Thursday, February 28, 2008

Decades of Dogs

That GPA twenty-year anniversary really got me to thinking. If I count my time with REGAP before GPA, it's been more like twenty-five years in Greyhounds.

I adopted my first ex-racer in 1983. Duffy came from Sodrac Park, and years later I'd look at him and say, "Just LOOK what you started." They're habit-forming, you see. We call it "chipping," because as with potato chips, you can't have just one.

Twenty years. Hundreds of dogs going through my home. I used to mark each dog's dish with his or her name on a piece of white electrical tape. When the dog was placed, I'd remove the tape and stick it on the wall over the sink in the food prep area. The whole wall was eventually covered with those name tapes.

Twenty years of getting more holiday cards from Greyhound adopters than family members and friends. Adoption follow-up calls like the sweet little old couple who told me after they got a Greyhound they couldn't walk around the house naked any more because of the cold nose at just the wrong height. Talk about TMI.

Twenty years of keeping every dog that nobody wanted for the rest of their lives. Some of them made it very clear why nobody wanted them. I kept them anyway, even if they weren't very pleasant to have around. They're why I'm the pet cemetery's single largest client.

Twenty years of hands that perpetually smelled like Clorox and old-style, cauterize-your-sinuses Adams Flea-Off Mist. I remember thinking whoever invented Advantage should get the Nobel Prize.

The dogs from the early years are all gone now, but others have taken their places in my life if never in my heart. To be honest, I even miss the obnoxious ones. I cherish every toothmark in my furniture and every indelible spot on my rugs. And I know full well that every time I get a phone call or e-mail telling me a Greyhound needs help RIGHT NOW for the next twenty years, I'm going to just keep doing it again and again . . .

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