Celebration of Spring - Grand Finale

Lady Flame and Blue romp

Lady Flame and Blue Romp 2
Let it rip and go CRAZY!


Celebration of Spring - First Movement

Blue trotting
It's time to get outside and blow the dust off (and half your hair coat...)


Throwback Thursday-Peanut

Why should Facebook and Instagram have all the fun?  We wanted in on Throwback Thursday to.  Here is a photo of our dog Peanut circa 1983.  She was a rescued beagle/dachsund cross.  At the time my mother was the Town Clerk.  She brought home a list of the names of all the dogs registered in town that year.  We chose Peanut from that list.  Funny I didn't recall it but Peanut is looking a little chubby in this shot.  Maybe it's just the angle...

Each one helps train us for the next one and we're better people now for having cared for them.  Peanut, Blue and Bettina say thank you.


This Is a Public Service Announcement-Do Not Adopt a Greyhound

Everyone’s blogs are reminding me that April is Adopt a Greyhound month.  I have seen some great lists about why you should adopt a greyhound.  I think my favorite is posted on Greyhounds CAN Sit’s blog.  I thought I’d take a moment to give you some reasons you should NOT adopt a greyhound.

They aren’t for everyone.  Greyhounds are special creatures with amazing souls.  Some people don’t deserve them.  So if you are one of the people listed below, consider a cat or perhaps a nice pair of shoes.

1. You hate to laugh. If you have no sense of humor and spend much of your time grumpy. Do not get a greyhound.

2. You want privacy. I suppose if you are this sort of person you shouldn’t have kids or
The greyhound gang
spouse either. But definitely do not get a greyhound. They don’t respect bathrooms, bedrooms or closed doors of any kind. Nothing is sacred.

3. You don’t like physical contact. The majority of greyhounds lean. They also like to curl up next to you. Or on you. Some must be touching you at almost all times. They are not called Velcro dogs for nothing.

4. You don’t believe that animals have souls. Greyhounds have soul spilling out their ears. And personality coming out of every other orifice. Get thee away from the hound if this is you.

5. You are fussy neat. This is probably true of any canine. Nose print art on all your windows, pounds of fur found in places you never would dream of, including most of your food, dog poop in your yard, vomit, urine, and drool. All of these things are yours with a greyhound.

6. You like to wear black or white. Forget it. If you consider yourself chic and black is the new black, don’t bother with a greyhound. You will never wear another item of clothing that doesn’t have some reminder of your black, white or multi-colored greyhound.

7. You hate dog smell. Well, wait a minute. You’d probably be all right on this one since greyhounds do not typically smell like dogs, even when wet. Still, if you hate dog smell, you really need to consider why you would get one of any kind.

8. You like to save all your money. Vet bills, food, treats, coats, collars, fancy collars, fancy
I'll take one of everything
coats, bowls, beds, blankets, toys, a special greyhound sized car and all the other things you’ll buy for your hounds add up. In fact, never add it up if you want to stay in denial and thus, happy.

9. You are a super athlete looking for your next marathon partner. There certainly are cases of greyhounds that go jogging or hiking. Even a whippet that did well in disc dog competition. But 98% of greyhounds are couch potatoes. They’ll keep your spot on the couch warm. They’ll meet you at the door at the end of your run. But otherwise you’ll probably end up carrying them home about one 10th of a mile down the road.

10. You intend to reach the end of your life with a completely intact heart. When they leave you, and they ultimately must, they’ll take a giant chunk of your heart with them. The next one will help to fill the hole but it never fills in completely. At the end of your road there will be pieces missing. And it’s all in with greyhounds. There are no sort of half ways. Love it or leave it be.


Fox Has a Pox

Fox Greyhound Dec 28, 2013
Fox on December 28, 2013
Fox is my brother.  Well technically he is since he’s one of Grammy’s four-legged kids.  I typically prefer to think of myself as his Auntie.  Fox was adopted by Grammy and Charlie because he was a handsome guy but mostly because he had spent a year at the rescue and despite having been heavily marketed both in the newsletter and to potential adopters, he’d had no takers.  Fox seemed to resign himself to a life as the kennel mascot.

Grammy is a sucker for an underdog.  She only had to hear his story and they adopted him immediately.  We didn’t know it at the time but Fox and Blue share the same dam, Royal Dream.  At 11 years old, Fox is
about a year older than Blue.  He will turn the big 12 in June.

We all love Fox deeply but he is the truest example I have found that animals can be autistic.  He’s super reserved, uptight, demanding and way down deep, needy and loving.  Somewhere a couple of years into life with Fox, Grammy noted that he was having some medical issues that seemed to involve pain in his extremities.  The first vet examined him and subjected him to a barrage of tests and x-rays.  There was
Fox Greyhound Mar 8, 2014
Fox on March 8, 2014
nothing definitive but Fox was given a diagnosis of lumbar spine issues with potential stenosis and/or Cauda Equina Syndrome.

As the years went, Fox’s issues continued.  At times his problems flared up and at times he seemed fine.  Fox had further workup by a second vet during one of his occasional crises.  More x-rays and tests.  This vet felt that his issue was centered on his cervical spine.

Each time Fox was seen by a new vet the diagnosis changed but mostly centered on some part of his spine.  Tests showed nothing conclusive and Fox continued with intermittent pain in various body parts (neck, front legs, back legs, hips).  As a result Fox spends much of his time on varying combinations of pain meds. 
Then a couple years ago Fox had an episode where he developed bald patches that looked like hot spots.  First he got them on his butt cheeks.  When those healed up a bit he got one on his front shoulder.  Hair grew back on one butt cheek but his shoulder and the other butt cheek continue hairless to this day.  The skin in those areas is alternately clean and dry or red, weepy and scabby.  Sometimes Fox chews at them, and other times he takes no note.

