FTH Oopsie Daisy, 14 August 2004 – 2 December 2016

She truly was transcontinental.

You know, I’m sitting here staring at the blank screen and can’t even bring myself to type the words that she’s gone…and she’s been gone for two months now.  I still expect to come home and hear her whistling from the bedroom, demanding that I hurry up and let her out. But the whistle has fallen silent.

I listen for her toenails on the hardwood floors and remember how, when we lived in the UK, she made no sound at all on the carpet and could sneak up on me, suddenly jamming that needle nose into my ear and exhaling. There’s nothing in my ear now, no cold nose or loud exhalation of warm doggie breath. It’s just silent.

I call the other two dogs by her name and they look at me, with a mixture (I think) of confusion and sadness, wondering simultaneously who I am talking to and where Daisy is. I wonder that too.  Is she with the Fab Five Plus Clowny? Are they now the Magnificent Seven? I don’t get answers, though. As always, my Bridge Pack is silent.

We see things that she would have loved, go to places that made her happy, and the memories are sometimes so strong that I can smell her Frito Feet and feel her nose pressed up against my neck, as she would do to make sure of me. I think for a moment that I can hear her Snappy Jaw that should have struck fear, but didn’t, not in me…but there is no snappy jaw, not anymore. Everything is silent.

She was a larger sized female for her breed, but she was Bryn’s Little Big sister.  She was a good foot taller than Willow, and lorded that size over her Little Little Sister. They still run and play and I can hear their tags jangling as they bound up and down the stairs. But Daisy’s tags, still on her purple dragonfly collar, remain silent.

I want a do-over.  I want more time. I want for her to not have suffered through the heart murmur and the heart disease and the Lasix. I want to take her to Ireland and to Canada. I want her to have the jacket with all the little patches from everywhere she was able to visit. All these things I want…and all she wanted was to be able to rest.  Rest well, my world traveler, my Psycho Puppy Girl, my Angel…my Mei Mei.  You earned it.  I just wish it wasn’t so silent around here.

Meet Bryn…

Her ILP name will be something with beansidhe (banshee) in it, but I don’t know what that will be yet.

On Saturday, Anne and I drove up to Tennessee to pick up a five month old wolfie pup that was in need of rehoming.  Simon and I have always wanted a big fuzzy, wolfhound or deerhound, and so we jumped at this chance.

Daisy probably would have preferred that we hadn’t, but since she doesn’t have thumbs she doesn’t get a vote.  She does, however, get loads and loads of extra attention and has resumed sleeping in the middle of our bed, pushing us to the very edges and taking all the duvet for herself.  Fair play.

On Sunday, Bryn made her first appearance with the Hounds of East Fairhaven, giving the crowds something to ooh and ahh over and HOEF a full time wolfie member for the first time in almost a decade.  She was a star, braving the cold, trolling for turkey tendons, and posing for loads of pictures.  There is something about a giant breed that captures the attention, even when she’s only just a baby.

So far we haven’t lost any thing to her voracious chewing except for a tiny bit of sanity when she chooses a toy that squeaks.  But even that is tempered by the fact that she makes sounds that resemble Lucas’s Chewbacca as she chews…she is just hilarious.

We did a bit of puppy proofing before she came home, but for the most part we just keep an eye on her and keep her busy with appropriate things rather than wait until she’s chosen something inappropriate to dissect and investigate.  While it has only been just over 36 hours, she has responded well to correction when needed and is just a big old growly rumbly furry lovebug that tried to climb onto Simon’s lap for snuggles last night when she got sleepy.

We adore her and hope that Daisy will too in time…keep an eye out on the Lettuce for more stories of Bringing Up Bryn!

Regall Azkaban, "Clowny," 11/2002-9/2013

He’s been gone for a week and a half and I still can’t really get my head around it.  There are times when I feel it and it is so raw and fresh that I’m taken back to sitting in my car like the coward I am as Simon stayed with him in the vet’s office right to the end.  There are other times when it is as though he was one of my many fosters that has passed in and out of my heart, making only the smallest of dents.  There are times when I feel as though he is waiting at the vet for me to pick him up.

