It’s alive! (By it, I mean me.) I’m sorry to have alarmed a few of you with my absence. It’s just that I, well, have a baby at the house now. He’s black and brown, small for his kind. He requires that I get up with him in the night, hair all disheveled, eyes half open, traipsing around the backyard in my robe. His name in Winston. He’s perfect.
The truth is, I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. And, as I hear it goes with human babies, this is really a fortunate thing, or else you’d probably never bring one into your life. Who needs all that stress? Clearly, we do.
Sweetie seems quite pleased to have him here, yes?
(Please excuse that hideous white mini fence, which is being used in the Grass.Grow.G-Damn.It.Even.If.A.Greyhound.Tromps.On.You.Daily effort.)
The baby is only here temporarily, as much I’m already dreading the thought of his departure. We’re fostering him through the Central Ohio Greyhound Rescue, helping him transition from his previous life to the lap of luxury—in a safe house with a family (not mine) that will adore him.
His previous life isn’t what you’d expect for a greyhound guy. In fact, he never raced. We can tell that because he doesn’t have ear tattoos.
I picked him up from an animal shelter about 50 miles east of the city. He was covered in his own urine and feces. He was trembling, terrified, eyes darting to and fro as the shelter employee inserted a needle at the nape of his neck, one of just two or three vaccines he’d receive there. I learned quickly that they hadn’t heartworm tested him. Or vaccinated him for rabies. He’d been picked up on a country road, no microchip, no tags. Dumped.
He was so scared that he collapsed at the side of my car, as if to say, “If there’s more torture in that chamber, please don’t make me go. Just leave me here.” I lifted his front paws onto the backseat platform (crafted by Sir Pirtle for Sweetie the Princess of Pirtle Land) and hoisted his soiled body into the car. By that time I was covered in his excrement, too. There was no way to wash up, so I started my car and I headed back toward the city.
I stopped a little east of my home at a pet wash, one of those weird car-and-pet-wash combination things (sometimes in these things there are also tanning services involved). I got change for my $5 bill to feed the water machine and coaxed him out of the backseat. Because he was too scared to climb up into the basin, I drew from the bottom of my adrenaline well and picked his 55-pound body up. Once he was in, I knew we were golden.
That was until I discovered his severe tick infestation. Maybe 50 of them. Big, full, swollen, some the size of a dime and about to burst. With bare hands—which, come on, is a horrible idea (hello, Lyme Disease?), but I didn’t see any other options—I washed him the best I could and resolved to look up an eHow tutorial on tick removal and employ my amazing tweezers at home. (Not to worry, said amazing tweezers have now been retired to the dog bin.)
One by one, on my back steps, I picked those blood suckers off of him. It took me a long, long time.
I gave him flea and tick meds, fed him a big meal, and introduced him to his new foster sister. For days, he searched ravenously for water, darting toward any sink that ran or any toilet that flushed (and, to be totally frank, even any human pee being peed). He’d poop and then turn around and eat it. It was clear that he’d lived for some time not knowing when his next installment of life-sustaining nourishment would be, and it was going to take some time for him to learn he’d be cared for from now on.
I’ve since spent hours petting him, gazing at him, letting (ha! like I don’t freakin’ love it!) him nuzzle his lanky arms and sweet nose into my lap. I’ve watched his body literally relax over the past week, lying more and more carelessly with his head hanging off the bed as greyhounds are known to do. I’ve watched him learn how to trust, how to share, how to stay, how to wait, how to hold his pee longer than an hour in his crate, how to not cower when someone passes with a shovel in the yard or a broom in the kitchen, how to not attack in defense when his foster sister invites him to play.
And it’s only been a week.
My eyes fill with tears as I think about how much progress he will yet make in the weeks to come here in our home. I know my heart will feel like it’s being yanked from my chest when he goes, but—oh—what a gift he will have been. And what an honor to have shepherded him from there to here to there.
I’m experiencing a miracle. And it’s quite distracting. I hope you’ll forgive me for being gone a while.
If you’re interested in learning more about adopting Winston or another greyhound, please contact Central Ohio Greyhound Rescue.