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Before I can introduce you all to Tex, the latest member of the pack, I have to go cover my female human’s past.  First, I was not the first biter my human had shared her life with.  That honor went to Sunny, a very abused cocker spaniel who was never socialized as a puppy.  She spent many days alone in an apartment.  Her pack was made up of her and two human doctors who both were finishing up their residency when she was a puppy.  Why they thought getting a dog was a good idea when they had no time for her is beyond me.

By the time Sunny was two years old, she was pretty unstable from living in solitary confinement.  Then her humans had a human baby and everything changed.  Suddenly they were home a lot more and the baby would not stop crying.  Sunny didn’t bite the baby as she actually likes babies but she did attack her humans after she decided that the baby needed to be protected from everything.   Sunny bounced around from home to home for 2 years, biting at least one person in each new pack before they’d return her.  Everyone was told her history but everyone thought they could handle her.  She was also just so cute!  My human’s mother took Sunny as a foster for rehab the day before she was going on a one way trip to the vet.  Sunny was in a no kill shelter too.

What I am going to tell you is not for the faint of heart NOR should you ever try this at home.  My human’s father worked at the animal shelter.  He was not an inexperienced dog handler but Sunny bit him multiple times over the years over many different things.  Sunny bit my human too just a couple of months after she was introduced into the pack.  My human asked Sunny to get out of the car.  Telling time wasn’t something she was good at and she thought the pack was going to the train station without her.  She always went to the train station twice a day to pick up my human’s father.  All she could think was, “DO NOT LEAVE ME ALONE!” and defended her spot in the car by biting my human multiple times on the arm.  My human still has the scars thirty years later, although they’re pretty faded.  It took about 6 years, three times as many years as it took to screw her up, for Sunny to adjust to pack life, stop having emotional outbursts at everyone, to really feel safe, and to stop biting.  Up until that point, her biting was managed through a set routine.

When I got to the Rainbow Bridge, I was overwhelmed by the number of animals that knew my humans but the first one who wasn’t a part of the pack who came up to me and said, “I love your human” was Celestia*.  Her story needs to be told and I promised her I would share it.

Celestia is a wonderful dog.  She was still in puppyhood when she was adopted from the local SPCA but almost a year old.  She has the most amazing fluffy coat with curly fur around her ears.  Her fur is a mix of white belly hair, a golden body, and red highlights.  She really is striking.  The best guess about her breeding is a gold retriever/chow cross.  She has a cute birthmark on her tongue but I’ve been told that is just a sign of a hard birth.  She doesn’t remember being born so she has no idea where her birthmark came from.

She is also an amazing hunter with a strong prey drive like a greyhound, she is incredibly fast, and her bites hit her mark the first time.  She hated the rats that would live in the wood piles around the house and would wait for them like a cat.  As soon as they stepped into the sun, she’d be on them, chasing them away from the house.  She’d grab them, shake them dead, then toss them in the air, and bite them in  half when she caught them.  The rat would be dead in less than a second.  Her humans were very alarmed at this behavior and would yell at her whenever she’d chase a rat.  She never hurt any chickens, goats, sheep, cats, horses, or other farm animals.  Just the rats.

When she was about 18 months old, she started doing 4H obedience classes at the local county fair grounds.  She was great at competition obedience. She had a wonderful competition heel, staring deep into her human’s eyes rather than caring to look forward, and just had complete trust in her human to keep her safe.  When they competed, it was never Celestia who made a mistake, always the human.  They collected a fair amount of ribbons though.

Celestia hates loud noises.  Gun fire really bothers her and due to scheduling, my human was often home during the day when various neighbors would be shooting rifles.  Celestia would come knock on the back door, then let herself in, and climb up on the couch.  She was afraid but knew that my human would comfort her.  They’d sit together on the couch and my human would do TTOUCH hair slides and clouded leopard touches to help her calm down.

Just to go down a bunny hole for a second:  I’m sure you’ve been told to never comfort a dog who is afraid and that is just a stupid thing to say just like saying not to pick up a crying infant or you’ll spoil the child.  Sometimes I think God wasted thumbs on humans.  Let me be clear, you don’t want to panic with your hound but you do need to acknowledge their emotions and try to help them face their fear. 

Celestia’s pack did a lot of entertaining.  People were always over to visit and often with children of various ages and temperament.  Not all of the children were well trained.  One day a boy decided to stomp his foot at Celestia while she was trying to eat.  She didn’t like the loud noise and tried to get away from him but the child continued to harass her and cornered her.  She eventually growled at him when all other options had been exhausted.  Her humans didn’t punish the boy, they punished Celestia.

