Author Topic: A tribute to Bravo (1999 - 2013)  (Read 911 times)

Laurie Graichen

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A tribute to Bravo (1999 - 2013)
« on: November 27, 2013, 10:30:26 PM »
A Tribute To Bravo

Versatility NATCH, U-Ag1 Klaar Right On The Money, BN, RAE, PT, AX, AXJ, OF, NAP, NJP, NFP, NADAC S-TN-E, HP-N, Elite Versatility & 1000 Lifetime Points, ASCA RS-E, GS-E, JS-E, USDAA AAD, GM, ASA, AR, Grand Prix Qualifier x5, DAM Qualifier, Steeplechase Qualifier, APDT RL1, UBSDA SCT, TT, CGC, TDI, Mobility Assistance Dog.

March 17, 1999 to November 18, 2013

We met when he was 9 weeks old.  I had my choice of the 4 grey males and whenever a puppy caught my eye it was almost always “Mr Blue”.  We pretty much chose each other, and bonded immediately.  While I was at the breeders' he would follow me from room to room and nap at my feet until I got up again, a habit he kept until nearly the end of his life.

My dog sport of choice when he came into my life was agility.  At that time there was no YouTube or Facebook to learn from videos posted by trainers around the world.   Control Unleashed, Ruff Love, and impulse control were not yet foundation concepts in training, and it was over a decade before Sharon's wonderful training videos were online.  I so wish that I had him back as a puppy now, with all that I have learned, as he was a dog who really needed these things.  He was smart, pushy, and confident, and told me in no uncertain terms when we had a breakdown in communication, another trait he maintained all of his life.  He didn't believe in positive reinforcement for humans, and I left many a training session and agility run with bruises on various parts of my body – not the most pleasant thing, but I'd give anything to have him back and biting if it would give us another 14 years together.  Thanks to advice from Becky Woodruff to “stop arguing with that dog, you'll never win”, my handling became more of  “asking” instead of “demanding”, I became more calm and clear in my handling, and slowly we became a team, competing in agility for 10 years and earning close to 60 agility titles, including the NADAC Versatility NATCH, one of only 2 dogs from South Carolina to ever earn this prestigious title. 

His agility career was interrupted at the age of 10 with an injury to his iliopsoas (groin) muscle and inflammation of the knee on the same side.  I originally dreaded the thought of rehab and resting, figuring one of us would end up on heavy tranquilizers, but I needn't have underestimated him so.  He was the model patient, other than making the water treadmill come to a stop if he didn't feel everyone in the room was in their proper place.  After 9 months of rehab, including acupuncture and water treadmill, he was back in action and earned all of his AKC Novice Preferred agility titles at the age of 11.  Then he injured the iliopsoas on the other side and was out for a while longer.  Against all odds, he came back for a second time, completing his Versatility NATCH several days before his 12th birthday.

As wild and crazy as he was in agility, in daily life he worked as my mobility assistance dog due to MY knee issues.  No one who saw him would ever guess that the calm, quiet dog lying at my feet on an airplane, standing in line at the grocery store, or politely visiting my Dad in the intensive care unit after heart surgery was the same dog who screeched and bit me in agility.

Because of his injuries, and me wanting a safe place to train him, I used the inheritance from my father to have a fully-matted, climate-controlled training building.  Though he is no longer there physically, his spirit will always be there watching over me, telling me to keep training my current and future dogs and not waste all we had learned together. 

Obedience and rally were something we attempted later in his life, as he thought they should be done at the same speed as agility, and despite the fact that I could leave him in a Stay on an agility start line and lead out to the far corner of the ring, he saw no purpose in obedience group stays.  He easily finished his AKC Rally Advanced Excellent title with no NQs and many placements.  At the age of 12 he earned his AKC Beginner Novice title, but he made it clear that his knees were not up to all the sits, so we ended it there, never getting to try for his CD or further.

He actually seemed to enjoy his retirement, as he pretty much got to do whatever he wanted, including hanging out at agility classes and showing the youngsters how it was supposed to be done – no matter that it was now just bars on the ground, we were just happy to be able to be doing our favorite thing together.

This spring, just after his 14th birthday, he had a routine exam and Senior Dog bloodwork and was found to be in severe kidney failure.  For 7-1/2 months he was maintained on fluids at home.  I treasured every second we spent together.  Where we once spent hours doing agility, we now spent hours just enjoying being together, his head in my lap while I petted him.  Unfortunately his rear was failing faster than his kidneys, and one evening he told me it was time.  The next morning a dear friend took us to the vet, where he was released from a body that no longer did what he wanted it to do.  He was 14 years, 8 months, and 1 day old – I had so hoped he would take after his parents, who both lived to be just past 15, but it was not to happen. 

He was my best friend, soulmate, and heart dog.  Whatever he did, he did it 200%, and I learned so much from him.  I owe him more than I can ever repay, and would give anything to have another 14 years together.
Laurie Graichen
Sky High Belgian Shepherd Dogs, Catawba, SC USA
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Sharon Nelson

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Re: A tribute to Bravo (1999 - 2013)
« Reply #1 on: November 28, 2013, 11:35:35 PM »
Laurie, you and Bravo were a team in heart and soul.  He was your constant companion through all walks of life, of which agility was just a part.  I am so sorry that you have lost such a huge part of your life.  He filled your heart with joy and in time, you will be able to smile over the memories of all of your great times together.

with sympathy and hugs, Sharon

Heidi Konesko

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Re: A tribute to Bravo (1999 - 2013)
« Reply #2 on: November 30, 2013, 05:01:15 PM »
Laurie, I'm so sorry for your loss.  What a moving tribute to your beautiful, special boy.  I hope that the coming weeks and months bring you peace and clear, happy memories of your time together.
Heidi in NH with Penny and Hi Jack
Molly and Sophie at the Bridge

Linda W. Anderson

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Re: A tribute to Bravo (1999 - 2013)
« Reply #3 on: November 30, 2013, 08:24:06 PM »
Laurie, I am so sorry to hear of your loss of Bravo.  He definitely was a very special dog and he will be remembered by many here in the east.
Linda W. Anderson - Dogs have only one fault, their lives are too short!

Joyce Roessner

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Re: A tribute to Bravo (1999 - 2013)
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2013, 07:31:34 PM »
Laurie, I didn't know you or Bravo, but what a beautiful tribute you have written.  All my sympathy. 
Joyce Roessner
Calgary, Alberta