Lucy and Her Greyts
by Stavros Phillips
This is a story about greyhound adoption, but it is not about a greyhound. It is about a sweet girl who is so recently gone that I can't imagine the pain and grief of her loss ever diminishing. It is about our sweet girl most often called Lucy, but who had an assortment of other names over the years including Ms. Lucy Fur, Lucille, Princess, Juicy Lucy (given her by her biker friends), and Lucinda Kunz (we had a close neighbor friend with the same last name). I am telling this story in her honor, and to honor the greyhounds that she came to love.
HOW WE GOT LUCY
Lucy was an Anti-Cruelty Society dog, a terrier-mix, heinz 57 dog. They called her Dolly, but her madcap antics quickly earned her a rename to Lucy once Tom and I realized that she really was as insane as Lucy of TV fame. She'd lived with us since December 1987. We had another dog named Sam, a truly gallant soul, who lived with us for 8 ½ years until he was 16. Sam died in May of 1993. Lucy and Sam were so similar looking that you would think that they were related, though Lucy was a blonde (with black eyeliner). In August 1990 we also welcomed Missy off the streets, a collie-mix who resembled nothing as much as a red fox. Sam and Missy each have their own stories, but this one's about Lucy.
* * * Photo's of Lucy's world * * *
Lucy with Sam - a matching duo
Neighbor Oscar visits
Sam with his mohawk
Everyone loved Mr. T Dog!
Lucy with Sam and Missy
I'm going to fast-forward through her life from 1987 which is when she found her place in our
hearts to the last year of her life. I'll simply say that she always was a happy and loving girl, crazy beyond description in her youth, and beyond sweet in her middle age and later years. She went through a lot in her life with good spirits and trust and remained always a happy girl, secure in her heart that she was dearly loved.
Missy and Lucy
* * *
The winter Lucy turned 14 was the hardest time of any for the little trooper. The two years prior had been hard for her, what with her kidneys beginning to fail, problems with her gall bladder, onset of Cushing's disease, a major surgery with part of her liver and one adrenal gland removed, and damage to one rear leg and knee during the surgery so that walking had become a balancing act.
And then that winter! Snow in December, and then a hard freeze until March, so the sidewalks
remained beyond her ability to negotiate for 3 months. Missy was okay, but Lucy was pretty
much restricted to being taken out to the yard.
It was too much, just too much. Old Lucy had lost so much strength that when spring thaw
finally came she could only walk part way down the block and then needed to turn around and go home to rest. And because of the inactivity she was also losing lucidity, and would wake up from a nap confused and not know where she was.
This is where this becomes a story about greyhounds
HOW WE GOT KNIGHT
Knight does a Meet-N-Greet
We debated long and hard about whether it would be fair to introduce a new dog with 2 older dogs in the house. In fact we had held off for about 2 years. We could think of a lot of reasons why not to, amongst them being that Missy our 11 year old was dog-aggressive. Finally one day we realized we could deal with whatever changes came about. We also realized that having another dog might help ease us when the time to say goodbye to Lucy came.
In April of 2001 Knight picked us out - an 8 ½ year old brindle brood with raggedy ears whose breeding days were done.
She told us she liked us both in such strong terms that we were blown away and decided to introduce her to Lucy and Missy. We knew sweet Lucy would not be a problem, but would Missy accept Knight?
Missy snarled at Knight, but Knight refused to rise to the challenge and totally ignored it. Nonplused, Missy behaved herself - Knight in her inscrutable greyhound way had succeeded in disarming Missy!
Knight was a perfect foster, and came into our house with NO difficulty, other than being afraid of our steep, curved stairs. That fear only took 2 days to overcome. Missy adjusted quickly to a new female in her territory and things settled down very quickly. In the meantime Lucy roused herself and noticed that we had a new family member.
Missy and Knight got taken for their walks together without Lucy because we felt poor Lucy would never be able to keep up.
"Waitaminute!" Lucy said. "I wanna go!" She'd swim on the floor until someone came and helped her to her feet and then she'd make a beeline for the door, shouldering against Knight's elbows to come along too.
At first Lucy couldn't begin to keep up. Everyone had to go slow for her, and wait for her whenever she needed to stop and rest. She would also try to turn everyone around when she was tired, but when she found they were going on without her, she would change her mind and continue along, even though she would melt onto the kitchen floor (The Favorite Room) when it was over.
The alertness returned to her eyes. The disorientation disappeared. Gradually, the stopping on the walks happened less often, and disappeared completely when she'd get her second wind. In a few weeks she'd worked her way up to all the way around the block, then 2 blocks. The change was like night and day, like she was a brand new girl!
