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Friday, February 14, 2014

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December 24, 2001 - February 14, 2014


Cisco's Profile

I didn’t want a golden. They were over-bred, too-popular, etc. Chris did and Cisco’s predecessor certainly warmed me up to the breed. After we lost Dakota way too early, I was on board with getting another golden. Finding a golden proved to be harder than I thought, we tried to go the rescue route, but everyone didn’t think we could handle a young golden and kept steering us to dogs that were 4 or older. Chris was not on board with that plan since we just lost a 2.5 year old. So I turned to looking for breeders and couldn’t find one with a litter on the ground. I finally connected with Cisco’s breeder who had one pup left—it was a male who he described as the “largest, blondest, and most active in his litter.” Perfect—Chris’ preference was for a blond, male.

Chris and I drove out to the eastern shore to meet the breeder, see that he had the paperwork I had learned from my research to ask for and for the health clearances on the parents. We got to meet his mother, grandmother, and grandfather who all seemed like really nice dogs. And then we met Cisco who was significantly larger than his litter mates. Well, everything seemed in order so we left with our new pup. Cisco whined almost the entire way home. We used to joke that we should have turned around and taken him back. Cisco whined a lot growing up. He HATED being stuck in traffic and would whine whenever we were. And the whining increased to epic proportions anytime anyone would go swimming without him.

Cisco puppy

Chris was out of work and we decided that was the perfect time to get a pup. Chris spent the first few weeks of having him following him around like a hawk making sure he didn’t get into trouble and getting him housebroken. I think that’s probably why by the time he was 10 months old we decided he was well behaved enough that we could consider getting a second dog. Seven month old Berkley came to live with use when Cisco was ten and a half months.

Cisco graduates

Most Active. Who knew those two words (that I kind of brushed aside) would end up having such a big impact on my life. Cisco was a rock star graduating multiple leaves of basic obedience. When we finished the last before he was a year and they suggested I try agility with him, i figured why not, he’d learn to listen a bit better and it might be kind of fun. Cisco was over two before we took a break from classes. And that was when I learned exactly how active he needed to be. He would constantly be in your face wanting you to play or do something. Walks, throwing balls, nothing seemed to tire him out. Then one day after we had played ball twice and been on a walk and he was still demanding more, I decided to work on some tricks with him and after 10 minutes, he was good. Ah ha! Not only did his body need to stay active, his brain did too!

Cisco running with Toy Ring

Cisco’s first few years were spent with weekend agility classes, the occasional trip to doggy daycare, weekend hikes, and walks around the neighborhood. He was definitely a bigger fan of daycare than Berkley was. And while lots of times I wasn’t so sure that Cisco and berkley liked each other, usually when I went to pick them up they were hanging out with each other. During this time Cisco got a reputation of being a class clown (something he never outgrew) and finding this stinkiest, grossest things to roll in. The stinkier the better and because of this, I got him back from daycare bathed quite often.

Cisco and Berkley needing a diet

His third year I wasn’t going to take the winter off from agility classes so I decided to try agility at A Click Above who holds classes inside. Our first class, I was told Cisco was fat and needed to loose weight. When we took him to the vet as a pup, the vet said he wouldn’t be surprised if he was over 100 pounds as an adult. So I didn’t think anything of it when he was 93 pounds—after all I could still feel his ribs. I even took him to the vet and she said, he’s big boned, I’d be lucky to get him under 85 pounds. Much to her surprise and everyone else’s he got down to and stayed around 70 pounds. Average for a golden retriever. And he measured in at 23.5”—average. And lived to an average age. But Cisco’s life was anything but average.

Cisco had horrible allergies. Our vet didn’t mess around and sent up straight to the allergist. He was on allergy shots for 5 years. Then he developed food allergies—allergic to chicken, beef, eggs, etc. Then there was his cyclical dropping white blood cell count that resulted in a couple weeks of lethargy and loss of muscle mass about once a year. For a while I was convinced we’d be luck if he saw five. But over the years, regardless of strange medical conditions, he kept on going.

Cisco dock diving
Golden retriever shaking

Photo by Steve Surfman

Cisco was my green dog. A green dog who could have definitely benefited from a better handler. I think Cisco loved agility, but between having to teach and re-teach obstacles, I think I put a lot of un-due stress on him chasing the elusive Q. We stopped trialing to re-teach the teeter three separate times—sill goldens and their teeter issues. One of my biggest lessons came when someone I didn’t know came up to me and said that will my reaction to not qualifying, the whole demeanor of my dog changed. I didn’t have a big reaction to not Qing, but he was intune enough that he knew I was disappointed.

