ill, we had been hesitant to get a new hound, even more so when we lost
Bran because it took awhile to
feel ready after the loss. As Scolaighe got sicker, we feared a new
hound wouldn't be able to comprehend what was wrong with her, might
react badly and that she, with her lack of "space awareness" might end
up invading the new hound's space and the hound might snap. There was
also concern with Gleann's apparent
defensiveness with strange dogs, that might be a problem too. However,
with Scolaighe a bit less mobile without help, Gleann having shined
when friends brought their dog visiting (and greeting outside, with the
strange dog entering the house first and Gleann following back in) and
Aaron's job change (from a full-time shit job to part-time EMT), we
felt it was time. And, I think, we were also being called to get the
right hound waiting for a home.
So, I emailed Michele at Greyhound Placement Service and
asked if she had a loser for us. Of course, there were were several,
she said. As we didn't want to drag Scolaighe down to Goffstown and I
work nights, I stayed home with her and Gleann and Aaron drove down to
meet the potential hounds and bring one home. He met a pretty, calm
girl named Prevo
as well as a couple of big, handsome males and decided that she seemed
to be the one who would accept the strangeness the best and he felt the
boys might be too rambunctious.
breaks our "black pack" status (even Irony had
quite a bit of black in her brindle), but her golden color is
beautiful, so we renamed her ̉rlaith "golden princess." She's 7 years
old and is a bounce (was adopted and returned) like our other girls.
She gets along beautifully with Gleann and Scolaighe, not even
blinking, let alone snapping, when Scolaighe did sort of land on her.
She is very sweet, but is also very reclusive.
After the first few nights lying in the living
room most of the time, and after a bit too adventurous walk when trees
fell on the power line after we left the driveway and blocked out way
home (she stayed with the neighbors down the road, while Gleann and Kym
headed home through the woods to make sure Aaron didn't wander to the
road looking for us when we were gone too long...Scolaighe slept
through this), she discovered the dog bed in the bedroom, neatly tucked
into a denlike corner. And now she lives there. She seems content there
whether we're in there or not, not wanting to stay out in the
too-bright or too-noisy main living area. We coax her out a bit, but
she doesn't stay long and we're not pushing. It does seem this was part
of why she bounced, although it was her crate she hid in before, but
we'll keep making sure she know she's welcome to hang out with us in
the living room too, if she wants, but if she doesn't that's fine too.
She does still love walks, despite that little adventure.Later
she took to burrowing under the couch cushions and spent much of her
first year under them. Or blankets. Oddly, when up and about, she's
boisterous and friendly, often putting the boys in their place by a good
body slam. When sleeping she spent a long time wanting to be
completely covered. Especially when windy. We got her a ThunderShirt which helped some, she then spent more time just under blankets rather than cushions.
Over time this need slacked and she spent more time unburied and snuggling us. Or the other dogs.
Following Cù's death, we had three broken hearts besides our own to
comfort. ̉rlaith became even more cuddly, a down right
Velcro-hound. We began walking her with Gleann and Sach
out around the pond. A bit rough out there but easier than near the
road where we'd need to have the crazy boys leashed as well. She loved
the coywolf, deer and other wild animal smells and seemed to really
enjoy these walks. In the house, she would often snuggle us or
If you do the math, you'll see that all our Greyhounds died during
their 11th year, except for Cù who didn't quite make it. This has
started to feel like a curse, to be honest. But I sort of hoped that
there'd be a trade off having lost Cù soon, that ̉rlaith would be with
us at least a bit longer, maybe quite a bit longer...perhaps the curse
could be broken even if sadly it was with it being early first. But it
wasn't to happen.
On Thanksgiving, while Aaron was working, when I brushed ̉rlaith's
teeth before bed she bled. Quite a bit! I noticed a slight
swelling. I was a bit panicky, given the holiday about what I
thought was an infected tooth. And upset that by our vet's (at the
time), we had not insisted on a dental, especially while we had
been trying to care for Cù. We got her to an emergency vet, as
ours (at the time) refused to see us. They did determine it was an
infection and gave us antibiotics with the plan to call if they didn't
work in 10 days. And they didn't, it got worse. We tried another
vet, who diagnosed her with bone cancer, giving her three or four weeks
to live. We went to yet another vet, one we now wish we had found
back when we were trying to help Cù, who confirmed the cancer but gave
no "expiration date."
was the first of our Greys to have osteosarcoma, which is often thought
to be very common in the breed. There was the option to have her jaw
amputated, replaced with a prosthetic and then put her through chemo.
The idea was rather horrifying to both of us. If she had
developed this in her leg we probably wouldn't have hesitated to have
it amputated. But we just couldn't imagine putting an 11 year old hound
through something which would have to be so very painful and
problematic (food, you know, food being a very central part of anyone's
life, let alone a HOUND's) then making her sick with the chemo.
We opted instead to try a wide variety of herbs, with the advice and support of our new vet (Bethel Animal Hospital). We had a strict schedule, as some herbs needed
an empty stomach, others with food, some with no iron for several ours,
some with iron... I spent almost every moment with her. We
weathered a few too many miracle stories which after the hope we'd had
for Cù was difficult to handle. We didn't expect miracles, we just
wanted more time to spoil her. And the herbs also allowed us to spoil
her as all were given the guise of treats (tea mixed with bone broth,
pills in cream cheese..). She made it past the other vet's
"expiration date" and into the new year. And then another month.
Being winter, she was coped up inside, never being real big on going
out during this season. But on warmer days we'd take her out and she
would seem to enjoy it just as much as she had in the fall. And
inside she was snuggled almost constantly by at least one of us and
usually a fluffy puppy as well. I was writing a good deal,
including a project about canines, so she helped as a muse while I
snuggled with her. She was able to eat, despite the now more slowly
growing tumor. We have to admit, she started getting a bit plump.
Until near the end of February, when it was clearly uncomfortable for
her. She was eating but seemed less enthusiastic. We realized it
̉rlaith was a spectacular hound, utterly gorgeous, smart and loving. A
true bitch in all the best ways, keeping her boys in line and ruling
them with love. I wish, as always, that we had more time. I wrote more about losing her on our blog.
Contents and design, except
where noted otherwise below, copyright © 1998-2014 Kym Lambert
and Aaron Miller
Background modified from a
graphic from the World of Celtic
Clipart from Clipart Castle
Top picture of ̉rlaith from Greyhound
Placement Service Web Page