Saturday, June 23, 2018

Rainbow Bridge

I did not think losing any dog could hurt worse than when I lost my dog Chili last year but Faethe dying has been a huge punch in the gut.  I did not realize how much she meant to me, how much she did for me, and how much she was a part of my life.  She was, simply, the best dog I ever owned.  She was a good show dog, a good hunting dog, a wonderful household helper, a good obedience dog, a great 4H dog, and a loving therapy dog.  Faethe was not only an incredible ambassador for the breed but for dogs in general. She never had a cross word for any person.  She had 100% trust in humanity- I think that is why she loved everyone and was never afraid.  She liked other dogs but LOVED puppies. Even in her old age, she would take any youngster under her wing. 
2017 family photo.  Faethe could get along with any type of dog.  Having Chinook and Saluki 'siblings' was not a problem.  She sled with my sled team and happily chased swallows with my Salukis.
Faethe at 6 weeks of age.  I really had no interest in getting an Irish water Spaniel but I liked Faethe's parents and how could I resist this chubby little monster.

Faethe was a very pretty puppy and was sweet and easy to train. She only wanted to please.  

Faethe was a very natural retriever and took to bird work easily.  She LOVED the loud bang of the gun because that meant birds were going to fall from the sky.  That transferred over to a lot of happy excitement over fireworks.  Her happiness over these loud noises was a great influence on my other dogs who have not had any problems with the loud bangs of the 4th of July or neighbors having target practice.
Faethe taking off after a bird. If it was in an open field, a thicket of thorny blackberries or in the water, she would get the bird. She may be sweet and kind but when it came to retrieving, she was quite determined.
 Faethe LOVED LOVED kids.  She was a loaner dog for 4H and was used by kids who did not have dogs of their own.  She happily allowed peewees to drag her around the ring and if they wanted to take her for the weekend to practice or compete in fair then she settled into their homes like she always lived there. She trusted and listened to anyone who asked anything of her. 

 It may not be practical but I loved the look of a long topknot. I would finally take pity on her when I saw she could not see the ball to play fetch
Faethe displaying the medal she won at the IWSCOPS Specialty
 Here is Faethe snuggling with a visiting Irish Water Spaniel puppy named Demi who is now all grown up and has had puppies of her own.  I have fostered countless Water Spaniel puppies who came to my house for a few days to a few weeks ( and one time almost a year) to learn manners and confidence from Faethe and my other dogs.
 Faethe playing fetch off the dock at my parent's camp.  She was a true water dog

 Sometimes a very nice, obedient dog can be a bit boring but not Faethe. She had personality.  She found this doll head in the woods while hiking one day and carried it all over for years.  I would not see it for weeks and then she would get in the mood and track it down.  She especially liked to pull it out and show it off when I had guests.  It never failed to get a reaction!
Faethe taking a break from fetch and getting ready to find kindling for the fire.  I showed her a stick and told her to fetch it up and she went out and brought stick after stick to the fire pit for me.  She was a great helper.  She would go out and get all the toys out of the yard for me before I mowed and if I was carrying a load of laundry and dropped a sock or cloth, she would pick it up for me.  She was a great lazy persons dog as I could ask her to get the remote for me if I plunked down on the couch and forgot to grab it off the tv stand.  She would get bowls, bones, and toys out of the back of crates for me so I did not have to crawl in myself. She would have been an incredible mobility assist dog or service dog. 
 Faethe may not have been a flashy or showy dog but she was very sound and correct and she looked better and better as the years went on.  After she finished her Championship as a youngster, I rarely showed her except for once a year at the Irish Spaniel Club of Puget Sound specialty that was held at my place of employment.  Here she is winning Best of Opposite Sex to Best of Breed out of the Veterans class!  She was always so young looking and had a lot of life in her- people were shocked she was a veteran, they always thought she was a puppy. 

Faethe showing off her winnings
 Faethe was never happier than when she had puppies. She just adored being a mom and when any of my other girls had puppies, she would produce milk and help nurse them as well. Faethe had three litters and her pups inherited her very sweet and kind disposition. 

 Faethe adopted a litter of Chinook puppies who were born the same day as her first litter of puppies.  I put the Chinook pups with her pups and she took them on without a second thought. 
One of Faethe's Chinook pups all grown up with a pup of his own so I guess this is a three generation photo:-)  Peter still thinks Faethe is his mom and he is so excited every time he sees her
 Faethe playing with Alsea.  She was gentle when a dog wanted to be gentle but she was up for some ugly face and WWF wrestling if it was called for
 One of the many family photos taken in Faethe's life.  I regularly re home dogs after they are finished their show careers and I like raising pups and placing trained young adults so Faethe saw a lot of turnover in my pack but she was accepting of every new dog coming and going. 

 Chinooks are not known for being great retrievers but I had a line of Chinooks that just loved to fetch and Faethe's influence really helped develop their skill.  Here is Faethe teaching my Chinooks with Frisbee.
A good game of tug is always appreciated
 My Christmas card for 2017 My oldest and my youngest welcoming in the new year 
 Faethe still looking good for an oldie
 So beautiful
 Last year I drove from Seattle to New York to visit family for two months.  I left all my dogs at home except for Faethe.  She went with me and got to be only dog.  She was the perfect traveler and I was so glad I was able to spend this time with her.  She helped me fish, went with me to visit family and accompanied my mom and I as we walked Portland Maine.  
 Faethe playing frisbee with my co worker's dogs.  This was a few short months before she passed over the bridge.  It was not too long after this that her leg became incapacitated and she could no longer play ball or go after birds. Even in pain she would have fetched anything thrown for her so I just kept her away from any other dog's retrieving.  It was torture for her not to be able to play fetch. 

God speed Faethe.  You were loved by so many people and you will be so missed.