Wednesday, May 14, 2008

How King the Valiant became a tripod

Yesterday I mentioned our little King....although he is our daughter Nikki's dog, King has lived with us off and on throughout his three years of life. He first came to stay with us in October of 2005 when Nikki lost her roommate and had to find somewhere for King to live or give him up. For the price of dogfood, we said he could come live with us out here.

Murphy and Indie were our only other dogs at the time and they had been boundary trained and seldom left the yard and were never outside without a human with them....we began to train King but didn't realize that he was part Greyhound which translates to "I chase anything that goes faster than 4 miles per hour; I can't help it, its genetic". The tractors that pass our house several times each day became a game of chase for King.

Keeping King close was not too much of an issue and we thought we'd gotten him trained out of the chase game until 45 seconds of distraction brought disaster. David and the dogs were all outside working for most of that particular morning; when David came back into to re-fill his iced tea, he gave the "stay" command to the dogs who sat on the back stoop. King sat right beside his hero Murphy.....until he heard the tractor coming down the road and gave chase.

David was heading out the back door where we could still see our two lads when we suddenly heard a dog scream - if you've ever heard the sound of a dog who has been hit by a vehicle you need no further description - the labs took off around the side of the house with David following the time I got through the house and out the front door, I could see King being literally supported by Murphy and Indie as he tried to get back across the culvert and to me.

King, whose front leg dangled useless from his chest, would take a step and fall to the ground; Murphy and Indie would stop and then bend down to support him as he stood back up pressing their shoulders to King's sides each step of the way. I yelled for them to stay but King's determination to reach me was greater than the sound of my command and the boys kept coming with him. I just knew that one or all of them would find their way into the six foot deep ditch that the culvert bridge covered as they started across the concrete shoulder to shoulder with King falling down with every step. Somehow, the three of them made it across and to me where I had run and fallen to my own knees to grab King to check out his injuries.

Each time we tried to move King to get him into a vehicle for the race to the Vet, he screamed again....finally, I sent Dallas inside to call our country vet who miraculously still makes housecalls....the vet came and gave our King a shot of morphine and then he and David got him into the truck.

That little greyhound mix became our King the Valiant during the next few months - he had fractured one front leg and had severe nerve damage in the one that had dangled uselessly during his long trip back to me along with countless abrarsions and cuts needing to be sewn up...weeks of using a sling to help him outside to do his business and months of trying to save that leg with trips to the beach to swim and massages to hopefully resurrect the nerves were fruitless efforts and we began to face the fact that he would be better off without it. And when he injured that foot and began to try to follow natures instinct and remove it himself, we knew we had no choice.

I still occassionally wake up from dreams of that day...but in all the horribleness of the experience there is one thing I remember with a great deal of awe and with a smile...the sight of our boys, Murphy and Indie, rescuing their fallen comrade - never leaving his side, supporting him as he tried his hardest to walk on a fractured leg, seeing him safely across a bridge that really isn't wide enough to support two dogs across at once let alone three of them.

King doesn't miss that leg at all; he still runs like the greyhounds he is related to only now he chases our new girl, Callie, in a safely fenced in back yard. And he still is on guard against strangers who approach our house and who are surprised to suddenly realize that he only has three legs......

King, shortly after his accident - the front leg is the one he lost

King today!

P.S. we've learned since then that a greyhound, whether full blooded or a mutt should never be off leash or outside of a fenced in safe area....they are bred to chase and a greyhound running free is a disaster waiting to happen....

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