kaupunkigreyn elämää

greyhound Taran ja ihmisten seikkailuja arjessa

Friday, April 01, 2016

Goodbye, my dear humans

It's me, female human. I've been putting this post off for a week now.

A week ago her royal highness enjoyed a very, very good morning with her male human. They went out for a long walk: Tara chose to walk to a small forest nearby, and spent ages sniffing the wind. Back home she wolfed down her breakfast and happily retired to bed.

After a few minutes, she got back up and walked to the male human. She was in distress and soon her legs gave way.

The male human called a taxi, helped Tara to get up and took her to the Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Viikki  as an emergency patient. She was examined immediately. It turned out she had pericardial effusion: there was an abnormal accumulation of fluid within the pericardical (heart) sac and also in her abdomen. The exact cause for this was not diagnosed but the most common cause is cancer. Her heart was failing and she was in shock.

The male human did the only right thing and agreed on letting her go. He decided with the vet that waiting for me to arrive would not be in Tara's best interest. An hour and a half after her collapse she passed away.

I had kissed both Tara and the male human goodbye the same morning when I left for work. When Tara collapsed I was giving a book talk to a group of 3rd grade kids, breaking the ice with stories about my skinny granny dog. When the group left I chatted with my colleague, and she showed me an online story with funny images of greyhounds in trouble, making me laugh. When I finally left for my break I saw the messages and phone calls and immediately left for the Vet Hospital, knowing that it was already too late. I finally got there about 1,5 hours after she had passed away.

Tara had been tired the evening before. She skipped afternoon walkies and didn't have much of an appetite. However, she did finish her meal and we went for a small walk later the same everning, and Thursday morning she was skipping and dancing and jumping in joy, being her usual self. We had no reason to suspect anything out of the ordinary.

We are beside ourselves with grief. Her death was so unexpected and completely took us by surprise. She had her annual check-up less than two months ago and an ultrasound scan on her heart a month ago. Everything was fine. However, she was 12 years, 9 months, and 12 days old. Death does not come as a surprise for someone her age: it's something that's bound to happen, sooner or later. Being ok in February doesn't mean she'll live forever.

We had hoped that when it's her turn to go it will happen quickly. That's exactly what happened. Everything, everything that final day went perfectly, even if it felt like a nightmare. She was with her male human, who always has an easier schedule in the morning - she wasn't alone when her legs gave way. They got to the hospital quickly. He was with her till the end, and she was visited by her physiotherapist Kirsti whom she really liked. And I got to say my goodbye - we got amazing service at the hospital.

We lived with Tara for 10 years, 5 months, and 10 days. We consider ourselves very lucky, having learned from the master the most important lessons in life. Remember to eat well and sleep well! If in doubt, sleep! Never let the rabbits take over the neighborhood! If it has a long tail and a long snout, it's cute! Nothing's more important than your pack, especially when it's cold outside and you need someone to keep you warm! Live, love, enjoy good company!

Rabbit Rush Scarlett O'Hara (Tara) 12.6.2003 - 24.3.2016

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Happy birthday to me!

Guess what? I'm 12 and a half years old! 

Compared to my female human, I look like a puppy. She's got wrinkles around her eyes, and her jaws have started to sag - and she's only 42 human years old. Well, to be fair she's never had a chance - I'm the one all the chihuahuas, salukis and (oh dear) labradors find irresistible. I'm blonde and I've got long legs and a tiny waist, and I happen to own this city. Try to beat that!

(When you're my age, every half a year is worth a celebration. 
I had liver for dinner and a pig's ear for an evening snack!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Interior design for hounds

When they re-arranged the sitting room furniture I was promised grand things. "More light", they said. "More space to stretch and easier access to the balcony" (that's where my beanie bag has been for the summer). 

 I feel a bit disappointed.

They arranged the furniture, loom and all, and even scrubbed clean the floor (loom had leaked pine resin and it took them a while to clean up the mess). But they forgot that God is in details. 

Tiny little details like "where should we put this box of toys?".

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Physiotherapy in Viikki

Well hello! This is me, lady O'Hara, on my way to physiotherapy. (I've just embarrassed my humans by doing my business in someone else's front yard!  If you follow the leash there's one of my humans cleaning up. I decided to crop him out of the picture as he looked too serious and was spoiling my story!) 

I visit Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Viikki once a month to have my old joints and muscles stretched. This time it's only been about three weeks since my last visit. I've been stiff and a little unenthusiastic, so my humans emailed my physiotherapist and they decided to advance my appointment. 

When we leave home we first walk about 800 meters to a bus stop. Summertime we need to reserve plenty of time for the walk, and usually I rest my paws before the bus arrives (there's a nice small grassy hill to the right of the bus stop). Now the weather is better for us old hounds, and I surprised my humans by trotting to the bus stop quickly. We had to wait for the bus for a while. 

22nd of September was car-free day and we only paid €1 for our ride. Well, I didn't pay anything, and the female human had a valid season ticket. But the male human paid €1 and saved €1!

(Maybe he'll put it towards a car of his own. We used to have one, but you can't trust my humans with anything valuable. Now we're one of those "one less car" families and both humans own at least three bicycles, probably more! I refuse to wear a bicycle helmet, it ruins my hairdo. )

My humans have had a short holiday this week. That's why we could visit the physiotherapist before noon. It made travelling easier, as the bus wasn't full and there was less traffic. Less traffic = smoother ride. My male human held me to make sure my hind end stays put: old age has made me stiffer and slow to adjust to movement with my hind legs. I still managed to greet other passengers and watch the scenery as well. This time, I didn't try to jump off the bus every time it stopped.

