Thursday, November 13, 2008

Small But Mighty

(P's Raising Cain - AY's Dana)
July 9, 1997 - November 12, 2008

About ten and a half years ago, a local racing Greyhound breeder called me about a puppy who needed a home. The puppy had been less than half normal size at birth, and the breeders had gone to extraordinary lengths to keep her alive even though they knew she could never race. Now, at ten months of age, it was obvious the little dog was going to stay too small and fragile to stay on the Greyhound farm. I agreed to take her.

About the size of a tall Whippet and weighing less than twenty-five pounds when her littermates grew to weigh in the eighties, she was a very large dog in a tiny package. So the name that suited her the best, of Celtic origin, was "Rhennie" meaning "Small but mighty."

Dwarfism is essentially undocumented in the racing Greyhound since most breeders cull them at birth. She had structural abnormalities but never let them slow her down. We had doubts about how long she might survive, but she had her own ideas.

Life with Rhennie was never boring. When she was younger, she loved to chase feet, trying to grab your ankles with her front paws. Her bone structure was abnormal, and she once snapped a front leg like a carrot just stepping out of the back seat of the car. She was too fragile for a conventional cast so external fixation was recommended. Nothing a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and about $1,600 couldn't fix.

She ran around the house for four months with a tinkertoy on her leg, healed flawlessly, and I never let her go up or down anything remotely resembling a step under her own power ever again.

Rhennie remained oblivious to her congenital defects, helping herself to anything I was foolish enough to try to eat while sitting on the couch, and sleeping on my feet every night. She would only play with raw food, but loved Merrick's many flavors of gourmet canned dog diets. She ate from two to four cans a day without ever gaining an ounce. We joked at the vet's office that if they could bottle her metabolism and sell it, they'd be millionaires.

Her spinal structure was never normal, and over the last few months she developed a severely calcified disc in her lower back. Medication kept her hindquarters more or less working, but last weekend she got much worse. The verdict at the vet on Monday was a probable stroke.

I took her home and we spent Tuesday on the couch together, wrapped up in a comforter, watching DVD's: Rhennie's very favorite activity. She had all her favorite foods, roast chicken, poached salmon, boiled shrimp. When she needed her litter box, I carried her over and held her until she was done. It was increasingly difficult to move her at all without pain.

Then Wednesday morning, I wrapped her in Godiva's blanket from Circle Of Grey and took her in to the vet so she could be free of the body that had become a prison.

Goddess-speed, Rhennie, until we meet again.


Rio Arriba said...

So sorry for your loss. They slip themselves into our hearts and they always take a big piece when they leave us. And they always leave us too soon.

You gave her a good life. Blessings on you. And on her, too.

JD said...

Sorry to hear the news, that is the hardest part of having a pet in the family. . . you know you out live them but it still hurts like hell when they go.

You did what you had to, you will meet again over the Rainbow Bridge:

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge.
There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together.
There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor; those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by.
The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent; His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Author unknown...