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This update is so very late but it is good news.  Cookie has completed five ZA treatments so far.  She still has use of all four limbs and scares the humans doing pirouettes and bouncing all over the backyard.

Where she had radiation has a unique coloring and lines.  Not exactly a scar but still pretty cool.

Cookie’s 13th birthday, yes 13, was on May 30.  We all celebrated with cheeseburgers but hold the bun.

Chest x-rays were clear last week.  Cookie and sedation just don’t mix anymore so we had to have our normal vet do the rads as VSH only does them under sedation.

The only hitch in the road we have right now with Cookie is she has laryngeal paralysis.   It has probably been impacting her the last two to three years.  Current treatment is keeping the house between 68 and 72 degrees.  Tie back surgery does not appear to be an option for her.  Her car trips are limited to early morning and after dark.  She also has a really cool high speed battery/usb powered fan for her adventures outside the home.

 

So the Cookie Monster has to be difficult.  She’s doing well but she’s had everyone freaking out and scratching their heads as to what on earth is going on.  It is 3:00 AM and she just smacked the human with a hot pink bunny toy in order to encourage a trip into the backyard.  Yep, still 100% Cookie.

Two days before Cookie was supposed to start palliative radiation, she appeared to have suffered a stroke.  Dr. Huff and Dr. Williams looked her over and agreed with us that we shouldn’t move forward with radiation without knowing what is going on with Cookie.  Off to the Neurologist.  The appointment with the specialist took some time to happen.  The appointment was on 2/18.  Cookie started to decline on 2/15.  In 8 hours, the tumor doubled in size and Cookie went lame.  Her backend weakness was hindering her ability to move on 3 legs just as we had feared.  It took all morning for her to be able to stand to go potty.  She refused to accept any help.

The humans sat down on the couch once again to discuss what the game plan was.  Increase her pain medications, if no improvement, than 2/18 or 2/19 would probably be the day to say good bye.  We would still see the Neurologist.

Adding Rimadyl to her treatment was a game changer.  It didn’t help much with the tumor pain but it helped a lot with the hindend pain.  We all headed to the Neurologist with high hopes.  The Neurologist cleared Cookie for radiation.  2/19 – Cookie had her first treatment of radiation and zoledronate.  And this is when the roller coaster went into a corkscrew and then way too many loops!

Any sort of sedation has always been hard for Cookie, even when young and fit.  This was no exception.  Cookie went into ventricular tachycardia while under.  Then she started having VPCs.  They wanted to monitor her for a bit longer but felt it was best to get her home and in a less stressful environment.  Cookie was up and moving for a bit and decided she no longer needed her IV and started to remove it herself.  She had a very hard time walking out of the building and when she saw her humans, she decided she was done and just oozed onto the floor, refusing to go any farther.  Did you know my humans keep a dog stretcher in the car?  They do.  Cookie was placed in the stretcher and carried out to the car.  The vet techs stayed with her for a bit to make sure her heart wasn’t doing anything weird and it was just the anesthesia.   It was.  The hour long ride back to the house was kind of scary.  Cookie was just completely out of her mind, panting hard like she couldn’t breath.

It was raining too.  Friends came over to help extract Cookie out of the car.  As soon as the car pulled into the driveway, Cookie was on her feet demanding to get out of the car.  No friends were needed.  Cookie just let herself get picked up and taken out of the car.  She walked about 3 steps and then was ready to go back in the house.  She accepted being carried up the stairs – not even one growl.

It was a long night.  A very long night.  Lots of panting and Cookie acting like she was in distress but there was nothing that the humans could find to be causing this.  Cookie was supposed to be back at 8 AM for her second dose of radiation.  The humans didn’t sleep much that night but eventually did fall asleep briefly only to be woken up at 4 AM for the first round of Cookie needs to empty her bladder.  She needed assistance walking around at first but she really did have to go.  About once an hour after that, Cookie wanted to potty.  She started to drink water on her own too.  At 8 AM, she was finally able to swallow food and we got pain meds in her.

The oncologist agreed that we weren’t going to do another dose of radiation.  Not sure if we’re ever going to do another one actually.  Cookie needs to be seen by a cardiologist to make that determination.  It took two more days for her to really wake up.  Thursday night, she greeted the humans after work with a toy and then carried it to the back door.

The change in Cookie now is amazing.  She is feeling good, she’s prancing about and running.  The humans hate to see the running or play bows right now but it is awesome to see Cookie feeling good and enjoying life.  She still wants to slap things and go for rides in the car.

As many of you know, my humans found out on January 17 that Cookie Monster has a sarcoma on her right front leg.  Same leg as me (OSA) and Tex (HSA but in the wrist).  The tumor is almost in the exact same spot as mine.  Cookie isn’t limping but she is offloading the weight just a bit.  Cookie will scream her head off if she sees you coming near her with nail clippers or if she THINKS you’re going to hurt her but when she had her degloving injury, NOT A PEEP.  She just left these big bloody footprints around the house, pretending EVERYTHING was normal.  Same with her psoas injury.  Just built a pillow fort to hide/recover in but never wanted to trouble anyone with her pain.  Just keeps it to herself.

