Archive for December, 2009

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2009

December 27, 2009

2009. Wow. 2009. For those of you who don’t know us well, here is what happened with us in 2009, in brief:

In February, my beautiful 13-yr-old boy Tanner died after a long painful illness that turned out to be cancer in his hipbone. Tanner was my heart.

The next day, our 11.5-yr-old girl Annie was also diagnosed with bone cancer in her shoulder.

A few days later, we received approval from China to adopt our 4-yr-old daughter Sunny. We had been trying to adopt since the summer of 2006, and in late 2008 had “lost” a sibling pair of older girls that we were sure were going to be our daughters from Vietnam, after a year and a half of waiting for their paperwork to be approved.

In March, we drove to Michigan to adopt our sweet 10.5-yr-old Slider (Sly), who was going to be Crisco’s Meet n Greet buddy. Crisco and Tanner had been the “bookend boys” for 3 years, and it was just too lonely to have Crisco alone.

In April, we had to let Annie go because her pain was too much.

A week later, Lloyd traveled to China for 2 weeks to bring Sunshine home.

May, June, July were spent adjusting to the dynamics of our new family, and, for me, grieving Tanner’s loss.

In August, our schnauzer Abby’s seizures became uncontrollable. It was deduced that she had a brain tumor, and we had to let her go as well.

In mid-September, my Crisco Roo, my best friend of 7 years, was diagnosed with cancer in his spine. He was given a couple months to live.

Three days later, sweet Sly collapsed in the yard from a pulmonary embolism and died in my car on the way to the vet. Sly was pure joy in a pudgy, fuzzy package.

The next day, a 2-yr-old adoptable named Hank decided to move into our house.

That weekend, we traveled to Iowa to bring home 9.5-yr-old Apollo.

A week after Sly died, after not eating for 3 days, Crisco told me that he wanted to be let go too. If Tanner was my heart, Crisco was my soul.

In October, we brought home Whitey from Missouri. And two weeks after that, Whitey was diagnosed with bone cancer. He had his leg amputated in November.

In early December, we received approval from China for our 2nd daughter.

Now. What do you say to a year like that? People ask me how I am still standing, and the truth is that much of the time, I’m not.

The truth is that I am still dealing with losing Tanner, let alone everything else that followed. That this whole year has felt like I can’t get my head above water, and more weight just keeps getting added.

When the snow came this year, it brought back the last couple months of Tanner’s life. The days when he could no longer do the 2 stairs to go outside, and Lloyd built him a ramp. The day that the new pain medications made him sick, and every half hour all day long I put on 4 booties (because he couldn’t walk on the snow and ice without them) and a jacket and snood, and helped him outside and back in. He was still in so much pain, and I told him it was okay if he just went in the house, but every time he was determined to hobble out to the yard.

I look back on that now and am sorry that I let him go through that. But we didn’t know that it was cancer then. We still thought we might be able to make him better. And there was still so much life in his eyes. He was still Tanner; lying on his bed asking for treats, air snapping at us, watching me everywhere I went.

The whole past year is filled with images that I’ll never be able to erase, of the ones I love in pain and in fear.

I know some people think that this all is crazy, and that they are ‘just dogs.’ But these were my children. I loved them more, and spent more time with them, than most people do with their human children. And I really do feel like 5 of my human children died this year.

The only difference is, you don’t expect your human children to die before you. But when you love a dog, you go into it knowing that in all likelihood you will lose them far too soon.

I had nightmares about Crisco’s death for years. Dreams where something would happen to him and I couldn’t save him, and the majority of the dream was me sobbing uncontrollably. Because I knew that someday he would die, and I just couldn’t see how I would manage to live without him. It was quite simply the worst thing I could imagine.

And it happened, 3 months ago today. And it was as bad as I thought it would be. This time, I didn’t wake up, pat his belly and feel his breathing next to me, and go back to sleep. When I think about how long it’s been, it really genuinely surprises me that life has gone on. He was so much a part of my life – he WAS so much of my life – that I couldn’t fathom what my life would be without him. Especially once Sly died too.

But in some odd way, Crisco’s death was a relief. The very worst thing I could imagine had happened, and I didn’t have to worry about it anymore. I felt like nothing else could be as bad as that, so I could relax.

I love all my dogs, past and present, with all my heart. But I also understand that Tanner, Crisco and Sly were special, each in very different ways. They were “heart” dogs. I don’t know whether I’ll ever know a dog like any of them again, but I do know that I was unbelievably lucky to have had them in my life.

