The past few months have been rough for me. I've realized that Riley will never be a competitive hunter due to her knee injury. It wouldn't be fair to put her through that kind of agony. She *thinks* she can still go at 100% speed, but her knee just can't handle it.
I've definitely gone through the 5 stages of grief:
1. Denial - Her knee can't be *that* bad! I'm sure it will heal up eventually and be just fine. I told myself this for the first 6 months.
2. Anger - For a long time, I was extremely angry about the situation. How could someone be so careless as to let this happen? I TRUSTED them with my 6 month old baby girl and they let me down. I was also mad at myself. Mad that I took the risk of sending her for training at such a young age. I figured it was just as much my fault.
3. Bargaining - There MUST be something, anything I can to make her knee better. Epsom salt baths, massage, long walks in harnesses, etc. I tried it all. Our last resort would be surgery, which we can't afford.
4. Depression - Well, my girl's passion for birds is now completely out of reach for her. Everything I hoped and dreamed of is over. No ribbons, no titles, nothing. What was even the point to pursuing hunt training if she had a bad knee? All that time, effort, and money... down the drain.
5. Acceptance - Thank goodness I can finally say I've reached this point! Will my Riley ever hunt competitively? No. This still makes me sad, but I've finally accepted it. We will continue to train her on a limited basis to be my own personal buddy and hunting companion. At the end of the day, I'm not trying to gain notoriety or money off this. Riley doesn't care if she has medals and she honestly would rather hunt in a natural setting with me. All I care about in the end is her happiness. :)
We are currently with an excellent trainer - Bryce Mann down in Tollhouse, CA. He loves the pups and both are excelling under his guidance.
I also went to a beginner lesson for falconry this past weekend and it was absolutely awe-inspiring. My plan for retirement is to train a Vizsla and a falcon together for hunting upland birds. My friend and I want to continue taking lessons and become licensed falconers some day.