A tribute to Ty the magnificent scaredy wuss jellyboy…
We’re heartbroken to report that Ty, aka Garryglass Tyson, slipped peacefully away just before 6pm this evening, after a brief struggle with the dreaded bone cancer – he developed the first symptoms just nine days ago 😦
Ty was born in Ireland, his first race was in Newbridge, Co. Kildare on 26th January 2007 and he came first! There is a video of one his early races here. By September 2007 he had made his way across the sea and was racing in Romford; he even won his first race there! In all he raced 84 times, running his last race on 7th March 2009. He was stunningly quick, racing 480m in under 29 seconds, that’s about twice the speed of Usain Bolt.
There was a bit of a hole in his cv at that point, a 17 month hole in fact, before we took him on as a foster dog in September 2010. He had been sent back from his first home after just a week – he was a nervous wreck (his diary below tells you why). It was a shame as the kennel dog-walkers had reported that he was calm and balanced before spending that brief time in his new home. We hoped that super-confident Lou & Lynx would help Ty to settle and find his courage, though it seemed that he would never live up to the sheer machismo of his racing name “Tyson” so he quickly became “Ty”.
Ty wasn’t much of a blogger, as he basically liked his bed, hated adventures and didn’t have much to write about! But here’s his first diary entry:
“Wednesday 8th September
I’m a BIG black greyhound and whatever Lynx says about me, I’m NOT a big wuss. Big wusses don’t win big races – here’s a video of me going quick here, I am easy to spot as the handsome one in the red jacket.
A couple of weeks ago I went to a new home, I woz all happy, but last Friday there woz all fizz, bangs and whizzes all over the place. I’m reely scared and I finks “Better not go out again, ever, ever, ever – what if them fizz bangs start again, and wot about them other things that make a noise”. It was no good, I had go back to Auntie Pat at the kennels and she said I could live with Auntie Sue for a while – is like a luxury hotel for hounds – I needs lots of TLC.
I met my new foster sister Lou yesterday and my foster brother Lynx – we gots on just fine so Auntie Sue took me back to the countryside. Was a bit scary – birds tweeting in the trees and flappin’ their wings an’ I was soooo hungry – I had to try to steal Auntie’s Sue’s dinner so she’d get the hint! Lynx said “don’t do that, just use your hypno powers” – I dunno if I got hypno powers, but Auntie Sue did feed me so maybe I does. I had a big sleep after dinner – Auntie Sue was happy – she sez if I can relax enuff to sleep then it’s not so bad.
Auntie Sue’s house smells of other boy dogs, so I had to have a few wees just in case she forgot that I was here. She says if I want somethin’ I just needs to give her a nudge with me long nose – weein’s a bit OTT.
and D’oh, I got so much to learn.”
And Ty did learn, though at first he was so scared he earned his forever name of “big scaredy wuss jellyboy Ty”. We could only get him out into the front garden on a lead, where he was fearful and hypervigilant. After a few weeks the back garden was ok-ish, but the field, oh no, that was far too scary. It took months to get him confident enough to patrol the whole garden and chase down rabbits in the rear field. He was a fast youth, and could outpace speedsters like Lynx; though he was never that competitive because he was afraid of being hurt in a tussle. We had “campaign Ty” in the first few months, working with the vet on an anti-anxiety strategy for his first fireworks night. He did really well, particularly with the establishment of a “safe place” – his den upstairs in the study; he’d retreat there in times of stress and once he was in his den he’d be calm. “Campaign Ty” achieved great things at home, but anywhere new was regarded with great suspicion; any small noise or unfamiliar situation and he’d get scared and behave in a random fashion. He just about coped with Richard’s office, but he would not say hello to anyone, he would just run upstairs to his safe place – “safe places” were Ty’s saviour and had to be established everywhere he stayed.
We had a plan to get Ty’s confidence up so that he could be rehomed with a new family after fireworks night 2010; but we didn’t think he’d ever be ready, and we loved him, so we officially adopted Ty, and Lynx, in November 2010.