I was weeks shy of turning 12 when I came to the bridge.  Cookie is going to be 13 on May 30.  NC State has offered and suggested amputation for Cookie.  My humans are pro-amputation but their hearts just tell them that it isn’t the best choice for Cookie.  It comes down the idea that you should always know your dogs three favorite things to do when they are healthy.  It is time to send them to the bridge to wait for you when they lose the ability to do their three favorite things.  Although this is not the best quality of life scale out there, it has a good bit of truth in it.  (Please see the HHHHHMM Scale for a better scale.) 

Almost everything Cookie loves to do requires the use of both front feet.  Although I was older and had been paralyzed at one point in my life, I took working out seriously.  I loved physical therapy.  I loved the water treadmill.  I always loved training.  Cookie….Cookie won’t work for bribes.  She’s been in physical therapy for years and it is always very, very hard to get her to do anything.  She says no to cookie crunches.  No to balancing exercises.  It takes her a very long time to come out from sedation or anesthesia (a day or two) and she can barely move her hind end.  It took four hours to safely get her out of the car on Thursday night because she was having so much trouble with her back end and the sedation.

Although we have touched on it before, “Peeing on ALL the things” is just my favorite thing to do.  When I was paralyzed and lost bladder control, that was one of the first things my humans wanted to make sure I regained the ability to do.  They may not have moved forward with their flounder puppy needing 24×7 care for over 2 weeks  and four months of in the office PT.  If I haven’t blogged about that adventure, I probably should.  There is nothing more annoying that being assessed for “Deep Pain” with forceps every 30 minutes.  As we all learned from that experience, I am very, very creative and will find ways around pretty much any obstacle put in front of me.  There has to be a way, even if I need a team of 3 humans to help, I’ll find a way and convince you to help me.  The force is strong in me.

Last night there were lots of tears as the humans assessed Cookie’s situation.  Amputation would permanently take away 2 out of the 3 things that Cookie loves to do.  All that would be left would be trips to McDonald’s for a McDouble, Plain, no bun.  Although one of my personal favorites (a Bo Jangles Biscuit is better), there are only so many trips to McDonald’s one can do before one loses their figure.  She might be able to find other things she enjoys just as much but Cookie doesn’t like to try new things most of the time.

So what is a human to do?  There is a plan.  Although Cookie’s tumor might be a very good candidate for SRT, Cookie may not be.  The current plan is zoledronate and at least one round of palliative radiation.  Of course we’ll be using K9 Immunity, trying appocaps cx for the first time, and may do metronomic therapy or artemisinin.

Cute photos will be posted later.  Here are some radiographs of Cookie.

Of Course We Plot Against You

 

“She is thinking about the dog with lupus.” 

“I know.  If anyone could give Rocky every chance at a normal life, it would be her.  I just don’t think Cookie and Rocky would work.  We have three distinct personalities that have to blend with the addition to the pack.”

“What about some of the other bounce backs at Greyhound Friends?”

“Not sure.  I think we need to go visit the kennel and the foster homes before we make a decision.” 

I had just arrived at the Rainbow Bridge a few days earlier when Bear, Sunny, Otis, Buffy, Miss Kitty, and Toughie called an assembly of all who wanted to participate in finding the next member of our pack.  Although you humans are free to invite anyone you want into your home, we are pretty good at helping lead your heart to a good match.  I wouldn’t exactly say we’re plotting against you but we’re plotting against you.

The list was a small one.  Cody, Tex, and Rocky.  All had been returned at least twice, if not more.  Cody is an independent artist like myself and works primarily in urine.  He is very creative but a bit more avant garde than myself.  His artwork is one of the reasons he’s been returned so many times – even from foster homes.  The greats are never appreciated in their own time.

Next was Tex, a socially odd, giant of a hound, well over 31 inches at the shoulder, over 80 lbs, and adores coffee a bit too much.   High Strung, easily startled, very misunderstood, zero self-confidence, needs firm boundaries, and a sense of humor.  When having an anxiety attack, he is a devote resource guarder with zero bite inhibition.  Not for the faint of heart due to his sheer size and the human must be ok with being bitten from time to time.  Tex must be in a very enlightened home to help him through all of his issues.

Finally Rocky.  Rocky just said no, he didn’t want to join our pack.  He wants to be an only dog and isn’t interested in sharing anything.  You have no idea how much I wanted to pee on his stuff after he said that.

Celestia was the first one to speak when the group reassembled.  “I think Tex is the one.  After everything I went through, she has always had a hard time forgiving herself for not being able to save me.  I think helping Tex become the best dog he can be will help heal her heart just a little bit.”

Toughie and I agreed.  “All of us have helped shape her into who she is today.  If anyone can handle a resource guarder who bites and has a history of bites, is insecure, socially awkward, and has panic attacks, she can.”

Miss Kitty was amused, “You have no idea what she was like when I found her.  Very much the same way but had much more bite inhibition.  Humans avoid biting and just bark a lot more.  I also think Tex is the one.”  

“What about the Daddy?  Can he handle Tex?”

Buffy thought for a bit and then said, “Eventually.  He enjoys order, Tex needs order and rules to feel safe.  I think they will be a good match with a little time to sort things out.”   

It was decided by a unanimous vote.  Tex should be the next addition to the pack.  

Apologies to Sally for making you wait twenty months for this.

You Can’t Save Them All

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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You’re Scaring Away The Fish!

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.

About the Rainbow Bridge

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.

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