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“Mr. Flick”

August 6, 1995 – April 26, 2006

My buddy……

My traveling companion…..

My morning walking partner…..

He was always there for me…….

Listen to the song that honors Flick while you read this page

"My Old Friend", by Tim McGraw
This song played throughout his last days

 

PRA in Vizslas


From 14 weeks old, he was a great bird dog.

…..his run was swift

….his nose was long

…..his point was staunch

…..his desire was never ending

 

 

 

He was so cute at his first trial, at four months old. He was too young to run. As we walked around in the parking lot, he found his first bird under a car. It was a quail trying to make it back to the barn. From that point on, he thought birds were to be found under cars. For the next few weeks, he would look under every car we walked by. I finally had to take him to several parking lots and walk around so that he would understand that birds were not found under cars.

His life was birds. Don’t bother him with dog shows or agility trials or obedience. Birds are all he ever wanted. His heart was to look for birds no matter where we were. Even when he was in the house, he was always looking out the window for birds.

Squirrels would do if birds were not around.

He worked with the best field trainers in the US. We attended a Del Mar Smith Bird-Dog Seminar in 1997 (left) and a George Hickox Bird-Dog seminar in 2000 & 2001 (right). It was about the last seminar Del Mar put on before his son Rick took over.

Both trainers picked Flick out of the group as the dog with great potential. All those other guys wondered why a woman had such a great dog.

We continued to communicate with George. He was truly interested in Flick and his field future. George continued to give us advice about training a true "blind" retrieve.

But, most of all….
Flick was a contender.

He could have easily been a Dual Champion….both a show and a field champion.

......On his first brace,
.......in his first stake,
.......at his first field trial,
........Flick placed First in Open Derby.

That same day, his father, Nozy, finished his Dual Championship.

It was an omen for more good times. He was only in three more field trials as a puppy/derby dog. He placed first place in at least one stake in each of those trials. He also competed in the 1996 Vizsla Club of America National Field Trial, in Open Derby.

His field career stumbled when he went to bird-dog-camp with Chris Goegen. Chris was a German Shorthair Pointer (GSP) trainer. The advantage of going to bird-dog-camp was that Chirs could train him off horseback. I only had access to a horse at the field trials and could not train him off of horseback. Chris believed Flick was a better than any GSP he’d trained. But, Chris trained Flick too hard. Finally, Flick wouldn’t run for Chris. In fact, Flick ran back to the truck to avoid running with Chris. That’s when I took Flick to the George Hickox seminar. George was our saving grace. With George’s method of training and my handling of the boy off of Wynona, we were bound to be a success.

Fall 2001 was his first season as a broke gun dog. He ran in 13 regular and limited stakes as well as in the 2001 Nationals. He ran clean in 85% of the stakes and placed in 30%.

But the highlight of his career was the 2001 Vizsla Club of America National Field Trial. He was one of eight dogs (out of at least 30 dogs) to qualify for the Second Series in the National Amateur Championship. It was quite an honor. His first run was awesome. He took the tree lines and pointed endlessly until Holly Hanna, our scout, could find him. One of his points was right by the gallery with about 30 horses and riders. He held the point in the brush about 15 feet away, as the whole gallery was standing right by him….talking….and talking…and talking. His best point was on a covey of 35 quail. They came up all over the place…in about 35 different directions when I flushed them. And he held the point! What a dog!

Wynona, Flick & me at the field trials

In his second season as a broke gun dog, he not only earned his major, but three of the four retrieving points. It was the beginning of a great field career.

I believed he had something to offer the Vizsla breed.

He was a beautiful show champion. He placed fourth in the Field Trial Dog Class of the dog show at the same 2001 Nationals where he ran his best field performance. He could have put “birdy” back into the show dogs. In fact, he made beautiful and birdy puppies with Allie.

 

 

He truly did have something to offer the breed…..

 

…….but what he eventually did offer the breed was not exactly any of us wanted.

 

In September of 2003 he was diagnosed with Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). He was one of the first Vizslas found to have PRA.

His contribution to the breed became awareness of PRA in Vizslas.

The prognosis was total blindness by March of 2004. That did not happen. He never went completely blind. He did, however, become too disabled to continue running field trials. I’m sure this broke my heart more than his, but I made every effort to help him continue to play with birds so that he did not know he was disabled. After all, he had no idea life was not supposed to be that way.