We, and other trusted visitors to the house, got to see “Ty the Magnificent” – super confident, relaxed, playful; out and about, people only met “Jellyboy Ty” a different dog but still utterly affectionate and loveable. In fact when one of Richard’s colleagues visited the house she actually asked “Eh, is this Ty?” as she could not believe that the confident happy dog that greeted her was the jellyboy she’d met at the office. Out and about at shows and such, Ty was sweet and vulnerable, looking for cuddles and reassurance – it won him many friends.
After working hard on his confidence over the years, we accepted that Ty would never be a brave explorer. But he had other crucial skills such as speed eating pigs’ ears, thieving food, being brave at 3am and he was a champion nester – especially with our bedding! He was also an insistent “nudger – he might stay in his safe den for hours at a stretch then the next minute, usually when you had a cup of tea in hand, there would be Ty’s nose under your hand and..ooops! And he was a lapdog, all 33+kg of him. His other skill was making people love him, even as a jellyboy, and we could have re-homed him a hundred times over, though were were always convinced that no-one would understand his special needs like we did!
Actually, as his character developed, we found that Ty had very uncomplicated needs – a safe den, lots of nest beds, big dinners, cuddles and NO ADVENTURES EVER – especially boating, which he never liked. My outstanding memory is of our first boat holiday with Ty – a long weekend at the Royal Docks in London. He was so stressed he refused to wee – for 30 hours! We rang the vet for advice “walk him round” they said, he’ll go eventually. After two hours of walking the mean streets of East London, even Lou and Lynx were saying “wee so that that we can go back to bed” but Ty wouldn’t oblige. We had to drive him home to do the necessary (for two whole minutes) before going back to the boat! Eventually, Ty would consent to wee when away from home, but only in the middle of the night when all the scary people on the towpaths were in bed; he introduced me to the joys of pyjama walks, including wandering around the pavements of central Birmingham in frilly bloomers and a big fleece, and nightly nighty-clad meanders along the quiet lanes of many a riverside village!
He was an accomplished food thief with many culinary adventures to his name, including thieving several packets of individually wrapped chocolate biscuits which yielded gift wrapped poo over the following days! Or the infamous time he swallowed an ice-cream lolly and the stick, resulting in more anxious poo-watching. Though maybe his most dramatic thefts were of Ollie’s tablets – twice! Cue emergency vet visits and more observations (no harm came of his accidental overdoses!), though when it came for Ty to take those very same tablets for himself, he flat refused to eat them without a coating of steak, pate or similar!
Here are some of Ty’s writings – says it all really…
As the years wore on, I thought that the stress of travelling in the car and boat was affecting Ty’s health, so this year we promised him a boat-free life and he seemed to be thriving; this makes the events of the last 9 days all the more shocking….
The medical bit…..
Back in 2013, Ty had a bout of ill-health with abnormal hormone and blood chemistry results; however they didn’t add up to a clear diagnosis – he was a medical mystery. We treated him with antibiotics for a series of infections and went on a tumour hunt – scans found nothing and, in early 2014, he abruptly got better, with a maintenance dose of Fortekor to support his kidneys. Hindsight now makes our vet wonder whether there was a micro-tumour just starting in his leg then, secreting hormones that were changing his blood chemistry but not definitively enough for a diagnosis – we’ll never know..
9 days ago, on Tuesday 13th October, Ty became lame – our vet found pain in his bone rather than the joint and did an x-ray on Thursday 15th. The x-ray showed a small abnormal patch with a 5 – 6mm difference in bone density, but nothing definitive. In a great catch, our vet decided she was worried and referred him to a specialist for a more sophisticated CT scan. He became worse over the weekend, and the simple anti-inflammatory which had been controlling his pain suddenly wasn’t and I had to add in some stronger painkillers. Getting the referral upgraded to urgent became a saga, but Ty was admitted into the Royal Vet College Hospital on Tuesday where he had a CT scan; the early results were not promising and on Wednesday afternoon the oncologist confirmed that he had bone cancer, probably Osteosarcoma. It’s the cancer diagnosis that strikes fear into any greyhound owner as there is no cure; death can be delayed for a short time but with relatively harsh measures. We had an awful judgement to make…..
