Jump to content

Zydeco Dancer (Graham), 09/03/00 - 05/27/13


Recommended Posts

My Hansum Debbil is gone. I said goodbye very early because I wanted him to leave while he was still mostly happy. After you read about him, I think you'll understand why.


Before Graham Arrived


Zydeco Dancer (Dancer) had a fairly long and prolific (200 races) career at Seabrook and Hinsdale. He wasn't very successful. He ran his last race at Hinsdale in April 2006 when he was about 5 1/2.


He arrived at GRA Canada in July 2006, I think. I suspect he was adopted fairly quickly, and he was renamed Apollo. By early 2009 he was back at GRA, and in need of TLC. He was adopted again a few months later, and returned at the end of the year. This time he was on thyroid medication, and there were concerns about his behaviour and the risk that he might pose to a forthcoming child. I later heard from a trainer that thought she had worked with him and that couple (the timing was off but the rest of the details matched); he was not a good fit for the family.


One of the volunteers had fallen for him the first time he was returned, and mentioned him to me when he came back again. She did not have room. I also heard about him from another source.


In the meantime, I had lost both of my broodies (Cora and Piper), and knew that Tally had OS. That would have left Jessie alone in her walking group. I really wanted a broodie, but there wasn't one available here. I'd also thought that it might be interesting to add a boy--my first--to the mix.


After thinking about it for a bit, I called and asked Bill of GRA if Apollo might fit. Bill hesitated, wondering if Apollo had lived with cats. He was sure Apollo would fit if he were cat safe, and would check his files. I made an appointment to meet Apollo on February 11, 2010.


When I arrived, Apollo did not want to leave his crate. Heather of GRA drew him out. She said, "Oh, I know, you don't like change." I later realized how insightful that comment was. As soon as he emerged, I said, "He's pretty!" It was an odd thing to say about a boy, but I later heard others say the same thing about him.


We got to the front part of the barn and Heather shut the door so that he would not be tempted to bolt back to the kennel. He glued himself to her. But he quickly warmed up to me, and was soon quite happy to stay with me even when Heather went back to the kennel for a moment. Bill had checked his files and discovered that Apollo had lived with cats.


I agreed to take him home. He hopped right into the car and settled in for the long ride. He was a bit worried, but behaved well.


Graham's Time Here


One of the very first things I did was rename him: Apollo was too much of a mouthful for me and I couldn't figure out a short form I liked. Plus I thought he might be happier with a new name for his new life. I chose Graham.


Graham was a very worried boy. For the first week, I had to attach a leash to get him out of his crate. After that, he would come out if I coaxed him, but otherwise stayed put. Once out, he often tried to dive into the nearest open crate. It was a month before he would voluntarily leave his crate and spend time with the rest of the family.


I tried to get a photo of him standing a few days after he arrived, but he just wanted to go back into the house and the safety of his crate (February 2010):



Coaxed out of his crate, he perched on the beds beside Jessie and Edie (February 2010):



The well-known pic of him when he relaxed enough to try one foot out out of his crate (February 2010):



It took a long time for him to settle in, to relax and enjoy himself first on walks, then in the house, and finally in the yard.


He soon learned to appreciate his walks with Jessie and Tally. Tally even taught him to sit at the front door for a pre-walk treat before she left a month and a half later. But if I took him out by himself, he was terrified, and spent the entire time trying to turn for home. He had little interest in being out in the yard, either by himself or with others.


Demonstrating his new sit at the front door with Tally, just 10 days before I lost her to OS (March 2010):



I took him to school. He was worried there too. By the end of the course, he had gradually relaxed enough to have the basic skills. But if he made a mistake, I couldn't fix him--he was still too tense. That would have made the next level frustrating for both of us. After discussing it with the senior trainer, who had been an assistant in that session, I decided to repeat the course. The first class was better still.


In June I made the mistake of taking him to the annual GRA Picnic. I thought he'd be alright--he'd felt safe at GRA, and I took calm, sociable Jessie, whom he liked, along. But he was so worried that he wouldn't even take sardines from the volunteer who had fed them to him when he was there. The tension dissipated at home, but recurred when he went back to school. Another class, still more regression. Another conversation with the senior trainer--again an assistant in the class--and I decided that his scholastic career was over. He was almost 10 and he deserved to spend what time he had left enjoying himself as much as possible. So he stayed home.


