Showing posts with label Katie For The Love Of. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Katie For The Love Of. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Tribute to Katie

I recently finished my tribute to Katie who passed away last October to bone cancer. I am really pleased with how it turned out. I did not want a sad song because it is not a sad story. I think "Beautiful Goodbye" by Jennifer Hanson is perfect for Katie and I.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

No Regrets

On October 10th, 2007, Katie suffered a neurological injury.  It is well documented on this blog and you can find the posts by clicking here - Katie Neurological.  It was thought to be a Fibrocartilaginous Embolic Myelopathy (FCE), but after speaking with Dr. Cuoto a few years later I learned it was probably a blood clot.
I am really proud of Katie and her rehab.  We tackled it like every other goal we had set out to achieve and even had fun doing it.  Katie's rehab is also well documented on this blog and you can find those posts by clicking here - Katie Rehab.
My biggest concern in Katie's last year was whether or not I was asking her to do too much.  The exercises and activity were important to maintaining strength, but they also could contribute to arthritis, pain, and ultimately breakdown.  She also continued to run and spin in the backyard.  At times, I felt I should stop her as the risk of injury was a concern.  Her toes were especially problematic and I feared that she would eventually be in too much pain.  I felt there was a great responsibility in deciding when it would be time to let her go due to something not life threatening.  I did not want to have to decide that. 
If there is such a thing as the right time, the bone cancer came at the right time.  Katie had been having some good and bad days.  Since the summertime, I had eliminated some of the exercises we used to do as I felt they were becoming too challenging.  She still felt sound enough to play and spin.  In fact, the video below was taken just ten days before I put her to sleep (it was taken with a phone so I cannot edit otherwise I would have cut out her peeing :-).
Katie was definitely deteriorating, but it makes me smile to know that she was still feeling sound enough to play.  Obviously, the amount of rehab, exercise, and activity kept her strong and energetic enough to make it to her cancer diagnosis.  I am glad I never stopped her from playing as she never suffered any injuries from it.  No regrets.  We did just the right amount of everything. 
The cancer diagnosis was 100% black and white.  There was no treatment in her case.  The unbearable pain arrived overnight.  There was no decision to make.  It just had to be done.  It is one of the few times I feel no guilt.  I was not too early nor too late.  The perfect greyhound even exits perfectly.
After Katie passed away, my friend Kathy sent Stephen and I wind chimes in memory of Katie.  To say that we LOVE them is an understatement.  WE LOVE THEM!  They make us feel like Katie is still spinning in the backyard when we hear them.  Thank you so much, Kathy!
That concludes my time on earth with Katie.  Thank you for letting me rehash her old stories.  I cannot believe that more than three months has already flown by.  The other day I heard someone say that Katie died last year.... no she didn't.  It was just the other.... oh, yes, I guess it was last year.  Goodbye, Katie.  See you later.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Favorite Photos From 2010

Katie

Riley

Reagan
Seven
Everyone

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Twas the Day After Christmas

Five years ago today (2005), the day after Christmas, Stephen and I took our greyhounds to a private property hiking spot we have permission to use. At the time, I had Katie, Travis, and Teresa and my husband had his three, Stacker, Allie, and Julie. The area is mostly wooded
with trails winding around the trees, through the creeks, and down to a lake. The hounds enjoy chasing errant squirrels who quickly escape into the trees.

Katie was especially fond of this activity. We were all traveling along the trail that circles the lodge when Katie caught sight of a squirrel and gave chase down into the valley below the trail. The squirrel escaped into a tree and the game was over. Suddenly the stupid squirrel leaped from the tree and Katie resumed the course never allowing it to get more than two feet from her nose. A moment later she caught the squirrel and I presume killed it instantly as there was no struggle.

