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Help Needed: Alternative to Rehoming or Euthanasia?


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Magic is my 12-year old greyhound who is healthy except for arthritis and IVDD.   We live on the third floor of a building with no elevator.  Magic is 73lbs at a healthy weight.

Recently (this past Friday) the IVDD took a sharp turn for the worse; she failed the turnover test for her right rear leg and had a very delayed reaction for the left when I took her to the vet after she slipped going down the stairs, then refused to go down the stairs at all.  She hates support anything...I've tried slings and several kinds of harnesses...but I boarded her at the vet for the weekend while I rush ordered two harnesses I hadn't tried yet.  Just tried them about an hour ago and neither worked for her. She won't go down the stairs at all.

I've ordered another  harness option (Ginger something) and looking for others but if I can't find one I'm  now facing a difficult decision

  1. Rehome Magic with someone who lives in a first floor dwelling and is willing to take in an aging greyhound with medical needs.  
  2. Put Magic to sleep, even though she's healthy in every other way (eating, drinking, walks around the house just fine, limited zoomies).

I'm probably forgetting information (like I haven't heard back from the person who agreed to help her find a new home if necessary); it's because I'm gutted and just need advice.  Feel free to ask questions so I can fill in gaps.

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Have you talked with your adoption group, or any greyhound adoption group in your area?  They can help rehome her to a experienced home without stairs.  I think that rehoming her is the best alternative as she can't continue to live on a third floor.  Horrible for you, but probably best for your Magic.  Where are you located?  People here on Greytalk may be able to help.

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If you have an adoption group in your area I would reach out for help.  At one point, we co-adopted a 12 year old who had many medical needs along with 2 other people and she spent time at 3 different homes so that no one person had the full financial and logistical burden of her care. She was full of pep but had enough issues that she needed a special diet and some other things. She had almost a full year among our 3 homes that she would not have otherwise had,  and we all still miss her every day. 

Also, if you can post your general area (City and State) someone here may have a contact who can help you. 

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Always missing my boy Hi Noon Rocket. The home of Petunia, MW Neptunia and Kate, Miss Kate.

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Thanks all, for the quick replies. 

I'm in the Chicago area.  I adopted Magic from American Greyhound and contacted Jeff Coggins earlier this year about rehoming before Magic got the diagnosis of IVDD; I agreed to give him a head's up if/when Magic's condition got to the point when rehoming was a necessity.  I sent him an email a month or two later, when Magic was going through a difficult period, then I texted him this past weekend while Magic was boarding at the vet.  I've not heard back from him either time but I'll try again today.

Additionally I ordered another harness yesterday, and will be spending some time today looking for other harness options I haven't tried.  I've also put down more pads (Magic had some incontinence issues in the past and I would put pads in the area she'd have accidents;  she knows to use them now).

I'm taking today and tomorrow off to work on a solution for Magic and to help her with her (new) fear of the back stairs.  I'll check this thread throughout the day.

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I would suggest that you check with some of the other greyhound adoption groups in your area if you don't hear from the one where you got Magic.

I took in a dog about 5 years ago under similar circumstances - she couldn't do stairs anymore and she was diagnosed with Lymphoma - she did well at my home. Her "parents" came and visited every 2 to 3 weeks and when it was time, they were with her.  I live in Mass but, I there are other people around the country that have done this and maybe you can find someone in Chicago willing to open their hearts and home.

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5 minutes ago, MaryJane said:

I would suggest that you check with some of the other greyhound adoption groups in your area if you don't hear from the one where you got Magic.

I took in a dog about 5 years ago under similar circumstances - she couldn't do stairs anymore and she was diagnosed with Lymphoma - she did well at my home. Her "parents" came and visited every 2 to 3 weeks and when it was time, they were with her.  I live in Mass but, I there are other people around the country that have done this and maybe you can find someone in Chicago willing to open their hearts and home.

I sent another, more detailed, email this morning followed up by a text.  Waiting until a reasonable hour to make a follow up call.

If there's no response by noon, I'll start contacting other adoption groups.  Heading off to compile a list now.

Magic has shown zero inclination to go outside and downstairs since she and I were up this morning at 5.  Not sure if I should wake her to try or let her come to me when she wants to go out.

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17 minutes ago, Victor said:

Try to get in touch with Midwest Greyhound Adoption. They're located in Sugar Grove, IL, and they're very good about helping greys with medical issues. You can e-mail them at midwestgreyhound@gmail.com or call (630) 466-4022. Give Magic a hug for me!

