October has been a tough month for loss. Loss of the worst kind. The loss of those furry hairy creatures we call dog. I am deeply saddened that THREE of my long-time guest dogs have passed on.
When dogs board here, they move into and stay in my heart too. I love the dogs who come to stay with us and so it is deeply painful for me as well when these angels leave us to take up residence at the Rainbow Bridge.
All three of these guys have been hanging out over here at the Grey Zone for years. And all three of them are in that “One of My Very Favorites” category. There was something so incredibly special about each one of them.
Bene: Bene first came to visit back when he was newly adopted at age 6. He just left this earthly plane at age 14 so he’s been coming to stay with me for 8 years!
Bene has always been a super cool dude of a dog. I had a nickname for him: “Swagger.” Because he was a very tall brindle boy and had the smoothest walk ever. He didn’t really walk; he swaggered! Hard to put into words exactly why his walk was so cool, but the way he’d move his shoulders as he put one paw in front of the other, those big shoulder blades swaying as he slowly sauntered. He was suave and debonair. In human terms, Bene could’ve been that gorgeous guy walking through the bar who would turn all the women’s heads with his self-assuredness, glancing over only to tease and leave them awed and breathless, their hearts skipping a beat as he walked on by. That was Bene. Cool. Calm. Collected. Confident. Always.
He was never in a hurry. Ever! It’s hard to fathom, in light of his slow-moving demeanor, that he ran 110 races in just 21 months during his racing career!! A very determined guy, Bene would get up and go wherever he wanted, whenever he felt moved to do so. The last time he was here, just two weeks ago, he cracked me up because it was raining and he went outside anyway. And I mean it was pretty close to a torrential rainstorm. I watched in astonishment as Bene, his swagger wandering him all over the yard, poked around at the wet blades of grass, the cannas in the back corner, the bird bath, the mums…just meandering as water from the sky rained down upon him. He didn’t care. I couldn’t tell if he was actually kinda diggin’ it, but for sure he didn’t mind it. My chicken-shit dogs, on the other hand, won’t get their lazy butts off the couch if there’s even a hint of rain in the air!
Old Ben, he was a cool dude. I told his mama the other day that Bene had a way of just making me happy when he stayed here. He had such a sweet personality, a face full of expression and a look of genuine innocence that just melted me.
He was very endearing at mealtimes. Bene never got up to eat. I would just set his bowl down next to his bed –or sometimes on his bed– and he’d raise his head up and lay there and eat, very slowly, like he was savoring every morsel, taking time to look around the room in between mouthfuls. It was the funniest thing. I just used to sit and watch him and he’d look up and our eyes would catch, his big eyes so dark now against his snow white face, and we’d smile at each other. Well, I was smiling. I’m pretty sure he was smiling inside too.
Whether Bene was in swagger mode or eating or lying on his back with all four legs in the air (“cockroaching” as we greyhound folks call it), he always brought such a big smile to my face.
Bene was, in my opinion, the King of Cockroaching. As long as I’ve known Bene he has always let it all hang out. He was the most comfortable-in-his-skin dog I’ve ever known! Modest? Hardly! Obviously.
Precious Bene. Sweet Swagger Boy. My heart will never be the same and I will miss you terribly. Until we all reunite one day, run free and happy sweet boy. Bene Ghadimi (aka Y Knot Jupiter) Nov 28,1999 – Oct 25, 2013
Mike. Now Mike’s another character! Another brindle boy who cracked me up all the time too. He had his favorite spot in my house: The recliner, and before that, the chaise lounger that sat in that same spot. He’d come in the house and immediately claim that chair as his. And his it would be for the duration of his stay.
The last couple of years, that’s pretty much the extent of Mike’s activity when he came here. But when he was a youngster, Lord how this dog loved to run!
Those younger days long gone, he slowed down significantly and was happy to simply nap on the recliner all day, get up, stretch a bit, go out to potty, then back on the recliner until it was time to eat.
Now Mike was an eater! He was most certainly motivated by food. He’d be so wound up and excited –and impatient– at the prospect of dinner that I could not even set his bowl down for him on the coffee table before he would have both his front legs up on the table, reaching with his neck to get his nose to that food.
More than once he’s eaten his entire meal with his back legs firmly planted on the floor, supporting the rest of him while his front paws would be straddling his bowl on top of the coffee table! When he had his fill (read: when every single piece of kibble was gone) he’d head back to the recliner, like “What’re we watchin’ tonight?” and he’d settle in for an evening round of TV dramas.
Mike was a very simple guy. Not unlike most men I know, Mike’s favorite things in life were going for walks, power-nap snoozing and anything that involved food. He’d eat just about anything, I found out the hard way. I had forgotten his reputed counter-surfer reputation when I accidentally left a chicken breast out to thaw. A short while later I walked into the kitchen only to discover that my supposed-to-be dinner had disappeared off the counter. That chicken breast was completely frozen and hadn’t had much time to thaw out. And he ate the whole thing! There wasn’t a scrap of evidence left behind. From that point on, whenever he came over, EVERYTHING that was even remotely edible was put up and away.