Katie never broke stride, but continued running with prize in hand... I mean mouth and galloped up the other side of the valley to a trail running parallel to ours and headed for the main driveway.
I generally do not attempt to call my greyhounds off of a squirrel chase since I could be ignored in the peak of a high prey moment and a trick to training really good recalls is not to put yourself in a position for your dog to learn he or she can ignore you. Most greyhounds quit running when the chase is over, but Katie just galloped away with her squirrel and was quickly out of earshot.

I left Stephen with all of the other greyhounds and ran a fraction of Katie's speed toward the main driveway and up the hill to where we were parked. I got to the top and saw no sign of Katie. I stopped and listened, but heard nothing. It was about 4:30 PM and it was cold and getting dark. I decided to run back to Stephen and the other dogs, load them in the van, and start looking for Katie. I was concerned.
In the meanwhile, Katie had simply done a huge loop and circled back to Stephen and the other hounds with her dead squirrel. He leashed her up and did his best to manage six greyhounds and a dead squirrel. Suddenly, two guys in a pick up truck eased up the driveway. Stephen thought that maybe they would stop and help him sort out his situation. They did not. In hindsight, they probably thought this crazy guy was out hunting squirrels with six greyhounds... overkill.

Stephen was able to unlock Katie's jaws around the squirrel and place it in the woods. I hope it provided a free meal to a fox or a coyote. About this time, I make my way back to see the reunion and we called it a day.

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas! Georgia saw its first white Christmas since the 1800's. Its beautiful here.
I am hoping to get out for a hike with Seven and Riley a little later for snow pictures.

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Beginning

In December 2000, I was 24, had graduated college a year before, and had just bought my house. At the time, I had greyhounds, Jessie and Teresa. I had discovered agility and they both started classes when they were 5 and 6 years old. We had a lot of fun together learning as we went. My goals were small and once attained I created another one. Jessie and Teresa were good teachers and ignited the passion I have for clicker training, agility, and obedience today. Along the way, I also determined which traits would make a greyhound easier to train. Out from under parental control and on my own, I wanted to adopt a third greyhound... an agility/obedience greyhound.

I started fostering greyhounds for Southeastern Greyhound Adoption. Back then SEGA depended solely on foster homes. I was dropping my foster greyhound off at the animal hospital for spaying when another foster mom happened to be doing the same thing.

I noticed the cute, fawn female with a charcoal nose, but my interest was peaked when her foster mom mentioned that Dallas played with a toy all afternoon. All afternoon? Greyhounds rarely play for more than few minutes. I asked if she liked food and her reply was "She loves food!"
After being spayed, I picked Dallas up from the vet and continued her fostering. She was aloof which some mistaken for shyness, but she truly did not give you the time of day if she had no use for you. She was quite active and sassy. I can hardly imagine her jumping on the door now, but she did indeed leave muddy paw prints towards the top of the sliding glass door. She would chase cars from inside the backyard. She would bark and run to the other side of the house as cars would drive past the house. She was the fun police and decided when the greyhound games would start and stop. She would hold her tail high and flag the white tip at the end. She had so much attitude.

I started training Dallas immediately. She was so food motivated and very easy to work with. She was the first greyhound I started training from scratch with a clicker. She was doing sits and downs in no time. I lured her through tunnels and up A-Frames. She basically would do or try anything for food. She would eat anything, anywhere, and at anytime.

My only concern about Dallas was that she was not cat safe. "Curious about cats" (see top photo) was a huge understatement. Both Teresa and Jessie were relatively cat safe and I thought it was necessary for off lead safety. Katie had a very high prey drive. She walked with 60 pounds of pressure on the end of the leash at all times and scanned the horizon. She would not check in with me at all on our walks..... something I had liked about all my prior greyhounds.

