|Csarda was our first Vizsla,
purchased at the age of 8 months in 1978 from a breeder outside of Guelph, Ontario.
There wasn't much information about the Vizsla breed back in those days. Our
"research" consisted of looking through the AKC book on breeds to identify those
which we liked the looks of. The Vizsla caught my eye because it reminded me a bit
of a rust coloured Heinz 5 female dog my family had owned when I was a kid. I loved
that mutt which we called "Sasha". (We didn't realize that Sasha was a
male name. Years later, we named our first home-bred male Vizsla "Sasha".)
Back to Csarda, there were a couple of dogs still left from his litter and when we arrived
to view them, he picked us by standing on his rear legs and putting his paws on my
husband's chest, looking him in the eyes as if to say, "I'm yours.
I'm coming with you!". I
wasn't used to dogs that looked people in the eyes and along with his gorgeous colour, it
was love at first sight.
We didn't know
anything then about breed standards, structure and movement and Csarda was the only Vizsla
(along with a couple of his family members on site) that we'd ever seen. In
conformation wasn't the best in the world but that didn't diminish our love
for him. We knew of only
3 breeders in Canada at the time so we couldn't be choosy about which to deal with.
We never regretted buying him because he was just such a wonderful, loving
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Csarda was excellent with people and very, very smart. He
did, however, have some very quirky behaviours. After being raised in a farm house
for 8 months, he'd never been on slippery surfaces until we brought him home. The
house in which he was raised was carpeted throughout and I don't think the breeders did
much socializing by taking their pups to other locations. Our huge house didn't have
a carpet in sight and so when we brought him home, we had to lay a trail of newspapers
throughout the house to get him to move from one room to another. After adapting to
the trail of papers, we gradually removed every third one, then every second one. He
would hop from paper to paper until there was none left. When we moved to another house
which had some carpeted rooms, he learned to walk backwards from the carpeted hall across
the kitchen floor to a mat rather than face looking at the expanse of floor he had to
cover. An esteemed animal behaviourist from England who witnessed this, remarked on
how incredible this was and told us we probably couldn't have taught him to walk backwards
on his own if we'd wanted to.
With his aversion to slippery surfaces, conformation and
obedience were just about out of the question although I did try but he would freak when
we stepped onto the concrete floors and the mats didn't assuage him much. He was
much happier in the field and I did some bird and field training with him. He was
also my constant jogging companion.
One episode stands out in memory - of the day Csarda
disappeared. We had just returned from a trip in a rented motor home with relatives
from England and left Csarda at home with the in-laws while we returned the vehicle.
After getting back home and asking where the dog was, no one knew or could recall
when they last saw him. We were just sick with fear and felt like parents whose kids
are kidnapped. To make a long story short, he was later found that same day across
town sitting outside an apartment building, shaking with fear. No one could approach him
until my husband arrived to identify him. What a happy day that was. Knowing
this dog, we knew he wouldn't have ventured out on his own - he never did that and so
concluded he must have been picked up by passersby on a lark.
Csarda was our only dog until we moved to a country property
with 10 acres in 1988. We decided we had room for another canine companion and
looked at some other breeds but decided in the end that we knew and loved Vizslas so much,
we couldn't possibly buy anything else. When Csarda was 10 years old, we brought home
another male (16 months old at the time) named Buster.
Csarda had always been a submissive dog so we were quite surprised at the dominance he
showed when this youngster bounced onto the scene. (Buster's lack of fear of
slippery surfaces was something we weren't used to and were taken aback at his lack of
shyness in exploring the house.) Despite being neutered, Csarda showed that he still
had a lot of balls with youngsters and ruled the roost until his death at 14.5 years in
October of 1991. While he and Buster became good friends, Csarda didn't
care for the 9-week old puppy named Nekah which we brought from the US in
May of 1991. At his grand old age of 14, she was simply too much for him.
Csarda had a few health problems. He contracted skin cancer
at 5 years from spending too much time in an outdoor enclosure which is why I now warn others
about the dangers of UV light for dogs. He had prostate problems and so was neutered.
Then at 12.5 years old, he contracted hemangiosarcoma on his adrenal gland.
The cancer was terrible news for us (hemangiosarcoma is particularly bad news) as we were
told he had 6 months at most to live, although it could be 1 week, 3 weeks or 3 months. He
underwent surgery to successfully remove the growth but the vets did spot some other signs
of cancer (different type). He went on to live another 1.5 years. At age 14.5, his organs
and joints were still in excellent and so when the signs of hemangiosarcoma returned, we
OK'd surgery again in hopes of prolonging his life. However, cancer had spread to
his liver and the prognosis wasn't good. Immediate euthanasia was
recommended. We didn't want our boy to suffer and so with an extremely heavy heart,
agreed to end his life, knowing we did everything we possibly could. Writing this
years later still makes me cry.
Csarda taught us what "going crackerdog" is all
about and how loving, fun loving, mischievous, and truly wonderful and intelligent Vizslas
are. We shall never forget him both because he was our first Vizsla, but also
because he was just a fabulous dog and companion.