On the deck, looking more comfortable and very handsome (August 2010):



An early sign of his inner goof (March 2010):



Over the time that he spent here, he showed more and more enjoyment.


He started dancing and happy snapping before walks. He wasn't very elegant, but I realized that I'd been wrong when I decided that he wasn't enough of a "Dancer" to restore his kennel name.


I never did get a decent video of his dance, but this is one of the better outtakes. Please ignore the silly voice (April 2011):



He learned that the kitchen was not a forbidden place to dash through on the way to and from the back door. He discovered that if I were there, I'd give him some attention.


Getting an ear rub in the kitchen (March 2010):



Celebrating his 12th birthday with a stinky fish (Cal to the left) (September 2012):



He also learned to request attention when I was in other places. His cautious technique was evident in his gradually increasing confidence in the living room. First he tried a tentative approach across the coffee table, then he learned to move up beside it, and finally he tried the gap between the coffee table and the chesterfield. The entire process took months if not years, but he got there.


And he loved attention. When I sat somewhere where there was enough space for multiple dogs to approach--an invitation known here as "smoochy poochy"--he was always one of the first to arrive and usually one of the last to leave.


During his last year here, he gradually realized that he didn't really need to be in his crate when I was walking other dogs. He started with the morning walk. One day he just went to the beds instead, and I didn't insist that he go to his crate. For a while, he sometimes chose one location and sometimes the other. Eventually he decided that he would always go the beds. A few months later, he started doing the same thing after another walk--evening, I think. A few months after that, he began staying out after his lunchtime walk. I'd realized shortly after his arrival that he didn't really need to be crated, except that he was calmer in his crate. By the time he left, he'd settled enough that he spent relatively little time confined.


He learned, with Jessie's help, that being in the yard could be fun. I started letting them play together. At first they were muzzled, but after the initial romp to the bottom of the yard, Jessie would retreat to the deck to try to remove her muzzle. After a few weeks I realized that they were extremely unlikely to injure each other. I dispensed with the muzzles and they both relaxed and enjoyed their yard time.


Proving that he did know how to run like a greyhound. In most of the pics I have of him running, he looks very awkward (July 2011):



Jessie telling him that he's slow (September 2011):



A happy boy in the yard (July 2012):



He learned that having his nails Dremelled was not sheer torture. At first, he'd lie in an awkward sphinx--when I could get him to stay still--and it was difficult to see and file his nails. A couple of times, once when he had a cut foot, he let me know he was displeased; he wore a muzzle after that. But by the time he left, he would lie quietly on his side through the process, and I could gently push him flat if he were partially upright.


He learned to relax about walking with a different group, or even on his own. He no longer tried to turn for home early.


And then there were the sound effects. In the fall of 2011, when he'd been here for about a year and a half, he started to chatter. He was one of several: Jessie, who'd stopped sometime in the 5 1/2 months during which 3 of her sisters departed, started again. Then Graham. Then Betsy, who had been here 6 1/2 years! Even Minnie, who was the loudest of all. Pink, previously a silent chatterer, added a bit of clicking.


In early 2012, Graham added a new sound effect: grunting. The first time he did it, I was putting a towel under is feet for his weekly chew. It was such an odd sound that I wondered if he were having trouble breathing, but I couldn't see any other sign that he was. Then I wondered if he were objecting, but I put a towel under his feet every week, plus he didn't seem the least bit tense. I gave him his bone and the sound got louder and faster. He was happy!


Over the next several months, the grunting became more frequent. Then he added a new variation: purring. Even though the sound effects seem to coincide with happiness or relaxation, I was a little concerned that there was an underlying breathing issue. I recorded a short video and showed it to my vet. She couldn't see any indication that he was having trouble, so she agreed that the sound must mean he was content.


Comfortable on the beds with his best friend Jessie (Edie to the right) (October 2010):



One of my favourite pics of him, because he was so relaxed and happy after celebrating his 11th birthday with a romp in the yard (September 2011):



My worried boy was finally truly happy.


My girls have a lot of nicknames, usually based on their names. Graham's had to do more with his looks and attitude: Hansum Debbil, Too Handsome for His Pants (he didn't have much hair on his thighs during his first summer here), Happy Dancing Boy, Mr. Happy Pants... And, of course, he was my Token Boy.


