January 27, 2010-March 2, 2017
Gone too soon, but free of pain
After we lost Òrlaith, it was the first time we didn’t have at least one Greyhound living with us since we adopted Irony in 1998. Because she was easily stressed by pack changes, even when positive, we had not wanted to bring in another after we found out she only had a short time to live. And, of course, we were focused on her, making her as happy, comfortable and spoiled as possible for as long as possible. So it was just Gleann and Sachairi. And Merlin was given free run of the entire house.
I had noted when the manager of Greyhound Placement Service, NH had posted last winter about “Sunny,” who had seizures. Probably not the most glowing recommendation for most people, but animals which are hard to place have a special space in my heart. Other “losers” where all older, around 10 or 11 and given, well, everything, that seemed like a dangerous age for us at this point. So I kept her in mind as we randomly threw out the need to get another hound, to carry on the legacy.
In July we were finally ready to start making plans. When I contacted Michele, at GPS and mentioned Sunset Seduction she was ready to go! So on July 22, 2014, Aaron went down to pick up our new brindle girl.
She is relatively young for our pack, full of energy. She was rather nervous when she first arrived, spent a lot of time pacing the house. The way our house is designed, if both bathroom doors are open, as they especially are in the summer to help air circulate, you have a circle and she walked or trotted it quite a bit at first. Still does at times when she finds those doors open.
While we had “friendly warnings” that taking on a dog with seizures was “setting ourselves up for another heartbreak”….well, getting any animal is, the don’t live long enough no matter what, you get no guarantees. Ever. But not many would take her, and not just because of that. She’s an over the top goof! Sings in her crate after her Kong is empty. Sings at other random times. By sing I mean high pitched and undulating…really, very musical but sometimes painful. But that’s okay. When she’s done she’s done. She is also definitely worse than Cù when it comes to food obsession, possibly even worse than Bran was! She is obsessed.
As for the seizures she hadn’t had any for months before we got her and hasn’t had any yet (as of Jan 3, 2015). *knockswood*
However, there is one thing, one problem, a severe and disturbing defect ….her couch mode is totally dysfunctional!
She will not get on the couch or bed, the coveted thrones of our past hounds. She will not voluntarily get on them at all. We got her to lie down on the bed once and I have picked her up on my lap on the couch, one time crawling out from under her so she could lie on it and snuggle. She loves to snuggle, just not get on the couch. Or off. She has a bit of trouble getting down when we do get her on, possibly due to her meds which make her a bit klutzy. This may be the reason for her reluctance. She also does seem to have to do the spin thing before settling, which could also be disastrous! So we need to invest in more dog beds and a beanbag chair or something so we can get down and snuggle her more comfortably on the floor.
In the few months she’s been with us, despite the couch mode dysfunction, she’s been a great continuation of our Greyhound legacy here. The boys love her, they are healing from their past loss as are we. We never forget those who passed, but the best way to honor them is to give homes to those who are still here.
These are the updates I most hate making.
Gráinne never learned to be really comfortable on couches or the people bed, she could jump into the high van with no problem but somehow the open space of the couch or bed were too much for her. She probably never would have even if she lived to a ripe old age. We lowered our bed a bit and at bedtime would put two dog beds on top of one another so she was at least closer to me when we slept. She seemed to like that. She totally was into being with the pack.
This included the cat. One reason we got her was that she was potentially cat-safe and Merlin who had been living in another section of the house had moved in fully with us in this section after we lost Òrlaith. All our previous hounds had been too high prey drive to live with a cat. We took it slow letting them be around each other, but eventually it was clear that they were fine. They were “odd” with one another, seeming to be confused and sort of purposely ignoring each other, but we know now this was an act.
She also loved to snuggle her head into one of us while we rubbed her ears. She’d stand and ask for this, you’d have to stop everything and just focus on giving her love. And then she was done and would lie down and contently go to sleep. Really, she wasn’t a very demanding hound, she just wanted love and attention…and food, a lot of food….she did love food.
We can’t say we weren’t warned, but then we knew it….taking on any animal, especially one with special needs already, is always risking heartbreak. Not even a risk, because, really, because it’s pretty much an absolute given with most animals.
“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
The seizures never really became much of an issue, except for one time. She had one, it was rather terrifying when it happened, we got through it, got her meds adjusted and she never had another one. At least not that kind. She did have mysterious swellings on her joints and face and/or neck, sometimes with pain, sometimes apparently no pain. Sometimes she would appear to be lame or have a “stiff neck” with no swelling. We kept taking her back to the vet to try to figure it out with no luck. The question of if she was possibly hurting herself during seizures we didn’t see was ruled out as there just wasn’t that much time we were not with her and none of the events lined up with us being gone or sleeping (it’s not like I have ever slept well or soundly, to begin with). Another symptom was that Gáinne loved walks with us and the boys, some days happily going for long ones, but some days she was also just to lethargic, she’d stop and that was it, no movement until we turned. to go home.
The loss of Sachairi was a huge blow to Gráinne. Our pack has alway mourned hard but due to her health issues, she seemed physically blown to some extent, rather than just emotionally. She was starting to come around more, however, that April when it was time for her, Gleann and the cat to get their annual check-ups. Due to the mystery issues she had been presenting and Gleann getting his wellness blood work due to age, we had an Anti Nuclear Antibody screening to check for lupus and when that was negative decided to do the wellness panel on her as well.
It came back as showing leukemia. This was terrifying and we were right to be terrified but not due to leukemia, it turned out.
We took her to an oncologist at Peak Veterinary Referral Services in VT, who determined it was Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) her blood levels were not something to worry about or act on immediately, so we began to have it monitored regularly while we focused on getting Gleann diagnosed and treated for his hypercalcemia which was, at that point, more urgent.
Within a couple of months after Gleann had his surgery Gráinne’s numbers did show some rise. We worked on fundraising to get her started on chemo. Then she began getting skin lesions and her numbers sored, this was about the time Aaron broke his leg as well. We had more tests and it turned out that she also had Cutaneous Lymphoma, which was much more aggressive than the leukemia. She had an incident where, well, something happened in her brain that wasn’t like her seizures, just two days before she was to start chemo. It was more like a stroke. This likely was the lymphoma causing a lesion in her brain. We took her the oncologist and it was decided to give her one chemo dose, with the knowledge it was unlikely to do anything long term. It would, however, give her a few days for us to say goodbye. We made arrangements to release her from her ravaged body later that week. Unfortunately, she had another similar brain incident, so hours before her scheduled time we took her to the Littleton Emergency Vet to let her go on March 2, 2017.
It’s hard to write all this, which is why it took so long to get it down. None of this does her justice. It’s truly impossible to really capture what a delightful and quirky hound she was. Who sang like a coywolf, who watched over her fluffy boys, who quietly accepted the “strange dog” (aka cat). She never learned to get on a couch or bed on her own, and never really relaxed when we lifted her on., but she was the walking stomach that we expect Greyhounds to be right until her last day. We so wish we had more time.