It was actually touch and go and this is why I waited until the last possible minute to make bookings for us both.
I never did write about Jochen's health scare last year. It started at the end of January 2012 when it seemed that he had contracted kennel cough although his and Liesel's immunisations were up to date. Liesel never caught the infection from him although his infection seemed to drag on for weeks and weeks. Several trips to the vet kept confirming that he was still infectious.
There were a couple of days when he seemed to have difficulty swallowing the hard 2 x 2 biscuits and then I noticed a very large lump on this throat and when a touched it, he gagged. Back to the vet. As this lump was large, hard and diffuse, two vets thought he had cancer. I made up my mind then and there that if it was cancer, I would not allow chemo or anything else, make him comfortable for as long as that was possible and then do the obvious.
I had to leave him at the surgery and x-rays and ultra sound was done. Another two vets checked out Jochen and the x-rays and ultrasound pictures. The short story was that he did not have cancer but most likely retro-pharyngeal cellular infection. Not only did he have that lump on his throat, he also had a mass of infection between his voice box and spinal cord. Given where this mass was, surgery was out of the question. He was a very sick dog.
Retro-pharyngeal abscess (which is more usual) is like strangles in horses. Also, children under the age of 5 can get this too. How or why Jochen developed this infection will forever remain a mystery. The vets said that somehow bacteria made its way into the area of the voice box and started spreading.
It was a very stressful and worrying time, and yet, here we are, 12 months later, fully recovered from that infection and medication, the two flights, quarantine and three wonderful months in Switzerland rich with experiences, learning, countless treks in the mountains and so many training training days all over Switzerland.
On our daily walks, I can so easily transport myself (and of course Jochen as well) back to those trekking experiences in Switzerland, almost as if we were back there. So one part of me is in the Australian bush, gum trees and the smell of eucalyptus and another part of me is in the Swiss mountains above the tree line - weirdly wonderful.
Jochen is bored unless I work him. Going for a walk twice a day is better than nothing and he does get quite excited when I show him his collar and lead. However he really only fires up when he is working, be that obedience, detaching, searching for articles or working on the rubble pile. He is a 'good boy' and does not nag me to 'do something', he just sighs and lets everything hang, lips, head, ears....the saddest look imaginable. 'Stop it,' I say to him, and he hangs his head even more. AARRGGHHH!
It is of course impossible to even partially reproduce all those walks and training in exciting places. Firstly, I am back at work and so time is short, and of course we do not have access to the walks that are in Switzerland - 60,000 of walking trails! Secondly, our highest mountain is in New South Wales, about 1,000 km away and not really all that high. In any case, it is a national park and so dogs are not allowed. It is true to say that we are both suffering somewhat from withdrawal symptoms.
Next week I will be giving a presentation on our work and trip at the Eastern Branch of the German Shepherd Club and two weeks later we will do a demonstration after their Sunday morning training.
Will let you know how that goes.