Edgewater Greyts WebLog

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

It just keeps getting better... 

It just keeps getting better for Jack. He's feeling real good, and isn't in nearly as much pain as he was around his mouth. (And he still has one side of his mouth remaining to be cleaned up.) One way his feeling better shows is a markedly increased interest in everything around him. Another is that his bottom jaw is always quivering now because he's happy.

Before he tended to lay down and sleep when he wasn't doing anything. Now he's always moving about seeing what's going on.

He's discovered the joys of the big chairs in the sun-room. What comfy thrones for a greyhound prince! And the last two nights he's bounded up onto my bed for the night. Surf, who has always been possessive about HIS bed doesn't know quite what to make of this new setup. But there's plenty of space for all of us on that king bed. Well, maybe I get less space than I ought.

And he's gotten so much stronger. There is NO hesitation going up and down the stairs to the yard. There is NO discernible rigidity in the rear legs on his walk. And before he always peed with all four feet on the ground even though he'd be aiming at something (somehow rotating his hips). Now he hikes that leg up and aims high - and it doesn't seem to matter which side anymore.

Jack is mostly a first floor dog. Lately though I've been ushering him up and down the stairs to the second floor flop room which is where we all settle in for those quiet nights catching up on our favorite shows. The last two times I just had to ask him and he did all 15 steps up without help, and down without help. He was content just to have me by him waiting to help him if he faltered. Jack has also discovered that he likes the couch upstairs too when he can get it. The very first time he's ever cockroached in this house was on the second floor sofa.

Sunday was his 13th birthday. His final dental appointment is within a week. Then the last of the pain in his mouth will be gone. Finally! Can't think of a better birthday present for him.

Jack is well liked by all the other dogs, even Missy! The only downside for the others is that he now competes with them for the preferred chairs and dog beds and position in line for going on walks. Other than that Surf and Jack enjoy that guy dog companionship, just keeping their cool. It really is funny to observe, there really is a subtle separation of the sexes in both attitude and activity.

One thing which happened a couple of times has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Knight has always been a lippy girl on walks. When she gets it into her head to greet strange dogs in her inimitible friendly style she can be a handful. Thank you little red dog Missy for teaching her your potty mouth!

Well, on two occasions now Jack has told her to "Shut the heck UP!" Oh she didn't like that at all and she's really shrieked her outrage at him. However, they'd immediately be fine with each other, and would continue on reading all the pee mail nose to nose. Since then when she sees a strange dog she may comment BUT it is obvious that she has stopped taking her comments to the next step. Good job Jack! You're quite the man!

There is so much fire and life in this "prince of dogs."

Thursday, April 22, 2004

In the other guys shoes 

We didn't know what to expect but our hearts decided to let Jack's first family come and visit him. They came over Sunday about five. There was Curt and his wife Joanna and their two sons whose names escape me now. (Update - eldest son Ryan , Tony)

They couldn't stop touching him. There was disbelief that here he was, whiter in the face, yet much more able than when they felt that he was at his end. He was apparently a very different dog from when they last said their goodbyes to him. And then all those months of not knowing what happened to their dog Royce.

They brought a family album along and that was a revelation for us. It was great to see them with young Royce, young Royce cockroached on the couch, and on the bed with the then much much younger boys. There was no doubt that these were such happy family memories. This dog and this family grew up together.

They shared with us a few of the various events and such that occurred during his life with them - his habits, how his toenail got all crooked, the nasty scar on his flank, etc. All of those things that you never know when you take a bounceback into your home.

Jack did not know what to think or feel while they were there. He basked in the attention, but his tail hung straight down against his butt though it was NOT clenched between his legs or tucked (thank doG). It was not a relaxed tail and I really shouldn't try to read too much into that.

When it was time for them to leave I insisted that he be out on a walk so that they'd be gone when he got back rather than seeing them walking out the door. He knew something was up though because the farther we got from the house the more he kept hanging behind and looking back - this behavior from the dog who always towed you forward. But by the end of our leisurely evening walk on a beautiful day his posture had resumed a more relaxed attitude.

I try to put myself in the shoes of his former family and in fact wonder if they damaged themselves during the visit. I can only try to imagine how I'd feel. I'd be in agony! Sure I'm glad he's not dead. I might believe that these guys can do some things for him that we couldn't, like the expensive dental work and the diet that accompanies the loss of most of his teeth. But in the end I'd feel somehow that I'd been robbed of MY dog! And that he should be with US! 'til death do us part!

Kids, Curt, Joanna, believe me when I say in these few weeks he's been with us that I couldn't love him more. You own the memories of Royce through his youth and the main of his life. We have these days that he has left and believe me if he were to live to 20 years old the days would be too few.

