A Dog’s Tale by Janine M. Donoho

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Kartouche’ as Nina Sophia’s Manny

Not all hiatus are planned. In this case, mine has its roots in a dog’s tale. You see, my sweet 5-year-old greyt began seizing in June–at night between 2 and 6 am. We’ve belonged to each other since his puppyhood when he was an underweight 5 pounder at 9 weeks.

Kartouche’ arrived via a Colorado rancher who uses his hounds to run coyotes. Greyts love to course, and thus chase coyotes for the sheer pleasure of the act. Yet when they corner a wild trickster, it’s all tooth and nail. A greyhound might not return from such battles. They’re thin-skinned, lightly furred and lean. Think lovers and runners, not gladiators. They’re also rocket scientists among canines. When his rancher tells the wounded greyhound to go after the next coyote pack, the greyt politely says, “No thanks. You go this time.” Then the rancher might shoot the useless hound. Thus even though Kartoucheʹ came from different stock than my previous ex-track greyhounds, I consider him a rescue, too.

3 Dog Night by the Stove

3 Dog Night by the Stove

When Kartoucheʹ started seizing, I stopped sleeping. These aren’t dainty petit mals, mind you, but messy, dangerous grand mals that he leads into with an attempt to outrun them–at 45 mph. That’s what’s known as his aura stage, precursor to the tonic-clonic stage. This is a dog friendly house, but walls and furniture prove deadly to a greyhound running blind before he ends in scary collapse. Yes, I’m a biologist, but Kartoucheʹ is one of my beloved hounds. Seizures scare me–each one could be his end. As his human, it’s my job to keep him safe.

Despite living in extremely rural Washington State, we’re fortunate to have a remarkable and compassionate vet. She started Kartoucheʹ on a drug regime, but he continued to experience tonic-clonic clusters every two weeks. So we took her advice and visited the eminent WSU Veterinary Hospital in Pullman–5 hours away. We discovered another great team of vets there, thus expanding our canine health squad to four, all of whom communicate freely. Even so, it’s taken until now to find the right balance of drugs to keep Kartoucheʹ from damaging himself further.

The good news? He’s been tonic-clonic free for 4 weeks now. He still has nocturnal moments that I call ‘flight responses’,

Snow pack

Snow pack

when he struggles to his feet and takes a few steps before regaining consciousness, then returning to bed. While I still respond in PTSD fashion with flashlight and pounding heart, this signifies a vast and positive change from where we started seven months ago. What it also means? My creativity and energy have returned.

In macro terms, let me leave you with a few life lesson reminders. All-nighters ruin your health and sleep really is essential. Stamina only takes you so far. Eat well and exercise, no matter what. Go anywhere and do anything within your means for those you love. Deep creativity requires rest and peace of mind.

So welcome to my year of the hounds. Now we’re off to enjoy a snow hike–full pack press. Shout out to MuttLuks, YakTrax and other winter gear. Happy New Year!

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Soundings, Water Elemental

LaunchFebruary 27th, 2015
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