I didn’t want to write this post. Or more accurately, I didn’t want to have to ever write this post. I am sad to share that Frugal Hound died unexpectedly last week. We are grieving and still reeling from how quickly she left us, but I felt it was important to let all of you know about her passing since she was such an integral part of Frugalwoods and of our family.
The Blessing And The Curse Of A Sudden Death
Last Monday, Mr. Frugalwoods and I were awakened early in the morning to the sound of things being knocked over downstairs. We rushed down to find Frugal Hound struggling across the floor, without the use of her hind legs. She’d had a stroke or seizure that rendered her mostly paralyzed. We laid her down on her bed and tried to get her to relax.
Her breathing was labored and it was soon clear that she’d lost control of her body and its functions. Our wonderful neighbor came over early in the morning to watch Babywoods so that Mr. FW and I could rush Frugal Hound to the vet together. Our vet confirmed that she’d had a neurological episode and was no longer with us cognitively. A few months ago, Frugal Hound had a minor version of this stroke/seizure, which left her only partially paralyzed and only for about an hour. We took her to the vet immediately after this initial episode and they ran blood work, did testing, and couldn’t find anything wrong with her. Frugal Hound recovered quickly that first time and was back to her old self, so we assumed she was fine, but clearly, something sinister was at work in her brain.
We made the painful decision to have her put down as she was unable to stand, control her bodily functions, eat, drink, or respond to any stimuli. Her life had ended. We hated how short and violent her final few hours were, but at the same time, we are comforted by the knowledge that she didn’t suffer for a long period of time. Just the night before, she’d happily played with her toys, eaten a full dinner, taken a walk, and snuggled up next to the woodstove. She was, in other words, living her best life right up until the end. We’re grateful she didn’t have to endure a lengthy, protracted or painful illness, even though the sudden nature of her death hit us hard.
Mr. FW and I keep recounting her final hours to each other and questioning our actions and if we could’ve done anything else to make her happier or more comfortable. On one hand, we both wish we could’ve given Frugal Hound a final day of fun–a day of eating roast chicken (her favorite) and walks and snuggles and a slow, leisurely goodbye. But in the same breath we know that, in many ways, this was a better end for her. Frugal Hound hated car rides, was terrified of new situations, and really preferred not to leave the house except for walks. If we’d had to drive her back and forth to the vet’s office for weeks or months for treatments or tests, she would’ve been miserable. Her annual car ride to the vet was traumatic enough; I can’t imagine trying to cart her back and forth on a more regular basis. That dog did NOT like the car and the vet’s office even less. Coaxing her to merely step onto the scale at the vet caused her to tremble in fear. Knowing this about her, the swift and sudden nature of her death was certainly less traumatic for her. This brings us some comfort as we grapple with how quickly we lost her.
Remembering Frugal Hound
Frugal Hound–whose real name was Gracie–was our beloved eight-year-old greyhound. We adopted her in 2012 after she retired from the greyhound race track and was rescued and rehabilitated by a wonderful greyhound adoption agency, Greyhound Options. When we lived in the city, Frugal Hound delighted in our walks around the neighborhood and was a known lover of sniffing other dogs. A quiet animal, she never barked, rarely roo-ed, and only occasionally grunted when she settled into just the right position on her doggie bed.
Frugal Hound was an illustration of our commitment to spend on our priorities. It’s certainly more frugal not to have pets, but we chose to have Frugal Hound as part of our lives because of the great happiness she brought to us. Spending on things that deliver long lasting happiness is in alignment with our mission to live luxuriously frugal lives.
Miserliness doesn’t enter into our equation and our care of Frugal Hound was testament to that. Your version of frugality will enshrine different priorities than ours, but the overarching key is to identify the things that matter most to you–and that bring you the deepest happiness–and to spend only on those things. Letting go of the unnecessary morass of spending frees you up to spend on what matters.
Frugal Hound: Paragon Of The Joys Of Simple Living
In many ways, Frugal Hound epitomized the ethos of simple living that I espouse. She was a profoundly content animal who didn’t need much in order to be happy. Her needs were few, her wants even fewer, and she never did anything she didn’t want to do… which is probably why we failed to ever teach her any tricks. She couldn’t be bothered.
She would halfheartedly give us a high-five before we set her bowl of food down, but even that was done with her characteristic laziness and imprecise execution. So zen-like was Frugal Hound that Mr. Frugalwoods and I often referenced her as our shining example of what it means to live the good life every single day. That dog was lazy, she knew it, and she did not care.
