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Loteki Secret Agent

September 16, 1991 - August 25, 2006

To say that it has been a lousy year would be an understatement. I lost my sweet Papillon Rudy in August. Rudy was the dog who followed my dog of a lifetime, Zack, and he certainly had a tough act to follow. I pretty much knew when Rudy was six months old that he didn’t have a lot of the “want to” that some of my other dogs have had, and I decided early on that he would be my main seminar demo dog. As long as he got to eat cookies all day long, Rudy was perfectly willing to work for an entire day at a seminar. I always intended to put a UD on him, but as I wasn’t planning on an OTCH, I was in no hurry to get in the utility ring, and I was of course still busy campaigning Zack. Rudy didn’t get his UD until he was almost 6, and since he did it in just four shows, I thought what the heck, I’ll see if I could put a UDX on him. Soon after completing his UD, Rudy picked up his first UDX leg, also winning Utility B for ten OTCH points. The judge that day was my old friend Don Schempp, and he said to me, “Well, it looks like another OTCH is on the way for you.” I was absolutely stunned at the idea!

When Rudy had about 30 OTCH points he was lost in a cornfield for three hot days in July. Rudy had chased a rabbit in to the field at dusk, and then must have lost his bearings and couldn’t find his way back. Rudy never could resist a good chase! It was a big wake-up call for me that what is truly important when it comes to training dogs is not the titles, the ribbons, and the awards, but the wonderful relationship that I have with my dogs. All I wanted was my dog back, to heck with the idea of ever showing him again, and I will never forget the sweet feeling of wonder and relief when my husband found Rudy in the middle of nowhere about two miles from home. I was so warmed by the love and concern I received from my dog friends while we looked for Rudy, and we had a big party after he was found. Dog people are the best!

Rudy’s OTCH turned out to be quite a respectable one after all, and I will never forget my pride the weekend he finished when he won a huge Open B class that was absolutely chock full of all of the top exhibitors in the Midwest. What a thrill that was for me! Rudy also earned his TDX on his very first try at the 1999 Papillon Club of America National Specialty Tracking Test, the same year that he finished his OTCH. And later that summer Rudy finished his UCDX with a perfect score of 200. Rudy was always my husband’s special pet, and after his OTCH Rudy returned to his rightful place on my husband’s lap, where he happily spent the next 7 years. He also spent a lot of time on his bed under my desk, and I still expect to see him lying there while I’m working on my computer.

Rudy had the best old age of any dog I’ve ever had, he slowed down and was mostly deaf, but his sweet and patient nature with all dogs and people continued to shine out from his beautiful brown eyes for almost 15 years. A horrible seizure and then another one a week later forced my husband and I to make the terrible decision that all dog lovers dread.

For me, 2006 was a year of loss, a year of terrible sadness, and a year of reflection. But remembering those we have lost hopefully spurs us on to cherish and embrace our friends, family, dogs, and every day experiences. To love fully is to hurt terribly when we lose something dear to us; but to never have had the experience would make life far less worth living.