And then there are the times, the gut-wrenching awful sobbing painfully horrific times when I know he is gone, when I can feel the jagged edges of what I suppose used to be my heart like a broken wine glass lodged in my chest and when I swear that I will never, EVER let myself be hurt by any being, human, canine or otherwise, like that again.  I’m actually having one of those times right now, as I sit at my desk and write this post.  Finding a picture of him drove me to distraction and I took a good half hour to just study the steady progression of white fur down his face over the course of the two years he was mine.

Well, really, I was his.  In a way I thought would never happen after my precious boys Profee and Hunky died, Clowny owned me in that way only boy greyhounds of a certain silliness who have hearts far bigger than their chests can contain can do.  I think that’s why I’m so wracked with guilt over being relieved that the pee pads are folded and waiting to be returned to Angel-On-Earth Nancy Bowden rather than still waiting in a heap in front of the constantly churning dish washer.  How can I be relieved that he isn’t on his bed in the sitting room, barking out a chorus to remind us that he needs something?  Is my heart that hard?  Have I succeeded in closing off the part of me that relishes every tilted head, each raised ear, all those wags of that whip-like tail?

No.  I’m just tired, bone and soul, and it will take time for me to recover.  That’s what people tell me, and I guess I’m still in the recovery part because I’m still convinced that there was something we could have done; or that the vet on that last awful day was just being kind to us when he said he suspected that Clowny had a form of cancer that could have caused the entire downward spiral that was our summer.

All I can do is hope that the two years with us were good ones for him.  I know he enjoyed traveling, he loved Sandy Paws and Beach Bound Hounds, and he was always happy to go to the festival.  One of my best memories is sleeping in the back of my tiny Fit with Clowny during a rainstorm at the Georgia Renaissance Festival…me in full hoop/corset and Clowny getting as close as he could for a cuddle.

I love love love you, Clowny-Boo, and I will never ever forget our short time together.  You run now, with Hunky, Jeany, Bo, Profee, and Lizzard and spin just as much as you want.  I’m just sorry we couldn’t do more to fix that stupid old body so that it could support your beautiful spirit for a little while longer.

Quédate conmigo,
Si no estás no sale el sol.

I’m so glad she was born. SO glad.

At first, she looked like this…

I’ve recounted the story of how FTH Oopsie Daisy/Daisy/Daisy Duke/Daisy Mae/Mae/Mei Mei/Princess came into our lives.  You have undoubtedly heard me brag about how she was named by the community of greyhound freaks over at GreyTalk, how she lived on her Mama Caffie’s kitchen floor until she was old enough to go outside in the puppy runs, and how my entire family on my mother’s side once gathered around the computer to watch her come in spectacularly, amazingly, and fabulously dead last in one of her attempts to break maiden at JAX.

(For those not versed in Racing Vocab, that means she has to win a maiden race to get to run with the big dogs.  She didn’t do that at JAX but did at Sanford Orlando, where she got up to Grade A.  I’m sure you’ve heard THAT story before as well, so I’ll move on.)

Then, this happened…

What you haven’t heard from me lately is that Daisy is nine years old this week (there is a running debate about the Leelo Babies Birthdate so I celebrate 12-14 August to cover all my bases…and because I love her too much for only one day).  Nine.Years.Old.  It has been almost a decade since I watched via text on GreyTalk that she had been born, almost a decade of knowing about her and waiting for her and loving her.

I know, everyone moons over their dogs like they are the only ones that have that sort of relationship.  I know that I am not the only one that loves my dog.  But y’all, my Mei Mei is special.

She came home to me and Simon at the tender age of 2.75, in March of 2007.  Me and Simon weren’t even a Me and Simon at that point, not officially, but he was Daisy’s Dah-dee from the start.  She never had trouble understanding him like the other dogs did, and would look up at him with the most adoring expression as he talked to her, as though trying to understand every syllable that came out of his mouth.  She still does that.  With him.  With me if I prattle on too long she licks me to shut me up.

