting for me.

We have Jethro hooked up to an IV and are giving him fluids and Valium to bring him out of the seizure. She asked me for more information on Jethro and told me she would be back in a few minutes. I sat down again and the tears started falling. No matter how hard I tried to hold them back, they just kept coming.

A few minutes later a woman and her Pit Bull came into the waiting room. I don't know who this woman was or what her dogs name was, but they sat next to me. Right away the little female Pit Bull came toward me and her owner pulled her away. I said I didn't mind her setting next to me if she didn't mind, so her owner let her come sit next to me. She was about 2 years old and an absolutely beautiful blue color with white markings. She was short and stocky and oh so loveable. She snuggled in tight against me and I let my arm drape over her strong shoulders and neck as I patted her. She licked the tears from my face which of course made them fall even more. I was so scared for my baby Jethro. He was such a good boy.

Shortly the assistant came out and took me to the back. My poor baby boy was hooked up to an IV and still covered in mud. My heart was breaking. I talked to my vet and we discussed treatment options, of course I wanted to do everything possible to help him survive. So we began treatment. I decided to head home, because there was nothing more I could do and Jethro was asleep because of the medications he had been given. I patted his head and  told him  I loved him and left.

I picked up my husband from work and told him what was going on and the story of how I had found Jethro and how things transpired. We both cried and prayed for a positive outcome. Once I got home, I posted on Facebook what was going on. You see, Jethro had a lot of fans and friends. People loved him and often asked about him. Many of my friends were former guests from the B&B and knew Jethro personally. Others were friends and family who also knew him personally and some of them simply knew him from my postings and pictures of him. He was loved by so many.

I asked for prayer, well wishes and healing thoughts. I was answered with hundreds of replies. Later that evening the vet called and said Jethro had regained consciousness and even stood and circled a couple of times, like dogs do when they are trying to get comfortable. I was overjoyed and posted that Jethro was improving but would be staying overnight at the vets for observation. Just before 8am my phone rang.

"This is Dr. Hamady, Jethros at it again. He started having seizures again this morning. What do you want to do?" I told my vet to do what ever was necessary to keep him comfortable and I was on my way. I called my husband and told him what was going on, made a Facebook post asking for more prayers and headed back to the vets office. I talked with my vet and told him I wanted to wait and see if maybe, just maybe he would pull out of this. I wasn't ready to let him go, not without giving him as much of a chance as humanely possible. I stroked his ears and told him I loved him and headed home again. Tears falling like rain from my face. Hubby says "When God squeezes your heart, tears come our your eyes." Well God must have been doing a lot of squeezing, because the tears just kept flowing. I knew this was not going to end well, but I simply didn't want to give up yet.

Hubby came home early and we both went to the vets office. The doctor was in surgery with another patient so we didn't get a chance to talk, but we did see Jethro, we held him and told him we love him. He had already had two seizures that day one in the morning and one just before we got there. They had pulled him out of it with Valium and given him another drug rectally because he had not regained consciousness at all that day and if he wasn't awake they couldn't give him the drug orally. They would call if there were any changes and they would be there until 8 that evening. Hubby and I left and went to a meeting that we needed to attend. We told them about Jethro, they were sadden and shocked and said he was such a good dog.

Just before the meeting was adjourned our vet called. Jethro had had six more seizures in just a few hours. I told him we were on our way. We arrived at out vets office and were taken to see Jethro, he was panting. His breaths were fast and shallow. His body was there, but his brain was gone. There was not sigh on any brain activity. No flinching when you touched his eyelids, no reaction to pain, no nothing......simply a body trying to keep breathing but in all reality was already dead. We consulted with our vet and held Jethro, stroked his soft ears and whispered our goodbyes as we let him go.

Looking Serious for the Camera. He was such a clown and loved getting his picture taken. He was a good boy.

Are you crying? I am. This is what you support when you buy a backyard puppy. This is what you support when you buy online or from a pet store. This is what you support when you don't spay and neuter your pets. Yes, this is the heartache that people all across the nation endure on a daily basis because of greed and ignorance. So what if you paid $1,200 for that cute little bull dog puppy who looked so happy in that photo. Well guess what, that puppy was cleaned up, and dressed up to appease your senses and make you go Awww, isn't that cute. That puppy was made to look like that so you would spend a lot of money to make some puppy mill owner a lot of money. Did you see the parents? Did you see the kennels? What....they met you in a parking lot?? Really? Why? Why did you buy this puppy, site unseen and have it delivered in a parking lot no less? You are a part of the problem. And don't tell me that you're not, because you are. As long as you buy from these people you are a part of the problem.

Now, back to Jethros story. All through this ordeal I kept in contact with his former owners. They loved him too and had the right to be kept in the loop. As soon as I called them to let them now what was going on they started making phone calls to see if they could get any other information about any of the other puppies, since they had helped to rehome them. Come to find out on of the pups was court ordered to be killed because it had suddenly turned aggressive and bit someone. There had never been an issue with aggression before that one day. At least one of the other pups had suffered seizures and there was talk about other neurological issues with some of the other pups. How awful and what a shame. All this could have been prevented if this so called breeder had done her homework and not allowed her female to be bred in the first place. It seems that the neurological issue came from the dams side of the lines and that's why she was sold without papers. She was never supposed to have been bred. I wonder how many other owners of this litter have suffered a broken heart over their bloodhound baby. I wonder how many children have cried over mom and dad having to kill their kind hearted friend. I wonder if any children have been at risk because a puppy from this litter suddenly turned vicious. Yes, I wonder and it makes me sad for the dogs and owners, but it really makes me angry at the person who allowed this breeding to take place to begin with.

