In summer 2010, I went to my local Battersea Dog & Cat Home in search of a cat-friendly hound.
And then I saw it.
A single poster grabbed my attention.
The Retired Greyhound Trust declaring the breed ‘Gentle. Affectionate. Likes a cuddle’.
And the clincher for someone in full-time work? ‘Only two 20-minute walks a day’!
Once home, I cracked my laptop open and found my nearest branch. Before long I’d completed their adoption form, had a lengthy chat with one of the team, was home-checked, and then invited to meet the hounds. The only caveat was to understand that most greyhounds were not cat-workable, but they were confident they could help me find ‘the one’.
Even with such a restriction, I despaired to know which greyhound to adopt. They were all lovely. After a couple of false starts, I reserved one only to discover that her foster family wanted to adopt her!
Not to worry, the right hound for me would surely come.
And then she did.
A couple of nights later, Gortkelly Katie – newly arrived, just shy of two – was added to the Branch website. I called to see her the following day.
It was love at first sight.
As she emerged from her kennel, she placed her front paws on my forearm (she never did this to anyone else in all our years together). I blurted out, “You’re gorgeous.” We had a ‘test walk’ and my certainty grew. The kennel hand said: “That dog’s bonded with you.” My heart swelled, but Katie still needed to pass the all-important cat test. However, I made lots of noise about reserving her pending said cat test. The little blue beauty passed with flying colours!
What can I say about my beloved Katie – KK as she was known?
Well, ‘Gentle. Affectionate. Likes a cuddle.’ is right up there for the ‘Understatement of the Century’ award. Katie was as beautiful inside as on the outside. Not once in nine and a half years did she show anything other than a most loving, accepting, tolerant, friendly, easy-going nature. She had zero-chase instinct, no destructive or threatening behaviours. All comers, young, old, healthy, sick, human, or animal, were perfectly safe around her. She was funny: ‘singing’ when I returned home; wanting a lift into the car for journeys; air-snapping for playtime; schnozzling me for attention; roaching at any opportunity; stealing teddy bears; and making it quite clear she was up for food & treats no matter the hour of day or night.
She was a joy.
And a lifesaver. Donating ten times to the Pet Blood Bank!
Yet, she experienced both pain and suffering.
A horrific attack by another dog necessitated emergency surgery.
Then in early 2018, as she bounded upstairs, she uttered the blood-curdling greyhound scream of death.
My blood like ice, I attended her. Her right hind-leg couldn’t weight-bear. Becoming a ‘human stretcher’ I rescued her from the stairwell and took her to the vet. Four days, several scans, blood and tissue biopsies later, Katie’s leg was sacrificed to save her life. A soft tissue sarcoma was the culprit behind the broken leg and that banshee cry.
When our newly created tri-pawd came home, the first weeks saw me or my partner sleeping downstairs with Katie to ensure the round-the-clock care she needed. This wasn’t just about meds or holding a sling to support her when she moved, but about keeping her safe and comforted. It was about rejoicing when she was strong enough to jump up on the sofa for cuddles, or seeing her first roach, made more difficult when you’ve lost the ballast of a hind leg!
And when swelling from surgery had gone, Katie began a year of chemotherapy.
Things changed by necessity. No longer able to play games that involved rising on her hind legs – we took our lead from Katie in terms of what was possible. If there were stairs we carried her; instead of long walks, we’d take shorter ones; and just as we did beforehand, whether dining at a pub, on holiday or just having a day out, as long as the venue was dog-friendly, Katie came too.
At night, she stayed close by. Just in case.
Always a star attraction, Katie’s pulling power was undiminished by tri-pawd status. If anything, it brought more adoring fans her way! Walking with her was akin to accompanying a celebrity meeting her public. How many times did people come up to ask if they could speak to her; stroke her; give her a treat; or tell her how beautiful or brave she was; that she was ‘doing so well’? We’d be congratulated on being ‘so good with her’, ‘of giving her a chance’. But how could you do otherwise. You couldn’t help but love Katie. She deserved every chance.
When she got the all-clear from cancer? Happy, happy day!
Out walking this April 3rd, Katie was tired. Barely five minutes from home she was panting, unable to weight-bear. I carried her home and phoned our vet. Lockdown procedures meant Facetime consultations and home observations before the physical examination that revealed the cancer was back. Next morning, scarcely 24-hours later, the canine love of our lives passed gently away.
We were devastated.
But welcoming Katie into our lives was simply the best day’s work we’ve ever done.
We learned of Katie's story from a peer support group called Hounds That Hop. Katie's owner, Piper-Anna, was kind enough to share Katie's story to not only help promote Hounds that Hop, but to also let others aware that they are not alone if any issues were to arise with their greyhounds.
Our recommendation, join the group and speak to some of the members, even if you don't yet have a greyhound.