I discussed my concern with Kate Crawford. At the time, Kate had the highest titled greyhound in agility. She assured me that I wanted high prey drive. Two weeks later I adopted Dallas and renamed her Katie.
Left to right - Katie, Jessie, and Teresa.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Normal

It is day 5 of my new normal. I still wonder where the runners are each time I use our hallway steps. I used to smooth out the wrinkles every time so Katie would have traction on the two steps. There are less pill bottles and I am confused by the food bowls. No one twirling around the yard. No one demanding her daily Kongs. The cavalettis in the yard have not been used in over a week. It is time to put them in the garage.
Surprisingly, today has been the worst day for me. Initially, I think I was relieved that it was over. Katie was not in pain anymore, I knew the cause (bone cancer), and I really had no choice. So now it really seems to be sinking in that I will never see Katie again... at least not in my lifetime. I started to sob at work. Of course, it was the first day that I had tried to wear mascara again. I was a complete mess and had to skip a client meeting. Sadness sneaks up on you when you least expect it.
I am not a very religious person. I want to believe we see our loved ones again, but the truth is that I simply do not know. I would really like some proof right about now. I have read some books in the past about the afterlife that I have found comforting so I am seeking them out again and have purchased some new ones.
I am editing Katie's agility videos. There are not that many and the quality is not good, but I need to put what I can on the blog for my own record keeping.
Katie is 2 or 3 years old in the above pictures.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Final Days

Thank you for all of the heartfelt sympathy comments on the last post. I was not expecting "the decision" to come so quickly.

As you know, Katie was having some off days and weeks mostly due to a toe on her left hind leg. After an ouchy weekend, I was pleased to see Katie back to twirling around the yard Monday afternoon.

On Tuesday morning, Katie could not walk. She stood up, but could not take any steps forward. I grabbed a towel and wrapped it around her waist so I could support her rear end. I was shocked to see that she was dead lame on her right rear leg and not the leg that had been giving her trouble recently. I knew it had to be hurting badly for her to be putting all of her weight on the neurological leg.

I fed her and then the same thing. Katie could not move so we carried her outside and then I supported her again with a towel. Tuesday afternoon, she had not improved. Katie and I spent the night in the living room sleeping on our futon mattress/giant dog bed.

Wednesday morning, Katie's pain continued. By then we had added the Amantadine to her drug cocktail of Deramax and Gabapentin. Stephen came home at lunchtime and notice an improvement. By Wednesday afternoon, I noticed that she was much improved. She walked across the hardwood floor to greet me. I was still using a towel, just in case, but she was walking on her own.

The vet and I assumed that she was probably experiencing severe arthritis pain. A drug like Amantadine is used for severe episodes. Once back to a comfortable level, you wean the dog off of the drug and save its usage for the next episode. Wednesday afternoon, the Amantadine was working. In the backyard, Katie even started to lead me over to the gate that leads to the rehab exercise area. It made me smile, but I felt she did not need to aggravate any arthritis.

The improvement was short lived. By Wednesday night, we were having to carry her again. Then, adding insult to injury, I found a large, firm lump on top of her femur as I stroked her fur. I could not believe how large it was. Did it pop up overnight? Did I miss it? Bone cancer popped into my mind immediately.

That night was heart wrenching. Katie simply could not lie herself down. She would be standing on her neurological leg, but it did not have enough motor skill to lower herself down. She needed her "good" leg. We tried to help her as best we could. Trying to respect that she did not really appreciate our help, but gently forcing her to accept it.

And then the panting began. Katie panted for hours. It was agony for both of us. I just could not get her comfortable. I decided to give her the morning pain medication early and around 1 AM, the pain medication took effect and Katie was able to settle down and fall asleep. Thank goodness for the peace.... that is until 4 AM.

At 4 AM a repo man with a tow truck in my driveway rings my doorbell looking for Sarah and a PT Cruiser. Are you kidding me? We confirm the address, but Sarah does not live here, across the street, or next door. The same can be said for the PT Cruiser. I have lived here for ten years. The prior owner is not Sarah. We have excellent credit. Goodbye. Thankfully, Katie was still resting comfortably and fell back to sleep as did I.

