Tuesday, April 26, 2011


"We're ready to go!"  Zephyr and Astro in the warm spring grass.
Zephyr has been doing so well the past two weeks that we have been able to go on many nice walks in the forest.  We started out with 30 minute walks and yesterday we were out for 2 1/2 hours.  These pictures are from our walk yesterday.  Zephyr's energy has been great for all our walks.  Zephyr and Astro are staying on their Flexi's during the walks because I'm sure they would turn the forest in to a race track if they were both off leash, and that's still not an option.  Even on the Flexi's sometimes they break out in to play and it's a challenge to  keep them under control.  And, I have to say that most of the time it's Zephyr that instigates the on leash romps.  If it weren't for the shaved arm bands and belly, no one would even be able to tell that anything had happened to Zephyr. :-)

It's been almost eight weeks since Zephyr first got sick, six weeks since he started showing the neurological symptoms and things got really bad, and five weeks since I brought him home from the neurological center.  He is having an awesome recovery from the encephalitis!!  There have been no signs of it for over three weeks.  His coordination, balance and eyesight are all normal.  He's off the phenobarbital and is only taking 5mg of prednisone twice a day, which is a really low dose for him.  His last blood work showed that his white blood cell count was back to normal, about 9,600, so he was set for his next chemotherapy treatment.

On Friday I took Zephyr to Phoenix to see Dr. Knowles for his second chemo treatment and a recheck.  She was super happy with his progress and kept saying how great he looked.  He weighed 85.3 lbs. which is about his normal weight, maybe a little less.  Zephyr was very happy to see everyone, and it was nice for them to be able to see him as his normal happy, goofy self.  In the exam room he kept going up to Dr. Knowles and giving her kisses on the cheek, it was so cute.  We went outside and she was able to watch his gait and see him running around checking everything out.

Zephyr did have his chemotherapy treatment of Lomustine (CCNU).  It ended up not being a lot less than the first 60mg rather than 70mg.  Dr. Knowles wanted to lower it to 50mg but the oncologist recommended against that, so 60mg it was.  He'll start taking an antibiotic tomorrow.  I'm a little worried that he will get sick late this week or this weekend from his WBC count dropping low again.  She said the prednisone helps to raise the WBC count which might help prevent him from getting the fever, etc. again (he wasn't taking prednisone the first time because it had possibly caused some blood in the stool).  Also, I am completely prepared this time with fluids and another antibiotic to give him if he does get the sickies again.

I asked about what type of encephalitis Zephyr has.  My main question was whether he has granulomatous meningoencephalomyelitis (GME), which is a progressive disease that is usually fatal.  She doesn't think he has GME because it usually effects females, is not common in greyhounds, and his response to treatment is not really typical of GME.  She thinks this was an immune mediated (autoimmune) response, which is what she's said from the beginning, and that it probably was a response to something that he came in contact with.  This is good news because GME doesn't usually go away.  She thinks Zephyr has a good chance of not having a re-occurrence, and she's seen this type of encephalitis before.  The scary thing for me is that I don't know what he might have come in contact with that could have caused this.  There are lots of possibilities including, poison, toxin, virus, and who knows what else.  Hopefully, I'm explaining this mostly correct.  From what Dr. Knowles said and what I've read, I've learned that this is something they still don't know a lot about and are still studying.  So, in the end I think I won't ever know for sure what happened to cause the this or exactly what type of encephalitis it is, and that only time will tell if it is completely gone.  That's rather unnerving, but what can I do about it?  Not much, so I will just be ever grateful that Zephyr is still with me and that he is having such a great recovery.

Cruisin' around checkin' out all the new sights and smells.
Our walkies have been really nice, the snow is gone and it's warmed up.  I think this has helped us all feel better and like things are starting to get back to normal.  We've been taking it easy walking on mostly flat ground and not going too far, our longest less than four miles, and not going too fast.  This has given the boys lots of time to investigate and smell around and it's really helped me to relax and get rid of some of the stress.  Yesterday we explored a little and found a few new trails, at least one was a game trail because it headed right to a wire fence where I could see that the animals were crawling under to get past. 

Aahhh, nice cool fresh clean water!
In our exploring we took an old road/trail that ended up leading down to Pumphouse Wash.  It was a really nice secluded spot with a few small pools and lots of trees.

Splish and Splash!
We stayed here awhile, walked around, and the boys played together.  It was really nice to be out and relaxed not having to worry about much.  I've been feeling a little less worried since Zephyr has been doing so well and especially after the great recheck with Dr. Knowles. 

