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Nothing But Love in Her Heart

Oct 11

OK

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I find myself oddly OK today—at least no more bent out of shape than is usual for me these days.  Today is Fallon’s one year ampuversary.  It’s rainy here.  I’m kind of glad.  All my party plans for her centered around the yard, and I am sure we would be there if she was here for the party.  I dreaded this day coming, because I had been looking forward to it for months, to celebrate with Fallon, to treat her and love her on her special day.  I never dreamed we would not have her today.  I got overconfident.  I stayed awake all night dreading today arriving, and thinking I’d be more of a mess than usual, but I’m actually pretty solid right now.  Relatively speaking.

I had a dream a couple of weeks ago, so real that I could feel her soft fur.  She hopped up to me—three legs, I think everyone thinks they get their leg back, but not always.  She stood in front of me with her pretty smile and we hugged and hugged, then we laid down and hugged some more.  I rubbed the spot her leg was, I always did that, and would always cuddle with my hand over it.  She always lay with that side facing up. As I think back, I feel happy that we did that frequently.  Her favorite thing to do was a daily affair.  For that dream, that one brief part of one night and not since, I felt whole again, so wonderful, not awful, as my baseline is now.

We took a trip to the beach a couple of weeks ago—bittersweet, as this time last year was Fallon’s last 4 leg vacation.  In fact, it was the day after we returned that I called my vet and insisted on an x-ray, as she was still limping.  We got the news of her osteosarcoma the following day and our lives changed forever.

Maggie had a greyt time there.  I think she likes being with other dogs.  She recently stayed with a friend who has 4 greyhounds, and we were afraid she wouldn’t want to come home with us—but she eagerly did.  I see another greyhound sometime in our future.  I think Maggie will need to choose her new sibling, just as Fallon chose Maggie…but my ideal dog would be a love sponge just like my pretty Fally.  I am nowhere near ready, but last night I kept thinking—while not sleeping—what if our perfect match is out there?

I have to turn things around, I’m just having some trouble mobilizing.  Crying does get in the way, as does not wanting to leave the house.  I’ve alienated quite a few well-meaning friends by bursting into tears and running away.  So isolating is easier.  I’ve been trying to stay pretty together for Maggie.  I’d hate her knowing her mom is crazy.

I have more to say, I’m just not into it right now.  A few weeks ago I was thinking this blog was done, and it made me sad. Well, sadder.   This was our way to help other lost folks who were in the clueless, but educable position we once were when faced with horrible news about their bestest friend. But there’s still stuff to share….I think.

So, more to come…once I stop crying.

Sep 20

The Blog Post below was written by a friend of mine.  It makes me cry, probably in a good way, although any crying is unwanted at this point; it’s been excessive.  The picture of Fallon was created by another friend.   I wanted to share these sweet gestures with you.  I have been watching the sky for my girls.

We’re trying to continue making awesome memories with Maggie.  This week is our biannual trip to Dewey Beach, and we’re here.  She has been loving the beach.

Fallon is our September 16, 2018 Pup of the Week

We stand up to cancer!  We fight it, we raise money to research it, sometimes we even wrestle it to a draw.  But in the end, it either wins or something else takes us, before cancer can finish the job.

The list of angels whose mortal life ended because of cancer would fill 1,000,000 blogs.  This week another cancer warrior, Fallon, joined us.

Fallon battled the cancer demon with such ferocity that I thought she would escape its evil grasp.  She surrendered her front leg to the cause and continued onward with her life like a tick had been removed, not a limb.  Every soul who knew Fallon rooted for her with all their spirit. Sadly, we are only given so many heartbeats, and those can be robbed from us.  Nothing steals heartbeats like cancer.

A little less than a year ago, at age 11, Fallon was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and given a devastating prognosis.  Her parents had two options: Amputation or Rainbow Bridge. Fallon was in pain from the tumor, but she was courageous and enthusiastic.  Her parents could not send her to the Bridge when she was in high spirits. The decision was made to amputate.

