Ahoy, I’m Rocky, the Dismal Manor FUNGIE (don’t ask). On March 27 I was in a racing kennel at the Jacksonville, Florida track. On Saturday, I was loaded up on an airport shuttle bus become dog hauler and transported to GreytLove in Hanover, VA. The nice folks at James River Greyhounds found me a home at Dismal Manor with the retired Moocher and Missy.
Nick was an incredibly brave greyhound and tried his best to be Nick to the end but a fall tore the skin over his hip. In an elderly dog, this injury is irreparable so it was time to let Nick go. This is a classic consequence of hip hyper–extension that tears the skin horizontally and can tear the joint capsule. So Nick left us at home on 03 December.
Nick was eating less than his maintenance
Nick was eating his full ration most days. He was a grazer and Missy was a Hoover-hound so I had to take up his leftovers and offer them later which was driving Missy wild.
I was feeding both dogs per the Canidae inactive adult guidelines. Missy is a bit smooth but Nick became increasingly gaunt. Eating most of his ration, Nick was not maintaining weight so I began to look for add-ins that he would eat. I took to feeding him 1/2 cup 3 times a day adding 50 grams of roast beef to one meal and a half-can of canned tuna to a second.
Nick was cleaning his bowl but still loosing weight. I was never successful at stopping this wasting. I’m firmly convinced that his metabolism changed as he aged.
No, they won’t let you know!
Greyhounds will keep on keeping on into overtime. Both Lance and Nick did so. They loose their super powers little by little and also their ability to do activities of daily living little by little. And the progression is one of hills and valleys rather than a steady descent. It was helpful to identify a terminal quality of life but Nick did not approach it linearly. Rather, he’d have good days and bad and good hours and bad. He could appear to be down only to nap for a couple of hours and hop up to follow me around as best he could. It is a myth that they will let you know when it is time.
Some fond memories
I miss my Snarky Puppy. Such a calm dog in kennel, Nick came home an absolute git. He thought the world centered around him and when he discovered that it didn’t, he’d get frustrated and go hose down something he associated with me. Taken to a reunion, he spent the whole time marking and barking at the other greyhounds in attendance. Nick would walk the neighborhood here at Dismal Manor, head in the trees shouting at the squirrels as they laughed at him.
As he completed year 4, Nick managed to shed his sapling ways and become an adult. Just in time for the car trip to Dismal Manor and the motel stay while we awaited our household goods. The marking stopped and a fenced yard let him dissipate some of the energy. Through year 5 and 6 Nick continued to torment squirrels, at first charging them but later stalking to close before the charge. I have a video of him stalking somewhere in the Wayback Machine.
When Missy joined us, Nick gave her one menacing only to be told to play nice. He quickly discovered she was a track fit, track fast 3 while he was nine. Nick would withdraw to the carport when Missy went ripping about the yard. After that one testing of limits, each would take the other’s wing as needed. Sadly, they never played together. But when one called Tally Ho, the other would come running to support. For late night turnout, they’d go together. The first would wait for the second to join.
Missy is doing well but she misses Nick’s company and support. She’s needing more play time and more cuddle time (an OK thing). She’s also driving the plan of the day. She raises sand when it is meal time and treat time. I’ve introduced some indoor ball play with the big fuzzy Chuck-It and give her evening treats in a treat puzzle toy.
Maybe. I’m 71 so my next would be with me into my early 80’s if I adopted a track hound. I also have the option of adopting a displaced hound. Our local rescue is winding down so James River Greyhounds is serving the 757. James River are better prepared to take a group of dogs from the track, house them, and distribute them. They affiliate with Greyt Love Retirement who operates a small kennel, has a hauler, and brings dogs to the area for adoption. James River sorts and places the greyhounds.
Nick’s new shoes arrived Friday afternoon. I unboxed them and fitted them. I was pleased to find that my measurements were good and that they fit nicely. Nick let me put them on and has been up and about some while wearing them. This article covers the initial boot use experience and some issues we discovered. It has grown over several days.
