Sunday, January 25, 2009

For the LOVE of DOGS: Part 1 . . . . . . .

It’s no secret to those of you who know me, or who have been following my Blog, that I’m a “dog person”. I love animals of all kinds (well, perhaps with a few exceptions), but I’m particularly fond of dogs.

Throughout most of my adulthood, I’ve always had one or two dogs. And in all honesty, I can’t imagine my life without a dog! I’ve often commented to friends over the years that having dogs adds another dimension to one’s life. Of course, I recognize that having dogs is not the same as having children. But for my husband Lee and me, our dogs have always been an integral part of our lives, and we consider them members of our family. To us, they are indeed very much like children.

So, on that introductory note, I’m dedicating today’s Blog post to DOGS and those who LOVE them. This will be the first of several related posts on this topic, which I’m entitling, “For the LOVE of DOGS . . . .”

Although one of Lee’s and my current “passions” is greyhound adoption, and we currently have two wonderful greyhounds, we haven’t always been greyhound owners. In fact our first two dogs were mixed breed dogs that came into our lives rather accidentally.

Lucky was a Gordon Setter and Black Lab mix, whose owner was one of Lee’s co-workers. As it turns out, the co-worker was moving to a place where he could no longer have a dog, and was looking for a new home for Lucky. So, Lee and I decided to meet her.

It was love at first sight, and we were both struck by her friendly and exuberant personality, her wonderful lustrous black fur, and the way she ran like the wind. So, we took her home. Lucky always kept us on our toes . . .she’s the only dog we ever had who took a flying leap and slid along the top of my baby grand piano to get a glimpse out the adjacent window, AND she’s the only dog that I’ve ever had who caught mice! She was a handful, but a delight.

Less than a year later, Lee and I came home after work to find a second dog in our back yard. . . .a timid and rather scraggly-looking terrier mix with long off-white fur, mostly matted! Later we found the place where she had dug her way under the fence into our yard to visit Lucky. She wore no tags, and she had apparently been through some rough treatment, because every time we tried to approach her (Lee more than I), she nearly cowered.

But eventually we managed to befriend this little waif, feed her, give her a bath and trim her matted coat. We couldn’t bring ourselves to take her to the local animal shelter, fearful that she wouldn’t be adopted. SO. . . . .. we named her and decided to keep her. That was a decision we never for one moment regretted over the years Mutt-Mutt was with us. She never got over her timidity with men, but she was one of the most affectionate dogs I’ve ever known. She was a gift.

For 16 years, Lucky and Mutt-Mutt were each others and Lee’s and my sweet and loyal companions. Early in 1997, both dogs passed away within one month of each other. Lucky died on Lee's birthday.

It was shortly after we lost Lucky and Mutt-Mutt that we adopted our first two ex-racing greyhounds.

Having grown up in Abilene, Kansas (home of the National Greyhound Association), I was somewhat familiar with greyhounds, but only from a distance. And Lee and I had talked about the possibility of adopting an ex-racing greyhound. So we started doing some online research about greyhound adoption in Utah.

We found out about a greyhound adoption group in southern Utah (then the only greyhound adoption group in the state), and contacted them to inquire about the availability of ex-racing greyhounds for placement. And one month later, having successfully completed the adoption “application process”, we were making the 5 hour trip from Salt Lake City to Kanab, Utah to pick up our first two greyhounds, Cody and Cassie.

Cassie was a beautiful brindle girl. She was a small and very shy greyhound whom we loved dearly, but who had a number of mysterious but serious health issues over the short time that we had her.

A little over a year after we brought her home, she succumbed to a bizarre illness. (We never did have a final diagnosis.)

Cody was all black, with a white chest and four white-tipped paws. Weighing in at around 87 lbs., he was the largest dog we’d ever had, and it took a little while for us to get used to his size! But he was one of the quietest, most gentle dogs I’ve ever known (except around cats!).

We called Cody our “gentle giant”. Cody was with us for 8 years, until he developed bone cancer and passed away a few months later. He was almost 10.

We adopted Ride (racing name: Emotional Ride) in 1999, shortly after Cassie’s passing.

This is a photo of Ride, not long after we adopted her. She was around 3 years old.

(I'd forgotten how dark her face was way back then . . .she hadn't started to turn gray yet!)

