Rueben was born in my little 17 ft camper 3 days after Christmas. He was the first of 3. He had so much white on his head I thought I could never love a dog with so much white. How wrong I was.
He grew fast and started training to herd sheep. He was very hesitant to go out to pick them up. He’d stop halfway and look at me as if to ask if I was sure this is what I wanted. I’d tell him to go ahead and he would. I didn’t know what to do about his insecurity.
I took him to a trainer in Connecticut who had large fields and a large flock of light sheep. He had a great time, but still didn’t look like much. The trainer said some make it and some don’t. When we came home, he was a different dog. Something clicked and he started working sheep like a pro. We attended one trial that the trainer happened to be judging. Rueben placed and she asked me where I got that dog. I pointed out that he was the same dog I had brought to her and that he had changed after our workout. She was amazed.
Working with him was a delight. He was obedient and very willing to learn. I had a real herding trial potential here. Then disaster struck. I noticed something funny about his eyes. I had seen it before. He was going blind.
I worked him as long as I could, but without the pressure of training a trial dog. I started running the dogs on a sled dog team in the winter to keep them fit and occupied. He was fine for a while, but then would pull the team off the trail if a snowmobile went by. So we had two teams. The fast team and the “Old and Blind” team.
Part of losing him was the result of his growing separation anxiety. He would bark and howl when I was gone. He would dig in closets and drag everything out. Once he got on my bed and peed. Another time he got a can of paint open. (pictures of this are on Flickr Here) I couldn’t crate him because he would either fight his way out, or rip up his face trying to escape. Lately, it seemed the episodes were getting worse. We’re back to camper living and I never knew what I was going to be faced with when I got home. I was ready to put him down since he was so obviously miserable. Part of me wished he would get sick so I wouldn’t feel so guilty.
Rueben had a stroke Saturday night that left him unable to stand or walk. I called the vet and will take him this afternoon. I’m so sorry, Rueben. I love you so much.