Home Up Trip Holly Going to the Dogs Monty's Story

Lock-Eye Five Star Trip!

March 16, 2007 - May 17, 2012

God bless you Trip. For five years I was blessed by your presence in my life. 

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Epilepsy and Trip's Last Days

Border Collies, Epilepsy, and Breeding Considerations

Our puppy Trip was born on March 16, 2007. He is one of many Lock-Eye dogs that have been affected with epilepsy.  For a partial listing of other Lock-Eye dogs plus dogs from other breeders that have been diagnosed with epilepsy, see the database established by:

His name:  Our travel and trips have always been high points in our lives and getting a Border collie pup represented our next new adventure that we were undertaking with a bit of trepidation and high anticipation!

In personality, intelligence, looks, drive and overall temperament Trip was everything I had hoped for and I loved him dearly.  However, when he was three years old he began to have seizures.  He was subsequently treated by both his regular vet and a specialist in internal medicine and was placed on Phenobarbital and Keppra to help control the seizures.  His diagnosis was primary epilepsy which is a very serious disease with life altering consequences for both dog and owner. 

In spite of this condition, Trip got his Companion Dog (CD) title winning two 4th place ribbons.  Unfortunately, that is the last title he achieved because his epilepsy made it too problematic to continue showing him.  Instead I kept him occupied teaching him new tricks and playing games and retrieving the morning newspaper,  his Frisbee, and his red rubber Kong ball.


Fat Hamster


Playing Chase

The Thinker



5 months old

Born to Herd

Retrieving dumbbell over high jump

Playing Frisbee


Epilepsy and Trip's Last Days

I am wrote the following account, because I think it is important for breeders to understand what it can be like to have an epileptic dog. (

The vet bills beginning with diagnostic tests and continuing with medication costs, blood tests to monitor therapeutic level of the meds, tests to check on liver and kidney functioning, and the occasional emergency room visits are a continuing financial drain. The stress of never knowing when or where the next seizure will hit, or if it will end on its own, is another constant.  So is the requirement that you be always available to give your dogís meds on schedule, which curtails travel and can even interfere with outings with family and friends.  Yet all of this is nothing compared to the pain of losing the battle for survival and losing your dog.

A day finally came when I made the decision to put Trip to sleep.  When I came home there was still water in Tripís bowl.  His leashes were still hanging by the door and some of his toys were on the floor. 

The habit of having him with me all the time and caring for him must have made grooves in my brain - it is so strong that it has been causing me to have strange sensations. I see a movement out of the corner of my eye and the feeling of his presence flashes in my mind.  I look out the back door and the memory flash is so vivid that I can almost literally see his face waiting to come in again.  I get ready for bed and wash my face and brush my teeth but the ritual doesn't feel right because I haven't let Trip out and then in again and gotten him settled for the night.

Since childhood I have loved dogs and wanted to know how to communicate with them and wanted to have a deep bond with a dog of my own.  But having that kind of bond makes losing your dog that much harder to bear.  I have been realizing how much Trip and I really did communicate.  He not only responded to words and phrases and hand signals but to my tone of voice and facial expressions.  Although trained not to jump up at will, he knew if I sang out his name "Trippy" with a certain inflection I was inviting him to come running and jump up on me - even if I was sitting in a chair or lying in bed.  If I shared a bite of my food with him from the table and then said "That's all" he knew not to beg for more.  He had learned if he finished his dinner and wanted to go out, to lie down and wait patiently between me and the back door until I was ready to get up from the table to let him out.   If I told him to "go find" something he started the search.  He knew "squirrel alert" meant he could go racing outside to run between the trees in the yard.  He knew that if I looked at him with a certain gleam in my eye it meant a game was afoot.  And his obedience was of the real life sort.  We never showed enough to get the advanced ring titles I had once wanted, but he would come running when called no matter what else was going on and he would drop (into a Down position) on a dime if I gave the signal.  When I took him for walks and let him off leash, he would hang around waiting to see if I would throw his beloved red ball before he would go exploring - and he kept checking in with me and came back as soon as I called.  He would retrieve anything I send him for, he would retrieve over high jumps, and he would fetch the paper even when he rushed out to find a construction crew working on the street just yards away.  He would hold his Stay even if he saw a cat passing by and he would remain on his Stay on the porch when I had to go back inside the house to search for something I forgotten.  Other than the seizures, the only thing that ever scared him were storms, but even then he didn't panic, he just wanted to snuggle up close beside me.  And I would dig my hands into his soft warm fur and enjoy the coziness of his presence.