His master hunter legs were all earned as a “blind” dog. You’ve never truly seen a blind retrieve until you see Flick retrieve a bird. He could see/hear the bird flush. If the bird stayed on the initial trajectory, he would find it easily. But if it went off course, he’d continue to look for it until he found it. Sometimes I have to bring him back in and play like I was throwing a ball in the direction and with an effort to portray distance. He would use my cues to find the bird. He always found his bird. Soon he became too blind to honor the pointing dog from a safe distance. We had to give up hunt tests then.

We continued to hunt at Rend Lake with our extended Vizsla Family. He did very well there in the beginning.

Finally, there were too many obstacles he could not see. He began hurting himself too much. He punctured his tongue at Killdeer…..ripped his ear in barbed wire at Feather River….. and finally sniffed in too much fatal pigeon poop at home.

We had to quit hunting with our friends.

But I always took him to Glenns Valley Conservation Club where the fields were flat with no trees. He knew the place well. He knew where the gates were and where he could go through to get into the other field. He knew were all the fences were. It was safe for him to run there. We ran there even when is nose was full of fungus. It took him longer to find a bird, but he did. He lived to find birds.

I remember his last field trial. He had been running pretty poorly in the last few, but at this one the planets must have been lined up right. He ran like he could see forever. He was swift. He ran the entire tree lines….turned the corner….and ran on the next. He was beautiful. He placed second that day. I decided it would be his last field trial because that was the Flick-run I wanted to remember. I did not want to remember him stumbling over logs or tripping in holes. I wanted to remember the swift runner, staunch pointer, and unending desire. And I still do.

Dart entered his life in August of 2003. She was afraid of him, at first, and he was too macho to play with a puppy. But they became best of friends. She became a seeing-eye hunting dog for him. He used to keep all the squirrels out of the back yard until he could not see them. The white squirrel was the last one he could find on his own. But he taught Dart about the squirrels quite fast. Like him, she would point them before chasing them.

If Flick saw her on point he would back her. When she moved her right front foot forward, he would move his right front foot forward. When she moved her left front foot forward, he would move his left front foot forward. Finally, Dart would take off and chase the squirrel up the tree. Flick would take off, but run the closest tree he could find and look up….knowing he’d just treed a squirrel. Dart was a great seeing-eye squirrel chaser for him.

Things I’ll Miss:
  1. Snuggling with Flick: His snuggles were so close. He had to put his face against mine. I always had to take my glasses of whenever we snuggled. He loved to snuggle at night when watching TV.

  2. Riding Shotgun: Flick always rode shotgun when we drove. He was my traveling companion for three separate driving trips to California and back (1998, 2002, and 2005).

  3. The night-time routine: Each night he would go to bed on the floor at the foot of my bed. Sometime in the night he would join me in the bed. In the dark, he would find the side of the bed by the light emitted from the digital clock. He would put his head on the bed to wake me up. I would uncover the blankets and pat the bed to let him know it was “OK” to come in. He totally trusted me. He had to jump off the floor to hit the bed. He did that each night in his “darkness”. He was amazing.

  4. Watching TV with Mr. Flick: He loved to sit on the couch and “watch” TV. If I stayed too long at night at the computer, he would remind me I needed to quit and go upstairs to watch TV with him. If I did not pay attention to him when he flipped my hand, he would weasel his way behind me in the chair. In no time, he would be sitting in the chair, pushing me off the front end. He did not like watching TV alone.

  5. My Morning Walking Partner: He was my motivation to walk in the mornings. I need to start walking again.

  6. The Three Biscuit Rule: Whenever I would leave him in the house or in the run, I would give him three biscuits. I'd throw them on the floor or the ground and he would sniff them out. I always had to leave him three because he could not see them and he'd keep sniffing/looking until he found three.
7. Playing with his name: He was born on the 50th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. He could have been called “Bomber”. Not. Instead, he was named after his sire and dam. Now, you have to have 8 year-old boy humor to appreciate his name. His sire’s name was “Nozy” and his dam was called “Bugger-Dog” (although her name was ‘Say-T”).

Other times, I would spell his name out in capital letters, but put the “L” a litte too close to the “I”. When I did that, people would always ask, “what do you call him?”

Flick, Say-T & Nozy at the 2001 VCA Nationals.
8. I’ll miss his head nosing me out of the biscuit container every time I open it. He believed he could stick his head in and get a biscuit. He was very successful when the container was full. But when it was low, he would stick his neck in, lift his front feet off the floor and stretch his neck until he found one. The container was a floor model that could hold 40 pound of dog food. He’d do the same with the dog food container.

