HC OTCh Endzone Gimmick UDX HXAsd HIBs "Gimmick" - 1/13/95 - 9/27/07

I've struggled with words to write for nearly two weeks now. It's time for me to battle through the tears and write a tribute for a special friend that has truly made an impact on my life - my heart dog, Gimmick. With a heavy heart, I helped him go to a better place...a place where there is no pain, a place where he can watch over Heaven's sheep, a place that has Animal Planet playing on TVs all the time and where he can have his own personal laptop so that he can choose the videos he wants to watch.

Gimmick came into my life in 1995 and we became inseparable for the next twelve and a half years. Thank you, Denise Wall (Gimmick's breeder) for entrusting me to take this perfect little black and white tri boy into my life. He immediately bonded with me and we developed an strong connection. Gimmick only had eyes for me (and sheep) and all he wanted in life was to be with me. When he knew that I was going somewhere, he would grab his collar and sit by the door or bring it to me. I took him everywhere with me. He even came to work with me when I was working full time and stayed in the van, happy to have me spend lunch with him.

He was an amazing obedience dog, taking home many HITs by winning competitive obedience classes. It's no surprise that he finished an Obedience Trial Championship quickly and competed and placed in National obedience tournaments. He also excelled in herding as he taught me everything he knew from his talented heritage. He was a stylish worker with a strong work ethic and he lived to work. Working him on livestock was the highlight of our days together and I will forever cherish those memories.

But it wasn't the competition with Gimmick that made him special. It was his undying love of life, his determination to spend each day with those he loved, and his ability to find the bright spot in a day. He never held a grudge, never complained, always had a smile on his face and had a good time wherever he went. He drew attention with his soft, intensely hopeful dark brown eyes.

How could you say *no* to eyes like that?
While competing in agility with my younger dogs, Gimmick came along to watch as he loved to watch the dogs running in agility. He especially loved the start line and the table, when the fast dogs would go from a standstill to high speed. Then there was the vacuum cleaner, duck toy, shower door, and various other stationary objects that he would stare at in hopes of someone pushing them around (so he could bite them).

At the lake, Gimmick would run along the shore and up and down the dock looking for fish or waiting for someone to splash the water so he could bite it. Sprinklers and hoses were also targeted as a something that needed to be taken care of with lots of biting and wrestling.

Gimmick was diagnosed with a rare type of cancer (leiomyosarcoma, which is smooth muscle sarcoma) in July of 2006.The initial symptoms were very odd, as he initially acted like he was having jaw pain. This steered us in the wrong direction for a couple of months.  As it turned out, the jaw pain was actually a gag reflex from severe pain in the digestive system. He had a mass in his intestine that was removed and he was given two months to live without chemotherapy. Since his quality of life was so good after the surgery, I opted to change his diet and add supplements to help build his immune system.

How lucky for both of us that the oncologists were wrong and he lived 14 months after that surgery and enjoyed the summer sorting sheep and helping with sheep chores. He went to every agility trial and every herding trial with me and made friends wherever he went. I have no regrets and only happiness as I was so very lucky to be able to spend those 14 months with him and doing the things that he loved to do the most. Most people don't have that much time before they lose someone that they love.

In his short life, Gimmick taught me many lessons, but the most important lesson I learned in the last few months of his life. It was actually something that he did throughout his life, but it stood out more to me as his life was coming to and end. In spite of everything he was going through, he managed to focus on the positive and not dwell on the negative. That is something that I plan to carry on in memory of him.

Rest in peace, my good friend. I will forever feel your energy and your hopeful gaze as I go through life.


Photos taken by Laurie Erickson, September 2006