Saying goodbye in stressful times

Hello,

I am Jennifer Williams certified dog trainer and I killed my dog… Please read the full story.

I know it has been a long time from my last post.  Ranging from aggression cases, pet sitting, dog walking and regular dog training classes it has been hard to sit down and do a decent post.  I ended up coming to a quick stop in January when I ended up in a car accident and a car on top of me breaking my back.  I had moral support from family and friends but once again my amazing dog Nyssa who had work beside me (In dog training) became an emotional support dog.  When my PTSD kicked in during the night she would wake up and come to my aid until I was able to fall back to sleep.  When my fiance had to go to work she kept a watchful eye on me.

Nyssa was helping me just as she had always helped everyone who she ever meant, she was more than just a dog she was my daughter.  Some dog trainer’s may tell you not to look at your dog as a family member like a human I am here to tell you do so!  You will form a bond stronger and know that you have a dog that will always be with you and willing to work their hardest to please you without being in fear.  You will get to know your dog in more detail than those who just view them as lower being.  Dogs are amazing, and when you view them in a higher light they become even more amazing and are able to reach higher goals you have for them.

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Within a week of me returning from the hospital, in a back brace and stuck in bed Nyssa all of the sudden took a turn for the worst.  She would still be willing to go outside and go to the bathroom and eat, but as soon as she was done she would come in and lay down and go to sleep.  The joyful playful five year old Golden was now sleeping more than our 8 year old Golden.  It was like something had sucked the life force out of her.  The first vet had no idea what was wrong and my fiance was sent to the CAVES emergency room.  It was there she ended up having an ultra-sound where the vet saw liquid in her heart sac.  That liquid was crushing her heart, they stated they can drain the liquid and there was a good chance that this was a fluke and would not fill up again.  As soon as they removed the liquid from the heart sac she was back to herself but the vet wanted to keep her over night just to make sure she was stable.        20150223_143508

It was at this point the hell weekend began, her heart sac would keep filling and they would have to re-drain the sac.  we were waiting for another expert to come in on Monday to see what a spot was on her heart.  Most of the vets believed it wasn’t cancer and my fiance and I wanted to know what was going on before we decided what to do next.  She was comfortable and mostly stabled with a few dips here and there.  For some god unknown reason this emergency vet did not have on call ultra-sound readers for the different body parts.  To me, they should always be on call, after all emergencies do not just happen during the week.  Monday came, and we were still waiting to hear what was going on with Nyssa, half of the day was gone and we finally called getting sick of waiting.  We wanted our girl back home with her family.  Once they had finally finished reading her scans we got the phone call.  It was the hardest phone call I have ever had to take.  I was informed that the spot was cancer, and it was a rapid form of it.   It wouldn’t have even matter if we had brought her in a month ago the tumor wouldn’t have even shown up.

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We asked if there way anything that could be done.  The vet said, yes a $10,000 surgery to remove and repair the heart, then chemo, and radiation.  This would give her at most 6 months to live three of which she would be trying to heal from the surgery and cancer treatments.  It was at this point I had to hand the phone over to my fiance as I felt like someone had stab me in the heart.  Once we got off the phone, I got help out of bed, got my back brace on, and went out with my walker.  I did not care about the pain ranging from the car ride to even walking I was going to see my daughter.  Once we got there we waited in a private room and the vets brought Nyssa to us, she was having a good moment, and had enough energy to run up to me and give me a lick on the face.  We talked to the vet some more making sure that what they stated was true, and there was no other way.  We were told to take our time, which then we asked if we could take her for a walk around the building outside.  She loves walks, it was a freezing cold day in January but Nyssa loved the winter.  While my fiance walked her on leash I trailed behind with my walker, once in a while taking a few pictures and videos of the two of them together

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  After the walk we went back inside to warm up in our private room and spent a few more hour with Nyssa.  We told her how her older sister was doing, what was happening at the house.  We also made her some promises.  When I was in the room with her by myself I told her what an amazing dog she has been and I only wish that we had more time together.  We started to noticed she was loosing energy and we knew from what the vet told us she was losing too much blood at this point.  When I looked at her gums they were white and I knew it was time before she had a heart attack.  We called in the vet, and while I wasn’t able to get down on the ground with her my fiance held her close and we said our goodbyes.  The vet told us we were doing the right thing, and her honestly would not put her own dog through the treatment that she told us about.

