Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 44 - Bad Breath Bud

          My fever was finally down this morning, and I’m feeling a lot better today—probably because I hardly got out of bed the last two days. After a hot shower and a big breakfast I felt like a new man. Sadly, while I am feeling much better, we found out that our foster greyhound, Bud, has osteosarcoma. Prognosis is the worst.
          We’ve had a greyhound for 8 years. Her name is Sandy. She is a pretty little brindle with a sweet disposition. The foster dog, Bud, was bounced by the couple who had him for 9 years. I don’t know how they could do that, but they did. Bud is eleven. We’ve only had him a few months. The couple bought a big motor home last year, a 45 foot bus conversion with every conceivable bell and whistle. I know those things go for upwards of a million dollars. They want to sell their house and travel full time. According to them Bud didn’t like the bus. He spent all his time aboard cowering in a corner, whimpering. Maybe they were right to give him up under the circumstances. I just don’t think I could have done it, and I don’t consider myself to be a particularly sentimental kind of person.
          Bud is a big goofy boy with a prodigious overbite—a condition called ‘parrot jaw’ in greyhounds that keeps him from being able to completely close his mouth. That’s not entirely accurate. He can close his mouth, but the front teeth and the roof of his upper jaw are not covered by his lower jaw when his mouth is closed. There is a gap of a little over an inch. The results are twofold. First when Bud chews his food, crumbs spray everywhere. He is the messiest eater I have ever seen. Couple this with the fact that he adores crisp dry treats and kibble, and we are going to have to enclose his food bowl in plywood and plastic sheeting like a construction site. The other and perhaps even less entertaining result is that Bud has breath that would stop an eight day clock. Honestly, if most UFO sightings can actually be attributed to swamp gas, Bud has the capacity to launch an entire alien invasion fleet complete with battle stars.
          When we picked him up at the couple’s house we sat amongst piles of clutter and detritus and discussed Bud’s needs and habits, or at least tried to. The woman, let’s call her Kelly, seemed more interested in talking about the motor home and their pending travels while the man seemed more interested in making sure that I was a good Republican. Presumably Bud would not tolerate any liberal leanings.
Kelly passed the  clutter and detritus off as preparation for the upcoming transition to full time motor homing. I didn’t see anything that I would take on a bus, but I kept my mouth shut. I know a little about boats and I know a little about motor homes, so I also know a little about traveling in cramped spaces. While a 45 foot bus makes a big motor home, when you load it up with two people and the stuff they need for an extended road trip it becomes a small, small space that will elicit homicidal tendencies among the passengers if very much stowage space is given over to useless stuff. This home was packed to the gills with useless stuff that I knew very well was not going to be loaded into their bus.
          Before we left with Bud we took him for a walk. I don’t know why dog people do this. I suppose it’s a good way to get to know a dog on neutral ground. Everyone does it though. When you go to a Greyhound Pets of America facility to arrange to adopt a dog they have you take the dog out for a walk. When you go to PetSmart and they’re having an adoptable pet ‘meet-n-greet’ and you express an interest in one of the available dogs, they have you take it for a walk. When Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, goes to a house to fix a dog’s aberrant behaviors the first thing he does with the dog is take it for a walk. In this case though, I already knew that we were taking Bud to foster. I also knew that I liked Bud in spite of his breath. The only thing I was going to determine from walking him was whether or not he would pull on the leash.
          He did not pull on the leash. Bud’s hindquarters were so eaten up and atrophied from arthritis and lack of exercise that he would have struggled to pull one of those inchworm toys across the floor. Bud was going to need some attention to keep him from becoming a complete invalid. Near as we could tell he had never been walked on a regular basis. He was turned out into the back yard to do his business and let back into the house when he was finished.
     Greyhounds do not thrive on a lack of regimen. They love to run, but they need room to do it, and even when they have the room they don’t do it very much. Born sprinters, racing greyhounds run full out for about 45 seconds; then they rest up for their next race by sleeping 18 to 20 hours a day.
Confined to a small space and suffering from the discomfort of arthritis a greyhound will not exercise at all. Bud needed to be exercised. Gradually lengthening walks on the leash would build up his strength, stamina, and interest in life.
We started walking Bud the very next day. He was a willing participant. Weak as he was in his hips, I thought he would be reluctant to walk on the leash. Instead he loved it. He took to the neighborhood right away. We have a lot of small children, and they have always been fascinated by our dogs and our dogs by them. Bud loved the little girls especially. He would tolerate their pawing and fawning and hugs as long as they cared to go on. Of course this wasn’t usually very long. Little girls have short attention spans, and Bud is cursed with that egregious breath.
Within a couple of days Bud was showing new signs of exuberance. In the house he would bounce and bark and throw stuffed toys in the air to engage our other hound, Sandy, in play. Outside he was enthused about our walks, and always wanted to go further than we thought it prudent to take him.
After we’d had Bud a couple of weeks we loaded him in the van and took him to meet Kelly. She had a bed and some other of his things that she thought we could use. We met her in the parking lot of a strip mall between her house and ours. When we opened the doors of our van to load the stuff in, Bud didn’t even lift his head to acknowledge the woman who had housed, fed, and cared for him for 9 years. Kelly thought that was extremely unusual, but secretly I had to take Bud’s side in this. I didn’t like her either.

4 comments:

  1. Bud has found a great place with you. A senior hound is just love on four feet. I would try swimming him for exercise as it really has a great effect on their hind quarters - especially those with a bad back. Oh - and try a raw turkey neck once a week for those bad teeth. It's better for seniors than a dental since it does a lot of work on the tartar.

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  2. Just keep him content and pain free. I will keep you in my thoughts.

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  3. Poor Bud! Hugs & Kisses. You will be in our thoughts.

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