"La, La, La, I'm playing in the water on a nice spring day!"
Astro has been able to get out on some hikes with friends and their dogs the last two weekends.  One was with a few friends and seven other dogs.  All the dogs were able to go off leash and Astro had lots of fun running around.  The real fun started when they found mud puddles.  Unfortunately I was a bad blogger and did not bring the camera, so words will have to do.  Astro loves to lay down and rub his face in the mud and then get all spunky and zoom around.  Zipper, a Pyrenean Shepard, gets her coat soaking wet and then flies around looking like some kind of explosion.  Mouse, a rough coated Dachshund, decided to go swimming in the biggest puddle.  She was just paddling around while everyone else was spinning around.  It was a lot of fun to watch all the dogs.  This weekend we went for a nice walk with Chris and Friday and Linus at Fort Tuthill.  When we were getting the dogs ready Friday went over to my car and was looking and smelling around.  We're pretty sure he was looking for Zephyr, so sweet.  They all got to do some wrestling and to run in the tennis court.  Chris had been working on Drafting with Friday and Linus.  I am thinking we need to hook Astro up to the cart because he pulled me up all the hills on the hike.  As long as Zephyr is feeling well enough for me to feel comfortable leaving him for the day, and as long as it's not too hot, I will be taking Astro to a lure coursing trial on Saturday.  It will be his first trial and I'll just have him do a JC run, but it should be fun.

"Aren't I lookin' Super Fine?"
Yes, you are!  Zephyr's coat did get a less shiny and soft.  He also lost a lot of muscle tone and, of course, hasn't gained a lot of it back because he's been taking it easy.  I think both of those things are normal for what he went through.  They are both already improving though.  The funny thing is that since he has gained weight but doesn't have all the muscle, Zephyr is looking a little, ah hem, rounder in the rear and waist.  I told him not to worry, he just takes after his mom.  ;-)  I actually think it's great, it has always been a struggle to keep weight on this boy. 

When we met with Dr. Knowles I made a comment like, Zephyr can't wait to be able to run in the forest.  She responded with "Maybe in the winter".  Ouch!  I was hoping for maybe later this summer.  I'll have to try asking that question again in a month or so.  They do get to run in the yard though.

I have absolutely no doubt that Zephyr would run full out if I let both of them off.  He would probably end up out of energy, sore, and with a few cuts, which is not an option for him, so we compromise.  To help with the problem of the Flexi's getting tangled up I let Astro off but kept Zephyr on leash. 

This doesn't count as running in the forest does it?

Zig this way.
Astro's got the moves to keep Zephyr moving.
Zag that way.
Resting in the shade. 

A very happy boy coming back from exploring.  And, a very happy mom was waiting for him.
On the way back they had calmed down and I decided to let Zephyr off leash, but kept Astro on.  He explored a little but didn't break out in to the zoomies.  FYI, this doesn't count as running in the forest either.  ;-)


jet said...

He looks great! I hope whatever it was that triggered the encephalitis is a one off and that it never happens again!

Sue said...

Hope he continues to go from strength to strength.

Fab photos.

Song and I send Zephyr and Astro hugs.

Greyhounds CAN Sit said...

It sounds like Zephyr got the lesser of the two evils. It's obviously not common or more would be known about it but what a huge relief for you for him to be coming along so well. It must be extremely long term debilitating for him to not be able to go running for months! But it looks like Zephyr and you are coping very well:)

Lovely photos and I know Astro would be pleased to go for a few hikes with you even if his best buddy wasn't there;)

Oh, and I'm hopefully going to do a post about Rally O and Rally Zoom in the next day or so:)

gyeong said...

Glad to see he is doing much better. looking forward to seeing pics of him running at full speed with Astro again.

houndstooth said...

I'm so glad to see him doing so much better! He looks great and the girls checked and said he looks quite fine to them!

That sounds like a very long time to keep him from running. Poor guy!

IHeartDogs said...

Amazing! Loved all the photos of your boys having a blast.
Hopefully he'll be able to get off leash late summer or fall :)
Continued healing thoughts...

Lauren said...

Hello! I'm so sorry I haven't visited your blog in a while.

It looks like your boys had tons of fun on their outing! I am so happy to see that Zephyr has really progessed!

Granted Wishes Greyhounds + Friends said...

Wonderful news, story, and photos. I'm so happy for you all!

Kini_pella said...

Everyone looks great! Your pictures always look so happy :)

KF-in-Georgia said...

So glad that things are much better for your household.

If a dog runs in the forest, but there's no one there to tell his vet about it...

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Such a relief to see Z doing so well and 2 hour walks!!! Awesome!

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Aragon greyhounds said...

Really great to see him enjoy life again.

KB said...

I just read through everything that has happened to Zephyr. This post was a wonderful one to finish with as I can see how incredibly far Zephyr has come! You've been his tireless advocate and that makes all the difference. I went through a long scary vet problem with one of my dogs that lasted many months this past year... so I know how you feel.

Seeing Zephyr so happy and eager to play in this post made me smile!

IHateToast said...

I didn't see any running in the forest. Anyway, it's winter here in a few weeks. Did the doc specify hemispheres?

I'm glad he is on the mend. I missed a large chunk of his story (chaos, life, a big "mark all as read" and start over). I'm happy that when I got back, he was getting better and looking mighty fiiiiine.