In Remembrance of My Sweet Takala

Today is the anniversary of the passing of my sweet angel Takala. She was a beautiful tall skinny greyhound; I used to call her my “skinny little model girl” – she always sashayed and trotted with her head held up high. She had great confidence and so much grace.

cross-paws

She was a brood mama and had given birth to 13 puppies long before I got her. She came to me in a desperate situation. She had been living in Florida when it was discovered that she was the mother of a greyhound who was living here in Austin. The owner of that dog made arrangements to reunite mother and son and somehow got Takala here to Austin to live with them. Takala never really settled into that household: there were two young and very loud, very rambunctious kids running around the house screaming all the time and that just made Takala a nervous wreck. The couple ended up getting a divorce and the woman left, leaving all her dogs with friends. Takala went to stay with my friend Bobbie, but the day after she arrived, Bobbie’s house flooded and she called me in a panic, needing me to take some of her dogs for a time while they stayed in a hotel waiting for their house to dry out and their floors to be redone. They ended up in the hotel for nearly 2 months and by that time Takala had really settled in to my place. After all, she had been uprooted from Florida, moved across country and into a house with a bunch of screaming kids and then rehomed again, only to be jerked out of a flooding house to flee to yet another home, my house. Being at my house for 2 months, she had adjusted, settled and bonded with my four greyhounds – and me.

When my friend came to get her dogs, I said, “Do I have to give Takala back? She’s all settled in here and I already love her.” Her response: “Oh Thank God! Because I hadn’t yet told my husband that we were getting another dog.” So it worked out perfectly. Takala then came to be my dog.  That was back in August of 2002. She was 9 years old.

Takala at Christmas parade

Takala at the Chuy’s Christmas Parade – Nov 2002

Takala was such a gentle soul. So sweet and docile. She had such innocence about her. I always told her that I imagined she must’ve been a fabulous mama dog to all her puppies. She was a welcome addition to my pack and fit in famously. Walking five greyhound around the neighborhood, we became known as the “Six-Pack” – very fitting considering that I used to own a bar…and the fact that we were always a little off-balance when we walked together!

Takala had a most voracious appetite. She never ceased to amaze me how much she could eat…and how much she liked to eat. And she was SO SKINNY! Seriously skinny. You could see her hip bones and her rib bones. And she ate like a horse! I think people thought I never fed this girl, she was so thin. But she just had one of those fast metabolisms…a metabolism that I would give my left lung for!

Takala was fairly healthy but at nine, she had developed a heart condition. We kept that well under control with medication. Sadly she was diagnosed with bone cancer in July of 2005. She was the first dog to which I had to say goodbye. And I was really out of my comfort zone. I had no idea what to expect. I was worried that I wouldn’t know when it was time, time to let go. The vet told me that I would know, that she would stop eating and it would be apparent.

Well, she never stopped eating. The bone cancer was progressing and she was getting more painful. I kept waiting for her to stop eating. But no matter how bad she felt, she was always excited for her meals.

I finally realized that lack of eating wasn’t going to be the indicator for me to know when to say goodbye. It was her level of discomfort that would be the determining factor. I actually had made the phone call to schedule the euthanasia twice but ended up cancelling because Takala would rally an hour or so after I had already placed the call. I’d call back and say, “Cancel the euthanasia! She’s rallied and I don’t think she wants to go yet.” In hindsight, I think she was rallying FOR ME, because she knew what a hard time I was having making the decision. But when it got to the point that she needed to be cooled down with ice packs because her temperature was spiking due to the fact that she simply couldn’t get comfortable, I knew it was time to let her go.

