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Discussion Starter #1
Over the past week I have been reading a lot of anything Vizsla - and found this place. I thought I'd share my story. I lost my Vizsla, Gibson, due to medical reasons last week. Its been very hard and very quiet this past few days... talking about him really is the only way I have been able to feel better.

Back in the spring of 2009, my previous dog (a wonderful female Shepherd mix I rescued as a pup in 1997) was nearing the end of her life. She had been ill with various things - and we knew it was going to be that time soon. In the weeks near the end of her life, some friends of my wife and I (who had Weim's) said there was a Vizsla at the local SPCA up for adoption and that I should go look at him. I remember asking the the heck a "Vizsla" was... and then started doing much research on the internet. I spoke to my vet and she suggested I was active enough, and would most likely make a good owner of the breed. I was a little worried going into the unknown, but in the end I said I couldn't get another dog while my Teak was still alive. Sadly, the following week Teak's body had had enough of the sickness and my vet suggested it was time... as you all know, that was one of the saddest days of my life.

A few days later, I decided to give the SPCA a call and see if the Vizsla (who they had named Smiley) was still there. He was, but he was due to be transferred the next day to Southern Ontario to a larger SPCA shelter. I was working nearly 2 hrs away at the time, so I decided to leave work early, rush back home - pick up my wife and get to the shelter just before closing. Which we did...

Enter the first time I saw him.... bounding into the kennel with one of the workers, he started to pee from excitement, and I thought " oh dear... what have we here?! "... my wife and I had about 20 minutes to take him on leash and for a short walk up and down the road to familiarize ourselves with this guy. In that short time, I just knew he was coming home with us! Its hard to explain but he had found his forever home. And I think we both knew it.

Since he had a tattoo, the SPCA had traced him back to Onpoint Vizsla's - I emailed them and was told that they couldn't make contact with the original owner. I was also told the last owner (who haddecided to give him up to the pound and not pick him up) remained anonymous and didnt want to tell the SPCA anything other than they didnt want to claim their dog. We learned that Gibson was actually born April 9th, 2006 - three years to the day I adopted him (April 9th, 2009). Other than that I knew nothing of his history, name etc.

Gibson immediately took to our home (at the time it was just my wife and I) but had many destructive behaviours - mainly chewing anything he could get his mouth on! He was not a jumper though, but was scared of EVERYTHING. Any noise, sudden movement, etc and he was trying to make a new doorway.

Being self employed, I had the ability to bring Gib to and from work with me every day. At the time I was commuting 140 km one way to work and back again. So, at 6am Gibson and I would drive for 1 1/2 hours to work, Iw ould take him for a run before I started - work until 5pm, and then drive home. Half way to home I would stop by this lake I know, and take him for a 45 minute off leash run. I also quickly discovered Gib had never learned to swim! Weird I thought. But, I am always hiking and love the outdoors, and Teak was always in the water. I knew Gibson needed some help. So, once the spring tuned a bit warmer, I would wade out into the lake every time we went for our walk and using a tennis ball (his favourite toy) try to lure him out. From May, June, July... he would get out to maybe his knees and then stop. i didnt want to drag him out into the water for fear of scaring him. It seemed futile - until one fine day he just decided to keep walking out into the deeper water and Wow! He was swimming... from that moment on - it was impossible to keep him out of the water. It was beautiful to see that whole episode unfold that first year and take part in it. On our walks I also got him to stop picking up garbage (he had a thing for pop cans..) That summer, my wife and I had only been married for a year and a bit. She was pretty jealous of all the time I was spending with Gibson, but I tried to explain that it was now our (ok, my) responsibility to try and get Gib trained enough to be safe and happy.

On all my spare time, we would go for walks (at least once 5km a day, sometimes twice) and when the winter came, and it was dark before and after work - we still did our off leash walks using a large flashlight. even when it was -30, we never missed a day..

Somewhere along the way Gib turned from that timid, clumsy relatively non-trained dog to a really super guy. He was the most loving, caring, affectionate dog with not one mean bone in his body. Where we went for our daily walks, is a place near my home where many people take their dogs off leash in the trail system. He never had any issue with other dogs, always friendly (but cautious). Just a really well behaved dog. We became closer all the time. He was also sleeping in the bed with my wife and I (although he was 60+ pounds and quite tall compared to most Vizslas) each night. Life was good - and then in 2011 we had our first child. Gibson was great with the new baby! As he started to get older he didnt seem to want to slow down. At age 5, then 6 - he was still a ball of energy and although I had started a new business, and had a child to look after - we still never missed a walk, no matter what the time of year, weather or whatever else had to be done.

SOme of our best times were going camping in the summer. Gibson loved swimming and we took him several trips to the shores of lake Superior. He always traveled well and loved to be in the truck. It was like his big dog house... lol.

