Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Process of Retirement

Retiring Bastien was a long process mostly because that's the way I needed it to be. I remember the process of choosing him though to today, and I know my life and the person I am has been forever changed by having him in my life.

I knew Bastien needed to retire. I had known he would have to retire fairly young as working dogs go since when I saw his hip x-rays at two years old. I asked the vet if I should retire him then and there. He asked me about the kind of work I would be using Bastien for and after giving him a detailed list the vet felt the work would not hurt him. He did ask me if I understood that his working life would be shorter and that I might not be able to ask him to do certain tasks. He also pointed out I would have to watch for signs that his hips were deteriorating. I started him on glucosomine and chrondroitin and fish oil supplements. For many years these supple allowed him to work and play with little sign of the the bad hips underneath all that fur. The last two years I had him with me, it slowly became apparent that what I was doing was no long enough to allow him work happily starting with more easily overdoing it during romps at the dog park. Overtime, it morphed into an out and out refusal to do certain thing or maintain some positions. I can remember filling out the application to Summit Assistance Dogs with tears in my eyes and Bastien snoring at my feet. Bastien is my twenties, outlasting and sticking with me through three jobs, three apartments, three moves and a boyfriend. I still find myself giving the "wait" command at curbs or talking to him and he is not there. I do feel silly but these are hard habits to break. December 27th I packed Bastien and all of his things (he has a lot of things) to move him to my mom's.
Why I re-homed Bastien
Many people can't understand how I could give Bastien up. The answer is simple: it was the best thing for him. Bastien has always had me to himself and never spent more than a few hours alone. It was completely unfair to expect that he could understand why I was going with another dog and not him. Furthermore, he had always been reluctant about sharing my affection with other dogs. He was never aggressive, but always made it clear I was his and that was that. He will not even allow me to train other dogs without the world's loudest hissy fit. The need to re-home is not always an automatic. It depends on the working dog in question. For Bastien it is the right thing. I visit him regularly and hound my parents regarding his care (also a hard habit to give up). He is very happy in his retirement and is always showing my parents how smart he is.

No comments: