Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Introducing Dolce

After losing our Velvet, we felt an emptiness in our hearts and home. Lexi, poor girl, curled up in a ball for two days. Since we planned to adopt another greyhound anyway, we decided to do so as soon as possible.

As it happened, one of the local greyhound rescue groups (Southeastern Greyhound Adoption) needed help bringing a haul of dogs in from a track in Florida. Brian and Corinne volunteered to help. Three girls rode in the van with them, and over the course of the two-plus hour drive, one of them made herself very comfortable with them: resting her head on their shoulders, peering out the front window, anything she could do to endear herself to them. Carrie and Caty Mae met the group at the kennel to help bathe the hounds and get them ready for adoption. They, too, were enamored of this sweet girl. I went to meet her the following Monday evening and she stole my heart as well.

On Saturday, Feb 10, one week after her arrival in Georgia and two weeks after losing our Velvet, we welcomed Dolce into our home and lives. She is 2 1/2 and as soft and sweet as can be. We're looking forward to many years of loving both Dolce and Lexi!!

Our Velvet

Heather's story:

I fell in love with Start Her Engine before I even met her...I loved her name:-) They called her Velvet, which is better than a lot of names they could have shortened her racing name to. This little girl was a powerhouse--raced until she was five. You don't find many girls who do that!

We picked Velvet up at the San Francisco Airport and brought her home to Santa Rosa. She already had a new home with Debbie. Debbie immediately fell for Velvet--the house was filled with beds and toys.

The first call I received from Debbie came shortly after she adopted Velvet. She had taken Velvet to the vet who diagnosed her with severe arthritis. I thought this seemed strange since she hadn't shown any sign of it before. I went with Debbie to her vet (one I would NEVER recommend) He quickly dismissed my idea that her prancing was due to sensitive pads--this is faily common with retired racers since they have never walked on anything but fine sand.

Debbie decided to change vets. It wasn't long before I received another call. This time Velvet wasn't eating. When I went to visit Velvet, I could see why she wan't eating. I couldn't believe how much weight Velvet had put on! She clearly wasn't hungry.

We dealt with a few more behavior issues--guess who had the behavior issues? Yep, it was Debbie, not Velvet. Of course Debbie had a hard time accepting that.

I stopped hearing from Debbie and Velvet. I thought maybe everyone had settled in. I realized that was not the case when I received a message from Debbie telling me she had Velvet at the vet and she was due to be put down within the next 15 minutes or so. I called the vet in a panic--this dog was healthy!! The vet would do nothing. The office claimed they had to respect the wishes of the dog's owner and they were going to put her down.

I called Debbie and she very calmly told me that this was best for Velvet--that she didn't want her to suffer any more. She was not willing to give Velvet back to us.

If there is one thing Stu (Golden State Greyhound Adoption) is good at, it's getting people to do what he wants them to. He was able to reach Debbie and he convinced her that it was in her best interest to let us pick Velvet up.

I was able to pick up Velvet that day. Along with the sweet little girl, I also picked up invoices for $6000 in vet bills--this was from only a few months--and about four prescription drugs.

We fostered Velvet for a very short period of time before visiting Stephanie and Brian. The family fell in love with Velvet immediately. I remember watching Carrie stare into Velvet's eyes and Corinne taking off with her to walk her around the house.

Our little Superstar sure did dodge a few bullets before making herself at home with the best family she could have asked for. Thank you for taking such good care of her.

Our story:

Velvet had a wonderful life with us---fit and healthy and loved. She traveled wonderfully well during our cross country move--and our new home in Georgia offered her every greyhounds dream yard---3/4 acres of fenced hill---lots to smell and explore, squirrels to chase, and a huge retaining wall to leap. We actually hung bird feeders out where the squirrels could get them just to watch Velvet's prey instincts kick into gear. She would run out the door like a shot and leap the wall before you could blink. She raced in circles on the flat part of the yard until she wore out a "track" in the grass.

A year ago she went running up the side of the hill and slipped on a patch of ice. Her screams told us there was something seriously wrong. Surgery followed to removed the broken hip, and the awful diagnosis of osteosarcoma followed. The vet, who specializes in greyhounds, gave her a prognosis of three months---maybe as many as six since she was in such excellent health outside the cancer. Three weeks ago she went in for a check-up with Lexi (adopted here in Georgia last March) and the doctor's first response was shock that Velvet was still alive. Her weight had begun to drop even then, though, and the vet gave us extra pain medicine and told us to call if anything happened.

Velvet did gain a little weight in the next couple of weeks, but she was slowing down even as we saw the tumor growing daily. Lexi was less and less successful in gettign Velvet out to play, and we watched every move carefully. Friday evening Velvet let out a yelp. She appeared to have slipped on the carpet near the dog door. As she whimpered (unlike her, as she was a stoic girl) I saw that the leg was tilted at an awkward angle and I knew it was broken again. Many pain meds, along with benadryl, got her through the night, but not without pain. We called the vet Saturday morning, and he gently told Brian that there really weren't any options. Quietly we let her slip away before she could suffer.

Velvet was the most wonderful girl for our family. She accompanied Carrie to therapy as Carrie recovered from a long time eating disorder. She taught third graders all about racing and rescue when Caty Mae took her to school. She greeted all of us with more affection than we deserved and raced into our hearts to stay. We plan to plant a dogwood tree in her memory in the backyard that she loved.