She came into a family of old dogs.  Hunky was 10 when Daisy came home, going on 11, and Jeany would turn 10 the next month.  They were still reeling from the loss of Profile, who was the clear pack leader, and were none too thrilled to have this young and bouncy dog around.  So she adapted to them, not the other way around.  She would defer to them in all things, and became a comfort to both of them as they got older.  She also took their Mommy’s focus for awhile, so that they could sit around and love each other and not be bothered by my constant fussing and attention seeking.

After Jeany fell down the stairs in Keighley, Simon kept finding Daisy curled up next to her.  She could have been out exploring her new home, terrorizing the cat, or doing a host of other doggie things, but instead she decided to make sure Jeany was comforted.  I think Jeany actually liked it.  After we lost Jeany, Daisy was forever snuggling up to Hunky, even when he wet his bed, and I’m not sure if it was to comfort him over the loss of Jeany or herownself.  Daisy falls hard in love, and when she loves you, you know it.  She loved her big brother and sister with a fierceness that I wish more people could possess.

And now, all she has to do is this and I’m a goner. 

Now she’s back in that position again, after two years in the UK of being the only dog, getting all the attention, and generally living like the Princess she is.  With Clowny’s injury and subsequent paralysis, Daisy has to navigate a world where her people are either ignoring her or telling her to be careful, don’t stand on Clowny, let him finish eating before you dive into his bowl, etc.  She could turn into a spoiled brat, acting out because she isn’t getting the attention she’s used to, taking her frustration out on Clowny who is, to be fair, the easiest of targets right now.

But she doesn’t.  My precious baby girl, my Daisy Mei Mei backs up when we ask, she waits to be allowed to clean up the food Clowny leaves behind, she snuggles on the bed with him at night until he grouses at her to move.  She takes her toys elsewhere and plays on her own, tossing George, her stuffed monkey, up in the air over and over until someone notices.  She follows me down the hall when I just need to go cry about Clowny a little without letting him see me do it and licks my tears off my face.

Today (and the two days prior) are more than a celebration of her birthday.  Today is a reminder that through some twist of fate, I was given the gift of Daisy.  Love you to absolute bits, my babygirl, to the moon and back.   I don’t know what your Daddy and I would have done this summer without you.  Thanks is not enough, not by a longshot.

“You’re my back bone.
You’re my cornerstone.
You’re my crutch when my legs stop moving.
You’re my head start.
You’re my rugged heart.
You’re the pulse that I’ve always needed.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum my heart never stops beating…
For you, for you.”

(from Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips)

Changes in Attitudes…

Well, the last time I was posting, Clowny was walking.  About a month later, he stopped walking.  That change went hand in hand with Clown stopping prednisone.  He walked around, slowly, at Mountain Hounds in Gatlinburg but for the most part he stayed in our room and was miserable.

He has changed medicine twice and has been to see a holistic vet for acupuncture and laser therapy, but is still not walking.  His back legs work and are responsive to pain, but there is some sort of disconnect in his spine so he can’t make them stay under him.

Our lives now are consumed with picking him up to go outside, washing pee pads, washing blankets, pleading with him to eat, and watching him struggle when he slips out of our hands and onto the floor with a crash.

There hasn’t been much to blog about, really.  Two weeks after his…accident?  Onslaught of symptoms?  Two weeks after that I finished for the summer at Clemson and have been taking all the interpreting work I can get in order to pay for his treatments and keep all four of us fed.  I want to get out of the house, but with limited funds and his limited mobility, I feel guilty if I’m gone more than a few hours.  And poor Clowny smells like a bad day at the assisted living facility…but being a greyhound we can’t bathe him every day.  His fur would likely fall out!

I don’t think I’ve slept more than 2 hours at a go since Memorial Day.  He cries when he needs his pee pad changed.  He cries when he poos.  He cries when he wants water, or when he just needs to roll over.  And thanks to my supersonic hearing that I’m positive I inherited from my mother, every time he cries I wake up.  To be fair, I also wake him when he licks…which he does a lot, probably just to alleviate his own boredom.