HOW WE GOT KIMBA AND SURFRIDER
Knight and Kimba and SurfRider hangin' out
Tom and I so loved Knight, our new greyhound girl that we did a number of Meet-N-Greets at various neighborhood fairs and festivals, and helped out at Kennel Days at Emerald Kennels. But, every time we did a Kennel Day we'd look at the waiting adoptees and say, "No, three dogs is enough. We can't have another." Ha ha on us!
In July during a Kennel Day, Tom brought SurfRider, a 4 ½ year old male out to show to me, because he was so taken with him. SurfRider leaned his chin on me and looked me in the eyes, and... I lost myself in those eyes. They talked to me and I fell in love with him. Meanwhile, Tom's saying, "I want SurfRider. He's a handsome boy, but no one seems to want to adopt the black ones. He's been waiting here for 4 months!"
Tom beat me to the punch though! I was going to suggest we get Kimba, a 9 year old white with brindle brood who was finished with nursing her last litter. Earlier in the summer we had heard she was going to be available as soon as she had weaned her 2 babies. "Well then, if you get SurfRider, I want Kimba!"
Guess you could say we agreed that "you can't have just one."
We brought the pack up to Emerald the next weekend, and there were no problems with introductions. It seems through her exposure to Knight Missy had gotten over her anti-social behavior and didn't seem to mind greyhounds; she did well with both SurfRider and Kimba. SurfRider didn't have a problem as he was the only male. Knight and Kimba knew each other for years and got along famously as they had been brood moms together.
We committed to SurfRider first as we didn't think we'd be allowed to adopt two at once.
Well, it worked out differently, fortunately, and the end result was that Kimba joined our household 9 days after SurfRider.
Lucy continued to improve and thrive because of the 3 greyhounds in the house. For at least one of the daily walks she would come along with the others and do the distance. It was a slower walk for the others, but everyone enjoyed it. I can't tell you how proud of her and happy I was on each and every walk.
She was getting herself up off the floor without help. She gained back so much strength that one day she decided to climb up the 15 steps to the second floor, because that's where her greyhound friends were. Lucy had shed years, and was the happiest girl, and WOULD NOT be left out. Sure, she was still frail, but all the greyhounds were very careful with her and clearly understood this.
Now Kimba is a BIG girl and can hold her own in roughhousing with SurfRider. (The two former broods did occasionally gang up on him and chase him away from the best spots to lay down). But she showed a profound understanding when interacting with Lucy. She didn't mind being walked behind the more rambunctious three by whomever was walking Lucy and would hold back and let Lucy set the pace. She also often chose to lay near Lucy to keep Lucy company when Lucy wasn't able to participate. We've observed her wincing when Lucy would accidentally lumber over her tail, and not complain; this is something she would be VERY vocal about otherwise with any of the others!
Lucy had one more surgery in August to remove a lump that suddenly appeared on her neck under her chin. The surgery went without a hitch and Lucy was up and about in no time at all. It was a hemangiosarcoma, a very aggressive cancer, and Lucy probably had only 6 to 8 weeks.
We forgot to tell Lucy though. She just kept on happily hanging with her buddies and life couldn't be better for the next 4 months. She stayed strong and active.
It happened so fast. Tuesday the week before her 15th birthday she apparently fell twice on the stairs, but otherwise seemed fine and picked herself up with no fuss. Wednesday evening I came in from work and stood her up as was my habit, but she barely had the strength to balance, or to relieve herself. Her gums were white. Her appetite was as good as usual and she remained alert though. We watched over her all evening, but Thursday she was still so weak. She collapsed after only a handful of steps as she walked around the yard to relieve herself.
At the vets we found her organs were failing, kidney failure pushing the liver to fail or vice versa... I don't know. It didn't appear to be the cancer as we suspected, or at least she didn't seem to be bleeding internally from it. At her advanced age with so many organs failing though we realized that anything we did for her would involve suffering with no real hope for recovery - there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
* * *
"... secure in her heart
that she was dearly loved"
* * *
Tom and I are so thankful for the 8 months that Lucy had with the new Greyhounds in the house. They gave her the will to get up and enjoy every day, something she had lost. They gave Tom and me one last period of joy with Lucy, every day of which we were able to enjoy our sweet Lucy as we remembered her before her physical problems took their toll. Knight challenged her to participate. SurfRider raised the bar for her and the other three older girls with his exuberance. Kimba in particular gave her quiet companionship and her compassion.
So you see, this tale is about greyhounds. We Greyhound adopters are all unanimous in feeling that we get so much more out of adopting them than we ever expected. This tale is also about sweet Lucy who claimed the greyhounds as her own and received from them the gift of a life renewed.
* * *