The Story of Hope

Champion Fire Within

b: Nov. 2,   1999
d: Sept. 14,  2012

A truly gentle spirit, she contributed nothing but love to the family who cared for her for most of her life.

Hope was an Aussie I never expected to have in my life & because of her, I’ve had the opportunity to learn more about the world of dog breeding & what the insides of a female dog’s (a bitch’s) reproductive system looks like.  Just as in all walks of life, I learned that there are many honest, caring & trustworthy dog breeders who support, nurture & encourage their puppy purchasers & who would not intentionally mislead them.    And then, there are some who are not.   

This is the story of Hope, then, in her words for it isn’t my story to tell & she agreed.

I was born into a litter of three black-tri girl puppies. I was the one without the pretty white ruff around my neck but it seemed that I had other good qualities that my breeder pinned her ‘hopes’ on to further build the foundation of her lines; laid down by my sire & his before him.  I was soon sent off to live in the dog kennel of another Australian Shepherd breeder where I lived with a bunch of other dogs that looked like me.  I didn’t much like living in a dog kennel but I think the plan was for the two breeders to share in my puppies when I had them after I did some growing up.  One of my other sisters was sold to a lady who had another Australian Shepherd by the name of Geordie.  She was called Ceilidh because her new mother & father were Scottish Country Dancers & the word ‘Ceilidh’ means ‘a party with music, dancing and so on’ but I can tell you that she sure wasn’t the life of the party when we were puppies because I used to drag her around like a stuffed toy & she never once minded.  She just sat there & looked pretty.

Anyway, getting back to my story, something bad must have happened between my breeder & this dog kennel breeder because a year or so later I was taken to the vet’s office & left there.  The other breeder said she could no longer cope with my breeder being angry with her all the time & so she had to say good-bye to me & she severed their relationship.  I think she was pretty upset.   So, back to my breeder’s house I went & there I got stuck into a dark crate where I lived most of the time except when I got to go outside into her nice fenced in backyard.  I didn’t much like being stuck in a crate either; I think the dog kennel was a better deal.  Besides, I was picking up some negative energy at my breeder’s house.  Anyway, not long after I got returned to my breeder’s house, she packed me up & sent me in the cab of her husband’s huge truck & after a very long journey, I found myself in a place called Michigan at another Australian Shepherd breeder’s house.  That lady was very nice but she had this awful pest of a dog who kept trying to do undignified things to me which I found really bothersome.  Well, after a week of putting up with his nonsense, it seemed that something was wrong & so the breeder lady took me to her vet who said that I had a breeding problem & that if I was to be bred, I’d need a very expensive operation to correct the problem with my private parts.  So, I got sent back to my breeder again in her husband’s big truck & got stuck back in that crate again.  I’m not sure if I’m going to be of any use to her now that I can’t be bred.  I’ve been moved around so much, it’s hard on a little dog.

Then, one day soon after, I heard my breeder talking on the telephone.  I think she was talking to this Geordie’s breeder.  They seemed the best of friends. My breeder was saying:    “I’ll tell her it’s only going to be for three months while I’m having this lawsuit going on with”….I didn’t catch the name but it was another Australian Shepherd breeder ……”   “I’ll tell her that Hope (that was me she was talking about) might get stolen out of my fenced-in backyard by this breeder & I need to get her to a safe place to live for awhile”.  Well, if that didn’t sound like some cock & bull story, I don’t know, but soon after a nice lady came to my breeder’s house & lifted me up into the back of her SUV & then, guess what… my sister Ceilidh was in the car.  WOW!   Ceilidh smiled as she snuggled up to me and said:   “Oh Hopee, I’ve missed you, I’m so glad to see you; where have you been?”   I was too embarrassed to tell her where I’d just been & what that awful dog had been trying to do with me, so I said nothing.  I finally got to meet that dog called Geordie but Ceilidh told me that he could be pretty crusty at times & to just ignore him.  Anyway, we drove & drove for some time, then finally the car turned into a long laneway & Ceilidh said:  “we’re home”.  Well, I wasn’t sure what ‘home’ was because I’d really never had one before.  When I went inside the house I got another really nice surprise…I got to have my own soft dog bed all to myself & I didn’t have to live in a crate any more.  I got to play with a whole toybox full of stuffies and chewies.  Dog heaven.  And guess what, we dogs were allowed to jump up on the family room couch, but not in the living room & even better, my new mother gave me & Ceilidh lots of kisses everyday & told us what pretty girls we were, but not Geordie because he didn’t like kisses.  Later on, my breeder called my new mother & asked if I could live with Ceilidh permanently but she said, she wanted to take me back to breed me when my time came. My new mother agreed.  I guess my breeder didn’t tell my new mother about my breeding problem; at least, not then. 

