Blackie: family dog, 1950s
Smokey: family long-hair cat, 1960s
Tigre: family short-hair cat, 1960s
Chica: family dog, Christmas present, 1960s
Gus and others: hamsters, 1960s
Chameleons, chicks, and turtles, 1960s
JB: golden tan dog, UT Austin, 1972
Dallas: pound dog, 1992-2006, 14 years
Austin: rescued greyhound, 1994-2002, 8 years 6 months
Eddie: field mouse caught in kitchen
Vegas: adopted greyhound, 2002-2010, 7 years 8 months
Manhattan: adopted greyhound, 2007-2016, 9 years 9.5 months
Eddie: stray black mixed dog, September 2008
Brooklyn: adopted greyhound, 2011-
Advantages to living with a dog rather than a wife
I never have to have dinner with her in-laws and her parents never visit.
She eats the same food everyday and is grateful for it.
She licks the floor clean when food is dropped.
She never asks for money.
The later I get home, the happier she is.
• She doesn't notice if I call her by another dog's name.
• She likes it if I leave a lot of things on the floor.
• I never have to wait for her; she's immediately ready to go 24 hours a day.
• If she has babies, I can put an ad in the paper and just give them away.
• If she smells another dog on me, she doesn't get mad. She just thinks it's interesting.
• She likes to ride in the back of a pickup truck.
Enlightening test: Lock your wife and your dog in the garage for three hours. Then open it and see who's happy to see you.
Wisdom we can learn from dogs
Its good to make people laugh.
Practice unconditional love. Totally. No questions asked.
Don't want for much: scratch behind the ears, brush their coat, massage, food and drink, playground yard, soft bed.
Always stretch when getting up from a nap.
• When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.
• Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.
• Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.
• Run, romp, and play daily.
• On warm days, stop to lie on your back in the grass.
• On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.
• When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.
• Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.
• Be loyal.
• Never pretend to be something you're not.
• If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.
• When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by, and nuzzle them gently.
• Live in the moment - don't regret the past nor worry about the future.
• Nurture a balanced life - exercise, discipline, affection.
• Don't hold grudges.
• Celebrate every day - rejoice in life's simplest moments.
Every walk is the best walk, every meal is the best meal, every game is the best game.
Why a dog death hits me so hard
• Humans have a nurturing, raising children instinct. I have chosen to be single, with no children. My dogs fill some of that void. I raised them - they become my kids. Kids shouldn't outlive their parents. Mine do.
• When one dies, it makes it more obvious that I am alone. And that can be depressing.
• Manhattan's illness and death came at the same time that I retired from teaching, sold the NY apt, and a good friend died. Lot6s of loss.
In junior high and early high school, I had several hamsters as pets. I had my parents drive me to the dime store in Preston Forest - maybe Ben Franklin or TG&Y. I had been watching the small rodents play in their aquarium cages. I was enthralled, I bought a male and female, named the guy Gus and can't remember what I named the female. My best recollection is that I just referred to both of them as Gus. One really doesn't ever call out a hamster name as they don't respond, don't fetch sticks, and don't come when called. I designed and built a custom two-story habitat with ramps, caves, hinged access doors, and a screen front. It was a fun project and served as quite an elaborate home for the furry rodents. What I learned later was that hamster urine soaks into wood and provides a less-than-delightful aroma throughout the bedroom. I kept the cage as clean as I could, but the aroma won. Well, these two Guses got along well and the female Gus gained weight and plopped out some of the tiniest, most helpless marbles of rodent. I watched them grow into fine young things and then gathered them up and took them back to the dime store and sold them for 50 cents each (the store turned around and sold them for a dollar.) This happened several times. I guess I was in the hamster breeding business.
Later, much later, about 20 years later, I bought another pair of hamsters. I was more enthralled with the new plastic Habitrail sets that had come out. I built tunnels, rooms, lookout boxes, and enjoyed the ball that allowed them to run around the apartment floor.
Other childhood pets
• For some reason, I was intrigued by the chameleons that were sold at the Texas State Fair. They had little string leashes that were pinned to a bulletin board along the Midway. So, I bought one. Chameleons don't make great pets.
• During the Easter season, stores in Preston Royal offered baby chicks as giveaways. I got two of them. Chicks don't make great pets, either. These died within a few days. probly good, what would I have done with a chicken?
• Also at the dime store, they sold miniature turtles. The cute kind. I think I was more interested in getting the plastic environment that was circular with a donut-shaped pool, a ramp up to a beach for sunning, and that great plastic colored palm tree to stick into a hole up on the beach. Turtles, like chameleons and chicks are pretty silly as pets.
• At the University of Texas, I lived in an apartment in the Riverside Drive area. I thought it would be fun to have a dog. I had fond memories of dogs as a kid (I later realized that my selective memory had overlooked the fact that my parents did all the dirty work of training and cleaning up). I checked the newspaper and drove out to a home of a dog that had puppies. I saw this beautiful golden tan pup and adopted her. I named her JB. I was an advertising major and the brand new Department of Advertising was in the Journalism Building, that we often called the JB. It sounded like a good dog name. A few days after I got her, I left town for almost a week to go to a fraternity workshop. While I was gone, JB bonded with my roommate (who was also going to get a dog so they would each have a playmate - but he changed his mind right after I got JB) and preferred to sleep with him, and not me. It went downhill from there. Reluctantly, I took JB back to the family that offered her and they took her back. A beautiful dog but at the wrong time in my life. College is just not a good time to invest in training and spending time with a dog.
I had always enjoyed having a dog as a kid and thought it might be fun to have one as an adult. So, during the spring of 1992, I set out to get a puppy. I went to a couple of places where the dogs are never euthanized - they just stay on the grounds. I realized I wanted a dog from a pound, to save one from possibly being put to sleep. I had planned to get a puppy on the Friday before spring break, but, the weekend before, I went to the Oklahoma City dog pound - just 'to look'. Not a good idea. It was both fun seeing all the puppies and sad seeing the pens labeled with the upcoming day that the dogs would be killed. It was late in the afternoon, not too many people were wandering around. I sat down on the concrete and opened the gate to a pen so a little brown and black puppy could come out and see me. This puppy crawled up into my lap and went to sleep. She was the last of her litter to be adopted and was probably tired of all the activity at the pound that day.
I looked up at the attendant and said, 'I guess this is my dog'. She agreed and we went up front to take care of some paperwork. I carried her to the car where she went back to sleep in my lap for the 30 minute ride home. I got home and put her in a chair. Fortunately, she resumed her nap so I could hurry to the store to get food, paper towels, carpet cleaner, chew toys and anything else I thought a puppy might need. From that day in March, 1992, until now I have enjoyed the companionship of dogs.
Later we went back to the pound for a few obedience classes. She would sleep in my - her - bed. She would stand up in the car and put her front feet on the sunroof frame. Her cheeks would billow open and flap. People pointed and laughed. She loved it. First I kept her in a friend's back yard while I was at school. I'd pick her up and take her home. For three weeks, I moved into the Wallo house and she had to stay outside. Once, she was crammed in the dog house while it was raining. She was uncomfortable and so was I. Many trips to the city of Dallas where she had the run of the house, many walks around the Orchid Lane neighborhood, Dealey fields, and White Rock Lake.
In Edmond, we walked in a field north of West 7th street. Sometimes, especially as a puppy, we walked the trails at Hafer Park, back in the wilderness area. I would unleash her and we would play tag and chase. Dallas was always very strong and independent. Walks were on her terms. She would pull on the leash in eagerness to explore and sniff. And she tried to sniff just about everything she could.
She would sit and put her front paws up on my outstretched hand and wait for a treat until I said, 'Okay'.
One day she got out and ran after me, across Broadway all the way to East Fifth Street, just beyond Rankin, a few houses away from where she would later live.
We walked the neighborhood, the Smith/Scott's porch, Stephenson Park, Fink Park and the field and creek by park and woods. Lost Dallas and Vegas one nite in the forest growth by Fink Park. I searched all over, afraid they might chase a cat or squirrel onto Second Street. Went home and got a flashlight. The beam hit their bright eyes and they were only a few feet into the underbrush - the leash connecting their two collars had hung up on a branch. They had just waited there for an hour, absolutely quietly and patiently.
Naming the puppy
I sought help from friends to name the new puppy. The daughter of a friend suggested Casey (although, I'm not sure why). I thought she said KC as in Kansas City where she was born. I thought KC was a good name but it had no connection to me, so, Dallas (my hometown) made more sense. And so the puppy was named Dallas.
The last days of Dallas the dog
January 2006: Noticed lump on the left side, took her to the vet. X-ray showed tumor that was enveloping her ribs and restricting breathing in one lung. The vet and I agreed she was too old (14 years) to undergo surgery, so we put her on some pain killers, glucosamine, and vitamins.
