Creature Thoughts July 2020: Ryder

July’s creature thoughts is going to be a bit different. We have once again had our family life derailed. Many of you already know what is going on, but I’m sending out July’s newsletter to catch my friends up to speed, and to ask for your good thoughts for Ryder, and for our family.

I am working, though may be a little harder to pin down for a session. I am restricting sessions to email-only unless the client has no possible access to email. This has actually been a policy for a while, but I haven’t always been strict about enforcing it. I would love to take time off to dedicate every minute to Ryder, but the vet bills need paying, and the family (two-legged and four) need to eat. Plus, the ability to help you all with your dear ones is a comfort to me right now.

Please read the following post on my website for an explanation:

Every Day a Gift

The Corpse That Wasn’t There 1st Edition

I have a box of about 50 first-edition copies of the first novel in my Junior Handler Mysteries series, The Corpse That Wasn’t There. In order to help with the vet bills, I’m offering autographed copies for $15 US. That should help a little with expenses, and cover the cost of flat-rate priority shipping within the United States (for international orders, I may ask for the balance of postage). I realize that the book can be purchased on for less (due to their free shipping policies), and if people prefer to do this, that’s fine. However, it takes quite a while for royalties from Amazon to arrive, and they only come to a fraction of what the book sells for. I do understand, though … I always search for the best deal when shopping, too. Please use the contact form on or email me at if you’re interested.

Although the series is written with upper elementary and middle-school aged kids in mind, many dog-loving adults have written to tell me how much they enjoy them as well.

As a bonus, the Saluki who modeled for the cover image was Ryder’s sister Arya. The talented Jennifer Hawkyard, the niece of Ryder’s first human, Lin, is the artist.

A Thank You From the Heart

I also want to thank those friends who have reached out with help and support, and so much love, for Ryder. The kindness, and the love people have for this dear boy, overwhelm me with emotion. I have spent many days weeping in the past week or two, and not all of the tears have been sad ones. Some have been tears of gratitude and love for the support of friends.

Thank you for thinking of us kindly as we travel this road once again. Send light and love and gentle prayers for my boy. We are determined to keep him happy, strong, and feeling well for as long as humanly possible.


Ryder, in the car on his first ride home as a Nastasi, December 2015.

Every Day a Gift

I’ve had a really hard time getting to the point that I can write this post. I’ll start by saying that, as of right now, Ryder feels fine. He’s 13, of course, and is slower than he was a year or two ago, sleeps more, and has lost a bit of his hind end strength. All of those things are pretty normal for a 13-year-old Saluki. Though I know there are Salukis who have lived well beyond that age, I think many people who know the breed well would agree that 13 is, well … 13. In 40 years of living with this breed, I’ve yet to have one live to 14. But right now, Ryder’s happily lying here begging for my lunch (which I’m eating as I type, because it takes my mind off the painful words a little bit).

To the point, I guess….

Ryder has a heart arrhythmia for which his cardiologist couldn’t really find a cause. He has mild mitral valve disease, but that doesn’t explain the irregular heartbeat. So, on the 8th of July, Ryder went in for an abdominal ultrasound.

The cause of the arrhythmia turned out to be a mass on his spleen that is stretching the capsule.  He also has a smaller mass on the liver. The liver mass is solid and according to the report does not have a lot of malignant characteristics, though it does have a blood vessel running through it. There are chances that it’s benign. The splenic mass, however, looks like hemangiosarcoma.

I have spent many hours doing research into many aspects of the disease, and the decision making process. I’ve consulted with professionals and with friends who have much Saluki experience, as well as experience with this horror of a disease. After many tears, much heartbreak, and a great deal of list-making, option-weighing, and discussion, our decision is to not put a 13 year old Saluki through major abdominal surgery. Am I certain it’s the right choice? I wish I could say I was. As I said to my vet, the batteries in my crystal ball died years ago.  But it’s the best choice I, and my family, could make for Ryder under the circumstances.

Thanks to dear friends who have helped with information and medical research on Chinese Medicine treatments (turkey tail mushroom and Yunnan Baiyao), I will be adding these to the protocol I used for Kai. That came from The Dog Cancer Survival Guide by Dr Demian Dressler and Dr Sue Ettinger. With Kai, of course, I was trying to maintain a dog who was very, very ill before we ever knew he had cancer. With Ryder, we have a boy who feels good, and honestly has no idea that he’s sick. I am cautiously hopeful. My own vet approves of the plan.

I am going to do my best to give our Mister Handsome the very best life possible for whatever time he has left. I hope that is a long, long time, but will take whatever he is able to give. And, when he is too tired, or too sick, and ready to stop fighting, I will, with broken heart and many tears, send him home to Lin.

I will close this post with my undying love and gratitude to the friends who have been so supportive and loving over the past week. The list it so very long, and I know you all know who you are. I hope you also know how much I love and appreciate you. Thank you for the shoulders to cry on, the gentle advice, the extremely helpful information, the gifts you have sent, and for loving our Ryder so very much. 

Gayle Nastasi, animal consultant and author