Thanks all who helped and hoped for Whistler. RIP 2007-2015

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.

Grinning greyhound dog with moutain village behind him and big banner that says Bacon
Whistler at Keystone (Colorado) BaconFest 2011.

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.

Whistler makes it back to the beach!

Whistler insists on not only going to the rambla (shoreline road), but using “3-paw drive” pulls Mark down to the dune walk onto the beach.  One week ago – Feb 3, 2015. It’s been busy so we’re just now posting it. Still pix from it are already on Facebook and G+.


If that link doesn’t work on your system, here’s the same on YouTube:

He had a great time heading back to his favorite places.

More of Whistler on the beach

And on YouTube:

It’s possible we overdid it. A few days later, he’s been limping with inflamed rear paws. His doc checked him today and doesn’t think it’s due to the cancer, but just a joint pull and anxiety. So mostly bed-rest for a few days until his first chemotherapy treatment late this week, at the Universidad de la República veterinary school in Montevideo.

Thank you to all who’ve sent good wishes and who’ve helped us afford his treatment. Bless you!

Whistler off on another walk – Day 8 post-op

And he’s off! Whistler wanted, and got, a second walk on his first day without bandages.

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Continue reading Whistler off on another walk – Day 8 post-op

Whistler recovering – going outdoors already at the vet

He’s coming home tomorrow, Monday January 16, 2015. But he’s already up and around, walking (hopping) with his Uruguayan celeste colored compression bandage. Enjoying the great outdoors in the back yard of Dra. Amoedo’s clinic and pet hotel. along with the resident ducks.

red brindle greyhound dog with amputated right front leg, in a blue compression bandage, outside on clear day, on grass near trees, with 2 ducks nearby.
Whistler recovering outside at the veterinarian’s clinic and pet hotel.

Mariana says he can come home tomorrow. Just one more night of monitoring him with care nearby, one more day of intravenous antibiotics. Then tomorrow a week of oral antibiotics and pain medication, here at home. He’s proven that he can get around ok.

In two weeks the stitches come out, then after a week or two more of healing, the chemotherapy has to start. Continue reading Whistler recovering – going outdoors already at the vet

Whistler on his way to surgery

Greyhound dog laying on dog bed on floor, with swollen right shoulder visible from the osteosarcoma growth
Whistler 3 days before surgery.

Quick update – our lead vet picked up Whistler about a half hour ago, shortly before noon here in Uruguay. He was thrilled to see her, as he loves being at her “pet hotel” near Atlántida.  At 2pm (11am US/Canada Eastern Time, 5pm UTC/GMT), she and her team of specialists from the Universidad de la República will begin the amputation procedure. We’ll try to keep people posted. Follow Mark and Lisa’s personal Twitter accounts @mcmxs and @lisamarimer, our Google+ public newfeeds and, where we’ll likely be making more frequent updates. Also possibly at our Facebook pages, for Mark and for Lisa.

Thank you all for your interest and concern, messages of support, and big hugs to those who’ve already helped with a donation towards Whistler’s care!

A US Greyhound in Uruguay – fighting cancer

Welcome to Whistler’s assistance and fundraising site. Some of you may know of our greyt doggie Whistler the greyhound, and his many travels – all across the USA, from North Carolina to Washington State in the Pacific Northwest, then to the Colorado Rockies – and in 2012, all the way to Uruguay in South America! Here, he’s called a galgo, but the Galgo Español is actually a different breed of dog than the true “American Greyhound” (or English or Irish Greyhound) – so he’s a Galgo Estadounidense (A USA-ian Galgo – because after all, Uruguay is in America too!)

Now he has the biggest challenge of his life – deadly bone cancer that came on with serious limping only this past October. Followed by pain, and fast-advancing loss of function of his now-ruined right shoulder and leg. The right shoulder and leg always was a “hot spot” for him, and we suspect that he may have had an early training injury. Old injuries can become new injuries, and microfractures in bones can lead to cancer when mis-coded DNA causes bad cells instead of good bone to grow. By late December, despite a 3-week period where moderate pain meds had him using the leg again and walking to the beach, the devastating debilitation of this deadly disease struck back – with visible growths, loss of muscle and nerve capabilities, and constant pain. To the point where on January 6, Mark had to carry him home the last block – all 32 kilos (75 pounds) of hurting dog.

We felt we had to put him down the next day, or at most a few days later. But we decided, in consultation with local vets, to give him one more chance. We upped his pain medication significantly, adding a mix of different-mechanism drugs.

Whistler came back! For a few days, he almost was using the leg again, though it was clear that he shouldn’t bear weight on it. What’s more important is his energy, personality (goofy, loving, and stubborn) came back, his eagerness to walk (hop) one or three or 5 blocks further before allowing us to head home (he can plant himself firm to the ground unmovable even with only 3 working legs!) – all back. Our dog was still there, if we could take away the pain.

After much reflection, and the dog himself showing us that with the pain gone, he can hop around on 3 legs like a champion and still be his goofy lovable self, we’ve decided to give him a shot at the big challenge – another year of life, hopefully, if we have the cancerous leg amputated and then get him the right chemotherapy to slow down recurrence and metastasis.

We don’t like to do the “ask for donations” bit, but we’ll need help in order to give him his best chance. That’s why we’re hoping that friends, lovers of greyhounds and other dogs, and anyone who’s attuned to survivors of cancer whether canine, feline, or human, may want to help us out with a secure donation via PayPal.

Please help us help Whistler win!

Your donation is secured by PayPal – you can use your existing PayPal account or simply use your credit or debit card through their checkout system. Continue reading A US Greyhound in Uruguay – fighting cancer