Baby Doll in her Sooners gear; note pleats of her “cheerleading skirt.”
Big Buddy wearing his Oklahoma State Gear.
Lion is somewhat thread bare, patched, and tattered after years of loving play; first by our Dex, then Big Buddy, and eventually Baby Doll was allowed to ‘share’. While the title is somewhat “tongue in cheek” the story is not. Every word is true, just as it happened.
My husband and I were definitely saddened, distraught even, after the passing of our beautiful Greyhound Dex (Racing name, Justune’s Dixie.). He gave us many years of solid, devoted, companionship, and was the “fur child” who filled our empty nest. We got him under rather strange circumstances as well. We were shopping for a graduation card and as we approached a sidewalk area where the QC Greyhound Adoption group was holding a “Meet and Greet” at a PetsMart to attract possible people interested in adopting a greyhound. A volunteer was catching a cigarette break outside the store and had a brindle greyhound on a leash. When the dog saw me, he went berserk barking for all he was worth, as though we were great friends. He was so animated the volunteer thought we “knew” each other. We stopped to engage them just because of his antics and found they had more dogs inside for adoption viewing. We went in so my husband and I could consider, what had been up until then, a casual interest in adopting.
The long and short of it was this: after leaving the meet I went home and filled out an online application to be considered for “adoptive parents“. I kept it a secret from my husband until the process was further down the line, and I said on the form we’d be interested in a black one (they are harder to adopt as people think they might be aggressive as they compare them to a Dobermans and being black.) I did mention we had seen “DEX” as his foster mom called him. (Who wants to call a male Grade A champion “Justune’s Dixie” which was his legal/racing name?)
We eventually received Dex into our home after passing all the “tests” and being vetted by his foster mom who gave us stringent rules on greyhound care, and helped acclimate Dex to our house. She expressed that she too thought Dex should be ours due to the amazing first meeting. We nursed him and the broken leg he had incurred which forced him off the race track and made him eligible for adoption. The picture below shows how well he recovered from what the vet thought would be a permanent injury that might mean he would never run again.
This picture was only one of the pleasures Dex gave us over the next 7 years. My husband used almost a whole roll of film with the camera he borrowed from our daughter-in-law who had an action setting. This picture was the treasure that was my wedding anniversary gift from my husband. We eventually had a print made that was superimposed on the picture and read: FREE AT LAST, FREE AT LAST.
Never really sick those 7 years, it surprised us when Dex became ill, lost weight, and suffered liver failure. It forced us to have him put to sleep to spare him untold pain. It coincided with the tainted dog food debacle of that year and while we were watchful, at the end of his illness the last numbers to be released as “bad” were revealed. We had bought Dex some canned meat (quality brand supposedly) that had the numbers that coincided with the bad food. The lifespan of a Greyhound is 14+ and Dex was 10 1/2 when we lost him; far before his time.
Heartbroken, disillusioned, and in emotional pain from the loss, my husband swore never to have another dog of any kind. The months dragged on in monotonous fashion as my husband’s retirement had lost its appeal for his daily walks which he and Dex had taken together. Nothing I said could sway him, until the day he finally announced, “We should get rid of Dex’s things. Maybe take them out to Maysville so some other greyhounds can use them.” (Dex had been very “spoiled–or I prefer ‘a little over loved’ “) We had so much to give and sadly I agreed. But at the last minute, I could not part with “Lion“. Lion was Dex’s favorite, and I could not part with him. The rest I obediently packed up.
Now I must be completely honest, when he said we were going to Maysville, Iowa to the adoption center, I had a little surge in my spirit, or wifely intuition, whichever you choose to acknowledge. I got online the night before and once again, I filled out online an adoption form. My thought process was that it need never come to light I had done it if it didn’t work out, but “just in case.”
We arrived with our donations and everyone was busy working with the dogs in the kennel area and giving them turnouts for their “potty breaks.” The volunteers keep the sand lot clean for use, and in warm weather, there are “water sports” for the “babies.”