The vet was able to see us at 9 AM. I did not feed Katie very much.... it was actually more of a beef broth with some chunks. I assumed she would need to be sedated for x-rays and tried to adhere to the recommendation that she not eat after midnight. But I couldn't bear to fast her completely.
I rode in the back of the SUV with Katie. Again it was just so painful for her to lie down. She was resistant to our assistance, but she could not do it on her own. It was a tough drive.

We arrived and one of the vet techs carried her from the SUV straight in for x-rays. Stephen and I waited. As soon as I saw my vet's face, I knew. He followed up with "you are right".... "Bone cancer?".... "Yes."

Dr. Toby showed us the x-ray. I have no personal experience with bone cancer, but have known plenty of greyhounds that passed away from it. In a way, I was relieved with the diagnosis. We knew exactly why Katie was hurting and there was only one thing left for us to do.

My biggest fear for the last few months was that Katie would slowly deteriorate. Arthritis pains would worsen. Eventually, I would have to decide when Katie's quality of life had diminished too much. My philosophy has always been that I would rather euthanize a day early than a day late. But with something not life threatening like arthritis, there seems to be a bigger responsibility in making that decision. Bone cancer completely eliminated any hopes for a rally, a solution, or a cure.

Katie had not been sedated for the x-rays so she was still awake when we said our goodbyes. We placed her on the floor on the familiar fleece pads. She ate scrambled eggs and creme cheese as she dozed off. She never ever missed a meal.

Goodbye, Katie. You were perfection. I loved your cool confidence and aloofness. Once I earned your attention, you never again looked away. You ignored all others. You were very serious about your work. However, as you got older a certain silliness appeared. When people throw around the word "alpha", I wish they could have met you. You controlled the backyard games, deciding when they started and when they ended. You flagged your tail and sassed the neighborhood. You were so fair in your dealings with other dogs. You might apply a paw or 2 to some one's back, but you were never aggressive or left teeth marks. Just assertive. You were fearless. I could take you everywhere and I did. You owned it. When you retired and eventually decided to stay home, I worried that you would be bored. But you made sure I knew you were happy and appreciated my efforts. Thank you for being mine. You were truly a dream come true. Exactly what I wanted. Now go stir things up in heaven. Get those lazy couch potato greyhounds off their clouds and running full speed again.



Thursday, October 21, 2010

MACH Never Had Braces UD
05/17/1998 - 10/21/2010

After a terrible night, we confirmed this morning that Katie had bone cancer.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Troubles

Katie has concerning days. I tend to only post pictures and videos of her doing well, but the truth is that she has some bad weeks and then bounces back.

Last week, Katie fell a couple of times while going potty or while trying to play. Toppling onto her backside makes her nervous and unhappy. I hate to see her shaking. She has also had days that she has been too lame to do rehab exercises. Some of her nights seem uncomfortable and restless.

Normally, Katie is an excellent pill taker. She is so food motivated she has never cared what is surrounded by cheese. Now she is giving me problems and is suspicious of unearned treats. Luckily, she still likes the taste of Deramax.

Unfortunately, Katie is having a very bad week. On Monday, she had a great day, but since Tuesday morning, she has been in a lot of pain... the most pain she has ever been. We are having to carry her or support her rear end with a towel around her waist. We added Amantadine to her drug arsenal of Deramax and Gabapentin.

There have been some ups and downs, but none of the "ups" have been close to acceptable to me. The difference this time is that she is complaining about her right foot. Recall that the left leg is neurological, had a toe amputated, and has a weird toe that she has been complaining about. She has been off and on lame on her left leg for months now, but now she is extremely painful on her right leg. So much pain that she is choosing to put all of her weight back on the left leg. I'm sure the right leg has suffered quite a pounding as she has compensated for the neurological leg for the last 3 years and especially in the last few months. Unfortunately, the neurological leg is not able to bear the burden of her entire rear end.

