Love, Pain & The Whole Damn Thing

Claire Has Flair ~ 2001-2013 ~ Rest in Peace

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The Daily Post asked us to write about unconventional love. Many people and even entire societies or cultures think loving and being loved by a dog is unconventional. Maybe so. Sign me up. Again and again and again.

It has been a tough four months on the staff of Chasing Rabbit Holes. I have tried for two days to write about Claire, which is why this daily post is late in submission on the subject of unconventional love.

For catching up, here’s the story written  on Mother’s Day about what had occurred in a few short days with my darling Claire, who is our flagship Chaser. It is always curious to see which posts get attention. This one got lost because of the title and the day itself – a tremendous outpouring of love for our Moms and, I suspect, my usual followers were out celebrating the day.

In addition, there’s been a rash of blogging friends who are going thru the same thing and you can only handle so much pain before you shut down in self-protection mode. Got it. Two of those bloggers – people I have never even met caught wind of what was going on with Claire and they called and emailed me with so much love and support and sheer kindness. It takes gravitas to still reach out to someone just beginning to go thru what you’ve gone thru and just when you are beginning to heal yourself. They didn’t hesitate, 68Ghia and KnowledgeKnut. I’ll tell you what, you two, mi casa es su casa. My home is your home. Come any time. You will always be welcomed.

My closest friends came through in phone calls and emails as well – sending both of us love and prayers for Claire and me. As I said above, I tried to write this story, but I’d written in my journal and I had made the calls and emails to let them know, so I felt all dried up last night and that I wouldn’t do Claire Has Flair justice by trying too hard to get out a timely post.

So, I’ve muted the TV and the Neil Cavuto Report, opened up Pandora Internet Radio, cranked up the music and here we go.

I am going to give it to you straight, taking from emails I wrote Sunday night and Monday, May 12-13, 2013, with some additions for clarity.

This one is to Eileen, the woman who introduced me to Claire and was our mentor on all things greyhound – a marvelous woman always generous in her time, energy, and positive words:

Sunday Night:

Eileen, thank you for the article – pretty much on target for what you and I discussed, and the Vet and my thoughts as well.

As I told you, from Thursday night, after the x-rays confirmed the Osteosarcoma bone cancer (the most common bone tumor in retired racing greyhounds (45%) and the most common cause of death (25%) in this breed), we upped her pain medication from 1-1.5 pain pills to 2-2.5 three times a day, which left Claire in a twilight, seemingly awake, but no true sleep and healing for her. We did this from Thursday p.m. thru Saturday night. She would come running for meals and walks, occasionally jumping on the couch, but most often retreating to the bedroom for quiet. For me, this is not quality of life for my darling Claire. And every day, we were grieving 24/7, instead of enjoying our time, whatever was left.

Today, when I tried the experiment of medicating throughout the day rather than morning, dinner, and bed – showed a great improvement in Claire – she came out of the bedroom several times – she retreats there for quiet. She was more alert and focused – “happier,” in Claire’s parlance. Tonight, as I was opening your email, she came out to go for a walk – she wanted to tackle the stairs and for the first time in over a week went for one of her usual walks – amazing. She had tried three or four times to do the usual, but got nervous and wanted to go back immediately. We went out the back way, the front way, any which way she wanted. Much more involved than when on 2 – 2.5 three times per day – I think this works for now. She seemed to have a bit of a tougher time walking tonight – but the panting was much less today than yesterday even after the walk. I may be the one who won’t last a week, but I’m watching and I’ve kept a diary since this began – pages devoted to Claire, her Rx, how it is working, etc.

Thank you for being there for us. She is such a dear heart and I was and am so blessed to have her. She makes my heart sing. I wrote an article today about this at
http://chasingrabbitholes.com/2013/05/12/dear-mom/

I will be checking with you and I thank you so much for always being there. Best ~ HuntMode

Eileen wrote:

Huntie, you are such a great writer. Your blog made me cry, my mother has been watching over me for quite some time now too. She passed away right before 9/11. I’m sure your mother will be quite impressed when she greets Claire :). I know my mom will be there to welcome my aging crew when the time comes. Claire sounds like she had a “good day” yesterday. You are doing everything you can and sounds like you already started a journal. Remember when judging the panting, the temps were unusually high last week. My old girl was doing much more panting then usual.

I’m so happy Claire found her way to live with you all this time.

Monday A.M.:

Eileen, before I forget, I realized pretty fast after we got off the phone yesterday, I had called you Elaine. God, I’m sorry for that – 🙂 Too much on my mind.

Thank you for your words. That helps a lot. Sad to say, this a.m., Claire has stayed in bed, not wanting to come out for breakfast. I finally gave her breakfast in bed, which she ate without hesitation. I’m waiting to see how the rest of the day goes. Last night, as I wrote she went out several times, and this could be my projection, what I observed was either she was doing much better or, she was taking in the sights and smells to remember on the other side. She went for longer walks than she has in a week, she would pause and lift her head to capture the breeze, really pushing herself to go further and longer in both directions than in the last week. I brought the vet up to date, she agreed with all our conclusions and actions. She is on standby anytime today and tomorrow – whatever works for us. Her next day in would be Friday and I don’t think we’ll make it that long. I have to be sure Claire can get in the car and we’re using only the backseat now, versus putting down the seats for full roaming – too easy for her to loose her balance and she actually lays down, which she doesn’t when the back is fully opened up.