Wensday, Febuary 7: Worked at home all day on the history lecture; Dallas was moving slow. She barked at the mailman, as she did everyday. I left about 4pm and got home after midnite. Dallas didn't come for treats; finally walked to kitchen, but did not take the treat. Her breathing was labored and slow, she stood a while, then plopped down on the carpet by the kitchen. I got blanket and pillows and lay next to her. Finally I went on to bed.
Thursday, Feb 8: I woke up at 5, Dallas was on the carpet in the bedroom - she may have moved to be nearer to me. At 7:30 I couldn't find her - she was outside throwing up. She moved slowly around the yard and finally came inside a few minutes later. I called the vet and made an appt for 9:20. I lifted her into the car and took her in - he discovered she wasn't able to use her left lung, the tumor had grown and she was in poor condition. We discussed options; decided not to put her to sleep yet, but to take her home and have him come to the house when I called. He gave her a shot of pain killer to make her more comfortable. The attendant went to get a coworker who wanted to come say goodbye. She had worked there for 8 years and loved both Austin and Dallas. She spoke with Dallas. I thanked her and we left. I lifted Dallas into the car and we rode home, probably her last car ride and she loved riding in the car. At home, I lifted her up onto the bed and we slept a while. I went shopping at Target to get enough food so I wouldn't have to leave the house for the weekend. Got home and a call from ClockTower - went up to school to meet with them. A good meeting, they had done a good job. Home and to bed.
Friday, Feb 9: Dallas was better: she walked to the kitchen, ate treats, chewed rawhide. Back up on the bed. Normal day: we took a walk, she was alert.
Saturday, Feb 10 - Wensday, Feb 22: Normal days: we took walks, she ate well, she took treats. Tumor is noticeably bigger, she is more sensitive when touching nearby, and breathing is raspy.
Tuesday, Febuary 21: Dallas has her 99th birthday. Doing fine.
Thursday, Feb 23 - Tuesday March 14: Moving slower, her breathing is tougher. Her arfritis may be worse, she has trouble jumping on and off the bed. Saturday, 2-25: Vegas has a bloody open wound on her leg. Took her to the vet who stitched it up. She's back home. I was a bit worried since I lost Austin during leg surgery. She later chewed out the stitches and chewed a hole in her skin. Back to the vet. New stitches and leg wrapped during spring break. It healed well.
Saturday, March 4: She feels awkwardly bony, a sway in her back. I think she's getting close to death.
Wensday, March 8: I put a low sofa unit next to the bed so she could step up without having to jump, which she has trouble doing now and it seems to embarrass her (but she never really used it - I think she was too proud).
Thursday, March 9: I rescheduled my NY trip, from spring break to April so I could stay home with Dallas and get caught up on projects. I think I would have felt sad if she died while I was having a good time in New York. Would she have felt that I abandoned her while she was dying? Dallas has been a loyal companion and protector - she would not abandon me.
Sunday, March 12: I took Dallas (and Vegas) on a farewell tour. Stops: Wallo house on 7th where she spent the day while I was at school; WindRush apartments where she first lived and walked the area; 606 West 7th where she grew up for 3 years, where she met and mentored Austin, and where we walked the neighborhood, school playground, houses under construction, and field.
Monday-Tuesday, March 13-14: Dallas stayed on the bed and didn't or wouldn't join Vegas and I for our daily walk. She is reluctant to jump on and off the bed.
Wensday, March 15: She looked awful in the morning, tough breathing, jerking in bed, couldn't seem to get comfortable. But by late morning and afternoon, she was her normal self - eating treats and checking out the back yard; and eager to take a walk, although she got winded on the walk.
Thursday-Sunday, March 16-19: Fed her canned dog food - she gobbled up two cans, took walks, very alert and lively (Saturday & Sunday it rained - no walks).
Monday-Wensday, March 20-22: Short walks, she was panting.
Thursday, March 23: Tough day. She didn't eat much, not even the soft canned food. Wouldn't take treats. I ran errands in the morning. Went to school for a couple of hours in the afternoon. ClockTower guys at 5pm and home to work at the table. When it was time to go for a walk, she just stayed on the carpet and wouldn't get up. It was tough to walk. Her back legs weren't functioning well. Her back right foot was swollen. She panted. Later that night, I helped her get up on the bed. She panted and couldn't seem to get comfortable. She had trouble moving. I lay next to her and cried. This was my baby girl. My best friend for 14 years. She knew Laird. She took many trips to Dallas. Mom and Dad loved her - thought she was a great dog. I didn't take my usual sleeping pill cuz I wanted to be able to respond to her needs. Then I realized that I cry very easily when I'm sleep-deprived, so I took a pill to get some sleep. It helped - slept til eight am.
Friday, March 24 (12th anniversary of Laird's death): Up okay. I went to McDonald's; a couple asked how she was doing. I said we were close and we talked about deciding when to put pets to sleep. Went home; she ate breakfast, walked out to office, slept on bed (I helped her up). Okay in the afternoon. Stayed on the bed, breathing hard. She looked fine when Sean came over at 4:00. Got home at 7:30, she wasn't in the house, but walked in while I was feeding Vegas. She wouldn't eat or take pills. Walked to the bed and I helped her up. She was snorting, breathing was tough. She gagged periodically. It became clearer that this was not pleasant nor good for her. I would seriously consider calling the vet Saturday morning to come over and put her to sleep. So, this is likely her last nite in this house and her last nite alive. But I think she is now in pain and suffering. I think she wants to go. She will simply go to sleep and not wake up. She later got off the bed and walked into the living room to see what was going on. She laid down in the office area and continued to gag. Vegas and I lay next to her. Sometime during the nite, she moved from the den to the bathroom.
Saturday, March 25, 2006: Up at 7:40. Didn't hear her but went into bathroom and she was on the bathmat, barely breathing. At 8:45 I called the vet but the vet, Brian, was booked all day but they'd have him call me. They called back at 9:15, said they'd be by after 12noon. I went into the bath and told Dallas we only had 3 more hours together. Our final few hours and then she'd go to sleep forever. I cried. During those few hours, I would lay with her and thank her for being such a loyal companion, for making my life better. I told her that I loved her more than anything else in the universe. She was my beautiful baby girl. I knew I wouldn't come home and see her on the bed, she wouldn't come to the door to greet me, she wouldn't get excited about taking a walk or riding in the car. At some point during one of these talks, a tear fell from Dallas' eye onto the bathmat. At 12:10 Brian and Kim arrived with the kit of drugs and a stretcher frame for carrying the body out. We all knelt by her in the bathroom. He administered the anesthesia that would put her to sleep. Kim had me sign the consent form. I cried a bit. While we waited for Dallas to go to sleep, we talked about the house, the neighborhood, etc. Then Dallas was asleep. Kim held her paw so Brian could find a vein and he administered the drug that would stop her heart. It didn't take but a minute or so. I patted and held her head. At about 12:20, my girl was dead. I went and sat on the bed with Vegas while they put her body onto the stretcher. I joined them in the living room as they went out the front door to Brian's pickup. He mentioned that there was some urine on the bathmat. Outside, I helped slide the stretcher in the bed and I straightened out Dallas' back leg that was hanging off - the last time I would ever touch her. I stared at her body laying on that stretcher in the back of the pickup, she was facing away from me - I couldn't see her face or her eyes. I said goodbye to Brian and Kim. I said thanks, Kim said they'd call (when her ashes were ready to be picked up). I waved goodbye from the porch, went inside and started bawling. She's really gone.
Bummed through the weekend. A trip to Stillwater helped on Monday.
All better by Tuesday. Got her ashes on Saturday morning, the one week anniversary.
A great dog
Dallas was a great dog that kept me sane and centered; and was very loyal and protective. She had spent her entire life with me, from a small puppy that could curl up in my lap to the 80 pound solid dog. This was my baby girl and loyal companion for 14 years and 3 weeks. She was the last of my foundation roots - she knew my best friend Laird, my parents loved her, she spent time at the house in Dallas, and she mentored her sisters, Austin and Vegas. But as dog deaths go, this was about as good as it gets - she had a full long life, her body just got old, she contracted cancer that broke her down, and she died peacefully in her sleep. I certainly miss her and her cheerful energy. Dallas enriched my life.
Criteria for euthanasia
Because I was going to face a tough decision, I needed some criteria that would help me make the decision with logic rather than emotion. About a week before she died, I wrote this list of criteria:
Not able to take a walk.
Not able to walk to the back yard or office.
Not able to come to the kitchen for treats.
Not able to eat treats, food.
Sensitive and in pain.
Gagging and struggling to breathe.
She met all the above criteria on Friday night, March 24. Saturday morning she was put to sleep. I have no regrets. She was beginning to suffer - gagging, arfritis, swollen legs and feet, tears in her eyes. She didn't eat food, treats, or her pills. It was time for her to go to sleep. She went to sleep with her head in my hand.