The next time the boy was over, he started to bug her again.  She growled.  She got punished.  The cycle repeated until Celestia realized her humans didn’t like her growling.  So growling wasn’t allowed.  The next time the boy was over, she barked and snapped at him.  Now the kid told his parents that the dog bit him.  She didn’t bite him, she snapped at him and told him he was rude.  Celestia was punished again.  From her point of view, “The mean, spoiled child comes over and my home is no longer safe!”  This is much closer to the truth than the spoiled brat’s version.  The truth is painful.  Ignorant humans who don’t understand their responsibilities to keep the pack safe ruin the lives of dogs when they punish their dog for being a dog.

The humans tried to “break her” of her “aggression” over food and they just made it worse.  Celestia was no longer feeling safe in her own home and was on edge all of the time.  When people were over, she was obviously uncomfortable, stiff body, clenched jaw, with big moon eyes.  No one was realizing what she was trying to say.  Eventually, the stress and bad training created a resource guarder who bit without much warning for the uneducated.   She bit her humans and drew blood but no stitches were required.  She grabbed the boy who tormented her when food wasn’t even involved.  Just the sight of him made her anxious.

The vet suggested euthanasia.  My human knew that Celestia was a misunderstood dog but was just beginning to learn about behavior and learning theory.   The internet was still hard to get on at this time but she went to newsgroups and joined every mailing list she could to find a trainer who could rehab Celestia.  No one would take her.   She was deemed just too dangerous.

Although I was given a death sentence from the law and my former pack gave me up to keep me safe, Celestia’s pack  made the decision to euthanize her.  They took her to the vet and Celestia shook the entire way there.  She knew it was a one way trip.  Her humans held her long past her last breath and cried the entire time.  Celestia was so young, just barely 3 years old.  She lost her life due to human ignorance and a poorly trained child.

*Not her real name.

Today, I have allowed my human, Ingrid, to write her side of the story of how I became a Tripawd.  My ampuversary is tomorrow, along with another Greyhound, Taylor, who has his first ampuversary tomorrow. 

April 9, 2013 was a very, very difficult day for me.  It was going to be the day I said good bye to my faithful and demanding best friend, Nixon.  There were emotions on top of emotions and I was under a LOT of stress.  Back in March, in the span of two days, Nixon was diagnosed with bone cancer, my father-in-law was on life support and not expected to survive, and my beloved Uncle Jack passed away from a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

While waiting for the radiologists report to confirm what I could already see on Nixon’s xrays, my father-in-law had gone to hospital for pain medication as his injured shoulder was just killing him.  Surgery for that was in another week but the pain was so great, he couldn’t sleep.  It wasn’t his shoulder.  It was his heart going crazy in v-fib.  He walked into the hospital and during triage, just collapsed.  He was down for 15 minutes.  They zapped his heart 7 or 8 times.  The family was called in to say good bye.

Nixon and Cookie were dumped at the vet’s office as soon as it opened as Dr. Huff was the best person to monitor Nixon.  The tumor was still just the size of a nickel.   Rich and I were heading west, traveling over 12 hours to get to the hospital.  There are no airports nearby and travel time by plane or car is the same.  The only thing slower is Amtrak.

We talked about if Nixon was good candidate for amputation.  With his previous paralysis and the neural deficits he did have, we weren’t comfortable putting him through this without looking into other things.  When we arrived in IL, I was told my uncle had passed.  Going to Canada was out of the question so I just got to call my Aunt and tell her how sorry I was for her loss.

The good news is my father-in-law survived.  There never was anything wrong with his shoulder, it was his heart the entire time.  Easter was actually the anniversary of his cardiac event this year and no one wanted to say anything because of the overlap.  The bad news is, we were gone for almost 3 weeks and Nixon was just a shell of a dog.  The day before we were to head home, his leg fractured.  Dr.  Huff had warned me the tumor was growing very fast.

We asked Dr. Huff to get him to NC State as everyone kept telling me that a greyhound had to have 24×7 care after amputation.  Dr. Huff tried to get his amputation scheduled for the next day, Saturday, but NC State just couldn’t figure out what they were doing.  They lost the transfer paperwork twice.

We arrived home on Sunday and the house was just so quiet.  Monday morning, I went to go pick up my dogs.  Nixon was in such bad shape, I left him there so Rich could come and see him and most likely, we’d take him home for one last night with us and in the morning say good bye.  There is no way that this cancer wasn’t throughout his body.

Dr. Huff warned me before I went to go see him that he really was doing much worse in the past 24 hours.  Nixon lost over 10 lbs that weekend as the tumor just ate him alive.  Even the staff gasped when they saw him.   He led me into the surgical suite as keeping Nix on a kennel wasn’t feasible.  He needed quiet and to be far away from everything.  He was in the corner, on pile of blankets and mats, covered in more blankets to keep him warm.  He just a skeleton covered in skin with a tumor the size of a softball.  I cannot even explain how guilty I felt.  my 72 lb boy didn’t even weigh 60 lbs now.

The office was closing for the afternoon but they let me cuddle him for an hour.  As soon as he saw it was me, he lit up and just was so happy.  He reached out and touched me with his paw.  The last time he ever would do that for me actually.  He touched me with the broken leg and snuggled in so tight.  I held him in my arms and just apologized and told him that I loved him.  It was horrible to see my snuggly boy in such horrible shape…I hated cancer.  I hated that I I had waited so long.  I wished I could go back and tell Dr. Huff to just amputate the day we had left.  I would have come home to a confused and tired tripawd and not this tortured shell of a dog.

NC State was supposed to call me but they never did.  When I inquired, they said they never received my paperwork.  Dr. Huff faxed them in front of me for the 3rd time.

Rich and I came back that evening.  Cookie was emotionally exhausted and had slept the entire day away and didn’t want to leave the house which was good since we wanted Nix to have the entire car to himself.  Nixon was happy to see us.  Happy to be heading home.  And starving.  We got him in the car and we headed home.

Once in his house, he tried to act normal.  He pretended it didn’t hurt until he was panting and moaning from the pain.   He sampled all the beds in the living room.  I know he spent more time in my arms.  Of all the dogs I’ve ever had, Nixon made cuddling an art.  He would lock eyes with me from across the room and I knew what that meant.  I’d come over to his bed and sit down with my hips next to his.  As soon as my shoulder was about to hit the ground, he’d throw himself backwards into my chest so I could wrap my arms around him and we’d hit the floor at the same time.

Morning came too soon and I just couldn’t take seeing my dog suffer like this.  I was unreasonable to my husband and pushed him away with my words.  I was in such emotional turmoil that I took the burden completely upon myself and was just lashing out with raw emotion.

As I was falling apart on the front lawn, mostly yelling at my husband, Nixon decided today wasn’t a good day to die.  He ripped the leash from my hands and ran around the house.  He ran fast enough that I couldn’t catch him until he stopped to pee on something.

Maybe I was grasping at straws but if you saw how happy he was to pee on something in his yard, I just couldn’t see a dog that was ready to give up yet.  His leg hurt like hell but there was still plenty to pee on and life left to live.  Rich and I loaded him in the car and my emotions were on overdrive.  I called NC State and started screaming.  They told me they never received his paperwork but they would be happy to make an appointment for Thursday or next Tuesday for Nixon ONCE they received the paperwork.

I’m a very passive person and will allow people to walk all over me at times but I had had it.  I just screamed into the phone he doesn’t have until Thursday or next Tuesday.

“WHAT PART OF PATHOLOGICAL FRACTURE DO YOU NOT UNDERSTAND? Either you see us in an hour or I’m having him destroyed at noon.  I cannot let my dog suffer like this.”

We arrived at NC State for our 11:00 appointment.  A Social Worker was sent to deal with me as I was apparently wound pretty tight.  Nixon was weighed.  Being a racing greyhound, he couldn’t help himself.  He saw the scale and had to hop on.  They insisted that he be wheeled around on a stretcher and he refused to lie down so it took four times as many people to move him safely.  The took him to radiology to his check his lungs.  If the lungs were clear, we were moving forward.  The lungs were clear.

I barely had enough time to kiss him and say I love you.   I wouldn’t see him again until the end of the week.  I didn’t know how he was going to take being away from me for so long.  I hate to say it but this did break him a little emotionally.  Nixon never gave me his paw again or reached to touch me.  This was a morning ritual that he shared with both me and Rich.  He would reach for Rich with his leg and scar when he’d see him in the morning but he never did that for me again.

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Every September, Greyhound Crossroads hosts Beach Bound Hounds.   It is a fun gathering at a conference center in Myrtle Beach right on the beach.  Although there are lots of things to do, what my pack loves about it is walking on the beach.  There are group sunrise walks but many of us do night walks too.  My human wears a fitbit and we were averaging just over 7 miles a day while we were there in 2011.

We often see lots of local friends there.  The founder of our local dog walking club, Trailhounds, has a large pack of dogs herself.  The Holly Springs Hounds.  Our humans like each other and our packs mesh instantly after a quick sniff.  The only thing they have a problem with is why did we name Cookie Cookie?  They get so confused looking for a cookie when they hear her name.  And yes, I do hang out with the members waiting at the bridge now – Bullet, Baby Greanbean, Waldo, Babyruth, and Butters.

So it was a beautiful night after two days of rain.  We decided to go for a walk with the Holly Springs Hounds on the beach in the moonlight, heading south. It was a very nice night but there were a lot of people fishing so we were walking up on the sand and not near the water.

If you know anything at all about greyhounds, we tend to be really quiet. Even when you have a thousand or so standing together, there may be one weirdo who is barking their head off, but everyone is  silent.

There was a man fishing with a large open cooler.  I could smell him over all the smells of the ocean from a good distance away.  The wind had started to pick up again as another storm was off the coast so we could barely talk to one another but this man was carrying on screaming at who knows what.  As we got closer, in his drunken stupor, he started to yell at my human for letting me and the rest of the hounds  scare away all the fish.  I know, back when greyhounds used to roam the wild, before we knew you had couches, we would fish the open seas.  There is nothing more impressive than a pack of wild and wooly greyhounds bringing home a great white shark for dinner for all to share.  But I really doubt the fish paid any mind to us quietly walking down the beach.

While the tipsy fisherman tried to pick a fight with my human, I noticed his cooler was open and had to go investigate.  One of the things about walking on the beach is that there is nothing to mark.  You go miles and miles and it is just sand.  All the dunes are fenced in so not many targets to tag.  The cooler was the perfect height for me to tell the world I was here.  We had been walking for over a mile and I was quiet full too so I painted the inside walls of the cooler, covered his fish in a delightful splatter, tagged each and every beer, and finally put my signature on the outside of the cooler.  Although not a masterpiece, I was quite proud of my work.

My human saw what I was doing but didn’t want to attract any more attention from this man as she was a little afraid for our safety so she didn’t say a word to me.  She apologized to him for chasing away all the fish, then wished him luck, and he finally disengaged.  With the wind on our backs, we headed back to the hotel, not sure how bad we should feel yet overcome with the giggles while wondering how many beers did it take before he noticed what that funny taste was?

The rest of the weekend, we only headed north on the beach, never south.

Things are very active on this side of the bridge.  There is always a steady stream of newbies arriving and always a steady stream of humans to collect their best friends.  And play.   Although the poem has a lot of things right….you don’t HAVE to cross the bridge as soon as you and your entourage of pets reunite.  There are lots of things I cannot explain since you kind of just have to be here but in all honesty, do you really think most humans could really just snatch their pet up and run for the bridge?  Really?  I mean, I am so handsome and fit, how could people NOT want to love me?  Even people who have never met me?  Plus, you just got your new body, what better way to learn about it than playing with dogs?  Or cats.  Or horses.  Or whatever else your heart has bonded to.  We’re all about inclusion here and no non-human is excluded.

In July, I got to finally meet the daddy’s Memaw.  She came to collect her babies and spent some time getting to know us all before they all crossed the bridge.  Buffy introduced her to everyone and that took forever.  Memaw knows just where to scratch behind the ears to bring a puppy to bliss.  She comes to visit us often.

Just over a week ago, the daddy’s mother came to collect Higgins and her other loves.  Higgins, a Scottie, is her HEART dog.  The bond between them is quite special and for a moment, they only  had eyes for each other.  It was like watching a Lassie movie.  Well, a very short Lassie!  He just KNEW his human was there and kind of went away looking into the distance.  They locked eyes…and then he tackled her.  The rest of us followed him and it was a very happy reunion.  Like Memaw, she also had Parkinson’s so it had been quite some time since she got to play with her puppies and she is making the most of it.

I’m adjusting to the long wait.  Yes, it is wonderful to be restored and have nothing physically hurt but I still miss my humans.  Just like you miss all the rituals you had with us, we still miss the rituals too!  We can see you at any time and sometimes your heart calls to us without you even knowing it is.  Its easier for us to meet you in your dreams – at least there, we can touch.  Watching your every day life can be tough at first because we’re missing your touch and eye contact too.

For those who wonder about not getting any physical pennies, all I can tell you is it is an art and not easy to do at first.  I had to ask for a lot of help when I showered the mommy with dimes to let her know I was doing ok.  We’re still with you, watching you, and sure enough LOVING you while we wait for you to collect us.  As so many of you already know in your hearts, yes, many of us try to have some influence on who you open your heart to next.  The more friends you have waiting for you at the bridge, the more  involved the process can be.  What I find amazing is how easily most people accept direction.  We do honor your need to grieve but nothing makes us happier than when you can love again.  Loving again IS honoring our memory.  Never forget that.

 

The Birthday Bed

My 12th birthday just past on the 19th.  My birthday always makes my humans smile because it is the start of my diva ways and the first time I displayed my skills as a Jedi Master.

In 2010, my birthday fell in the middle of the week.  We went out on Saturday, the 21st, to Greyhound Friends and I got to meet Cookie for the first time.  She wouldn’t come home for another two weeks but she was the right pup for our pack.

To make sure I wasn’t lonely, we went to Panera Bread to hang out with all the greyhounds on Sunday, the 22cd.  After breakfast, we headed over to Petsmart to buy me a birthday present.