As always, thank you for being there for us – and I know both our Moms are with us and our kids/progeny are with our Moms. 🙂

Monday P.M. :

Eileen wrote:

I’ve been called Elaine many times, no worries.

Keep me posted about Claire. I know you will. I’m so glad you both got that longer walk together, every good moment is so special right now.
Lots of hugs, kisses and treats for sweet Claire.

About 6:00 p.m.:

Eileen, you are literally the first to know that Claire has gone over that Rainbow Bridge to join everybody before us. What a miraculous release that shot is. It is too bad we cannot do the same for ourselves. So, Claire retreated to the bedroom this a.m. and wouldn’t come to eat – though, when I relented at 11:30 or so, she ate breakfast in bed. At 2:30 p.m., I gave her the second set of 1.5 pain bills and went to take a shower. She was on the couch (!) when I got out of the shower, her little wombat ears laid all the way down, her eyes bright and brave. We had lots of treats – her favorites – dog bones, red licorice, some olive oil and cracked black pepper triscuit biscuits, a full hot dog cut into small pieces. We went for a walk, she struggled up the stairs (again). She peed and breathed in the scents. She was reluctant to head to the car, but gave in with her usual grace. She didn’t hesitate to climb in the car. I had the window low enough for her to enjoy the smells. Realized she pooped in the car, got it to together, cleaning out the car and going off to get rid of the bag – she was stunned watching me walk away to throw it out – her little face poking out to see what I was doing. Wouldn’t take a bisquit on my return – very understandable.

I called the Vet from the car to let them know we were on our way. It was clear the receptionist had no clue, her voice bright and cherry. I didn’t try to explain, just said be sure to tell Dr. Liu. She is expecting us.”

On the way to the Vet’s, she laid down on the back seat – bless her. Stood up as we pulled in. Did a final pee and poop outside the Vet’s, and turned around voluntarily to go in. For the first time in a week, she put her foot down to walk through PetSmart to the Banfield Medical Clinic – never show weakness! We walked up to reception and the girl/woman greeted us with a big smile – we are very well-known as we’ve been coming for nine years with one cat or dog or another. Claire is instantly recognizable because greyhounds are a rare and beautiful sight. “Hi Huntie! Hi Claire! What can we do for you today?” Claire pushed up against my leg, she wasn’t even trembling – this was her grand stand. I leaned a little forward and quietly said, “Well, we are here to put Claire to sleep.” Her face crumbled and she let out an involuntary cry of denial. She came flying around the counter and I wasn’t sure what she was going to do. She seized me in a hug, “Oh, Huntie, I am so sorry, so sorry, I didn’t know, I’m so sorry.” It unmanned me. Tears sprang to my eyes and I realized it was the first human contact in the form of a hug since I’d gotten the news on Claire last Thursday – and it made a huge difference to be able to rest for a moment in someone’s arms.

We went into the room set aside for us; they had laid down a blanket for her – I was concerned as she was always very nervous at the Vet’s, and paced. No pacing. I had a bag of her favorites, which she ate a bit of. The Vet, Dr. Liu, was her usual wonderful, strong self. Claire was amazing. She rested in my arms. She has never really done that before. She would accept hugs and touch noses with me, but simply resting in my arms showed me more than anything else, this girl was tired. We took our time and then put the shunt in and said our goodbyes – we’d been saying ’em for quite awhile. Claire stood passively and sweetly, proudly in my arms – I held her as the shot took effect – between one breath and the next, she was gone and fell into my arms – my sweet Claire went with the most peaceful, graceful goodbye. What a girl. What dignity and strength she showed at the end. She was ready. The Vet agreed she had gone downhill fast and was ready. We stayed with her a long time. She was so soft and full of grace  and sinew. She did greyhounds proud. She raised the bar for me. Dr. Liu just sat with me on the floor, stroking Claire and praising her. Claire was gone, but we needed that time. Dr. Liu gave me a hug as well and we thanked one another for being there for Claire. Unconventional love? Maybe so.

It is possible that some readers are not familiar with the Rainbow Bridge, but this was written for all of us a long time ago:

The Rainbows Bridge Poem

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.

When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together….

Author unknown…

Here’s the thing…. As I left, the rain was coming down, the wind blowing hard, and suddenly the sun came out – and there was the most beautiful rainbow right in front of me…. How cool is that?

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Love,

HuntMode

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Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Claire Has Flair over the years:

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Claire and Dyssa - nap time

Claire and Dyssa – nap time

Claire in formal dress

Claire and Frond

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28 thoughts on “Love, Pain & The Whole Damn Thing

    • Thank you, CP. I think love between humans and animals is God’s gift to us. I thank you for commenting and telling me her story touched you. That means a lot to my heart.