Dallas stats and dates
Breed: Mixed, mostly Black & Tan Coonhound
Color: Black, brown nose and legs
Born: about January 1, 1992
Adopted: Saturday, March 7, 1992, from the Oklahoma City Animal Shelter
Cancer diagnosed: January, 2006
Died: Saturday, March 25, 2006
Age: 14 years 3 months
Length of time with Jim: 14 years, 3 weeks
About two years after I got Dallas, 1994, I had spent a Sunday tracking the Chisholm Trail near Duncan in southwestern Oklahoma. I was driving home up the Bailey turnpike when I spotted a dog in the median near Chickasha. Another driver stopped and we coaxed the dog off the highway (other cars had slowed down to allow the pup to cross). The woman, who was also from Edmond, asked how many dogs I had at home (she assumed I was a dog lover - who else would stop in the middle of a turnpike to rescue a dog?) I offered to take the dog home. I opened my car door and this dog jumped in, curled up in the passenger seat and went to sleep. On Tuesday I took the puppy (a year old) to the adoption agency in Norman that handled this dog. They reported that this dog had been abandoned and had been wandering for a couple of days - was hungry and sick. They nursed her back to health and tried to place it in a new home. When they couldn't, they called me back and asked if I wanted to adopt this dog. I said, 'Sure.' This was a good dog - a pure greyhound. The other city I had lived in the next longest was Austin so this dog would be Austin. She would be an absolute joy - a beautiful dog.
The last days of Austin
On Thursday, July 25th 2002, I had a design class over to see the house at 424 East 4th. Austin is always a hit at these open houses. That evening we went for a nightly walk. In a field about a block away I let the dogs run free. Austin ran a few yards, came to a halt, and yelped loudly. Dallas came back to stand by her and I walked to her to calm her down. She wouldn't move. Her leg looked out of shape. I coaxed her back to the street where she refused to go any further. She had stopped screaming but she was panting and maybe in shock. With the help of a friend's ramp, we guided her into his car and took her to the animal hospital. They x-rayed the leg and informed me that it was broken, but, worse, she had a large tumor on her leg. The next morning I picked her up from the hospital and took her to her vet. They checked for further spread of cancer and kept her to perform a biopsy. While Austin waited at the vet for the next week, I visited her each day. At first, she was very sedated, but later she recognized me and stood up. She tried to follow me out of her cage, but she had to stay. I would feed her out of my hand and pet her. Biopsy results returned, the vet called me at home. We decided to amputate her leg on Thursday, August 1. I had already accepted that would be the likely course of action. I should be able to bring her home on Friday. I planned the weekend to spend with her while she adapted to 3 legs. It would just be good to get her home. Thursday, August 1, I decided not to go visit her since I didn't want to 'tease' her into thinking she could come home. Surgery was scheduled for about 3 that afternoon. At about 5pm, I was in my office when the vet called. "Jim, I have bad news. Austin didn't make it through the surgery." We talked a while about procedures - her body was in the freezer; it would be picked up the next day for cremation. I shut my office door but couldn't find an emotional outlet strong enough to express the sorrow. The next day, I drove, with Dallas, to spend time with my family in Dallas.
I learned a lot. Emotions gave way to logic. She had cancer. It weakened her leg. Her leg broke. Her heart was weakened. She didn't survive surgery. Shit happens. She died peacefully. Her only suffering was for about 20 minutes when she broke her leg and maybe some while caged at the vet. Her cancer would have likely spread aggressively. I never had to face the decision of putting her to sleep. I later picked up her cremains and put them in an open container in the bedroom. I put up some pictures of her. She won't be forgotten.
Several other people at work lost their dogs about the same time. We met at my house for a Pet Loss Support Group. It was good (some thoughts on grieving).
Austin was a tremendous pal for eight and a half years. She had a great life. She was pure love and joy. She took care of me. I could not have loved her more. I will always miss her. The house was a little bit quieter. Dallas sat by the door the first night waiting for her sister to come home. She slept where Austin slept. I kept a container of her ashes, collar, tooth, and hair in the bedroom for a while. A couple of years later I scattered her ashes around the loop she used to run in the back yard.
My dog, Austin, had been taken in for surgery to remove a cancerous leg.
Thursday: Semester ended. party at school. Took dogs for walk in field. Unleashed - they ran, Austin jumped off slight rise and landed on leg. Screamed and yelped. Just froze. I walked to her, confused.
Dave Harris, Emergency Hospital. Exam: broken leg, cancer had eaten bone
Transferred to Vet next morning. kept for tests.
Sunday drove by to interurban.
Got new glasses Monday.
Visited Austin in kennel at vet - she tried to follow me out - she wanted to go home. get out of there. Just go home to be with me and Dallas.
Wensday: decided not to visit before surgery, might confuse her and tease her about going home. I would be able to see her the next morning. And take her home on Friday.
Vet: she'll look down and see only 3 legs, accept it, and move on. Bill: "Jim, a 3-legged dog is so you."
Got phone call at office. I have bad news. Austin didn't make it through the surgery. We discussed options.
Closed office door (building was empty) and screamed and fell to the floor. I would never see my girl again.
Dallas sat by the front door waiting for her pal/sister to come in.
Emails sent to friends
Vet called last night. We talked a while and agreed: Austin will have her leg amputated Thursday afternoon and may be able to come home Friday afternoon. I am comfortable with the decision - it is the best option. I have gone to visit her every day. She is ready to get out of thee and come home.
So, all is actually good here. I have no control over her cancer, we may have caught it before it spread too far, I have learned a lot, Austin will be home soon, and I've lost 7 pounds on the Slim-Fast Diet Plan (actual user results may vary).
Bill, thank you for caring and for your phone call last weekend. "A 3-legged dog is so you" made me laugh. I have shared that comment at work and everybody gets a kick out of it. It boosted my spirits. Thanks.
Jim and the 3-legged dog.
Austin didn't make it through the surgery.
Her heart stopped at about 5pm.
I am really bummed.
My dog died last night at about 5pm.
They were almost through with the surgery to remove her leg when her heart stopped. They couldn't revive her.
As you can imagine, I am not doing too well today. I don't know if I've ever felt worse in my life. I haven't slept much. I talked with the vet last night and I went by there this morning to give them a Thank You card. I also got some clippings of her fur coat (she had very soft fur). She will be picked up today and taken to Tulsa for cremation. I will get her ashes next week and I can then, finally, bring her home, where she belongs.
I may go to Dallas to be with e family. I will take Dallas, the dog, as I couldn't stand to leave her here alone.
I know I'll be fine - it will take some time. Austin led a very good life. I could not have loved her more or cared for her more. I have no regrets about that. I just have this emptiness and sorrow.
I have pictures of her on my website: www.jamesrobertwatson.com
Take a look. She's a sweet dog.
Thank you for caring. Jim
I am moving on - going back to work today. People at work have been very supportive. A secretary lost her dog last Tuesday, another teacher's dog has been diagnosed with cancer, and another teacher lost his dog to cancer just this morning. I have invited all of them to my house tomorrow night - we are going to form a pet loss support group. We will share pictures and stories. I will provide the tissues. We are looking forward to getting together.
I have accepted Austin's death: she got cancer, cancer weakened her leg, her leg broke' they tried to remove it, her heart couldn't take the stress, she died peacefully.
I will always miss her but I am ready to move on.
In Dallas with the family, I saw an ad in the newspaper for Pet Grief Recovery at the SPCA at 1pm. I went. It was great. I cried until I was dry. I shared pictures of Austin and listened to the others (there were 9 of us) share their stories. It was very helpful. Nice drive back to OK on Sunday. I bought a book on grief recovery that is helping. Monday, the vet called to say Austin's ashes were back. I went and got them and brought her home. That felt great - to have her back home. When I went to visit her at the vet before the surgery, she would try to follow me out - her eyes begged to go home. I have set up the ashes, some fur, a tooth, her collar and leash, and some pictures. I will always miss her.
Austin stats and dates
Color: Black, white nose, paws, tail tip
Born: about January 1, 1993
Rescued: Sunday, December 5, 1993, from the Bailey turnpike near Chickasha
Adopted: Saturday, Febuary 5, 1994
Cancer diagnosed: July 25, 2002
Died: Thursday, August 1, 2002
Age: 9 years 7 months
Length of time with Jim: 8 years, 6 months
After Austin died, I didn't think I'd get another dog for a while. I didn't want Dallas to feel jealous. After a few months, however, I was concerned about Dallas being home alone. I had become a greyhound fan; they are great dogs. In October, a friend from school called to tell me that some greyhounds were being shown at PetSmart. I went to look. There was one that looked just like Austin. I felt sad - I wasn't ready. I checked the website for Greyhound Pets of America. Several were shown. I noted three that appealed to me. One was a 'special needs' dog - one that was not likely to be adopted. A month later, I went back to look and talked with a rep about that very dog. She was thrilled that one of their tough-to-adopt dogs might find a home. I felt good about it. I didn't want a regular greyhound - I didn't want to replace Austin, I wanted a different greyhound, one with a challenge, one that needed me. I met the dog the next day and filled out the adoption application. The dog was delivered to my home on Friday evening, November 22, 2002 (Conor died that night, my mother was in the hospital). We let Dallas sniff her on neutral territory - next door while taking a walk. Then inside. This dog was very shy and timid. She was afraid. I work with her to help her gain confidence. A new pupil. She gets more confident every day. She is a great dog.