I am not sure where this is headed or how much time I will give her to bounce back. Katie is the Queen of the Bounce Back so I am not giving up hope just yet, but her current state is completely unacceptable..... :-(

Monday, October 11, 2010

Athletes Helping Athletes

On Saturday, Southeastern Greyhound Adoption hosted the third annual "Athletes Helping Athletes" 5K Race. Once again, we had great weather and a wonderful turn out. This event has become a big fundraiser for SEGA's greyhound adoption program.
One of the things that makes our 5K race unique is that we assign each human runner a running mate or greyhound. No, the greyhounds do not run the 5K, but the runner is provided with a link to the greyhound's pedigree and race info (for example, Click Here to see Katie's) and the greyhound is live and on site if the runner wishes to meet his or her running mate. Each running mate is outfitted with a large, visible name tag attached to the leash to make it easy for runners to spot. We easily have over a hundred greyhounds and their owners on site showing support. I brought Katie this time.
Before Katie could go, I had to put caps on her nails. Since she is neurological, she wears her nails on her rear feet at odd angles. Treading on asphalt would accelerate the problem so I used tiny strips of duck tape to add an outer layer to each nail.As usual, Katie made 12 years old look good and received lots of compliments.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Old Dog Obedience

I teach a greyhound obedience training class in Georgia and just finished teaching the summer session. In the last class, I like to demonstrate how to brush dog teeth. I decided to drive my car and bring Katie so I could show everyone what greyhound teeth at age 12 look like if you take care of them.

Katie was so happy to be at the training building. She bolted to the door. She really seems to enjoy doing some of her old obedience "tricks". I always think it is fun to ask her to do things she hasn't practiced in months. It is always great to work with Katie.

First we did two go outs where I send her to the other end of the ring. Next, a dumbbell retrieve and then some heeling ending with signals. I cue her to down, sit, and recall with hand signals. Lastly, a couple of toy fetches.

Katie says she is not tired and is ready for more. Her rear end might argue, but so far she overrules anything it might be saying.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

I Am A Freak

Katie gave us a scare last weekend. She became very lame on her neurological hind leg. She was not getting around very well at all. Needed some support to go to the bathroom and could not climb the two stair steps that divide our house in half.On Monday morning, I headed off to work as usual at 5:30 AM. Being so early, I do not have time to do much more than get ready. I assumed Katie was the same. You know what they say about A-S-S-U-M-E. Assuming makes an ass out of your and me. In this case, I think it was just me.Spending hours at work and unable to check Katie really lets my mind go wild. Initially, I thought it was another busted toe, but then had second thoughts. Katie has some wildly, twisted toes and pays them no attention. Why would a swollen toe that is otherwise straight and tight be causing significantly more pain than the disfigured toes? So I started dreaming up all the bad possibilities and made Katie an appointment to see the vet at 3:30 PM.

Time crawled, but finally it was time to get home. Of course, Katie is on her feet ready to go potty. I use a towel around her waste to support her while she squatted. Well, she tows me out to the yard and proceeds to buck and spin like a yearling (see video below for an example).

I started to think I'm going to look silly at the vet. Sure enough. I looked like a fool. Dr. Toby had to search pretty hard to find some groin pain and suspects she just strained her groin. A groin injury can be pretty serious for a performance dog, but at age 12 and fully retired, we are not going to do anything different. She will still do her cavalettis and suck food out of Kongs everyday.

At least in this case, it was better to be a fool than right!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Purpose

Katie's primary role is to clean out Kongs. Extracting vittles out of Kongs is a vital task to our family. I think Katie can clean out a frozen, tightly packed Kong in less time than it takes me to stuff it. It keeps the world going round (at least in Katie's mind) and she can be quite the "female dog" about demanding she get to work.... early if possible and she appreciates overtime.However, Katie has a new job. Along with being a Kong Extraordinaire, she also keeps Reagan company when Riley and I leave her behind. It makes me feel better to know that there is at least one dog at home with Reagan when I am not."Katie, I know you are nearly 12, but it would be really helpful if you could outlive, Reagan (3 years)."