Archive for the ‘LLewis’ Category

Sundance: 10/1/1994-11/7/2009

November 9, 2009

Sundance, the gentle pit that quietly stood by while Llewis lunged onto his back and dug his nails in, died last night. He just celebrated his quinceanera which, for any dog, let alone a pure bred pit, is a long life. Lucky for all parties involved, he spent every day with a family that loved and embraced him fully.

A few months back I asked this new acquaintance if he had a dog. He told me he was “tired of playing god” after he had to put his last dog down. That was it for him. It was just too painful to do again. When we reflect back on the number of days, months and years that our pets give us and weigh that against the grief of having to let them go, honestly, in the moment of loss, you can understand exactly what he meant. No, you think, maybe it wasn’t better to have loved and lost. Maybe it would be better to never have loved at all.

As for me, as much as I struggle with this issue, I hope that I can embrace what I have and face, at the time when I must, letting go. Because if I don’t, I myself will die having foregone the beauty of having all these wonderful souls enter my life because I feared losing them too much. So for now I hope that by being deeply sad, by allowing the grief to wash over, wave upon wave, eventually, I and we will heal.

And it is with this thought that I also hope that some day, when the waves have subsided, that my friend Sari may be able enjoy another wonderful dog in her life. I want this for her but for me too. I need to have some faith in the healing process of grief and renewal.

As for now, Sundance (aka Uncle Humper) leaves a big big hole in Sari, Alan and Reba’s hearts. And mine too. A gentle, stoic soul, the Mahatma Gandhi of pitbulls, he will be missed.


Beloved Rabbits: Part II

October 21, 2009

It’s one thing to watch your Greyhound do what it’s been bred to do for hundreds of years. But as I learned yesterday, it’s quite another to actually see what happens when your hound is successful in her pursuits.

Back in February I wrote about one of Stella’s first rabbit chases in a post I titled Beloved Rabbits.

Yesterday I witnessed that same beautiful, swift gait as Stella chased across the park. Within seconds she was out of sight.

Unlike last time, after waiting five minutes I did not begin to imagine my life without a dog. I felt confident that she would show up. I anticipated she would be wiped out. And that her paws would be bleeding from the chase. And that she would be thirsty and wanting her loyal staff member to serve up some water.

What I did not anticipate, however, was this: that she would return with a ten pound jack rabbit hanging lifeless from her mouth.

I also did not anticipate getting everyone’s, and I mean everyone’s two cents.

A jogger who saw the chase claimed that if Stella tasted blood she would become more aggressive.

A guy who looked Donald Sutherland on crack also approached me, “How could you let your dog kill that rabbit? This is a nature preserve.”

First off, nature preserve? The place is a dump–literally–that was turned into a dog park. I looked at him wondering what exactly he didn’t understand, “This is a sanctioned, off leash dog park. Greyhounds are faster than rabbits. If you can strip the DNA out of my dog, let me know. Otherwise, shit happens.”

With that, Donald huffed off, claiming he was going to call the police. Having been robbed twice in this city I know for a fact that unless you’re hemorrhaging the cops won’t show. Their big fish to fry include drug busts and shootings. As far as a a Greyhound chasing down a rabbit in a sanctioned dog park? You might as well call to complain that the barrista at Starbucks was rude to you that morning.

Okay, so then there was a man who happened to be with his dog, a dog who used to but can no longer catch and kill rabbits. He said Stella would be the same dog she always was. Nothing had changed except me knowing more about her. Unlike the rest of the crew, this guy seemed to know what he was talking about.

So what happened to the actual rabbit? He guessed that Stella killed it instantly with a bite to the neck. He said that a rabbit’s bones are very light and easily broken in a dog’s mouth. While I was leashing up Stella who was still panting and bleeding from both paws, he asked if his dog could have the rabbit to eat. I agreed but did not linger to watch the chowfest.