But I sure never expected what happened on one of his visits: He was here when there was a crowd. It might’ve been a holiday because there were alot of dogs here. Having a seamless and uneventful dinner when there are twelve dogs in the house takes some serious strategic planning. You have to know the dogs and their dispositions, how they are around food, who can eat with who and who needs to dine alone. Mike was one of those who needed to eat by himself because he’d finish almost within seconds of me setting the bowl down and then he’d want to poke around in the other dogs’ bowls, while their heads were still in it! That’s not a good thing. In those cases, the dogs who eat super fast get a dining spot either in a closed bedroom, out in the garage or out on the back deck. This particular time, I put Mike out in the garage. That way he had full access to the dog run and could sniff around and mark the yard to his heart’s content while the others finished eating.
Well, all the dogs had finished their meals and each was starting to make their way to their individual spots on the dog beds or the couches for their after-dinner naps, all of them licking their chops as they went. (Sidebar: I LOVE to see dogs lick their chops after eating! For some ridiculous reason it’s so very comical to me and I’m continually amazed at just how many times they lick, first one side of their mouth, then the other, over and over with their tongues gliding out and over, cleaning their whiskers. Just how many times does a dog have to lick until his whiskers are clean after a meal? It cracks me up. Why is that funny to me? That should be the real question here… But just for grins, the next time your dog eats a meal, count how many times his or her tongue laps the side of his or her muzzle afterward. I’m tellin’ ya, it’s alot! And counting the times is kinda like trying to count how many times Nazareth says “Now you’re messing with a son-of-a-bitch” in that 70s classic Hair of the Dog, right? If you’re not familiar with this song, check it out here on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kyXz6eMCj2k).
Anyway, back to the story… After all the dogs had finished eating I gathered up the dog bowls and opened the garage door to get Mike in. My heart dropped into my stomach for a minute as I tried to make sense of what I was seeing. The whole garage floor was covered in some mess of white. White what?? I didn’t know at first what it was and I could feel a little panic starting to well up. What had Mike gotten into in the garage?? I’m thinking, Oh my God, what is this? Jesus, please tell me it’s nothing poisonous, like fire ant killer or something.
As I stepped out into the garage and approached the vast sea turning my gray garage floor white, I was relieved to find that it was nothing to worry about as far as Mike’s health and well-being were concerned. What hit me next was utter bafflement. It was white rice. Little pellets of dry white rice! Why on earth would this dog be interested in raw dry WHITE RICE?? I pondered that question the whole time I was cleaning it up. What a mess it was. Mike had broken into a brand new package of rice. And not your average size package of rice either. This was a Costco-sized bag. We’re talkin’ TEN POUNDS of rice pellets flung all over my garage. What a mess! But more, what a mystery! What the hell is the turn-on in raw white rice for a dog?? After that I no longer used the garage to store shelf-stable grocery items. Mike’s ‘rice-romp’ and his chicken breast thievery were the catalyst for the implementation of sound defense tactics in the fight against counter-surfing and grocery destruction.
Oh Mike… How I will miss you, your antics and your sweet disposition. Run free, my friend, and know that you are missed. Until we meet again… Mike May (aka Mike’s Canyon) Oct 24, 2000 – Oct 29, 2013
Morty. “Crazy Mort,” as I used to call him, first came to me when he was just 4 years old. He lived with another silly greyhound named Ruffles. He and his ‘sister’ were inseparable.
And they were always high energy. I don’t know who played off of who, but neither stayed still for very long. It was a given that any time I moved, even if they were both sound asleep, they would bounce up, bound over and follow me wherever I went…even if it was just across the dang room!
Morty was such a sweetheart. He was the embodiment of pure love. When I first met him he was quite active and, shall I say, hyper. And he was huge so he could knock even my big ass over! He loved to be outside, running with the other greyhounds. Or he’d just enjoy hanging out, keeping watch over the yard and taking in all of nature’s scents.
But through the years, he mellowed, bit by bit, and then he preferred hanging out on the dog beds with stuffy toys over running laps in the yard.
…or he’d watch me. Even though he was much more laid back he would still jump up with wild excitement any time I moved a muscle. His face was always so full of eager anticipation. He was ready at a moment’s notice. In fact he was at the ready even before you gave notice! Never was he caught off-guard.
Morty had a keen sense of the here and now. He was very present in the moment…in each moment…and he loved every single second! He was such a happy dog. Just pure happiness he was. And he spread his cheerful spirit to any and all around him, canine or human. He was another one who always made me smile. You couldn’t help but be infected with his pure joy. He was love. All love. And I will miss him so much.
Keep ’em guessing up there Morty! I will miss your generous spirit. Run free and share your abundant love.
Morty Hurley (aka Ar’s Mr. Kreuzn) July 16, 2002 – October 14, 2013
Although we know we were incredibly blessed to have these precious loving beings grace our lives, know that they were equally blessed because they had amazing, kind and giving families and their forever homes were happy ones. No matter what they had endured before they got to their forever homes, their lives began anew in the loving hearts of Molly & Alan (Mike), Dona & Ramin (Bene) and Audrey & Don (Morty). To each of you I say: Thank You for blessing me with the opportunity to know and love your babies. They will be – and already are – greatly missed.