I pray that we do right by our Royce. And our Jack.

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Jack the "Prince of Dogs" 

Jacks former daddy made a trip to the library because he wanted to look in on the webcam. I neglected to mention that it went off at 5 pm and he got to the library after that. Still he did find the link for composing an email using our email web page and sent us the sweetest thank you letter. In it he gave us some tips about Jack/Royce and what his life had been like.

And the other remaining dog in the house was a Jack Russell Terrier and not a Scotty or a Yorkie.

Curt called Royce the "Prince of Dogs." And that's Jack!

"We didn't even know if he was still alive!" 

One of things that we found out at the vets office on Monday was that Jack had a microchip and we got the ID number of the chip. I checked our records of everyone in the house and found that Frenchie has a chip from the same manufacturer, Avid. So we already had an account with them.

Today I called up Avid and explained the situation to them. Since we had an account with them already it was a simple matter for them to call the owner of record and obtain a release. Their idea. So now the microchip on Jack points to us as the owner.

The prior owner Curt in turn requested that I call him up to let him know how Royce was doing which I did. He told me about adopting Royce in 1994 when he was about three. Other little details about Royce/Jack I got were: He had raced at Wisconsin Dells which is where they adopted him from. He had favored the inside lane and because of that didn't do too well racing. His trainer was noted for treating his dogs well. He had also had one serious injury that involved a tear to his flank. He had shared his home with an older female greyhound who had passed a few months before they gave him up, and with a Scottish Terrier (as I recall, or was it a Yorky?).

For various financial reasons last year they had to give Royce up. Additionally Royce was physically in bad shape. He couldn't even walk very far before he would just collapse. When they surrendered him to Dairyland they were led to believe that he would be there a while as the mascot, unless their doctor decided he should be put down. In subsequent calls there they did not have their calls returned. They didn't even know if he was still alive.

So the call he got today from Avid was a shock. He had completely forgotten about the microchip. He gave permission to transfer the ID record to us. He also wanted to know If I'd be willing to call him and tell him about Royce. It was easy to tell that he was all torn up about it - happy that Royce was alive and doing well. Sad that he wasn't still with them, especially after having been part of their family for so many years. He wants to visit him. I think that Tom and I need to sleep on that one.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

"The better to EAT you with..." NOT! 

The big news is Jack had his dental yesterday and that went well. He lost 18 teeth and he's still not done! The vet didn't want him under any longer even though there is one side of his mouth to go (an estimated 8 more teeth to go). Fortunately it looks like he will have a few teeth left.

It took him a while after surgery to get his legs back but six hours post surgery he was fine. He ate half his dinner with the others and also polished off the remaining half when he was allowed to have it an hour later.

He's due to go in for the remaining work the first week of next month. It is a busy practice and that was the soonest we could get.

We have been dog and guinea pig sitting since Sunday evening. Maggie is a pug who is a real sweetie. She's a little hyper though, and the original three greyhounds have each given her a good bark in the face as she scampers around, and that causes her to mind herself. Guess they're teaching her that the stuff she can get away with around people doesn't cut it with them. So she's learning herself some dog manners too. Hey Craig and Lisa, don't worry - we're keeping a very watchful eye on her and even Missy is minding her p's and q's.

Jack doesn't react to her. I guess this means that he can be considered small animal safe and that little Clifford won't have problems during his family visits.

Then there is George the guinea pig. We keep his cage safely baby-gated away from the greyhounds.

Monday, April 12, 2004

That Jack! 

Well Jack really has decided to enjoy his life here. Got a bit of the rebel in him. He has absolutely no qualms about helping himself to things that are on the kitchen counter. So far we think he's responsible for the disappearance of 2 partial loaves of bread and one package of saltines. One hotdog and bun off a plate on the kitchen table (but then that's waay too tempting). One small plateful of lamb trimmings.

His best stunt was I was cleaning up the kitchen and loading the dishwasher after Easter dinner and I happen to turn back to the kitchen table and there's Jack hooking a slice of leg of lamb off of a plate on the table. And I'm in the room! He almost made it out of the kitchen with it! Of course he ended up having to share that slice with all of the dogs - it got chopped up and put on top of their dinners.

Fortunately for him the point of no return has passed - the point at which I've fallen hopelessly in love with the fellow and he knows it. Oh he's working it for all he's worth.

Frenchie wrenched a shoulder Thursday night and it's really been hurting her. I saw it happen which is why I'm not insane with worry - she jumped up to tell Surf to back-off when he was horsing around too close to her and really did a number on herself. The next day when I got home from work the shoulder almost looked dislocated so we ran her to the vets. Fortunately the xray of her shoulder was fine. We'll have to keep an eye on her. She's finishing up 3 days of Rimadyl right now. It's all wait and see.