Trip had his first seizure shortly after his third birthday.  In three days he had 3 seizures and was started on Phenobarbital. Shortly after that he was also started on a generic for Keppra.  After that his usual pattern was to have a seizure every 3-4 weeks.  But a few months before the end he started having seizures as often as every two weeks, prompting the vets to begin another evaluation of his medications, checking his blood levels, etc. 

The last few days

Then on May 15 Tues morn he woke me about 3 am by standing on his hind legs at the side of my bed and pawing at me.  I knew a seizure was coming and sure enough he had one at 3:30 am. That night he had another seizure at 11:30 p.m. but I didnít get any prior warning Ė I just woke up to hear his body banging around.  That he was having another one so soon was scary because other than his first seizures he has only clustered in that way once before.  The next day, Wed. May 16,  at 11:45 am he had a third seizure.  I called the vet  to ask if I should bring him in right away or first try giving him some extra meds.  While I was waiting for a call back he began to seize again and didnít stop.  I was trying to stay calm but felt frantic trying to get him to the car.

I started driving to the nearest emergency hospital when my vetís tech called me back on my cell to tell me that emergency room was closed so to go to yet another one on Broadway.  All this time Trip was in seizure and his body was banging around the car.  I was frantic and weeping in fear and frustration. I tried to drive safely but I also ran red lights when I could and speeded to get there.

When I finally got to the right emergency hospital I ran in to get someone to help me carry him inside.  Then I waited in an outer room while they tried to stabilize him.  The first bad sign was that Trip did not stop seizing with an IV valium drip. They had to put him under general anesthesia. They told me that doesnít stop the brain activity that causes seizing but it keeps the body relaxed.  My daughter came from work to be with me.  Eventually we went home because I thought Trip would continue to be unconscious.  That night I slept very fitfully.  My daughter called the hospital for updates at 11:30 pm, at 2 am, and at 6 am.   I went back the next morning and was surprised to see Tripís eyes were open although he was still sedated.  He was lying on his side on a couple of padded dog beds covered by absorbent padding, with a folded blanket and towel to support his head.  When he saw me he tried to raise his head.  The vet told me that they had not been sure about whether his cognitive function had been impaired but seeing how he responded to me and was even able to respond when I told him to stay and when I talked to him, she felt his cognitive abilities were still OK.  That is one of the reasons I was not able to let him go any sooner than I did.  I thought as long as his thinking brain was not impaired there was hope.

I was grateful that the staff allowed me to stay with him all that day, sitting on the floor next to him and massaging him and stroking his face and head,  except for when they sent me out for brief periods when they had to change his pads. The vets and techs were extremely kind and caring to both Trip and to me.

All that day Trip was given combinations of about 8 different medications. And he continued to have seizures. Every time they tried to dial down the amount of the general anesthesia drug he went into seizure.  That afternoon my daughter took off from work and kept talking to the vets working on him to try to get a handle on his prognosis and our options. She also talked on the phone with my son in Houston. They both understood how difficult it was for me to let costs enter into my decisions but I live on a  fixed income now and they were concerned that I was spending thousands of dollars without being able to change the outcome.  And they told me that even if Trip survived this time, there was the probability that it would happen again and maybe sooner rather than later.  But I still felt I had to give Trip every chance to pull out of it - because his brain was OK - he was still my Trip, and his liver functioning and kidney functioning was OK.  So I kept hoping if we could just get the seizures to stop, then we would buy time to be more aggressive about finding a better drug combination that would finally get him under better control.

At one point I felt a little bit hopeful. They had given him a loading dose of Potassium bromide and started dialing down the anesthesia again and he wasnít seizing quite as often.  I started thinking in terms of how to take care of him when I got him home.  And then he had another grand mal seizure.  I asked the vet once again if he stayed on the general anesthesia another night if that might make a difference.  And was told probably not. And we had agreed that at some point they had to stop the general anesthesia and at that point if he had a grand mal in the middle of the night they would call me ---- but I didnít want to go off and leave him there without me.

