28 February 2011

Turbo's Ordeal

Our dear Turbo was the king of his yard and his town. He went everywhere with us - and as soon as we got back to town, he'd stand up and push his nose out the window so that all of his fans would know he was back!

We lost him in 2008 to an old spleen condition or injury. He had battled osteosarcoma, the scourge of greyhounds and won after an amputation. I had originally intended to write a short story about his ordeal, but I just couldn't end it with losing him. So, now it's finished in the middle, when we still had him.

BoBo Duke, Dolly & Flossie
We've since lost his best buddy, our kitty, Omar, too. Any of you who read us regularly know that we are loaded with pets here now, two greyhounds and a Dalmatian (our security chief) and a rowdy kitty who came to our door the day after we lost Omar.

If you're in the mood for a story with a mostly happy ending, then please read on. If not, we're just happy that you read this much.

We are so thankful to Dr. Guillermo Couto and his staff and students the Ohio State University Veterinary School for the wonderful treatment our boy, Turbo, received. Saint Francis sits on his shoulders, for sure!
The story follows. Please feel free to share it with anyone.

My name is Turbo. Turbo Tyler. My original name was Rooftop Ringo. What was that trainer thinking? I was diagnosed with osteosarcoma on July 10 by a substitute vet (my regular was on vacation). Not satisfied to wait for a referral the next week, my mom called Ohio State Veterinary Teaching Hospital. You see, there's a greyhound wellness program there. And, I am, after all, a retired racing greyhound. She was just looking for a doctor around here in Pittsburgh, PA. But, next thing we knew we were invited to Ohio. Cool! Road trip!

As luck would have it, at 3 o’clock Friday morning, July 11, 2008, we got in the car and headed to Columbus, Ohio with our Verizon Wireless Navigator in hand. We were so fortunate to be interviewed (a nice way to say prodded and poked and examined) by Dr. Guillermo Couto, a renowned expert and one of the greatest guys you could ever meet. The exam proved I did suffer from the dreaded OS. Mommy & Daddy had to leave me there, so I wouldn’t break my leg and make it worse. You see, Mom is a control-freak and way-too-over-observant. But this time it paid off! We caught it early enough that they didn’t see any in my lungs!
And you thought I needed four...
I lost my left front leg on Tuesday morning, July 15, 2008 around 9:30 – they put me under so I’m not really sure when the damage was done. I don’t remember signing any consent forms for this, but maybe my parents did. At first I was an admirable patient. I stood up that night in my ICU cell (they call it a kennel or intensive care unit, but, it’s a cell, trust me.). Then I walked, peed, pooped, ate. Wednesday was distressing, but I made it through. But, on Thursday, I felt a little depressed. I was thinking to myself, now, what’s with those parents of mine…why did they leave me here?  I yelped and whined and screamed. And then that Dr. Rebecca Ball, skilled surgeon that she is…teased me into liking her with that soft voice and pretty face. Then, look what happened! Actually, she was quite gentle and an expert cutter, I hear, but I have to blame someone, don’t I?
Mom and Dad had to drive the 3 to 4 hours back to OSU again to be with me. I guess I forgot how upset Mommy would be and how she’d be rushing Daddy around (he’s pretty slow…I can recognize that because I’m a greyhound). They got here pretty fast – shaving over an hour off the trip… Those high gas prices are pretty great for keeping the traffic out of our way.

I really scared my parents. You see, I didn’t want Dr. Ball and her squad to push me around any more. So (and I’m quite proud of this), it took four of them – count’em four – to muzzle me. Actually we greyhounds are used to muzzles – we had to wear them at the track, so I could have made it easier for them, but why?

I heard Mom come in – she has a hard time keeping quiet, but I don’t want to hurt her feelings, so keep it to yourself. Then she said, “my poor baby boy, ooooh my baby.” – Music to my ears. I perked up took my meds from her right through the muzzle. Daddy came in my cell, took off my muzzle and off we went on a gurney (that’s what they call it, but it’s really something like a plastic kid’s cart). As soon as I got outside with them, they helped me off the plastic cart, I stood up. This was easy, but I let them think about it. After all, they still have all of their legs! I guess I shouldn’t complain too much. After all, I still have one more than they do!

I was not too happy to discover that Dr Ball was on her way with that crew again. They changed my dressing (yeah, sure, it was a big bandage – and it was red, for OSU, what about us Notre Dame fans, huh?). She also pulled this plastic tube out of my chest. Why’d she leave it in - in the first place? She said it was to help drain…I don’t know about her. Actually, it felt pretty good to get that out.
After the Operation with my Favorite Love Rat
After a short visit, Mom and Dad had to accompany me back into that jail, er, hospital. Then Daddy had to put the muzzle back on me. (I let those guards know who was boss…Daddy could’ve done it with one hand, I was so sweet for him.) I must have been hallucinating: I thought I saw my Aunt Dolly, my grandparents’ Dalmatian, but, alas, it was an imposter – and a boy for that matter. Was I ever going to get back to normal? I thought not.

They sent Mommy and Daddy away and I thought I was a goner. After all, they took my leg last time I was orphaned. What would they take this time? Turns out, nothing. I behaved for a while, but when I discovered that I wasn’t leaving with my parents, I felt it necessary to make it miserable for the jailors again. Another night alone in the cell.

