Caring for a Three Legged Dog or Cat
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29 April 2013
Will died unexpectedly yesterday. He had an unusual presentation of Mast Cell cancer. There were no visible tumors on him. They were all on his liver and spleen, and had moved into his lymphnodes before he had enough symptoms to help the specialists at VSH find them. I thought it was going to be Lymphoma or Hemangiosarcoma.
Will joined our pack in May of 2017. I purposely looked for a dog over 5 years of age after Tex passed because a younger dog would have been too much for Cookie. Pictures do not sway me but I fell in love with Will as soon as I saw this photo, before I knew anything about his personality. I just knew this dog HAD to live with me. The day I found him, he had just been adopted. He was returned a few days later because he was too rough with their dachshunds.
Rich and I drove down to Greenville, SC after work on a Saturday night. We stayed at a hotel and Cookie was so excited. She was thinking it was going to be BBH or GIG. She was disappointed that it wasn’t a greyhound event but just made the best of it. Nancy met us at a park so we could see how the two got along. Cookie asked to play immediately and Will said, can we sniff instead? I wish I had pictures of that first meeting because they were adorable. After a short walk of the two of them sharing all the wonderful smells, walking nose to nose together in harmony, I was ready to bring him home. Rich needed a little more convincing.
At Nancy’s house, Rich sat on the couch and Will immediately went over to him, placed his head over Rich’s arm, and looked deep into his eyes. Rich was now ready to bring him home.
I just knew he was going to work out for us and he blended into our home in record time. It took a long time for Will to believe we weren’t going to get rid of him and he guarded his heart for a while. It wasn’t until he had a sleep over at our friend Sean’s house last year that he started to realize he was mine. Will really thought Sean was going to be his new person and was trying to adjust and make the best of it. When I went to pick him up, he actually ran out the front door into my arms to greet me. The next time he spent the night at Sean’s, he peed all over Sean’s couch, much to my horror. That was the worst thing he ever did in the three years we shared.
Will didn’t want to leave Nancy and had a ton of anxiety about getting in the car with us. Cookie and Will just curled up together and she let him practically lay on top of her to try to calm his anxiety. This fear of cars trips never left him and we took him on many trips and always made sure to tell him, “We’re going home.” Strangely enough, my dad’s 8lb dog Quibbs calmed him down on car trips.
Will had a rough start into retirement with 3 different adoptive homes returning him. Some of the things that got him returned were actually personality traits I found very desireable. Once again, I had a fierce and loyal protector, something greyhounds are not supposed to be. He took his job very seriously and had a bark that would make anyone think twice about entering our home.
With formal introductions or just meeting people in public places, Will was the biggest love. Covid physical distancing was extremely hard on him emotionally. I even used a nine foot leash so people could feel comfortable saying hello to him but most did not. Although not the largest greyhound I had ever met, 30 inches at the shoulder was larger than most and his racing weight was 83 lbs. Until he leaned against people in his very overly affectionate way, most people had a hard time believing he was friendly. He would happily stand on his hind legs to say hello to people in their cars.
We all say this about our dogs but Will was the best dog for us. He was a mighty watermelon hunter/killer, defender of our property and pond (no ducks allowed, ever), and a champion snuggler. Quite simply, he was a good boy.
Mast Cell Tumors degranulate – they release histamine, heparin and vasoactive amines in the granules. The histamine causes the entire body to become inflammed. In severe cases, degranulation can cause coagulation abnormalities, hypotension and anaphylaxis. We don’t know why the tumors started to degranulate, if it was just one or more, but it just overloaded his system.
His heart started having trouble Monday night. The vets thought they had him stabilized but he started to vomit again on Tuesday morning while on IV fluids and all IV medications. His decline was very quick after that. He had obvious neurological issues and soon lost the ability to stand. The oncologist called us in to say goodbye. He was starting to have issues tracking with his eyes before we got there but he vocalized to let us know he knew we were there.
They brought him in on a stretcher. He vocalized briefly when he realized I was in the room but he vocalized a LOT when Rich came into the room. A fellow greyhound friends was there with me so I wouldn’t be alone and she helped calm me down about the vocalizations. he was just letting me know he knew me, he wasn’t crying out in pain.
While waiting for Rich to get there, I held and stroked him like I normally do and he relaxed and had a good nap. Scared me at first but this was our normal ritual. He closed his eyes and went into a deep sleep pretty quickly. After Rich got there, he took another nap. When he woke up the second time, he was able to lift his head and track with his eyes again and happily looked into our eyes one last time. He then went to sleep on his own and never noticed the vet coming into the room.
We couldn’t handle going back to an empty house so we went to our friend’s house and her hounds loved on us. We remembered, we cried, we remembered and laughed some more.
