Edgewater Greyts WebLog

Thursday, July 29, 2004

end of a circle 

It took more and more out of Missy to do the things that she liked to do. There wasn't much we were able to do for her discomfort now. Until now she'd get so chipper on her Rimadyl that I'd go crazy because here we had this dog whose mission in life, as always, was to cause as much commotion as she could, whether it was amongst her greyhound buddies, or out on a walk provoking any dog that passed by. Then the meds didn't help any more, and increasing the dose didn't work. Her appetite became an iffy thing, and then her rear legs were constantly buckling under her. All of this last happening within the space of a couple of weeks.

Saturday we called for a home visit from Compassionate Veterinary Care for Sunday. It was time, maybe even a little past time, to send this little girl on.

Missy's last hours Sunday were good. Thankfully. She refused breakfast, but when Tom got in from church she came nosing around the kitchen and was very interested in having some italian sausage leftovers we were noshing on. Then Tom and she went for a couple of hours to the lakefront and enjoyed the sun and the air of a very beautiful day. They came home and we all napped together one last time in the livingroom.

Her passing was a gentle and peaceful one. She was in our arms in her own home surrounded by all her greyhound buddies laying on the pillows scattered around us... Goodbye little red dog. You have a beautiful mother-of-pearl urn ready for your ashes, and a place in our hearts where you'll live forever.

The vet whose gentle hands helped her along told us that her nasal tumor had invaded her brain because she was displaying neurological difficulties in focusing and in holding her head, and her rear legs.

Her life with us was 18 days short of 14 years. Thats about the same amount of time that Lucy was with us (an 8 day difference). She was the last of our original canine trio to pass, and now she is with Sam and Lucy, together at the rainbow. Frenchie is with them too, and they are all once again blessed with bodies made whole and well.

Someday we will join them. I love you Missy and always will.


8/12/1989 - 7/25/2004

Thursday, July 22, 2004

circle of grief, circle of joy, circle of life 

A lot has happened around here these many weeks since I last posted to this weblog. I just found that I couldn't get past the loss of Frenchie when it came time to writing. The one exception was I posted this to the CircleOfGrey list at Yahoo on July 16:

Little girl Frenchie

Frenchie Zoo
9/28/1991 - 5/17/2004

Two months have gone by since Frenchie died and I seem to be mostly okay. But then in an instant I'm not, and the depth of the loss catches me off guard and I find I'm grieving just as hard as the day I had to suddenly say goodbye.

Our Frenchie came to us right after her 11th birthday. We've had 19 wonderful months of watching her spirit lift before she had to go. More time than we had a right to expect, yet far less than we hoped for. It was a healing time for her, and a loving time full of magic for all of us.

Life is always a little hectic here in our home with six senior furkids and two mid 40s uprights. Each day comes and goes and each moment is precious. Some of these moments I managed to catch with the camera, some I caught with word put to paper,. Some I can only retain in that place inside where my heart lives.

As much as every instant with her was savored I have not yet managed to evoke the joy I remember of those moments since she is gone. Sometimes when I try my heart instead knots up with the pain of her loss.

* * *

Frenchie was a wounded and troubled soul when she came here. Her legs wobbled and she was feeble. She was in a home for 9 years where not only do I think she had ceased to be loved but worse, she had become spurned and despised because of how greatly she needed affection. In our home she gained strength quickly and it did not take long at all for her to respond to our gentle care. After about a year when she was fully secure in our love and devotion to her we stopped seeing the ghosts behind her eyes and finally saw her blossom. Her rear legs never did stop wobbling like a bowstring as she climbed stairs though, a sight that always made me forget to breathe.

I loved her deeply but I never called her my "heart" dog. I could not have picked her over one of the others - Knight, or Kimba, or SurfRider - to say that of all she was my favorite. Yet she was unique in a most special way. Frenchie was daddy's little girl. That was the place she claimed and it was her most wonderful gift to us.

Two months have gone. I only now know the final cost of her gift. The love of a daddy's little girl cost me my heart.

I love you so much Frenchie and miss your sweet kisses. How you must fly! Free now to soar the heavens.

* * *

I guess they all make claims on the heart. What I feel now, now that the tears don't run constantly is tenderness, the tenderness I felt as I scratched her weary yet forgiving brow...

I seem able to write again now. Much has happened that is good, and some happenings are not so good.