Nick continues to experiment with footwear. In the previous episode, I mentioned that the RuffWear boots I bought 14 years ago were moving around so the slippery part was down. Upon investigation, I discovered that his boots were the old size L(arge. They are a good inch wider than his foot allowing them to roll.
Since I bought those boots for Nut, RuffWear has redesigned the product line. The new boots are sized in 0.25 inch increments and sizing instructions are to measure foot width and buy the size closest to but smaller than the foot width measurement. Measure all feet to be shod and use the largest size. Nick measures 2.125 inches so he’d wear a 2.0.
So, today I ordered RuffWear Summit boots in bright green.
I’ve been trying to find things that help Nick with his 13.5 year old mobility. Nick had been eating less than maintenance for some months loosing a good bit of hip and shoulder muscle. The muscle loss has impaired his stance and gait. Most commonly, his feet slip outward causing an unplanned split. What might help?
The past several months have been up and down and up again as we learned more about Nick’s late in life care. This article is a catch up to November. I never thought he’d make it that far.
- https://store.greyhoundhalloffame.com/product_p/9060.htm Care of the Racing/Retired Greyhound, National Greyhound Association and American Greyhound Council, 2007.
- Twitter @nickgreyhound1 has a daily vignette and tracks how he’s doing that day.
In the first article of this series, I outlined Nick’s initial presentation of low back pain and the therapy he is receiving from his regular vet and his late in life care vet, Hampton Roads Veterinary Hospice. This practice specializes in late in life palliative care to maintain an elderly pet’s comfort and function late in life.
This practice offers selected Chinese therapy including acupuncture and herbal therapy in addition to cold laser and message therapy. They care for Nick in home and a significant portion of the visit is spent interviewing me about how Nick’s condition is changing, a thorough leg hip and back exam, and some coaching while the acupuncture session completes. I recommend this style of care for late in life care. This is the first time I’ve not felt alone with a geriatric hound.
How he’s doing
Nick is facing two problems, gradual deterioration of his hips and lower spine resulting from aging and slow wasting from loss of appetite resulting from pain and possible age-related metabolism changes that cause him to extract less energy from his ration.
Over the summer, Nick has stopped running the fence line and vaulting the porch steps to enter the house. He’s also been doing his toilet along the street fence rather than the customary area behind the shed that is a 100 foot walk so he’s consciously minimizing the distance walked. Over August and September he stopped doing a late night garden prowl with Missy.
His bowls are mostly regular with an occasional poo in an i’ve fallen and can’t get up context and the occasional spontaneous emission while sleeping. He remains in good bladder control.
I’ve taught him to walk up the steps and he has it mostly down but needs some support to compensate for imperfect control of his aft end. The Ruff Wear Webmaster harness has been a good thing for both of us. I can tailor the assistance provided to his needs of the moment allowing him to maintain strength and confidence. Without the harness, I’d have to carry him like a puppy risking injury to both of us in the event of a misstep and fall.
Nick continues to experience slow wasting, mostly as a result of eating less than maintenance on the average. Nick is receiving a high quality grain free food with most of its protein from animal sources, usually salmon or duck flesh and meal plus menhaden meal. Legumes and sweet potatoes provide carbohydrates and fiber without added beet or tomato pomace. Food macronutrient ratios conform to industry standards. Nick is supplementing pot roast which he eats eagerly and packet tuna which he eats eagerly. He receives either cream cheese spread or peanut butter as a pilling aid.
Nick and Missy are eating the same diet and the same amounts roughly. Missy is chubby while Nick is distinctly under weight. Some of Nick’s weight loss is a result of him leaving a small amount of kibble at each feeding but some may result from metabolic changes associated with aging. I try to intercept Nick’s leftovers and offer them later in the evening between meals. This was a matter of teaching Missy some restraint and having a treat for her when Nick was receiving his later feedings.
Nick is a grazer so I have to feed him when he wants to eat even if that is 2300. So I offer about 1/3 of his food in the morning around 9 AM, 1/3 at 5 PM and 1/3 around 8-9 PM with pot roast at 5 and tuna at 8. This has improved his eating. I give his medications at 9 and 9 with the gabapentin at bedtime around 10 to give him the best mobility during the day.