Now, my new mother & Geordie’s breeder were friends too & one day after about a year living here with Ceilidh & Geordie, I heard my new mother, upset & talking on the phone with Geordie’s breeder, saying:  “Hope’s breeder tells me that she wants to breed Hope in her next heat but she told me a little while ago that Hope has a breeding problem & that it would cost one thousand dollars to fix, which has never happened & so I spoke to my own vet, who is looking after Hope now, about what I’ve been told about Hope’s breeding problem.  She said that Hope needed to see a reproduction specialist at OVC (Ontario Veterinary College) to find out the exact nature of Hope’s breeding problem and so I asked Hope’s breeder if we could discuss Hope’s breeding problem & she got very angry with me & refused to discuss it; said she was coming to take Hope back to her place again.  I’m concerned that there may be risk to Hope in breeding her without knowing exactly what is wrong with her”.   

Well, I soon was sent to see a lady specialist & when she tried to examine me in my private parts she said she couldn’t because I was “too tight” back there & that she couldn’t even get her baby finger in there…sheesh, this is getting embarrassing.  She said that I would need to come back to see her when I was in standing heat three months from then & she’d give me an ultrasound though I’m not sure what that is.  Three months later, I went back to see the lady theriogenologist & she stuck a long wand with a light on the end of it up my butt. That’s when my new mother & I saw a picture of my insides…YUK… that sure wasn’t a pretty sight.  All this fuss over my ovaries!   The upshot of all this was that I couldn’t be bred without a whole lot of stuff going on that would cost a lot of money although, technically, the specialist said, I could be bred.  Then she said to my new mother, ‘if it was my bitch, I wouldn’t bother breeding her…there’s no telling she won’t pass this on to her female pups’.  In the end, I never did have puppies but after that, my new mother said:  “Good grief, Hopey Dopey (that’s what she calls me sometimes and I like it), this has become a real mess.  Now your breeder is telling everyone that I’ve stolen you & she’s put it up all over her website”.   

Anyway, after that, I got to go back to a normal life again where doctors didn’t want to look up my butt anymore.  I went for my morning walks with Ceilidh & Geordie to Grandma Midge’s next door who always gave us lots of dog bisquits.  We loved going to her house.   And I got to snuggle with my sister Ceilidh all the time…we always slept together & always walked side by side each other but I’ll tell you something, Ceilidh sure was a goofy girl.   I never got into trouble but Ceilidh could be such a bubblehead at times especially when she was out chasing butterflies or sniffing flowers or wandering off so’s she didn’t know where she was when she got to where she was going.   She only led me astray one time & our mother nearly had a fit…we were waaaay across the road & down over the hill & it was the last day of hunting season.  Our father had let us out & did not tell her.  Boy, did he get heck for that. 

Then Ceilidh died when she was ten years old & I lost my best friend in the whole world.  So did my mother. She had tears in her eyes every-time someone talked about Ceilidh. Then, one day two years later, I wasn’t feeling too well, I was having trouble breathing & so my mother took me to Dr. Rowland where I had an X-ray. She found a big bulge in my heart & a grey mass in my chest.  It didn’t sound good.  I was put on medication to keep the fluid from building up inside me but one morning not long after, I felt like my heart was going to burst & I think it really did, because I fell over on the floor & started shaking badly.  My mother cried & my dad said:  “it’s okay, Hopee, we’re right here with you’ & my mother got down on the floor & held me tight.  I was pretty scared, I can tell you…. but I knew that my time had come.  I needed to leave my body, it hurt so much & I had so much trouble breathing by then.  My mother held me in her arms all that day except when she took me outside & then she carried me back in; I was too wobbly to walk by myself.  By nighttime I knew that it wouldn’t be long & she laid down on the floor beside my dog bed & kept stroking my head & my back, saying:  “it’s okay Hopee, you can let go whenever you need to; you’ve been the very best girl anyone could ever have had & you’ve been very much loved” but she was crying when she said it.  I looked at her & tried to tell her that it was going to be okay, that I would have to leave my body but that I would stay in her mind & her heart, just like Ceilidh has, for as long as she wanted me to be there.  I’d had a good life, I told her.  And besides, I never liked puppies anyway.  Ceilidh would have made a better mother than me.

Hope died as quietly & as unobtrusively, as she had lived.  I stayed with her until the early hours of the morning of September 14th but knowing that I could not face the coming day without sleep, I went upstairs to bed, leaving Hope to do what she had to do.  All night when I was lying beside her, she looked at me with her beautiful soft, brown eyes, her gaze never left mine.  It was as though she was trying to tell me something.  When I came downstairs three hours later, at 5 a.m. & she was lying with her head over the edge of her bed.  I knew she had slipped away.  It was as though she could not let go while I was with her for she sensed how painful it would be for me.  Hope’s symptoms & her illness mirrored that of her sister, Ceilidh.  You only have to experience hemangiosarcoma once to know it.  She died, as Ceilidh died and as their sire before them, of hemangiosarcoma.

I’m not sure we ever completely recover from loosing dogs that are such a part of our lives.  We move on, but the memories are there and the sadness, too.  Tears still come at the most unexpected times.  Had Ceilidh and Hope never been born, I would never have had the wonderful experience of knowing that this kind of a relationship with a dog was possible.  To their breeder, my thanks.

Each is loved for their own selves & each no more than the other.

“There are no degrees of honorableness…you are or you aren’t” (Sam Rayburn)