9. Flick kept my house in order: I already notice myself moving chairs and closing doors so that he won't bump into them. I don’t need to do that any more. Everything has its place in a house with a blind dog. I even had rugs at each place where he needed to cue himself for a turn. I don’t need those rugs in those places anymore. I always had to explain why rugs had in such funny places. My house will not be as clutter free without Flick …..although Dart continues to keep my underwear in the right place.

10. An awesome blind dog: People would watch him in the field….including his retrieves and have no idea he was blind. It was fun to see their amazement once they knew.


Things I Won’t Miss

  1. The First Aid Kit: I never had a first aid kit until Flick. He would always hurt himself. I’ve never had to use it with Dart, Totem or Copper.

  2. Hunting Snakes: When he could not continue to independently hunt squirrels in the back yard he found that he could find and catch snakes in early Spring. He would be so proud of himself……bringing them to me. He couldn’t figure out why I ran away instead of taking “snake to hand”. I was so afraid he’d find something other than a garner snake.

  3. Closing the back Door after Flick: Flick could open the sliding screen door......but he'd never close it behind him.


 

His Last Days

It all started in February. He had violent fits of sneezing when he woke-up or got excited. In March the sneezing lead to a bloody nose. He went through two rounds of antihistamines and four rounds of antibiotics until the end of April.

Monday, April 17

Flick has just kept getting worse. He has been trembling. He holds his head out straight in one position, not moving from side to side. He yelps when Dart brushes his inflammed nose. She tries to greet him each morning with a gentle bite to the neck. But he won’t play with her. And, he keeps bumping his nose because he's blind. He yelps and cringes every time his nose brushes something. He won't get up to greet me when I come home. Yesterday I gave him a quail. He would not open his mouth to take it. He turned away. Now I see he cannot open his mouth to yawn.

Friday, April 21

I finally got the referral to Purdue. I called Purdue this morning. He needs to stay there (in internal medicine) for 1-2 days. They will ultrasound and maybe CT scan his head. We've got an appointment on Monday and pick-up on wed.

This will be a long weekend.....

Weekend

Friday night had to be the worst night. You could hear every breath he took that night. You could almost hear a faint moan each time he inhaled. I know it hurt him. He could not find a comfortable place. I don’t think either of us slept that night. He seemed better on Saturday. He slept in the sun. But he had trouble finding his way around the house and finding the back door form the back yard. Saturday morning he fell down the stairs. I carried him down the stairs after that. On Sunday, he did not seem to remember how to go to my bedroom. He’d go to the rug in front of the door, but instead of turning left, he’d turn right. He was miserable. I was anxious watching him. I could comfort him, which was the only thing that made me feel better.

Monday AM
Well....I'm back from Purdue. I left Flick there...although I don't know exactly why.

Our appointment took two hours.....mostly because the resident, Dr. Thompson, was too busy. The student did an OK job....nothing to write home about. She kept forgetting to ask pertinent questions.

Anyhow, it is possibly one of two things....cancer or fungus....a 50%-50% chance of each.

They are doing a chest x-ray, bloods and aspirating his lymph node today. BTW, his lymph node on the involved side is "huge" (in doctor terms).

If they find cancer in those tests....he's coming home. I'll know by 5:00 pm

If not, they will do a CT scan & scope the nose tomorrow.

In any case, whatever it is, it is in his brain. He started showing "neuro" signs last week. He fell down the stairs. Lost his balance. And becomes disoriented in walking normal patterns around the house....bumping into walls he never hit before....turning the wrong way. Also, the way he holds his head is "neuro"....not sinus pain like I thought it was.

If it is fungal, the neuro damage may be reversible....maybe not.

If it is a tumor, it is inoperable....must be treated with chemo or radiation.

...it was a long trip home....


Monday PM

I was working out in the field with Dart when Dr. Thompson called.....1.5 hours late. Dart had just gone on point. She held it though our whole conversation.

The most current word is Cryptococcus fungus has been found in his lymph nodes:

http://www.vet.uga.edu/vpp/clerk/reynolds/index.htm

This turns out to be the same disease Czardas, his half sister, died of about four years ago.

Tomorrow they will do a CT scan to see the extent of it....and see if there is a tumor with it......as well as a spinal tap to see if there is any other neuro involvement....no scope of his nose in the plans now....maybe surgery to remove most of the fungus before treating....

...they told me he was fine.....not, how can he be fine?

Tuesday

The results of the CT scan and spinal tap: he has involvement in the right nostril & sinus with no destruction of the bone into his brain. BUT, he has major inflammation of the spinal fluid. That means it has crossed the blood/brain barrier and is what is causing the brain/neuro damage. His prognosis is "Grave".

