Friday, November 30, 2007

A little light reading

Yes, it's the Donoughue Report. The one that's supposed to have the welfare of greyhounds at its heart, the one that's supposed to stop the greyhound racing industry from going down the tubes because people keep moaning about all the dead greyhounds.

Unfortunately, it spends so much time reassuring the current club members they'll all still have jobs (and look, there's a corner office with a swivelly leather chair), that it fails to get to grips with some of the real issues. For example, the number of greyhounds that end up in dog pounds every year. If they banned every owner and trainer with a dog registered to them that wound up on the council's death row, there would be a big gap in the ranks. Not surprising they don't want to follow up that issue.

Then there's the weeny issue of no one actually having any authority over the independent tracks (I guess the name is a bit of a giveaway). Without legislation, no one will have. So, the ex-NGRC, henceforth the JFBC (Jobs For the Boys Club), think they could self-regulate, while someone else checks up on the independents. And that would be fine, as long as no one ever checks up on the JFBC. Because they've done such a fine job of policing themselves all these years. And promising to politicians that they will, and politicians being daft enough to believe them.

Both Holly and Herbie were dumped - Holly was pulled from the pound at the 11th hour, while Herbie spent six weeks at a vets, he was in such poor condition. I'm not about to believe any promises on welfare, I want to see legislation and criminal convictions.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Chemo Week 13

..And a flurry of superstitious dread at the number. It's only a number. Herbie went for a blood test this morning, and his white cell count is holding up. That's one relief. Unfortunately he doesn't want to walk much, which is bad sign. However, I think it's related to the prednisolone. He is one of the few dogs who doesn't tolerate it well, and his muscles waste fast. He also becomes depressed and mopey, with intermittent episodes of rapid heartbeat and panting.

It's possibly the only thing that will slow his cancer down, so I'm sticking with the prescribed dose because the lumps are growing back more slowly. But his little face, at the top of the stairs this evening, panting, worries me. The vets at Cambridge said it's more of a psychological effect, and physically he'll be fine. But he looks miserable. I'm not sure what to do. I think I may have to phone the vets again.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Big Thank You

... for all the support I've received over the last day or so. Going to the vets is turning out to be stressful these days, and I really appreciate all the kind comments.

Today I have mostly been soaking sugar beet pellets. These come in 25 kilo sacks (the smallest size) and I put half a dozen pellets in a bowl of water this morning.

The end result looks like something you scrape out of a blocked drain. Tomorrow Herbie gets his first taste.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Chemo Week 12

We're just back from Knaresborough, and Herbie is still wobbly from the sedative. Our first visit to Mr. Lowe, who felt that Herbie was still in good condition, despite everything he's been through to date. I felt in really good hands, and had the first good discussion with a vet about how diet can really make a difference. I've been asked to stop all carbs, and if he needs a little fibre to keep his poo firm, try sugar beet pulp. Apparently you can buy this from equine feed merchants, so I'll go to Farmway tomorrow morning.

For tonight, all he's having is a little boiled chicken, and probably the same again for breakfast. And we're back on the prednisolone, just when he'd finally been weaned off them. At the moment, it's any port in a storm. If he doesn't achieve remission with this dose of doxorubicin, there may not be much point in continuing. Once multi-drug resistance develops, as it seems to have done in Herbie's case, all we can do is slow things down a bit.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Herbie's Winter Coat

Here he is, in his new winter coat, courtesy of those nice people at Greyhounds in Need. Now that he has so many shaved patches, from ultrasound tests and blood tests, he needs his fleecy coat!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Chemo Week 11

This is a week we don't have to go anywhere, since Herbie's next treatment isn't due until next Tuesday. Now that we're off the weekly treatments, it might seem odd commemorating individual weeks, but I'm keeping track of when we started on this journey.