I don’t understand when people lose a dog and then say, ‘I’ll never have a dog again, because it’s too hard to lose them.’ Really? This year was pure hell for me. There were days, a week here and there even, when I more or less did not get out of bed. There were nights when I in all seriousness hoped that I would not wake up the next morning. When I truly thought I was going crazy. But – it was worth it.

The gifts that those boys gave to me, just by being themselves, were worth the pain I am in now and then some. I am nothing but lucky to have had them in my life.

When we adopted them, they were the “hard-to-place” dogs. Can you believe that? My perfect boys? Crisco was 7 years old and had gone through 3 homes. His last home claimed that he was “vicious,” but he turned out to be my most reliable Meet n Greet dog. Tanner was 9.5. Sly was 10.5. Seniors. We went in knowing that our time with them would be too short, but never expecting how wonderful it would be.

And I’m glad that we got Whitey, even with the cancer diagnosis 2 weeks after he came home. I’m glad that we’ve gotten to know this spunky little dude. I hope he has a long time with us, but if he doesn’t, I’ll still be glad he landed here so we could help him through all of this. If I believed in such things, I’d almost be inclined to believe that Sly sent him: “You couldn’t save me, but maybe you can save this one.” Whitey gave me the gift of needing my help, of showing me that while Crisco is gone, there are other dogs that need me too.

What I’ve gone the very long way around to say is: Adopt a senior dog. What? You didn’t realize that was my point this whole time? Well, it is. Yes, it hurts to lose them. I won’t lie to you. It hurts a hell of a lot, more than you can maybe imagine. But it’s worth it. There’s no guarantee with time. 2-year-old dogs die too. And 12-year-old dogs sometimes hang on ‘til 16 with health and happiness. But I know that everyone who passed up Sly and Whitey because they were too old missed out big-time.

Any of my adopters who see a senior greyhound on Petfinder that they might want to adopt should let me know, because I can work with that group to help you adopt him or her. There are so many out there. Brood mamas, bounces from other homes (due to the economy, divorces, not anything the dogs have done). The group we got Whitey from (Rescued Racers) has a black-and-white guy named Big Daddy that I would love to place. He was in a blood donor program and has NEVER had a family in his whole life. Think about what you could give to this boy, or any of the others out there, and I know he’ll give back to you in ways you don’t expect.

I miss my old boys every day. I’ve never been so glad to see the tail end of a year. But I know in the end I was lucky.
———————-

We who choose to surround ourselves with lives
even more temporary than our own
live within a fragile circle,

easily and often breached.

Unable to accept its awful gaps
We still would live no other way.

We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.

–Irving Townsend

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Editorial Cartoon from the MA Patriot Ledger

December 26, 2009

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From GPA Central Florida

December 25, 2009

******VERY IMPORTANT ADVOCACY NEWS******

Nine greyhound tracks will no longer race greyhounds in 2010. This
constitutes 1/3 reduction of the current number of greyhound tracks in the
US. In 2010 only 23 greyhound tracks nationwide will still remain in
operation. Florida, with its 13 tracks, will have more active racetracks
than the rest of the states combined.

In 2009 legislation was introduced to allow Florida tracks to
discontinue live racing and still maintain their simulcast operations and
Poker room activities. That bill failed to get out of committee but it
became apparent to the House and Senate that it was one of the “wants” of
several of the Florida tracks.

There are many who feel that similar legislation will come up again, in
2010, and may pass as a consolation to the tracks for other pro-Pari-mutuel
bills that failed, like allowing tracks to have the full use of slot
machines.

We are not saying that it WILL happen in 2010 but IF it does happen
there could be as many as 5 or 6 Florida tracks that would discontinue live
racing. If not in 2010 it could be in 2011.

Unlike the track closings in Arizona, Massachusetts and New
Hampshire, the tracks in Florida that would close would be the lower-end
tracks that every other track in the country uses to send their poorly
competitive greyhounds. This will be unlike the Dairyland track closing,
where more than 2/3rds of their hounds went to race at other tracks. At the
low end tracks in Florida, It will be more likely that VERY FEW greyhounds
can go on to race at other tracks, as MOST tracks would be a step or two UP
from their current competition level.

How many non-competitive greyhounds would be looking for homes
should Florida pass legislation allowing tracks to discontinue live racing??
Each track has between 500 to 1,000 greyhounds in their kennels and with 5
or 6 tracks taking the option to end racing the numbers COULD be well over
3,000 ALL AT ONCE.

