Written by Susie Adelson & Nathan Greene
Losing Niamhe felt like losing part of our hearts, part of what made us "us" so when she passed away July 2nd, 2010 we were in pieces. A few things pulled us through. The first was each other, Nathan and I may not have had the longest history but from the first day we became a couple, we became a team. The second thing was knowing with 100% certainty that we had truly done all that we could for Niamhe and she died knowing we loved her more than any dog was ever loved. Our hearts ached because we loved her so much (and continue to) but that being said our responsibilities also include Lacey (and to a much less extent Olive who would be thrilled chasing her own tail for hours on end). The bottom line is that Lacey was returned to her breeder early in her life and then adopted by Nathan who quickly became her hero, or has he calls her, his "littlest friend" with this relationship came an understanding ... Nathan would make sure Lacey never felt alone again. Nathan did an amazing job of this and when I entered the picture (the clouds opened and angels sang! Kidding) I also started to be aware of Lacey's needs. Much like me, she is scared and needs constant reassurance and recognition when she does something good. I got it and quickly she and I became very close. She was a huge support to me when Niamhe passed away, even to go as far as licking my many tears. I had to force my self to remember she lost her too, she lost her best friend, her sister and her protector.
We decided pretty quickly that we needed to get Lacey another dog/companion and although we flirted with the idea of different breeds we quickly decided another Italian greyhound made the most sense for Lacey so the search began....
The first thing we did was reach out to the breeder that Nathan got Lacey from, she was, unfortunately, unable to help so we turned to PetFinder, we came across a bunch of IGs in Beamsville and we were off to the races (so to speak). We excitedly filled out the application and sent it off. We didn't hear back so we followed up with multiple phone calls and heard the 4 words that would come to haunt us over and over in our search: "no backyard, no dog".
As most of you know I had been hounding Nathan to move to a new house with a backyard for about 18 months. We are great (dog) parents and we always go to Trinity Bellwoods park but it didn't matter they kept repeating "no backyard, no dog".
So that door closed. The search continued.
One by one our options dropped off; one didn't like cats, one decided to stick with her foster family, one never contacted us back, it was like dating. We were back to the drawing board, but like my dating adventures, although a twisty, windy, and funny road, all of those situations led me to the right one, they led me to Nathan and they led us to Maddy.
Over to Nathan ...
When we found the posting about Madison, her name was Masie, and she had recently been rescued from a puppy mill. She was living with a foster family in upstate New York, but she had a broken arm (I know, dogs have four legs ... For those of you that are picky I will be referring to the injured area of her front right leg as her arm) and she had been debarked. She needed a family that would not just love her, but be willing to deal with recovery associated with the injured arm.
We filed the required application and, for the first time, the yard thing didn't come up because this little sweetheart is somewhat uncomfortable outdoors.
We had a phone interview and made arrangements to drive down and meet her. The deal was that, as long as everyone got along, she would come home with us.
So we set out for Binghamton, NY. Google maps said that the trip would be just over 5 hours, but between traffic and a nightmarish line at the border, the trip actually took us closer to 8 hours. We ate a few times along the way and almost ran out of gas, but we made it.
Of course, there were far more stops than usual on this drive because we brought our Italian Greyhound, Lacey along with us to make sure that she and Maddy got along.
The date for the girls to meet was set for 12 noon the next day. We took Lacey out for her morning walk with an eye on finding some breakfast. We came across a local favourite greasy spoon where Susie went in to find some take out that we could take to a park. Because they don't get many IGs in Binghampton, Lacey drew a lot of attention and I got to meet a number of locals. Despite having a bit of a desolate feeling on a Saturday morning, the people made our visit quite warm.
Soon enough, we were sitting down for our first meal of the day. Susie had asked for the special, which read as a typical ham and eggs breakfast. It wasn't until I took the bag from her that I noticed the heaviness of the bag. I couldn't believe how much food was in that bag. We each got about a half dozen eggs and more toast than we could ever eat, but the piece-de-resistance was the two ham steaks in each of our boxes. We could have easily shared one and had leftovers.
After a bite to eat and a good walk, we started to make our way towards the PetSmart in Vestal, NY. We checked in at the Vet's counter and met Stacey, who was Lacey's foster mother before we adopted her. Susie got an on the spot interview, which we incorporated into the video at the end of this post.
We needed to wait for Jen, the adoption manager, to arrive so we did some shopping to make sure that we had everything that she would need at home. Soon enough, the ladies came out with Maddy.
She was shivering because she was still a little damp from her bath and she seemed a little scared to boot. Stacey put her down and immediately she was begging to be picked back up. She and Lacey got along just fine and Susie spent almost as much time on the ground as the dogs.
