3 min read

Time is my ninth generation of collies. He lives for being a collie and all that collies have done for generations – work in partnership and assist in what their Person likes to do. This ranges from collecting sheep off the mountain to toddling round the main ring at Crufts.

Whatever I ask of him he joins in with enthusiasm, often far too much, and is generous in his lack of criticism. Not all that I ask him to do is successful, but he would not ever stop trying and would shape my teaching to suit what he found enjoyable and repeat it thousands of times.

Today he is the same Time, he has just turned 10 years old, and he is a dog with cancer.

Late August I noticed him sneezed oddly, these were not clean sneezes. By early September he was diagnosed with an intra-nasal mass and we started the journey to seek borrowed Time.

We regularly travelled the A14 to Queens Veterinary School Hospital though September and October. If you know this road then you are aware of the uncertain nature of “travelled” as the journey could vary between 3-5 hours. Goodness, Cambridge residents are THE most tolerant for gridlock. I always planned the extra hours and got to know all the M&S sandwich stops.

The staff were some of the kindest, most enthusiastic and helpful I have met in the Veterinary business. In the midst of radiotherapy treatment, he decided his bladder should be re-positioned to a most unsuitable location. This was not related to the cancer or treatment but it required an emergency, (weekend of course) dash to Cambridge, critical care, and more surgery. Time became a campus celebrity learning to walk again with pink-hobbles. Even the workmen knew him. He had his own student for cuddling and intimate care and the team phoned my morning and evening with reports.

I learned a LOT about the time delay between assuming the position and load impact. When you become deeply invested in the digestive process a whole new world of texture, shape and content rolls into view. Between sneezing and peeing activities the XXL washing machine has been well tested.

Last weekend he competed in the Heelwork to Music semi-finals. He has been successful four times and gone on to compete in the main ring at Crufts.

This year, being there was everything.

He was not well enough to begin any rehearsal training until just before Christmas. Being well enough was due to all the Veterinary care at Cambridge and our local practice, Abbey Green at Broadway. Being well enough to recover step by step from 16 anaesthetics with that amazing strength of his to not leave me and give me more borrowed Time.

Cancer journeys are not the same, they are never easy and often a living nightmare. Our journey was an unexpected source of hope as my knowledge of canine cancer treatment was woefully poor. Without treatment I would have lost him last October.

For all those truly bad moments we had to go through, today I have another day to enjoy my Time.

The Conection Collective page is dedicated all the dogs, but especially Time, who I have been privileged to share a connection with:

This was videoed yesterday evening of him Being Time and his own version of an indoor sheepdog. The hair around his eye is now white from the radiotherapy – his medal of bravery.

This is my best memory of Crufts.

17 Comments

  1. Shirley Kenway

    I am so sorry to hear of this. Im so glad he has more TIME to spend with you.
    I loved this routine and when you performed together it always made the hairs stand up.
    However , whenever I think of him whether it be hom saying hello to people in the barn or demonstrating to pupils, what stands out to me along with the obvious connection is his absolute HAPPINESS at performing. I try always to.remember that and although we dont perfprm in public i try to ensure that whatever I and Fleck do we do it because we both enjoy it and NOT because IWant it.

    Time you are truly a dog in a million . HAPPY BOY .

    Reply
    • Kay Laurence

      Thank you Shirley. He has become the very devil saying hello to everyone since Vet hospital, but whatever makes him happy !

      Reply
  2. Michele Pouliot

    Oh my, such sad news to hear Kay. Time is an incredible dog and he has flourished in life with you as a partner.
    Isn’t is wonderful to have such emotional performance memories forever on video to relive anytime we feel the urge.
    He looks great after coming through treatment.
    Give him a toy toss for me,
    Michele

    Reply
    • Kay Laurence

      Thanks Michele, I know you know. He is becoming an habitual lapdog, a big one mind you!

      Reply
      • Michele

        Such a hard time when we know our time with them is short. Thinking of you.

        Reply
  3. Iris Maxfield

    What a lovely tribute to a wonderful friend, he looks so happy and obviously feels the love you both share.
    I had no idea that is why the connection collective happened, but I feel even more privileged now to have been part of it.

    Reply
    • Kay Laurence

      Thanks Iris – I hope we go on building this collection. There are times when we all need it.

      Reply
  4. Tamara

    I remember feeling very honoured to be greeted by Time when we were introduced at Crufts a few years ago. Your relationship if very special – a real pleasure to observe always. This tribute is something to treasure – thank you for sharing it. My love to you both.

    Reply
    • Kay Laurence

      Thank you Tamara

      Reply
  5. Heather Binns

    So sorry to read this Kay. What an ordeal you have both been through. I’m so glad he is doing well and that you have more Time.

    Reply
    • Kay Laurence

      Thanks Heather, connection to our family is not animal specific.

      Reply
  6. Julie

    I’m so sorry to hear about what you have both been going through. He is a fabulous dog and, as the video shows, still enjoying his life with charm and ease. I hope your borrowed Time continues for a long Time.

    Reply
    • Kay Laurence

      Thanks Julie

      Reply
  7. Sally Smith

    The musical interpretation and working partnership in your Crufts routine is spell binding.
    The strong connection between you and Time is beautiful. What a wonderful memory, thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Kay Laurence

      Thank you Sally. I sometimes wonder the benefits of putting ourselves and our dogs through the “special” conditions that contirbute to Crufts, but for me, it is the chance, as you say, to be able to share what we have and can enjoy with a wonderful dog to a wide audience.
      … and he does show up well on that lovely green faux-turf!

      Reply
  8. Chris Bond

    So glad you captured Time’s superb performance at Crufts. A memory to cherish. He’s an incredible lad to recover so quickly and have the spirit to continue his dance. Time is only what we have in the moment. Connection gives us the strength to face the difficult moments, and makes the good moments immensely more enjoyable. Wishing you many, many more cherished moments with Time.

    Reply
    • Kay Laurence

      Thank you Chris.

      Reply

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The life of my Time

Time is my ninth generation of collies. He lives for being a collie and all that collies have done for generations – work in partnership and assist in what their Person likes to do. This ranges from collecting sheep off the mountain to toddling round the main ring at Crufts.

Treats for life?

The whole collective of rewards, or reinforcers, serves a purpose of ensuring that the tasks just completed keep getting completed. The task may tolerate a lapse of memory, but you will soon find that door smacked in your face if you stop acknowledging the courtesy offered to you by a stranger, friend or acquaintance.

One day you will love him again

The puppy that you adored, could do no wrong, is now a living horror story. We want to use positive reinforcement, and our mind focuses on the success of what is not happening. But reinforcement attaches itself to something happening, not an absence and cannot select for a multitude of different things that are being reinforced.

Construction or suppression

There are distinctive goals: Continual success, always travelling forwards ~ Each click to represent a moment of joy and not a moment of relief from the anxiety of not understanding. Looking at the way the behaviour is carried out is the most important element, and that is the product of all the considerations.

How do you know what you don’t know?

The age of trusting the professionals is fading fast. I am not sure anymore what exactly is a professional and the difference between genuine, self-styled and fake? With so much information freely available and shared when we open the gate to “looking for a xyz” we are struggling to recognise authenticity from smart marketing.

Which course, which conference?

This is a regular question when mixing with the trainers and professionals of tomorrow. There are more folk wanting to fullfil life goals to work with dogs and their people. Unfortunately the “make money whilst I sleep” crowd are seeding the market who can be parted from their time and money.

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