Saturday, December 31, 2011

Good-bye, 2011...

... I hated you.

I've been trying to motivate myself to write a blog post for almost six weeks. I wanted to give some sign that all was well, that I'm alive and fine and engaged. Probably the biggest problem is that hasn't been true. I've been depressed and over-extended, distracted by the holidays and disconnected from how I really feel.

Lanie is amazing. She'll be 13 in May and for the most part she's still energetic and insane. We've noticed lately she's getting quite a bit grayer on her chest and forelegs, the whole front end of her elegantly fading as befits a lady of her esteemed age. She has also, without doubt, become much more cuddly.

Just this morning she woke up early, peed on the living room rug, and then came and curled up between us in bed.

We agree that a new brother will be a good thing for her. Sure, she'll spend a while pooping in furious protest at the loss of attention and competition for resources. That's reasonable. She's entitled to let us know how she feels. Anyway, she only goes in one spot on the rug, so we keep that covered with plastic under a towel for easy clean-up.

A lot of my "dog friends" spoke to me, in the early days after I lost my Drive, about how the need for a new dog was intense and immediate. It doesn't happen with people, does it? I certainly don't want a new mother or new grandparents. But when I had to say good-bye to my Drive, the only thing I could think of to make any sense out of the world again was to put my arms around another dog.

What was best for me wasn't best for us as a family. That was harder than I can say, and I know that contributed to the depression I've been wrapped in for weeks. This was the first time in years that I've been in that terrible dark place and not had my Drive to whisper to. It spiraled quickly.

I want to stop this spiral. I want off. I want a new dog. I want to meet the friend that's waiting. I'm so very ready.

And I'm here to let you know that I'm alive. This year has to be better. And coming sometime in January I hope to be able to introduce you to the newest member of our family. Soon, soon!

I hope 2012 bring amazing things for you, my friends. I wish you all the best.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Good News and Dismay

The good news first: there is absolutely nothing wrong with Lanie's heart. She is, in fact, absurdly healthy.

The dismay: I'm looking for a new vet, after seven years. I'm uncomfortable with change and averse to trying new things, but I can't overlook how unhappy I am about a few things. My plan is to get Lanie's dental taken care of soon, but to start looking around for a greyhound-savvy vet. It'll be a little complicated, since we're in a semi-rural area and vets are exactly thick on the ground in the first place, but I don't mind driving a bit if I have to. There is an emergency hospital nearby for the unthinkables that might take place at odd hours.

When my Drive had his dental last spring (April or May, I can't remember), the same thing happened to him that happened with Lanie. They called in the morning to say that his EKG was a little "off" and they wanted to take an x-ray of his heart. We had just lost our Bullie, not two or three days before, so I was already a mess, and they scared me. The x-rays came back "inconclusive." The vet painted terrible, dire pictures for me and, terrified, I told them to go ahead and do the ultrasound. Of course his heart was perfect.

To recap, I brought Lanie in for her dental last week, got the "questionable" EKG results, had the "inconclusive" x-rays done... And refused to okay the ultrasound. I am not made of money, people. I may have mentioned that. If I'd thought for a moment that Lanie had any problem whatsoever, it wouldn't have been about money, but all I could think was, "Didn't I just do this?"

You know why the x-rays show a heart that is borderline enlarged? Because greyhounds have large hearts. I learned, after repeated phone calls and persistence, that the EKG results were "off" because no one told the EKG analysts they were dealing with a greyhound.

Once that fact was made clear they said, "Oh, well, that's all perfectly normal for a greyhound."

I am not a happy customer. In the end, what made the decision for me was an extra $19 on my bill. "What is this?" I asked, as I was already forking over $200 for the stupid x-rays that weren't even necessary. "I'm being charged $19 under boarding?"

"That's our policy. It's for cage use and technician time."

"She was here for four hours! Getting stupid x-rays!"

"It's just policy." (I will spare you the rant on how much I loathe it when people hide behind policies.)

"I've been coming here for seven years and I have never, ever been charged a boarding fee." (I even checked, because I keep all the vet information filed.)

"That was an oversight, I guess. It's policy."

So! If you happen to live near me and know a great greyhound-savvy vet, let me know.

Thank you so, so much for the support and thoughts and advice I asked for last week. I meant to reply much sooner but I was flattened by some weird viral thing and spent a few days in bed feeling sorry for myself. :)


Sunday, November 13, 2011

It's Never Simple

Of course, Lanie's dental did not go off as planned.