Thanks Victor.  I've made a list of all greyhound adoption groups in the IL area; I'm going to start calling/emailing if I don't hear from American Greyhound by noon.

Caveat:  The agreement I signed when I (and ex) adopted Magic states that she will be returned to AGGL and ownership/possession will not be transferred to anyone without their express written consent.  Not sure what to do about this if I can't get in touch with AGGL and another group finds someone who agrees to take her.

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Such a tough situation; I'm so sorry for you and Magic. My almost 11-year-old stopped coming upstairs to our bedroom at night a few months ago, but we're fortunate that she can mostly live on one level. I don't envy the decision you're facing, and I hope you'll find a good solution where you can still be part of each other's lives. I've messaged a GreyTalker in your area to see if she might know of any resources.

Best of luck. :heart 

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Do you have a balcony or small outside area she can access either in your apartment or a common area in your building?  You can purchase large, washable hospital incontinence pads that work well in situations like this where your dog can't get outside to do their business.

Is one of the harnesses you tried the Ruffwear Webmaster harness?  If not, this is the best support harness for greyhounds, IMO.  It's meant for hard use outside hiking, fits greyhounds really well, has a handle on top so you can carry your dog like luggage (if necessary).

You can't just throw a harness on a dog who's never worn one before and expect instant success.  You really need to spend some time letting her get used to wearing it and helping her feel comfortable being aided.  Plus, she's now scared of the steps after having a fall, so you have that fear to overcome too.  Treats and praise and time and patience.

Don't expect instant response from any group run by volunteers right now.  Everyone is overwhelmed and probably trying the best they can.  But, in this situation, if you feel you've made a reasonable effort, and gotten no response, I would move one to other options.  Every adoption contract has that or a similar clause.  It's just helps to keep retired racing greyhounds off Craigslist or for sale to undesirables.  If you find another group that can help, I would let them, and just let AG know which group rehomed your dog so they can update their records.

This is a tough situation.  You have my sympathies.  Good luck.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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2 hours ago, greysmom said:

Do you have a balcony or small outside area she can access either in your apartment or a common area in your building?  You can purchase large, washable hospital incontinence pads that work well in situations like this where your dog can't get outside to do their business.

Is one of the harnesses you tried the Ruffwear Webmaster harness?  If not, this is the best support harness for greyhounds, IMO.  It's meant for hard use outside hiking, fits greyhounds really well, has a handle on top so you can carry your dog like luggage (if necessary).

You can't just throw a harness on a dog who's never worn one before and expect instant success.  You really need to spend some time letting her get used to wearing it and helping her feel comfortable being aided.  Plus, she's now scared of the steps after having a fall, so you have that fear to overcome too.  Treats and praise and time and patience.

Don't expect instant response from any group run by volunteers right now.  Everyone is overwhelmed and probably trying the best they can.  But, in this situation, if you feel you've made a reasonable effort, and gotten no response, I would move one to other options.  Every adoption contract has that or a similar clause.  It's just helps to keep retired racing greyhounds off Craigslist or for sale to undesirables.  If you find another group that can help, I would let them, and just let AG know which group rehomed your dog so they can update their records.

This is a tough situation.  You have my sympathies.  Good luck.

I don't have a balcony.  There is a small area outside my back door that's shared with three other doors and, down three stairs there are two wider stairs; today Magic pooped there before turning around and going back up the stairs.  I have pee pads laid out inside on the place where she...if she does have an accident in the house...has an accident.  Since the back landing and stairs are wood, with gaps, I'm reluctant to let her go there, even with pads.  

I did try the Ruffwear WebMaster harness.  I still have the Ruffwear Front range harness and, up until the most recent spill, I put it on her when we went out.  I also have a sling lift that I practiced using with her numerous times...before she stopped moving when it was on, or went up the stairs to avoid me putting it on her.  What I'm trying to say is that I'm not throwing a harness on her and expecting results, I know that she is scared and I give her treats when she makes it to the top of the first flight of stairs before turning back.  Neither am I expecting an instant response from American Greyound or any other volunteer organization that I contact; today's email and text to A.G. is after sending an email a month ago, then a text this Saturday.

This is the first time I've seen Magic repeatedly refuse/avoid going downstairs after tripping on the stairs and I'm not sure what action to take and which would be best for her.  Look for another home for her where she can go outside whenever?  Continue to work with her on the stairs while putting down pads for accidents?  Stop trying to help her with the stairs and try to acclimate/train her to be an inside-only dog?  A combination of all of the above?

