Children of the 4-legged Variety

March 25, 2011

We adopted a retired racing greyhound six and a half years ago. Cassie had a relatively long career of 4 years racing (her siblings all made it to mandatory retirement age–5 years) and she has enjoyed retirement. She has coursed at renaissance faires and runs when she wants to. She turned 10 on Valentine’s Day and we expect her to live another 2-5 years if she stays healthy.

I am a scatterbrained mom. I can barely keep up with the health requirements of my two-legged children that remembering the shot schedule of the dog is a near impossibility. About two years ago I missed a few shots but managed to get Cassie in for her rabies vaccination and finally get her registered with our county. We decided to get all her shots done at one time–one appointment equals less hassle. They also do all her pre-op blood work for her annual teeth cleaning which I schedule within 30 days. The first time I did this “all-in-one” I admit I was a bit stunned by the sticker shock (on average $500) but I am more prepared for it now. And I know the teeth cleaning will be another $500.

It’s March. I was starting to get nasty grams that Cassie was due for shots in February. Cassie started limping last weekend.

If you’ve ever talked to people who have adopted one of these consummate athletes I’m sure you’ve heard that “typical health concerns have been bred out of greyhounds. And the only real complaint is bad teeth because you do not need teeth to run.” Well, there is another concern that cannot be bred out of them–osteocarcinoma. For whatever reason, interestingly, the origin of the cancer will start in the front inside turning leg.

One of Cassie’s faire friends developed this horrible disease at just 8 years old. The family chose to fight the disease which included an amputation. Even with three legs, this brave dog would outrun Cassie who was just interested in chasing her friend and not the lure. But treatment only bought her 6-8 more months before the cancer returned with a vengeance.

I can only begin to calculate the costs of such treatments. Greyhound owners can be a fierce group of people, highly dedicated and almost fanatical about the care of greyhounds–from daily teeth brushing to freshly cooking their chicken dinners each and every night.

Okay, I lived for the day when T1 and T2 could brush their own teeth. Every now and then when I get a whiff of some stale breath and I sit anxiously at the dentist each check up because I know, just know, the dentist is going to say there is a mouth full of cavities, I think maybe I should be brushing their teeth for them. But that feeling passes quickly thankfully. So I’m not exactly about to clean the dog’s teeth every day.

Brush my teeth, Mom!

I tried. I did try. Then it became weekly. Then I just decided if I was taking her in for her monthly nail dremeling and ear cleaning, they could clean her teeth monthly too with the annual sedation teeth cleaning at the dentist.

Freshly cooked food? Daily? Are you kidding me? It’s only because of E.o.t.T. that we have stopped going through the drive-thru every other night when DH is at sea.

So needless to say, DH and I looked at each other as the limping continued into the second day. “Just so we’re on the same page, she goes out strong. She goes out happy.” I nodded, “Before she’s in too much pain.”

In between all my appointments (sinus infection again) and T2 asthma follow-ups this week I also–finally–scheduled Cassie’s annual appointment for shots, blood work, pre-op teeth cleaning work, and x-rays. DH would take her and deal with the news while I was on a field trip. In the back of my mind I kept telling myself she was limping on the wrong leg anyway. Maybe it’s just age.

Cassie took three shots like a champ. She let them do blood work and other tests. She even let them take x-rays without sedation. Now that I think about it, she once let them stitch her face without having to be restrained. She is one tough and mellow cookie. The vet was pleased we opted for the x-rays right away. Although they will be read by an expert early next week, the initial read is that it is just arthritis and there is no sign of tumors in the joint or on the long bones.

New daily pills. Restricted activity for a week till the anti-inflammatories have a chance to really work. We’ll be dealing with this for the rest of her life. But it’s nice to know that end is not in the immediate future.

We understand that other owners will do everything possible–even fight cancer or give daily insulin shots–for their four-legged children. And I admire their devotion. Others are just not in a position to do so. For us, this goes beyond my lazy nature to thinking about our two-legged children and their needs and the financial burdens such a decision would mean.


One comment

  1. […] Children of the 4-legged Variety (snipewife.wordpress.com) […]

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