Wednesday, April 19

Good Ol' George

This is George. Good Ol' George.

We know he was born to be a racer; the ear notches and the chest scars of kennel fights are proof. We also know because the registration tattoo inside his ear tells us so. The other inside-ear tattoo tells us he was the first pup of his litter, born sometime in January, 1994. We adopted him in 1998, so he had been in training or actual racing from his puppyhood until about four years old. At four years, he was too old, and put up for adoption.

His first adopter chained him in the sun to a doghouse too small for him. As with most dogs, he turned and turned and turned before settling down to sleep, but the doghouse was so small it rubbed the fur off his hips, shoulders, and forehead. He was left with no companionship, possibly for the first time in his life, in the heat of the desert. The greyhound rescue organization took him back. The rescuer knew us from a prior adoption (his “sister” Blaze), and gave him to us.

Poor George was washed up, unloved, skinny, and beautiful.

All greyhounds have two names: their racing name, which is similar to fancy racehorse names, and a simple kennel name used so the dog knows when s/he is being called or disciplined. In this case, his fancy name was "AY's Carry On." His kennel name was simply "George." There was no doubt when we adopted him that he was a George. Just a George. He looked at us with big soft, happy, pleading brown eyes that said: "Um. Hello. Um. Please love me. My name is George." So George it remained.

The few adoption awareness events we took him to were always fun. George never met a human he couldn't charm. If you didn't acknowledge him, he would just stand in your way until you patted his head, and he anointed you with doggy breath. He was his breed's best ambassador. A common phrase around our family and friends was "Everybody loves George!" It was true. And George loved Everybody back.

He tucked his head under your arm, the greyhound equivalent of a hug, then withdrew with a drippy nose to SSMIIIILE at you, the biggest thank you the world has ever seen. He wolfed down his dinner (because that’s what you do if you don’t want your race mates to steal it), then barf it up and eat it again at his leisure. He tolerated cats walking over him as he dozed. He loved going bye-bye in the car. He loved his vet. He ran like the wind itself, pointed in the direction of his flight, shoulders leaping before his forepaws, haunches gleaming like gold, his long nose an arrow, speed made flesh, the poetry and awe of Celtic Kings, the delight of Pharaohs, the equal of Goddess Diana.

He knew he was the fastest and most beautiful sprinter of all Olympians, legendary, rare, precious. As befitted his stature, he usurped the couch. Or the bed. Or the easy chair. Or the pillows. Or the beach towel. Or the carpet remnant. Or any soft thing he might want to lie on. Because he had worked, dammit. Because he was king among canines. Because his history was the royalty of ancient Egypt. Because he was beautiful and humble. Because he deserved it.

He deserved it because he was Good Ol’ George.

Good Ol’ Sweet Big Hearted George.

George died today.

My wife and I were with him at the end. The last thing he saw. Him, with his deep brown eyes of goodness. Us, eyes blurred with tears before the doctor George loved administered the compassionate dose of calming sleep.

The beginning of his end might have been a stroke, kidney failure, cancer, or any of a number of things. It doesn't matter.

I think Ol’ George’s giant heart just gave out, because it had given so much to so many, and it had nothing left to give.

Run, George.

And thanks for letting us know that the race isn’t how you finish, but the time you spend laughing in it.

* * * Please Help George’s Friends! * * *

Each year, hundreds, if not thousands, of greyhounds are abandoned, abused, or killed when their racing days are over. In an infamous case, dozens of greyhound carcasses were found in a shallow pit in the Arizona desert, their ears cut off so the tattoo marks couldn't be traced back to the owner(s).

Greyhounds make wonderful companions. If you want a dog that will do tricks, or guard your house, or make points with snobs, a greyhound is not for you. If you want a dog with an ancient, rich, and diverse history, a quirky personality that makes you scratch your head and chuckle, or a really good bed warmer on cold winter nights, consider a greyhound. They do have some special, but not burdensome, needs. Stairs? Never seen 'em. Glass doors? Never seen 'em. Extreme heat or cold? They have no insulating body fat, so aren't the most durable of animals. A little research and questioning your adoption consultant will make all the difference. What you invest will be repaid a millionfold.

For more information on how you can make a difference, PLEASE visit any of the links below, or simply do a Google search for "greyhound adoption." Your local humane society or animal shelter can also provide information on smaller greyhound adoption agencies specializing in placement in your area.

For a minor fraction of the price of any pure-bred dog, you can have a beautiful sweet-natured companion, complete with pedigree, shots, veterinary check-up, spay/neuter, leash training, house-breaking, and a heart as big as Ol’ George's.

Waiting to be YOUR best friend.


KOM said...

That was lovely. George deserved you every bit as much as you deserved him.

Squishi said...


Poor old George. I hope he's happy with my little doggies in Doggy Heaven :)

Jerk Of All Trades 2.0 said...

Good ol' George.
All dogs go to heaven you know.
I like dogs.
WAY cooler than those dang cats.
Good ol' George.

jazz bird said...

Sorry to hear. I'm glad you and he got to find each other for his last years of life. Sounds like you each gave the other some enjoyable time.

Erica said...

I'm sorry that George is gone. I'm so glad he had your family to give him the love and friendship he deserved.

Bebti said...

Good Ol' George.

*wipes back a few tears*

'nuff said...

Mom said...

I loved that dog. Every time I visited, he would just stand by my knee waiting to be greeted and get a pet. I'm so glad I got to say goodbye to him. Dogs like George never leave your heart.

jim said...

Heart hurts for you. Ashley & Disney have a companion again.

Anonymous said...

*moment of silence for George*

We had a couple of greyhounds back in the 90's, and even though it seems like they're just skin, legs, nose and ribcage, they're very lovable dogs.

George was wonderfully fortunate to have a family like yours.