Dallas, the dog, was a great mentor and teacher for Vegas. After Dallas died, Vegas would sniff around the front door as if to wonder when her sister was coming back. She seems to have adapted well to the loss of her sister and has become more of a loyal companion since.
The other cities I have lived in were New Orleans (Nawlins, EZ) and Edmond (Eddie, Edie) but none of those sounded right. I then played with names associated with Watson - Alexander Graham Bell (Belle) and Sherlock Holmes. Nothing, yet. Then I realized there is another city that I 'live' in quite a bit - Las Vegas. This dog is Vegas. She is a showgirl and she walks around the house topless.
By Diana, Hounds of the Heartland, Monday, December 2, 2002
Get your Kleenex out cause I'm going to tell you a story and you may need them, but don't worry, it has a happy ending.
It was sometime early in the 1990s, there was this fellow, a dog lover of course, who found a dog running loose and scared in the median of the H.E. Bailey Turnpike.
He stopped and coaxed her to him, she was a young greyhound. He tracked down the rescue organization she came from and returned her. Several weeks went by and he was called by the organization, seems no one came for the dog and would he like to adopt her? Yes, you bet! he said. He quickly fell head over heels for this new pet and named her 'Austin'. Jim and Austin, along with his shelter dog 'Dallas' became best friends and had quite a few lovely years together with Jim becoming enamored with the greyhound breed, as we all do. Tragedy struck late this past summer when Austin broke her leg, seemingly for no reason, on a casual walk. It was all of our worst nightmares - cancer. After consulting with the vet, they opted for amputation. Unfortunately, she didn't make it through the surgery. Jim and Dallas were devastated.
Some time went by, the wound was less raw, Jim heard about us (Hounds of the Heartland). Dallas was lonely, Jim missed having a greyhound. He came to a Show and Tell at PetSmart where we had a greyhound that looked just like Austin. Ouch, it was too soon. Jim knew better than to try and replace Austin, but wanted a greyhound. What about a special needs dog? What about a dog that needed him?
Jim contacted us with a list of our 'hard to place' dogs. Which one is the least likely to be adopted, he asked? We responded 'Tina', of course. Shy thing that she was, she did not show well, was scared of people, and would hardly come out of her crate, unless no one was around. Tina it would be then, he said. Tina was being offered at a discount adoption fee, in the hopes of sparking some interest. Jim would have none of that, and insisted on paying full price! And so begins the new life of our little Teeny-Beany, now named 'Vegas', cause she is such a showgirl, can you believe it? She no longer uses her crate, she plays with toys, uses a doggy door, and gets into mischief with her sister Dallas.
You can read about and see pictures of Jim, Austin, Dallas, and now Vegas on Jim's web site and, hopefully, meet this greyhound angel at our Christmas party this Sunday.
Vegas in Manhattan, summer 2006
6 trips to NYC - 3 in Tracker, 2 with just her, 1 with Manhattan; 3 in Nitro with Manhattan
Vegas slowly adjusted to life in New York City during our summer visits. She was a bit anxious about all the new surroundings. She probably missed her familiar environment back in OK and she may have missed Dallas as her guide and alpha leader. She is still exploring the apartment - the balcony scared her, she was very reluctant to step outside. It took her a while to figure out the elevator. She may have been freaked by the fact that doors close and when they reopen, the room she just left is now completely different or it may be the vibrating floor when it moves. She would lay down and shiver until we reached our destination, then she would bolt out of that infernal cab.
We walked twice a day - along the Hudson Esplanade or around Battery Park. As I suspected, she is a hit. People comment or ask about her. I stop and chat a bit - they are interested in the rescue part from an abusive breeder. Apparently there are lots of other animal lovers out walking. There is a dog run right behind the condo building. She has learned that this is the place to go to the bathroom. That works out well because I can monitor her and there is a hose there to wash the asphalt. After taking care of business, we walk along the West Street walkway which is being redesigned with extensive landscaping (9/11 money), Battery Park with the Statue tourists and new fountain and landscaping, or the Hudson Esplanade with the many joggers and walkers.
During late fall of 2008, Vegas lost a lot of weight. She looked too thin. In January, 2009, I took her to the vet. Many tests were conducted. Diagnosis: she has kidney disease, but not kidney failure. She’s not processing protein well, too much of it is being excreted in her urine. She was put on a special Kidney Diet dog food and given supplements. The plan is to ensure that she is comfortable and pain-free. As her condition worsens, there will come a time when I will decide to end her pain and discomfort by having her go to sleep.
The last days of Vegas
No socializing, kept in kennel? Tried to escape?
Scars on legs, broken toe.
More comfortable around women and men who sat or knelt. Once, I picked up a rake in the backyard and she panicked. Suggests that she was beaten by a man standing up wielding a stick.
Never got over it. Always a bit shy and frightened of everything.
Life with Jim
She didn't have much passion (that may have been beaten out of her).
She didn't like the car, dog park, or NY.
She just liked me, her house, and her apt. She just loved being with me, greeting me from the bedroom or den door.
She most loved having her head cradled in the crook of my elbow.
She would lean against my leg when we stopped to talk to people while out walking.
She liked going for walks with her sisters and me. Waiting while I ate. Running around the sofa units. Coming up to me in the den.
“You have nothing to fear. No one's going to hurt you anymore.”
Favorite phrases for her to hear: “Let's go home.” and “You girls about ready to go home?”
Got Vegas right before mom died
Trips to Orchid, dad.
Trip to Mimosa.
Trips to NY, Lon, Michael, and Mike, and kennel watched her
Taught me to be patient, accepting.
I can't recall ever hearing Vegas bark. Sometimes, very seldom, she would whine in NY when she needed to go out.
People cared for her in NYC. Lots of empathy. Commended me for giving her a good life.
Vegas contracted a kidney disease that impacted digestion of food and nutrients.
Diagnosed with some kidney issues - she’s not processing protein well, its being excreted in her urine.
The plan was to ensure that she was comfortable and pain-free. As her condition worsened, I decided to end her pain and discomfort by having her go to sleep. Her abusive nightmare was finally be over.
She was with me for 7 years, 8 months
She certainly loved me, but never quite felt totally at ease.
She can no longer get on the bed, go for walks, or sit for treats. She may be depending on me to help her feel better and to make the suffering and discomfort to stop.
Learned, too late, that Vegas and I had a special kinship - childhood abuse, low self-esteem, frightened of others.
She got sick. She got old. She died
She had a good life with me. Her first 5 years were a terror nightmare for her - she was abused: no socializing and beaten with a stick. She never really got over it. She was always a bit shy and frightened of everything. She certainly loved me, but never quite felt totally at ease whenever we left the house.
January 22, 2009: Diagnosed with kidney disease; we put her on a special diet and medication in OK and NY
June 17, 2010: Decide to return to OK due to concerns about Vegas' health. Realized this would be her last visit in NYC - last car ride, last motels. Need to get her home where she is more comfortable - house, yard, and naberhood (we were back for about 4 weeks).
Tuesday, July 13: Made a vet appt for Thurs, to run tests to see if she could make it back to NYC. Worked in the yard (Manhattan got out and roamed a bit). Too tired that evening to take a walk with the girls.
Wensday, July 14: She doesn't eat in the morning (or ever again.) She doesn't want to take a walk, so Manny and I go. Evening: she pants and her heartbeat is louder. I realized she was dying, her kidneys were not functioning well, and toxins were probly being released.
Thursday, July 15: She has discharged and left stains on the carpet. Showered, 8:15a: took a walk to the park to clear mind and think. “My girl is dying, but I don't want her to suffer. I want a little bit more time - for her just to lay there a few hours and then she should go to sleep from her corner where she slept.”
Called vet to cancel the 9:20a appt. Broke down and couldn't make euthanasia appt. Called at 9:15 and spoke with the vet. We made an appt for euthanasia on Friday at 11a. Vegas and I had one more night together. Went to MacDonald’s for breakfast. Terry Clark joined me and we talked; Lowe’s for hardware. Worked on flat screen wall mount all day. Called/texted Greg and Strubys. Postponed Friday pm with Strubys to spend weekend with Manhattan, sadness, and moving on. Went to Scott’s for Greg’s birthday party. Stayed almost 2 hours. Then home.