So, Week 11 may not seem exciting, but I'm sure that without chemo Herbie wouldn't have had a week 11. In the summer, when we didn't know what was wrong with him, I bought him a new winter coat, while secretly wondering if he would ever get to wear it. Fortunately, he has. Faith and hope come and go in waves. Like meditation, where you count your breaths and try to stay focused, I'm counting the weeks.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Life Before Dogs

It's funny, but I've almost forgotten what it's like not to live with dogs. I've been reminded by reading a wonderful, funny blog by a lady in the pre-greyhound stages (catch it here ).

There's a long list of things I didn't know about or understand before dogs, such as the importance of a good doormat. Other things include (with explanations for the caninely-deprived):

Pig's Ears (yes, real ones, off real pigs, sometimes with an ink tattoo still visible)
Kongs (rubber chewing things stuffed with food - a form of dog entertainment)
Tick tweezers (owning a pair miraculously stops your dog getting ticks - how does that work?)
What Frontline is (flea treatment)
Ditto Panacur and Drontal (worms)
The concept of a poo-torch (unless they go directly under a lamp-post, you will need help finding the pile)
Poo-bags - why biodegradable nappy bags are no good if it's raining (they dissolve before you get home)
Teeth-chattering (your greyhound doesn't have flu, he's just pleased to see you)
Bed ownership (it's not yours anymore, that's for sure)

I'm sure other things will occur to me. Since I've had a dog, complete strangers have stopped me in the street to let me know the butcher's got rabbits in, and the dogs would love one, or that's there's broken glass just past the bus-stop, best take a detour. You become a different person - and it's not just the fine coating of dog-hair on your clothes.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A New Day, A New Doormat

I know, I know, hold the front page. It's a little bit tragic when the most exciting event in your life is a new doormat. However, the mud months are beginning, and once you first hear the patter of tiny (dog) feet, you begin to appreciate things that are machine washable. Before I had dogs, I never gave doormats a second thought.

The dogs have just pointed out that they themselves must not get wet, under any circumstances. Today's venture out into the drizzle was a one-off.

Herbie's sub-mandibular nodes are beginning to swell a little. I'm not sure if this is normal, but it's 10 days before we see the new vet in Knaresborough. He's doing OK, and is now sleeping with Honky the Pheasant curled up under his chin. (Honky no longer honks, since Holly punctured the squeaker. This means that he is safe for Herbie to sleep on.)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Yay, it's working!

After the first dose of doxirubicin, and all the up-chucking, Herbie's submandibular nodes are shrinking. It suddenly all seems worth while.

Friday, November 02, 2007

A Little Better

Yesterday, we were all so tired that Holly, Herbie and I spent the afternoon each with 0ur heads under our respective blankies. Today, Herbie's feeling a little better, and had some chicken for breakfast.

At lunch, I was going to give him some egg, but he barged Holly out of the way for a Markie (crack cocaine for dogs, and he hasn't been allowed them for months) and then again for some steak. (My father came over to walk Holly and had brought some left-over steak.) It's been a couple of hours now, and the steak seems to be staying down - fingers crossed!

I'm in a better mood today, but not impressed with the concept of anti-vomiting pills after a dog has started chucking up. The Cerenia tablets came straight up again, and I know now to insist on an injection. I'm learning lots, but mostly at poor Herbie's expense.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Chemo Week 9

Or, wall-to-wall dog sick. "He may experience some nausea or vomiting." Yup. Oh boy.

We went to Cambridge on Tuesday, and they agreed that the COP protocol had stopped working, and it was time to try doxorubicin at three-weekly intervals. He had the first dose there, and an anti-emetic injection. Good job it lasted long enough to get us home, because my sister, God bless her, drove us there in her car. It was a long day, four hours each way, plus stops, and a five hour wait while they did tests.

Now Herbie's home, and not feeling too good. I've been to get some anti-emetics from the vet that say "May cause vomiting if given on an empty stomach". Great, really useful for a dog that's thrown up and now won't eat anything. He's also only had three-quarters of one pill so far, because he keeps gacking it up, no matter how much I stroke his throat to make him swallow. Greyhounds aren't built like other dogs, and pilling them isn't easy.

I'm about to go to bed and pull the covers over my head. Leaving the front door open so that Herbie can vomit outside for a change.