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I can’t tell you how much those final moments seemed to slow down.  The vet with the needle, I wanted to scream and stop her before she did anything to Nyssa but  I knew if I did I would only cause  Nyssa more suffering in the long run.  It would be selfish of me to keep her going only to have the cancer come back somewhere else in her body.  It would be selfish for me to put her through a surgery after going through four tappings (to remove the liquid) and then chemo and radiation only to have her last few months feeling sick from the treatment.  This form of cancer was the worst from what they told us, and easily travels around in the blood system just to find a new location to grow.  My mind was spinning in those final moments, those moments where she cuddled into her daddy and those moments where her ears perked up as I said her name and that we loved her.  It was so unreal, and then just like that her body became still and heavy in her dad’s arms.

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It was at this point we both lost it, we lost Nyssa and there was a huge hole left in our heart.  We left the vet’s with her collar.  We came home, Aya her older sister seemed to look for her which was the hardest thing to see.  I couldn’t eat for a solid week and could not stop crying for close to a month.  It just seemed unfair for the universe to take her during the time we needed her the most.  And it was hard to accept that she was gone for all of us in the family.

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So how do you deal with the loss of a family member?

A lot of people have asked me this over the years.  Each person is a little bit different and each person takes a different amount of time to saying goodbye fully.  I started to realized that even though she was physically gone I knew I had all those great memories we shared.  I focused more on those memories instead of the “Oh we never got to…”  For myself I found it very helpful to have her ashes, as well as have a photographs placed on canvas.  Too often have I seen families lose a dog, then it almost seems as if that dog never existed.  If we have photos of family who have passed away why can we not do this for our k-9 family members.  Next to her picture we have her collar hanging up and her CGC medal on the other side.  I want to remember she was here and I want others to know she was here on this earth, and she did make a difference to my family and others.

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Other ways I have seen people deal with their passing is having a tree planted with a little name plate next to it.  This is a lovely way of remembering your dog as the tree grows.  Others I have seen make facebook pages for their dogs to share photos and memories.  Do not let anyone tell you or push you to “get over it, its just a dog”.  This person has no idea what you family member meant to you and it is clear that they have never had the connection you had with their dogs.  Like I said before it is ok to take time to deal with the loss.  The biggest thing you have to remember which took me a while to accept is that I did do the right thing for her.  I made sure she wasn’t suffering in the end.  Most of all if you are having such a hard time you can not function get help from your Doctor, it has been proven the humans bond with their dogs in the same way and level as they do with human children.  It is understandable if some suffer from depression just don’t stay alone in that dark place.

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Is it ok for me to get another dog?

Yes, it is ok.. for some it may take months, years, or even weeks once again it depends on the person.  Myself I waited until I felt some peace with what had happen.  It was also true with how quiet it was we felt we needed some new life in our home.  On top of that we knew Aya was becoming depressed being alone, matter of fact she went from a solid red color to whiting out on her face within a month of losing Nyssa.  We waited until we got the right feeling about a litter and did our research.  Once we brought her home we had a whole new set of challenges not just potty training and training in general.   We started to catch ourselves trying to compare our new family member to Nyssa.   Catch yourself ahead of time and understand this is a new life and soul.  There will be differences and there will be things that are the same but this is a new family member.  Remember that they are just starting out in life with a blank background and are learning from the beginning do not freak out or be disappointed because dog A used to be able to do this but our new dog B is not.  When you let go putting down your new puppy or dog this is when your relationship will start to grow and learning with take place for the both of you.  You are starting a new dance with a new partner in this life and you both got to support yourself.

Always remember your past family member would want you to be happy and that they will always be watching over you.

To read more about what has happened to Jennifer Please go to my Gofundme page:

http://www.gofundme.com/Jenniferwilliams

We love you Nyssa and we miss you.  You will always be part of our family!

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“Good Girl!”

