Sunday, June 26, 2016

Goodbye Wilma - Our Greyhound Girl

Saying, "Goodbye" to Our Greyhound Wilma
Wilma Gives a Wink
"Now I know I have a heart 'cause it's breaking."  The Tin Man, Wizard of Oz

It is with deepest sorrow that I share the news that we've lost Wilma, our beloved greyhound whom we adopted almost six years ago from Greyhound Friends for Life (GFFL), We loved her so very much, and lost her to osteosarcoma on June 23. She was only 8 1/2 years old, and we hoped that we'd have her much longer. This is a tribute to Wilma - her story.

We lost our first precious greyhound, Daisy to osteosarcoma six years ago. We knew that the void left would be heartbreaking and decided to adopt another greyhound right away. We looked at the GFFL website and I picked out this silly black and white girl who seemed so full of life, and her name was Wilma.  We called to inquire about her and were able to reserve and adopt her.  We drove to Auburn, California, to pick her up and bring her to her new forever home. 
This is one of Wilma's Adoption Photos
It was so interesting to observe her when she first stepped into our home.  She looked at everything, from floor to ceiling -- all of the pictures on the wall and even watched the television.  She was so very intelligent and inquisitive.  She was very young and therefore, there were some shenanigans. She counter surfed and broke a very expensive glass fruit bowl, chewed up the arm rests of our outdoor patio furniture and even fell into our swimming pool twice, before she learned to navigate our back yard. Overall, she adjusted very well very quickly. 

Over the years, she assumed the alpha role. She was so silly and funny that it was kind of hard to believe that she could be the alpha. But she was the perfect one to lead her pack, Jake, Bless and Sara.  She was kind and fair. She never had a mean bone in her body. She was pure love.  She loved me and my husband, her pack and pretty much everyone. Wilma was the consummate social butterfly.  She attended greyhound reunions where she made everyone laugh when she stopped at every stop along the way on the obstacle courses and ran backward after running half-way on the race run challenges and had to be pulled out of the fencing. I took her to many, "Bark in the Park" events and parties, where she was truly the Belle of the Ball.  Everyone loved her. She gave sugar kisses, wanted to meet everyone and got along with any and all other dogs, no matter what breed. She loved everyone.
Wilma and Bless in Their Favorite Place... Our Bed
I loved her beautiful eyes, her sweet little greyhound snout, her black and white tuxedo coat, her delicate lady nails and her bunny soft fur. She truly stood out of the crowd in so many ways.  She loved to sleep with us in our bed. She was a snuggle bug and always wanted to get under the blankets and then would settle in to "spoon" next to us.  She would let out the loudest sighs of joy when she settled in to sleep. Wilma grunted with pleasure when you itched her ears and rolled over to roach to show her belly so that we would rub it. In her daily routine, she would always be the first out the patio door to bark at the squirrels and run around our pool counterclockwise (her race track). She would boss Jake around because he was sillier than she was. She would also lead roos and pack howls on a daily basis, particularly in the last month or so.  
Wilma was One in a Million
In late November 2015, I noticed that she was favoring her right front paw. It became more pronounced by January 2016, so I made an appointment with the vet.  They checked her over thoroughly and did X-rays, but they didn't find anything and thought that she had pulled muscles in her shoulder.  Then, when I returned from my trip to Scooby in early May, I noticed that she was not doing better, but rather limping more. Took her back into the vet and they still could not find anything.  She was on anti-inflammatory and pain meds. Three weeks later, she was worse. I had been through osteosarcoma before and just knew in my heart that she probably had it.  This time, our vet visit confirmed that the X-rays revealed osteo in her shoulder.  There were some drastic and expensive options, but my husband and I decided a long time ago, after going through this with Daisy that pain management and quality are the best ways to proceed, and when the time comes, we must let them go. 
Sara and Wilma Relaxing
Our family and friends were so supportive through this trying time.  Some amazing things happened. First, a Facebook friend reached out to me to offer advice regarding natural cancer cures that I know helped Wilma live a few more days and improved the quality of her time. She also gave me lots of tips regarding recipes that helped Wilma maintain without wasting away. Another Facebook friend surprised me with beautiful digital art framed photos and greeting cards with Wilma's images. And my Scooby partner and dear friend, Mora came to visit us every week to hug and kiss Wilma. I was truly overwhelmed by their caring and generosity! Who does these kinds of things these days? Truly amazing!
Digital Artwork from an Angel Friend, Gwen :-)
For the last three weeks, I was with Wilma almost 24x7, with some sanity breaks in between for dinner and phone meetings for work. Fortunately, my manager allowed me to work from home to be with her.

Over time, Wilma became picky about eating, and then stopped eating altogether the last day.  The pain increased to the point where we gave her meds every 2-3 hours at the end. She would have a rally of a few good days and then one or two bad days, where she declined -- peaks and valleys.  Although I hated to think about it, I had a date set in my mind to make the decision about scheduling the appointment to let her go.  This is a defining moment, one of the most difficult decisions of our lives.  When she got to the point where she sobbed to herself in pain, I knew that it was time. She told me.  I made the call to schedule that dreaded event.  One of my dear friends had suggested that we might want to call a mobile vet instead of taking her into the vet's office. After I thought about it, I decided that it was the best way for all of us.  My regular vet recommended someone. I called him and made the arrangements. 

On her last night, I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning, sitting on the floor, kissing, hugging and petting her, telling Wilma her story, and how much we loved her. My husband had the chance to spend time with her too. We both spent her last day here loving her.  My dear friend, Mora, came over in the evening to visit with her one last time. It really helped so much to have her here before we had to let her go.  Then the vet called and said that he'd be at our house in about 45 minutes, around 8 p.m. Mora left and we spent those few moments laying with her and telling her how much we loved her and would miss her.  
The vet arrived on time. He was so great; relaxed, casual, very caring and sensitive.  He made us feel comfortable, and sat on the floor with all of us just like family. He took things one step at a time with us as we were ready, explained the process and asked for our permission along the way.  In the end, I would not have it any other way than to have had him come to our home to have him release Wilma from her pain.  After she was gone, he went outside so that we could let Bless, Jake and Sara in to be with her so that they would know. He then came back in. He and my husband took our girl out to his car and he took her for cremation.  Her ashes will be spread in the redwood forest in the Santa Cruz mountains, nearby. We will also have a plaque with her paw print to honor her memory.

I cried so many, many, many tears throughout this entire time. At times, I felt like my head was going to explode with grief. It's like being on an emotional roller coaster that you can't get off. Every day you worry about your loved one and feel the ups and downs. You have hope and then you don't have any hope at all.  Two days have passed since her passing and I'm feeling more and more at peace. We gave Wilma all of the love and great life that she deserved. She gave us so much love and joy in return. She was one very special greyhound and we shall miss her forever and ever.

Rest well, Wilma Easter. You are loved forever and ever! 

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