He was the second rescued racing greyhound we adopted, some eight years ago. We were told Dash and others in the racing kennel were routinely kicked when they did not perform well. He came to us with an injured shoulder.
But he survived the horrors of racing, where so many others never make it out alive each year. So many never make to it their senior years.
Several years back, we discovered a lump on the base of his ear. The diagnosis was fibrosarcoma and the ear had to be removed to save his life.
Some time later, he faced another health crisis and it was determined that his spleen needed to be removed. The surgeon found the spleen was damaged, most likely from an injury suffered in racing. The night after the surgery, he suffered a bout of bloat and had to go back in for another emergency surgery.
But again, he came out like a trooper, with grace and courage.
About a year ago, he began to have an increasing level of difficulty with weakness in his lower back and rear legs. Earlier this year, he lost complete use of his rear legs. But still, it was clear that his will to live was unwavering.
So for months, I picked Dash up everyday to take him outside to enjoy the grass and fresh air. He had his spot during the day on his bed and every night he napped beside my wife on the top deck of a living-room daybed while she watched her favorite TV shows.
Dash adjusted incredibly well to each challenge he faced in life. It was clear until the very end that he still enjoyed a quality of life. He loved to be close to my wife and loved for me to rub on his one ear.
Over the last few months, I was getting up once or twice each night to turn him, so that he wasn’t laying on one side too long. Dash barked to wake me up to let me know when it was time for a flip. He would then get maybe a snack or drink of water before going back to sleep.
But over the last week, he developed severe bedsores that became unmanageable. Greyhounds have very thin skin and these sores got to be very bad, very fast. We could not put him through that situation.
On Tuesday, Dash went to be with our other human and furry family members who have passed on. We will miss him greatly. My wife and I have cried many tears over the last few days. I don’t mind admitting that my emotions get the best of me at times like this.
I held it together pretty well through writing this tribute, until I uploaded the photo. It is one of our favorite images of Dash, showing his personality. It is the photo you often see on my blog and Facebook posts.
It never becomes easier for us. Our household typically includes around 10 rescues – from older dogs to right now a younger lab-basset mix and lab. We have a basset-beagle mix who is probably around 15 to 16 years old and another greyhound, Jojo who is cancer survivor (osteosarcoma).
At times such as this, our other rescues give us strength to go on. We know they need us and we need them. And we know that while we rescued them in one sense of the word, they rescue us, everyday, in other ways.
I wish I could somehow make people who say “you don’t know what you get when you rescue a dog or cat” understand how totally wrong they are.
Goodbye Dash. We will miss you – your strength, your will to live and your unconditional love.