We are saddened to report that Whistler finished his race against cancer, on July 9, 2015. It’s taken us, Lisa Mercer and Mark Mercer, a while before we could face updating his site. (Mark is writing this.) We want to thank you all who came here to read about him, offer thoughts, prayers, visualizations, love.
Special gratitude forever to those who donated to help us with the costs of treating his cancer. Your gifts definitely helped us extend his life, and extend the quality of his life. The surgery and followup care. Four sessions of chemotherapy with a platinum-based drug. X-Rays, many medications, special harness for support, non-slip treatments in his main parts of the home. Even with the more-affordable veterinary care here in Uruguay, we couldn’t have done all of that without your help. Bless you.
Let’s remember Whistler as the wonderful, loving, fun dog he was.
Whistler’s mortal remains have been donated to the Veterinary College of the University of the Republic of Uruguay (Falcultad de Veterinario). He got his four sessions of chemotherapy there, his chemo drugs were discounted slightly because our lead vet has been on faculty there, so got drug laboratory discounts from the manufacturer. His surgeon is the small-animals surgery expert there. All the staff there were caring, sensitive, and clearly love animals. Even the vets and techs no longer involved in Whistler’s care, would see him during the chemo trips and come over to pet him.
Whissie got back home for months longer than he otherwise would have lived. He got back to the beach several times, which he loved, even though it was too strenuous for him to go often. He got back up from the floor bed to the couch, and then for a couple of weeks, even strong enough to get back up on our bed for cuddles and nighttime comfort. His world expanded back out from “barely up the block” back in January, to 20-30 minute walks of over a kilometer, to many of his old fun places. The empty lots, piles of brush, homes of other dogs, the trees and dumpsters that are the canine “message forums”, walks along the seaside “rambla” even when he wasn’t up to going over the dunes down to the beach.
Never nearly as far as before his illness, where we would often walk all through town or on long beach walks with free-running on them. But back out into the world. With an attitude while walking past the fenced-in barking dogs of, “That’s right, I’m back, what, you never saw a three-legged real greyhound? Deal with it dudes, this is my town!”
But eventually that expanded world started shrinking back down. Just around the block. No longer up on the bed, just up on the lower couch. In the final week, not even that. Just back to the floor bed in the living room. And he just couldn’t get comfortable in any position. Walks were barely up the block, sometimes not even that.
It was time. And he chose the time. We did get our vet team back involved, they did X-rays and found his chest cavity full of liquid, from the spread of the cancer. Medications to hopefully reduce it. In that last day, they did start to work, he felt better, he did a walk up the block. He ate ice cream, meat pate, some of his regular dog food, some special soft dog food, dog biscuit treats, and some of his favorite left-overs (pizza crust!). That night, he wanted to go outside again, seemed ready for a walk. I (Mark) put his new support harness back on, which though he only used for two weeks, he came to love and get excited when we took it out. But he wouldn’t leave the tiny front lawn.
I finally realized, unlike some other times when I had to really coax or half-push him to go down the street, that he didn’t want to walk. He just wanted to be outside with me, under the southern stars, smelling and seeing the place that had been his home, together making one more memory. I talked to him, about all the places we had been, from North Carolina to Colorado to Washington State, back and forth many times, then down here to Uruguay. About his friends, human, dogs, and cats, and he had many here. About how happy Lisa and I were that he was our dog, how much we loved him. About how good our lives were with him here.
We stayed out there about 10 minutes. Then he came inside. Ate some more food and treats. A few minutes later, he wanted to go in the back yard to do his business. He did, he then came bounding back in, full of energy. With some foam at his mouth, us thinking that finally some of the liquid in his lungs or excess acid in his stomach was coming up. Cleaned him up, he seemed fine. He went to his floor bed next to my desk in our living room. He laid down. He made a loud strange noise, lifted his head up, then, under control, laid his head down.
Then he died. As peaceful as it could be. On a day when he finally was feeling less pain and got to enjoy a few favorite things.
We’re heartbroken, we feel all sorts of emotions, we feel cheated by fate, depressed, devastated. But two weeks later, though not over it, not in any way, we’re starting to understand a few things, and come to terms with others.
Whistler was loving, goofy, stubborn, loyal, puppy-like. He was a really good dog. But there’s one thing he never liked – being left alone. Initially he’d really freak out, tear up things, knock over stuff. Later he calmed down but only to the point of barking incessantly. Finally, after we got here to Uruguay, where he had a back yard (tiny, but fenced-in and ours), and a lot of dogs, cats, and people to interact with, he got better about us going out without him for a few hours. But he mostly trained Lisa and me not to leave him alone. We’re mostly homebodies, rather than big event-goers, restaurant-eaters, party people, so that wasn’t too much a sacrifice. But sometimes, it was awkward. Yet, Whistler didn’t always need to be snuggled right up to us. He just wanted us around.
It’s as if he knew that he didn’t have as much time as other greyhound dogs do, so he wanted all the time he had, to be time together with us.
Run free, Whistler. At the Bridge, with your cat little big brother Blackcomb, with your “older sister” you never met, Giselle our first greyhound, with Willow the cat who loves to swat greyhounds but actually likes them. We miss you all. Somehow we’re still with you and you’re still with us.
To our friends and others who read this. Hug your hounds, kiss your kitties. And thank you for your caring and support, in whatever way you did – it truly helped, including the prayers and wishes.
We’ll be putting up some links to dog cancer care, cancer research for both pets and humans who are fighting this plague (as is a friend of ours whose young husband is dealing with a bone-based cancer right now), and to greyhound (and galgo) rescue/adoption groups. Sometime soon. We’re removing our own donation links, and if you want to help, please donate to a cancer or pet assistance group of your choice. Our suggestions for that will be up soon.