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Dog Blog: Blue 10th May 2002 – 11th August 2010

Posted by indigodream on 11 August, 2010

I guess the title says it all – our beautiful boy Blue died peacefully in vet hospital early this morning after a shockingly brief illness over the weekend, though it’s likely that he’s had the underlying disease for some months.

Blue at his best - this is how we want to remember him....

Blue was born on 10th May 2002 in Ireland. His first proper race was in Waterford on 28th May 2004 when he ran 480m / 525 yards in 32.75 seconds, coming first! His early career was splendid and he soon graduated to running at Wimbledon, Walthamstow and Perry Barr. Sadly his second year was not as good as his first, probably due to a knee injury, so he finished his racing career early. He was re-homed initially to a couple who divorced and, sadly, Blue got caught in the cross fire and packed off to Battersea just as our old Lurcher died.

May 2006: New dog on a shiny new boat

So Battersea was were we first met Blue. We went back to Battersea, asked for a small female Lurcher and they produced this large male greyhound and said “trust us”. We duly did and never regretted it.
Our dogs have always spent much of their time off lead and it was a requirement that Blue had to quickly learn to be responsible(ish) off the lead. Early walks were fun. Fortunately the fields just north of us had no sheep in at that time but loads of rabbits! We reckoned that Blue’s first walk there resulted in him running at substantial pace for about 7 miles, a good lesson as he gradually realised that he did not have to find the horizon every time we slipped his lead. Other things also quickly changed, for example, as with all re-homed dogs he would initially try to eat his entire food bowl in one go, that insatiable urge took about a month (or maybe 3 chinese takeaway leftovers) to calm down. Worse was to follow – only a few days after getting him we got Indigo Dream so this blog has been as much about Blue as it has been about our travels on Indigo Dream.

It was wonderful how Blue adapted to his new life. Yes we had incidents like when the guys from Richard’s office took him for a long walk on their way to collect a take-away, a van back-fired, Blue got spooked, periscoped out of his collar and ran back along the road to the office. Blue was fine after his little game with Croydon’s traffic, Simon who had ran after him needed to be defibrillated but he also survived.  I have just realised that I don’t think I ever told Sue this story. Whoops, quickly back to the story before Sue notices. Blue worked out so well that 6 months later we started thinking of getting another one. We went first to Hersham as we had heard that they had Blue’s brother but we just missed him – he is exceedingly happily re-homed in West Wales. We ended up getting a second greyhound, Lou, from  Greyhoundhomer in Ockendon. She has been Blue’s partner in many crimes but it is hard to put into words how much pleasure our two hounds have given us. We have been honoured that they have agreed to spend their retirement with us and it has been a complete delight to see how much they can enjoy life.

August 2008: Anti-piracy device - Blue on the lookout!

Now onto Sue’s account of the last few days, a story that she had to get off her chest but don’t read any further if you’re a dog lover – it’ll only make you cry!

Blue had been slowing down for a few months – the vet thought it was a back injury but in the last couple of weeks we started having him tested for underactive thyroid – the sort of thing you’d expect from a dog sliding into late middle age (he was only 8).

Last Thursday he was still making the ground shake as he ran past but in the evening he just became very ill – finding it difficult to get up and walk, very unsteady on his feet. The first emergency vet though he was in pain but not sure where – probably back, hip or leg. His nerve function seemed ok so he got a big shot of an anti-inflammatory pain killer then Sue’s drug cupboard got opened up for some more exotic remedies. We kept him loaded up on painkillers over the weekend but he wasn’t getting any better. We saw a vet on Saturday who noted a possible deterioration in one reflex but it could as well have been pain causing a difference but she agreed with our request for a referral to a specialist which she left for Monday’s Vet to sort. We had a useless emergency vet on duty over the weekend – she just wasn’t interested when we kept telling her that Blue was deteriorating – she just wanted us to manage him at home until Monday, when Monday’s vet could sort things.

We were frantic by Monday morning but fortunately saw an excellent vet who spotted that Blue had some signs of nerve problems and got us into a specialist vet in neurology. That’s when we got the bombshell, she suspected a tumour in his spinal column in his neck. She admitted him to hospital straight away for basic care – fluids, stronger painkillers and something for his stomach (he’d been vomiting over the weekend) – this is what we’d hoped our own vet would have done – it’s not rocket science.

Dec 2009: Fun in the snow

The condition in his neck which we believe killed him, is unbelievably rare (the Specialist could not find any published data on it being seen before in a greyhound) – we’ve authorised some post-mortem tissue sample so that the vets can learn from it. The brain tumour was treatable but he was on borrowed time – we just didn’t realise it until Monday.

We had a chance to see him yesterday – he was as comfortable as modern medicine could make him, had a deep comfy bed and was wrapped in a snuggly fleece – I don’t think he was in distress, just very very ill – he never really recovered from the anaesthetic that they gave him for the scan yesterday though no doubt the hefty doses of methadone would have kept him slightly under anyway. We left him just before 5pm, he died at about 3am.

We took Lou to say goodbye to him this morning – I know it seems macabre but apparently it’s very important to let dogs see their departed pack mates – they seem to be able to accept death in some animal way and then don’t pine and look for the missing hound. There was surprisingly little drama and Lou seems settled – considerably more settled than me. Interestingly we took Lou & Lynx for a walk afterwards and Lou seems to have taken on Blue’s role of ranging forward often in pace just in case there is a rabbit hiding behind a blade of grass.

Lou and Lynx have been a great comfort to us and to each other but it’s been terrible to say goodbye to our lovely boy.