I refer to the above as a greyhound Tsunami, and there is a SECOND
wave that may even precede the first. Since the greyhounds come to the
track at 15 to 18 months of age there are well over 20,000 greyhounds that
are currently on farms waiting to race. With the track closings of 2009
there will already be 1/3rd less tracks for these hounds to go to start
racing and owners are already experiencing problems placing their greyhounds
at tracks.
There will, no doubt, be owners that will stop paying boarding fees and
create problems for farmers and greyhounds on those farms.

We may be able to convince the NGA to establish a HOT LINE for owners
and farmers to avoid problems that will involve pups that are not yet
racing! Knowing the full scope of the problem can only help prepare for
solutions.

What can all the adoption groups in the US and Canada do to prepare
for such an event?

Inform their membership of the “POSSIBILITY” of such an event and
rally them to get as many people to commit to fostering one greyhound for
this one time event.

Contact Local vets, inform them of the likelihood of this mass
layoff of greyhounds and ask their support to spay and neuter, as that will
cut the time for greyhounds to exit Florida.

Plan fundraising events to swing into place WHEN this event
becomes imminent. This will help local groups pay for veterinary work and
may even pay some to the transport costs incurred with this mass exodus.

I am sure that we all thought that greyhound racing would not be
closing down as quickly as it is at present but it would be sad if we did
not see what is coming and take action early. Although some would say it
will never happen just think of all those greyhounds needing help IF it
does.

I feel if we fail to plan …….. We plan to fail! Although this is
a Herculean task, IF we all rally together. …….. United….WE CAN MAKE A
DIFFERENCE!

Dennis Tyler
GPA Central Florida Chapter

PERMISSION TO CROSS POST!!

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Monday

December 22, 2009

I finally got the new dogs up on Petfinder.

And it looks like Burnie, at long last, may have a family! She’s going to get her teeth cleaned and shots updated tomorrow, and Hammie will go too for his shots.

Whitey’s still doing great. He had 2 meals over the weekend where he only ate half, but that was the only noticeable effect of the chemo. So far, so good. 🙂

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Chemo today

December 18, 2009

Whitey went in for his first chemo treatment today, and Apollo went along to have his eye checked out. (Turns out that Apollo may actually have Pannus in that eye….we are going to try some steroid drops.) Apollo had basically nothing done other than a few eye drops and a shiny light in his eye, but he was far more worried the whole time than Whitey was.

First we had to do a CBC for Whitey to check that his white bloodcell count was okay, and make sure the Deramaxx isn’t doing any bad things to his liver or kidney values. Bloodwork all looked just fine, so we could go ahead with chemo. They inserted a big fat needle into his vein and put in an IV catheter. The vet came out with a ginormous syringe of red fluid, sat on the floor with Whitey and a timer clock, and slowly injected the chemo drugs over 20 minutes.

After 5 minutes or so, he started licking his lips like he might be feeling nauseous, but that passed after a minute or two and didn’t reoccur. He laid there for the whole thing and didn’t seem to mind much. We had to stay a half hour afterward to make sure he didn’t go into anaphylactic shock (happily, he did not). He was pretty disgruntled during that time, in part because he hated the vet wrap on his front leg, and in part because he was just ready to get outta there, and in part because he possibly felt strange. He was happy to get into the car and go home.

I stopped to have lunch with Lloyd on the way home (I go past his office on the way home from the vet), and we got Apollo and Whitey a turkey and cream cheese sandwich to share. The rare carbohydrate for Whitey. He scarfed his down as usual. I forgot to weigh him at the vet, but she thought he was looking better on that front.

When we got home, he was pretty knocked out. Don’t know how much of that was the stressful day, and how much is the chemo. He did eat his dinner (which is good, because I had to fast him before chemo so he did not eat breakfast today…well, except for the half sandwich post-appointment), so he does seem to have an appetite. Guess we will see what the next couple days bring.

The remaining 4 adoptable dogs got their spay/neuters and shots done today. Holly was so nervous that she had diarrhea in her pen….So much that they charged us extra because a tech had to spend so much time cleaning it up. “Pudding butt,” as they put it. Lovely. She even had it in her crate on the ride up, and got it on Lloyd’s work pants that he then had to wear the rest of the day. Poor Lloyd. She’s much happier now that she is back home in her pen. And now the horny boys won’t all chase her around anymore either.

We had another cryptorchid in this bunch. Talk about coincidence. We had 2 in the last group too, and our vet says she almost NEVER sees this in greyhounds. So poor Daughtry had a little rougher time than an ordinary neuter. He looks so stoned, poor guy.

