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The Thaddeus Gazette



There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and Sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.

When Ada moved in on me (in a whole lot of ways), one of the things that came with her, along with grown children, furniture and attitude, was a greyhound.

It wasn't the first time. When Sandahbeth and I had our momentous combining, she had a dog too. Now, I've never been what you would call a dog person, though I have no objections to the species as long as they stay on their side of the fence. I'm even open to loving up on other folks' pampered commensals. But I've always been leary of unfunded commitments. And for all their appealing dogginess, pooches just don't make good conversation.

San's dog was lost not long after we married, and the rigors of the road life kept us out of the pet business until we finally had a house of our own, at which point we got a cat. I was more partial to kitties since they'd played a large role in my childhood and I felt I understood them. But by the end of our marriage and San's life, we had neither dogs nor cats.

Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie —
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.

While I was more than ready to give up bewildered bachelorhood for a sprightly new partner, Sugar Baby, Ada's brindled hound, was almost a deal breaker. It was only my willingness to embrace the changes that had swept over me and follow them wherever they led that coaxed me into the arrangement. A good thing, too — of the myriad weird curveballs life was throwing me, one slightly goofy retired racer (soon to be featured on a Wheaties box near you!) was the least excessive and most comforting.

When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumor, or fits,
And the vet's unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find — it's your own affair —
But — you've given your heart to a dog to tear.

Baby wasn't young when we first met, but she lasted another three years, whitening and going blind along the path. Ada petitioned for a companion for her towards the end, and I became furdaddy to Dorothy, a sweet and ferocious Lhasa-poodle mix (a Lhasadoodle? please...) of indeterminate age. Soon after that, Baby made her transition to the Rainbow Bridge and we were all out of greyhound chi.

When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!).
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone — wherever it goes — for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear.

Ada mourned long and hard, and then went right back and adopted another greyhound. Little Miss Sunshine (Sunny to her friends, [i.e., everyone]) had introduced herself to us at the rescue kennel by jumping into our laps and kissing our faces, and she's pretty much stuck to that story ever since.

Rescue greyhounds, it must be noted, arrive pretty much as complete packages, grown, groomed, trained and well-versed in the needs of civilized company. But as a result of that training they're also somewhat aloof and indifferent towards other dogs that haven't attained their own exalted rank. Greyhounds love other greyhounds. Ada patiently explained this to me as a justification for getting yet another hound. And in the end she wore me down and I acceeded to letting her foster.

Like many another, Ada proved her complete incompetence at fostering by falling madly in love with her charge, a n'erdowell black lab trapped in a greyhound's body we named Ziva, 85 pounds of lean, mean running machine with an endless appetite for anything she could chew and virtually none of the usual greyhound reticence about her. Apparently she flunked greyhound finishing school. She proved a bouncing, bounding, barking yang to Sunny's meditative yin, and the two spent many a happy hour racing each other around our greyhound playground back yard, and occasionally snoozing together on the couch (the only thing greyhounds are better at than running is sleeping).

As the youngest (as well as largest) of our pups, Ziva seemed in the prime of life. Happy, healthy, hearty and apparently rarin' to keep right on keeping on. Our biggest worry with her was getting her to not bark quite so much.

Then about a week ago Ada let her out to go play in the yard, and when she went to call her, Ziva didn't come. We assumed she'd escaped and and enlisted the aid of neighbors and other greyhound folks and scoured the neighborhood calling. And the next morning we found her in the yard under a tree, looking like she'd just gone to sleep. We dug a hole behind the garage next to where we'd put Baby and buried her with a yoga blanket and a toy. And now there are big greyhound-shaped holes in our hearts and we're extra tender to the doggers we still have.

We've sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent.
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we've kept 'em, the more do we grieve:
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long —
So why in — Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?

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