Please help even a 1.00 goes a long way. If you can not donate please share! Nyssa’s Emergency surgery

Hello,

Nyssa is a English cream Golden.  She helps out her mother during dog training in aggression cases as well as a demo dog.  She also helps with educational sessions with young children.  Before her emergency she was learning how to work along side her mother during a massage session to help out clients who are in physical and mental pain.  Any amount would help out and even sharing would help as well.
For more information about Nyssa please go to her Gofundme page:

http://www.gofundme.com/jj490k

Once again thank you  and happy new years!

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How to Train your Dragon 2… Educating future generations to change the treatment of dogs

how-to-train-your-dragon-2-poster1-690x1024Often times we go to animated films and expect some form of a lesson for all who is watching the movie.  It is often a lesson of being brave, heroic and most of all never to give up.  I was surprised that there was a hidden message for the children to see and hopefully pick up and use throughout their life.  As I started to watch the movie my dog trainer feelers started to twitch.  The dragons all started to show different behaviors we often see in our K-9 friends.  This range from paw lifts, lowering head, the need to please their human, tail chases, sniffing other dragons in certain places and so on.  While it was cute they related k-9s to the dragons there was also something else developing.  It was how the characters of the village trained their dragons.  There was even talks about the “alpha” which now we know is outdated for even wolves let along dogs.

81AjuXCw9UL._SL1500_We see the village has grown and accepted the dragons, and in turn they taught the dragons how to work and live along side the humans.  No force was used and all Positive reinforcement was used by the village folks.  We ended up seeing is what most Positive Reinforcement trainers see, the fact the dragons enjoyed working for their human side kicks.  It was also true that the dragons work harder and longer for the people of the village. The village people often used food or even play for the dragons to keep them motivated and to let them know they were doing something right thus increasing the desired behavior.   The movie was showing people that you do not have to rough up your dragon which could easily be symbolic for dogs.   By working along with the dragons and educating them what was needed or wanted it allowed for a stable relationship between the humans and the dragons.

httyd  I was happy to see so far in the movie it was more up to date training methods.  However, what really almost shot me out of my seat was when the bad guy of the second movie appeared and how he “Trained” his dragons.  It was at that point my skin crawled and a few t.v trainers popped into my head as I watched him interact with the dragons he had under his control.  We saw a huge tone change as the bad guy (Drago Bludvist) enter the scene as he was gathering up all dragons to create a dragon army.

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Needless to say his methods of controlling and training a dragon was that of Dominance and a use of an Alpha to try to control all other dragons.   He used methods such as kicking, using his staff on dragons, and even stepping on a dragon’s face to make it clear that he was the dominant animal.  We watch as he steps on one dragon’s nose, only to have the dragon literally shut down in front of our eyes (learned helplessness).  It was at this point the dragon gave up, as these forceful methods were used.  We also saw him hiss, and at times growl at the dragons to make sure that they all believe he was the top dog err dragon that is.    While his dragons “worked” you could tell there was something missing, it wasn’t that they wanted to work more that they had the fear of god in them.  After all he was called the “Dragon god”, very close to a certain dog whisperer as his methods played out.  In the end we all knew what was going to come about working your animal to the ground and not teaching them what you want from him.  Bullying only goes so far in the training world and often times blows up in a lot of human faces.  A good chunk of my training time is often to help owners move away from these outdated methods often times they come when the damage has already been done, and we spend a long time just trying to get their dogs back to normal working creature.

Screen-Shot-2014-04-10-at-4.38.56-PMBy the end of the movie, we see which bonds are closer, which group is willing to work harder for each other.  And at the end just like any movie the bad guy is defeated and the normal life can continue to go on in the village.  I am just happy that the movie could take a little life lesson that all Positive reinforcement trainers know and that science knows to be true and help educate the future generations.  We do not need fear, physical punishment, intimidation to get the behaviors we want.  We know our dogs or dragons are working hard because they want to- not because they are afraid of the outcome if they do not do something correct.  We do not need dogs who have develop learned helplessness and shut down to learning we crave dogs who are looking to learn and are exited to learn and most of all  we our bonds with the dogs we work with to stay intact and often times even stronger than what they were before.

So thank you dreamworks for the work you did in this movie, not even sure if you realize what all the lessons you had in your story world but they were great ones.