In May, 2013, I received a call from my local Greyhound Rescue group, Greyhound Friends for Life, asking me if we would be willing to foster a Galga, named Sara, who had been rescued from the streets of a small town near Seville, Spain. She was left to die -- emaciated, weak and unable to get up or walk. A group of wonderful volunteers rescued, fostered and brought her back to health. They think that she was used as a brood mom. She had scars all over her body, the worst of which was a "Z" brand carved into her forehead. My friend, Mora, fell in love with Sara from afar, and brought her to the USA, for which we are forever grateful.
We never know how old the Galgos are, since so many are dumped or left to die, but we think that she was at least 6 1/2 years old. We wondered how she had endured so much; but after adopting her, we realized what a strong, resilient spirit she had. She was a very proud, strong Galga, whose spirit could not be broken. Here's her rescue and adoption story.
We fostered Sara for a few days and very quickly and decisively knew that we wanted to adopt her forever. It has been 7 1/2 years of pure love and joy with beautiful Sara.
Our hearts are broken, as we had to let her go yesterday, and we will grieve forever.
The Gift of Sara
Sara was one of the most intelligent, stoic, proud and loving dogs I've ever known. She was beautiful, inside and out. Her eyes were sad and soulful. Her fur became bunny soft, once she ate the good, healthy food we provided. She was the alpha of our pack of five dogs, three Spanish Galgos, a Spanish Podenco and a Greyhound. She was always much more of a people person, preferring people to other dogs. She tolerated the other dogs, but loved all people. She was always a perfect lady and a skilled huntress. Even just last week, when her health was failing, she caught and killed a rat in the backyard, and was prepared to bring the prize in to me, before my husband caught her and took it to the garbage.
She loved us, and was especially close to me over the past several months. She always had to know where I was. She visited me in our sun/workout room, and we spent quality time together, she watching me and relaxing on the futon and me doing the elliptical and yoga and sneaking in pets and kisses here and there. Sometimes, we would share a little snack and watch a good show together on the TV. She loved sneaking past the other dogs to come to the sunroom so that we could be together -- just us.
She loved our bed and sleeping with us. It was her favorite place. She and I would stay up late and sleep in together every day. She wouldn't go to bed until I did. In the morning, after Dad got up, she'd take his spot and we'd sleep in. She always had to cuddle, touch or hug. She slept under and stole most of the blankets. She would tell the other dogs off if they jumped up on the bed, as though she owned it. She loved to play with stuffed animals and relished her treats. She could jump two feet straight up in the air when she was happy. On our mostly sunny days, she loved to bask in the sun for 10-15 minutes each day. She sat in our chairs that dogs would not normally sit in, often taking our chairs when we got up. She was a force!
Over the past year, she has had labored breathing and some other issues with tumors on her chest and tummy area. We recently had three emergency surgeries to remove the tumors. They determined that they were cancerous, but not the type that metastasizes. We also had a cardiologist do a echocardiogram in early September, which revealed fluid around her heart. He said that there was a good chance that it was cancer, and if so, she'd have about 1-3 months. He was right. She still ate well, but she kept losing weight. She became much pickier about what she would eat, but we still were clever enough to think up dishes that she would eat, and hand-fed her.
She was doing quite well over the past few months, until yesterday. She had a restless, sleepless night. My husband woke me up early to tell me that he thought she was dying. She was listless and we could tell something was wrong. He put her on the bed next to me, and we didn't sleep, but we rested together. He kept coming in to check on her. When I got up a few hours later, I noticed that the base of her tongue and her neck were starting to swell and fill with fluid. Around Noon, her tongue looked so awful, and it was blocking her drinking, eating and breathing. I was afraid that it was going to burst, and it was bleeding. I said to my husband that I knew she was going to suffer, and that I had promised her that I would never, ever let her suffer. So we agreed to call a mobile vet to make an appointment to give her rest, which was set for 6 p.m. The waiting was intense.
Her tongue and neck became worse and worse, and we almost took her to our vet at 3 p.m. because it was so horrific, but we feared what the car trip might aggravate. She was very alert, so we decided that we could spend a couple of additional hours with her, comforting her, hugging and kissing her and telling her how much we loved her. We always wanted her to pass at home with us, her favorite place, so we held on and so did she. We played her songs, "Sara" by Fleetwood Mac, "Sara Smile" by Hall and Oats, and the beautiful song that reminds me of her life, which I played for her every night lately, "Clair de Lune". There was an exceptionally beautiful sunset, in honor of the exceptionally beautiful Sara.
The vet came precisely at 6 p.m. He was a very gentle, kind and compassionate person. He knew we had been through this before, but still explained every step. She was on our bed, resting comfortably. "Clair de Lune" played in the background. He gave the first shot, and she finally relaxed her breathing a bit. But she was strong and determined enough that she lifted her head several times to make sure that she saw both of us. After about 15 minutes, he came back in and prepped her for the second shot. Everything was very kindly, carefully and gently done. After about two minutes, she was gone. We were right in front of her, looking into her eyes, the whole time. She went so peacefully and it gave us peace. My husband bundled her up and took her to the vet's car. She was cremated and we will soon have her paw print to add to our shrine of other paw prints and collars from our other beloved pets who have passed.Yesterday was a very difficult and emotional day. Now we face the emptiness and loss knowing that we have to go on without our sweet Sara. She was such a presence and we will miss her every single day. We continue to cry our tears and look for her in her favorite places out of the corners of our eyes.
Sara, we will love you forever and ever, and look forward to the day that we will be reunited in Heaven. Rest well, my love!