Thursday, July 28, 2005

Echo's Story...

As I mentioned in my profile, one of my 'men' includes a retired racing greyhound. His racing name was "Echol's Guard" but his foster home shortened it to "Echo" and we never changed it. He was born on January 29, 2002 and trained at a racetrack in Florida. His maiden season of racing ran from October to December 2003. Let's just say his heart wasn't in it.

Of 11 races, he came in 2nd three times. Doesn't sound too shabby, right? Unfortunately, he finished 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th once each and came in 8th (that's dead last) 4 times. If you'd like to see info re: his bloodline and racing history, visit the following website: You'll need his name (above) and his ear tattoo number, which is 10626.

At some point in his career, he suffered an injury in which his tail was caught in the starting gate. To this day he's still skittish whenever someone is right behind him. The boo boo which he had when we adopted him in May 2004 is completely healed now, but the hair hasn't entirely grown back.

We first became familiar w/ the greyhound breed in April 2004 when we met several representatives of our local chapter of Greyhound Pets of America ( at a Books-A-Million store. We have a young, hyper beagle but these giant, majestic, laid-back creatures were more my style. I did some research about the breed, filled out the adoption application and sent it with a nominal fee (which includes vet checkup, neutering, shots and more) to our local GPA chapter. After a home visit by a GPA rep, we were deemed worthy to adopt.

A couple of weeks later we received the call that several "greys" were being transferred from Florida to Louisiana. My middle son, Sam, and I went to the animal clinic to meet the greyhounds. I had it in my mind to adopt a smallish female but it didn't work out that way. Sam and I spent a lot of time in the pen with approximately 8 other dogs. Other families were there, some brought their other pets to find a compatible match. Ultimately Echo chose us. Everywhere Sam went, Echo went. Everything Sam looked at, Echo checked out. Echo wasn't interested in performing for the other potential adopters. He already made his choice.

So that's how I ended up with the largest male in the bunch. Just over a year later, I can tell you this: he's enjoying his retirement. He's not completely housebroken - altho' I think perhaps his problem might be related to nerves. Today, for example, he left a small puddle on my bedroom rug but it was during a major thunderstorm. He's very sweet, very gentle and a little shy. He doesn't climb on the furniture but loves to follow me around the house. He leans on you, which is the dog equivalent of a hug, I think. The first few times he 'hugged' Zachary (age 3 1/2), he nearly sent Zack through the wall.

Echo gets along great with his foster brother, Scout (a blue-tick beagle), but he doesn't understand the ways of a domestic dog since that's not the way Echo was brought up. I think Echo finds it undignified when Scout chases a frisbee or retrieves a ball. Although you should see Echo and Scout "race". Echo will run a few laps around the yard and Scout, bless his heart, will try every shortcut he can think of to beat the dog who can still run in excess of 40 miles per hours. (Greyhounds are built for speed but typically don't have a lot of stamina so they don't make great jogging partners unless it's a short run.)

Greyhounds sometimes sleep with their eyes open so if you move to pet one that's not fully awake, it's not unusual for a grey to snap. Echo is no exception. However, my boys learned early on not to approach Echo if he's laying down with his head on the ground.

Most greyhounds make excellent indoor pets (because they have such a low percentage of bodyfat, they're not suited for long stretches outdoors). I've also heard of greys referred to as the smallest large dog, and it's true. Our home is less than 1200 sf, yet Echo, despite his 70+ pounds, doesn't take up a lot of space. Keep in mind though, that these dogs have not had a typical 'puppyhood' and may have a few issues.

Echo likes to counter-surf, which is easy because of his height, but he responds to a gentle warning. If you're thinking about getting a pet, consider a greyhound. They do well even in condos and apartments as long as you take them for regular walks. And they really need the love and attention.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Man, am I dragging today...

I'm just exhausted. I think it's a cumulative effect of Zack's adenoidectomy and my most recent bout of insomnia about a week ago. For the record, Zack is doing well on his second day post-op. He doesn't seem to be in much discomfort, but he does hate the anti-pain med so he might not complain even if he was. He slept well last night and had a nice long nap this afternoon. No snoring at all, so I'm cautiously optimistic.

I felt fine all day yesterday. Even in the waiting room of the outpatient surgery center, I wondered why I wasn't more worked up. I think it finally hit me around 10 p.m., nearly 11 hours after Zack's procedure. It was like, oh my gosh, what did I let them do to my baby??? He's doing great though. Not much memory of the ordeal although he does remember "that man" (the anesthesiologist) taking him away from me. Lovely. I'm sure the memory will fade. For him, anyway.

Zack's energy has returned full force, while my energy has pooped out completely. Perhaps tomorrow I'll be able to string together a coherent sentence.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Bye Bye Adenoids

Son #3, age 3 1/2, had his adenoids removed today - primarily because he snores like crazy, so loudly that he often wakes himself up at night but also because he suffers from frequent ear and sinus infections. I've been told that it's a "common outpatient procedure" but is it ever really common when it's your child?

