Some of you may know Gypsy, my personal dog. For those of you who do not know Gypsy, she is GypsySoul Rottweiler Rescue’s official mascot. I purchased Gypsy from a backyard breeder somewhere in Arkansas when I was 19. When I picked her up, I asked for the feistiest dog of the litter. The owner handed me this tiny puppy, just 6 weeks old. The mother was there, but was “too mean to touch,” which should have been one of many red flags. The mother did not have any papers and neither did the puppies. The owners said that the father of the puppies was in Mexico and that he also did not have papers. The owners didn’t give me any sort of insight into what their temperaments were like or the health history of either parent and I didn’t do enough research to know to ask. Gypsy had not had any puppy shots and, at just 6 weeks, she was far too young to be taken from her mother and littermates.
I began my research the moment I got Gypsy home. I learned about backyard breeders, puppy mills, the importance of responsible breeders, the importance of spaying/neutering, and especially the importance of adopting, not shopping. I vowed from that moment to actively advocate for dogs and educate people to prevent the cycle of mistakes I had made.
The truth is that these people did not care about any of the dogs involved. They were not responsible breeders. Responsible breeders want to actively improve the breed, so when an issue arises around health or temperament, they will spay or neuter the dog and retire it from breeding. A responsible breeder would never breed two dogs without ruling out any genetic conditions that they could pass onto their puppies. This health test is extensive and expensive. Without clearing these tests, a dog should never be used to breed. For rottweilers, the health test could include testing for aortic stenosis, entropian, cancer, cruciate ligament rupture, osteochondritis dessicans, elbow dysplasia, and the dreaded hip dysplasia. This testing is very expensive, so someone who is just out to make money will certainly not bother to have it done, as Gypsy’s “breeder” did not. Gypsy’s parents were not tested for any of these health problems, so some were passed down to her. At just 4 years old, Gypsy has crippling hip dysplasia.
Gypsy has had issues with her hips her entire life. Even when she was young, if she ran too hard or too long, she would be unable to get up after resting, and she would cry out in pain. I had x-rays done yearly, but they never showed cause for alarm. This year, however, it has gotten progressively worse and continues to worsen.
When I began to notice it, I started her on supplements and twice-daily arthritis medicine. This seemed to help a little, but then her condition continued to worsen. I sought out a doggie chiropractor, but that also helped only temporarily. I bought CBD oil, which unfortunately did nothing noticeable. I even have hunted down a doggie acupuncturist; we have an appointment on Memorial Day. Despite these treatments, she cries from the pain when she gets up in the morning and when she climbs the stairs to go to bed at night. We are no longer able to go to the dog park, go on hikes, or even go on walks around the neighborhood. If she chases even one squirrel in the backyard, she can barely walk after. Sometimes her hips will give out on her mid run, which results in a scream and confusion about why her body is failing her. I can see the hurt in her eyes when she sits or lays down, both hips in excruciating pain. She can barely crawl into bed at night, even though my mattress is on the floor to accommodate her. She can no longer do the things she loves like chase squirrels, keep everyone in line at the dog park, run through the forest on hikes, and play with her sister pug.
I have been in touch with the “hip specialist” at Mizzou and I would be open to exploratory surgeries to help future packs avoid suffering like this, but I will not put her through extensive, expensive surgeries that will still leave her still with moderate pain and long debilitating recoveries. I will not be selfish. I am a rescuer, I have to think the greatest good to the greatest number. There are so many dogs who could be saved with the $10,000+ that it would cost for her to have a double hip replacement, which may not even work. I know she would want me to save them.
It breaks me to watch her deteriorate. You always think you have more time.
Gypsy is the reason this rescue began. She is the very reason I knew we needed to advocate for not only the Rottweiler breed but for every underdog. Every single person who meets Gypsy falls in love with her. People came to my house to adopt a dog and asked to adopt Gypsy. She has an acute and precise ability to sense anxiety in the people around her and comes to their rescue in full Gypsy force by sitting on them and demanding that they accept her love. If you have ever been sat on by 100-pound Gypsy, raise your hand… She doesn’t care what position you are in or how you are sitting; she is going to cover as much of your body with her body, and no, she does not care that she is extremely heavy. My own dad was very skeptical when I got a rottweiler as a puppy, but will stand by the fact that I completely changed his views on both her and the breed.
Gypsy has always been so full of love and light. She brought light to my life in a very dark time. She is my second in command. She is her sister pug’s best knight and fiercest protector, as she is mine. I have never felt such an incredible and intense connection to another being. We have an incredible bond and an unspoken language. She is my best friend and an essential part of our pack. Gypsy is my body pillow, my foot warmer, my pack leader, and she will be my hardest goodbye. It is never easy saying goodbye to a pack member, and if her “breeders” had done what they were supposed to, maybe I wouldn't have to say goodbye so soon.
I ask all of you to please adopt or buy from a reputable and responsible breeder. Please do your research on the breed and where you are getting your dog from. Gypsy is as much part of this rescue command as I am, and we are going to lose an essential piece of this puzzle that cannot be replaced. I don’t know exactly when I will have to make the devastating decision to euthanize her, but I know it is looming near. I don’t know when her pain will get so bad that I have to make that decision. I just don’t know. I do know that she will let me know when it’s time. I do know that I will be here with her until the end. Until then, I will make the most of every single moment...of every single car ride with her head out the back seat passenger window because she needs to see me at all times, every single bedtime snuggle when she lays in the most inconvenient spot and refuses to move, and every last slobbery kiss that I am always so against.
Today is Gypsy’s 4th birthday and it may be her last birthday with us. Today, we went to the park, chased a few squirrels, had a pup cup from Andy's Frozen Custard, and we ate steak as we do for every doggie birthday in this house. We will try not to think about tomorrow just yet. Keep us in your thoughts as we continue this journey of pain management.
Happy Birthday Gypsy Rose. Momma loves you more than you will ever know.
Hug your pets a little tighter today and enjoy every single moment with them, please, for Gypsy and I.
HUGE thank you to Nick Simpson for taking these photos. We are so lucky to have so many talented dog loving friends! He is an amazing photographer and does all types of photography! You can follow him and get in touch via his website, www.simpleenick.com.