Friday, July 16: 6:30a: Vegas walked to the backyard to eat plants (to settle an upset stomach?) Hard times: waiting for the vet to arrive with the drugs - knowing that this is her last morning, last sunshine, last hearing my voice and feeling my strokes in her fur. She will soon go to sleep. Not her choice, maybe. But mine - she hasn't eaten, moves awkwardly, and her breathing and heartbeat seem abnormal. Its time for her to go to sleep. But, its still hard.
Watched for their arrival. Waved them in - went back to say a final goodbye to Vegas, then back to driveway. Teared up “I suspect you’ve seen grown men cry.” Yes. We went inside. Signed form and got ready. Had to bribe Manhattan with treats to give us an undisturbed moment.
11:08: drugs administered. Patrick in the corner, Dr. Woods at the window, I got on the bed and held and stroked her head as she fell asleep fairly quickly. Manhattan joined me on the bed and lay quietly next to me. Tried to close Vegas’ eyes. She slept and her heart stopped. Vet: “She’s gone.” I took Manny for a brief walk while they bagged her up and put her on the stretcher. I came back and opened the door for them. We said goodbyes and hugs at the car. I went back inside and bawled. My girl is gone. My 3rd dog has left me. Spent the rest of the day resting, shopping, mounting a cable channel; evening: worked with Raymond on the side yard gravel.
Saturday, July 17: Tough morning - first in over 7 years with her not here. (Slight migraine) Manhattan and I took a walk
Wensday, July 21: Vet's office called - her ashes were in and ready to be picked up. I was able to bring her home.
Vegas stats and dates
Color: Tan, white
Born: about May 1, 1997
Retired from kennel: June 17, 2002 (5 years old)
Saw at PetSmart: Sunday, November 17, 2002
Adoption agency: Hounds of the Heartland
Adopted: Friday, November 22, 2002
Diagnosed with liver disease: January, 2009
Stopped eating: July 13, 2010
Died: Friday, July 16, 2010
Age: 9 years 7 months
Length of time with Jim: 7 years, 8 months
Dallas had been dead for a year - I was ready to get another dog, a pal for Vegas. A dog that would enjoy summers and winters in New York City. I checked the website for the group that handles greyhound adoptions in central Oklahoma. There were two that looked promising - criteria: about 2 years old (past the housebreaking and chewing stage), female, and very social. I was seeking a dog that would like the energy of New York, want to play with the other dogs in the dog park, look forward to walking along the Hudson esplanade and in Battery Park, enjoy riding in the car, and not be timid and introverted. I emailed and called someone who knew the dogs and the one called Squirrel was recommended. We arranged to bring her over to the house to see how she would respond to Vegas, me, and the house. She shit in the car on the way over, but, other than that, she did great. She sniffed around, jumped up on the bed, grabbed a chew toy and carried it around. It seemed she was home.
Naming the new dog
Okay, I guess I'm stuck with this concept of naming my dogs after cities that are significant in my life. The obvious city was New York City. But, New York City is just too long and cumbersome. Battery Park City? Big Apple? LoMa? Manhattan mite be okay - a New York connection to the dog that will spend a lot of time in Manhattan. I called her LoMa and Manhattan. For some reason, maybe a prior similar sounding name, she responded to Manhattan and not to LoMa. Okay, we'll go with that.
In May of 2007, we set out to drive to NYC with Vegas. She didn't handle being in the car very well, so we turned around and I later enrolled us in an obedience class. We trained at home, on our daily walks, and short rides in the car. She is now more comfortable - we regularly drive to the dog park in Edmond and she now tolerates the 3-day trips to and from New York City.
Manhattan (the dog) got sick in Manhattan (the city). Months ago, while boarded in OKC, she chewed off her collar and apparently swallowed a few pieces. Those pieces eventually wound up in her intestine where they bunched up and blocked her intestine completely. She spent a day and nite vomiting bile. She didn't drink nor eat for about 30 hours. I took her to the vet at 7:59 (it opened at 8:00) and they began a long process of assessment - x-rays and ultrasound, and then, performed surgery to remove the blockages. The surgeon cut into her stomach and her intestine. She was away from home from Thursday morning to Sunday afternoon. I was concerned that something would happen to her just as something had happened to Austin, my first greyhound who died while undergoing surgery. But, all went well. I went to visit her in the hospital a couple of times, just two subway stops from my naberhood. I also wanted her to feel a sense of familiarity and comfort. I was very impressed with the vet in Battery Park City, the surgeons at the hospital, and the staff in both places. Everyone was very caring, competent, and professional. A tough experience that I am glad is over. The fotos below are of the animal hospital in Tribeca, just south of Canal Street.
Wensday June 3, 2009: Morning dog park - she was fine. She then vomited the rest of the day and thru the night. At least 12 times; for 24 hours. On the bed. She didn’t want to vomit on the bed, but she was sick. She vomited at the dog park that evening.
Thursday: Not much sleep - she kept vomiting on the bed. 7:30: took her for a morning walk. 7:59a: got to the vet, made appt for 9:30a. Then to the apt - laundered 1 bedspread. Back up to get Manhattan for the vet - she had since vomited in 4 places. I rinsed those carpet tiles and took her down to the vet. Fortunately, its not a burden to rearrange my schedule to take care of her.
9:30: took x-rays that would take 20 minutes, so, I went back to the laundry room.
Then back to the vet - diagnosis: potential pancreatitis, but she needs more tests - ultrasound. They will take her to their West Village location and will call me later. I left the vet and went back to laundry.
Late morning: I went to vet to see her - she was in a cage with an IV drip in her wrapped leg. She seemed distant.
Vet called after the ultrasound: it was not pancreatitis. There was an obstruction in her intestine. They sent her to Tribeca for surgery. Vet said she hasn’t vomited and is comfortable.
Subbed to Union Sq: eat Chipotle, email Lon/Sean, Petco to buy dog food for Vegas. Weepy all day - so afraid of losing her and after I had treated her so poorly, I felt bad.
Evening: took long walk thru Battery Park, drizzle mist, wrote in journal. Vegas slept on the bed next to me. She would perk up every time I walked into the apt, wondering if her sister was with me.
Friday: awaiting phone calls from surgeon. I stayed in the apt all day.
12:20: surgeon, Dr. Yoshita, called with reassurance - exploratory surgery would be in about an hour. Manhattan will stay in the hospital until Saturday or Sunday. I can visit anytime but not today after surgery.
2:20: Yoshita's asst called to say the surgeon was running behind, but about to go into surgery now.
4:00: call from W Village hospital - charge is $617.60. I asked for a copy of the charges before authorizing payment. Called Dr. Berks to verify charges (he had quoted $200-300 - he apologized), emailed WV and paid the bill.
5:00: Dr. Yoshita called. Manhattan is doing fine - she did well under anesthesia; her blood pressure remained steady. They found foreign objects in her stomach and small intestine that had bunched up and blocked all passage. Made 3 incisions - 1 in stomach, 2 in intestines - to get all the stuff out. Will keep and monitor her in hospital for 2 days. She'd have no food for 24 hours (just the IV drip of water and nutrients). She said I could visit her on Saturday and pick her up on Sunday about 2pm.
5:44: Took a walk; had a Chipotle beer to celebrate. She is coming home. Felt much relief - so afraid it might be another Austin phone call.
Saturday: took Vegas for a walk. 11:00a: subway to hospital, check in, wait. Spent time with Manhattan and Dr. Slate in staff break room. Manhattan lethargic and calm - nausea, trauma, and drugs. But good visit. Got the bag of foreign objects - pieces from an old collar, maybe from Anne’s when she chewed a collar? Went to Container Store to buy a lidded trash can, then to Union Square to get canned food for Vegas. Sub home.
4:15p: sub back to Tribeca for a visit, took Manhattan for walk to Canal Street. She’s better, more alert. Took her back to hospital. Sub back to Container Store to trade trash cans, got countertop version.
Sunday 12:26p: call from Doctor Slate: she’s doing great - took off her IV and fed her. She is ready to go home.
1:30p: sub to hospital, they brought out Manhattan, instructions, tried to show me the collar - she resisted so much they gave up, got food and pills.
2:00: called car service, rode to Battery Place. I held Manhattan as she stood on the back seat.
2:30: Apartment: sleep, write out post-op schedule (below).
Next 5 days: rest, feed, watch movies and read. At the dog park, I kept the girls in the entry way to pee - she couldn't run with the other dogs yet. Then we took a short walk. By Friday, she was back to normal, no more pills and no more special diet.
• Monday nite: diarrhea
• Tuesday nite: vomiting; to vet on Wensday at 4:15. Got more food and antibiotic pills. They worked.
I have learned these things
1. I won’t worry about money.
2. I will vacuum shed hair, clean up vomit, and anything else that is necessary - I love my dogs more than I love the apt or clean floors.