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My Dragon Squeaker Mat which Cookie destroyed after being home for less than an hour.

As a friend was picking up a bag of dog food, I saw the most wonderful bed across the aisle.  While we waited, I stared at the bed with my entire being.  We needed to be together and I had to communicate this to my human.  She saw I was interested but we left the store instead, my heart breaking.  As we headed home, the human realized she forgot to pick something else up so we were going to another Petsmart that was on the way.

I did not let my second chance go to waste.  As soon as we got near the beds, I looked at the bed with an ache in my soul.  I NEEDED THIS BED.  Needed it.  The human was starting to get the message.

“Do you want to go look at that bed?”

So we did.  I had to make it clear that I wanted this bed more than anything else in the world.   Even though it was on the shelf and  had another bed under it, I climbed into the bed and got comfortable.  She called the daddy…the conversation started off with “YOUR DOG….”  and then lots of laughing.

 

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“How much is it?”

“$99.99”

“He’s worth it.  Get it.”

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THE RIDE HOME! IN MY BED!

When we got home, I climbed into the bed and stayed there for 17 hours, ignoring everything around me.  I didn’t eat, drink, or pee the entire time.  I did eventually get up, went potty, and then ran back to the bed.  For 36 hours, I refused to do anything but sleep in the bed.

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It was the best bed ever….until one day it wasn’t.  About 4 months after we bought the bed, I was aggressive with my digging in it and shredded it.  Once it was broken, I couldn’t sleep in it.  The humans took me back to petsmart to see if I wanted another.  No….the moment had passed….and I had discovered memory foam.  And Body Pillows.  And Pillow Pets…

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She Who Must Be Obeyed has been at the bridge for five years as of today.  We can say she was an honorary tripawd.  Her last hours on earth were on 3 legs but she never had an amputation.

She Who Must Be Obeyed

Our humans were going to go out of town for the day on Saturday and for our safety, had us spend the night at our daycare.  On Friday, the mommy got home late, like 8 hours late from work and had to do laundry and pack for us and her daytrip.  So while the laundry was going, the daddy was upstairs asleep, she stayed downstairs and snuggled with Kitty in bed.  This was normal.  Kitty has many talents and one of them is she can snuggle with anyone or anything and it will be comfortable and wonderful.  You will feel better after snuggling with Kitty even if you don’t like dogs.

On Water Bed

So in the morning, we went into the backyard to do our business and Kitty favored her left hind leg.  That was her good leg.  The mommy made note of it and would bring it up to Dr. Huff on Monday when Kitty had her chiropractic adjustment.  Kitty was in a great mood that morning and ate all of her breakfast, complimented the chef, and kissed her too.  Kitty had been off her food for a few months at that point and the humans were desperate to get her to eat.  Satin Balls were her favorite and she ate them more than anything else.  Something we learned later, this was a sign of kidney disease.  For some reason, when your kidneys start to fail, your nose does too!  And then food doesn’t taste as good.  Kitty suffered from spay incontinence and leaked all the time so her urine wasn’t all that concentrated but her blood work didn’t really show anything.  No one put together that her fussy food behavior was an indicator of kidney problems.

Kitty was in such an amazing mood, she was allowed to get in the Kittyvan without being on a leash.  Kitty went through years of obedience class and was a certified (and amazing) therapy dog, dabbled in Rally-O, and even part of a drill team.  Off leash greyhounds are a no no but she was allowed to every now and again.  Yes, the humans bought Kitty a MINIVAN because she always wanted one.  Kitty would get people to drive her home in their minivans by jumping in and then refusing to get out.  Somehow, people thought this was adorable and would say, oh, its just a few miles…and drive her home with the mommy following.  One person took her over twenty miles in her van.

Everything was uneventful that weekend.  The humans got home from their day trip and watched us on the webcam.  We were having such a good time, they decided to sleep in some.  At about 1:30, Lucky Paws called.  Kitty got up from a nap and her left hind leg just snapped.  The mommy immediately gasped, “Osteo.”

Kitty was very calm when they arrived at Lucky Paws.  I heard them but was not allowed to come with them.  Kitty was taken away to NC State and I was all alone.  I think everyone realized it was a one way trip and it was just a horrible night for me.

At NC State, they ran a bunch of tests and gave Kitty lots of opiates.  Kitty is the master of Jedi mind tricks and had the stretcher modified by the vet students to include pillows and blankets.  Who do you think I learned how to train/manipulate people from?

