Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A tribute to Mulder

Waldo continues at an even level.  After his vet visit in early May, once he started his new medications, he began eating again and regained much of his joie de vivre.  At first, not knowing what he would feel like eating, I would serve him the appetizer plate at mealtimes:  a little canned dog food, a little protein, some vegetables, and a spoonful or two of some kind of starch.  He was too weak to stand by his bowl and eat, so I would put everything on a sandwich plate and hold the plate for him so he could eat sitting or lying down.  After a few days, he graduated to eating from his bowl if I held it, and then a few days later, to eating on his own from the bowl at his raised feeder.  He is still very thin, which is part of his kidney disease, and it's more difficult than it used to be for him to stand up by himself, especially since he likes to nap on the cool tile floor.  He has a special "I've fallen and I can't get up!" bark when he wants me to come and help him up.  But he is living a happy life and enjoys being spoiled.

Today, instead continuing the stories of my foster dogs, I want to pay tribute to my friend Pat's greyhound Mulder, who crossed over the Rainbow Bridge on Sunday, May 27, 2012.  Mulder was a lovely male brindle greyhound, just one week short of turning 12 years old - his birthday is June 3.  He was a fine figure of a greyhound, tall and shapely, with a tail that hurt like a whip when he wagged it and smacked you across the legs.

Mulder began his life as a racing greyhound, as almost all greyhounds did at that time.  Although he ran 30 races, he was a little too high-strung to be a successful racer and his owners decided to retire him from racing and allowed Greyhounds Only to find him a home where he could live out his life in comfort.  Pat adopted Mulder from GO when he was two years old.  I don't know what made her decide to adopt a greyhound, since she had owned little dogs and cats before Mulder.  I think originally Pat was planning to adopt a Scully as a partner to Mulder.

Most people have a perception that greyhounds are high energy and need a lot of exercise, but shortly after adopting Muldie, Pat learned the truth of the slogan "adopt a greyhound, lose your couch" when Mulder claimed the living room sofa as his own special place.  The worst days of the month for Mulder were the two days after he had his flea and tick treatment in the summer.  The treatment solution is oily, and greyhounds have very little hair, so for the first couple of days after his treatment, Mulder wasn't allowed up on the couch, until Pat wiped off the remaining liquid and Mulder's life returned to normal.  Until then, it was pure torture to be separated from his beloved couch.

In truth, Muldie WAS sort of high-strung:  riding in the car made him nervous, new people and new experiences made him nervous, even the kitchen floor made him nervous.  After Mulder had lived with her for a couple of years, Pat decided to try adopting another rescue greyhound as company for him, thinking it would help Mulder settle down.  Along came Cleo, a beautiful black female greyhound, a few years older than Mulder.  Cleo was more easy-going than Mulder, but she had her quirks too, most notably the ability to stamp her feet when she wanted something.  Not long after Cleo joined the family, Pat learned about another female greyhound named Candy, about the same age as Cleo, that had been returned to Greyhounds Only.  In addition to a bent nose and stomach issues that required her to have a special diet, Candy also had an attitude problem that made her a difficult placement.  But Pat was willing to take on Candy and her special needs, so Candy came to live with them as well, and the pack was complete.  In the racing category, Candy was the pack champion, with over 120 races under her belt, er, collar.

Cleo & Mulder
By this time, Mulder was often referred to as The Baby Boy.  We teased Pat that Mulder was a surrogate for her married son Larry, who lives a few hours south.  It was evident that Muldie had chosen the exact right home for himself, with an easy-going mom who was happy to cater to his every wish as well as the whims of his adoptive sisters.  Pat maintains that Mulder wasn't spoiled, merely indulged.  Her house had become known as the Lazy Grey Ranch, and her large living room looked like a doggie flophouse, with multiple dog beds of various shapes and sizes spread across the floor.

For several years, Mulder lived a calm happy life, especially after Pat retired from teaching and could spend more time at home with him and the girls.  When Pat would go upstairs to sew, or down to the basement to work on her stained glass, the three greyhounds would stand by the stairs and howl in chorus, wanting her to come and be with them (Candy was always the instigator).

When he was around seven or eight years old, Pat noticed a crusty dry patch on Muldie's nose.  On their next vet visit, she pointed out the spot to the vet, who thought they'd better check it out.  The diagnosis came back as lupus, a serious autoimmune disease.  The good news was that Muldie had the type that responded well to steroids to help suppress the immune system response.

The two grey girls had their health problems during these years as well.  Cleo suffered first a stroke, and then a slipped disk in her neck that required emergency surgery.  Thanks to a wonderful veterinary surgeon, Cleo not only walked again but lived several more years.  A short time later, Candy began to limp and was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a bone cancer common in greyhounds, and underwent amputation of the affected leg.  When the cancer recurred, Pat had to let her go to the Rainbow Bridge.  Shortly after losing Candy, Cleo was also diagnosed with osteosarcoma, but because of the stroke and her previous spinal surgery, amputation was not an option for her, and Pat lost Cleo in 2010.

After living with two sick dogs for a couple of years and then losing both canine companions, Mulder became depressed, so Pat once again checked in with Greyhounds Only to see about a possible friend for him.  A black female greyhound name Sydney had recently been returned to them after committing cat-icide.  Although her former adoptive family loved her, it was impossible to keep her separated from their cats.  Syd was shy and skittish and needed a quiet home and a patient human to help her overcome her anxieties.  The Lazy Grey Ranch was just the ticket.  Syd has blossomed under Pat's loving care.

Around the same time, Pat learned that Mulder was in the early stages of liver failure.  Liver disease is another auto-immune disease, so it may have been related to his lupus.

During his last few months, Muldie grew very thin.  Like Waldo's kidney failure, liver failure in dogs is a wasting disease, and Mulder exhibited many of the same symptoms regarding loss of appetite, weight loss, and increased weakness.  As Mulder's illness progressed, he became very fussy about his food.  Pat never knew what he would feel like eating, so she too began to serve him the appetizer plate (which is known as the dim sum plate at the Lazy Grey Ranch).

After their last vet visit, Pat knew that Mulder was in the end stages of liver failure and wouldn't be with her much longer.  This past Sunday morning, she called to say that Muldie hadn't eaten in over 24 hours and was too weak to stand, and that today was the day.  Gail, Andie and I spent the morning with Pat and the greys, and then helped her get Mulder to the emergency veterinary clinic, where she stayed with him until he was safely on his way to the Bridge.

So that is the life story of our dear friend Mulder.  Pat and Syd are adjusting to life with a Mulder-shaped hole in it.  On Memorial Day, Sydney came to visit for the first time with her mom and did very well with Luke and Waldo; she may grow to like this only-dog thing.  For now.  Until another greyhound needs the two of them, either as foster or forever family.


  1. Mulder was a very sweet boy; I knew him for a few weeks as Governor, my foster child. I have very fond memories of him learning to go up and down stairs, rides in the car (he wasn't very thrilled about those). and how he'd put his head on my lap while I was at the computer. A very, very good little guy. Run free, buddy.

    1. Mulder was the sweetest big guy puppy who could smell/sense a dog treat or good tasting people food a mile away. It seems so strange to not get his personal greeting when I go to Pat's house. I know he is over the bridge having a great reunion with his sisters and he knows his other sister Sydney will take good care of his mom!