How would a greyhound, who loved to run, like Fallon adapt to losing her front leg?  The answer was swimmingly. Fallon, no longer in pain from the tumor, barely noticed the missing limb.  She was back to being the dog her parents remembered before cancer affected their baby.

Fallon would stay with her parents past her twelfth birthday.  There were wins and losses, as there always are with cancer. Shortly after her birthday, the stolen heartbeats exceeded the remaining ones.    Her parents had fought, along with Fallon, so hard against cancer, and it was hard to accept the battle was ending. When you have a sick dog their health becomes the center of your life.  Without having Fallon’s struggles to concentrate on, Fallon’s parents would be adrift. But, they loved their girl, and, despite the pain it caused them, they sent her free.

Meanwhile, on our side of the River of Life, we waited for Fallon to arrive.  We didn’t see her, but the dust cloud caused by all four of her paws digging into the ground and pushing off, as she flew through the air, enjoying running like she had when she was a puppy, could be seen for miles.

She ran past all of us awaiting her and kept going, over the fields, through the meadows, into the hills, and over the mountains.   She was enjoying having the legs, hearts, and lungs of a young dog again, but also running away from the sorrow of losing her parents.  We dogs do run from pain, and Fallon felt a tremendous amount after leaving her parents, so she kept going. Fallon heard pounding paws next to her and turned to see her sister Willow, who had arrived at the Bridge previously, alongside.  The former greyhound racers challenged one another. Willow was the better runner, but she kept dropping back to keep her sister nearby.

We waited for hours as Fallon kept trying to run the pain away until she and Willow finally joined us, We gave her wings in case she wanted to fly and watched the sisters soar together even faster than they ran.

That night Willow took Fallon to see their parents, which eased her sister’s pain.  Unfortunately, humans are not allowed to see their angels. We pray for their parents, so they can somehow overcome their anguish.

Maggie, who joined their pack after Willow went to the Bridge, can see her angel sisters, and she is being taught how to make her parents smile.   Willow and Fallon are confident that Maggie is the dog to do it.

Willow and Fallon want their parents to know, if they ever see small clouds in a row, they were caused by their two greyhounds, running hard across the sky.

From:  Small Tales: The Big Adventures of Tiny Terrierists

Sep 16

My warrior girl is gone.  My love, my heart, my Fally…

I knew someday I would need to write something like this.  I never thought it would be this soon.  All indications were that Fallon was doing awesome.  Two weeks ago we saw 2 doctors—good reports from each.  X-rays and bloodwork were good.  You can be too confident, and if you are, you can get blindsided.  Last week, we lost her.  My girl is gone.  I am devastated.  Confused.  Angry. Cheated.  The pain is overwhelming.

Paul got me the angel greyhound around the time Willow died. I had just gotten the Teeny Tripawds Heart from the Tripawds Etsy Store. It’s gorgeous, says Fallon on the back.

Paul and I decided we’d go down to Mustang week in Myrtle Beach.  I dropped the girls off early with our trusted petsitter on Tuesday, and things were awesome—both of them exploring the house, taking treats, they were with their good friends, excited to be there so barely noticing I was leaving—which I like.  It gives me a level of comfort that they are happy.  Paul and I started off, we got as far as Roanoke, VA—9 hours from home, 4 more hours to Myrtle Beach.  At 7:30PM., we settled into a hotel, went to get some dinner, then sleep.

At around 12:45AM, our petsitter called frantically—Fallon was having bloody diarrhea,   and had stationed herself in the bathroom and wouldn’t leave.  She took Fallon to the emergency vet.  I wasn’t going to sleep anymore, so I waited for the e-vet to call to update.  Fallon was in rough shape.  Her bloodwork had many concerning features.  My head is still sketchy about details, all that was clear now is that I wanted to be with her.  We left the hotel around 3AM, and started driving home, 9 hours without stops by the map.  No coffee, didn’t want to spend time on extra bathroom stops.  We went directly to the hospital, arrived about 1PM the next day.