Around January 2013, one day I called him to go for a walk. For some reason, the stairs he came running down a thousand time before - he decided to skip the bottom 4 steps and jumped to the kitchen floor. I knew immediately something was wrong (he did the splits) and couldnt put weight on one of his legs. Over the next weeks, and visits to the vet - we knew his ligaments were torn but thought it was best to try phyisio and wait to see if things would improve. That was difficult - although we still went for a daily walk we didnt play ball at all. I was scared. A few months after, and another Xray, it was decided Gibson needed surgery. In the mid summer Gibson had a TTA on the knew that was really bad. After two months of daily physio, we were again able to walk and have fun. But no more ball - and no crazy off leash bounding around. Just a nice gentle run and walks mostly on leash. Things were looking OK, and we started some meds (not daily, just when things got bad) and other things to try and keep the legs working and Gib's pain to a minimum. Then last summer (2014) the other leg started to deteriorate. Scheduled a second operation for last fall and although the weeks following were rough, afterwards things were really good - but now Gibson was on daily meds for pain and his arthritis. I knew there can be some bad side effects, but without the meds he was crying up all night and unable to walk.

Everything was fin until just over a week ago - he started to have the textbook adverse reaction to the medications he was on. By the time we stopped, tried to counteract the effects the damage to his body was too severe to cope with. Last wednesday, we decided to let him go peacefully.

It was a very unexpected and sudden turn in our lives. The past nearly 6 years we had together were just amazing. To spend so much time together - morning to evening day after day. It was such a wonderful experience I cannot describe to anyone else, except perhaps other owners.

Im not sure what the future will bring for me - I would love to share my life with another Vizlsa some day... but I know my love for Gibson will always be remembered, and I hope I did give him the life he deserved. He will always be remembered... Always.
 

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This is a very touching story that all of us will likely feel close to our hearts. Thank you very much for sharing your story and also for rescuing Gibson. What a journey for you both!

Interesting way of finding your boy as on point tends to breed very nice dogs. You found a diamond in the rough.

Wish you could join us on a hike, but I'm sure in no time you'll be back living the vizsla life.
 

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Please accept my sincere condolences, ajcoholic. I'm so very sorry for your loss. I know how painful this kind of grief is.
You gave him a great life. Try to take some comfort from that. :'(
 

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What a beautiful testament to a great dog. I sometimes wonder to myself if it's easier to lose a dog suddenly or with some foresight and I always come to the answer that neither is easier. You're not really prepared for it either way. And these guys, something about them it's like they take up even more space in your heart than a dog has right to. Thanks for sharing this. Please share more if it helps.
 

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You most definitely gave Gibson the life he deserved. He was a very lucky boy to have found you, as you were to find him. You guys seemed to have a lot of fun together, plenty of memories to share and remember. Sorry for your loss, may time heal your grief.
 

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Oh i am so sad for you :'(

Thank you so much for sharing Gibson's story, it has bought a few tears to my eyes. He was a lucky boy to have found you and your wife and enjoyed a happy life with you.

In time I hope you will remember Gibson by giving one of his "cousins" a loving home. I often think when you bring a new pup home you are honouring the lovely vizsla you have said goodbye to.

Thinking of you.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you for the comments, they are appreciated. Today marks one week. I'm at work trying to hold back my tears.

When I get home this evening I'll share some photographs. This is good therapy for me.
 

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What an amazing person you are! On behalf of all dog owners, in particular those of us that have been blessed and share our lives with a vizsla, thank you for giving Gibson such a beautiful, happy life, and thank you for sharing his story, at this very sad time.

I am truly heartbroken for you. x
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Here are some shots of Gibby. He was more white in the face recently but still retained most of his colour. I know Vizslas all look similar but he was one super handsome guy! And, he had really long legs. I was told his parents were both on the taller side of Vizsla, and he grew up much taller than the other two Male Vizlas I have seen in my community.





 

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Discussion Starter #11
I don't consider what I did anything exceptional... when I decided to give him a permanent home, then that means he was going to be treated like a family member. With my job I am lucky he can come to work with me and where we live (in fairly rural Northern Ontario, Canada) there is an abundance of wilderness and lakes and trails to go just minutes from home or work. It really is a great place for any dog to live - but with one that needs to be run off leash on a daily basis it is super.

When I see Gib in the water I will always remember the months we spent to get there. I really dont know how he was looked after before he became ours, but I assume he was pretty isolated and tried to be kept indoors.

The first year it seemed like everything was a new experience.... he was unfamiliar with bicycles for instance. I spent a long time to get him comfortable just being around bikes, and then we worked towards going out (me on my mountain bike) and he trotting beside me without a leash. It took time but we did it! After that, just getting the bike into the truck was enough for him to get excited and get ready to go. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Here is one of the later pics I have of him and my son - I was in the passenger seat and my wife driving. Gib doesnt look too happy but he was always happy to go for a ride!