spending the night together

I called my vet the morning of November 10th, 2005. She said she could be at my house by 6:30 that evening. It was our last day together. I had spent several nights sleeping on the floor with her, trying to comfort her and lull her to sleep so she could get a momentary relief from the throbbing pain of the osteosarcoma. This day I also spent down on the floor with her, saying all the things I wanted to say to her. I started laughing about how she always made me giggle over how much she loved to eat. So I thought I’d give her a special send-off treat: I left her that afternoon to go to McDonald’s. I pulled up to the drive-thru and placed an order for five double-meat cheeseburgers. I came home with the bag of burgers, got on the floor with her and began breaking pieces of the hamburger off and feeding them to her. She gobbled down one burger, two burgers, then a third…then another one and, Oh my God, she ate all FIVE burgers. Five DOUBLE-MEAT CHEESEBURGERS! When the last of the burgers was gone, she was still sniffing around the floor and nudging the bag so I thought, “Well, let’s see if she wants some dessert,” and I went and got her a little dish of ice cream, which she greedily lapped up. That was around 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon.

At 5:00, it was time for me to feed the rest of my crew and I went ahead and mixed up a bowl of kibble with a scoop of canned food for Takala, just in case, figuring she surely wouldn’t want to eat so soon after devouring five McDonald’s burgers. But yep, she jumped up for her dinner! She ate most of that too. That girl soooooo loved to eat!!!

sound asleep, no pain

Just a short while later, my skinny little model girl was gone. I think she was happy with her final day here and her belly full of delight. I miss that precious girl with the peppy bouncy attitude who used to prance past me with her pretty little head held high. I miss loving on her and stroking her neck, which had the softest fur you could ever feel. I miss her innocent eyes and her inquisitive expressions. I miss cuddling with her. She comes to visit me every now and then in my dreams. Oh how I love those visits!

You are dearly missed, sweet Takala. Though our time together was short, it was long on love. Until we meet again, just know you are always in my heart.

Love,

Your mama

Remembering Finnegan (Oct 19, 2005 – June 13, 2011)

fawn greyhound lying in the grass

Three years ago today my boy Finnegan made his transition to the big Rainbow Bridge in the sky. We had such a short time together, eight months only. When I adopted him, even before the adoption was finalized, I took him in to get a dental cleaning but during the examination, my vet told me that we wouldn’t be doing the dental that day because his lymph nodes were swollen. She didn’t like the feel of them and decided to do a needle aspiration. A few minutes later she came back into the exam room and told me the news: Finnegan had Lymphoma.

She was as devastated as I was. She told me that I might want to consider not adopting him because she didn’t think my heart could take losing yet another dog. I had just lost three in less than a year, two within six weeks of each other. It had been a grief-stricken year and she was concerned that one more loss might be more than I could bear. She said she really wanted to see me get a dog that I would have for years. As it was, Finnegan’s prognosis was one to three months.

But I refused to even consider getting another dog. I went ahead with the adoption so Finnegan would go out of this world being a family member and part of a loving home. We went on to treat the Lymphoma with steroids. Whenever he had a flare up his lymph nodes would swell and I’d take him to my vet; she’d give him a power shot of steroids, send me home with a prescription and a word of warning to get prepared because the end could be very soon. But we’d go home and I’d treat him with the prescriptions plus Fish Oil supplements and the swelling would go down and he’d return to normal within a day or two. And then we’d have a few more months of remission, until the next flare-up.

Instead of the one to three month prognosis, Finnegan and I had a fabulous eight months together. He had an amazing spirit! He was a young boy of five years and he had playful energy. He loved to play with the ball and the Frisbee in the yard. He’d toss the ball up in the air and catch it in his mouth, throw it down, make it bounce, catch it in his mouth then run laps of glee. I’d toss the Frisbee and he’d retrieve, run around with it, chew on it for a while and then bring it back for me to toss again. Inside, he loved his stuffy toys. Watching him play, no one would’ve ever guessed he was sick. He had a zest for life and he didn’t want to leave.

IMG_3883

I’m convinced that Fish Oil had a lot to do with the extra months we had together. My vet informed me that some studies had shown that fish oil had an effect on suppressing or slowing the growth of the lymphoma cancer cells. So I loaded him up on Fish Oil every day. Instead of giving him the recommended two to four capsules each day, I was giving him twelve to eighteen capsules every day. He loved them. I usually put them in his food but he’d take them right out of my hand and eat them like treats. He recovered from several flare-ups, against all veterinarian expectation, and I really do believe the Omega 3 Fish Oil capsules played a big role in those recoveries. That, and maybe the fact that he was loved so very much.