Kitty’s leg had snapped completely in half right below the hock.  The bone was so jagged it cut through all of her skin and just her tendons were keeping her foot attached.  The news wasn’t good.   The bone didn’t show signs of a tumor but it would need to be biopsied.  It would be an 8 week process and three surgeries with 24×7 care the entire time to repair her leg.   The vets were not saying Osteo but did mention her lungs had masses in them.  Kitty was not a candidate for amputation but State was willing to amputate instead of trying to repair the break.  She had spinal stenosis, low proprioception in her right hind leg and often needed help getting up already, severe spay incontinence, and the beginnings of cognitive dysfunction.  No, amputation was not the right option for such an amazing dog nor was such an invasive surgery for a dog who most likely has osteo.

The vet offered to drug Kitty up with even more pain meds and send her home, broken leg and all, so that our own vet could help her to the bridge on Monday.  Again, my humans realized that would be selfish and for them and not Kitty.  Kitty had been their constant companion since March of 1999 and made them both better people.  She brought joy to hundreds if not thousands of people in nursing homes and hospitals.  She never met a stranger and loved everyone she met.  Except other greyhounds.  She preferred black dogs over every other color and preferred almost every other breed over greyhounds.

Shortly after 7:00 PM that night, she took her last breath while the mommy whispered in her ear and held her tight, “Just one last hug will never be enough.  I love you my Kitty pup.”

Humans_prayer_to_a_dogIt would be several months before the results of all the tests on Kitty came back.  It was a mixed bag to say the least.  Her body was in much worse shape than any people realized.  No one had thought she had kidney disease but her kidneys were a mess and she was about to go into renal failure.  The masses in her lungs?  Not osteo.  Completely benign.  The fracture was osteo.

 Photo_073108_003With Reko Toughie Just Having Fun

Photo_062908_003Cuddles with Reko Toughie

pict0071The Moving Guys gave her the blue blanket when she refused to get up and gave them her belly instead.  The bunny was from me on her 13th birthday.

Massage from Sue at Companion ChiA massage from Sue at Companion Chi.  Sue came to the house once a week to give Kitty massages.

IM000820This picture led the evening news!  She was only on for just a second but everyone who knew Kitty called.  It was for a big fund raiser for pet adoptions.

Image2OK, she was not unhappy with the costume but she was unhappy about the multiple fittings.  This was for visiting nursing homes for the annual “Swimsuit Competition.”  One year, Kitty went as a nudist.

zorro2Winning the Halloween Costume Contest!  Kitty as Zorro was always a fan favorite although Kitty preferred to wear a tutu.

How About A Smile?

 

 

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I’ve been at the bridge for just over a month now.  Its an amazing place.   Some of my littermates are already  here and we’ve been racing our hearts out against each other.   Although life on three paws was great, I do enjoy having my young body back.  I was a bit surprised of all the ANIMALS here that are attached to my humans.  I knew they had big hearts and loved a lot but I had no idea how many dogs, cats, horses, and other animals have crossed their paths.  I still am meeting dogs that knew my humans (and loved my humans).  Dogs from shelters who learned to sit and walk on a leash so they could find a new forever home.  Dogs trained to be therapy dogs.  Prophet says hello BTW.  Dogs from the park who used to play with Kitty.  Apparently my humans are well known here because they love so much.

Miss Kitty was the first one to greet me actually and then she introduced me to our immediate family…it includes cats.  I had no idea that my humans once had cats.  Scooter, Attila, Beastie, and Twit.  Then the dogs they shared their lives with – Miss Kitty, Toughie, Otis, Bear the poodle, Grandpa, Goldie, Shadow, Misty, and Buffy.  Those are just the dogs who consider my humans THEIR humans.   There are about 150 goats here who say they belong to my family too.  Two horses, General and Sunshine.  I asked them,  “Did you snuggle with my human?”  And they all laughed and said of course.  Even the horse has snuggled with my human.  General said he’d lay down next to her and put his head in her lap.  His head is almost as big as my entire body.  But no one was able to summon her to snuggle like I could so I feel better about that.  See, I would make eye contact with the Mommy in the evening.  She’d get up and come over to my bed.  As she started to lay down, I would throw my back into her chest and open arms, and we’d fall onto the bed together.  No one else did that.  Just me!  I’d be asleep in seconds….and she would too.  She refused to let me put any pictures of her sleeping with me on my blog.  Greyhounds do everything gracefully but humans…hah, you guys rarely look graceful in your sleep.  And you fart louder in your sleep than dogs do.

So I want you all to watch some videos of me playing and running.  I want you all to smile and to remember what an amazing life I had on earth.

That was 7 weeks after my amputation.  I loved that spider.  KILL THE SPIDER.  It was also Cookie’s 7th birthday….and her birthday present.  I was just testing it for  her.

So you know I wasn’t being mean, Cookie had an octopus to play with too.  We always get at least two toys at every birthday, sometimes three, just to make sure that no one gets left out.  But Cookie really wanted the spider more than the octopus.