Frugal Hound was our in-house zen master because she was wholly unconcerned with anything beyond her control. She took life as it came and didn’t waste time stressing out over what might be or what might not be. Life simply was for her. And while I’m not advocating for her extreme brand of laziness, there are many lessons I derived from her on the importance of enjoying each day and not giving into stress over the future or regret over the past.
Frugal Hound’s life started out pretty rough as a racing greyhound, and when we first adopted her, she was shy, skittish, and unsure of us. But as time wore on, and she learned to trust us, she relaxed into our family and lolled around the living room on her back–the utmost in greyhound comfort positions. We noticed after a year that she no longer ducked when we reached out to pet her, she didn’t wince when she heard voices, and she was generally content with her lot in life. Frugal Hound let go of her traumatic past in order to take pleasure from the life that we offered to her.
Frugal Hound didn’t need many material possessions in order to be happy. No monthly Bark Box, no constant influx of toys and treats, no endless spending at pet stores. Frugal Hound happily existed with a small retinue of toys, blankets, two dog beds, and a doggie heating pad (greyhounds are, after all, quite thin and rather hairless beasts in need of some auxiliary warmth). I’ve detailed all the ways in which we frugalized Frugal Hound’s care over the years and, if you’re interested, you can peruse the following posts:
- Frugal Pet Ownership Starts Before You Even Get A Pet
- Our Approach To Affordable, Responsible Dog Care
- Frugal Hound’s 10 Tips For A Simpler, Happier, More Frugal Life
- Weekly Woot & Grumble: To Swap A Hound
- Weekly Woot & Grumble: Frugal Hound All Around!
- Frugal Hound Costs $930.35 Annually
- I’m Frugal, Should I Get A Pet?
One thing we never skimped on were her annual vet exams, and preventative medications, as this was part of our focus on what really matters. A dog does not need mountains of toys; a dog does need regular preventative health care. When you isolate the variables of any given situation–pet care, kid care, a holiday–I find you can identify what’s crucial, spend on that, and then choose not to spend on the unnecessary fringes.
Losing A Friend
Frugal Hound’s death leaves a hole in our family and an absence that can’t be filled by anything else. It’s strange to come home and not hear her clacking across the floor to greet us. It’s alarming to see the empty spaces on the floor where her beds and food bowls used to sit. It’s difficult for us to talk about her and harder still for Babywoods to comprehend that she’s lost her best friend.
I have to say that the feeling was not mutual and Frugal Hound really could’ve done without Babywoods, but she gamely tolerated her presence. Babywoods would recline on her bed next to her, bring her entire play food meals, hug her, read books to her, and follow her around. Frugal Hound, for her part, vacillated between ignoring Babywoods, walking away, and resigning herself to doggie hugs from a two-year-old. She was the gentlest, most patient dog in the world with the youngest member of the family and through their interactions, Babywoods learned to be gentle, to show respect, and to demonstrate empathy.
Just a few days before Frugal Hound’s death, Babywoods proclaimed–unprompted–while lounging on the dog bed, “this is my greyhound and I LOVE her.” We were very direct in explaining to Babywoods that Frugal Hound died and won’t be coming home, that we miss her and that we loved her.
So far, she hasn’t asked many questions and seems to be taking it in stride, but I have no doubt it’s a topic that’ll be brought up at great length in the future by our incredibly verbal and insightful toddler. Mr. FW and I didn’t see any reason to obfuscate or shield Babywoods from the fact that Frugal Hound died since death is a natural part of life and needs to be acknowledged, managed, and grieved. Plus, euphemisms with a literal toddler would not go over well and could lead to a fear over “taking a trip” or “going to sleep.”
Another element that makes Frugal Hound’s death feel even more tragic to us is the fact that our second child is due in a month. I’d always imagined our second baby similarly enjoying growing up in the sweet presence of Frugal Hound and there’s something unsettling to me about the fact that this child won’t know this dog. It is, I suppose, the evolving nature of our time on earth, but it’s a painful realization nonetheless. People have asked if we’ll get another dog and I honestly don’t know. Not right now. We can’t ever replace Frugal Hound and we’re not ready to think about another dog quite yet.
Frugal Hound always served as a great comfort to our family and she taught us to live for the moment, every single day. Humans get snared in the race for success, for getting things done, for achievement–dogs do not. Humans hold grudges, live in fear, and self-sabotage–dogs do not.
Through her immense simplicity, Frugal Hound taught us to slow down and appreciate the wonders of seeing wildlife while on a hike (in one memorable instance, a wild turkey dropped out of a tree a few feet in front of Frugal Hound), of relishing your dinner, and appreciating your warm spot by the wood stove. Would that we could all live so fully, so simply, and go so quickly and with such little suffering.