What was really neat was that duct tape trick really works for removing corns. Frenchie, poor girl, had a big corn which we couldn't spot until last week on a pad on her front foot. It was the opposite foot from the painful shoulder. I applied the duct tape, and within a week it had shrunken and separated enough that I could pluck it out. Bigger round than a pencil eraser and as thick as a nickel. Poor girl. Nothing but foot problems.

Knight's Imizol is here and I'll be making appointments for her and Surf to go in and get their series of shots. Finally.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Jack of Diamonds 

Now the story of how we got Jack won't be as hard to recreate. Even though I wasn't updating here I was emailing pretty frequently as this story unfolded, and I've got those emails for reference.

At the end of February I encountered a posting to the Greyhound-L about a local woman who because of a change in her situation felt it best to give up her 4 greyhounds. What caught my eye was that one of them was 13.

It took me three days to work up the nerve to bring up the subject with Tom. I finally showed him the posting and asked if he'd be ok with me inquiring as to whether the 13 year old had found a home - just to show my concern.

Well no one had taken Royce the 13 year old. After some questions back and forth we decided to take Surf to meet Royce because Surf is a non-alpha type and we didn't want our gentle boy being made unhappy by a dominant type male should he need to come home with us. I warned Tom that I got the feeling that if this intro worked that Royce would indeed be coming home with us. And he did, March 14, 2004.

Royce's story as I've pieced it together - His racing name was Fancy Fellow. He was adopted directly from Geneva Lakes when he retired and then was in a home for ten years. They sent him to be put to sleep just because he was old. Supposedly he could barely move. July 2003 somehow he arrived at Dairyland adoption center and since he was "unadoptable" because of his age he was going to become the adoption center's mascot - to live out his days there.

Ginny the woman we got him from heard of him there and couldn't stand the idea of that so she went and adopted him the next day. What she found was a pretty healthy senior who could get around just fine and was as active as the 5 year old she had. However his teeth were rotting in his mouth, and abscessed. She and her vet felt uncomfortable about doing a dental on him because of his age. A dental would be around $800. Instead he's been put on antibiotics for the abscessed gums.

Now we have him.

Here are some email excerpts about him.

To his former mom Ginny, 16 March:

"I thought you'd be wondering how your old boy is doing. Well he seems to be settling in nicely. He learned the routine around here yesterday and this morning was very cheerful and at ease. He's such a good boy."

"His appetite is good. He seems to have no issues with any of the others. He loves mealtimes (half softened kibble and half home-cooked) and he loves his walks; if we let him he'd walk forever. He loves our homemade liver brownie treats (once he realized how soft they are)."

"He's pretty tolerant of modest handling; I was able to clean out his ears last night and he actually seemed to enjoy it. Tom and I also cleaned the owie on his side and he got very nervous about that - he wasn't happy when we had to pull the hair out of the wound and trim it away. The wound looks good now, is granulating nicely with no signs of infection and should heal cleanly and quickly."

"We are going to have his mouth re-evaluated by our dental specialist vet in Barrington on the 29th. If she feels comfortable with his health we probably will proceed with taking care of his mouth. I have every confidence in this vet but he will still need all the white llight you could send for him."

Again to his former mom, 18 March:

"We've never renamed a greyhound because they always have responded to their name. Well Royce seems to ignore his name and it didn't seem to work for us. We played with Roy for a while but yesterday we decided to use Jack. This was prompted by the diamond shaped patch on his neck - "Jack of Diamonds." This also fits him in with the others - as you know we have Knight and now we have Jack too. (The Jacks in a deck of cards bear the face of a prince.) And, I think he already understands that Jack is his name now."

"I think he's doing exceedingly well. He's cheerful, runs to dinner, runs when we get home, really runs when it's time for a walk. Cleans out his bowl at mealtimes. And I love to watch him walk. The front feet are like a prancing pony the way he steps so high, and yet his back legs betray his age with their rigidness. But he really walks well and he seems to be able to walk forever."

..."He's good here. Alert, cheerful, likes to roo with Knight and Surf (though I think he was startled the first time they started, as if he had almost forgotten how good it was to roo)."

To Liz, the woman who originally posted to the Greyhound-L, April 4th:

..."he goes in for a major dental. He's been living on antibiotics which is not a cheap option, but better to eliminate the cause of infection than just treating the symptom. The dental specialist we use doesn't see his age as an impediment to taking proper care of his mouth. I seriously believe he will end up 100% toothless."