There were a few palliative care options available:
- Amputate the affected leg; this is done to give immediate pain relief as bone tumours cause the most appalling pain. But by the time osteosarcoma is diagnosed, it’s already spread at a microscopic level, it’s very aggressive; therefore amputation does not affect the course of the disease. Amputation alone might yield him an extra 4 months of life. As the tumour was at the top of the humerus (top of the front leg next to the shoulder), the orthopaedic surgeon advised against surgery, apparently it’s a complicated recovery and they tend not to cope as well with front leg amputations; but the oncologists were very keen.
- Radiotherapy to reduce pain – this is effective but it masks underlying tumour damage so as pain is lessened and the dog becomes more active, the risk of a pathologic (caused by disease) bone fracture is increased – this is another appalling outcome. This option offered an extra 6 months.
- Chemotherapy (after amputation) to kill off developing secondary cancer cells elsewhere in the body – this can delay but not cure the cancer – this option (but only with amputation) offered around 8 – 12 months of extra life. Chemotherapy alone would not be effective against the primary tumour.
- Pain relief with a group of drugs called Bisphosphonates, that prevent bone breakdown – effective, but they do not affect the course of the disease and what was offered to Ty was a 2-hour intravenous infusion which would have to be done in hospital.
- Pain relief using conventional drugs – not recommended as the dreadful pain soon overwhelms the capacity of normal analgesics to control it as the tumour destroys the bone from within.
The orthopaedic surgeon who did Ty’s scan had told us on Tuesday that it almost certainly bone cancer; that gave us some time to discuss the options before we saw the oncologist on Wednesday.
We know that many hounds are happy as tripods, we know that these options offer hope for many. But we didn’t think that Ty would cope with the rigours of surgery and learning to walk again. Deciding against amputation cut down our options, and was essentially a death sentence, but we never thought that Ty was a candidate for radiotherapy/chemotherapy – he wasn’t a brave hound and the stress of travelling to the vet and being hospitalised regularly would drastically reduce his quality of life. Just being in the vet hospital these two days had petrified him and he was in a state of terror when we picked him up.
So we decided to take him home, on the maximum possible dose/combination of oral painkillers, on the understanding that we would end his pain within a few days. It was a dreadful decision, but we instinctively knew that it was right – Ty would come home and we booked our favourite vet to help him over the rainbow bridge this afternoon.
Ty had a lovely day – I kept him drugged up so that he was relaxed and as close to pain-free as possible; he rotated between his favourite nests, he ate lots of nice food and had cuddles from us and his favourite dog-sitter, who had kindly called in to say goodbye (she loved him as much as we did). He slipped away lying in his favourite nest, Richard holding his head quietly whispered “run free”. When he was gone, he might have been asleep, and we knew that he was forever free from pain and fear……
Ty and the Rainbow Bridge
All the other Indigo Dreamers that we’ve loved and lost enjoyed boating – even now they’re cruising serenely beneath the rainbow bridge in a super-luxury wide-beam version of Indigo Dream, filled with hot chicken, cold ice-cream and cool water. But Ty hated boating, so where is he to go? I am hoping that when he gets there he’ll find the boathouse, an eccentric construction overlooking the virtual Indigo Dream’s mooring. It’s a higgledy-piggledy building with lots of snug alcoves filled with duvets and cushions just waiting to be shaped into nests; on the top floor, the safest place of all, there is a penthouse suite, soundproofed of course, where he can rest easy, protected from all scary noises.
I would say “run free” Ty, but I know you’d prefer to snooze in peace…
Ollie and onwards
We rescued our first dog in 1990, and over the years have rescued a total of 8 (six greyhounds, lurchers before that), but we’ve sadly seen 7 of them go over the rainbow bridge. So we’re now in the unusual position of being a one-dog household. We haven’t been a one-dog household since we brought Lou home in December 2006 – the house is rattlingly empty! Ollie and Ty were not cuddle-buddies – they were merely two gentlemen of means sharing a country club, and its staff. Ollie seems to be taking the situation in his stride but we’ll keep a close eye on him. I really expected ancient Ollie to go to the bridge long before Ty, so it may take a little while to adapt to our new reality….