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Do you have a friend or family member nearby who could care for her while you continued to pay for her care? That would allow you to continue to see her and not take up a space in a home that might otherwise take an elderly grey in need.

Also suggest you try another method of contact for your group (check their website for a general info email, phone number, or possible a FB page) and reach out that way. It's possibly the person you spoke with is no longer involved with the group, is on vacation, etc. 

I'm sorry you're in this situation. When I got to this point with my female greyhound who had bone cancer I just carried her down the stairs, but I was in a garden style apartment with only two flights and I knew it would be very temporary because of her diagnosis. I swore then that when I moved we would always have a way to have one level living. Unfortunately it was only after going through a bone cancer diagnosis with a second greyhound (a male I couldn't carry) that I was able to do that. Anyway, I'm digressing, point being, I understand your challenge. I hope you can figure something out. 

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1 hour ago, NeylasMom said:

Do you have a friend or family member nearby who could care for her while you continued to pay for her care? That would allow you to continue to see her and not take up a space in a home that might otherwise take an elderly grey in need.

Unfortunately I do not; the one friend I do have nearby lives on the third floor as well.

I've messaged the group on Facebook and, as per the instructions I received, have emailed their contact address for adoptions.  Crossing my fingers now.

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:grouphug Is there someone in your apt complex who can help you? One of you can steady and steer Magic’s front end and the other can manage the sling you’ve fashioned from a sturdy sweatshirt. Just fold the middle of the shirt in half longways and slip it under her belly, then use the arms to carry her hind end. A towel can also work. 

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21 minutes ago, FiveRoooooers said:

Just fold the middle of the shirt in half longways and slip it under her belly, then use the arms to carry her hind end. A towel can also work. 

:nod  I used to do that to help my last dog, and kept by her hips to stop her 'jacknifing' coming down the stairs.  She never had a bad fall and never lost her trust in me though. A stumble alerted me to the fact that she was no longer safe coming down steep stairs alone.

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I received a call from my vet last night; we had a discussion during which she recommended Magic stay with me and be an indoor dog while I help her regain her confidence with the stairs, unless there's a close friend or family nearby, in a first floor place, whom I can visit regularly.  She, and the other vet Magic sees, are concerned that the cortisol levels induced by the stress of re-homing Magic would have an adverse affect that would cancel out the benefits of her being in a single floor dwelling.  She also gave recommendations for transitioning Magic to being an indoor dog:  things to watch out for, toys that can help her body and brain stay active, et. cetera.

This morning I got a reply back from American Greyhound, about getting in touch.  In our past discussions the person I spoke with there said...contrary to what the vet is recommending...that re-homing Magic would not be as stressful for her as it would be for me; that she would adjust quickly.

So for now I'm in a holding pattern.

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14 hours ago, FiveRoooooers said:

Is there someone in your apt complex who can help you? One of you can steady and steer Magic’s front end and the other can manage the sling you’ve fashioned from a sturdy sweatshirt. Just fold the middle of the shirt in half longways and slip it under her belly, then use the arms to carry her hind end. A towel can also work. 

Unfortunately there's no one in the building I'm familiar with and who is around (and awake) to help.

Also, for now, the objective is to build Magic's confidence back up with the stairs.  She's afraid of them now and will turn away once she gets to the top of the long flight down.

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I know Chicago is a big place, but is there any chance you know Wendy, who had a tripod greyhound named Twiggy?

 

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1 hour ago, macoduck said:

I know Chicago is a big place, but is there any chance you know Wendy, who had a tripod greyhound named Twiggy?

This is a long shot, but Is her last name Knowlton?

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9 hours ago, cjdavis said:

This is a long shot, but Is her last name Knowlton?

No, it starts with a Z.

 

Charlie the iggy, Hada the podenco maneta, Georgie Girl (UMR Cordella), Lulu the podenco andaluz
Angels: Mazy (CBR Crazy Girl), Potato, my mystery ibizan girl, Allen (M's Pretty Boy), Percy (Fast But True), Mikey (Doray's Patuti), Pudge le mutt, Tessa the iggy, Possum (Apostle), Gracie (Dusty Lady), Harold (Slatex Harold), "Cousin" Simon our step-iggy, Little Dude the iggy ,Bandit (Bb Blue Jay), Niña the galgo, Wally (Allen Hogg), Thane (Pog Mo Thoine), Oliver (JJ Special Agent), Comet, & Rosie our original mutt.