This is me long before the amputation back in 2007.  I had only been part of the pack for four months.    RC Miss Kitty lived till 14.5 but this was her 13th birthday.

I was so young there, just five years old.  Kitty and I had a lot of fun together.  I think everyone wants to be as fit and happy when they’re 13 as Kitty was.  She went hiking 3 or 4 miles on her 14th birthday!  She had arthritis in her toes but she said walking made it feel better.  Don’t let anyone know I told you but even here at the bridge, she can’t corner well.  Kitty is fast, I mean fast, but turn any direction and she just turns really wide….like half a ball field.  She has thighs like hams and they are solid muscle which give her power but no turning ability.  Not only is she fast but she has endurance so even if you add lots of turns, she’ll wear you out and then tag you.  I was a distance racer and she gives me a workout.

And finally, how to celebrate when your humans return home.

It is confession time.  I have a shady past.  I am a fugitive from justice.  When I started this blog, I decided to wait to tell exactly how I found my humans until once I passed beyond The Rim.  That happened today on June 6, around 12:30 EDT.  I’m not sure exactly, no one was watching the clock, all eyes were on me and giving me love.  And Bo Jangles biscuits.

The cancer did not take me.  Twenty-Six Months post diagnosis.  I am pretty sure I’m tougher than cancer.  The liver failure was taking its toll on my body and my heart was having a hard time keeping up.  My hind legs were starting to swell and it was a mixture of the ascites making it too difficult for me to stand for long periods of time and my heart just running out of gas.  My 12th birthday is in August.  The lifespan for a greyhound is 12 to 14 but over the years, we have met many 10 year old greyhounds that looked 16 or 17.  Quite honestly, until my liver started to fail, I looked amazing for even an 8 year old.

My humans brought me to the vet for a checkup on Thursday, mostly because of the edema in my legs and while we were there, got a spot on my 9th rib was checked.  And it was cancer.  Possibly a met from Osteosarcoma OR a primary chondrosarcoma since it was right where the cartilage and bone meet.  Dr. Huff was worried because for the first time ever, I objected to xrays.  A lot.  We all looked at my bones and I really don’t care for looking at computer monitors but I listened.  Dr. Huff and my human agreed that it had a moth eaten appearance.  Its amazing how greyhound people get a little too good at reading Osteo xrays.  They agreed to send it off to a radiologist.

As we went out to the car, I worked the crowd in the waiting room, even kissing the cat lovers because they needed to adore me.  This is important because its one of my favorite things.  My humans use a mixture of things for quality of life scale.  Not just for knowing when the END IS NEAR but for just regular health and wellness issues.  So my Three Favorite Things are:

1.  PEEING ON ALL THE THINGS.  Everything.  People.  Plants.  Pillars.  Posts.  Pets.  If it moves, I’ll pee on it when it holds still.

Nixon was here...

Nixon was here…

2.  Go for a ride.

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3.  Meet new people and hounds.  And say hello to old friends.

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Lets be honest now.  The past 6 months have been tough on me.  I injured my wrist back in February and things have been crashing down around me ever since.  I’m a fighter.  It is not in my nature to back down.   Ever.  I am always thankful for each moment and live very much right now.  Not now but RIGHT NOW so my above list wouldn’t matter if I had to have people carrying me around because I was in too much pain to walk.  I would still find a way to live life to its fullest each and every day and pee on something new.  That’s just who I am.  We won’t mention the failed pee garden in my yard but other than that, I want to pee on something new every day.  And cover all my old pmail too.

What I can’t do is live my life completely drugged up on opiates that make me taste colors.  The first time my humans saw the wave of pain hit me was on Wednesday.  I went outside to potty and I came in a different dog.  It took about an hour for me to find my center and get comfortable again.  My big, wonderful bed was no longer really comfy.  Or the other beds in the house.   I could fall asleep but it wasn’t my normal deep, wonderful sleep.

I woke up Friday morning feeling off.  I had gained about 5 inches of fluid around my waist over night.  The pressure from the fluid made me very uncomfortable in many ways.  It was spreading my ribs, putting pressure on that tumor.  I weighed almost 20 lbs more than I should and it hurt my bones and my muscles.

Then Friday night, I went outside to potty and the wave hit again.  This time so bad I was screaming at times.  We spent the night at the emergency vets, a trip I didn’t care for at all, and all it did was wind up hurting me more.  I just could not get comfortable and couldn’t explain where it hurt.  I was frustrated and decided to fix it my damn self.  I wound up reinjuring everything Dr. Williams has worked so hard the past two months to fix up with her magic hands and by morning, everything hurt, I had fallen many times, and my legs were cut up.  The vet tried to drain my abdomen but it didn’t help and might have made things worse.  My belly just was hanging off of me, everything pulling, and I no longer wanted to be touched.