When I got home I needed to resolve a burning question that came to mind the instant I saw Stella with that cat sized jack in her jaws. What about Llewis’ safety?

I searched Greytalk for some answers. Fortunately I was reassured. LLewis is someone Stella knows and who is included in her pack. Their relationship is also contained in the confines of my house so there is that context as well. I was told long ago that a Greyhound could be fine with a cat in the house if your hound is deemed cat safe but put that same cat outdoors and all bets are off.

As for now, Stella is benched from the park until her pads heal. And although I know she or I didn’t do anything wrong I’m not sure how often or how much reality I can handle. Time will tell.

Stella, Llewis & The San Francisco Chronicle

October 3, 2009

On September 23rd The San Francisco Chronicle featured the story of how I wound up with a Greyhound pup vs. the kicked back ex-racer I was planning on getting.

Thanks to Eileen Mitchell, the columnist in charge, for encouraging me to shorten the story up to get it accepted into the paper and for loving the houndies as much as me.

Click here to read it.

Rainy Days and Sundays

February 15, 2009

Rainy days and Mondays do not get me down. Rainy days actually don’t bother me much at all. In fact, rain on a Sunday makes me feel justified in sitting front of the television during the day—something I rarely do as it just doesn’t feel right. It’s like having a banana split and a cigarette chaser at nine in the morning. Yuck.

The problem though is this: Stella usually gets a long run with me in the park on Sundays. It’s her time to go 8 miles plus whatever extra jaunts she gets herself into. But today it’s raining hard and it’s cold and because she doesn’t belong to a gym like I do, there’s no treadmill workout in store for her. All she’s getting will be the mandatory elimination walks.

So far, Stella has destroyed nothing more than Llewis’ ability to take a long nap. She can’t seem to nap alongside him in bed. She’s just too amped up. I guess it’s like trying to fall asleep next to someone you’re super attracted to. Stella keeps pretending she’s looking away and then she looks at him. Then she can’t stand it anymore and she begins to lick him in the face. Finally, as if Llewis hasn’t gotten the message already, she starts to bark at him and gets into full play position.

This pillow talk generally lasts less than three minutes with Llewis hopping off the bed in search of a corner of the house not occupied by a black and white Greyhound. Dazed and rejected, Stella does what she does when she’s out of anymore interesting options: she comes to me. Maybe I’ve got something she can eat. Or maybe I’ll rub her belly.

Or, maybe, if her skinny dog prayers are truly answered, I’ll suddenly decide that there’s nothing I’d rather do than lace up my sneakers, don seven layers of clothing and go for a ten mile run in the pouring rain with her loveliness at my side.

Dream on, girl. If you want to find me, look for the person sitting in front of the television inhaling a banana split—or two.

LLewis: Executive Vice President of Nothing–And Everything

July 10, 2008
I\'d like a tunafish sandwich--hold the sandwich.

I'd like a tunafish sandwich--hold the sandwich.

Broken Nails and Puppy Dog Tales

May 1, 2008

Stella has broken two nails in a month. I told Dee and she said that Greyhounds can get SLO (symmetrical lupoid onchodystrophy) also known as phemfigus. It’s an autoimmune disorder that funkifies their nails. Lovely.

Or maybe she just tears around on the beach like a maniac on toenails that have not been clipped since birth, I wondered. Since Greyhounds can get this nail problem, I took her in. Dee was right: don’t mess around with the hound.

Forty five dollars later, it appears to be the latter of the two right now: the vet said her nails looked perfect. Perfect except they were Howard Hughes long and the quicks had grown out.

I was told I need to cut her nails nearly daily to train the quicks back. Oh joy. I was feeling like I had too much time left in my day so I’m glad for this. Truly. Really, I’m glad.

So while at the pet store today buying nail clippers, a frisbee because she’s constantly ripping everyone else’s off at the beach, two fifteen dollar, eight foot long bully sticks and a new kong because although I know it’s somewhere in the house I can’t seem to locate the one she had, I glanced over and saw…

The Cat Section.