Nick continues to receive 3 primary medications for pain management, carprofen, gabapentin, and Hindquarters Weakness. He also receives PhyCox supplement and GlycoFlex supplement mostly for added glucosamine and chondroitin but each has a different system of anti-inflammatories that is supposed to help maintain hindquarters comfort.
Hindquarters Weakness is a traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine believed over centuries of experience to be effective at managing hindquarters pain in Chinese draft animals. The formulation Nick receives is from a US supplier that runs an FDA style quality program to verify the purity and potency of China-sourced leaves and roots from which the product is prepared. The Chinese herbs have proved much more effective than the glucosamine and chondroitin supplements. I suspect this is because his food has adequate glucosamine and chondroitin while the Chinese herbs found only in Hindquarters Weakness have a robust anti-inflammatory action.
We started the gabapentin first followed by the Hindquarters Weakness. When we started 2 a day gabapentin, Nick became sedated and showed reduced rear leg control as indicated by a drunken gait with slouching hindquarters.
He’d improve at random. Invariably, each good day was preceded by a missed round of medication remaining in his pillbox, usually the bedtime dose. This suggested that one of Nick’s medications had slow removal kinematics in Nick.
We tested the Hindquarters Weakness first by reducing the dosage from 2 and 2 to 1 and 2. I started with it because I knew none of the ingredients had been FDA trialed to determine kinematics and that greyhounds have slow liver function relative to other breeds.
The dosage change produced no change in sedation and slouching. So I returned to 2 and 2 and reduced the gabapentin to one tablet at bedtime and stuck with it. Nick showed an immediate improvement in alertness, appetite, and walking posture.
At hospice vet’s suggesting, I increased Nick’s Hindquarters Weakness to 3 in morning and 2 in evening. This appears to have improved his mobility. We’ve been on this protocol for about 2 weeks. In that period, Nick has been much more alert during the day, is sleeping through the night, and is waking around 9. He can be a bit rubber-legged in the morning but this walks off in 10 minutes or so.
Since starting added pot roast, both dogs have shown reduced flatulence. It appears that adding some additional meat has shifted gut bacteria and less fermentation is happening in the back end. Of both dogs.
When Nick began 2018, it was with good posture and mobility. As the year progressed, Nick began to display indications of low back and hip arthritis. The primary indication is that that standing posture slowly deteriorates from an erect stand to a slouch like that shown in the featured image. Note that neither rear paw is being dragged or knuckling over during gait. Gait is normal but maybe bowlegged or somewhat stiff.
Low back and hip arthritis is common in greyhounds and in humans. As with humans, it reduces quality of life by causing pain that the critter accommodates by reducing activity volume and diversity.
As with humans, there are things you can do to maintain quality of life including use of supplements, pain management via medication, and physical therapies such as acupuncture. After the break, the Head Moocher will talk about what is helping Nick.
Moose, one of my Twitter buddies, is a disgustingly cute Italian Greyhound (I believe) who has attracted an unseemly number of Twitter followers. Somewhere along the way his minions had the notion to start a Sighthound Welfare Charity in the UK. Being in the UK and (for the moment in the EU) my peeps are well aware of the plight of the Spanish Glagos (a field bred coursing hound) and the UK is awash in lurchers (deliberate greyhound crossbreeds bred as field dogs). Strong regulation and a strong network of adoption charities support the UK racing greyhound population but the hunting bred dogs are not well regulated and don’t have the industry assisted adoption network enjoyed by the racing dogs. It is with the field bred Galgos and Lurchers where I see Moose’s Trust filling a need.
Back in the winter, I kept a friend’s greyhound while she was on holiday. Crash joined Nick and Missy as their guest. Crash was a perfect gentleman with impeccable manners in the house, in the garden, and on lead. After all, he’s a US racing greyhound and they’re indeed special.
Crash enjoyed his stay with us. He and Missy had several epic chase sessions in the back garden. Missy was overjoyed to have a bouncy boy about her own age for play. Nick, he’s 11 and acting positively senior.