I miss you sweet Finnegan! You are forever in my heart. Until we meet again, may you be tossing balls and running on clouds. Remembering you today, and always.

FINNEGAN (aka Biker Boy):  October 19, 2005 – June 13, 2011

Remembering Harry: My Mischief Maker (May 2, 1999 – May 11, 2009)

Ah, my sweet boy Harry. What a dog he was! He was definitely my Mischief Maker.

greyhound playing with Christmas stuffie

Most people knew him as “Crazy Harry” because he was, well, crazy! He had the most unique and fun personality. He was all about good times and shenanigans. He was also a most loving boy. He loved to cuddle, anytime, anywhere. He was so incredibly affectionate.

And he used to crack me up every night: When I’d say “Okay, let’s go to bed” he’d literally fly off the couch and haul-ass to the bedroom and leap up onto the bed to be sure he got the “top spot” — the pillow next to my head. Every single night that made me giggle.

Is she about to say "Let's Go to Bed"??

Is she about to say “Let’s Go to Bed”??

Harry was the fourth dog that I lost but the first one who really taught me that there is nothing to fear about death. The story of his poignant passing can be read here, but in short, it was his passing that made me realize there is most definitely an afterlife and there is an absolute doorway to Heaven.

I miss my Hare-bear so much. Every day I miss him.

Remembering you today, Harry, and every day. I’ll see you someday soon, my precious. Mama loves you always.

In Loving Memory of Harry, aka Premier Cruiser

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May 2, 1999 – May 11, 2009

 

“Remembering Harry” is part of the Monday Mischief Pet Blog Hop. Since Harry was such a mischief maker and since yesterday was the 5-year anniversary of his passing, I thought it fitting to make this Monday Mischief post all about him.
To see the posts of the other bloggers participating in the blog hop, click the link below:

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REMEMBERING MAGGIE

I adopted Maggie on June 7, 1999. She was just 3 years old then. And she was my first greyhound: she awakened my love for all things canine and was the start of my life with dogs.

reverse brindle greyhound

We don’t know any real background on Maggie because she was double tattooed. National Greyhound Association, aka NGA, racing greyhounds are registered and tattooed on the inside flaps of their ears. In one ear is the owner/breeder ID number and in the other is the month and year of birth. When the dogs are illegally disposed of or sold to be used for underground racing, often the owner/breeder tattoo number will be obliterated so that the dog can’t be traced back to them. Maggie had such a tattoo. She was rescued from a rabbit-runner bust and, according to the adoption coordinator, the dogs that were rescued from that underground circuit were in terrible shape. When they got to Maggie, she had to be carried out because she was too weak to walk on her own. She was only 38 lbs when they found her —and her regular weight was supposed to be 65-68 lbs.

She was a two-time bounce-back with the adoption group. A bounce-back is when a dog who had been adopted out is returned. I always found that hard to believe because Maggie was such an incredible dog!  Apparently the first family had adopted her when the husband had a home-based business,
but then he got a job outside of the home and Maggie started peeing in the house, so instead of working with her on it, they gave her back. The second woman who adopted her said she couldn’t control her (Maggie was very strong-willed!). So ironically –but I believe it was actually fate– the day that Maggie got returned for the second time, the woman dropped her off at the GPA Meet & Greet and I just happened to be going over to there to hand in some additional adoption application paperwork.

I’ll never forget the first time we met. They told me her story and said that if I wanted to take her, she was mine. They suggested I walk around with her for a little while, which we did. I took her outside for a walk on the grounds and was sweet-talking to her but she was completely unreceptive to me. I kept telling the adoption coordinator, “She won’t make eye contact with me.” It was bothering me so we sat down on
the steps and I just talked to her and petted her and she just kept averting her gaze. But finally, after what seemed like a very long time, she turned her head and looked into my eyes. And that was it. The bond was established. And it would be one of the most incredible bonds of my life.

the bond between pet and human

Maggie was a love-bug. And everyone who met her fell instantly in love with her. She simply and immediately captured the hearts of everyone who spent any amount of time with her. My vet described her perfectly: “There was something very special about Maggie. She was a real lady.” And that she was.

