Paul and I had to let Annie go yesterday morning after a sudden onset of uncontrollable, almost constant, seizures. After a long night at the emergency vet without any improvement despite heavy sedation and the highest does of Phenobarbital they could give a dog of her size and age, we held her and let her go.
Annie had a lot of "firsts" for the Toller breed, and was an early ambassador for the breed in the field. She showed the hunt test world in our area that Tollers COULD compete with the big dogs, and do it well, back when the question as we went to line was often .... what’s that? She was the first female Toller, and youngest at the time, to earn an AKC JH. She was the first female Toller, and youngest at the time, to earn an AKC SH. She was the first in the history of the breed to earn an HRC Upland Hunter title. She was two Finished passes away from her HRCH when we had to stop due to some health issues she had after a major bee attack. There was an article about her in the HRC magazine. She started hunt tests in NAHRA back when that was the only organization where Tollers could run in our area in multi-breed events before AKC recognition. Coming full circle, the last title she completed was her NAHRA Working Retriever title. She was the little one eyed dog that wasn’t supposed to be able to do field work because of her limited sight, but she had so much heart I just decided early on not to tell her about her handicap and keep running her. But the most important thing I can say about her is just that she was my heart dog. She was my keeper puppy from my first and only litter of Tollers.
Many people know about my relationship with Annie. I’d like to tell you about Paul’s.When Paul and I joined packs almost three years ago, Annie soon realized she was in heaven. Annie was the dog for which I had always had to warn company that no matter what Annie did, do NOT throw a toy for her or risk being hounded by her for life. Annie would grab a toy and toss it into her victim’s lap. If ignored, she’d grab it from the lap and move it next to them. If that didn’t work, she’d try a different toy. If her victim didn’t respond, she’d eventually move on. After someone made the mistake of actually tossing the toy for her, she’d been known to then stalk her prey to the dinner table and flip the toy up on the dinner table next to their plate as they tried to enjoyed their dinner. Paul knew of her obsession. Yet, the first weekend we were all in our new home together, I heard a “squeak…squeak…squeak..” serenade coming from the living room. I found Annie and Paul happily squeaking together. Not only would Paul throw for her, if she brought him two squeaky toys, he’d squeak with her! Annie couldn’t believe how lucky she was! My fondest memory of our pack joining was the day I saw Paul and Annie coming out of the bathroom, Paul with his arms full of wet squeaky toys, Annie happily dancing at his side. He explained that while he was showering, Annie nosed the bathroom door open, and finding a captive audience she ran to the toy box and got a squeaky toy to flip around the shower curtain into the shower. When he ignored her, she got another. And another. And another. By the end of his shower, she had found and tossed every squeaky toy in the house into him in the shower. Instead of being annoyed by the obsessive Toller, Paul just washed all the toys since they were already wet, and Annie happily trailed her new hero out of the bathroom.
Annie had always clearly only been mine from the moment she was born. For the last three years of her life she opened her heart to include Paul, and she was often found at his side in the house, not mine. She was the first, and loudest, of the dogs to greet him when he got home from work each day.
The first hands Annie felt as she came into this world were mine. The last hands she felt as she left it were once again mine, but this time she also felt Paul’s.
UH HR WR Whitecliff Red Hot Animation SH US/Can WCX
December 9, 1999 – May 11, 2012