Fall of 2017, at the beginning of training season, I had a personal set back. One that pulled the floor out from under me and sent me down a spiral I found nearly impossible to get myself out of. I will spare the details, for which they are not important to anyone but those directly involved. It was in this time I spent my time buried in my career or in a bottle to numb the reality of what I was facing.
Now, I am not particularly proud of what transpired. I never thought that anything could hit me so hard that I couldn't function in even the most basic capacities, but I was wrong. I gave up on everything. Nothing mattered. Nothing could get me out of the severe depression I found myself in. I stopped caring, I let my responsibilities go, I was done. Shamefully I tried, more than once, to take what I thought would have been the easiest way out...a coward's way out.
It was in this time I was only giving what I could when I could to the dogs. I realized, too late, that I needed to start planning on placing them. But how? How could I let go of the only thing that still made me feel anything at all? I had to realize it was a decision I needed to make for them, not for me.
When I decided which would be the first to place, it made sense in my mind to let the harder keepers go first. They were the ones who needed more than I was capable of giving at the time. It wasn't easy to admit defeat, but it was something I felt I needed to do. Instead of help I got judgment. I got smeared for making the hardest decision, though the most responsible decision I could when I was finally able to admit it. Little did I know that it was a decision that would have months of repercussions to follow. I had Sheriff's Deputies at my house, inspecting my kennel, inspecting my vet records, looking over the dogs. All to the conclusion of the dogs left in my charge were in good health, well cared for, and in no danger.
I suppose in a lot of ways I expected as much. Though I'm no stranger to the rumor mill. After all I'm still being called a puppy mill. Despite having never produced a litter of our own, but rather for having the audacity to have considered breeding before knowing anything about the breed. I had listened and spayed/neutered my first dogs and started learning about the breed but it was not enough. I will always have received my first show dog from a breeder that no one likes or respects. That will always define me to some...thats fine I still love my dog and cherish our memories together. But to be accused of letting select dogs suffer in my care while others did not. We all suffered. To be accused of never liking a dog because I dared to point out the truth about the dogs faults. There has never been a dog here that has not been loved for who they are and appreciated for what they brought to our lives.
In the end I had to give up a lot of what I worked so hard for. I have not run a team in over a year now. Most of our equipment is gone, and a chapter closed. Worse, I had to say goodbye to some pretty special dogs. I still have many who are very dear to me...but I miss the ones I let go. I let myself down. More importantly I let them down. It will not stop me from looking for their faces in my dog yard or reaching for them while doing chores in the kennels.
Today, things are still healing. It’s getting better day by day. These things take time and I’ve come to realize what is really important in this life. Family. But this is not the end for us in dogs. Maybe one day I'll feel the wind in my face as we run down the trails or the thrill of being in the show ring. For now, I'm focusing on us. Keeping us all healthy and happy. More importantly, finding us again. I will always advocate for the betterment of the breed and offer educational materials to those seeking answers to their questions- It has taken time to get my feet under me but we will be back soon.