The pre-operative instructions state that Son #3 could not eat or drink after midnight last night and his procedure wasn't scheduled until 11:30 this morning, so we decided to throw a Bye Bye Adenoid party. Sons #1 and #3 and I stayed up late, read books, watched TV and ate snacks (Son #2 tuckered out around 10:45). Son #3 had his last snack of the evening at 11:30 p.m. and fell asleep 10 minutes later.

This morning I woke him at 9:50 - another benefit of having stayed up late the night before. I dressed him, he bid a tearful farewell to Paw Paw and ten minutes later we were out the door. We arrived at the surgery center at 10:30. Get this: as soon as you walk in the facility, there are two vending machines to your immediate left. Who thought of that plan? Of course, Son #3 remembers that he didn't have breakfast (no eating after midnight) and starts screaming for Cheetos.

He wasn't in the least bit interested in the coloring sheet they gave him. He just wanted to go home, adenoids intact. Next we were lead to the linen closet so he could choose what color hospital gown he wanted. Answer: none. He absolutely did not want to take off his red Power Ranger t-shirt.

Next it was on the pre-op room where it took me and one nurse to hold him down while another nurse squirt some 'happy juice' (a sedative) down his throat. After that ordeal, I sat in the rocker with my baby on my lap, while the nurse put on his bracelet, and started affixing different things onto him. The little thing to measure blood pressure was attached to his big toe and glowed red (the instrument, not the toe). That amused him for a moment until he realized that his socks had been removed, which sparked another round of hysterics.

He was getting a little loopy and I managed to take off his t-shirt but he didn't want to put the gown. The nurse gave us a blanket to put over him. At 11:30 the anesthesiologist came and said "it's time" so he took him (who was screaming again) off to do his thing, which involved placing a mask over Son #3's nose/mouth to make him sleep, then inserting an IV in the top of his hand.

The adenoidectomy was over 30 minutes later. The doc said Son #3 did fine. They brought me back to post-op about 15 minutes later where he was now awake and very cranky. This is not unusual for little kids when coming out of anesthesia. He tried pulling the IV out of his hand and got upset when the nurse stopped him. The nurse explained to him that the IV provided liquids to the body and that when he could drink liquids on his own (specifically Gatorade), then she'd take out the IV. At first he resisted, then he grabbed the cup, guzzled the Gatorade and said "take it out - NOW!" The nurse complied. I got him dressed and we were allowed to leave.

All told, we were there just 3 hours. His mood improved considerably over the next couple of hours. He's supposed to have soft foods for the next 3 days and engage in only "light activity" for the next 2 weeks. Excuse me, but he hasn't engaged in "light activity" since before he learned to walk.

Judging by how he's fussing and yelling at his big brothers, I'm guessing his throat isn't very sore at the moment. However, the nurse did say that he might feel a little worse this evening as the anesthesia works its way out of his system. It's a relief that it's over.

Monday, July 25, 2005

The blotches are back!

The dot themed template I've selected seems particularly fitting today. If the ones on my blog background were pink, they'd match the ones on Zack's arms and legs. Zack (he's 3) had a bout of hives that started on July 8th and got progressively worse. Hives can be triggered by any number of things: allergies, bug bites, stress, hidden illness. Fortunately, his aren't the itchy kind. Benedryl helped only slightly.

I took him to the doctor on July 11th and he couldn't find any sign of illness nor had Zack been exposed to anything new that we could think of. He's been eating the same favorite foods, and we've been using the same household products, laundry detergent, etc. Doc recommended Clarinex Redi-Tabs. Those buggers are expensive but they only need to be taking once a day and they really worked!

After several blotch-free days, the doc said to discontinue the med, which we did on July 20th. No problems until last night. To compound matters, Zack is having his adenoids removed tomorrow. "A minor outpatient procedure," they say. Yeah, right - until it's YOUR kid. His surgeon says that the hives wouldn't affect the outcome of the surgery so we're proceeding as planned. It's scheduled for noon. Zack can't eat after midnight tonight, so he's going to be one cranky, hungry - not to mention, blotchy - baby tomorrow afternoon when he wakes up.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Took me a week to get this far...

...and now I have writer's block. This is unusual, since in person I'm rarely at a loss for words.

I'll start simple. My pet peeve of the day is school supply lists. In past years, my son's school allowed you order Supply Packs (pay a fee at the end of the year and the supplies are ready and labeled with your kid's name on the first day of school in the fall). They discontinued that this year, which in itself doesn't bother me. I don't mind shopping for school supplies - I enjoy it even - by why turn it into a scavenger hunt?

Why does it have to be box of Crayola brand crayons (24 ct)? Why not Rose Art (24 ct) brand? Why does it have to be 2 red BIC pens, rather than simply 2 red ballpoint pens? I visited 3 stores before I found twenty-four "American-made #2 pencils" (most I came across were made in China). I hope they didn't have to be yellow. The list didn't say, so I bought natural wood unpainted, not-made-from-rainforest-trees pencils. I feel like such a rebel!