The best dog ever

I just dropped off my dog at the “spa.”  I say that jokingly; it’s really just a kennel, albeit a very nice one.  It has very large runs, someone on the premises 24/7, and most importantly, a swimming pool.  My dog, being a typical Lab, looooooves the water and can’t get enough of that pool.  So it’s worth a little extra money to me for him to be able to swim.  I’m in a wedding tomorrow and have company staying over the weekend, so it’s better that the dog gets to go swimming for a couple of days and we get to come and go as we please without worrying about the dog’s schedule.

My dog’s name is Ralph.  He’s a great dog; he has that wonderful exuberant Lab personality and loves everyone he meets (except the mailman, for some reason).  I rescued him from a semi-neglectful situation 5 years ago, and he’s become a terrific house pet.  I love him dearly, and he is definitely the second best dog ever.  But not quite the best…

In 1993, I’d lived in Florida for a couple of years, and decided I was ready for another dog.  My old chocolate Lab had died in 1988 at age 12.  We have a dog track in our town, and I saw an article in the paper about adopting retired racing dogs.  I had never seen a greyhound in person, so I went to the adoption center one Saturday morning, just to see the dogs and find out about them.  I had no intention of coming home that day with a dog.  Well, guess what…

He was a 4 1/2 year old red-fawn male, 60 pounds, named Bambi Luck.  He’d had a recent eye injury and therefore had been retired.  The walker brought him into the adoption office (along with several other dogs) and he walked right up to me and put his head in my hand.  I fell for him immediately, of course!  So I did the paperwork and took him home.  He didn’t answer to his name, and I thought Bambi was a dumb name for a big male dog, so I renamed him Alex.

Greyhounds are advertised as 45-mph couch potatoes, and that’s exactly what they are.  Even though they’ve never been in a home, they adapt quickly to home life.  They are big dogs that don’t take up much room, and don’t eat a lot compared to other big dogs.  They have very short hair and don’t shed much.  Most of them get along well with other animals.  Alex was an exception to that; he got along fine with other dogs, but cats – well, let’s just say that he was intensely interested in cats, and not in a good way.  I think he saw them as potential snacks.

Alex really was the best dog ever.  He was well-behaved, never destroyed anything, didn’t have any bad habits, and never had accidents in the house until the end of his life.  I could take him anywhere and he would lay down on the floor and wait patiently until it was time to go.  He was a sweet, lovely dog.  He and I participated in several greyhound-awareness events and spent time at the adoption center to answer questions, and every greyhound I ever met had a similar personality.  They’re great dogs.

I had Alex for 9 years.  His vision continued to deteriorate over the years, and eventually he started having some problems getting up and down.  He even had trouble navigating the two steps from the back door into our back yard.  Around the time of his 13th birthday, he started having episodes of incontinence, and eventually it got to be every day.  He started losing weight and developed a severe heart murmur, and was on medication for heart failure.  Finally, in December of that year, it was obvious that he was having a lot of discomfort and his quality of life was slipping away, so I had to make that awful decision to put him down.  It was the worst day of my life so far.  I still miss him.  He was 13 1/2, which is ancient for a greyhound.  I have heard of some making it to 15 or 16, but most have a life span of 10-12 years – the same as a Lab.

Ralph, my yellow Lab, is 11 now, and starting to slow down just a little bit.  I hope he has several more healthy years, but the odds are against that.  When he’s gone I’ll probably take a doggy break for a while – but when I’m ready, I’m going back to the adoption center at the dog track.  This time I’m going to bring home two greyhounds, so they can keep each other company.

If you’re in the market for a dog, and are willing to keep a dog in the house, please consider adopting a retired racing greyhound.  Greyhound Pets of America is the official adoption agency, and you can find out there how to adopt.  The fees vary, but it’s much less expensive than buying a purebred puppy.  It is somewhat more than the humane society charges, but you get a purebred adult dog, already leash trained and housebroken, and a huge support group of other greyhound parents all over the country.

IMHO, they really are the best dogs ever. 🙂

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3 responses to “The best dog ever

  1. Pingback: Is a Labrador retriever right for you? « Treading Softly

  2. What a touching story. Alex sounds just like my pair of ex-racers, Max & Molly: complete & utter couch potatoes & real gentle giants (unless they encounter a cat!). I have to agree with you that greyhounds really are the best dogs in the world!

  3. Absolutely! It’s amazing to me that their personalities are so wonderful, considering the lives they lead before adoption. Funny, that yours are not cat-friendly either!

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