Cuba deserves her own page on here.
Against all odds, she survived her early trauma and went on to become a wonderful character and one of my top winners.

Cuba was born on 15th September 1999, on her mum, Eva’s Birthday.
It was strange because even before she was born I had already named her and her sister, Nova.
I had planned all along to keep two, one of each colour.
Eva’s pregnancy was fairly uneventful. She decided not to eat the week Shaun, myself and two of our friends went to Cornwall to see the Total Eclipse of the sun (that was amazing, plunged into complete darkness for a few seconds!) but mum bought her chicken to eat and she was fine.

As her due date approached, I became nervous. Eva has always been terribly lazy.
With her first litter she decided she was too posh to push, so several visits to the vets and a few oxytocin injections later we had 11 puppies, a big vets bill and were close to a nervous breakdown.

This time she started well, producing 7 puppies. Then she stopped and again we called the vets. An Xray showed 4 more puppies and after Oxytocin, they all arrived. 3 of the 4 were born dead, among the dead, was the only other Roan bitch in the litter.
Cuba was born 3rd. I remember holding her up and announcing to my mum that this was Cuba.

Mum told me at the time to stop being silly, there might be other roan bitches.
The only other Roan in the litter was brother Fergus.The pups thrived and as they approached 7 weeks their characters emerged.
Cuba was the boldest. She was always at the wire in the mornings when I came downstairs, on her hind legs looking at me.

I loved her then, I knew she was special.
The day before the pups were to leave for their new homes, one of the dog pups lay quietly on the bed, would not eat. This was the beginning of the nightmare. Next day, one by one the pups went down with a dreadful bug.

Although fairly happy in themselves, they had projectile diarrhoea. Everytime one of them went to the toilet, I prayed it would be normal, but each time they flooded the box with putrid diarrhoea.

They were put on antibiotics but it made no difference. Some pups were worse than others and I phoned the owners in a panic. In the end we decided it would be best to get the 6 pups into their new homes, so they could not reinfect themselves.The plan worked and all but Fergus recovered quickly.
Fergus was ill for a while longer and Giardia (protozoa) was diagnosed.

Cuba’s story begins here.
Shaun and I went off to Discover dogs leaving mum to look after Cuba and Nova. They were 7 weeks old.
I left two happy puppies playing together.

On our return something had changed. Although they had been happy all day, when we returned home Cuba had become very quiet. She lay still, limp and everytime she lifted her head she was sick. I called the vet straight away and rushed Cuba down to the Hospital. The vet felt Cuba’s abdomen and looked at me. I knew it was bad news. She could feel a ‘sausage’ shape and she explained that Cuba more than likely had suffered intussusception.

Her motile bowel had telescoped inside itself from having constant Diarrhoea.
She told me there were only two choices, put her to sleep or operate.
She warned me it was a huge operation and Cuba was a very small puppy. The chances were not good.
I didn’t have to think twice, this pup was special and as the vet gathered her in her arms and walked down the corridor, Cuba turned to look at me. One look in those eyes, I knew I had done the right thing, to give her a chance.

I returned home to Shaun, in floods of tears and puppyless.
The next few hours passed so slowly and I prepared myself for bad news. At 10pm the vet phoned. The operation went well and Cuba was coming round.

Early days but she was alive.
That night I slept and slept, exhausted. The early morning phone call from the vets was not all good news. Overnight Cuba had suffered another intussusception and part of her intestine had died.

Another major operation was performed to remove the dead part of her intestine.
Again we waited but this time Cuba turned the corner and started to recover.
We visited her and fought back tears as this tiny puppy lay on her side, full of tubes and bandaged. But again her trusting eyes looked up at us. She started to eat and after 4 days in Hospital she could come home.

The trauma had taken its toll on her and when we collected her from the vets she clawed at me frantically during the trip home in the car.

It was then we wondered if she had received a brain transplant at the same time!!
Her wound was awful. We called her Frankenstein’s puppy, stitched the whole length of her tummy. As the days went on the wound filled with a huge amount of fluid, the vet feared a hernia, but it just turned out to be fluid and was drained off gradually.

I spent so much time with Cuba I almost forgot about Nova.
One day I looked into the kitchen and saw Nova playing alone with a toy. It brought tears to my eyes and I just hugged and hugged her.

Cuba slowly recovered and started to be a puppy again.
The trauma had affected her temperament and she became nervous around people she didn’t know. Her first show at Tunbridge Wells,

she shook and was terrified. I thought then that she would have a very short show career.But we persevered and it paid off, she became a fantastic show dog with lots of confidence.

Having said that, she could be stubborn. She would show her socks off some days, other days she would not bother.
She always travelled to shows on the back seat of the car, wearing her red seatbelt, stretched right out.

Her wins are too many to mention here but it can all be found on the ISCGB site here
Over the years her earlier poor health affected her, she had bouts of stomach problems, which worsened toward the end. Even so, she would always be ready for a show, even if she felt poorly. She would not be left behind.I always dreaded the day I would retire her from the ring as it would have been difficult to leave her at home.

After winning Top Brown Roan 2007 I semi retired her, it was strange that soon after, she died.

Cuba was a ‘Dog in a Million’ She was a pain in the butt too, running off, eating rubbish, raiding the bins, but she was also my little soul mate, she trusted me and we made a team. We were the ‘top dogs’ of Montecani, keeping the others in order. I hope I did the right thing at the end, we all make decisions for our dogs and I made one for her, hoping that the operation would give her a better quality of life, but it wasn’t to be………

‘I must have thought that you’d always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown, now you’re nowhere to be found…….’


I wrote a tribute the evening she died. Here it is……

Dogs come into your life, they break your heart and take over your world.
Cuba kept me worrying more than most.
Two operations for intussuception at 7 weeks old. I thought she would die then, so perhaps I should be happy that she had 9 years with us.
An op to remove rubbish from her intestines at 8 months, this dog sure kept me on my toes.
But this time her body could not fight, her earlier problems had caused a her intestine to balloon out and fill with accumulated rubbish.
I took the decision to let the vets open her up. She was having more regular bouts of diarrhoea and losing weight.
I hope I made the right decision. I will never know now.
Cuba came through the first Op OK, she was bright and happy to see me yesterday. She started to eat but this morning she had taken a turn for the worse and the vet discovered Perotinitis had set in.
They tried to clean up the infection, but her heart gave out on the operating table.
I went to see her, at peace and took Nova, to say goodbye.

To say I am devastated is an understatement.
At the moment the pain is too hard to bear but I guess it will ease in time.
We all know how bad it is to lose a dog.

I guess I knew the end was coming this morning. When Ccesca died I heard the song 'Fields of Gold' and it always reminds me of losing her.
This morning, paying for my petrol in the garage 'Fields of Gold' by Sting was playing in the background.
Then on getting back in my car, it came on again this time sung by Eva Cassidy. I said to mum. I hope that is not a bad sign, but it was.....

Run Free now Cuba, my beautiful girl, you can go anywhere you like, off lead, no more having to stay on because you always ran off.
No more pain, you're a free spirit now.
But at the moment I can't believe I won't see you again.

"The Brightest Flames Burn Quickest"

I said that about Ccesca, the same can be said for you.

Cuba in the ISCGB Champions Parade
June 2008

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