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  1. I sobbed my way through this. What a beautiful friend she was to you. Having put 3 pets down, I so relate to your experience. The pictures of her sweet face and playfulness are precious.

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  2. My little doggie heart broke seeing this news. Reading the whole story broke it more. The only hope I have is in the knowledge we will all meet again in doggie heaven. My sincerest of thoughts and prayers are with the entire Huntmode family tonight.

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  3. P

    I am so very sorry. I have thought about you since I left home Saturday afternoon. I told my mom about you and Claire. While I was away I thought about you and Claire and the time you were able to spend together. I’m home now and I’m here. My heart goes out to you and I am sending you a big hug.

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    • Thanks, S. I’m good. In truth, all the grieving was done Thursday to Saturday when we got the news. Sunday was a splendid day for Claire and Monday, she was out of pain and free. It’s true, there are odd moments of waiting to hear her jingling around the house, but the new baby cat is helping with that. I was so lucky to have her. God was really good on this one. HuntMode

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  4. Now I’m sitting here, bawling like a baby. At the front office – so not cool!!
    But, as Mr P would say, to cry is good. If you need to cry, do.
    And you too P. Some days you will want to cry more than others, but then this you know.
    Just always remember, I’m here if you need an ear.
    And, seemingly, a poet, and I didn’t even know it!
    Go well P. Time will heal all wounds.

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    • J, it was a crazy day and just got online – it’s 11:15 p.m. here. You’re right re the tears – they come up out of nowhere. Thanks always for your support.

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  5. In March, with much sadness, we had to take our darling 17 yr old darling Chessie Cat to the vet to cross that Rainbow Bridge as well. Reading your heartfelt post with tears rushing down my cheeks brought back the gratefulness that we had loved our kitty for 17 years and how blessed all pet parents are to have their beloved cat/dog in their lives. I love the rainbow that was revealed to you. Please accept my heartfelt hugs. It is hard for us to transition without our furkids. ♥

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  6. A very bright little light in your life, Huntmode. I am incredibly sorry she’s gone but join you in celebrating what she brought to our world. Those soulful eyes on your header are what I think of first when I call your blog to mind, besotted with dogs as I am; my heart goes out to you.

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  7. How are you holding up? I feel helpless…and hope that you are supported by your friends at Greyhound adoption. I am a puddle.

    What a joyous gift it is to have lived with Claire! You have been treated to a summa cum laude canine experience. With that honor has come the full range from glimpses of paradise to near despair. Your love for sweet Claire will endure, and she will meet you for a heavenly run one day. She has served you with every fine hair, every bright look, and every elegant step of her posture. She is being called to her reward for magnificent service.
    Well done, good and faithful servant, Ms Claire Has Flaire extraordinaire. I too, will miss you Claire.
    Peace.

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    • Oh, Maureen, how kind you are to us both and the little Elby, who has stunned me with how much he misses Claire. The Greyhound Pets, Inc., through my mentor, Eileen, has been fantastic, as always. A new group of 20 greyhounds, 15 females and 5 males are arriving this Monday. It will take a couple of weeks to evaluate and do medical exams, etc. before they are ready for adoption. That is a distinct possibility as Elby and I need the guidance and grace only a Greyhound brings to the pack. 🙂

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  8. Pingback: No Freedom Without Love | Wiley's Wisdom

  9. Wiley Schmidt introduced us to you…I am so sorry to hear about your angel Claire…my heart breaks…tears…Bless you in every way your heart, mind, and soul needs…Sending love and sympathy to you and yours…

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    • How very kind of you to take time to visit and comment. That Wiley, what a dog, eh?! His heart is as big as the Montana Sky – BIG sky country! Once again, thank you for coming to read Claie’s entry and writing a note to us. HuntMode & Elby

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    • Ah, Paulette, you made it. 🙂 Now, this one and the one to my Mom is a tough way to come into my blog – there are lighter pieces, trust me. I am so glad you took the time to comment.

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  10. Hunt, I am a mess, I truly am, I have never felt such love in my life. You and Claire, reading the journal the exchanges of mail about killed me. Your description of her last walks were breath taking. The pictures are wonderful, Claire was the greatest of friends. Her last moments, damn. Hunt thank you for sharing these moments, I know it was painful, and know that is still painful. Please take care, Bill

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  11. Well, Bill, this is just one of the reasons we’ve become friends. In truth, I am no longer in pain and have none rereading this. Just a sense of thankfulness I had the good sense to say Yes! to bringing Claire home that first time we met. Ella and Elby go far in keeping me in the present, though I still slip and call Ella Claire… She’s come to appreciate that because she gets an extra treat or two, and then, of course, so does Elby…. Best ~ HuntMode

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    • Hunt, soft smile, it is one of many reasons we are becoming friends. I am glad it doesn’t hurt as bad when you reflect or talk about her. That is a good thing, Take care and Merry Christmas – Bill

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