The Dying Season

I hate the winter.  For many, many reasons.  I hate snow.  I hate to snow blow.  I’m not a big fan of cold.  It costs a fortune to heat your house through a long Maine winter.  I hate losing the daylight.  But most of all I hate it because starting in late fall and going through to spring, it is the dying season.

If anyone or anything is going to leave this world, it seems they most often do so within this window.  Facebook becomes one long memorial news feed.  Greyhound after greyhound after greyhound crosses the bridge.  Sure some go at other times of the year, but at THIS time of year it is an endless parade.  Girly Girl left me during this window.

And yesterday Fox joined her at the bridge.  He is another in the long parade that will go during this
Fox in his bed
dying season but to us he was special.  Fox was Grammy and Charlie’s hound.  If ever there was a dog who met the definition of autistic, it was Fox.  He was stoic and patient.  And stubborn.  He wanted to be loved but on his own terms.  You would never consider Fox a cuddly dog. 

Fox is also Blue’s half-brother.  They shared the same Dam.  They both raced at Raynham in the same kennel.  Fox’s stubborn determination kept him on the track for quite awhile and he was one of his Dam’s top winning greyhounds.  After he retired he went to the Maine Greyhound Placement Service and there his stoicism was a hindrance.  Poor Fox lived in the kennel at MGPS for a year.  No one was connecting with this amazing boy and he kept getting passed by.  He had given up hope and even after a special article was written about him in the MGPS newsletter, he remained in the kennel.

That is, until Grammy and Charlie happened along looking for their first greyhound.  Once they heard Fox’s story it did not matter that he was an autistic boy.  They determined to give him a real home.  There was much happiness in the kennel as volunteers found out that Fox (whom they all called Foxy) was getting a forever home.

Fox fit himself into our lives as though he’d always been there.  He wasn’t much for playing with toys, but if ever there was a greyhound who loved him some dinner, it was Fox.  He lived for meal times and treat times.  As he got older, like most old greys that I know, he began wearing little bits of his meals on his muzzle and chin as if he were saving them for later. 

Fox gets love from Grammy
Even with his autism, Fox learned to seek out a connection with the humans in his life.  He would wait patiently in the line of greyhounds seeking attention and then he would present his side to you, carefully looking away and politely wait for you to pet him, or scratch him or rub his belly or ears.  He would stand there until your hands fell off if you let him.

Fox had a funny chirp that he would use when he felt you were not hopping to it quickly enough to get him dinner.  It sounded just like a little bird.  He would start out almost subsonic and gradually raise the volume.  When he wanted to go out he would stand and face the front door.  It didn’t matter that going out meant using the sliding glass doors on the back side of the house.  When he first arrived at Grammy’s outside was through the front door and by god, that’s how it would always be for Fox. 

Fox never got on any furniture.  It terrified him.  We used to joke that the best way to persuade Fox to go lay down if he was bugging you to pet him was to invite him up on the couch with you.  All it took was a quick “come on buddy, get up here with me,” and he would get the whale eye and start backing up and looking for an escape route.  Depending on how serious he thought you were he would retreat to his bed in the living room, or for level 1 threats he would go all the way back to the bedroom and lay down in there.

As he aged, Fox was afflicted by a mysterious illness which was autoimmune in nature.  He began a slow slide downward with various times of serious flare up and times of miraculous recovery.  The last diagnosis we had for him was Alabama Rot.  He suffered through many issues and corresponding
Fox and Blue - half brothers
treatments with the patience and constitution of a block of granite.  It did not matter what you had to do to him.  It did not matter that it sometimes involved a lot of pain.  He would always stand and bear whatever had to be done. 

There were a number of times over the past few years where we were sure that Fox was going to leave us.  That it was time to release him.  But in a couple days he would make a complete turn around and be fine again.  Though each of these episodes took a toll and he was never quite as good as he had been before.  Still, this weekend it was a surprise when the time where we would have to say our goodbyes finally did present itself.