He is not coming out of the anesthetic.....more like a brain damaged dog...but he cannot evaluate his pupils because of the PRA....so he cannot confirm damage behavior. So he is giving him manatol and steroids.... assuming brain damage. He will be trying to "get him through the night."

We talked about CPR etc. I told him he was a "DNR".

In the meantime he has only seen a few worse cases for the spinal fluid involvement. He would expect a high inflammatory cell count to be 800....Flick is 1700. He guaranteed me that the treatment would make him feel worse....and the worse would last for at least two weeks to two months. He would keep him there for the worst of it. He guaranteed me the treatment would probably cause more brain damage before it reversed the inflammation.

I don't think this is going to happen. He is a 10 year old blind dog. He has had a good life. He was miserable when I took him up there. He does not need to be more miserable....and I know he has been miserable with all the poking and prodding...and sleeping on a hard floor. I should not have put him through that. I believe I will go get him tomorrow so that he can die at home..... my Bloomington vet, Mary Alice has agreed to help me on her day off.

Wednesday

I picked Mr. Flick up around 10:30 this morning. He was in great shape. Dr. Thompson told me he was in better shape than I had left him. Steroids are great. He also assured me that Flick would be worse once they wore off tho. But I had asked him to help Flick feel better for the trip home...and he did. He could move his head...wag his tail. Dr. Thompson said he had not seen his tail wag the whole time he was there...until he saw me.

He slept so peacefully all the way home. His peacefullness made me relax. I was OK. He sat up as we made the turn onto Robin Rd. He knew he was home. I put him in the back yard. He walked around. He knew where he was and how to get places. He found the back door and went inside and right to Dart's crate to greet her.

I put him back outside...then let her out. She ran right to him in play mode. She was so happy to see him...and he was so happy to see her. She did a few play bows....he responded in a stiff stand-up big-boy pose. She then brushed him in play....and knocked him over. She stopped playing. I let her stay out a while with him....but then put her back in her crate in the house.

I brought a blanket out for him to lie in the sun. He wanted to walk around the yard before he lay in the sun.

I had my dog back. His eyes were Flick. He could hold his head up. His trembling was gone. He was not moaning on every breath. He wagged his tail. He was Flick. His balance was still a little off. He looked kinda drunk when he walked. And he had a big bald spot at the base of his head where they shaved him for the spinal tap. But he still was Flick. We lay in the sun together. He wanted his face rubbed. He wanted to snuggle so close this time. Then, he heard some squirrels playing on a nearby tree and stood up to try to find them.

I soon called Mary Alice....and she came over. She thought he looked good too....but I told her I did not want him to feel the way he felt before. He did not need to feel that way again....and I could not handle that. I'm not sure if she understood....but she helped anyway. It was very hard for her. She truly liked him. She could not understand how this whole thing could have happened.

I held him for along time. He still felt and smelled like Flick. He did not look dead....because his "normal" eyes were always dilated. Soon I let Dart out. She ran right over to him. Smelled around him...not looking at him. Then she went and grabbed the handkerchief that Purdue had put around his neck. (I had taken that off earlier) ...and ran it right over to him. Then she decided to keep all the squirrels out of the yard.

I picked him up ....only 43 pounds now.... and laid him in the hole I had dug for him. He's right beside Totem. Under the yard-art Totem Pole of Vizslas.

He can see now. He'll be playing with her all night…without me yelling at them to get off the couch. He looked so peaceful. I gave him a quail (from the freezer)....a biscuit....and some of his favorite grass to eat. He and Totem are chasing those quail....their favorite thing.

Totem Pole made up of Vizslas marks
their final resting spot. Flick is the pointing dog on the top of the Totem Pole.

Dart and I then went to the conservation club to run and play with quail....to honor him. She ran like him....taking every tree line to the corner...squaring the corners...and running on down the next line. Her points were never as good as his...but she tried. I looked at the spots at the conservation club were he had his best times….remembered his amazing points and blind retrieves.

We came back home and started a fire in the backyard....sat around it like we always did.....and watched the sun go down. Then we said good-bye to an old friend.

.....jp & Dart-Dart

CH FAZAN’S MY-T TOTEM, SH, CGC

He was a dog that lost when all the odds were in his favor.

What were the chances of him having PRA?

The incidence of Cryptococcus is .00013% in dogs.

 


Last Updated: 12-Sep-2013
Totem Vizslas
Webmaster: Janet P. Wallace, PhD
URL: http://www.totemvizslas.com
mailto: wallacej@indiana.edu