The doctors consulted us every step of the way, we talked every couple of hours on the trip home, and we visited 4 or 5 times over the course of the afternoon and evening.  I was also working the phones, trying to get input from our other doctors.  We kept telling the e-vet to proceed with treatment because even if it was small, if it seemed there was a chance of recovery AND pain/discomfort was not a factor, we wanted to run with hope.  She had her ups and downs. The last night we went to bed with a bit more hope, her blood pressure was improving and bloodwork was looking a bit better.  But the next morning, she hurt to be touched.  She was still bleeding.  We went to see her and it was clear she was in pain.  We had no more good choices left.  We hugged her and kissed her and sang in her ear, and cuddled her and told her she was the best girl ever, such a good, good girl, and what a hard worker she is, and how soft and pretty she is, what a good job she’s done, and how much we love her.  We will always love her.

What happened?  No clear answers.  Maybe that’s the most disconcerting thing.  She had the issue labeled anxiety at the oncologist the week prior.  Yet she had awesome x-rays and bloodwork.  We saw our primary vet the very next day and got meds for anxiety.   I never had a chance to give them, they were PRN and she never showed symptoms afterward.  When I left her off at the petsitter, she was awesomely normal…exploring, sniffing, hopping around, eating treats—totally normal.  I left without her even noticing, she was so comfortable.

A couple of people mentioned hemangiosarcoma, without collaborating, without prompting, based only on my description of symptoms.  My grasp on the disease via google makes it a plausible explanation.  I called the e-vet doc afterward, the doctor who took care of her the longest to discuss this, all she could say was there were no clear answers what caused this, but it could be, she supposed. No commitment, the e-vet docs weren’t on that mission—they were addressing her symptoms and trying to save her.  I am grateful for all they did. Our other doctors could only reiterate what the e-vet reported to them.  What I get was she had severe gastroenteritis, as serious as they had ever seen.  Her blood wasn’t clotting (which is a greyhound thing, and they gave her the appropriate med to address, once the issue was identified), her liver and kidney values were way off, even for a greyhound.  No explanation of why, no crystal ball available.  I just put together a fresh batch of food—did I screw up somehow with that?  Maybe it had something to do with whatever was labeled stress the prior week.  Maybe we should have examined that further, I just accepted it as good news.  Maybe we should have pushed and paid for pathology tests after the fact, an autopsy to understand, just for closure…but in the moment, grieving, gutted, floored by the quick events of the last 24 hours and also cognizant of the thousands of bucks we just spent to not get our girl in the end, that didn’t happen.  I will be keeping my side hustles for more than a few more months now to get back on track financially, but I don’t care.  When you see hope, you chase it.  But maybe, given the way I feel now, some answers would be good.  It’s too late to second guess.  I’ll always be looking for answers that will never come.

My girl is still gone.  Nothing changes that anyway, no matter what we do.

I cry even more when I think of all the last times I didn’t know were the last.  When was the last time we cuddled in the yard?  Fed her breakfast? Took a walk for fun?  Played chase?  I even cry that we never realized the last time we were at the Veterinary Cancer Center really was the last time.  I didn’t make her favorite chicken-rice balls that week because it was too hot to bake.  Now I regret it.  I’ve been perseverating over choices I made—right or wrong, no way to tell now, and it’s only making me crazier.  I keep on with it nonetheless.

Maggie is lost.  She yields to a Fallon that isn’t there.  She waits to eat, won’t go out the door first, is really trepidatious about lying on a bed that is traditionally Fallon’s.  We’ve been walking, doing miles, talking and crying, Paul, Maggie and me on a mission to feel better.  Maybe someday it will work.  It hasn’t for me yet.  Maggie won’t let either of us out of her sight. She whips around to make sure we’re all there.  She’s already missing one of our family, she won’t let the others get away.  She’s uncharacteristically clingy, which is fine, it’s how I like my dogs.  But it hasn’t been her nature prior.  Her retirement job was being a sister, she’s the best at it.  This happened with Fallon too, after Willow died.  Another dog would probably help Maggie out, it helped Fallon.  I am nowhere near ready.