3. I will work at being less selfish; will be more empathetic and caring.
4. I am very dependent on my dogs as companions, love.
5. I will appreciate my friends more.
She broke her toe
Friday, July 17, 2015, 9:00. While running with another dog at the dog park, she must have twisted or turned her outer toe (no one saw it happen). But later, she was limping and favoring her back left foot. I thought it was just a burr so I lifted her paw to check. I saw the weirdly shaped toe that was at an angle to the others. Decided to not wait until morning but took her and Brooklyn right over to the Emergency Hospital. We were there for about 2 hours - she was x-rayed, toe was reset, and the foot was wrapped in a cast. I have to restrict her activities for a couple of weeks and give her some pain meds.
Medical term: Luxated 5th digit at first joint, left rear leg, no fracture.
Mouth tumor: Tonsillar Squamous Cell Carcinoma September 2016 - January 2017
September/October 2016: She seemed to have less energy. Morning walks were tough - she walked more slowly and tired more quickly. Some mornings, she wouldn't join us - she just lay on the bed or the futon. I didn't push it. We went to the dog park almost every day. There, each dog could wander/run at her own pace.
September 2, 2016: Took her to the vet. Maybe some acid reflux. Gave her Zantac and Pepcid, after a while, her hacking got less frequent. I supplemented dry food with canned thinking it would be easier for her to swallow. I began to mentally prepare.
• October 13, 2016: Took her to vet with Brooklyn - vet weighed her - she lost 5 pounds.
• Week of October 10: Started feeding her canned dog food. She liked that so I upped it to 2 a day. I read how much she should be getting so upped it to 3 a day. She ate all 3 cans morning afternoon and evening, gained some weight, and had more energy. Went to Mitch Park, walked Frisbee course. Thought she would recover and live another year.
Friday or Saturday 21/22: We went to the dog park and she was doing great.
• Sunday, October 23: she didn't eat much at all. After friends left, I went to Target and bought different brand - the one she ate as a youngster. She ate those that afternoon and evening. (During this time, I was dealing with grad students and prepping to go to NYC and close on apt).
• Monday 24: not eating. New plan: only wet - if Brooklyn eats it fine, add more. Drove 66, Arcadia trail; decided to cancel NYC trip.
• Tuesday 25: canceled trip, Manny walked with us and ate breakfast, afternoon car ride and dog park, bank. Evening car drive: Target and PO to vote/mail election ballot.
• Wensday 26: she joined us for a short walk, ate 3 meals.
Friday, October 28, 9a: made appt at vet for 9:40; vet - opened her mouth, saw a growth in her throat. I left her, they will sedate her to remove some and do a biopsy to see if it is benign and to see how extensive it is in her throat. Drove home and took Brooklyn for a long walk. 11:50a: vet call: tonsil tumor. Will send bit off for biopsy, X-ray chest and check lymph node to see if it has spread. Got Brooklyn, gas, vet pickup; Drove to OSU. 1:30: dropped off tumorette. Drove by Art Bldg, tailgate tents, Walkaround house decs, snax, drive. 3:00: Edmond, pick up Manhattan, She had late lunch and dinner. The tumor was painful and prevented her from eating. She was on medication for pain and inflammation and an appetite stimulant. That helped ease pain so she could eat again.
• Saturday 29: She ate breakfast, dog park visit, lunch, somewhat normal - removing part of tumor may help her eat and drink more comfortably.
• Sunday 30 am: gurgles, no breakfast; eat a bit about 11:30a, brief dog park.
• Monday 31: walk/sit in park, ate at 1:00, ate again, car ride, 5:00: vet call, aggressive cancer on her right tonsil, discuss options; call oncologist: sked appt. She ate twice; Kamps; dogs walked naborhood: costumed kids.
• Tuesday November 1, 9:45: pain shot at vet, ate in afternoon, dog park: gang support, talked, hugged, Brooklyn played; fro yog to home - they loved it.
• Wensday 2: no eat, no yogurt (Brooklyn ate both); class; quick drive, eat overnite?
Thursday November 3: watch TV together; Oncologist appt 11a: Prognosis: Tonsillar Squamous Cell Carcinoma, metastasizes early in 98% of cases. She’d have a few more weeks if we did nothing, 6 months if we fight back. We’re fighting back. We discussed options, left her for tests, assessment; got lunch, drove Brooklyn home. 4:30p Oncology: discussed options. Decided on new medicine and sked surgery for Tuesday. Took girls home, Manny ate right away. Rested.
• Friday 4: ate okay; took drive, store.
• Saturday 5: Pain med arrived: gave her partial dose, she ate okay, good dog park visit: saw people, shared news.
Sunday 6: ate okay, Gail & Cindy Lou, Renee & Lucy played in yard, walks; drive.
Monday 7: ate okay, walks.
Tuesday, November 8: Little sleep, drive around; Surgery to remove the tumor, ask for tumor, home, eat, call 12:30: The tumor was bigger and more deeply attached than they thought, so it was quite a struggle but they think they got it out. They also removed a lymph node in her cheek. Called back at 4: all agreed she spends the night at the hospital so they can monitor her, feed her, and check her pain level. Brooklyn to dog park, lots of running, visiting.
Tumor from surgery, about the size of a ping pong ball. I wanted to torture it for what it did to my girl.
• Wensday 9: call, get Manny 10a, rest, pills; class; pills, rest. She's got stitches in her cheek and in her throat but she's home resting and eating okay; taking three different medications. We're just gonna take it easy for a couple of weeks for her to heal up.
Thurs-Fri 10-11: pills & rest.
Saturday 12: took her to Hospital for pills - two assts struggled, not just me. Drive Lake Arcadia.
Sunday 13: easier am pills, drive Mitch Pk, pm pills in her food (she ate some, not much).
Monday 14: best day, yet: no pills, walked to park on leash - she had more energy, ate well, drank water; evening walk.
• Tuesday 15: vomit, no eat, very skinny; did go on short walks.
• Wensday 16 - Monday 21: better, eat little - okay, some pills; brief dogpark on Fri evening.
Tuesday, November 22: Meeting with the oncologist to discuss further treatment options. Decided to not do chemo or radiation - the trauma and ordeal would not be worth gaining a few more weeks or months.
• 10 Days: calmer, no pill trauma. Return to 'normal': brief dog park, car rides, walks.
Friday, December 2: Tumor on lymph node grew noticeably. She ate okay and went on evening walk.
• Tuesday 6 - Wensday 7: liquid sac under chin.
Thursday, December 8: checkup cancer doctor: heat to growth and sac, keep comfortable, feed grilled chicken.
• Friday: Dog park: longer visit, eating okay - grilled chik-fil-a.
Saturday, December 10: large scar on neck, with oozing liquid, tumor bigger.
• Sunday 11 - Thursday 15: wound better, eating okay, walks; larger neck bubble.
Friday, December 16: hospital, drain bubble, antibiotic shot. Positive assessment: tumor smaller, less fluid.
Saturday 17 - Tuesday 27: Draining, shrinking bubble; eating okay, short walks; antibiotic flavored syringe.
Above: 12-20. Below: Christmas 2016.
Above left: 12-26. Above right: 12-27.
Tried a diaper around the wound to keep it clean so we could go to the dog park:
Later, I would put on a diaper each morning and erach evening. It worked well to absorb the 'cancer juice'.
Wensday, December 28: not eat chicken; cleaned her neck; dog park: no walk, short visit; ate burger in evening.
Thursday 29: hospital appt: tumors in neck nodes, tumor regrowing in throat - eat small; ate egg sausage well; Feed her bits of protein, keep comfortable. No more hope.
Friday 30 - Sunday 1: Draining; eating okay, short walks.
Monday January 2 2017: Towel bath, dog park: longer visit - see Pat & Gail, eating okay - burgers and bkfst.
• Tuesday 3 - Thursday 12: 4 meals a day: burgers, breakfast sandwich, sausage; neck tumors decrease; still dripping. Fotos from 1-10:
• Friday: Final visit to dog park. Renee, Joanie, Gail, Pat, Andrew and pets. No energy, lots of petting and goodbyes.
Saturday 14: hacking overnight, weak standing. Decide to call vet. Could have them come by that morning or we wait until Tues (Mon holiday?) But, I had enough food, medicine, and diapers. She enjoyed being with us. We can just take it easy (no commitments) for 3 days. If it gets worse, I can take her to the 24/7 hospital.
Below left: Saturday night she joined me on the bed and nestled next to my face. What did she suspect was happening?
Above right: Sunday night (her last), she nestled again and slept on my arm:
• Sunday: raining, I drove to the mall to buy a Lego set.
