Tuesday, May 2, 2017

a simply awful day

Sometimes the most well-intentioned comments make me feel totally un-heard, and my feelings completely dismissed.

I was sitting in the back of our wagon, holding Fleur's little head in my hands and stroking her while the vet arranged the injection that would put her to sleep- permanently.. Something was said about her sweet nature, and I added that she was a particularly loving and giving sort of dog, an innocent who asked so little of the world. The vet then said that yes Greyhounds were wonderful, generous animals and he too was very fond of them.

But I wasn't talking of them, I was talking of her. By generalising my comment to the whole breed he totally missed the point of my comment and quite accidentally made me feel ignored. The most important feelings and interactions and emotions take place between individuals. This was a particular dog- one of many that we have cared for- and she had her own story, her own gifts and I was reflecting on her wonderful living and death as an individual, not as a greyhound.

So often we are tempted to generalise about breeds, races, classes, nationalities and religions, but on an individual level it is possible to find commonality and empathy with any sentient being from any general group. I fear that this is one of the particular dangers of social media, where we communicate and reinforce generalised notions about 'others' with those of a like mind. Even with goodwill this can only lead to platitudes, and without goodwill it will lead to pre-judging according to group.

Above, Ziggy is curious, but empathic about Fleur as she recovers from a seizure.

I wrote about Fleur about a month ago in this post. She nearly made it, but what makes it very hard is that between her fits and seizures she was happy and absolutely perfect as a companion or pet. But to keep her alive would be to make her suffer, and sooner or later one of her seizures would happen when she was alone and she would suffer a great deal, wandering around after the fit, banging into things and falling, and being afraid. We had two massive fits to-day and had to ask for veterinary advice of the toughest  kind.

Over the six and a half weeks that we had her she came alive in so many ways. In her interactions, her trust, her health and interest in life she made huge progress. To-day when we buried her she was shining and glossy and beautiful. When she was well she was confident and astoundingly athletic and humble and loving. But the fits were simply awful. The damage to her heart and her brain from the acidosis, combined with her anxiety from her previous life and perhaps a genetic pre-disposition have all meant that her system was always going to fall victim to the seizures. I hope that we gave her the best 46 days of her twenty-four months. I feel angry at the circumstances that led to her waste.

Sorry if this is an overly emotive post, but this was a dog in which I invested heavily, emotionally. And she was worth it.


  1. Beautiful girl. Horrible industry. Let's shut it down, for Fleur's sake, and the 1000's like her who don't get a happy life post racing.

  2. Had a good cry just now. We had to make the same difficult decision about Heather's little Scottie, Mully two weeks ago. She too was going in and out of lucidity, making the decision even harder. I'm anxious to find a new canine friend and have considered a greyhound rescue, based solely on your experience.

  3. I'm sure you did what was best for Mully. But it is still very tough. I have a few thoughts about your consideration of a greyhound Michael- they are lovely creatures! But in choosing one you may find that some will be more nimble and adaptable than others. Our Sooty doesn't do stairs willingly for example and that makes him a difficult boating companion so far. He is just so big and powerful, but he was older too and set in his ways. We've had others who can immediately climb whole flights and are just as nimble as any dog. They need good fencing, and can't be left to wander because they will follow a rabbit or a scent...so we always have them on a lead, and that doesn't suit some prospective owners. The young ones are easiest to fit into your lifestyle, but, like Labradors etc they can have a long and very playful (i.e. exhausting) puppyhood, so there are pros and cons in the age thing. Sooty suits me because he is pretty chilled and not at all needy, but you certainly know when he is feeling affectionate. He's an awesome walker and that suits me too.
    So good luck!

  4. By the way, I didn't mean to be tough on the vet in the post above- he was understanding and professional and reassuringly calm and competent. But I wanted to concentrate on Fleur in those last moments, not the breed.