 

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So sorry for your loss. I did enjoy reading your story. Sounds like you have alot of very nice memories. Don't wait too long to get another dog! There is nothing better for healing a broken heart then loving another animal! I can honestly say that from experience. The a new dog will never take the place of Gibson but it will help heal your heart!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
The first while Gibson was with us, he was pretty mischevious. Well, he liked chewing on anything except his own toys :)

Tops on his list were my wifes shoes, hats and mittens, and blankets. But he stopped that within the first few months.

A few notables - one time I was letting my favourite umbrella dry opened up in the house. He shredded that thing while my back was turned. One other time, we had just bought a 15 pound bag of grass seed and had the bag sitting just inside the entrance door. While we stepped out for a bit, Gib decided to grab the bag, and run around the ENTIRE house, probably shaking the now torn bag as he went everywhere. We came home to find every floor in each room covered in grass seeds! I thought my wife was going to want to get rid of him... but I cleaned it up. Found out that day he was terrified of the vacuum.

One of his all time favourite things to do was run along the shore of the lake near my house, and hunt for frogs. He wouldnt do anything with them but would (if I let him) stand still and track them for hours! Man did he love frogs. And chasing flies in the house...

But in the forest he was uninterested in anything alive. He never had any interest in birdsm, squirrels and chipmunks, rabbits etc. EVen when they ran out in front of us he would never even look there way.

But show him any sort of ball (especially a tennis ball) and THAT was what life was all about!! Walking in the woods and chasing tennis balls, and cooling off in the lake.

One last thing... last spring, I think it was early April - we went for a walk. There was still a lot of snow on the ground and the lakes were mostly still frozen from the very cold winter we had. Gibson was up ahead of me and all of a sudden (about 40 minutes into the trails) I hear this crazy whining/crying. I started to run up the trail and discovered he had ran out onto one of the shallow lakes that was along the trail. He ran about 30 feet out and broke through the ice! All I can remember is he was 1/2 submerged, with the neck and head above water and trying desparately trying to claw his front legs onto the ice. Within a few seconds I realized we were on our own... and Gib was going to slip under the water soon. I knew the lake wasnt too deep, so I started breaking through the ice with my boots and walking out towards him. Luckily, by the time I reached him I was just waist deep in the ice cold water. I grabbed him by the neck (all 65 lbs of him) and hauled him up and waded back out of the water. It was a cold walk back to the truck, where I cranked the heat and warmed us both up before heading home. Boy oh Boy... the things we do for our friends!
 

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Discussion Starter #15
One last pic for the evening...

Taken on one of our camping trips. Gibson would sleep with me in one bed and my wife and son would share the other...

 

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Thank you so much for sharing your story!

My spouse lets me get away with checking this forum indecently frequently because I show him an irresistible # of v puppy photos... But your story was so touching and poignant that I asked him to read it too. It has really impressed upon us the importance of appreciating every single second we have with our v, Nico. These dogs live hard and fully connect with every moment.

Thanks again for the story and photos, although it brought tears to my eyes it has also brought a positive message to my life.

I hope you find each passing day easier, Gibson's memory lives on with you.
 

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Dear ajcoholic,
Thank you for sharing your beautiful story, and posting your pictures and memories. I personally hope you continue to share your life with Gibson, with us the ( HVF). You will find a great appreciation, here, for your love, and the relationship you had with your Dog, special friend, companion, playmate, etc.
You will also find you can get a great "Vizsla Fix" here.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
I hope I'm not writing too much here... but honestly sharing all these things - probably just writing these great memories down - is helping me so much. I still cry every time I think of Gibson, some tears from happiness of the time we had and others of sadness since I will never see him again.

Anyhow, I was just thinking today how Gib had his favourite things to "chew and destroy"... lol. He would really love to chew on anything that had stuffing. Especially stuffed toys. He would first ever so carefully rip off any tags with his front teeth. It was a really funny thing to see him do! Then, with almost surgical precision he would remove any eyes on said stuffed animals. Then he would tear them open and proceed to remove any stuffing. Never eating anything - just removing it and spitting it out. It was funny to watch, but would drive my dad crazy as he always thought he would eat the stuff.

He didnt much care for any of the traditional dog toys we bought him, and that was a lot.

The funniest thing was two Christmas' ago when my wife bought an "elf"... if you have human kids you probably know what "elf on the shelf" is. Well, when my wife brought that elf doll home, and Gibby got a glimpse of it - it was like he was possessed!! He wanted that thing SO bad. And, sure enough, I think two days after we bought it, somehow he got ahold of it and shredded it to bits. We had to go buy another quickly before my son noticed he was missing. He would also just go crazy for certain stuffed toys my son would get for gifts. I don't know why, but certain things just made his eyes get huge and you could tell he REALLY wanted to shred.
 
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