I’m also participating in another Camp NaNoWriMo this month, so I’m already feeling a bit guilty about using my writing time here rather than on the Work In Progress.

There are those in my professional life that have been insensitive at best and downright insulting at worst about my dedication to my dog and what it means for my life.  To be fair, the one person I’m thinking of now has also made insulting comments about my choice to put my husband and our life above my duty to my work or how ridiculous is it that I want to have children, so I’m not sure that I should be bothered too much by comments about how much I love my dog.

Anyway, all of this is not a cry for attention or pity, far from it.  We have a wheelchair for Clowny now that we are trying to make work, and the next step after that will be a ramp for him to be able to go in and out the front door.  This post is meant more as a catch up…so that those who do understand why we do what we do for this amazing creature that shares our home and hearts will know what’s going on.  Hug your hounds and take every chance you can to see them run, play, and even walk across the room to beg for a treat or just gaze at you.  Trite as it may sound, you just never know when those things will be taken away.

Mommy loves you, Clowny.  To the moon and back.

On wobbles and stumbles and leaps of faith…

My magic boy, Regall Azkaban (“Clowny”)

On Wednesday night, I got home from work and let the dogs out of the bedroom, scolding Clowny as per usual when he bounded out past the baby gate, spinning around like a top and careening into Daisy.  That sort of behavior made putting a muzzle on him impossible and Daisy mad, so it was not winning him any points.  I think I might have even popped him on the noggin to get his attention.

I let them out, I let our foster dog Mannie out, I fed the dogs…all went as it normally did. That evening Clowny had one of his more vacant episodes, but with him being almost 11 and that night there was a thunderstorm on the way, I didn’t worry too much.

The next morning, last Thursday, I got up and went to work as normal.  Hubs rang me on my way in to say that Clown had lost complete use of his back legs and it looked like he had experienced a stroke.  I nearly crashed my car.  Of course, I turned around and headed back home, trying to find an open vet practice as I went.  The one we normally use, whom I will call Vet #1, had a voice mail message telling me to call the E-Vet.  I did that, and the nice girl that answered told me that they don’t take emergency clients after 0730 because the overnight vets had left.  Sorry?

I then called Vet #2, whom I think will become Vet #1 in the future, and they were not only in the office but said to bring Clowny in right away.  I got back home, assessed damage, cried some more, and Hubs and I rushed him off to the vet.  Massive Steroid Jab number One happened and we took him back home.

That was Thursday.  I worked from home that day, afraid to leave Clowny for too long.  He was dead weight that day, passed out cold for most of it, probably from the massive steroid jab the vet gave him.  I tried to help him move around because I can’t lift him like Hubs can, and only resulted in both of us being frustrated and him almost biting me in my face.  Thursday was a crappy day to say the least.

Then Friday happened.  We took Clowny back to the vet for Massive Steroid Jab number Two, and by the time we got ready to leave the vet he was moving his back legs.  He couldn’t keep them under himself or stand, really, but he could move them.

I got them settled at home and headed off to work with my head ANYWHERE but in my office at Clemson.  Hubs rang me around lunchtime to tell me that Clowny had RUN ACROSS THE YARD to investigate the men dumping the topsoil that Hubs had ordered.  Run.Across.The.Yard.  He said it wasn’t pretty in the least but Clowny was MOVING ON HIS OWN.

Friday night was uneventful other than doing massive loads of laundry.  Greyhounds, it seems, are like small children who have waited too long to tell someone they need to pee.  When you pick either of them up and squeeze the bladder, you are going to get wet.

Saturday morning we checked in with the vet who said to keep him on 25mg of prednisone a day until Monday when we would re-assess.  By Saturday evening, this happened:

That is Clowny, wobbly and stumbling and absolutely certain that he can make it across the yard WITHOUT YOUR HELP, THANK YOU VERY MUCH MOMMY.  And me, in a squeaky voice, proud of his progress and terrified that he will hurt himself and in complete and utter AWE that the paralysed greyhound I’d seen on Thursday was now running, sort of, in the yard.