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Hi, this is Wendy in Chicago, also known as Twiggy's Mom.  I'm so sorry you are going through this.  Difficult enough in normal times, let alone now!

I'm sure you already have found Greyhounds Only and GPA-Wisconsin, but they are additional groups to AG & MWG that I have worked with in the area.  GPA-W doesn't work much in downtown & southwest, but I adopted from them (I'm downtown Chicago), and I know they used to have some adopters in the north and western suburbs.  GO works most of the greater Chicagoland area.  I've been out of the greyhound scene for several years now, so I am not sure whether any of this has changed.

As for what to do now - while none of these are easy choices, I think the opinions of your vet and the adoption group both have validity.  As a foster home who took in several rehomed and many newly retired racers, I can tell you that they do adjust to new surroundings very quickly. If you were to rehome Magic, you should not feel bad about letting her go to a home that is better suited to her current needs, especially since her medical condition is unlikely to improve.  Of course, it would be ideal if you could still arrange to see her.  On the other hand, the last 5 or 6 months of her life, my Twiggy had a tough time getting outside, even though there were only two steps up and down to get out.  She was also dealing with increasing incontinence, and accidents happened multiple times/day.  I used the washable hospital incontinence pads which worked wonders.  I had the entire downstairs & all of her beds covered in them!!  (Also did a lot of laundry - my poor washer/dryer!) 

If the pee pads wouldn't work for you on that scale, you could try what I did for fosters which was to set up a large x-pen lined with the same pee pads, and crate bowls for water/food dishes so they wouldn't spill or get contaminated.  

This might give you time to acclimate her to a harness.  I know some people have had success with having their hounds essentially live in them for a while to get used to the feeling.

My very best wishes to you and Magic!

Wendy with Twiggy, fosterless while Twiggy's fighting the good fight, and Donnie & Aiden the kitties

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3 hours ago, TwiggysMom said:

As for what to do now - while none of these are easy choices, I think the opinions of your vet and the adoption group both have validity.  As a foster home who took in several rehomed and many newly retired racers, I can tell you that they do adjust to new surroundings very quickly. If you were to rehome Magic, you should not feel bad about letting her go to a home that is better suited to her current needs, especially since her medical condition is unlikely to improve.  Of course, it would be ideal if you could still arrange to see her.  On the other hand, the last 5 or 6 months of her life, my Twiggy had a tough time getting outside, even though there were only two steps up and down to get out.

Many thanks for getting back to me Wendy, and thank you very much for the advice. 

I'm still not sure what the best decision is for Magic.  On the one hand I am helping her acclimate to the harness and taking her as close to the stairs as she is comfortable with...and rewarding with treats.  She appears to be happy...eating and drinking normally, zonking out on her beds and sticking her nose in my keyboard from time to time.  I've ordered some treat/food puzzles to help keep her mind and body stimulated and I've got heating pads for her hips and back.

On the other hand, over the past 3-4 days of being mostly inside, Magic has developed the new habit of holding her bladder and bowels so that she only goes once per day.  When she finally does pee it appears to be because she can't hold it any more; she crouches in one of the few places there are no pee pads and lets loose...trotting away before she's done so that she leaves trails (or presents) behind.  And she appears anxious beforehand (panting, pacing) and after (trotting away).  I've never yelled or spoken to her in frustration when she's had accidents in the past and I definitely don't do so now.

I have a phone chat tomorrow morning with her adoption group.  Afterwards I'm calling her vet to give her an update on Magic.  I hope the decision will be clearer afterwards.

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UPDATE:  Magic is hitting the pee pads more often than not, however she still seems to hold her bladder until after I go to bed, which is something I'll tell the vet.  Pooping...not so much;  either the need to do so seems to catch her by surprise and she runs away after, or she poops lying down and doesn't seem to be aware of it (will also mention to the vet). 

She eats from a feeding ball that she pushes around (for mental stimulation/exercise).  She is walking the length of the home once with the harness on (which is an improvement) but has yet to go downstairs.  I encourage her by giving her treats when she stands at the top of the stairs without immediately turning around.  She has occasional abbreviated zoomies.

I spoke with American Greyhound;  for the near future she'll stay with me and I'll keep an eye on her and the vet updated on how she's doing, but Jeff will speak with someone who he thinks is a good candidate should Magic need to be re-homed.

Many thanks to everyone for the advice and help offered here, in this thread, over the past few weeks.

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