About Dusty and me (Part 2)

When a racing greyhound suffers an injury, like Barts Moondust did in a race in Miami last August, her handlers generally drop her into a kennel for a couple of days to see if the injury heals on its own. If it doesn't, the owner retires the dog and in most cases leaves it up to the handlers to dispose of her.

Dusty in August 2016
Dusty at Friends of Greyhounds, August 2016
Her injury was really bad -- obviously enough that her owner gave up on her immediately. I don't know the chain of events between Aug. 13, when she hobbled through her last race, and Aug. 15, when a Friends of Greyhounds blog post says she landed in the FOG kennel in Sunrise, FL.

I had been volunteering at FOG for just a few weeks at that point. I reported for duty one day after Aug. 15, and Michelle pointed out the new arrival -- a young, gorgeous shiny black dog in the end kennel with a blue soft cast covering the lower part of her right hind leg past the hock and down to her toes. Michelle told me she had just come out of surgery and that the wound was pretty badly infected.

I approached her to say hello, and she immediately was with the bobbing head and whirling tail in her excitement to greet a visitor -- a move she has to this day. I remarked to Michelle how surprising it was that she seemed so happy even with the bad injury.

I got to know Dusty pretty well over the next few weeks. Michelle was instructed by Dusty's orthopedic surgeon, Robin Holtsinger of South Florida Veterinary Surgery in Deerfield Beach, to change the dressing every other day because it would get foul pretty quickly from the bleeding infection. So I started showing up at FOG every other day to do the noon turnouts and then help Michelle with Dusty, who was getting around pretty efficiently on three legs.

My job was to pet and coddle the poor girl to distract her so Michelle could more easily deal with the bad leg. It was a great job for me. But Michelle had a tough time with it -- she would catch the foul smell and the nasty sight every time she pulled the old dressing off. And it was worrying her that the leg was making a nasty crackling sound every time Michelle would move it. Michelle said a couple of times that she was afraid the poor dog was going to lose that leg.

Dusty in her new home
Dusty in her new home Nov. 10, 2016
(the kennel disappeared a couple days later)
But persistence paid off. The bleeding eventually stopped, the wound started getting noticeably smaller, and Dusty saw Dr. Holtsinger for an evaluation probably in late September or early October. The doctor gave the good news that the injury was healed and that Michelle was hearing the stiff joint crackling trying to loosen up. She prescribed slow leash walks to get Dusty used to walking four-legged again and loosen up the joint.

I happily volunteered for that job. I love getting those dogs out on leash for some one-on-one bonding. So I did that three or four days a week for a couple or three weeks with Dusty.

Back up for a second: I had been a cat owner for a couple of decades, but had lost one of my all-time favorites, Jolie, in March 2015. I decided to go pet-less for a time, but all the work with the dogs recently had gotten me thinking that it was time to get another pet in my home.

In early November, I visited a couple of local animal shelters to do some feline window-shopping. I saw a couple of cool cats, but I'll be damned if I couldn't get my mind off that black dog at the FOG kennel. The one day when I was there, Jerry popped his head into the kennel and told Michelle he had just talked to someone who might want to come look at Dusty. When he said that, I knew I had to shit or get off the pot.

So I went home and thought about it, and sent Michelle a text to feel her out about "bringing one of those dogs home." She had no objection. When I told her a couple of days later that I was serious about bring Dusty home, she thought I was talking about a foster situation.

Dusty and me
Dusty and me, December 2016
(by Larry Warsh Photography)
Michelle and I loaded Dusty into the back of my car Nov. 10. Dusty and I spent a couple of days at home feeling each other out, and I told Michelle less than a week later that this dog was staying right where she was. I filled out the paperwork and officially adopted her Nov. 15.

It was the first time I've been a dog owner since Smedley, my Shetland Sheepdog, died in December 1990. But both Dusty and I have taken to it like it's second nature. We're both living the good life.

It didn't take too long for Dusty to work out the kinks in her leg. In the beginning, she would lift the bad leg and go three-legged if I tried to walk too fast. So I would force myself to slow down to get the fourth leg moving again. But that only lasted two or three weeks. By the time I took her to visit new grandparents in Largo, FL for Christmas, she was naturally four-legged once again.

She still will favor it now and again -- when she's tired after a good workout chasing tennis balls at the dog park, or in her first couple of steps after she wakes from a nap, particularly in cold weather. I give her a joint-health supplement with her meals hoping that will help ease the inevitable arthritis pain when she gets older.

But the most important thing is that Dusty is living one hell of a life now. She eats well, she plays well, she sleeps well, she loves well. She's become quite the spoiled princess, and she and I both love it that way. Turns out that injury was a really good break for her -- it allowed her to put that nasty racing life behind her and get into a good loving home at a really young age. That's something that doesn't happen for a lot of dogs like her.


  1. Love your blog and stories Thank you

    1. Thank you for reading. Always nice to know someone is out there on the other end.


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