Our rose garden has been struggling this year, I think it’s been too hot for them to thrive.  We were outside last weekend, crying and, reading sweet, heartfelt messages about Fallon from the Tripawds forums.  Paul noticed a sign Fallon may have for left us…after nothing happening all summer, we had roses blooming—white, for my white girl, and pink, because everyone always thinks she is a boy.  We always dressed her in pink but people still thought she was a boy.  I think because she was a big girl with a boyish frame.

I don’t know how to not hurt yet—but I’m working on it.  It’s overwhelming, and impacting everything I do.  I feel a strong urge to simplify my life significantly.  I can go along, seemingly fine, and burst out crying.  Paul’s the rational one now—usually it’s me.  He says we have tons of greyt memories with Fallon.  We need to reflect on those, treasure those—and start making more greyt memories with Maggie.  I really, really want to.  Remember to do that with your loves, too.

I will always love this picture of her. She is in her favorite place in the world, the yard.  It’s so her–happy, happy girl.

We’ll keep in touch.  I want to post some stories about Fallon that you might not know.  She really, really was a special, special girl, she will never be forgotten.  I’ll let you know some of the new greyt memory making things we do with Maggie.  Thank you, all of you, for the support and love you give us.  You have been there for us from the beginning, I feel like you understand what I am going through more than most.

Fally, I’ll see you on the moon.  I always used to sing that to her, it’s a favorite of ours.  Imagine it with dog names in it.

Horrible, horrible hurt.

Sep 02

Fallon turned 12 years old this week!!!  We wanted to celebrate hard, because honestly last Fall we weren’t sure we’d ever see this day.  We’ve been through some ups and downs this week—more ups, thankfully!!

Fallon’s 12th Birthday!! 8/29/2018

We saw Dr. Sue at the Veterinary Cancer Center on Tuesday.  We’re on an every two month schedule now.  Tuesday it was really hot—like Africa hot.  Once we got there, Fallon went in for her x-rays and blood work, and was delivered right back to Maggie and me (Paul had to work).  They put us in a little exam room rather than the bigger waiting room.  Fallon historically gets a little bent out of shape at any doctor appointment, but she was in really rough shape—panting tons, temperature rising, drooling, and making a wheezy sound.  It was really scary, I couldn’t calm her down.  Dr. Sue took her back again to the treatment area to give her oxygen and IV fluids, and cool her with wet towels, as her temp rose to 106.  I was in tears, really scared for my girl.  Thankfully, it wasn’t long before Michelle came back to tell us Fallon was getting better, things were improving. (!!!)  I called our home vet, Sand Creek Vet to get Fallon an appointment for the next day so they could check her out also.  Fallon was doing well enough to go home (thankfully—the emergency vet was discussed), so we drove home. She did fine in the car, then once we were home all was normal—she laid down in her favorite spot and ate tons of treats, everything we gave her.

Next day, Wednesday, Fallon’s birthday (!!!) we saw Dr. McDaniel at Sand Creek Vet and his feeling was that Fallon had some bad anxiety episode.  He prescribed Trazodone for before scary things like doctor appointments.  Fallon was her normal amount of pant-y while there, nothing extreme like the day before.  We got home, and received a call from the Veterinary Cancer Center—just checking in to see how Fallon was doing, but also calling to say FALLON’S X-RAYS WERE CLEAR AND BLOOD WORK NORMAL.  OMG.  OMG.  OMG.  Such greyt birthday news!!!  I always fret over the x-rays, have even considered not getting them, but ultimately, I think knowing, good or bad, is better than not.  Maybe some day I will change.