Monday January 16: Morning, I called the vet to request an euthanasia. They would call the vet and call me back. I went into the hot tub and, to be near me, she came outside and lay in the grass and kept an eye on me:
The vet's office called me back at about 8:45 - we set an appt for 10:45. I had 2 more hours with my baby girl. I talked with her - Bye baby, I love you more than anything in the world. You were a great dog. It's time to go to sleep and rest with no pain, no embarrassment, no suffering. Brooklyn and I will be fine, we will miss you very very much. Bye my baby. Then we all went on a farewell drive to Hafer Park and 2nd Street; I cut it short - she had laid down in the back and I wanted to be with her at home for our last 30 minutes together.
The waiting was tense - I tried my best to steel up and think logically - how this was the best for her, no more drooling, dripping, painful eating. When the vet and a tech showed up, logic was overtaken by emotion. I signed the form and gave them all her pills and syringes. We all went in the bedroom and sat on the bed: me behind her head and back, the vet in front, tech to the left of her head, and Brooklyn. She finally found a vein in her back leg and administered the heart-stopping drug. Brooklyn was laying in the middle of the bed. She got up and came over to me and licked the tears off my face. Then whined a bit and lay back down. I kept petting Manhattan's head and body. We all watched the heart beat until it got still.
I took Brooklyn outside, they loaded her body onto a stretcher, took her outside, and loaded her into the back of a hatchback. Brooklyn tried to jump in the car - the vet pulled her out. Then, when the vet opened her car door, Brooklyn tried to jump in again. We pulled her back and I turned to go inside. Brooklyn refused. She stood motionless, staring at the car as it backed out of the driveway. Finally, we went inside.
Deep moans. My baby was gone forever. I could never stroke her soft fur again. She had a good, long, and full life. She had a good playmate, walks, 13 road trips: 2 to Illinois, 2 to Dallas, 1 trip to LA, running in the Pacific Ocean, and the Grand Canyon, and 8 trips to NYC, walking downtown and along the Hudson River. I gave her a great home and much love. I have no guilt, just appreciation, joy, and some sadness. She got an aggressive cancer. We fought it for a while. It won. Sometimes life's a bitch. 3 months of vet visits, messes, special diets, laundry.
Within a few minutes, Brooklyn and I went for a walk. Brooklyn looked back at the front door, waiting on her sister, wondering why she wasn't going with us? The next few days, she seemed to have some expectation that Manhattan would be coming home soon.
Thursday January 19: Picked up her ashes. Took them in the car to Santa Fe the next morning and set them in the hotel room. Symbolically, she went on the road trip with us.
• A carpenter friend is building a wooden Empire State Building model to hold some ashes. Others will be scattered in her favorite resting spots in the back yard.
Total medical cost: $2,600
• Loving the dog park, sniffing all over.
• Frolicking in the Pacific at Venice.
• Driving back from LA and the water pump goes out and we ride in the tow truck to Pampa. She was so well-behaved.
• Dog park friends & support.
• Wiping off drool and she looks up at me with eyes that say she's sorry and she's embarrassed and ashamed a little bit for putting me through this.
• Brooklyn letting her eat.
• Med syringe each morning
• Burgers and egg mcmuffins 4 x day
• Laying with me on the sofa units watching TV, on the futon when I ate, on the pad in the office, in the grass if I'm outside, on the bed
• When Brooklyn and I would take a walk, she would move to the bed so she could look out the window and watch for us.
Manhattan stats and dates
Color: Brown brindle
Born: August 11, 2005
Saw online: Friday, March 23, 2007
Adopted: Saturday, March 31, 2007
Surgery on stomach: Friday, June 5, 2009
Surgery on toe: Friday, July 17, 2015
Stomach hacking: September 2016
Vet saw a growth in her throat, biopsy, October 28
Surgery to remove tumor: Tuesday, November 8
Tumor regrowing in throat: Thursday, December 29
Last breath: Monday, January
16, 2017, 11:10a
Age: 11 years, 5+ months
Length of time with Jim: 9 years, 9.5 months
Eddie (Edmond Watson IV)
One fall afternoon, I looked out the front window and there was a black puppy playing in the yard across the street. I was concerned about this puppy getting run over so I went outside to catch him. Expecting it to run away, I stood back and whistled, but he looked up at me and immediately came running right up to me. I brought him inside. Yeeow - he stunk. I bathed, fed, and bathed him again. He was very skinny and his coat was a mess. The next day I took him to the vet for boarding with Vegas and Manhattan while I went on a planned trip to NYC. The vet gave him his shots and gave him another bath (he still stunk a bit, despite 2 baths already). He gained some weight. When I returned from NY, I picked up the dogs and brought Eddie home. The girls at the vet counter were a bit baffled when I told them his name was Eddie - Wait a minute, all your dogs (4 so far) have been named after cities. What's up with this one? I explained that Eddie was short for Edmond. That satisfied them and they felt all was okay again in the universe. I once caught a mouse in the kitchen - I named it Eddie, short for Edmond. But I only kept it for a few days. I released him in the field near the park. The name Eddie was available again. It fit this dog. His full name is Edmond Watson IV (the 4th because it sounds more distinguished and because 4 is my lucky number).
But Eddie was just too much - I didn't have enough time to raise another puppy - the messes, the chewing, and the need for attention. I was at OSU for 3-4 full days of the week. I reluctantly decided to take him to the shelter. He whined. It was hard to leave him there.
For the next few months, I checked the newspaper and the shelter website to see if he was still available for adoption, hoping he would find a good home. Sometime in January, he was adopted. I hope and assume he is in a good home.
Eddie stats and dates
Breed: Mixed - Labrador Retriever with possible Doberman
Born: May, 2008
Saw in naberhood: Monday, September 15, 2008
Took to shelter: Monday, September 26, 2008
Adopted (but not by me): January, 2009
Length of time with Jim: 11 days
I had finally decided: I am not going to get another dog. I am home more and Manhattan has adjusted to being the only dog in the house (its been a year since Vegas died). We have driven to both coasts and taken drives to Starbucks, fast food drive-thrus, and the dog park. A second dog would double all my pet expenses and make it more of a hassle to drive to NY and stay in motels along the way (most of the motels have a pet policy of one pet, although they have all accommodated my two dogs in the past).
But, about 2 weeks later, on a Thursday afternoon, after a good class at UCO, I took Manhattan to the dog park. I was feeling real good about how well the class went and how much I was enjoying teaching again. Then I saw a couple, Mike and Greta, with 3 greyhounds, their own two tan ones and this other darker one. I walked up to them and declared:
T h a t i s a b e a u t i f u l d o g .
They agreed and shared that she had just been turned in to the rescue/adoption agency and they were just 'fostering' her until she could be placed in a home. I expressed interest and asked to be considered when it was put up for adoption in a week.
Greta texted the chief adopter and got approval for me to adopt. I knew the upcoming Monday and Tuesday would be busy so I asked about taking possession on Thursday or Friday. But the next day, Saturday, I called and asked them to bring her on over. Why wait a few more days. I had made up my mind. This would be our new dog.
Life lesson: Sometimes we just do shit and then figure it out later.
This was one of those times. Adopting another dog defied my earlier rational conclusion not to. But, I am so glad I did. She is a great pal for Manhattan. They romp and play in the backyard. Vegas was so shy and reserved that Manhattan never really had a playmate. Now she does.
I was very nervous when I had to take her to the vet for her spay surgery. Austin, my first greyhound died while in surgery and I get very uncomfortable whenever another dog has to go in to surgery. Of course, it all went just fine, a bit of extra bleeding, but nothing serious.
Because she is still a pup - I have had to puppy-proof the house (move shoes and chewables out of reach, strew toys and chew treats around, and have cleanser and towels ready). She learned how to use the doggy door in about 4 minutes, was housebroken in a few days, and we are taking walks on a short leash so she can learn commands, to stay by me, and that lunging for squirrels and cats does no good - it just hurts her neck a bit. She is very smart and a fast learner. Once, I threw her toy into the living room. She ran from the carpeted bedroom to the hardwood floor; her legs slid out from under her and she landed on her side. She got up and brought me the retrieved toy. I threw it again, but this time, when she got the edge of the carpet, she slowed down and gingerly walked on the slick wood to the toy. She remembered, and learned.
Emails re adoption
Sent: Friday, October 7, 2011, 12:46p
Subject: Greyhound adoption
This is Jim Watson. I saw a greyhound at the Edmond dog park yesterday with Mike and Greta. I am very interested in adopting this dog. This would be my 4th greyhound. I adopted Vegas and Manhattan and have always had a pair of dogs. Vegas died of kidney disease and Manhattan is alone now (well, other than with me.) I can guarantee I'll provide an ideal home environment - walks every day, dog park several times a week, toys and treats, doggie door for freedom in the house and yard, and plenty of love and caring.
Thanks for considering me as a potential new home for this beautiful dog.
Sent: Friday, October 7, 2011, 1:30 p
Subject: Greyhound adoption
I talked to Greta last night and hoped you would contact me! She will go to the vet next week- Monday probably, and will be spayed and fully vetted and they can take a look at her leg and see if it's just bruised or what.