We arrived to Viikki and had some time before my appointment. Viikki is a nice, green suburb with plenty of parks. All the dogs visiting the teaching hospital leave their messages in the bushes. I sniffed and marked and managed to expand my realm considerably.

My humans usually take me inside as late as possible. I like physiotherapy, but I've visited the same building before on other business: they cut my paw open to removes stones, and I had to eat awful antibiotics that messed up my stomach. When sniffing the trees I saw something that made me feel even more mistrustful: Labradors. They treat Labradors in the same building!!! I hope they use disinfectant before and after. Plenty of disinfectant.

(You probably don't see the dogs, but there's one black and one yellow Labrador. They look happy and content, as they usually do. That's highly suspicious. Maybe they've stolen drugs from the clinic.)

We had to wait for a few minutes. The male human registered me, and as usual we checked my weight (29,3 kg, or 64,6 pounds). I leaned against the female human to get some cuddles. The yellow Ortlieb bag contains my blanket in case the appointment is late. I refuse to lie down on the slippery stone floor and if we have to wait for a long time, a blanket allows me to nap instead of standing and whining. This time we didn't need the blanket but I was called in pretty quickly. I started to wag my tail when I saw my physiotherapist. I really like her, and the cat kibble she has in her pocket.

This is me enjoying. Muscles on my right side were tense, especially the hind leg. That explains why I've felt sore and unwell. I tried to tell off the physiotherapist when she stretched and treated the muscles, but she didn't care a bit, no matter how much I pushed her with my nose. I suppose her own dogs have taught her how to deal with uncooperative patients. 

After the treatment I jumped off the bed and was petted by everyone. I got some cat kibble and we made a new appointment for next month. I trotted out of the room and didn't mind at all the empty examination rooms and personnel we passed on our way out. Happy, happy, jolly girl!

We took the same bus back home. This time, I stood next to a year-old girl on a pram. She kindly petted my bottom for the duration of the journey and was very interested in my plans for the afternoon ("snack" and "nap"). 

Our path home takes us through a park and I did have some appetizers straight from the vegetable garden (ie the lovely grassy side of a stream). 

It took us a while to get home, but I had light paws and good company. No complaints! Instead, I enjoyed the park and the fact that a month from now, we'll do this same trip again.

Saturday, September 05, 2015

Cycling family

My humans love cycling. They love it more than sleeping, running, eating, or sniffing other human's pee. Weird creatures. Anyway, last week the female human broke her bike when she had her day off. It had to be fixed. When she got the bike back I got to visit a bike repair shop they frequent when they want something fixed. (Usually, we just walk past the shop, and I mark the hedge and sniff all the messages boys have left for me.)

For a 12-year-old, I move pretty quickly when visiting an interesting place. The female human had her hands full as I tried to choose presents for the male human. Maybe he'd like a new... chainguard? Or a basket? For bringing home shopping bags full of sausages-ham-cheese-eggs-maybe-even-some-liver?

There was a desk and a service area with three guys working. I quickly pushed my head inside a paper bin under the desk to check the contents. No sandwiches, no cookies. The guys were nice enough though, and I got plenty of attention, scratches, pats and petting. One of them probably owns a dog, as he held me against his thigh and scratched my shoulder just the way I like it.

I wagged my tail wildly, as usually the combination "skinny guy and a bicycle" equals my male human. I was a bit surprised the female human paid no attention to these guys. 
They had more bikes than our male (and he has at least seven)!

When we left the shop my female human was very, very happy. As soon as we left she tested her new brake lever. I realised she needs to be very carefully supervised in case she tries to actually cycle home, so I wrapped the leash around her palm multiple times.

I led the way to make sure we'll get home safely. I also kept the female human alert by criss-crossing her path multiple times to check pee marks and stare at the wild rabbits living in a nearby forest.

I'm very pleased with the fact that after years of training, the female human now knows when to stop and wait patiently. She didn't shout at the other humans, and when I spent five minutes sniffing this rhododendron bush she did not start to whine. (She did test the brake lever a few times though, but I think that's understandable. It is shiny, and she used to only have a coaster brake.)

Friday, May 08, 2015

Queen of the Hill

Her ladyship enjoys our spring walks on the nearby hill. There's been dirt to eat...

...and a kingdom to watch. (You know it's spring when Tara decides to lie down. The photo was taken when she did it the first time this year, mid-March.)

(HRH would like to add that there's no need to eat dirt when her diet is adequate. Lately, there's been too much talk about "gaining weight" and not enough liver, chicken, ice-cream, pizza, sausages, mid-morning snacks and late dinners. "Fat is a feminist issue", she says, and asks me to pass the butter and cheese.)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Beware of Bears!

We were walking a familiar path in the woods when Tara suddenly stopped to listen. We heard strange noise in the woods. "Bears", I could hear her thinking. "Wolves. Badgers, maybe. Definitely wolverines, and elderly dachshunds." Tara refused to walk and insisted on turning back.

I could see the group of City of Helsinki Environmental Management Unit workers tending the forest. Try explaining it to a suspicious canine senior citizen.