Why He's Gone


Sometime last summer, Graham started vomiting occasionally in the morning. A stomach drug solved that problem. He also had bouts of terrible diarrhea. Everybody did, due to Salmonella that went from dog to dog and back again, and almost killed Perry. When we finally realized what was happening, everyone was prescribed an antibiotic. That put Graham off his food, and he lost perhaps 7 or 8 pounds. When the course was complete, he did start to eat again, but I could never get all of the weight back on him.


In January, he started to have trouble with his back end. It showed up first at the groomers' where he had trouble standing in the bath. Then I noticed that he was stutter-stepping in front, and gradually realized that's because his back legs weren't working properly. We tried an anti-inflammatory, but that didn't help much. We weaned him off it so that we could try something else. We also added a painkiller. We x-rayed him, but his hips seemed fine. There was some inadequate spacing in his spinal column that could have caused the symptoms.


In the meantime, his appetite started to fail again. We did his annual bloodwork a bit early, and found a suspicious kidney value. It wasn't off by enough to start treatment; we scheduled a retest.


His hind end became weaker. If he stood for any length of time, his back legs shook. He became more hesitant about the ramp and stairs. This was a serious issue: he was physically too tall and heavy, and emotionally too fragile, to assist with a harness or other device. If he lost the ability to move himself, I was not going to be able to help him.


Then his stool started to deteriorate. By that point, things were changing faster. We did a slew of tests on his stool, found a clostridim overgrowth, and began treatment. We retested his kidney values; they were fine. We checked his thyroid, in case he was being oversupplemented. He was not. We checked his food tolerances; they'd actually improved, and there was no indication that he was on the wrong food. The trips to the clinic for tests were very hard on him: he panted for hours and was tense for days. In mid May he spent a day at the clinic--given his stress, I asked my vet to do everything necessary on that one day because it was the last time I'd take him in--and had more x-rays and more bloodwork. The only thing that showed up was possible megaesophagus. Since that could have been due to sedation and stress, he did have to go back the next day for another x-ray. Fortunately, his esophagus was back to normal.


We still didn't have a proper diagnosis for either his gut or his back, his appetite was very poor, and his weight was decreasing. We tentatively concluded that he must have either inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal cancer. We gave him an injection of anabolic steroids and added prednisone to his drug regimen in the hope that he would start eating. He did. For two whole weeks.


But then he had a rough weekend: he lost momentum on the three steps up from the deck and fell backwards, which left him hesitant and more likely to fall again. His back legs were so bad that he could stand only briefly before the shaking was dramatic. His stool was still worse, despite four different drugs. His appetite was starting to tail off again. Individually, none of the events of that weekend was devastating, but together they were frightening.


On Monday May 27 I booked an appointment to speak to my vet about what was happening. Before the appointment, I took Graham over for a quick weigh-in. Even though he had been eating well, he had dropped another 3 pounds since the day of testing two weeks earlier. He was down 15% from his ideal 85 lbs, and was down about 15 pounds from a year earlier when he was a bit over that ideal (but still not too heavy).


I told my vet about the events of the weekend, and asked her two questions. The first was how long we should wait to see if the medications would work. She said it was past time for that. The second was what else we could do. That answer was much longer. We could increase the meds for his back again, but they hadn't worked previously, and might further suppress his appetite. We could increase the prednisone or add a chemo drug. But nothing we had tried to that point had worked--not even a bit--and nothing we did for his gut would help his back. We didn't discuss therapies that required clinic visits; they were out of the question because of the stress that he would endure.


I know we could have tried other things, and nursed him along for quite a while. But I'd watched Piper nearly starve to death while we fought a similar battle without a clear diagnosis; I did not want to subject another dog to that torture. Plus both my vet and I suspected that the dramatic weight loss and other symptoms meant he too had intestinal cancer. Even more important, I didn't want him to return to being worried all the time. I wanted him to go when he was still dancing before walks, happy to receive attention, grunting and purring when content. I wanted him to go while he was still (mostly) enjoying life. So, just a week before he reached 12 3/4, I said goodbye.


In the three months that he's been gone (the delay in this post was caused by my schedule), I've gradually stopped expecting to hear him barrelling down to the front door before walks, barking his demand that I hurry up. I no longer expect to see him coming around the corner of the kitchen before meals. And, much to my surprise, the living room floor did not float out the window with him no longer holding it down in his favourite spot. But I still miss him. A lot.


