Christmas day started so well. Husband Mike was actually home, a situation that almost never happens. Being a TV news photojournalist, he always works on every holiday. He warned me before I married him so I don’t complain. However, this year his regular weekend days off coincided with the Christmas holidays, so we were very excited about being together.
Unfortunately, my girls, Lori, who lives in Philadelphia and Jenna, who lives in Napa, could not be here for the day. So Mike and I decided to make the best of it and have a wonderful day cooking an exquisite meal, opening a nice bottle of red and having really good quiet time at home with the four greyhounds.
First thing in the morning we packed up all the dogs except Tanner (broken leg) and headed out the door to give them a morning run and romp in a huge securely fenced field; something we do once or twice a week. We let them play for about 20 minutes. Then I said to Mike that maybe we should stop while we were all in a good space; that they had had a good workout and that since foster Lucky had a visit from his prospective adopters coming up the next morning, the last thing we needed was for him to come up lame or hurt himself. Mike said he agreed, and we headed home with three tired, happy dogs.
We got home and all of us were out in the back yard cleaning, straightening, etc. Alex and Lucky, on separate sides of the yard, saw a squirrel at the same time and ran charging toward it. They got there at the same time, Alex reared up, Lucky stopped directly under him, and they both screamed as they fell. Alex had landed on top of Lucky and his front claw pierced Lucky’s flank, puncturing into the muscle, while also ripping between two of Alex’s toes. Mike saw it happen, yelled for me, and that was it.
Okay . . . so much for showing off a big, sleek, flawless brindle male the next day. And after I had been so careful with their playtime, they come home and wreak havoc!
Alex was basically okay, but Lucky had to see a vet due to the puncture wounds and the pulling away of the hide. We knew he at least needed stitches. We decided that Mike would take Lucky to the vet and I would stay with the rest of the dogs, be sure Alex was okay, and go ahead and start preparing our Christmas dinner. We both figured it would take an hour or so to stitch him up.
I started seasoning the beautiful prime rib I was planning to put in the oven at 12:30 p.m. so we could have a mid-afternoon meal, since neither of us had had time to eat at all that day. The oven was hot, so in went the roast, right on time. At 12:40 the phone rings. It was Mike telling me that things were not quite so simple and that Lucky would have to have a mild sedative in order to get a better look at the damage and clean it properly. Knowing every greyhound owner’s concern with sedation, we were assured they were going to try to do this without general anesthesia. The vet figured they would be finished by 1:30.
At 1:30, thinking they were close to finishing, I went ahead and put in the roast, since it was going to take almost two hours to cook.
At 1:45 the phone rang and it was Mike telling me they couldn’t settle Lucky down enough to work on the wound, so now they were going to administer gas.
Out came the roast. And I waited. And I waited.
Finally, at 3 p.m. Mike called to tell me Lucky should be out momentarily; that they had to put in a drainage tube and stitch spots where Alex had literally landed on Lucky’s back.
So I put the roast back in the oven, started draping all the dog bedding with old blankets and barricading all the carpets because I knew that drainage tubes mean just that. Drainage. All over everything. For days.
Mike got home around 3:45 with a groggy dog in a head cone, dripping fluid from the drain. I got Lucky settled down, Mike took a long, hot shower, and we finally had dinner some time after 5 p.m.
Around 6 p.m., daughter Jenna and her husband arrived to exchange gifts. Thank goodness she had been forewarned because let me tell you, our house was not a pretty Christmas picture. We had Tanner with full splint and bandage, Alex limping with a sore foot and Cone head Lucky staggering around dripping fluid. The living room was barricaded to protect the carpet and the den looked like a warzone.
Ava, the female of the pack, just reclined on her throne (my den couch) surveying the scene, totally serene and removed from the chaos.
The evening over, Mike and I sat in the den in order to keep the dogs in that area, trying to just relax and make it to bedtime. But by then Lucky was fully awake and had figured out how to escape from the cone. I just looked at Mike and said, “Guess I’ll be sleeping in the den tonight. I’m going to have to watch him.” We both settled in, lights out, and every time I heard the scratching of the plastic cone, I was up to put it back on. Finally, I figured out that I could put his halter on, tie the cone to the halter, and he couldn’t slip it off. And it worked.
Needless to say, Lucky did not meet his adoptive family the next morning. That would not have made the best first impression, although they are experienced greyhound owners. He did, however, bounce back and was able to go for his morning walk with Alex and Ave. He will meet the prospective family the end of this week and hopefully find his forever home. He deserves it. He’s a special boy.
Mike and I have a Christmas that we will never forget. And even when it doesn’t turn out the way you expect, when there are greyhounds involved and you realize you are fortunate enough to be entrusted with their care, it’s okay.