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+.

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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!

We’re going to the seaside, Dad!

Seashore. Now. Whether you think I’m ready or not! – that was Whistler’s attitude a couple of hours ago. If you’ve been following along this blog, or our social media shares at Mark or Lisa’s Facebook or Google+ sites, you’ll know that Whistler has started walking (hopping) all over the immediate neighborhood again. But still, only within about a 1-to-2 block radius. Which also is within Mark’s “I can pretty much carry this 30kg/75 pound dog back home… I think” just in case.

A couple of days ago, he wanted to go all the way to the corner of the big street, down the long block to the main road. We shared those pictures on Facebook, and wow was he grinning! Here’s one of them:

3-legged greyhound dog looking at camera, with trees and grass and a dirt road behind him
Whistler at the wooded area near the bus stop – his first long walk post-surgery

Last night, he did a full round-the-block fast hop.

But today? Went up the street, then left towards the main road, then absolutely insisted on crossing it to the triangular undeveloped lot that has been one of his favorite “business places” but has been out of reach for a few weeks before the surgery, and of course, since. Then, instead of going back – pulled Mark over to the park across the street and further down. Think we were done? No! At the end of the park, already 2 blocks from the house the shortest way back (4 blocks walked already), he insisted on going right, the block and half further to the rambla, the seaside road!

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Why did the greyhound cross the road? To see the sea! Continue reading We’re going to the seaside, Dad!

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

Taking it easy on Day 2 at home

We learned from yesterday. Sort of. It was such a gorgeous, sunny, cool summer day, that when Mark came back from errands, and Whistler hopped up to greet him, we tried going out in the front. Whissie got “stuck” again, even though he’s hopping around the house and our enclosed back yard more-or-less fine. This time, though, Mark was supporting him with a big half-folded towel under his chest to hold him up. And we didn’t leave the tiny front yard to go down the street, once it was clear that he was too spooked to go walking in the “real outdoors” rather than in a safe backyard.

So he decided this was a better idea for enjoying the great outdoors instead:

Greyhound with amputated right front leg, in blue compression bandage, napping on his left side on the grass in a small enclosed yard.
Taking a nap outdoors

That’s our tiny backyard. Continue reading Taking it easy on Day 2 at home

First Day Home

Whistler is back home!

Dra. Mariana Amoedo, his friend for a long time from boarding, who is the team lead who put together the surgical team and is in charge of his recovery, brought him home this morning about 11am. He hopped right out of her little VW, and insisted on taking a little walk with Mariana and Mark up the street to do some business and “leave his messages” before coming into the house, so happy to see Lisa. Got right onto his dog bed and stayed down while all hanging out together, then wanted some food.

Here he is in his jumbo crate, enjoying a yummy chewy treat.

Enjoying a chewy treat in his crate.
Enjoying a chewy treat in his crate.

It’s the kind with some nutrition in it. (Some.) Mark picked it up at the local veterinarian mutualista Veterinaria SAV, his regular vet clinic, when he got Whistler’s Tramadol painkillers.

He’s back. He can get around. But it’s not at all easy, and we have to be careful that he doesn’t try to overdo it. More importantly, we have to be careful we don’t think he’s better than he already is. We had a scare on that already.  Continue reading First Day Home

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

Sat Jan 17 AM update – Whistler up and around on 3 legs

Whistler is still with our lead vet, Dra. Mariana Amoedo, and is doing well. She just called us to say he’s already walking around on 3 legs, and even was able to eat his food from a bowl on the floor – having the right balance to do that.

Of course, it’s not all perfect. When she checked on him middle of the night, “It was like watching a horror movie.” Continue reading Sat Jan 17 AM update – Whistler up and around on 3 legs

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 google.com/+MarkMercer and google.com/LisaMercer, 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!