Remember when I said Jethros former owner simply wanted Jethro to save just one life and it would be worth letting him go with us. Well, I hope and pray that he saves several lives after you read this. I hope and pray that you don't buy from backyard breeders, pet shops, online puppy stores or puppy mills. Please quit buying from these places and go to your nearest shelter or look for a breed specific rescue and save a life. Save a lot of lives. If the breeders have nobody to sell to they will quit breeding. We've all heard the stories of dog breeds who are suddenly having physical, emotional and mental problems due to indiscriminate breeding. Is it really worth the heartbreak, not to mention the monetary costs involved with buying a defective dog. Many times the symptoms don't show up until the dog gets older, so a health certificate isn't worth the paper it's written on. A health certificate doesn't mean the dog will not develop a neurological problem in the future. A health certificate doesn't mean a dog will not develop joint issues in the future. A health certificate doesn't guarantee a dog free of genetic defects. Nope, all a health certificates tells you is that he dog isn't sick when the vet checked it out before you bought it.....and I can assure you that there are some vets who profit nicely by issuing health certificates for puppy mills. Yep, once again it's all about the money.

If you don't want to rescue, for fear of getting a dog who will end up like Jethro, then don't. But don't buy one from someone who is only in it for the money. Do your home work. Find a reputable breeder who will give you all the information you need such as, a linage background check for genetic disorders. Jethro was a product of irresponsible breeding and while I loved him and will never forget him, in all reality he never should have been born. After a little research, by his previous owner who rescued him first, we found out that several of the puppies from this litter had neurological issues. The issues ranged from unexplained spontaneous aggression to seizures. I would never trade my time with Jethro for anything, but it wasn't fair to him or to us for him to die at such a young age. I'm thankful I don't have children who I have to explain this to. Nobody should have to go through this kind of heartbreak and no animal should ever have to die because of ignorant breeders. As a rescuer, I know there are risks, but to lose 2 just 6 months apart is almost unbearable. Duncan was a puppy mill rescue, and Jethro was a backyard breeders rescue and both died young.

This was my reply, in part, to a breeder who asked me if I had gotten on OFA certificate for either Duncan or Jethro. I know this sounds angry, it is, but like I mentioned this is only part of the comment, they too recently lost a bloodhound and were trying to be helpful, the rest of the post conveys my condolences and a thank you for their concern.  "This is what happens when back yard breeders don't take genetics into consideration. Dogs die young and hearts get broken. I am a strong advocate for rescue and against most back yard breeders simply because of their lack of education. All they see is money, they don't see the heartbreak, they don't see the suffering, they don't see the pain, fear and confusion of the dogs who are going through these traumatic events. Nor do they care. I am glad you asked me this question, because it gives me the opportunity to advocate against back yard breeding and puppy mills. Our first bloodhound, Duncan, was a puppy mill rescue. He died at the age of 6 years, 11 months and 3 weeks of age. He was a week shy of being 7 years old. We had him for 6 years and lost him this past April. Jethro was just under 2 years of age and had never show any sighs of having a neurological disorder. Please don't take this the wrong way, it's not meant to be snarky toward you, you sound as if you are a responsible breeder and you know that there is a difference between an irresponsible breeder and an informed breeder. But all we do is rescue and hope for the best. Sometimes it simply doesn't happen that way and our babies die for reasons that we have no control over and never should have happened. We loved Duncan and Jethro deeply and will never forget them, but they never should have been born to begin with. They were products of greed and that is simply wrong." This was raw emotion coming from me, can you hear the anger and the pain I'm feeling?

Please, if you really want a dog and don't want to do a rescue, which I highly recommend, then please at least take the time to find a reputable breeder. One who breeds for the right reasons and does all their homework and has the pups sold before the breeding even takes place. Ask questions, ask if you can come see the parents. Ask if you can see the kennels. Ask if you can see the entire litter before they are weaned. You may pay more up front, but it's better than putting yourself and your pet through what we just went through. And believe it or not, our vet bills were low compared to some. Are you willing to put out thousands of dollars to keep your dog alive and healthy? I have a friend who does rescue in Tennessee, she just posted the cost of a two month supply of medication for one of her rescues, it totaled over $2,000. But she's dedicated and will not kill her dogs simply because of money. She will beg, borrow, sell and campaign to raise enough to keep her rescues happy and healthy. Are you willing to do that? Or will you dump your dog at the nearest shelter when you find that it's going to cost a lot of money to keep them healthy? Yes, do your homework and don't buy puppy mill and backyard bred dogs, it can only bring heartache. And please don't breed anymore unhealthy dogs simply because your dog has AKC papers. My heart can't take the pain of losing another one because of your greed.

You were a good boy Jethro. RIP my friend.