Months pass. Winter leaves behind mounds of plowed-over, dirty frozen snow which take months to fully melt away. Spring begins to warm and brighten the landscape.
In January, Mom and Dad had an “anniversary.” I’m not sure what that is, but it has something to do with how much they love each other. And they love each other a lot. Mom says Dad is the best thing that ever happened to her. Dad frequently asks ‘how did he get so lucky?’ For me, never before having experienced what love between humans can be like, it was new and strange – but wonderful. I could feel the love that came from them and surrounded them. I was becoming enveloped in their love, becoming a part of it somehow, and that new sensation was so warm and comforting. I knew I was home, and this home meant safety and security for me for the rest of my life.
I began to change then. Maybe it was the lovely meals I get twice a day, plus treats. Maybe it was all that love. Maybe it was both. The fur on my butt and thighs began to grow back. My gums stopped bleeding. My ears were now clear and free of wax deposits. The blackheads on my chest began healing and clearing. I began to gain weight; my coat grew glossier and softer each day. But more amazing than the physical changes were the changes in my personality.
Just a few months earlier, when I was first adopted, I was nervous and fearful of almost everything. But as I was fed and cared for so lovingly, and taught so many new and wonderful things, my fear lessened. I quickly learned that humans here, away from the track, are ALL nice! Every human I meet is a new friend! I learned that the car is not so awful, because it takes us to fun places full of new scents where I can play. Lessons like these have shaped my life and made it happy and secure.
Mom has changed too. She cries less and is not as frightened of the thumping overhead. She seems healthier and has gained some weight. When they first brought me home, Mom was underweight because of stress and illness. She says having me in her life helps her so much. This makes me proud. In my life at the track, I never even began to think that I could do something for a human that they needed. I just ran, ate and slept. Now though, not only do I enjoy a rich life, full of comforts and a loving environment, but my life here has a purpose.
As my fears lessen, so do my inhibitions. I discover what playing is, to the delight of Mom and Dad. They laugh each time I bite a toy and fling it or make it squeak repeatedly. I play “pounce” with Mom and Dad. I play bow and stomp my front paws, pouncing toward them. One of them pounces toward me and laughs. I whirl around, bite a toy, snap my teeth in the air, and pounce again. They pounce back and laugh. I love human laughter. It makes me feel happy and encourages me to continue doing whatever it is that makes them laugh.
With my newfound confidence, I am more playful with other dogs but also more aggressive toward those small fluffy creatures we sometimes meet with other humans. They are on a leash like a dog, and Mom assures me that they are in fact real dogs too. But I don’t believe it. How can a “real dog” look, sound and move like prey? Mom says we are going to work on this behavior. I don’t know what that means exactly, but I get the idea she wants to change me reaction to those small fluffy things. I don’t see why we should change my reaction. But Mom’s the boss.
With the warmer weather, we go to the park more often, which I enjoy very much, although when I arrive home I am completely exhausted and sleep for the rest of the day.
One day in late spring, Mom and Dad put me in the car and we take a long drive. As the car turns off the main roads and into a grassy area, I can see dozens – maybe hundreds – of dogs! Real dogs: Greyhounds! I begin to whine in anticipation. I want to meet them all!
“Shh, calm down, Gracie-girl. You’ll get to meet them soon enough.”
We get out of the car and walk around what I recognize as a park. But it is full of tents and tables – and Greyhounds. Mom and Dad walk me over to one of the tents. Mom talks to the woman under the tent.
“We’d like to get her microchipped.”
“OK, just fill out this form and we’ll take care of her.”
Mom hands my leash off to Dad and starts writing something. Dad leads me a few feet away, and while Mom is still writing, the woman in the tent walks over to me with a big needle and quickly sticks me between the shoulder blades.
Mom looks up from her writing.
“It’s done. She’s chipped.”
“What a yelp!”
“You know she’s a bit of a drama queen.”
Hey. I resent that.
We walk toward a table that smells very good. There are people preparing food and eating all around it. There’s also a line of humans with Greyhounds waiting for food. We stand in line. The humans all talk to each other about the dogs. We dogs sniff each other and enjoy a subtle exchange. It goes something like this:
Me: Sniff sniff. Nice to meet you. Your people seem nice.
Brindle girl: Sniff sniff. Nice meeting you too. My people are very nice. How are yours?
Me: Oh they’re great. Are you allowed on the furniture? I am.
Brindle girl: Yes, I am too. It’s great being retired, huh? Who knew humans were so nice?
Me: Yeah, who knew? Hey, look, someone dropped a hamburger!
And we both look at the hamburger, calmly keeping our places in line. Eventually a large parti-colored female shoves past us to eat the burger.
Someone has obviously forgotten their Greyhound manners.
Mom and Dad eat and talk to several of the kind people that I met months ago, when I first arrived from Florida. Mom buys a t-shirt to support the adoption group and then we go back to the car for the long drive home.