My Hansum Debbil did not have a great start to his retirement. But he enjoyed his time here. He knew he was home. He knew he was loved. He was, in the words of a GT friend, a Good Dog.


In his favourite spot on the last afternoon. His eyes weren't as dead as they seem here--that was the lighting and his desire for a nap--but the signs of his illness are apparent. He looks thin and old. He did, though, get up happily for his last walk. (May 2013):



The photo that's been the wallpaper on my phone for some months. I had a photo of Edie and lost her a few months later. I replaced it with one of Dixie and Cal and soon lost Dixie. I'm not usually superstitious, but I couldn't help wondering if I were jinxing Graham when I chose this photo. Then I lost him. I don't think I'll put another photo of a resident dog on my phone (November 2012):



Zydeco Dancer


Racer. Retiree. Multiple Return.

September 3, 2000 - May 27, 2013


Godspeed Graham

Standard Poodle Daisy (12/13), Grey Toodles (BL Toodles 7/09)
Missing Cora (RL Nevada 5/99-10/09), Piper (Cee Bar Easy 2/99-1/10), Tally (Thunder La La 9/99-3/10), Edie (Daring Reva 9/99-10/12), Dixie (Kiowa Secret Sue 11/01-1/13), Jessie (P's Real Time 11/98-3/13), token boy Graham (Zydeco Dancer 9/00-5/13), Cal (Back Already 12/99-11/13), Betsy (Back Kick Beth 11/98-12/13), Standard Poodles Minnie (1/99-1/14) + Perry (9/98-2/14), Annie (Do Marcia 9/03-10/14), Pink (Miss Pinky Baker 1/02-6/15), Poppy (Cmon Err Not 8/05-1/16), Kat (Jax Candy 5/05-5/17), Ivy (Jax Isis 10/07-7/21), Hildy (Braska Hildy 7/10-12/22), Opal (Jax Opal 7/08-4/23)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm so sorry you lost your handsome Graham.


He had the same coloring as my boy Sam, who I just lost (August 8) after nearly 11 years together. Sam's problems and Graham's--stomach issues and bad back legs--sound very similar. I'm still in the missing-Sam-constantly stage.


One way they were different, though, is that Sam never feared anything (except sometimes sister Silver). Sam was the happiest, never-fearful boy I've ever known. I'm so glad--for Graham's sake and yours--that you were able to give confidence and a good life to your boy.

Kathy and Q (CRT Qadeer from Fuzzy's Cannon and CRT Bonnie) and
Jane (WW's Aunt Jane from Trent Lee and Aunt M); photos to come.

Missing Silver (5.19.2005-10.27.2016), Tigger (4.5.2007-3.18.2016),
darling Sam (5.10.2000-8.8.2013), Jacey-Kasey (5.19.2003-8.22.2011), and Oreo (1997-3.30.2006)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest PiagetsMom

I'm so very sad to hear that you're without Graham. I remember when he came to you, and as with all of your pups, I've followed him along the way. He had a wonderful time with you, and he was well loved. I know he is missed......I'm so very sorry :grouphug

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That video says it all -- he got to be a dog. Not for long enough, not ever long enough, but he got to be a dog, and a good one.


I'm so sorry he couldn't stay longer with you.


Rest well, pretty boy.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for writing such a nice long tribute for Graham with so many beautiful pictures - each one tells a story. Most of us have never met the dogs that we read about in Remembrance and it's so nice to find out a little bit about them. It's very clear how much he was loved and I can imagine how much you will always miss a good dog like Graham :brokenheart:grouphug .


When a relationship of love is disrupted, the relationship does not cease. The love continues; therefore, the relationship continues. The work of grief is to reconcile and redeem life to a different love relationship. ~ W Scott Lineberry

Always Greyhounds Home Boarding and Greyhounds With Love House Sitting

Link to comment
Share on other sites

What a wonderful tribute. So sorry Graham had to leave this earth, but he will always be with you. Hugs

"Then God sent the Greyhound to live among man and remember. And when the day comes God will call the Greyhound to give Testament, and God will pass judgment on man."

Persian Proverb

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have always enjoyed your posts about your dogs and Graham had a special place in my heart. I am so sorry that it was his time to go. Such a Handsome Debbil.