She was also fun, funny and goofy. Especially at dinner time: she would go into one of her playful modes while I was preparing dinner for the dogs. She would start tossing around the toys in the living room, twirling around in circles and diving at the toys, then throwing them up in the air again and again. This would go on for a few minutes until she had worn herself out. Then she’d come to the doorway of the kitchen, panting, with this big grin on her face, in anxious anticipation for her dinner to be set down.

And just two days before she died, she did exactly that. When she was standing in the doorway that day, I looked at her, laughed and said “Boy, Maggie, no one would ever believe you were 13 years old!” She was actually just two months shy of 13 when she passed.

See, Maggie had been diagnosed with Congestive Heart Disease in December 2008. Her prognosis at the time was three to six months. My vet put her on a cocktail of drugs that turned her around quickly and she was doing fantastic! So good, so back to her normal playful self that I thought we would well surpass that six month prognosis.
Four months into it, she woke me at 5:30 on the morning of April 1st 2009. I took her and the other dogs out to potty, gave Mag her dosage of Lasix and then she came back in and stood next to my bed. Everything was completely normal. I got her up on the bed, and then I crawled in next to her. At that point, she hadn’t yet laid down and was just still standing on the bed. She looked down at me and I chuckled and said “where do you want to go Mag?” She turned and just plopped down. Her one leg was folded underneath her and I said, “Well, that can’t be comfortable” and straightened her leg out for her and then, as usual, I just laid there with her, stroking and rubbing on her. And we were watching the morning news. Just like every other typical morning. Then she started to pant. Her heart condition caused her to pant sometimes but she was panting harder than usual. I continued to stroke her and was soothing her when all of the sudden, she had a big spasm. She spasmed and her legs kicked, then tensed and tightened. I jumped out of bed and ran around to the other side. I grabbed her snout and started blowing into her nostrils, doing mouth to nose resuscitation, screaming “breathe Maggie, breathe!”  But she was limp. And she was gone. In a matter of seconds she was just gone.

I was devastated beyond consolation. But later that day I thought, ‘What a way to go out!” She was completely fine one minute and gone the next. Literally. And she was where she most loved to be, up on my bed, getting stroked and loved on by her mama. I guess you can’t ask for a better way to go than that. We should all be so lucky.

She was my precious princess, my Magarooni, my Magger-Doodle, my sweet angel girl. It’s been five years and I still miss her like I lost her yesterday. She was the one who started this all, my life with dogs, and for that I will be forever grateful. And I will always be thankful for all the love she showered me with and all the lessons she taught me.

I’ve always believed that Maggie was intended for me. After all, she had been bounced out of two homes, two families, and it never made any sense to me because I couldn’t fathom why anyone would ever give up this dog! She was so good and so loving and so well-behaved. After a while, I realized that it was her path and her inevitable journey to get to me…and that a Higher Power intended us to be together. And maybe not just because I could give her a wonderful life in a loving home but so that I could learn from her what I needed to learn.

I learned so much about myself from Maggie. She was fiercely independent, like me, and very much had a mind of her own. Although independent, she was equally dependent and coveted lots of affection and attention. It never failed: when I’d stop rubbing on her after a lengthy cuddle session, she’d lift her head up, turn back and look at me with pleading eyes then let out a pathetic whimper to tell me that she hadn’t yet had enough. So I’d relent and give her what she most wanted: more loving. Then the minute I’d stop rubbing or stroking, again she’d raise that head, look at me and whimper – a soulful cry that would beckon my hand back to her belly. This would go on for hours…usually while we were watching TV in the evenings.  And it would happen regularly, almost constantly. She never could get enough rubs and tickles.

