Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Slammer's long walk

So we're talking about getting a new dog.

Our previous dog, a beautiful black greyhound named Slammer, died on Groundhog Day this year. She and I had gone out so she could go to the bathroom before the family left for school and work. When we came back into the house, she took two steps inside, stumbled, yelped in pain, and collapsed on the floor. I held her in my arms as she gasped for breath and whined. Her heart was beating arrhythmically, so I knew things were bad. I don't know if it was a heart attack, seizure, or aneurism, but it happened quickly. In less than a minute, my faithful companion was gone.

My wife, kids, and I took the day off to grieve and take care of our dog. It was not an easy day, and the pain is still strong for all of us. It's no coincidence that around that time, I stopped blogging. I also stopped responding to e-mail and most other forms of communication. Slammer was my steadfast companion, keeping me company in the wee hours of night while I watched TV or wrote. When she was ready for bed, she'd harass me relentlessly until I gave up and followed her lead. She was a quiet, kind, and loving soul. And now she's in doggy Valhalla, sleeping on their doggy beds and chasing their game animals before retiring to the mead hall at day's end.

When we first decided to adopt a rescued greyhound, we contacted a regional rescue group (the now-defunct CVGreys) and set up a home visit. We had our eyes on a different dog, but they brought several out to our house, one of which was Slammer. When they arrived, the dogs moved as a herd of deer through our house, checking the place out. After a few minutes of greetings and exploration, most of the animals settled in the living room where their people were. Slammer staked out a space in front of our big window, plopped down and promptly rolled onto her back and went to sleep. She quite literally adopted us. (Meanwhile, the dog we *thought* we wanted was unsure and wouldn't settle. I think he was nervous around our boys.)

A week later, it became official and she returned for a second visit, this time with her bags packed. Our adjustment period was short. We crate-trained her for a few weeks, but it became apparent that she wasn't happy spending her day locked up in a cage. She would force the door open, break the plastic lining tray, and tear up anything we gave her to play with. On those days we came home to find her out of the crate, she'd be lying in the floor nearby, wagging her tail and grinning.

Realizing that she was telling us she was ready for some independence, we started locking her in our bedroom via babygate. That lasted for a while, and then we started coming home to her once again in the living room on her pillow. And naturally, when we finally took the last step and removed the babygate to give her run of the house during the day...we'd have to pry her out of the bedroom when we got home at the end of the day.

Slammer was a smart, sassy, fun-loving girl. And I still miss the hell out of her. But the rest of the family is ready to move on, and they're right. Naturally no animal will ever replace her, but it's time to extend our loving home to another rescuee. And no, there's no doubt at all that we're getting another greyhound. They're awesome!

Now reading:
In this photo - a gluten-free cookbook.
Currently -
Nocturnal by Scott Sigler. Great action & urban fantasy/scifi story.

2 comments:

  1. I was so sorry to hear about Slammer when I was visiting last week, but I'm glad I got to meet her several times. She was definitely a happy dog who was lucky enough to find your family to live with, and you were all lucky to have found her!

    Rich

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  2. Thanks Rich. She certainly enjoyed our guests too, when she could be bothered to come out and say hello. :)

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