Grammy and Charlie held off, hoping like crazy for one more of his miracle turn-arounds but that was not to be.  If Fox was in pain, he never let us see it.  But he lost the ability to stand.  Then he didn’t pee for 36 hours and when he finally did pee, it was because he had lost all control of his bladder.  When the greyhound that lived for food above all else refused to eat, the time had come.

It was a gut-wrenching decision.  His eyes were bright and lively to the end.  His spirit continued to be willing to go on but his body would not cooperate.  Fox was 12 ½ years old.  He had outlived all of his littermates. He had a good run and by rights lived at least a year longer than he probably would have if he had been a dog of lesser determination.  But that doesn’t make it any easier.

We let him go yesterday afternoon with people who loved him holding him as he went.  He went as he had come and as he lived, with stubborn determination and with love.

Run fast and long Royal Foxglove.  Until we meet again.

My favorite picture of Fox
Royal Foxglove
6/2/2002 - 1/4/2015


  1. I am so sorry for your loss. Living to a ripe old age surely doesn't make it any easier. It just gives you more time to fall even deeper in love.

  2. I am so sorry. He sounds a wonderful old boy, and he landed in just the right home, didn't he?

    He also sounds just like my Jeffie, who we've also labelled 'autistic'.

    I was going to quote a bit, but you have the right-click blocker thingy - it's the bit where you describe how he presented his side to you and looked carefully away when asking for affection. This is exactly what Jeffie does - and he too won't go near any furniture, and is an odd mix of apprehension and stoicism. The main difference is that Jeffie was not a good eater (or a good keeper) and needed to be coaxed to eat enough. If his food bowl was moved a foot to the right, he wouldn't eat. If someone was vacuuming when he was fed, he wouldn't eat. If you put his food into the wrong ring on his raised feeder, he acted confused and wouldn't eat. If something stressed him, he'd vomit.

    He's got a lot better over time. Since he's been put on drugs for CCD, he's eating like a horse and is now an almost normal weight - he also has a little bit more savoir faire. Strange, very strange.

    These 'special' dogs do something special to us, don't they? You are really going to miss your old Fox. He's not only put pawprints on your heart, he's nibbled the edges and buried it under his mattress. Rest in peace, Royal Foxglove, you handsome boy. I'm sure you'll enjoy meeting Jeffie when he makes it over to your side of the bridge!

  3. My heart breaks for you and your family. Always a difficult decision but his struggle was long and the time had come. Take comfort in remembering him and knowing he is now released to run free and whole.
    Hugs to you

  4. Oh, I am so sorry! I've always enjoyed his guest appearances here on the blog. Our second was one that I've often called autistic and it's odd to see someone else use that reference, because I sort of felt like we were the only ones. Also odd is that Thursday's post is about him and some things we learned from him. I am so glad Fox had Grammy and Charlie to love him. If he was like our Hawk he was probably tough to love at times, but also an incredibly rewarding experience. Our hearts go out to you, Grammy and Charlie. I know it's not easy to lose them, but I'm so happy he was blessed to have you in his life!

  5. I am so sorry for your loss! He was such a cute dog! :(

  6. Thank you all for your kind words. I have shared them with Grammy and Charlie and I hope it brings them some comfort. Fox was most dearly loved by all of us.

  7. I'm so sorry for your loss. Last month was particularly hard on other greyhound friends of mine, too.

  8. Royal Foxglove, you gave your loved ones so much and will be always remembered. Thank for the remembrance story.

  9. So sorry to hear about Fox. Sounds like he had a great life while he was here, with Grammy and Charlie to love him.

  10. I am so sorry to read the sad news about Fox. I very much know how loved he was. Please send my regards to Charlie and your mother. Fox was a handsome boy and yes, I think all the Royals have a bit of stubbornness in them, but that is what makes them so special to us. I will always remember the time we all were able to get together at Raynham Track. Fox will be missed by many.


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