As it was so freakin’ hot and Fallon was so overheated the prior day, we decided to go a little more low key on the birthday and spread the celebration over several days.  We had birthday cookies, turkey wings, liver treats and meat circles, jerky’s still cooking so we have that to look forward to.  Fallon would always choose food as a birthday present, so we went heavy on that.

Meat circles and Liver Cakes 

Big Turkey Wing

More Turkey Wing

Birthday Cookie

Delicious Birthday Cookie

We gave Fallon a Big Barker Bed!!!  She’s still getting used to using it, but that will come.

We have some more big celebrations coming up.  We’re very close to Fallon’s one year Ampuversary, just a bit more than a month away!!  I am so greytful she is doing so well.  Amputation was really the right decision in Fallon’s situation, no regrets!!

Aug 04

It’s been a low key summer.  Things are still going well, fingers crossed and knock on wood.  Fallon really seems to feel greyt.  She is happy, and has lots of energy.  She has continued on the metronomic chemotherapy and is tolerating it well.  We’re only seeing Dr. Sue every other month now! We miss her, but it’s a good thing. 🙂  The girls have been loving the back yard—so much that we’ll opt out of other things we may have done in the past so they can enjoy it.  They run together, and lay in their favorite spots.

Chillin’. This is what we do most evenings!

Every night after work we go out there to just sit, or hug in the grass.  Just chillin’ and living in the moment.  It makes us all happy.

They love each others’ company

Last week, we went to Grapehounds.  It’s a greyhound event held in the Finger Lakes, which is about 4 hours from where we live.

ROAD TRIP!!!

We’ve gone for years, and last year we were talking about maybe not going, maybe trying something different.  Grapehounds doesn’t change much, the event itself is not really our cup of tea.  We spend almost no time at the central location.  It would be easy to do a lake vacation any other time, or to try something new and different.

Despite all that, our personal situation has changed.  We decided it was perfect, given our new normal.  We stay at a place overlooking Seneca Lake.  Our cottage has a nice dog walking area very close by, just a couple of steps to go in it, a huge porch, and a GORGEOUS view.  We have a few favorite dog friendly wineries, and there would not be a long walk from the car to there.

Relaxing at the pond at Hazlitt Winery

Still chillin’ at the pond

And our neighbors every year are Boomer and Chloe (and their mom and dad Eileen and Ed), and it’s wonderful to see them every year.   We met new friends, Patti, Bill and Andy, family of Ed and Eileen (and Chloe and Boomer).

from the front: Chloe, Andy (our new friend), and Boomer

It is a very hard life for greyhounds here

We kept it very low key, and spent some good, quality time at the cottage, just being more dog—laying together and looking at the lake.  It was supposed to be rainy all weekend, but really was only the first day we were there.

We took a walk to SheQuaGa Falls in Montour Falls, NY on a rainy day. So much rain made the falls wild!!

There were showers here and there, but nothing we couldn’t work around.

Fallon is so happy!!

Sunrise over Greyhound

Sunrise Over Greyhound

We cooked out a lot, Paul and I walked to Watkins Glen some evenings for dinner out while the girls chilled in the cabin.  We met some other Tripawd greyhounds at Grapehounds home base—one had a racing injury that didn’t heal properly, one also had osteosarcoma.  This greyhound, Dylan, also goes to Dr. Sue, so he is in awesome hands.

We had to cut back significantly on hiking, but Maggie and I went up to Taughannock Falls on the group walk, while Fallon and Paul socialized at the bottom.

We came home with enough wine,to keep us busy for awhile, and a lot of greyt memories.  It was a very relaxing vacation.  Next one is Dewey Beach again!!  We have been going with the girls in September (October is customary for greyhounds) as it is usually warmer, there is more activity on the beach, and restaurants are still open and rockin’.  Last year we went right before learning Fallon had osteosarcoma—she had her limp, and we were treating this with Vetprofen or something ineffective like that, with a call to the doctor and an x-ray, then bad news the day after we got home.  Things have changed TONS since then.  Fallon will be able to enjoy the beach this year!!