The house is empty. It has been 21 years since we haven’t had a greyhound. I have no idea what to do with myself. All my daily rituals are gone. There are no walks. No cookie breaks. No discussions about how Will IS a lapdog and needed to sit on my lap. No demands for a cookie or some frozen yogurt. Every night at 10:30, he would stand at the freezer to remind me that he needed his snack. No one stealing my spot in the bed when I would get up. He liked me but Rich was his person and every morning required snuggle time. I am the early riser and Rich and Will would sleep in. I never had a dog that wanted to go for his first walk of the day at 11 AM before (but that last walk was often at 2 AM. And no, Rich wasn’t who he wanted to take him for a walk.) If I ever took a nap, he would happily join me in the guest room or the master bedroom. Nixon is my heart dog but Will is THE best dog.
25 April 2007
Ohhhhh Ingrid! Now I know why you were here in the Forums. I am so, so sorry! What a tragic, sudden goodbye, it’s unimaginable that this could happen so quickly. I didn’t realize that mast cell cancer could do that. Agh! My heart goes out to you and Rich, and I’m sending lots of love and condolences across the miles. I just can’t picture you two without a dog, this has got to be so difficult. You two have been through so much heartache over the last few years. I’m so sorry.
Thank you for sharing Will’s life with all of us. He wasn’t with you nearly long enough but was such a special, one-of-a-kind pup who came to you for a reason. This was the dog that nobody but you and Rich could understand, the dog who had plenty of things to do and teach, but those lessons were only for you to learn. What a gift of a lifetime.
When you feel up to it, would you like to share more photos? I would love to see him in all his glory of going through this world as a gigantic Grey of epic proportions! What a sweetie.
May he, Cookie, and Nixon run free together to their heart’s content, always happy, healthy and young in spirit. He will be missed so much.
1 October 2017
I have followed your posts. I read all about Nixon and you all stole my heart. My deepest condolences for your loss. I understand first hand how that feels.
Sending you huge hugs and love ❤
Fly free Will, watch over mama and papa.
I am so very sorry.
Jackie and Huckleberry❤
Jackie, David, Bo, Andy, Oscar, Angel Mitchell, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry
22 February 2013
Ingrid and Rich, this just breaks my heart to hear. This is just devastating, gut wrenching devastating. I am so sorry, so sad for you.
Not now, but later I know that, as awful as it was the way “it” happened, you were there with him and he knew it. His Soul was clearly aware, as well as his physical self. The way he relaxed with you petting him and loving on him, and then doing the same after Rich arriving….yeah, nothing else mattered to him more than knowing you were there with him. The comfort it brought him is clear. He let you know it with his voice, with his eyes, with him waiting for both of you to be there…he was at peace knowing how well lpved he was.
I know Cookie and Tex greeted him, as well as Nixon and Kitty. Mot sure what sign Will I Am will send you. Maybe it will be dimes. You know you will connect in a very Will I Am specific way.
As an aside, I was actually with some Tripawd friends the past several days and I was talking about you and Rich and all the dogs who would never have a chance at being loved and understood were it not for you. I was specifically speaking with Lisa (Pofi) who rescues Lurchers. As you might imagine, were it not for her and Ken, the dogs she “rescued” would never be understood and loved were it not for the ….just like what you and Richie do. Anyway, the timing of our conversation was weird in that the next day (today) I just read Will headed to the Bridge.
THE BEST DOG THEY CAN BE. That’s what you and Rich do, you help each dog be THE BEST DOG THEY CAN BE. Yes, Nixon was your heart dog and Will is uoir best dog. I love the way every sog is so very special to you jn a way that validates who you helped them to be.
I really, really hope others take time to read through your posts and blogs (as Jac,ie did). The love and devotion, the commitment, the time and effort you take to understand each dog, to understand their purpose, to understand who they were born to be…..you are doing what you were born to do with each one of these special Souls.
As you read through the threads, you will learn soooo much about how to understand dogs with “challenges” and how to patiently and lovingly work through each layer to uncover their light within just waiting to come out of the darkness.
And to show you even more about Ingrid’s heart and “instinct”, she took time today while posting about Will with a broken heart, to reach out to some else struggling with “the decision” best for their dog.
The joy and love Will I Am found with you and Rich was truly guided. To see him blossom I der your care is what will help sustain you. Knowing you gave him THE BEST LIFE SO HE COULD BE THE BEST DOG will eventually help piece your broken heart back together.
As you know, I had the privilege of meeting this handsome boy, as well as your beloved Cookie. I, like everyone who had thos privileged, wasson toichedby the bond and devotion that yousjaredwith them, amd they with you.
I cannot imagine how empty and incomplete your home feels right now. Cannot imagine. Your grief is so overwhelming right now, only to be compounded by the silence of the void amd the emptiness of your broken routines. I also know there are no words. We can only send our love and hoping you find comfort in all the happy memories ypu amd Will created. It will take time, but you already know that.
I know I’m rambling Ingrid and Rich. Guess it’s just hoping somehow the “right” words will come. It’s a futile effort.
Surrounding you with Will I Am’s eternal light
Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie
Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!