One day I looked at her and realized how much of myself I saw in her. I too can never get enough rubs and tickles. Like me, Maggie was demanding. Like me, she was persistent. Like me, she was selfish. Like me, she was never satisfied. For Maggie, as with me, it was never enough. She opened my eyes to not only a whole new world of living life with dogs but she opened my eyes to myself.

I love you sweet Maggie. You will always be in my heart. Missing you today…and every day.

                                                 Maggie Truhlik                                                    June 1996 – April 1, 2009

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Copyright © 2014 Michele Truhlik. All Rights Reserved.

Remembering Bella

Bella was my second greyhound. She came to live with me and Maggie in 1999, about six months after I got Mag. Bella’s story is heartbreaking, from her unfortunate beginnings and then her tragic end. I first met Bella when she came into the foster program with the greyhound adoption group. When I met her she was a mess! She had been out in the wild so long, having escaped from an illegal racing ring, that she had developed a horrific case of mange. She literally had no fur! Her entire body was furless. Only her face had some sketchy patches of fur. No one even knew what color she was going to be when her fur came back in. Yet when I looked at her face, I saw an incredible beauty. That’s how she got her name, btw. She was so beautiful and the lovely French word belle suited her so.

Bella Lure Coursing. Triple Crown, Hutto, 01-11-04 004

The adoption was quickly finalized and she came to live with us. Boy, was that ever a long settling-in process. Bella was a very frightened dog. So frightened that she was reluctant to even eat! I had to gently pull her to her food and let her know that it was okay to indulge in that big bowl of kibble in front of her.  It was obvious that she had suffered abuse at the hands of those who had once held her captive. When I’d reach down to pet her, she’d cower. Every time I’d move, she’d shrink down, head bowed, tail tucked. I knew instantly that she had probably been hit or kicked…or both.

I would lie on the floor next to her, petting and stroking her gorgeous golden fur. I would feel her heart beating nearly out of her chest she was so scared, eyes wide with panicked uncertainty, always on the ready to flee. I continued to work with her every day and let her know that she was safe with us and nothing bad was ever going to happen to her again. It took a long time – nine months in fact – before that angel girl would even allow me to stroke her face without flinching. She always did continue to keep her head down when approaching people. She’d often go off to a quiet place in the house, away from the activity. And so came to be her nickname, compliments of my dad: “Lonesome Dove.”

Over the years, she had nothing less than an amazing transformation. Bella blossomed into one of the most trusting and sweet dogs.

fawn greyhound

Our time together was cut short one fateful day when I took her to get a dental cleaning. It was a routine procedure but Bella went into cardiac arrest while on the table, just after having a few teeth pulled and before getting her teeth cleaned. So shocking it was. I dropped her off that morning and fully expected to be picking her up in the afternoon. When the vet called just a short while later I knew it couldn’t be good. I answered the phone and got the news that my girl was gone. That was eight years ago today.

My poor sweet Bella, how many times I wonder what you thought when you woke up and you were no longer here. How I hate the fact that I wasn’t there with you. How I regret choosing that vet clinic to do your dental. I’m so very sorry, my girl. I will always remember how you were that morning: I can still see you running in the dog run as I’m calling you to come in so we could load up and get you over to the vet. You had a smile on your face and you seemed so happy…

I really feel that I was robbed of you. Robbed of years that we could’ve had together. I never believed that it was your time, but apparently it was. Who am I to make that call?

We worked so hard together to get you to trust people again, to not be fearful and to truly understand love, since you had never experienced love until you came to live with me and Maggie. And oh, how you blossomed here! My girl, you blossomed into the most trusting and loving dog. I’m so glad to have at least given you that.

This is such a sad day every year. I miss you every day of every year. I know you’re up there with the rest of the gang and you are all together now. I love when you come to visit me: You make your presence known frequently in my dreams, and on those days I wake up with a smile.

Missing you today Bella, and always. My sweet Lonesome Dove.

June 19, 1996 – March 22, 2006

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