At first, we were a little nervous about how Cody would adjust to sharing the house again with another grey.

But mellow fellow that he was, Cody did fine, and it didn’t take long before he and Ride were best friends, which they remained until Cody’s passing in 2004.

Ride was our only greyhound for a couple of years. Both Lee and I were so saddened by the loss of Cody, we weren’t sure we were ready to attach to yet another greyhound right away, so we thought we’d wait a while to decide.

I was recently retired from my job by then, and since I was home all day, Ride and I became inseparable. She LOVED to take jaunts in the car with me, and I would often take her with me for short errands when the weather was nice.

Around November 2006, Lee and I decided that we were ready to adopt another greyhound, and as fate would have it . . . along came Harley!

It so happened that right about the time Lee and I decided to seek out another greyhound, Harley was “returned” to a local greyhound adoption group, where we know the kennel owner. Harley had been placed in an adoptive home a year before, but unfortunately the placement hadn’t worked out as well as expected. And when Harley was returned to the adoption group, he was not in very good shape physically OR emotionally, so he needed quite a bit of tender loving care and attention.

Once we brought Harley home, it was a difficult couple of months, in that Harley had moderate to severe separation anxiety, and somewhat aggressive food behavior. Thankfully, with a lot of patience, love, and consistency, Harley is now well-adjusted and happy as the newest member of our family.

And this beautiful fawn boy with amber eyes has turned out to be another one of the greyt joys of our lives.

Although it took Ride a while to warm up to Harley, they have become good companions to each other. And coincidentally, even though they are 7 years apart in age, their birthdays are only one day apart! Ride will turn 13 on March 28th and Harley will turn 6 on March 27th.

I am so grateful to have dogs in my life. Not only have our dogs always provided Lee and me with unconditional love, they have also brought us joy and laughter.

Our dogs help prevent Lee and me from being TOO introspective, TOO self-absorbed, and TOO serious. And, they provide us with special memories and “Kodak moments” that have helped to inspire us in our own creative endeavors.

I hope you’ll stay tuned for my next Blog post, “For the LOVE of DOGS: Part 2”, in which I will focus on how our greyhounds and dogs in general have provided inspiration for my handmade cards, scrapbook layouts, and other paper creations.


Anonymous said...

That was a lovely read. Thank you for taking the time to write this, and for sharing your story. It really is hard to imagine life without dogs - they are a constant. They need us as much as we need them! We look forward to reading part 2!
- Krista, Ribsy & Mirabel

Anonymous said...

Beautiful story. I can't imagine life without my dogs...they are wonderful companions.

Angela said...

That was a very sweet post. My husband and I do not have children. Our dogs, Todd and Lucy, have brought so much joy into our lives.

ubercake said...

Aw! That was a very sweet and awesome story. I have two dogs and they mean so much to my husband and I =).

UberArt said...

I love dogs, and esp. greyhounds. I have a greyhound mix colored a bit like Harley. Dogs may not be exactly like children, but you sure learn about consistency, patience, and love from being their parents!

Ophelia Miller Boutique said...

What sweet dogs. I have a mixed breed beagle that I adopted from the humane society. I can't imagine our family without him.

Giftbearer said...

I love greyhounds too. By the way, Harley is gorgeous!

I think humans and dogs have always had a special relationship throughout history.

Jen S. said...

Aww, dogs are so special and do add so much to one's life. Maple, Dazzle, Tammy and I look forward to Part 2!

The Empty Envelope said...

Wonderful post and gorgeous dogs!! I have Aspergers and having a dog helps me stay balanced and functioning. I like what you said about how they keep us from being 'too introspective, etc...' It's very true.

Patzee said...

Thanks, Jan, for the wonderful post. It makes us all sit back and reflect on the dogs in our lives.

PaintDog said...

Great photos. They really capture the dogs' grace, beauty, and sense of humor :)

swedeepea said...

Thank you for sharing your doggies with us. It's so nice to be "connected" to other greyhound lovers. We have similar pups; Brindle and Fawn (red). We have only had greyhounds for a year now, but it's hard to imagine life any other way!

Holly Joy said...

What a delightful story about your greyhound friends! I'm a HUGE fan of greyhounds, big and small and currently share my home with Italian greyhounds. We don't have "skin kids" so the dogs are very important to us as well.
Harley is JUST magnificent!