It was a surprise to us how bad her arm looked. We were assured that it had healed, but it was healed in a very awkward position. Apparently, she had broken it and the previous owner just didn't bother to get it fixed.
The last stop before we hit the road towards home was to pick up a Canada t-shirt for Maddy so she looked "a little more Canadian" coming across the border.
The drive home was just as long as the way down, even though we picked a different route. We were still nervous at the border, despite having all of the required paperwork. The guard didn't even ask us about the dogs in the car.
Since Stacey and her family had been calling her "Masie-May", and we wanted to call her "Madison", we started with an intermediate name of "Maddy-May", which would evolve to "Maddy", on the way to her new name. Funny enough, the sequence got a little out of order with a series of names that we never expected, including: "Maluki", "Mookie", "Muqs", "Muku", and now "Monkey".
Anyway, when we got home, we started to learn a bit about Madison's personality. She immediately bonded with Susie, but we quickly found out that she was terrified of me.
It wasn't me that she was afraid of, but I learned the first week that it was men in general. And, even more peculiar, a specific fear of Chinese men. Her reaction to people on the street leads me to believe that the folks running the puppy mill were Chinese men.
We also brought her in to see our vet down at (link) Leslieville Animal Hospital. Dr Steve has been with us for a few years now and he saw us through the last months with Niamhe as a total pro so we trusted his opinion when it came to Maddy's arm.
He took a look and we took some x-rays. Right away he suggested that we should look into a few specialists that had expertise in complex fractures.
Dr Steve made a few calls and got us an appointment at the (link) Ontario Veterinary College. We got in surprisingly quickly.
We saw Dr. Reynolds at OVC and she walked us through the x-rays. We were lucky that the break turned out to be above the growth plate, but unlucky that the bones in the arm had fused together. The surgery for the repair would entail severing the forearm from the fused mass, cutting out a wedge, then reattaching the arm in a straight position. They would definitely need to put a small metal plate in the arm.
What happened next was a real surprise. Once we agreed to go forward with the surgery, they took her from the assessment room into the back and prepped her for surgery the next morning. We never expected to be going home without her.
They kept her for a few days for surgery and recovery before she could come home. One thing that I can say about the OVC is that they are an amazing team. It's a teaching hospital so we had both an experienced veterinarian and a 4th-year student for every appointment.
A few days later when we went back for the pickup we got a full explanation of the surgery along with a complete review of the before and after x-rays.
The two pictures above are the before (right) and after (left) of her arm. As you can see, it ended up much, much more straight than it was before. There is a metal plate in there for support, and she has some wire and a couple of screws to keep the plate in place. They did a really amazing job ... You can't even feel a bump under skin despite all that's in there.
They warned us that she would look a little funny because she had to be shaved and had an antiseptic applied to her skin, turning her 35% pink.
When she came out with her yellow cast on an arm that was dead straight we were incredibly happy. It was still a long way to go with the recovery. We had to change her cast regularly and keep her from doing any kind of exercise. The exercise was the hard part ... Not because she particularly wanted to go outside, but because she, even to this day, has a tendency to bolt when she gets scared ... And she gets startled a lot.
Today, she's come a long way. She sleeps right in the middle of the bed between Susie and myself. She'll come and sit right next to me on her own. She loves attention and she is very affectionate.
On the flip side, she still bolts when startled. Sometimes I can imagine how easily a girl with that tendency could break her arm. I've seen her run head first into closed doors, jumping blindly off of furniture, and sliding across hardwood floors when trying to cut a corner too sharp. She hates to be picked up, which is very different for an IG. I would say that being picked up causes her the most stress of all.
I was holding off on writing this post because I wanted to finish with a video of her running at an off-leash park. I took her to a nice fenced in dog park a week ago when the weather started to turn and she was as uncomfortable as our first day together. It turns out that she needs the leash to feel comfortable at this point. She wouldn't leave my side and she constantly jumped up to be picked up, which is completely opposite of her usual personality. While it was kind of nice for me to be her safe place, it was obvious that she was terrified.
We'll keep working with her at the park and update when she fully comes around. From the beginning we've known that there would be an adjustment period for her to feel comfortable and, honestly, I think we're way ahead of schedule from our original expectations.
I was sick and stuck at home recently and spent an inordinate amount of time with the dogs and cat. The really nice part was seeing Maddy playing, both on her own and with the cat. She actually played with a chew toy for the first time that I've seen. She's really coming out of her shell more and more each day.
She really is a sweet girl who really just wants to feel safe.
The Maddy video: