Saturday, March 8, 2014

The Golden Princess

I feel rather horrid about this. I wrote two posts about Cù when he lost use of his legs and we were so hopeful to get him walking again, perhaps with aid, and then when he took a turn for the worse and we had to let him go.  But I have written nothing here about Òrlaith's battle this winter. I posted a bit about it here, primarily as both his death and her battle at the time influenced my writing.
Òrlaith (Prevo)
Born:June 16, 2002-adopted: November 25, 2009-died: February 22, 2014

Òrlaith was our fourth Greyhound, the fifth we have lost. We adopted her when we realized that we were losing Scolaighe to her meningitis and we didn't want Glean, our AussieX to be alone.  As she was a tiny "feminine" fawn girl, we were somewhat surprised she was "thrown" at us, we get losers, after all and tiny
Peeking out from her pillow fort
"feminine" fawn girls are apparently among the most sought after Greyhounds.  However, she did have her issues and she did need us. Namely, she had anxiety issues, but they were rather unique. Hardly a spook, she was outgoing and friendly to humans and dogs, rather bossy and body slamming with the latter (and if they didn't obey, I already told the story of her reprimanding Cù then him being put in solitary for supposedly hurting her by kennel workers).  However, noises bothered her a lot if she wasn't active at the moment. Sleeping was a real problem; wind, rain, sounds of the house settling, never mind when actual thunder.

Her previous home had children as well, she hid in her crate and they felt horrible, feeling she was unhappy.  Here she took to building a "fort" out of the couch cushions and hiding there to sleep. We figured she was pretty happy, actually, but also got her a ThunderShirt (tm) which helped some but she still like to hide.We let her as long as she needed it.

Over time she started spending less time under the cushions and started snuggling us a bit.  When we adopted another AussieX, Sachairi, she did go back into hiding for a bit when she was sleeping, although she did seem to like him. She then started to spend more time out again, except when there were really high winds and thunderstorms.

She especially liked Sach when he was where she wanted to be
As the only female the boys all learned to respect her and the seemed to all adore her. She was very bonded with Cù, because their activity levels were a bit different from the Aussies, there was a strong sense of pairing. We'd often walk the hounds on their own and take the fluffy dogs out for a romp in rougher terrain, especially as the hounds both started showing signs of lameness as they aged (Sach is actually older, but yet shows little signs of age other than being deaf). So when Cù became lame, Òrlaith was very reluctant to go for walks on her own. As I didn't want to take all the other dogs out and leave him, I didn't at the time try to take her out with the boys.  That would come later, after he was gone and she seemed to enjoy those walks quite a lot.

She missed him terribly, as did the boys  They moped a lot, even all snuggling together often.  As snuggly as she had been, she became a total velcro hound to us too.

Then over Thanksgiving, when the vets where off and Aaron was working, I noticed that her gums were bleeding badly when I brushed her teeth. The next morning there was a lump, we figured a tooth infection that got into her jaw and got her to an emergency vet who determined the same and sent her home with a course of anitbiotics.

The antibiotics did nothing, the lump grew. Taking her to a regular vet, we learned she had osteosarcoma, a bone tumor. He gave her about three more weeks, which would have been around the holidays, and gave us little option. We took her to another vet for a second opinion. On the plus side we found them a wonderful clinic and will be continuing to use them....wishing greatly that we knew about them when we still had Cù (this is Bethel Animal Hospital they are a bit further from us even than our old vet, but greatly worth the trip!).  They didn't give a death date, but confirmed it was cancer. They laid out the options, which were to have the jaw amputated and replaced with a prosthetic and do chemo.  Manage her care until it grew too large.

Given her age, given how horribly invasive and painful the idea of jaw amputation seemed...especially while suffering the effects of chemo....and especially at her age when there was a chance that something else would get her before she even finished the chemo so that she'd probably never have a good quality of life, we opted to care for her while we could without imposing all that on her.

We did try, with the support and help of the new vet, several herbal treatments.  We were sold a lot of hope by many when we bought these things, miracle stories....which was not helpful to us. We had so much hope for Cù and were still feeling crushed by him not making it, not walking again, that more false hope was painful. We knew the cancer would spread, the tumor would grow. All we could hope for was that we could slow it.  And it seemed to work. I spent almost all my time with her, Aaron as much as he could. We spoiled her with "treats" which disguised her herbs.  And she ate soft food....although she could still wolf down the boys' (who do not eat like Greyhounds) kibble when we weren't looking).

Around the end of December, it did seem maybe it was getting too big and time was close, but it did seem to slow at that point.  She got to the new year, still happily eating, still going for walks when it was warm enough (which, sadly, it wasn't very often).  She made it into February and the month was winding down, we realized that the tumor was getting too big. Her mouth was bleeding again. She could still eat, but it was more difficult.  She still had happy moments but it no longer was all the time and we knew that shortly those happy moments would be gone.

I often feel and See the "shadow hounds" around here. But Cù was very close this whole time. He missed being in the same world as his closest packmate, she missed him.  They are together again, this I know. They are with Irony, Bran and Scolaighe too, but importantly they are together.  Always. I miss sharing this world with all my lovely hounds, their silken ears, their snuggles...but I know on some nights, I can still run with them under the moon.