She was hit by a car (that's how we got her, the poor thing) but in a very minor way and she didn't show a limp until at the dog park, so I'm thinking it may just be bruising but we'll find out for sure and make sure we take care of her. The girl who hit her had slammed on her brakes and barely nudged her, but it may have caused some soreness. The girl then immediately called us and we were able to go get her. There have been no lost greyhound ads posted and nobody has called us about her. She wasn't wearing the appropriate type of collar, either, so we know she was not owned by someone who knows greyhounds well.
Think about her over the weekend and let me know your thoughts. It might be beneficial for her to come home with you after her vet visit so she doesn't have to keep changing environments - but if that's too soon for you I'm sure Mike & Greta would be willing to take her for a few days until you are ready. We're flexible.
I'm sorry to hear about Vegas.
Sent: Saturday, October 08, 2011
Subject: Greyhound adoption
The transfer with Greta and Mike went very smooth. Grey's new name: Brooklyn. Greta's idea - Manhattan and Brooklyn. The connecting leash is the Brooklyn Bridge.
The evening went well. Brooklyn explored the house and yard and learned how to use the doggie door. Then the 2 dogs played in the yard and tuckered themselves out.
All is good. And I am enjoying the rain. Thanks for all your help.
Naming the new dog
This one was quite easy for me - I didn't name her. People at the dog park saw her with Manhattan and simply referred to the new one as Brooklyn. We all chuckled. I couldn't think of anything better than Brooklyn, but was bothered slightly by the fact that I never lived in Brooklyn and my dog's names were places I've lived. Wait a minute, I have never lived in Las Vegas, I've stayed there many times; and I named a dog Vegas. Well, okay, I can accept Brooklyn - I've been there many times and it is a part of New York City, where I often do live. So, Brooklyn it is. I refer to the connecting leash as the Brooklyn Bridge. Both girls have been to NYC where the locals got a real kick out of their names.
October 29, 4:30p. I went to Petco and bought her some new toys. One was her favorite - she was hyper with that silly thing. Later, she and Manhattan were playing in the back yard when I heard a brief yelp. I called them inside to go take a walk to burn off some of their energy. Went in to the bedroom. Manhattan was jumping up, eager to go. But, when I looked down, Brooklyn was just sitting still. When she got up I could see the rear leg just hanging. She wouldn't let it touch the ground. She sat back down. I turned off the OSU/Baylor game, picked her up, and carried her to the car.
We went to the weekend emergency hospital where she bled on the waiting room floor. After examination, the vet found no broken or sprained bones, just a deep puncture wound that hit the muscle, causing pain so that she favored that leg by not putting any weight on it. We spent a few days resting and doing drugs together. I had to monitor her activity - she has taken on the role of protecting the house from squirrels. But not now - that is too stressful on the hurt leg.
While the dogs were boarded and I was in NYC, the vet x-rayed her leg and discovered that her kneecap had been fractured and would likely not heal on its own. We decided she would undergo surgery to place a pin and wire in her knee. Uh oh, another greyhound undergoing leg surgery. Last time was with Austin and she died while in surgery. I get nervous whenever one of the girls is under anesthesia. I explained my nervousness to the surgeon who understood and promised to call me right after the surgery. The surgery went well.
Picked her up on Monday after returning from NYC, but it turned out to be very uncomfortable: diarrhea with blood, shits, and whining - kept her for just 3 nights. It seemed so cruel for her to be in the house, but not able to run in the yard, sleep on the bed, play with Manhattan, and roam free. So, Thursday morning, I checked her in to the vet for post-op ICU boarding.
It turned out to be a smart move for her and me. I brought her back home two weeks later - her sutures were out, she was using her leg more, and she was off the pain medications. The next 4 weeks were pretty tough, monitoring her constantly and trying to keep her still and quiet. She was still a puppy, after all, and wanted to run and play. The night before the rehab was to end, she sat down during our evening walk. We slowly made it home where her rear legs just went limp. She couldn't stand at all - just scooted around and dragged her back legs. I picked her up and took her to the vet and then to the emergency hospital. They kept her overnight. I got a call the next morning saying that she was up and walking around. It seems to be that she has fibrocartilaginous embolism, a spinal nerve condition, but fortunately, it was only a minor episode.
The surgery had failed - the wire came loose and the two sections of the kneecap never came together to fuse. I spent thousands of dollars and weeks of hassle only to have her no better off than had we done nothing. A friend pointed out that, sometimes, we need to listen to the animal and not worry about her being perfect. After almost 2 months of keeping her restricted, I decided on a new tactic - let her be herself.
So, I went home from the final surgeon visit (in which he said she needs another 2-3 months of limited activity to allow more scar tissue to form) and opened up the doggie door, put the mattress back up on the bed, and let Brooklyn run in the back yard and play with Manhattan. She loved it. She is much happier as she is free to run and play, jump on the bed, and act like a dog.
Brooklyn stats and dates
Color: dark brindle
Born: about March 1, 2011
Hit by car: week of October 2, 2011
Saw at dog park: Thursday, October 6
Emails about adoption: Friday, October 7
Delivered to house: Saturday, October 8
Leg puncture wound, hospital: Saturday, October 29
Boarding: Tuesday, November 8-14
Surgery: broken kneecap: Thursday, November 10
Nurse her at home: Monday - Thursday, November 14-17
Post-op boarding at vet: Thursday, Nov 17 - Thursday, Dec 1
Sutures removed: Monday, November 21
Brought home from boarding, closed dog door: Thursday, December 1
Removed crate, put mattress on floor: Friday, December 2
Check-up and x-ray: Friday, December 16
Surgery: remove pin and wires: Wensday, December 21
Fibrocartilaginous embolism, rear legs collapsed: 4:45p, Fri, Dec 30
Vet and hospital: 5:15-8:45p, Friday, December 30
Call re 'walking around': 7:45a, Saturday, December 31
Sutures removed: January 3, 2012
Bed restored to normal, dog door reopened: January 3
Eye exam: Thursday, Febuary 16
Eye surgery OKC: Thursday, Febuary 23
Start anti-anxiety pills and behavior modification training: Tuesday Sept 11
Monday Nov 7-13: Return to normalcy: new bedspread, new blinds, sofa pillows, hot tub towel, closet shelves
Eye checkup Dallas: Thursday, July 11, 2013
Age: 5 years 11 months
Length of time with Jim: 5 years 4 months
200 Emerg hospital, leg wound
100 Vet, x-rays, meds
1,750 Surgery: wire/pin kneecap
443 Vet boarding, post-op icu
82 Supplies: extra toys, Fabreze, cleaner, Nature's Miracle
125 Surgery: remove pin & wires
470 Vet/hospital: FCE
600 Stuff: remotes, blinds, shoes, remotes, DVDs, towel, sheet, bedspread, cushion, stereo,
640 Eye exams and surgery
100 Vet: anti-anxiety drugs
260 Eye exams and drive to Dallas
4,770 Total dollars
Fotos: 1961-2007 2008-2012 2013-Now
1992-2002, Numerous trips to Dallas with Dallas & Austin
2005, July, with Vegas 1
2006, May 30 - August 8, with Vegas 2
2006-07, December - January, with Vegas 3
2007, May 16 - June 17, with Vegas 4 (without Manhattan)
2008, May 29 - July 19, with Vegas 5 & Manhattan 1
2009, May 12 - July 7, with Vegas 6 & Manhattan 2 The Surgery
2009, December: Illinois, with Vegas & Manhattan
2010, April 15 - June 20, with Vegas 7 & Manhattan 3
2010, August 2-21, with Manhattan 4
2010, October 8-18: Los Angeles, Grand Canyon, with Manhattan
2010-11, December 21 - January 11, with Manhattan 5 The Blizzard
2011, May 9 - June 16, with Manhattan 6
2013, April 12-13: Illinois, with Manhattan & Brooklyn
2015, April 30 - May 16, with Manhattan 7 & Brooklyn 1
2016, April 16-25, with Manhattan 8 & Brooklyn 2
2017, January 20-23: Santa Fe, with Brooklyn
Fotos of the dogs
Oklahoma is a national hub for the greyhound industry
Prior to 1900, a few pioneers in Oklahoma Territory brought greyhounds in to run off coyotes and jack rabbits. In time, neighbors began pitting their fastest greyhounds against one another in community races.
National Greyhound Association records show the first documented greyhound race for money was in 1919 in California. Two years later the scene shifted to Tulsa. Today a number of greyhound farms can be found in far eastern Oklahoma and throughout southwestern Oklahoma. OK Greyhounds - in terms of both quantity and quality - are among the best. Thousands are shipped annually to racing tracks in Connecticut, West Virginia, Iowa, Louisiana, Florida, and Texas. Over the last three years, 18,000 dogs a year have been adopted out as pets. Probably 80 to 85 percent go back to the farms or become pets.