The day before, I took her to the vet for a blood panel and an EKG. Her bloodwork came back perfect, but the EKG detect an abnormal beat or two over the space of 30 seconds. No big deal. The plan was to repeat the EKG with a longer duration in the morning.

The longer duration EKG was less than ideal. As seems standard with these things, the information is relayed over the phone to a company that specializes in interpreting it. They expressed concern over the results. Again, there was an abnormal beat or two; no clarification of what that actually means. They also said there were "indications" of an enlarged heart.

The vet working with me is trying to get more information from the EKG people, who insist that for a more in-depth analysis they will have to charge more. Meanwhile, an x-ray of Lanie's heart looks normal from the side and maybe, possibly "borderline" large from the top. Lungs are clear. She has no symptoms of any illness (other than the mental caseload she's always carried, obviously.)

So the vet recommends that we do an ultrasound of the heart to be extra-super-sure that Lanie does not have any enlargement issues.

If I were wealthy, this wouldn't be a problem. But I'm not. I'm really not. I checked. In fact, I checked right before I started writing this post and I'm still pretty not-wealthy. So I am left trying to decide if I want to give my dog a $300 ultrasound on a heart that might maybe be a little enlarged, so that we'll know that before she has dental surgery. Because she still needs her teeth cleaned and one of her canines probably needs to come out. That three hundred bucks is the money we have set aside for her dental.

She has no symptoms of anything. As far as anyone can tell, she's in perfect health and full of joyful, deranged energy. We're really unsure what we should do. Either way she's getting her teeth cleaned, but our choices are to get the ultrasound and put off her teeth until tax time, or get her teeth cleaned without an ultrasound and take our chances -- which we're doing anyway, given that Lanie is an elderly greyhound.

My favorite part of having this blog is reading the comments, especially when people share their own anecdotes. I don't think I've ever said that before. So I'm telling you now, I love the comments. I love the experiences, and I especially love the wisdom.

If you have any wisdom to offer here, I would love to hear it.

(Preemptively because I know some of you: Thank you deeply and sincerely but please don't construe this as a plea for financial aid. ;) )

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Only Dog

"I'll stop smacking you when you get it out of my face."
Lanie is not a fan of the camera. After all, it it not made of food and it does not squeak. All it does it flash in her eyes, eliciting a death glare that only ladies of a certain age can manage.

At age 12 and a half, her pointy little face is white and her eyes have clouded. She used to hunt frogs relentlessly, making walks in the spring and summer a constant challenge as she lunged and snapped at the hopping meat-snacks. This summer, we realized that she simply doesn't see well enough to do that any more.

It's harder to tell if her hearing has faded. I'm disposed to believe she just ignores me more, since if I think too loudly about opening the fridge she will materialize from the ether.

She is a grand, goofy old dame. She is a glorious mixture of bravado and insecurity, terrified of a slammed door but not thunder. Helium balloons are the devil to her, but she will snarl and lunge if we make the mistake of walking her by the neighborhood bull mastiff. I am her humble servant who exists to feed her, but when she is scared she shoves her head against my chest.

Since we lost my Drive, she's been the only dog in the house. Always a velcro girl, I've noticed the length of time she lets me out of her sight has decreased. She's less content lately to be within sight range and now feels the need to be within petting range whenever possible. She has absolutely become needier. I can understand. So have I.

The strangest difference is her sudden, avid interest in going for car rides. I think she just hates that I sometimes leave the house without her. She hates being alone, poor sweetie.

I'll address the issue of "When will she be getting company?" in a different post.

This evening Lanie goes to the vet for bloodwork and an EKG, so that tomorrow she can be safely anesthetized for a dental cleaning. (She won't be spending the night there.) She's in overall excellent health, especially for a senior dog, and her teeth are not the nightmare that some greyhounds' are, though she has broken a canine recently. She was probably checking to see if something was edible by biting it, like a great white shark.

I'm reminding myself of all the reasons I don't need to be worried, and I'm worrying anyway. I'll keep you updated.

And I think I'll take my dog out to lunch. She loves the drive-thru.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What He Gave Me

I needed a friend, so I went looking for a dog. I found Drive.

Within a year of bringing Drive home, I lost my job and my ability to work. I lost most of my contact with the outside world. For a while there, it was me and my dog. He listened to me. We worked through some stuff.

