A blog about dog training and dog breeding…and other sundry matters

El Zima's Celestial Harmony, aka "Athena"

El Zima’s Celestial Harmony, aka “Athena”  June 6, 2007-December 7, 2011.


It’s been many months since I have last updated this blog, because much has happened in my life–some good and some not so good– that has kept me away.

I lost my beautiful girl Athena on December 7, 2011.  She was my heart-dog, my beautiful baby girl, a gentle animal with a big heart, my clown, and my potential obedience champion. I spent all of my energies training her because she loved learning and she loved being out with me.  She was an incredibly easy dog to handle in the ring–always attentive to me, regardless of the distractions around her.  In true German Shepherd style, Athena was only  too eager to please me.

Athena would do anything for me, which included working when she really wasn’t feeling well.    In the latter part of last year, I made the decision to retire Athena because after her “health episode” back in May, she really wasn’t the same dog.  Medical tests showed that her liver had healed at that time.  Then she had a second episode in the summer–she had a seizure, but I didn’t recognize it as such because she wasn’t thrashing around as one expects with a seizure.  I just found her unconscious.  When she regained consciousness, I took her to the vet who treated her for tick fever.  She actually recovered.  Then months later she had another seizure.

Further tests from a new vet revealed that Athena was in an advanced state of liver failure.  Her body was so toxic that she was having seizures.  Her brain was damaged from the seizures as she could not walk without falling down, and she had lost her eyesight.  Her quality of life was severely restricted.  I made the decision to euthanize her.  She had just turned four years old.

After Athena passed away, I could not bring myself to train anymore.  Her agility equipment remained discarded in my backyard.  I just couldn’t send another of my dogs over those jumps.  I lost all interest in training and showing.

But I am now starting to miss this activity.  I miss spending time with my dogs and teaching them new stuff.  I miss the bonding experience handlers/trainers invariably experience when they train their animals.  Most of all, I miss the lessons in patience and compassion I always get when I work with my dogs.

So, I will make an attempt to revive this blog and to resume training.



Comments on: "Down, but not out…picking up the pieces after a set back" (4)

  1. Debbie, you have suffered a terrible loss with Athena, but we can’t loose the incredible trainer and teacher that you are. Its so heartbreaking to say goodbye to any animal, but more so when that animal has that “bond” it doesn’t come around very often. I lost my Daisy 4 years ago jan 11th, and although I’ve worked with plenty of dogs since I’ve only just found that “heart bond” again. Please don’t give up, I really believe they find their way back to us, when we are ready. Chin up girlfriend, you’re a winner and always will be. Athena will wait in the shadows until she comes alive again in something completely opposite, but she will always be with you. We love you! X

  2. Debbie, I’m so sorry to read about Athena. She looked so much like my Peg, my first dog that I had for almost 16 years. I lost her last year. Losing a furkid is so very difficult, that’s the price we pay for loving them so dearly. It will take time for your heart to heal, it was not that long ago. Athena will always be with you in your heart. Thinking of you and sending good thoughts to you.

    • Thanks. Healing is coming slowly. I have my moments when I still come unhinged–usually memories. This is what’s so hard about pet ownership. Still the lessons in compassion, humility, patience, and unbridled joy that we learn from our pets makes the heartbreak worth it.

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