From Endurance to Dressage
This is not equine related in anyway and it's really long (and kind of sad), so if you read strictly for the dressage or endurance stuff, please feel free to check out something else, like this or this.
My husband and I have been together since I was 19 years old. I am now 41. That's a decent amount of years together. We chose not to have children, much to my parents dismay, so our animals have been our children. For me, the horses, but for both of us, it's been the dogs who have filled our home with a great deal of happiness.
Kirby was 5 weeks old when she joined our little family. We had just that month purchased our first home. It was 1996. She was a little black labrador retriever and we loved her instantly. One of my favorite memories of Kirby involved the daily ritual of fetching the morning newspaper. We lived on a quiet cul-de-sac where traffic was non-existent. Each morning I opened the front door so that she could race out to the driveway to get the paper. One particular morning, she came back with no paper. Shocked at her "failure" to deliver, I sent her back out with the standard, get the paper! command. She was out there for quite a while, but she finally appeared around the corner with the paper in her mouth. Good girl! I exclaimed as she dropped it at my feet while waiting for her cookie.
Upon closer inspection, I realized that what she had returned was the Wall Street Journal, not our regular local paper. When our paper wasn't to be found, Kirby had ingeniously decided to head over to the neighbor's house where there was a paper to retrieve. It certainly wasn't her fault that I hadn't specified which paper she was to bring in!
Several years later, when Kirby was three, we began to worry that she was lonely during the day while we were at work so we found the next member of our family, another black Labrador puppy. McGwire was six weeks old when we brought him home. As much as I loved Kirby, McGwire was just something else. He was the most loyal dog that I have ever known. His days revolved around us completely. He had to be touching one of us at all times. He was also determinedly protective and would have given his life for one of us. When I was sick or injured, he couldn't be moved away from me. I eat breakfast at the counter, and he was always under my feet so that he would know when I was about to get up.
We had both dogs for many years, but unlike people, their lives are much shorter than our own. At 11 years of age, McGwire became ill and in the summer of 2010 we had him euthanized by Dr. B in our home. It was a terrible loss as just 6 months before he had comforted me through the loss of Montoya, my Arabian mare. Losing him so soon after was very painful. We worried that Kirby, now 14 years old, wouldn't be able to handle the loss of a nearly life-long buddy.
Kirby surprised us though and lived another year. During her final months, she had lost her hearing and sight, but she was happy and well. In the summer of 2011, Kirby's health finally declined to the point where she too was euthanized by Dr. B. here in in our home.
Click photos for captions and larger view.
We traveled out of the county that summer so getting a new dog was out of the question. Since I have the summers off, we decided to wait until the summer of 2012 to bring a dog back into our family. It was a long year without a dog, and we missed our two "children" dearly. With less than three weeks of school remaining, Hubby and I turned our puppy search into over-drive. We were delighted to find a puppy, and even happier that his owner was willing to hold him until last Friday.
We picked him up after work and were able to spend the whole weekend with him showing him the ropes. Tobias is a black, four and a half month old Labrador Retriever. Like all lab puppies he is ridiculously cute and friendly and loves to play. He's already learning to sit and wait at the door instead of barging in, and he's adjusting to wearing a collar.
Unfortunately, not all has gone well with our new little buddy. On Monday, I took Tobi in to see our new vet, Dr. Thurman. Our former vet's office staff left something (a lot actually) to be desired so I found a new vet. While there, Tobi received his second round of puppy vaccinations, a dewormer (Nemex) and a flea and tick treatment (Vectra 3D). A lot of stuff in one day, I know, but it had to be done.
Tobias looked great the next morning and had a good appetite. By the time I got home from work that afternoon, all was not so well. Tobi had left the second round of food that we had placed in his crate as we left for the day, and he looked pretty dejected. Over the course of the evening, his expression worsened as did his overall condition. He stopped eating and drinking, and vomited in the late evening. The poor little guy had dry heaves until at least midnight, and looked no better the next morning.
I took Wednesday off to keep an eye on him. His appetite was gone, and I could only coax him to take one little sip of water. I even offered chicken broth, but that too was refused. Dr. Thurman thought it would be a good idea to bring him back that afternoon for fluids and supportive care.
By the time our afternoon appointment rolled around, Tobi couldn't even be coaxed to stand or walk. He was miserably sick. Dr. Thurman thought a Parvo test was in order. My heart sank. Really, how could that be? I agreed to the test, of course. Unfortunately, the results came back positive, but Dr. Thurman wasn't confident that he actually had Parvo.
I may not get this right, but it sounded as though Tobi may have been exposed to Parvo, and the recent vaccination triggered the virus. Whether it's a mild case, or really still just a reaction to the vaccination is unclear. It didn't really matter as Dr. Thurman felt the best course of action was to treat Tobi as though it definitely is the Parvo virus.
I'll admit that I was a bit tearful, but I took a deep breath and told him that it was fine. We would follow whatever protocol he recommended. Our plan is five days of a serious cocktail: Baytril, Cefazolin Sodium, and Vitamin B12. Here's what the whole thing looks like.
It's a two person job. Sean will have to hold Tobi while I insert the needle into the scruff between his shoulder blades. I'll hold the needle in place while Sean applies pressure to the IV bag which will push the fluid under Tobi's skin more quickly. It's an "IV" administered sub-cutaneously - not a procedure I'm familiar with. Dr. Thurman was confident that I could do it, especially since I've given loads of IM injections.
After the first dose of cocktail, given at Thurman Veterinary Center, Tobi was a new dog. As soon as he got home he drank and drank and then drank the chicken broth that I left for him. I cooked a small amount of rice and mixed it in with even more chicken broth and he greedily scarfed that down. I phoned Dr. Thurman's office to report Tobi's turn-around. Jillian, the receptionist, was delighted to hear he had improved and promised to give Dr. Thurman an update.
This morning, Tobias was his regular self with a voracious appetite and loads of energy. My gut is telling me it's not Parvo, but we'll wait to hear from the vet. We might not be completely out of the woods, so please keep your fingers crossed for us. Parvo is a virus so there is no "cure" other than supportive procedures: fluids, antibiotics for secondary infections, vitamins, etc. I promised Tobi that I would do my part if he would do his. This was in the car on the way home from the vet. He gave me a quizzical look which I hope meant that he was on board with our plan. By the time you read this, I will hopefully have successfully administered the second cocktail - with Hubby's help, of course.
I do have 10 more days to work so Tobias will have to spend another few days on his own in the back yard. I feel bad about that, but the yard is shady with lots of stuff for a puppy to investigate. He'll also have toys to play with and neighbor dogs to woof at. We are madly in love with him already and are delighted that he has some of the quirks that our first two had. Every time he does a Kirby thing, we look at each other and smile. Every time he gets a McGwire look in his eyes, my heart melts a bit, and I am reminded of a very dear friend.
Welcome to our home, Tobi!
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at Second Level. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2021 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
(Q) Must Qualify
2021 Pending …
5/16-17 El Sueño (***)
5/23 TMC (*)
6/12-13 SB (***) OR
6/19-20 El Sueño (***)
6/27 TMC (*)
7/3-4 Burbank (***) OR
7/17-18 El Sueño (***)
7/25 TMC (*)
8/14-15 RAAC (Q) (***)
8/29 TMC (*)
2021 Completed …
10/24-25 SCEC (***)
11/7-11/8 SB (***)
4/10-11 SCEC (***)
2021 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
2nd Level Qualifying
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 60.610% Bhathal
2nd Level Qualifying
5 Scores/4 Judges/61%:
Stuff I Read