Blue was our third rescue dog but our first greyhound and he’s been a complete joy. We had so much pleasure from his company, from watching him run and rummage, from seeing his complete and utter contentment in his forever home. How we wish that we could have more years with him. I’ll let the blog stand as his eulogy – I know that many have shared his adventures and nothing I could say here could capture the completeness of his retired life.

March 2009: The chase is on....

We’re in shock – it was all so unexpected.

It’s been a very hard few days but we can say, hand on heart, that I think we gave Blue the best possible life in the time he was with us. We were rewarded in spades by his love and companionship – we will miss him terribly.

When we lose a dog we always feel that we’ve been robbed – it’s never enough time and the grieving pain is dreadful – I can’t describe it. But when we take a new dog on we always make a pledge that when their day is done we will get another rescue hound – we feel that we have a moral duty to do so if we can; but in reality our motives are very selfish – we always feel that rescue hounds give back so much more than we give them. It’s important for these hounds that someone marks their lives in some way and makes them matter – even if it’s briefly.

So, here’s to Lou and Lynx – we’ll do all we can to give them a happy life and we’ll keep our fingers crossed for long lives….

Thank you Blue for the time you have given us. Run free.

15 Responses to “Dog Blog: Blue 10th May 2002 – 11th August 2010”

  1. Greygal said

    You’ve started me off again – and I’ve just cleaned the keyboard from earlier. Great pictures – and yes, this is exactly how we want to remember him. So glad we got the ‘six dogs in a boat bundle’ as his last hurrah – we were very privileged to share in it. Love you, Blue boy.

  2. So sorry to read this. Kipling said it all, really:

    When the body that lived at your single will,
    With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!)
    When the spirit that answered your every mood
    Is gone–wherever it goes–for good,
    You will discover how much you care,
    And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

    Take care

    Bruce

  3. Adam said

    Sue and Richard, that is a shock, and we’re very sad to hear the news. I don’t think there’s any question that Blue had a great life while he was with you — what more could any dog want than a well placed sheepskin and a supply of sausages. It was a pleasure and a privilege to meet him.

  4. lesley said

    I have managed to read your lovely eulogy but struggled to see the screen through my tears; what a dreadful shock for you both. Here’s to the Blue boy then, rummaging in a doggie heaven somewhere and forever in your hearts..
    Lesley

  5. indigodream said

    In the past I’ve just written about these things in my diary and put it away in a drawer – it’s been very selfish of us to draw on consolation from so many sources but we do appreciate your kind words and thank heavens no-one’s told us to get a grip!

  6. Anne said

    So very sorry to hear about Blue and I feel priviledged to have met him, and you too. You really are tremendous and I write with tears in my eyes for your loss. With love, Anne

  7. Nicki said

    ‘It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart
    with them. And every new dog who comes into my life gifts me with a piece of
    their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be
    dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are.’ (unknown)

    You may have seen this – but it perfectly describes your philosophy I think Nxx

  8. Neil said

    Very sorry to hear about poor Blue (and poor you). I guess Lou will miss him too. I know that he will have left you many happy memories though, and you can’t take them away.

  9. Sue said

    Oh dear… What can I say… Our K9s are part of us aren’t they.. in fact sometimes they are more than our families, you can talk to them knowing there is no repeating what we say.. it is so hard to lose them.. Our thoughts are with you right now

    Sue & Vic

  10. Jeanette said

    Gosh how I cried, for Blue, for you, and for me and the dogs I’ve lost. It hurts so very much to lose a dog and my heart goes out to you x

  11. indigodream said

    Thank you to everyone – you’ve all been so kind.

    I have to say that losing Blue has been surreal, fateful even – fostering Lynx, the fact that only solo photos of Lou got into the 2011 calendar….

    One comforting image is that of the rainbow bridge, where our dogs wait together for us to join them one fine day – it’s an image for children, but these are such primal emotions that maybe it touches the child in us all.

    Today, after a thunderous rain shower, a huge and vivid rainbow stretched across the valley below our house – from my vantage point, the end of the rainbow was in a nearby meadow where we’ve walked three generations of dogs – I’d not long since come back from walking Lou and Lynx there.

    So maybe Blue has joined Honey and Indie at the end of the bridge after all – nice thought…….

  12. You gave him a good home, good food, and good loving. Only difference heaven will offer is he might catch a rabbit or two.

  13. indigodream said

    Nice comment Bill, made me laugh thank you: I am sure that he is off catching rabbits but you have to understand that Blue after an exciting late evening walk would dream about the chases he had had, paws twitching away and if it was a particularly exciting walk then there would be the odd little bark. Next morning he would wake up pleased at the number of rabbits he had caught.

    Richard

  14. carrie said

    Dear Sue and Richard
    I’m so so sorry to hear about Blue. What a beautiful, kindly dog he was.
    I couldn’t read about him without thinking of my own Milou, lost to me in April, and who I miss every day. The suddenness seems both shocking and also a comfort, knowing there wasn’t a long period of suffering, but as you’ve said, also feeling robbed of further years.
    You gave Blue such a wonderful life – what good luck he found you as human friends! You posted that first photo of Blue, leaping towards us and say it’s how you want to remember him. I agree – I think of lively, playful, mischievous (ok, naughty) Milou and am grateful for our time together.
    Thinking of you both,
    Carrie xx

  15. Simon said

    I don’t think I can add anything to what Carrie said above – what a lovely – and lucky – dog.

    As you know, we know how you feel. x

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