And I thought about Llew. How little Llew cost me. How little he required. How he manages to not only entertain himself but feed himself as well by chasing, killing and swallowing his own little baby rats.

I thought back to the blood stains on my zebra rug from Stella’s now broken toe nail. And then back to the Cat Section with a few toys here and there. I thought about the Knox gelatin I needed to buy to strengthen Stella’s nails. And then back to Llew whom I left for three weeks while in South Africa and who had no issues having a friend stop in to feed him once a day no charge. Stella stayed at a dreamy dog bakery and spa for three weeks and $750.

I thought about how P. and I went out to dinner last night and took Stella so that she could sit in the car vs. being crated. When we arrived back, the radio was on (this is for real, folks), the station had been changed and the windshield wipers turned on full blast. Oh, and the gear shift on P’s car had been demolished.

Meanwhile, Llew was at home destroying nothing except maybe the hopes and dreams of a few dozen rats.

So as I glanced at that Cat Section, for a moment I envied my previous dog-free existence. I thought lovingly about my once clean rug and tidy life with more disposable income. I thought about how much I worry about Stella. And how much she is a part of me and I don’t want to see her hurt, injured or sick. I thought about how much I can’t stand that I care so much.

But you see, that’s the problem. You can’t go back. Because worse than any regret I might have getting her, I can’t imagine not having her. Once your heart’s been busted wide open, there’s just no turning back. So as much as I hate to admit it, I’d move heaven and earth for this radio station changing, gear shift eating, nail breaking cow print pup.

The Best Laid Plans Of Mice, Men, Cats and Greyounds

January 22, 2008

So there’s this poem by Robert Burns about how a mouse’s home gets churned up by a plough. In the end, he says “The best laid plans of mice and men go oft awry.”

Which makes you think hey, why bother planning if someone’s going to just come along and ruin everything with a plough?

Sure. Ploughs happen. But sometimes, just sometimes, in those rare instances, you plan and tinker and consider and worry something to death. And, miraculously, the sun shines on you and, voila, it pays off.

Such was the case with Llewis meeting Stella. We executed our meeting plan properly and Llewis didn’t exactly ignore Stella but he behaved. Specifically, Llewis behaved normally.

He was a little interested, a little irritated, a little scared, a little puffed up.  After a while we opened the crate door.

Predictably, Stella acted as if she’d found another littermate; she wanted to play. And Llew, via a swat on the nose, communicated that in no way, shape or form was he nor would he ever be related to her or any of her species.

Importantly, Llewis didn’t lunge, he didn’t puncture, he didn’t wreak havoc. It was as if he had assessed the situation, concluded that the crate wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon and decided that despite her inferiority, she was worth putting up with if it meant that he would continue to receive free room and board.  

So okay, maybe that plough eventually was headed right for us and would soon ruin us just like it did that mouse’s nest but, for now, for the moment, our best laid plans actually did us some good.

The Big Day

January 21, 2008

I often wonder how Stella felt on that hot August day when we drove the three hour trek, for the second time, to take her home. I could not seem to get beyond feeling bad for her: she’d be leaving her mom, her siblings and a large spread in the country for a two bedroom, one bath house in a concrete jungle.

Dee told me she would be plenty upset at some point and to comfort her–but not too much, “She’ll get over it”

When we arrived we were greeted by the woman running the facility. She seemed happy to see us—ecstatic even. I figured she’d been fantasizing for the past week about offloading each an every one of these hellions onto new caretakers.

The woman pointed towards the field where the pups were all turned out. We’d come to take Stella away and to rock her little dog world for good. But for the time being she could have cared less: she hung in the field, ate grass and did what dogs do best: she stayed in the moment.

I snapped a few photos, signed a stack of paperwork and then, for the first time, showed Stella her leash. She looked at me like I’d just landed from Mars.