Cindy with Miss Fancypants, Paris Bueller, Zeke, and Angus 
Dante (Dg's Boyd), Zoe (In a While), Brady (Devilish Effect), Goose (BG Shotgun), Maverick (BG ShoMe), Maggie (All Trades Jax), Sherman (LNB Herman Bad) and Indy (BYB whippet) forever in my heart
The flame that burns the brightest, burns the fastest and leaves the biggest shadow

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A Happy Dancing Boy indeed, and he got there one foot at a time (out of his crate). I absolutely love the video of Graham's dance to go for a walk, with a perfect sit added for good measure. He came so far with you and was so incredibly happy. I am terribly sorry for the huge Graham-sized hole in your heart right now :grouphug :grouphug


Godspeed handsome Graham, Good Dog. :kiss2

Old Dogs are the Best Dogs. :heartThank you, campers. Current enrollees:  Punkin. AnnIE Oooh M

Angels: Pal :heart. Segugio. Sorella (TPGIT). LadyBug. Zeke-aroni. MiMi Sizzle Pants. Gracie. Seamie :heart:brokenheart. (Foster)Sweet. Andy. PaddyALVIN!Mayhem. Bosco. Bruno. Dottie B. Trevor Double-Heart. Bea. Cletus, KLTO. Aiden 1-4.

:paw Upon reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts defined by the all-too-short lives of our dogs.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you for sharing his story. I am so very sorry for the loss of a very special boy.

Irene Ullmann w/Flying Odin and Mama Mia in Lower Delaware
Angels Brandy, John E, American Idol, Paul, Fuzzy and Shine
Handcrafted Greyhound and Custom Clocks http://www.houndtime.com
Zoom Doggies-Racing Coats for Racing Greyhounds

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am sorry for the passing of your beautiful boy Graham. You did right by him and gave him love and a home he could feel safe in so he blossomed.


Run free Graham, run free sweetie... :gh_run

Kyle with Stewie ('Super C Ledoux, Super C Sampson x Sing It Blondie) and forever missing my three angels, Jack ('Roy Jack', Greys Flambeau x Miss Cobblepot) and Charlie ('CTR Midas Touch', Leo's Midas x Hallo Argentina) and Shelby ('Shari's Hooty', Flying Viper x Shari Carusi) running free across the bridge.

Gus an coinnich sinn a'rithist my boys and little girl.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm so very sorry for your loss. Your precious boy was so lucky to have found you. What a wonderful life you gave him.

Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Handsome Debbil seems to fit well.


Run Free Graham. :f_white


Camp Broodie. The current home of Mark Kay Mark Jack and Gracie Kiowa Safe Joan.  Always missing my boy Rocket Hi Noon Rocket,  Allie  Phoenix Dynamite, Kate Miss Kate, Starz Under Da Starz, Petunia MW Neptunia, Diva Astar Dashindiva, and LaVida I've Got Life


Link to comment
Share on other sites

I am so sorry! He was indeed a Good Dog. I remember the photo with one foot beyond the opening of the crate ..................................I remember thinking that he actually looked quite pleased with himself and didn't mind it you took a picture to prove it!


Thank you for Graham's tribute. It's a fitting tribute for your Hansum Debbil.

Linda, Mom to Fuzz, Barkley, and the felines Miss Kitty, Simon and Joseph.Waiting at The Bridge: Alex, Josh, Harley, Nikki, Beemer, Anna, Frank, Rachel, my heart & soul, Suze and the best boy ever, Dalton.<p>

:candle ....for all those hounds that are sick, hurt, lost or waiting for their forever homes. SENIORS ROCK :rivethead

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My friend Rose met Graham (he had a different name) at GRA. She absolutely fell in love with him but couldn't take him. She was so thrilled when she heard that he ended up with you.


I'm so sorry, Suzanne. He was a very special guy.

Xavi the galgo and Peter the cat. Missing Iker the galgo ?-Feb.9/19, Treasure (USS Treasure) April 12/01-May 6/13, Phoenix (Hallo Top Son) Dec.14/99-June 4/11 and Loca (Reko Swahili) Oct.9/95 - June 1/09, Allen the boss cat, died late November, 2021, age 19.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm so sorry. Graham was so lucky that he finally found his forever home with you. Your struggles to decide the right thing to do are like what we went through with Charlotte (and so many others have experienced). The medical issues differ, but the question remains the same: when is it time? It hurts so much, but better to save the pup the pain and take it on ourselves.


Godspeed, Dancing Boy. Charlotte and all the other bridge babies are waiting to dance, chatter, and groan with you.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...