"His pain has to end. He eats by lapping his food up - his front teeth all wiggle enormously and he avoids grabbing - to give him a treat the best thing to do is let him take it from your hand. He has one sticking straight forward just waiting to be plucked free from his mouth. And the other teeth are SO rotted that on some the decay has put holes straight through them. I sincerely think his teeth are as bad as the ones shown extracted from Old Fellows mouth. Hmmm.... Jack again fits. Jack O'Lantern. ;< "

"Seriously despite the teeth he does have a handsome face. I have managed to get one shot of him up on our site - in the "Our Greyts" link above the webcam links."

And another to Liz, April 5th:

"I think he was neglected/unhappy/ignored by his first family and he just shut down. He can be stubborn about getting motivated to get up and move around but I think he likes life here and finds the goings on of interest. He gets so excited about walks, and walks are a frequent thing around here, whereas he could care less half the time about being let out in the yard. When he's interested in something he runs to it with enthusiasm. And he seems to run a lot!"

"The funniest thing. I wanted to see what he would do if I got Knight and Surf to roo. Well the look on his face was precious - huh... what?.... what are they doing?.... I remember I remember!!!! And the next time they started his voice was in there pronto, rooing full voice, his baritone, Surf's tenor, and Knight's siren. He now leads the choir and for far longer and with much more enthusiasm than I've ever heard from any of them. Gotta watch out for the neighbors once the windows open for the summer!"

"He initially would not take treats when he got here, but our home-made treats do smell good. And when he discovered they were SOFT... well he comes running for the treats."

"Same with the food. All get half kibble, half home cooked dog food, and the kibble has been pre-softened with boiling water. So the food is soft and tasty too. And they all like the homemade yogurt/cottage cheese/flax seed oil mix I do with their food. Just something that I came up with over time. Yogurt for greyhound gassiness, cottage cheese and flax seed oil as an anti-cancer combo which I started for Missy because she has cancer in her sinus and it might help. I'm sure it has. Can't hurt. Ginny reported that he took a long time to eat. NOT!"

I have been able to get into his very tender mouth with a soft toothbrush and cool water and remove the rotting impacted material that accumulated around his inflamed gums and teeth and put some chlorhexidine oral gel in there. The gums lost some of that intense inflamed look and after that he was clearly less touchy around his mouth. Now he loves getting his jaw and chin scratched. Until his surgery I'll just keep his teeth clear of irritating particles.

So now we just sit back and wait until his dental appointment.

Tom and I are fully in agreement that he is where he belongs. He is such a good fit here.

Knight's dental and SurfRider's schoolin' 

A log like this gets cumbersome when you allow 2 months to pass between entries. You lose the continuity of the narrative. My bad.

Well some things are worth going back over. Knight came through her dental with 8 fewer teeth. She lost the big molars in addition to the splintered smaller teeth. The smaller teeth were more expensive to remove because the remnants of what was left had to be surgically removed.

She was shaking so as she woke up with her tongue hanging limp out of her mouth. I was glad we had brought a comforter for her greyhound bones (I've never seen a vets office floor that wasn't hard on greyhound bones) and we covered her with it. We waited quietly with her until she felt like getting up, but instead she fell asleep (and stopped shaking to my great relief). We ended up getting shooed out of the recovery room - guess they thought she'd start getting restless on her own. Guess they don't really know about greyhounds and the wait-and-see demeanor that they have in strange environments like the vets office. Three hours spent waiting for her to rouse because she was content to not move.

Her mouth healed beautifully and she doesn't mind her face being touched at all now. Still I think she misses getting her teeth brushed EVERY night.

Her babesiosis still remains untreated, but not for much longer. That discussion with my vet went on and on and actually I am quite content to not go into that at all. The Imizol is ordered and my vet will let me know when it's in so we can treat Knight and Surf. Knight did just have her 3 year rabies shot so the soonest it will be is 3 weeks after that (for my peace of mind).

Surf and I went to greyhound obedience class for 4 sunday mornings at Windy City K9. I had to miss my weekly calls with my sister Dottie. I really missed those.

Well, anyway Surf done me proud. The first week when I showed him how to sit he did it with great reluctance, needing his hind end nudged down. Well, the next day at home when I asked him to sit he dropped down pronto! He had understood and was willing! Of course it really helps that he is crazy about the homemade liver brownies.

So now he has an excellent sit, down, and come. He does well on his stay (he'll even stay in one place while our other dogs follow me around room to room because I'm carrying the brownies), but once in a while doesn't wait for the release. Still such a good boy! And the training has made such a difference in his confidence, which is really what I was looking for. When flyball comes up I'll see if that's doable.

And then there's Jack...

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