How do I describe and pay proper
tribute to Killian? How do you paint a picture
of a dog who worked his way into your heart at first sight? How do you
describe that feeling of oneness with your partner no matter what you
were doing? How do you describe the comfort you got from running your
hands through his hair or stroking his ears (he loved that the most)?
How do I describe his endearing habit of carrying one of my shoes in his
mouth - he never chewed any but I always had to hunt for the second shoe
and sometimes found a pile of unmatched shoes in another room.
There are no words that can
relate that feeling so I will describe what a great dog and wonderful
partner my boy was.
Killian came to me from Seattle
when he was 11 weeks old in August 1998. He was in his crate for more
than 12 hours and yet he came out calmly as if to say “I’m here, are you
my new mom?” That was Killian – he was one of the most laid back German
Shepherds you could find. He was a stubborn and pretty independent
puppy and not that easy to train. He was my first Schutzhund dog and I
learned a lot through him. He had an incredible nose for tracking and
while the other dogs in our club got excited when they got to do
protection, Killian saved that excitement for the tracking field. He
was not a top competitor in Schutzhund but he had lovely obedience and
tracking and together we achieved the highest level SchH3 and IPO3 with
V (excellent) ratings in all 3 phases (not all at the same time). He
also had a German Sieger show title although with his big head and bones
he was definitely not a show dog.
Killian retired from Schutzhund
in 2004 but being from working lines, he had to do something. So we
entered Rally trials which he loved, quickly earning his Advanced
title. But that wasn’t enough for him so I signed up for an agility
class. From day one he loved agility – his eyes would shine, his tail
would wag and he had this big grin on his face.
Killian was 6 then and entered
his first trial in April 2005 one month before his 7th birthday. He
earned his first titles that spring in AAC although we also were doing
CPE and AKC trials. The next 3 years were the best times we had
together. I spent many weekends at trials with my boy and I learned so
much from him. Our bond grew and we became a real team. We had the
chance to compete in 2 German Shepherd Nationals, 2 CPE Nationals and 2
AAC Nationals. I am extremely proud of how well he did in them all.
Over those 3 years Killian
earned numerous agility titles including 5 C-ATCH titles in CPE agility
as well as many NADAC, AKC and AAC titles. He became famous for talking
at me on the start line and telling me off when I was not fast or clear
enough with a command. Our Gambler runs were usually entertaining with
me waving my arms and yelling from the line while Killian stood barking
at me to be clear on what I wanted him to do. The nicest compliment I
ever had from a judge was that Killian ran agility with a huge grin on
his face – what more could I ask for?
Our greatest agility moment was
also Killian’s last run, although I was not to know that at the time.
On October 4 of this year, Killian got his 100th Master Standard Q and
became the first German Shepherd to earn the AAC Lifetime Achievement
Award of Excellence, just 3 years and 5 months since his first trial.
Killian was 10 ˝ and this was never a goal that I had imagined when we
started this journey together. Killian finished his agility career that
weekend as he ruptured his cruciate and had TPLO surgery at the end of
October. He finished on a high note as those runs were also his 301st
ever and his 101st for 2008. Killian made it through surgery but 2
weeks post op became very ill and went downhill in the coming week. A
biopsy showed he had massive cancer in his liver that had metastasized
from his bile duct. This was a shock as his check up in late September
showed he was in perfect health. Killian went to sleep for the last
time peacefully in my arms on Nov. 14.
I have lost my best friend and
my soul mate with his passing. I had looked forward to spending his
retirement years together doing whatever he wanted to do. We were
cheated of that time but I have no regrets when I look back at the 10
years we had together. He gave me unconditional love and always did
whatever I asked of him. I cherished every second we spent together and
I know he knew how much I loved him. I never knew how many lives
Killian had touched until I got hundreds of emails from people in the
agility and dog world. One friend said that she never thought of “Pat”
without adding “Killian” – that is the best tribute I could have ever
So rest in peace my dear boy and
know you were loved and will always be missed. You will stay in my
heart forever. We had quite a dance together – I would not have missed
it for all the world. Keep dancing at the bridge dear Killian.