First off we have our first ever foster, Terri. She was adopted about a year ago by a woman who loved her very much, Hollie. Terri had separation anxiety in a big way and after trying everything from drugs to training Hollie had to decide that Terri needed to be in a home with other dogs (her landlord wouldn't let her have another).

Terri has been here since June 20th (has it only been a month?). We ended up getting involved because Terri needed a place to go right away and everyone else fostering already were overloaded. We were asked because we had a place (since Frenchie was gone) and we agreed on a temporary basis.

I wrote the following status report on Terri on July 8th to Kathy who had been one of the ones involved with finding a foster situation for Terri:

Hi Kathy,

I just wanted to report that Terri our foster is a most normal dog with no issues at all.

She arrived here 18 days ago on a sunday. The first 24 hours she learned the routine around here, after which she settled very quickly. From that monday on she got used to the idea that she didn't get to go on every walk (when half the dogs got walked ond she wasn't on that walk). No problem - she was fine for the 1/2 hour 3 or 4 times a day when no upright was with her. Then she was fine when we went out for a couple of hours to run errands. Then she was fine when we went out for 3 hours in the evening for dinner out. Then she was fine when we were in and out for several long stretches over a weekend.

A most normal dog, and had we never been told of her "severe" separation anxiety issues we wouldn't have known they existed. Because we did know though we avoided giving her affection above and beyond what the others were getting, and we may have been a little more gradual about testing her tolerance for our absences. Basically just what we did when Frenchie came here.

She adjusted to the rules the others spelled out for her, and decided her favorite resources (dog beds) to compete for. She also learned some doggie manners, like not to grab the treat intended for another's mouth, not to stick her head in Kimba's bowl while Kimba was working on breakfast, and not to knock anyone else over in her rush down the back stairs.

And finally, about day nine, something clicked in her head and she began to do her own things, like go in the yard to watch for the squirrels. (I've gotta get some pictures of her laying there like a sphinx with her ears at full mast, taking in everything.) Or settle in for a nap and not worry about what was going on at the other end of the house where the people were. This is very unlike how Frenchie's anxiety showed.

I don't get it. I thought we'd have issues to work her through and were ready for that. Instead she's been no problem at all and really is a well balanced, confident and spunky girl.


It is beginning to look like Tom and I are going to fail fostering now. Terri gets along well with the rest of the crew and is a happy girl. As well as she's fitting in here we'd hate to see all her progress undone by another placement. We don't know why she worked here and didn't work with Hollie who did everything humanly possible in her situation. We think our having multiple dogs was what she needed, but we're not sure.

I am also happy to say that Jack is a 13 year old wonderdog. He rules! He breaks all the rules and is still such a good dog! He wakes up in the morning and he charges downstairs. He'll look to see who's on my bed because he thinks it would be fun to bound up there until breakfast is ready. At dinnertime if we dawdle at our food he starts to talk - either demanding that we give him some too, which we never do (mostly), or letting us know that he's ready to go out and do his thing and no he doesn't mean the yard he means a real walk! Now!

He always knows when there is food in reach, or he thinks it is in reach. He gave us a scare the night before last because I came into the kitchen because there were sounds of things falling and there he was bringing his paws down off the kitchen table where we had put Missy's unfinished bowl. A couple of things from the edge of the table were now on the floor and there he was holding his left front paw up and refusing to walk on it. He was able to go upstairs 20 minutes later and was perfectly fine next morning.

And then at bedtime - we've discovered it is safe (mostly) to let him decide for himself where he's going to sleep the night. He prefers the dog's couch in the floproom which he'll bound onto and spend the night on in his most provocative playgirl position. That used to be Kimba's spot but he always beats her to it now. Still, Kimba's managed to find an even BETTER place to spend the night these days...

Knight and Kimba let us know every day that they are so happy. With Terri here there are now three broods that came from Emerald kennels. I'll have to tease Huns that I've got three of his girls - "Hun's Girls".

Missy's time is coming to a close. Whatever the pain is she doesn't seem to getting the relief she was getting from her pain meds. She's actually not in bad general shape though. Last weeks vet appointment the vet said her heart was strong and her blood values were okay (rbc down just a little). She just has weak moments with her rear legs and is showing less and less entusiasm for things she's always liked before. Like food. Like walks.

We will not let her suffer.

She still loves barking her fool head off when the greyhounds roo!

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