I fell in love with everything about greyhounds, so I joined a forum. I wanted Drive to have doggie friends so I went to a few outings. Being able to talk about Drive helped me focus and get over my terror of other people enough to have a conversation. When anxiety started to crowd my brain, I could just look at Drive and curl my fingers into the soft fur at his neck. There are so many pictures of me with my fingers like that. Every single one is a picture of my dog comforting me.

He was beside me. He kept me steady. He engaged me.

Drive made me so happy it seemed obvious to share him. I promise, he was every bit the sweet old gentleman I portrayed him as. He was so patient with me.

I started to meet people, good and wonderful people who know the true value of a dog. I went on trips!

I sought Drive because I needed a friend. Because of Drive, I am surrounded by friends as I grieve him.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

I don't want this day.

This is the first day without Drive. I do not want this day.

After lunch yesterday, I sat on the couch with him and played a little. I rubbed his ears, told him how silly and beautiful he was, scratched his belly a little. I crossed the room. I was doing dishes when I heard the sound of him staggering. I wish I'd never seen that. I think it was a stroke. I caught him. He never fell.

I couldn't carry him to the van and I couldn't get the back seats out of the van myself anyway. I just held him. I stayed wrapped around him, talking to him. I thought he would die then. My husband raced home from work to help me and we took my Drive to the vet.

There was too much damage.

I wanted him outside. He loved to lay in the sun. We took him outside on a stretcher and I got on the ground with him and held him. I stroked his bunny-soft neck and I kissed his ear and told him how silly and beautiful he was. "You are the best dog, son. You did everything right."

He was smiling. He was smiling and looking into my eyes. He was so peaceful.

I don't know what I'll do without him.

He carried my heart.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Monday, September 19, 2011

We Live!



Content should resume soon! I was having a little brain issue and Drive was busy as usual helping me through it, mostly by sleeping nearby. In the meantime, please enjoy this picture of a dog named Stanley catching a disc. :)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday (almost)

“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Focus

I've posted quite a few pictures of Ki-lee on this blog now; yesterday's is one of my favorites. Aside from being stunning, she's a very special little girl to me, and her mom is one of my dearest friends. We spent the day hanging out together yesterday and I got some great shots of our beautiful dogs. I can't take a lot of photographic credit for these. It's hard to take a bad picture of a greyhound.

Ki-lee is a young dog and she was fascinated by the ocean. She couldn't figure out why the waves came at her but then receded, as if they wanted to play. She was still looking over her shoulder as we left the shoreline, puzzled by the giant sloshing creature.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Look Who Showed Up

It's Friday.

You know what, Friday? I think you might be too late.



Saturday, August 6, 2011

Roo Face

Drive has a squeaky, funny little bark. For a big male dog with so much chest cavity, I kind of expected more depth. More resonance. But no. He yips.

Lanie, on the other hand, has that gruff deep voice you'd expect. She talks all the time, like in the video I posted yesterday, usually variations on "Hurry up with that food, lady." She makes the greatest faces, so I talk back to her and keep up conversations with her. I would love to get in her doggy little brain and learn what she thinks she's telling me. Wouldn't that be awesome?






Friday, August 5, 2011

Lanie Explains it All


Translation: "Give me that. That cookie. I can see it. Give it here. NOW."
She's very vocal when she wants something.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

I'm Easily Amused




To be fair, he's really mellowed with age. He used to emit the Greyhound Scream of Death whenever I brought the clippers out. Now he can be bribed with treats to endure the agony. He still screams once or twice every time I have to do his nails. Maybe you can imagine, that gets hard for both of us. When Drive went in for his dental, they took the chance while he was unconscious to really cut his nails back; I feel a little bad about that still. Poor guy was already miserable and out of it from anesthesia and losing ten teeth, and now his feet hurt too.

That said, I'm determined to be a more vigilant pet steward about his nails, and if that means I have to feed him an entire meals' worth of treats to keep it from being an ordeal where we both cry, so be it!


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Here is a video.

Please enjoy this video of a small boy giving treats to a dog.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Just a Hint

It would take me forever to count the ways I love him, but "tiny peek of tongue" is on the list for sure.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cast of Characters

I have to warn you, this one is a little emotional.

I'm one of those people that "forges on" when things get difficult. I don't want to talk about it, I don't want to deal with my losses, I don't want a hug. When I need to talk about some ache that feels too big, I just want to put my arms around my dog and press my face into his fur.

I've lost dogs before. I got a little terrier mix from a shelter when I was 20, and I held her when I was about 30 as they put her to sleep. I lost one to a divorce, and found out later she was dropped at a shelter (rather than given back to me.) I lost the best companion off my childhood, a vicious Dobie-GSD-something-huge mix named Nibbles (not kidding) who passed away when I was in college.