I think even Ryan is happy to be back here. He seems to be warming up to me slightly…which for him means he doesn’t make quite as herculean an effort to get away from me when I approach him. If I am able to get up to him, he will stand and let me hug and pet him, and seems to be okay with it (no tail tuck or anything), so I think we are making a bit of progress. He does have the unfortunate habit of running away from Lloyd by running UNDER other dogs. He did it to Whitey the other day, and has done it to Brad, Daughtry, and anyone else who is near him. He actually ran between Brad’s front legs, under him, and out through his back legs. Poor Brad didn’t have time to figure out what happened before it was over.

Anyway, my day today was: Get the kid off to school, turn out dogs, take dogs to the vet, eat lunch, take dogs home from the vet, turn out dogs, get kid home from school, make dinner, feed dogs. So I got literally nothing done at home. Sigh. I need a maid. One who works for free, or is willing to be paid in Hank kisses.

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New dogs and Whitey

December 17, 2009

Well, we had an unexpected trip to the vet yesterday. Beaut (Butte) somehow cut his foot in the yard on Monday late afternoon, maybe on some ice. It didn’t look all that awful, so I sprayed it with bactene and bandaged it up with some gauze, vet wrap, and a Therapaw bootie. Figured it would be fine. He didn’t limp on it or anything for the rest of the day.

Next morning, I went out and there was blood all over the kennel. The bootie was still on the foot, so it didn’t occur to me to look there. I went around checking every dog for injuries, and found nothing. So, I was going to temporarily give up the search, and decided I would check Beaut’s foot while I was out there to see if the bandage had gotten wet outside (sometimes snow gets into the booties). I took off the bootie, and was very surprised to find that the bandage was soaked with blood, with blood pooled in the bootie. The blood in the kennel was overflow from the bootie! Yikes.

Called our vet and described it. I didn’t have time to drive him all the way up to the “good” vet yesterday, so I was going to take him in to the “close” vet and wanted my good vet’s opinion first. She wondered what I was wondering: Maybe he had a bleeding disorder. Seemed like a heck of a lot of blood for a small foot injury. So she told me what tests I should ask for and what his numbers should be, and I went off to the close vet (who probably see me and think, “Here comes that bossy bitch,” since I always march in there and tell them what to do).

They unbandaged the foot, and Beaut proceeded to bleed all over the exam room floor. They did did an activated clotting test, and it came back okay. The vet thought that the wound just happened to be in the worst location, such that whenever Beaut put weight on it (and Beaut was walking on it normally), the clot broke up and it was just pumping blood out with each step.

It needed to be stitched up, and for that he needed to be put under, so we decided to let the close vet neuter him while they were at it. I think they were possibly getting exasperated with me, as I went through the list of charges and checked off things I didn’t want them to do. No take-home pain meds, no take-home antibiotics (the clinic owner, who happened to be the vet seeing us, just laughed and told the tech, “You have to understand that some of these rescues have little pharmacies at home…” Yup). I asked for better prices on heartworm testing and bordatella. After I left, they called to ask if I wanted a fecal float done because he’d had diarrhea. Nope, he just switched food and has been under a lot of stress, plus I pyrantel pamoate everyone who passes through here. Then they called to ask if I wanted a complete dental done for $75 while he was under. Nope, already put $350 in to this trip. Then, the clinic owner himself called me back like 2 minutes later and told me that he would have one of their vet students who was learning to do dentals do him for free, so that was perfect.

So Beaut is home, with a sutured-up foot, missing testicles, and clean teeth. The other 4 dogs will go in tomorrow to our good vet for their spay/neuters and shots. Hoping all goes well with no surprises. Lloyd takes them up before work and picks them up again afterward.

Turns out I’ll also be making a trip up there tomorrow myself. They called today to say that Whitey’s chemo drugs are in, finally. So he will have his first treatment tomorrow. Apollo will come along to have his eye rechecked. Our little vet clinic is going to be overrun with greyhounds tomorrow!

Whitey has been downright perky the past few days, running in the yard and tail wagging. I hope that the chemo is not a huge setback for him. They think it will take about an hour including bloodwork. Please send good thoughts to Small White Dog tomorrow.

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Friends

December 15, 2009

Sunshine has decided that Tobey is her favorite dog these days. On Sunday morning, she stole some tissue paper from my present wrapping and started covering him up with it. She informed me that Tobey was cold. She sat by him and said, “It’s okay, Bobey, it’s okay.” (Tobey couldn’t have cared less.)