This incredibly difficult year is almost over. I have gone through a divorce, started to build a new life, and see great hope for the future. However, the greatest pain that I have dealt with is losing my fight to tame my Australian Shepard, Brook. After seven years, I had to put Brook down in March of this year.
In moving back to Indiana and reconnecting with so many old friends, I came to understand the connection everyone had with Brook. Typically, the first question from an old friend was about Brook, who they had come to know and love through our many Adventures documented in this Blog, Instagram (@AussieBrook), and on Facebook. If you followed my blog closely, you got a glimpse of the conflict I had with Brook, highlighted in the post “My Dog is Complicated”. I have had many dogs as documented in my 2017 post “Always a Dog”. As a child, my first dog, Cindy, died in my arms after being hit by a car. Cindy II finished raising me and so many other great dogs accompanied my Adventures in Life.
Brook was perfect, beautiful, smart, athletic, but she was also an Australian Shepard with entrenched herding behavioral instincts. As a puppy and young dog she was awesome. I was the Alpha and she was OK with wanting to please me. In her teenage years we were inseparable living in Bellingham, WA, hanging out at Brewpubs, and beginning her backpacking experience in the North Cascades of Washington.
Back in Oregon and through her twenties, we conquered incredible adventures together, but stress was building in our relationship. Everything we did had to be negotiated. In 2019 our backpacking adventures typically included issues with Brook’s behavior.
Brook’s last backpacking adventure was the Strawberry Mountain Trek in early 2020 where she let it be known that she was done with backpacking. What had become obvious was that Brook considered herself the Alpha of our pack and that was not going to work.
The last 2 years I expended incredible energy to manage Brook’s behavior. My grandson was around a lot and Brook could not be trusted around him. We were always on walks where I had to avoid other people, especially with dogs involved.
But she continued to change, you could see it in her eyes. She was struggling with her need to be in control. I kept trying to figure it out by investigating if there were medical issues. Nothing worked, and she had deep behavioral issues probably connected to her herding instincts. It all came to a head one evening when she would not let me put on my crocs to go out to the hot tub. I reached down to put on my other sandals and she furiously attacked me. This was such a decisive event, and I knew that it was over. She had to be put down.
I am ready to move forward to start my new life, but I had to first write Brook’s final chapter. I’m hoping that the pain of failing Brook will end so that I can cherish the good life that we had. There will be another dog in my life, I’m thinking a really calm Golden Retriever who will accompany me through my Fourth Quarter.