But I’m feeling as committed.
I think about all the rescue dogs I’ve met over the years. Those of you who haven’t known me as long may not know that I spent 1998 and 1999 volunteering at what used to be the John Ancrum SPCA and is now the Charleston Animal Society. And, maybe you don’t know that Blackbaud’s policy of non-profit service for employees inspired me to reach out to the animal rescue community because I love animals so.
I remember a small hound-like puppy that touched my heart…she was the first time I recall thinking, “If she’s here next week when I come, I’ll adopt her.” That was the way I would get thru working with the rescues – photographing, petting, walking dogs at the old facility over on Azalea. She wasn’t there, by the way. I guess puppies rarely last a week (they get adopted). But her pretty eyes and sweet nature…I thought she would be the perfect pet for me. I quickly realized they’d ALL be the perfect pets for me…but I wasn’t ready.
Oh, the “twin” cattle dogs – I just remember at first, they SMELLED AWFUL. But their fun spirit…how cool…I fell in love. They were not puppies but they were *active*. I swore I would adopt them…because they kept being there, week after week. Then, when I really REALLY said, “If they’re still available the next time I come, I’ll adopt them.” I think I had two trips for work scheduled. It was a month before I could get there – and when I arrived the next time, they were gone. Ping & Pong, I think their names were.
For a long time, I used to keep track of the dogs that came through my house when I started with greyhound rescue. I remember Gino. I truly wish I could remember Gino’s real name. It was NOT Gino. He was our first “hard luck boy”. First off, I learned a HUGE lesson with Gino. At the time, I still had Shades. And I had Gino in the house with Coombs & Freef (so this was probably April or May 2004). I had just brought Gino to the house staging him to go to his foster home when I made a mistake. I took his muzzle off and turned my head. Now, in my defense, we brought Gino up as cat safe, so he wouldn’t have been in my house if he weren’t. BUT, in the amount of time it took for me to turn my back on him, he spotted Shades (who was pretty used to new greyhounds coming and going), ran after her, caught her and began the “greyhound method” of trying to kill her. Lucky buzzard, she was hard to kill. She just had to make ONE loud yowl and I had Gino by the martingale, TIGHT. Just long enough that he was startled and dropped her. She ran away so I knew she was alive, and there was no blood trail so he hadn’t really hurt her. I didn’t see her much for the next 36 hours but I knew she was hiding under the guest bed, so I checked on her constantly. Oh, and that moment taught me why I didn’t declaw her. And, why you NEVER take a muzzle off a greyhound until you are certain (and I mean CERTAIN) it is cat safe.
Mikey. He was my foster. Prettiest foster dog ever. Big boy. Sweet as can be. Oh, and I know he was a great pup because Freef was jealous of him. I’m pretty sure that as I was prepping Mikey to go off to his new home, I heard Free Free applauding and as I piled Mikey in the car, Freef was saying, “Thank god…” I even have video of Mikey somewhere around here.
Chanel. She’s actually a great example of how some rescues always remember you. I think she was only in the house for a couple of days while I got her to her actual foster home (probably Twila), but she was memorable. I was putting together a behemoth of an entertainment center in my living room. Great time to have a handful of dogs in your house, right? Let me say no. Chanel was cool because she wanted to help. Well, not really help but she wanted to be involved. Every time I see Chanel now, she is happy to see me, and gives kisses. It’s wonderful.
Lucky. Black dogs will have a special place in my heart always. Lucky was a great boy. He was a whiner – and he was of the era after my next dog I’ll talk about, where I learned that Coombsy wanted all foster dogs to sleep in the crates, not in the bedroom. He cried at night about the first week. Then, he became sweet dog. I’m pretty sure that if we had not instituted the “no foster dogs on the furniture” rule, we would have had problems with Freef and Lucky needing their own sofas. Luckily, I had multiple sofas. Anyway, I was not too excited about his potential forever home, as he “got out” while we were still finalizing the adoption. However, he did live there for several years. I’m still not sure what the reason was we got him back. Anyway…he then found a forever home where he was loved and cared for until he passed of cancer. Loving dog.
And then Pinky. Poor Pinky was the foster dog who taught me not to allow the fosters to sleep in the bedroom with Freef, Coombsy and me. It was the night I woke up to Coombsy trying to kill Pinky for touching her while she was sleeping…I knew that I could no longer let everyone peacefully co-exist in one spot at night. The experience did cause Pinky to land in her forever home. A wonderful home where animals are held in such high regard…dear Sylvia’s home. Pinky passed of cancer just this past week.
But there are so many more. Jack. Bart. Lola. Mary. Pearson. Dollar. Fusey. Chelsea. (Okay, those two are my parents greyhounds). Chester. Kiki. Annie & Oreo. Brody. Levi. Tiggy. Ollie. Morgan. There are so many that have touched my heart. And our hearts.
So, it is hard – knowing the dogs that we’ve met and loved – if there is no more greyhound racing, there will still be racing greyhounds. We just won’t be able to find them – or will we find them too late? How can we know.
Actually, as sentimental as I’m feeling…I’m remembering the wonderful people who started the group (Sylvia, John, Gwen & Kurt, Diana & Harry) with me. And those who fostered…The Bailey Family. Twila. The Bartholds. The Golanskis. Those who came along and jumped right in…The Steeles. The Nutters. And those who stayed through the tough times…John, Kirstin, Dana…Those who may have jumped off for a bit, but came back…Chastity…ME…Those that support us at events and such…Susan Lucas, Pam Butler, Margaret & Devin Grant, Scott & Jen Ouellette…and the current administration – Dana, Kirstin, Tracy…
I am not leaving you out, if you don’t see your name or your dog’s name…there are several VERY IMPORTANT PEOPLE I know I’ve left off. I know those I have met through greyhound rescue share a sensitivity to these animals with me. It probably can’t be well described. So, I won’t try. But it does consume us a bit. Even if just a little.
Thinking about it…the dogs are the reason we do what we do. They’re the reason I’m blogging. Not really the people (although you’re all really nice) but the dogs. It’s not about the homes they live in, it’s about them living. I am not an advocate for those who adopt…I am an advocate for those needing a home. The dog and only the dog.