I don’t know how many times people came up to me over the years and remarked on how happy Cisco was in the ring. We had so many runs without a Q, but one of my favorite Qs was way back in novice where halfway through the course he ran around and visited the ring crew before coming back and finishing the course with me. He was just having so much fun and that’s what this sport is all about. I should have concentrated more on that, than worrying about whether or not he was going to get his contacts or whether or not she was going to get his weave poles—neither of which I had taught him properly the first time around.

Cisco and I running a JWW Course
Photo by John Riordan

While Cisco and I continued to have fun, we were always chasing that elusive Q in Standard. Apparently it was me always overthinking and wanting it too badly since our only three Excellent Standard Qs came on courses I missed the walkthrough on. So after we completed our AX, I stopped running him in Standard. He saved my butt big time on his title run. The only running non-standard courses helped us out a lot. And Cisco’s absolute favorite class was USDAA Jumpers because there were no weave poles!

2008 GRCA National

I have this active pup to thank for so many people, experiences, and adventures in my life. I have met some of my very best friends because of agility. I’ve been places I never would have gone otherwise. So many memories, laughs, and adventures can be attributed to this dog. He secured my love for a breed and lead me down a road that led me to Riot and so many more adventures.

Cisco’s main activity was agility. We dabbled in Obedience (including Rally), but Cisco loathed obedience—his entire demeanor would change when he was asked to heel. We tried dock diving which once he figured it out (it was a bit more difficult than jumping off the dock in Maine), he loved. But finding events was hard so we didn’t get to do much. Then along came Riot and Riot’s wonderful breeders who introduced us to field. Cisco, my pet golden which you need to go back many a generation to even find a Working Certificate, LOVED field. Now this was his sport. And despite not knowing what I was doing, and not really training for it, he came within on bird of passing his WC and earning on JH leg in the first and only trial I entered him in. Oh how I loved watching him work in the field.

Photo by Lise Pratt

I wish I had taken him back for more JH tests. I didn’t because he had no line manners and I was afraid he was going to hurt himself trying to get out of the blind and to the birds. Last fall I entered him in a senior stake for fun at the PVGRC fall WC/WCX. By this time the poor guy couldn’t hear the duck calls and I’m not even sure he could hear the gun shots, but boy when they got his attention and he saw those birds fall, he was in heaven. Field definitely should have been his sport.

Cisco was never a fan of having his picture taken, but did on occasion humor me with a good picture or two.

He also wasn’t the most affectionate dog. He would love to sit next to you, but if you started to pet him, he’d get up and walk away. Fortunately as he got older, he became better about letting you pet him. Even though he didn’t like to be petted, he was quite the lapdog and you could find him a lot of times on my lap at agility trials when he was younger.

I hope we gave him a good life. So many things to recount—two trips to the GRCA National Speciality, nine trips to Maine (where he could swim all day and still swim some more), more agility trials to count. Sharing his life with two other dogs—he and Berkley had an interesting relationship and he was a fantastic big brother to Riot, having a human kid move in on his turf who he tolerated and entertained, and more agility trials and training classes than we could count. Not to mention an adoring fan base.

Cisco and Riot

Cisco and his sunroom

So many things about him that I’m going to miss—his demanding dinner starting 30 minutes before it was time to eat, his wooo-ing when you finally got up to feed him, seeing him laying on the bathroom floor getting out of the shower, him in your face anytime he needed something and him showing you when you said “show me,” escaping multiple crates to get to me (he destroyed 3 soft sided crates and if you didn’t clip the zippers together he would un-zip them. His head sticking out the “sunroof” at agility trials. How sensitive he was and the two weeks he spent in our bedroom after we lost Berkley. Him sulking over obedience and having his picture taken. How goofy he could be running around with toys, with such joy. They way he was so gentle when he played with puppy Riot. How much he loved his flying squirrels. The way his ears would perk up when you said “swimming”  or “bumpers.”

Cisco and Riot Swimming

Rest in peace sweet boy. I will miss you Cisco-Biscuit.

Cisco the Kid

Kelly • 05:23 PM • (0) Comments