That being said, my humans and I had a talk.  I showed them I still loved being alive and being here with them and no matter what, I would live in the right now.  At dawn, we were in the backyard one last time and a neighbor cat was trespassing.  I am sure it thought it was safe and had no idea I could still move that fast.  I chased it away with authority.  And then the UPS guy, I HATE THE BROWN TRUCK, showed up.  What kind of morning was this??  I had to tell him to get lost too.  And then I was tired.  Too tired to give many kisses at first but so tired I couldn’t fall asleep.  Everything felt wrong inside me.

So they cried and said I had been a wonderful friend and companion.  That I had taught them so many things about life, themselves, and how to never take any moment for granted.  We are not promised tomorrow and you must live now.  The Daddy even asked for permission to write a guest blog post. Of course he can.  My blog is not going to go away though.  I still have stories to tell and so many memories of a life well lived that I do plan to continue to share even while I’m in heaven sending pennies to my humans.

When the vet came, I got to be in my favorite spot where I can see everything going on in the house.  A promise had been made two years ago that when it was time for me to go, that we would celebrate this moment with a feast.  It’s BO TIME!  For years, I have been denied Bo Jangles biscuits because of my low carb diet.  I was so focused on the biscuit, stealing the entire thing from the mommy’s hands, I didn’t even feel the prick.  By the time I ate it all, I settled into a deep sleep into her arms.  And then I shared my final thoughts with my humans as they held me.

“I have always been on borrowed time.  From the first day you met me, I have cheated death.  I never meant to bite that child but she shouldn’t have put her face in mine while I was asleep.  I didn’t know any better and I didn’t know that my entire world as I knew it, with my lovely mini human, was going to end.  I didn’t want to go away.  I couldn’t believe I got a death sentence for one mistake.  I didn’t mean to cause so many stitches.  I didn’t mean to cause so much pain.  And heart break.  But it happened.  Through just dumb luck, I managed to slip my collar, and with the help of many people in the Greyhound Underground Railroad, was placed someplace safe, far away from the law.

“And then you found me, broken, afraid, and not sure what was expected of me.  Over the years, we have formed a pack that is just amazing.   First with Kitty and now with Cookie.  We have overcome so many barriers of communication that we all know what the other is thinking without much more than a look and a lick.  If I had found any other family, my life would probably have ended 4 years ago.  Or two years ago.  But you listened when I spoke.

“I’ve been your Irondog who probably could have used some armor….I have had a lot of stitches and staples in my time haven’t I?  I had my fall in the backyard and was paralyzed.  An FCE they called it.  Dr. Huff introduced us to laser therapy and my recovery was miraculous.  And then we faced bone cancer together.  And we beat it.  And then the liver failure.  Livers are important and mine has been through a lot.  We didn’t beat that.  But…I grew old.  I have cheated Death many times and now I welcome it and go with Death on my own terms.   But as long as you have known me, it always has been borrowed time.”

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And We Are Home!

Dinner has been served.  K9 Immunity has been taken.  I am under a blanket in my bed. 

The trip was amazing.  Myrtle is all grown up.  Tanner can now hold still!  We met so many amazing pups, including Wyatt!  I was even blessed by a minister who came to my bed since I had stood too long.  Thank you Renee!

Dreams of chasing bunnies are calling me so I will cut this short.  Good night and safe travels to all.

My liver is having trouble and no one knows why.  My humans had the vets pull my blood work and my liver enzymes have been elevated since I stopped chemotherapy and been increasing.  No one expected me to live this long and did not think we needed to address it.  I was supposed to get my biannual senior wellness exam next week.  Would they have mentioned it then?

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See my defined waist?  Those tight tripawd abs?

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This what I look like today. 

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I have not let myself go.

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I am sloshing about and losing muscle.  That is all albumin filling my gut.  Over 10 lbs of it.  I have been on Previcox daily since February 12.  My human should have insisted they check my liver and kidneys prior to starting nsaids.  They are religious about this so they feel really bad about it. 

Tomorrow morning, Dr Monce is coming in early to run an ultrasound on me.  From there, they may want to do a fine needle aspiration of my liver or cut me open and grab a piece of it.  Both have risks involved due to all the fluid.  They also want to drain me.  I am in favor of that.

I am still loving life so no worries there.  Getting in the car is extremely uncomfy and the extra weight makes it harder to stand for more than 30 minutes but that is about it.  I was supposed to see Dr. Williams tomorrow to get accpuncture and measured for new harnesses and a wrist support.

The Mommy had a crazy idea that I needed to nap outside today.  I spend about 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon sunning myself.  Why she thought I would be ok with my bed being moved outside, I have no idea.  I was not.  I humored her and sat on it for about 3 minutes and then was done when she tried to take another picture.  Cookie liked it.  Weirdo.

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