We wandered around until someone would be free to accept the donations. The place was spotless and I know spotless from working in hospitals as a nurse.
We noted they were really full. 25 dogs for adoption.
We saw all the beautiful and anxious dogs, but I was drawn to a brindle that looked like Dex, though larger. Also he had the unusual forward pointing ears like the original Egyptian Greyhounds of the great kings of old, and the ones you see in the paintings with the pyramids of Egypt. One ear had a “chunk” missing and one flopped just a little out of alignment. Again, like Dex had done all those years ago, he acted as though he knew me, and we bonded in “love at first sight” . He was so large, I marveled he could lie down in his cage. My heart broke when I heard he was a “return” which meant he’d been adopted and then returned. That can break a dog’s spirit.
Meanwhile my hubby had spotted a spectacular fawn female who was new to the kennel, just off the racetrack. She wasn’t up for adoption yet as she needed to be spayed and the volunteers who knew my husband and I well, knew we were in our 60’s and considered her “too active” for us. “A more sedentary fit was probably best if we adopted again” was their advice.
I couldn’t tear myself away from the big Greyhound who just couldn’t seem to tear himself away from me. My husband’s look of discouragement was evident but still I asked if we could take him in the play room to get acquainted. My husband sat far away from the door at the end of the couch and the volunteer brought in the big brindle who ignored both my husband and I. He went straight for the plastic laundry basket which held a couple of dozen stuffed toys and methodically began to root them all out of his way. Finally he was at the bottom of the basket and opened his large mouth, surrounded a toy of choice, and triumphantly raised it into the air and began to throw it and play with it.
Stunned? Oh yes. It was an absolute duplicate of “Lion” which I had left at home to keep a piece of Dex. He brought it over when the volunteer coaxed him to visit. I was totally sold. It was as though looking at him, except for the forward Egyptian ears, I could see Dex. My husband was even wavering though still quite taken with the little “blonde girl” he’d seen in back. But the “Dex Connection” with the Lion, sealed the deal. This wonderful brindle was going home with us.
Renamed “Big Buddy” by my husband (Archer Evan was his other name), we could have well named him “Evander Holyfield after the boxer with a chunk missing off his ear”, or “Traveling Man” which we learned was why he was returned when he kept jumping the fence and running away from his previous owner. ( We found out he was owned by a single man who worked and played long hours leaving Big Buddy alone to fend for himself in the yard.)
It was only a week later with a little cajoling and offering to “foster” the beautiful blonde, that my husband’s “girl” came into the family. It turned out, like us, she was from Oklahoma which seemed to create an extra “reason” why she had come to us and attracted my husband’s discerning eye. Named “Puff Tuff” on the track (and she was a real winner), he quickly renamed her “Baby Doll” and she is the apple of her “Daddy’s” eye and they are a perfect fit, walking miles and playing together.
Tonight as I watched our Big Buddy Grubbs sleeping I was reminded of this story and thought I should share it. His brindle face is gray now as he’s 9 years old. Somehow Lion has held together even with his frequent games of “shake and throw” by the two greyhounds, and being taken in and out to the yard by them, and sometimes forgotten and left in the yard to fend off the wild critters like raccoons, rabbits and the ever threatening risk of a hawk mistaking him for a real animal.
How did we end up with two greyhounds when we were never going to have one again? You have to decide for yourself, and/or explain it away. For me the chances of that stuffed Lion, which was a duplicate of the old lion of Dex’s from around our house, being in that adoption center, in that basket, and picked by him are………..well lets just say if it was a coincidence, it was quite a big one.
These wonderful greyhounds so inspired me, I wrote a 15 novel suspense series called the “Greyhound Lady Walking series” and they are in almost all of them with ‘different names. LOL
SO IN THE END, I JUST WANT TO SAY “ADOPT A GREYHOUND, IT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE FOR THE BETTER AND FOREVER.”