I’ve tried many times to write this post, but sometimes I just could not find the words to truly express my thoughts and feelings. Rather than craft the “perfect blog post” about the passing of Ruby this past February, I thought it best to just put it out there, even if it is in a very inartful way.
When we adopted Ruby in February of 2005, we knew that it was a fact of life that she – like every other living, breathing thing – would die. Of course, she was just two-and-a-half at that time, had just come off the track in New Hampshire, and was full of life. When you’re adopting “man’s best friend”, who really dwells on death? My children were elementary to middle-school age, and they had already lost a grandfather to cancer and a guinea pig or two that had passed on, so death was not novel to them. So yeah, we “knew” that she would die at some point, but in a “let’s acknowledge it but not dwell on it” type of thing.
Ruby quickly became a very central part of our lives, and as her muzzle turned white, we began to appreciate her more advanced age. As the kids moved through high school, someone would make the occasional comment that Ruby wouldn’t be with us much longer after they went off to college. My kids browsed the greyhound books, so they knew the average lifespan of a greyhound. But still, it was not something any of us really thought hard about.
It wasn’t until we considered moving out west last summer that we truly thought about her age (she was 11 at the time) and how the move would affect her. How would she physically handle the trip out here? Would flying her or having her driven across country be better for her? Would the trip make her sick? Would her temperament change? How would her eating habits change? All of those questions weighed on us, and it was a nerve wracking experience, but with a few hiccups along the way, she made the trip gloriously. She had a little separation anxiety for a brief period of time when she was reunited with us, but all was well. That was August of 2014.
One night in December, Ruby let out a howl while getting up from her bed, and cried out with just the slightest of touch to her right hind quarter. She was shaking, panting, and drooling and was clearly in unbearable pain. Hearing her cry out in pain, and noticing what appeared to be swelling on her right hip, we knew that we had to seek immediate emergency care. We took her to the veterinary hospital a short trip away, where we were told she had a bad arthritic episode, and we were sent home with Tramadol and Gabapentin. The swelling that we saw was apparently all in our heads as the vet did not see it.
The swelling continued, and formed a visual and palpable lump. We took Ruby to a different greyhound-savvy veterinarian for a second opinion. Sure enough, it was subcutaneous hemangiosarcoma, a very aggressive form of cancer. My heart was broken. I knew then that my time with Ruby was very limited. I tried to find a hard-line rule of when we needed to do the right thing, but it was clear that there was no black and white – we had to decide what was best for her in the most loving and respectful way possible.
The pain medication worked for a while, but it became clear over Super Bowl weekend that she was suffering. That morning, Sunday, February 1st, we made the heart-wrenching decision. That was one of the very few times that I had ever seen my husband cry.
She went very peacefully, with all of us around her petting her and loving on her. I hope she heard me thank her for giving me many, many years of happiness. Despite the pain of losing her, I would do it all over again.
We have her ashes on the mantle, with her collar and the picture of her that now graces the top of my blog. We will scatter her ashes at the foot of Mt. Rainier this summer.
This blog is, in part, my tribute to her. My best friend.