And still, those were Before.

I've always liked dogs. What's not to like? They listen as if you're brilliant, they love everything you feed to them, they think you're a genius, they care when no one else does.

And then I met Drive. And just like that, dogs ascended in my view. I understood "dog people." I became one of them. There can never be another Drive, I know that, but never again in my life will I be without a dog. Actually, just the idea of having only one dog seems a little strange, but that's a matter of finance rather than preference for me. When I think of my future, of the "lifestyle" track I want to be on, there's dogs everywhere in my imagination. When I answer the question of a hypothetical lottery win, I get teary-eyed thinking of all the puppies! With a million dollars I could save so many puppies...

This new worldview has an unexpected bittersweet twist. I didn't just lose a pet a couple of months ago. I lost a person. I lost a living soul who took up a big space in my world and now, all these weeks later and after an emotional few days, it's hitting me how much I miss my Bullie.

I'm not even going to put his picture on this post; I linked to it up there with his good-bye post. Even looking at that makes me remember, I was holding him when he passed. I was looking into his eyes when the lights in them faded.

We go to McDonald's, and buy the $1 box of four chicken nuggets. I hand the extra one to my husband.

"What are you doing?"

"That's the extra one. You can eat it."

And about then, I remember that we only have two dogs. That they can just have two damned nuggets apiece and there's no extra anymore.

And then I think of Drive, who is 11. And Lanie, who is 12. And I take a breath and remind myself that I'm strong enough to love this much and then say goodbye.

Bullie was almost 9 when we (accidentally, I'm serious) adopted him. It was a few years for us, that's all. A couple years with an old stripey dog, followed by months of this heavy, pushing grief and a place for him in my heart forever.

It's worth it, because for Bulldozer, it was the rest of his life. He did not die a lonely and unloved dog in a shelter. He didn't spend his remaining time in a kennel waiting for someone to want an old, shy dog that didn't attach quickly or trust easily. He died held by arms that loved him. Someone wept for him, and still does. He died with toys. He died after a thousand wonderful meals and uncountable treats. The rest of his life was warm, loving, interesting, and full of delicious surprises.

It's worth it.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Problem Child

"I could be off hunting whatever tiny things live in those woods."

For every beauty shot I have of Drive, I have a few failures. He doesn't like to look at the camera. Lanie doesn't either, and she adds a level of difficulty: some angles make her look deranged. Her ears, her squinty eyes, her overbite, her "get offa my lawn" old-lady attitude... I try not to get offended when people (not greyhound people, of course) smile and ask so kindly, "Oh, what's wrong with your poor dog?"

Eyes: almost the same size!
Her habit of squinting whenever she's outdoors is so pronounced that every so often I look it up under "canine symptoms" to see if she's got a problem or if she's just narcoleptic. Even in the shade, she looks like a vampire with a hangover if she's deemed it "too bright."

(And while I thank you in advance for the advice that will surely come, she's not the sort of dog that tolerates things wearing things very well so we won't be buying Doggles anytime soon. Or a hat, which is too bad because I think she'd totally rock a little bonnet or fascinator. Something in teal or fuchsia. She does enjoy PJs in the winter.)

Might be my new favorite picture EVER. Look at that.

Proof that she can be pretty, too!

You'll have to take my word for it. When she's curled up on my bed looking at me with deep, soulful brown eyes and a quivering chin, she's the most beautiful little girl there is. It's sometimes hard to get that captured in an image, though.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Wordless Wednesday


Hey, I hope no one minds I took two weeks off from the internet. ;)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Eleven!

I haven't the mental wherewithal for a long post about what this day means, but today is Drive's 11th birthday. He and Lanie have been busy this week keeping me sane. But I want you to know we celebrated this momentous occasion with a ride in the car and a cheeseburger, his two most favorite things in the world. To further enhance his joy and wonder at the day, we've been randomly feeding them treats with no "Sit!" or "Roll Over!" attached.

And the children are out for the night with their grandparents. How much better could a dog's life get?

I'll tell you! The fireworks were postponed due to cloud cover! Score!

Lanie always wants to go on car rides, but the truth is that she spends most of the time terrified. Today I am pleased to report she did fairly well and kept her head out the window the entire time.

By the way, even the 4-door Toyota Yaris is too small for two dogs. FYI.
Noms!

Eleven. More than half his life with me, now.