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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