Weighing in at about fifteen pounds, Stella sat in my lap the entire ride back. I thought we’d gaze into one another’s eyes but I realized this was impossible to do if one or both parties were dead asleep. I kept myself occupied by thinking about the next challenge ahead: Llewis. I was hoping Llewis’ disinterest in Bally would generalize to all puppies. But I wasn’t 100% counting on it.

After many days of strategizing, our game plan for introductions was as follows:

P. would go up to the house first and put LLew in the bathroom. He would call on his cell, let me know the coast was clear and then I would come in with Stella.

Stella would get a quick and hopefully urine free tour of the home and then she would be whisked out the back door for a pee. Stella would then be brought back and we’d put her in her crate.

Llew would be released. And he would then have run of the place. He would be unable to kill her, we were pretty sure, if she were protected in the crate.

As we got closer to home, Stella began to wake up.  I thought again about how she would never see the green fields in Auburn, about how she wouldn’t wake up the next day and be able to play with her littermates. About how, in one car ride, her life would be radically changed.  

But while I wondered and worried and pondered how everything would go down, Stella simply yawned, looked up at the traffic, and then fell back to sleep in my lap. She’d deal with her new life as it came—one moment at a time.

Expect The Unexpected

November 13, 2007

bally_hat.jpgJ. brought Bally over but not in a steel, triple sealed, ultimate security crate. She brought him over in some hard plastic gizmo. However, she was right: this crate seemed to offer enough safety from say a domestic cat on up through a panther.  I was okay with it.

Next came the oooohing and ahhhing. Despite the fact that I’m not a big fan or puppies or babies (I prefer the adult versions of each) this little dude with the seriously crushed snout was kinda cute.  

While were ogling Bally, LLewis stopped over. My body kicked into protective mode, readying myself to grab LLew as he ran to attack the cage. But it was for naught.

Llew didn’t do a thing. Not one thing. It was as if I’d turned the channel to something boring or distasteful to him.

Llewis took a small sniff and then left the room as if to say, “Page my service when you’ve got something interesting. Otherwise I’ll be in my circle.”

J. and I looked at each other.

Tempting fate, I carried Llew from his circle and brought him to Bally’s cage,  encouraging him this time to look at the nice puppy.

LLew looked instead back up at me, “Did you not hear me? I said page my service when you’ve got something interesting.”

After J. and Bally left that day I called B. She wasn’t there but I left her a long voicemail “I know it doesn’t matter most likely because it’ll never happen but Llewis could care less about puppies He had no reaction. He was fine. So if you ever have a litter…”

The rest was a tad bit out-of-body because I knew as I was leaving the message that it wouldn’t happen. Greyhound rescue groups rescue retired racers. And last I heard, they don’t really retire puppies.

I listened to my own voice trail off on B.’s voicemail but I finished up my message and went back…back to the ranch.

$1000 Later, Tax Included

November 13, 2007

We hit our six month goal. And on the day I made this official, J. ordered up (would you like fries with that?) puppy. She quickly decided on a name for him: Bally. It was close to the name of our sales guy, the person instrumental in bringing Bally into J.’s  arms.

“The name’s cute too.” J. added.

Bally had already been born so the wait time to get him was minimal. Within just a week or two J. was able to go and get him from the broker. And, within a week after that, J. asked if they could come visit me.

“Uh…you do understand what you’re asking, right?”

J. had heard about my “situation.”  She knew Llewis well. He had sat in on many, many production meetings with us and I’d threatened that one day he’d call her into his circular office for a “meeting.”

“Can you lock him up?” she asked.

“Not for hours and hours.” I responded.

“Well, I’ll bring Bally in a carrying case and he’ll be fine.”

She seemed much more casual than I was.  While Llew’s close encounters with large dogs involved lunging and biting, I was concerned that, with a small dog, he might add swallowing to his repetroir.

“Okay, bring him over but bring him in a steel container with a padlock.”

“Will do, Boss” she sarcaszed into GoogleTalk.