More leaps of faith to come.  More progress to report.  I have never been prouder to be Clowny’s Mommy.  Not ever.  Watch this space.

Sandy Paws and other Peaches

Clowny’s paw print, Jekyll

It always amazes me how Sandy Paws is up on me and then is over so fast.  I spend all year waiting, anxiously, to see a group of people that in some ways are closer to me than my own family…and like a flash, I blink and I’m on my way back home.

This year’s get together was no different.  My Mister and I rented a minivan (go on, get that out of your system, me in a minivan) and headed down to Jekyll Island with Clown and Daisy.  Those two rode in STYLE…I was even more irritated than normal that the Mister hasn’t gotten his SCDL yet because it would have been HEAVEN to crawl back there on the gooshy dog beds and nap all the way to Georgia’s Golden Coast.

The hotel where we stayed was okay…older, and definitely not the posh affair of the last two SP events, but homey, in a way.  What was NOT cool was vending from hotel rooms rather than in a large vendor hall as we’ve done in the past.  You didn’t get to see anyone if you were vending, other than those you were staying with or your vending partners.  I was lucky enough to glom (is that a word?) onto Janet Schaffer of Casual Bling and Suzie Collins of Skinnyhound Designs so that I could sell my books.  I sold seven, which is a record for a greyhound event.

Sandy Paws started out as a means to an end for me, and remains so.  I didn’t go initially because I wanted to attend an organized gathering with workshops or because I had a stack of books to hock.  I went because I had preadopted an amazing creature called Daisy (FTH Oopsie Daisy) and was now a part of the Follow That Hound family.  So changes to the venue or schedule, ice cream socials and over-priced buffet meals really aren’t a factor to me when I think of Sandy Paws.  The only thing that I do, really, that has anything to do with the event, is help sponsor the creation of crowns for the greyhounds named King and Queen of SP (even though my own hounds have never even been nominated…not even after Daisy went to SP 2012 a mere 5 days after a transatlantic flight-turned-nightmare).

Anne and I pay to have someone make crowns that fit the theme of the gathering, and this year was no different…except that prior to this year’s SP someone in the organizing group got her pants in a bunch over a design for a Tshirt that the aforementioned Suzie made…for us, the FTH family…because she wanted EVERYONE to know that it was NOT an official SP13 shirt.

Well, duh.  Suzie didn’t make it for everyone.  Not everyone is a Peach.  🙂  Not everyone is part of the FTH family. But the WAY that the person made it clear to anyone that was listening was just over the top and plain rude, really.  You would think that it would be common sense not to make an enemy of a very popular vendor, but apparently it wasn’t.

So jump ahead now to the crowning of the King and Queen at SP13.  Anne and I are there, she has the crowns and I have the bling that Janet made for the winners.  The person with the twisted pants approached us and took the lot, heading up to the front of the room to get things started.  We didn’t think anything about it until we heard HER announcing the King.

Problem…part of our sponsorship of the crowns and bling means that we get to present them to the winners. It’s a neat way for us to be a part of the gathering and to get to meet the winners…or, like at SP12, crown one of our own as King when Lightning (FTH Lightning) won.  Well, because Anne is a superhero, she charged down to the front with me, Mighty Mouse, trailing behind her to find out what was going on.  We were offered the chance to announce the Queen, but she turned it down, pulling a victory lap back to her table, and I continued on Anne AutoFollow back to the back.

Y’all…I don’t have time for grownups that act like children, I really don’t.  Not during a swiftly moving weekend with people that I adore that I only get to see once a year.  To the organization’s credit, a few of their members approached us afterward and apologized, but you see, the damage was done.  Once again, I’m not “in the know,” or a part of the core crowd…and finally, after over a decade of doing greyhound adoption and hanging out with greyhound people…that’s okay.  I don’t need it, or as my perfect niece Joy says, “I can’t use it.”

Keep the drama.  I love my Peaches, I know what is important in my life, and I’m off to celebrate it.  GEM and Mountain Hounds ahoy!