Shortly after this occurrence Fox began to experience abnormal swelling in his feet.  Sometimes all feet were involved and sometimes varying combinations.  Sometimes they would swell enough that the skin split and he’d bleed.  After courses of steroids the issue would resolve for a few months and then start over again.  The swelling eventually started creeping up his legs so that now when he swells it’s the whole leg and foot.
Fox's elbow wound
Fox's elbow wound
At some point the hair on his feet began to fall out.  The skin on his feet is frequently hot and red.  We joke that his feet look like the feet of a naked mole rat (Google that one).  When his feet did swell up they would be so painful that he couldn’t bear people touching them.  After a number of flare ups Fox was taken to see his current vet for another work up.

Her initial diagnosis was some sort of auto-immune disease.  She wasn’t sure which one but it made sense given his pattern of flare ups.  Grammy and I suspected Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) but Dr. Amy did not feel like Fox’s symptoms really matched that illness.

The problem was that Fox’s symptoms didn’t really fit any other auto-immune diseases either.  Fox improved after each flare up with steroids, pain meds and sometimes antibiotics.  Then Fox began to have difficulty standing.  Fox had always been a bit unsteady due to the odd pains that seemed to come and go but now he got downright wobbly.  He was off balance and frequently caught himself just before he fell over.  But Fox always soldiers on and he accepted this new issue with grace.  He continued using the stairs, going in and out by himself (most of the time) and getting up and down from his bed. 

Fox's toe
Fox's toe wound
Fox had a serious crisis on Christmas day 2013.  We were scared that our time with him had come to an end.  He was given a large dose of steroids and antibiotics.  He spent 24 hours on IV fluids.  When he came home the steroids he took gave him incontinence and a corresponding unquenchable thirst.
He began to lose weight.  Fox has always loved his food but now he has begun to spend all his time desperately hungry and thirsty.  The more he ate and drank, the more he wanted to.  The more he ate and drank, the more weight he lost.  When he came home from the vet the day after Christmas, he had developed a large open weeping sore on his right front elbow.  It was so large and deep that fascia and bone were visible.

We begged Dr. Amy for an answer.  She dug in and after a lot of research she gave us the diagnosis of Alabama Rot. 

Alabama Rot is a disease that most greyhound owners have probably vaguely heard of but have no idea what it is.  That was certainly the case with us.  It first appeared at Alabama greyhound racetracks.  Medically very little is known about the disease.  It is thought to be the equivalent of hemolytic uremic syndrome in humans.  It is also called cutaneous and glomerular vasculopathy.  There is no known cure for it. 

Initially there wasn’t much to offer for treatment.  Management and monitoring of the symptoms was PentoxifyLLI (400 mg) but so far it doesn’t seem to be much help. 
Charlie bandages Fox's foot
Charlie bandaging Fox's foot
essentially it.  These days they are trying a drug used to treat humans with the corresponding human version of Alabama Rot.  They are meeting with only small success in helping to manage the symptoms and extend the lives of dogs affected.  Fox was started on this drug which is called

No one knows what is causing Alabama Rot.  It is called idiopathic for that reason.  There appears to be quite a battle between breeders, track owners, retired greyhound owners and researchers as to whether or not Alabama Rot is caused by the type and quality of food fed to racing greyhounds.  Currently researchers feel the disease may be related to food poisoning and nasty cooties such as E. coli.  This seems to be how humans get the human version.  There are an equal number of researchers who don’t believe there is any relation between these bacteria and Alabama Rot.

About 25-30% of Alabama Rot cases move into the kidneys and eventually cause kidney failure.  Even if it does not move into the kidneys, it still tends to shorten the life (and diminish the quality of life) of any dog that contracts it.  We are lucky that as of now, Fox’s kidneys are not affected.

For now, Fox continues on his steroids and pain meds.  He has some continued incontinence.  Though Grammy feeds Fox constantly and has more than doubled his food intake he has gone from 75 pounds down to 61 pounds.  Since he hasn’t been weighed in a couple weeks, we can’t swear to it, but it looks like maybe he has reached a plateau on the weight loss and is currently holding his own. 

Fox greyhound
Our sweet boy will be 12 in June
His elbow sore has not healed and recently after a fall on the ice in the back yard due to his wobbliness, it was exacerbated.  He has also developed a terrible open sore on his right rear foot that may have started out as a corn but which has become a hot mess.  Fox continues to lose hair in various places.  He still swells up intermittently and sometimes he has some bruising.  It has been a very tough winter for Fox.

At the last check up with Dr. Amy, she told Grammy the thing that no one ever wants to hear…that we may soon be reaching the time where the kindest thing to do will be to let him join our Girly Girl.  It’s very hard to hear since his eyes remain bright, lively and very engaged in this world.  He wobbles like a Weeble (dating myself, I know-some of you may have to Google that), but he still walks.  He goes up and down the stairs unaided.  He has never met a morsel of food that he didn’t like and he is still full of love for his family.  There is no indication that his brain and soul are ready to give up but his poor body is rotting away all around him.

We’re all holding our breath in hopes we get to celebrate his 12th birthday with him in June.  We have already decided there will be a party that day to honor a life well lived.  We also hope that by sharing his story it may help someone else recognize this generally unfamiliar disease far sooner than we did.