And he wasnít having an easy time of it. Of course it is impossible to know what he was feeling but even with all the drugs he was not unconscious. Hour after hour his eyes were open, he would blink, he would raise his head when I moved.  I brought his beloved red rubber Kong ball to him and he opened his mouth and chomped down on it.  He whimpered piteously at one point and the vet checked and he had a full bladder and she expressed it and he immediately looked more peaceful. Poor dog, he had been holding it rather than soil his bed.  That happened twice.  He was panting much of the time. Several times his jaws were rigid and he was biting down with pressure on his tongue.  I know his poor body must have felt beat up from the muscle tremors and contractions and all the drugs. I donít know if he was nauseous.  If I thought he had a chance to pull out of it I would have kept on having them treat him but they kept telling me the prognosis was not good.

My daughter and I went out to the car and cried together.  Then we went back in and she told them I had decided it was time. I stoked him and kissed him and held him until he was no longer breathing. We made the arrangements for cremation and then I  drove my car home and she followed me in hers. I tried to drive very carefully, making turn signals, stopping at stop signs.  She asked me if I knew I had driven  50 miles an hour and I told her no, I  wasnít aware of that at all.

Later that evening my daughter and my three granddaughters spent the night here with me. When they got here, I was sitting out on the patio, holding Tripís Frisbee.  My granddaughters all love Trip.  We only live 2 miles apart and see each other every day, so although he is my special dog, he is also a family dog.  They have all tried to comfort and support me in their own childlike somewhat mistaken ways which do have an inadvertent element of humor.  My daughter told me that 11 year old Maya had warned and threatened her little sisters on the way over that under no circumstances were they to mention Tripís name - we had to smile at her notion that would somehow be easier on me.  Then as soon as they walked in and surrounded me with hugs, 5 yr old Clara said I should get another Border collie and name it Trip - Maya tried to shush her. But it was 7 year old Eva that had the hardest time. She started crying and didnít stop. We put her to bed in my bed and my daughter lay down with her and listened to her talk about Trip. She cried herself to sleep.

After the little ones went to bed, Genevieve and Maya and I spent the evening talking about Trip. I told them how much of my lifeís routines revolved around him.  He was there to greet me when I first woke up in the morning. I would let him out for a minute to go fetch the paper. He would grab it on the run and come flying back with it. Then we played Tug and I told him he could have the comics and the sports but he had to give me the front page.   I made my coffee and gave him his breakfast. 
And so our days would go.  He played, he napped we trained a little.  In addition to his advanced obedience training he knew a few tricks.  Recently he had learned to walk backwards.  When I went out to read on the patio he lied down next to me, listening to the birds and watching for squirrels. When I went in to take a shower, he followed me and settled down on the tile floor.   He went along with me in the car when I went out to do various chores.  At night he hopped up on his sheet that I kept on top of the bedspread to keep it clean and slept there.

Trip was an exceptionally smart and beautiful dog but most of all he had the world's sweetest temperament.  He was a social butterfly, so tolerant of other dogs, loved kids, and never met anyone he didn't like. But there was never any doubt he was all mine and that I was his special person.

My sweet dog, you had a short life but you were loved every single day of it. 

Border collies, Epilepsy, and Breeding Considerations

For more information on Border collie health problems that includes a database listing affected dogs, their owners and their breeders, see:

About canine epilepsy

Right now epilepsy is spreading throughout the Border collie gene pool. 

The parents may be carriers without symptoms and do not have to have epilepsy themselves to produce epileptic pups.

Epilepsy usually begins when dogs are between 2 and 5 years of age.

There is no definitive test for epilepsy  Age of onset is suggestive and if diagnostic testing does not reveal any other cause for seizures, the diagnosis of primary epilepsy is made.  The consensus of scientific opinion is that this is a genetic condition.  It is possible that several genes are involved.


Question: Related to seizures and epilepsy, is it acceptable to breed dogs if they have a sibling or a close relative with these conditions?

Answer from Paige O'Donnel, corresponding secretary, the Border Collie Society of America:


I forwarded your question to several Committee Chairs within BCSA and have compiled the responses for you.

When dealing with epilepsy, you need to look at the depth and breadth of the affected pedigree...It does look like they are currently thinking that Border Collie epilepsy is an autosomal recessive trait (this means the parents are carriers). 

My personal recommendation is to look for a pedigree that is epilepsy free for several generations. (Note - epilepsy will not be listed on a pedigree - you need to be able to trust your breeder to provide this information or check out the dog's pedigree with someone who tracks epilepsy in BCs).

Click Holly