Then, miracle of miracles, here came my Mom and Dad back again. We had another little time outside. Then THEY WERE SENT AWAY. What is this all about anyway!? Everybody was able to come and go, but not I…not the one who gave up so much? Why me? Yet again, I returned to my cell. Just as I seemed to doze off, the mean ones came for me again. I thought I’d try another tactic. This time, I got up and walked down the hall and out into the waiting room all of this on a super waxed hard linoleum floor. I’d show them!

There they were, my Dad and Mom! Seems they just had to go to Target for some supplies. I’m going home! And, only a week after they brought me here! Cool! I knew something was up because the parents were telling the torturers how wonderful they were – how kind, gentle and caring; how skilled and calming. What is wrong with these people, were they drugged? Oh, who cares – I’m going home.

“Well, not so quick, Mr. Turbster,” I told myself. We stopped at this large, long building with a red roof. Daddy kept calling it Inn, but I wanted to be out of Ohio and on my way home.

Time to yelp again, I thought. I didn’t realize how much I frightened my parents. They even called Dr Ball for help. I was not getting out of that SUV, no, I was not. Well, when they called the surgeon, I freaked and figured I’d better get out of the car if I wanted to keep the rest of my parts, right? So, I embarrassed my folks, but pleased my doctor. I let the parents pick me up – no yelping involved – and walked into the room. Was this our new house? Only one room WITH NO KITCHEN?
Success - I couldn't lie on my back until now!
It was a hectic night. I couldn’t get comfortable. And, my Mom drove Dad and me crazy all night asking us what will happen, are you ok, do you think it hurts... I wouldn’t go outside to the bathroom. And I had such a bellyache. I was hungry, but everything went straight through me if you know what I mean! Eventually, I hobbled and hopped down to the tree…how far away did they have to plant it? I was praised highly for my regular canine bodily functioning. Had I known this, I’d have made it to that tree earlier.

Mom cleaned up after me. She never seems to mind. And, it was messy, that’s for sure. I was the only one who had dinner that night. Several times. And, each time, it came right out the other end. I hate to be untidy, but I just didn’t have it in me to clean off. Mom had this blue stuff from the hospital (I mean jail) and it really worked. Actually it wasn’t such a bad place now that I wasn’t there anymore. And she cleaned me off, over and over and over again.

I was truly excited when Daddy and Mommy lifted me up into the SUV – something I’d have never let happen only days ago. But, we’re going home, we’re on our way to Donora, the Home of Champions, like me! Can’t wait! Yippee!

Fooled again…back to the hospital. But I DIDN’T HAVE TO GET OUT OF THE CAR! I was going home.

Dad stopped at PetCo for a bed for me. Mommy and I rode in the back. Just in case I tried to stand, she could catch me…after all, I was still a bit shaky. We were going home, yep, we were!

Navigator on, we headed to the highway and were on our way. Then, I just couldn’t help it, a big yelp came right out of me and then another. It scared me and everyone else. Now my breakfast was shooting out the other end. What could I do? Yelp. That’s about it. Mom cleaned it up again with the blue stuff from the hospital and we continued on our way. Then, oh-oh, there it came again. Yelp!

Well, we finally all figured it out. The tummy turns were making me yelp. And, making Mommy and Daddy clean the car. Dad stopped for a break at a rest stop. So, I thought I’d help by getting in the front seat. Big mistake. I didn’t really fit. That scared me. And, oh, oh, YELP! The results of my yelping were all over the inside of the car – in the latches, on the steering wheel, all over the seat covers, down in the window wells, everywhere. Oh, did I mention that this is Dad’s new car – only four months old?

They helped me YELP my way out of the car so I could relax on the lawn as they took turns cleaning. Mommy even had to change her clothes. There’s always a silver lining – well, maybe – at least we now knew what YELP meant.

Only another 100 miles and we would be home. I was tired and there was very little YELP left in me. At least until we arrived at home. Then it went everywhere again. Everywhere in my yard, my huge, fenced-in yard. My yard…my grass…my life!

That three-leg thing – I forgot about it. Maneuvering through my toileting was not as easy as I thought it would be at home. It’s like a balancing act. But, since we greyhounds are lucky enough to have flexible spines, it’s a little easier for me than most to get situated.

There is a ramp leading from our yard to the back of the church. Did I mention that I live in a church, well, a renovated church? Our business is upstairs and our apartment down. But, for some reason, Daddy has decided that we’re going to forget the apartment and live upstairs. And there’s a gate at the top of my steps. I even tried the other side – but there was a giant chair in front of it – that was my secret escape route.

Then I saw him, my best friend, Omar. He was even purring. You see he can’t meow, he squeaks like a mouse (helpful when hunting, he says, but I’ve not seen a mouse anywhere). His one tooth was shining through his silly smile. I guess he missed me, too.

Thanks for reading. We unfortunately lost our boy from an unrelated spleen issue - not cancer - on December 20, 2008 - exactly one week after we lost my Dad and three weeks before we lost my Mom. We lost Omar in August, 2009.

We take comfort in that they are all running with the wind and eating junk food - healthy and happy - and watching over us.

©SilverCrow Creations, 2008, 2011. All rights reserved.


  1. *Hugs*

    I remember, and I am sure they're watching over you.

  2. What a beautiful story, Annie! You are such a loving Mom!