This I Believe

Penny - Mishawaka, Indiana
Entered on September 13, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I was voted the least likely member of my family to bond with a pet.

I made a fairly calculated choice when the time came to honor a promise to my son and get a dog. I had friends who had adopted retired racers. I did some research and found that greyhounds came crate trained, walked well on a leash, didn’t bark much and didn’t require a lot of exercise (they are the world’s most ardent couch potatoes).

Ariel came into my life when she was ten. She had an athletic build and soft deep brown eyes with eyeliner markings that gave her an exotic look. She actually looked more like a German Shepard than a purebred greyhound. She knew exactly how to tilt her head and flirt for the camera. Her coat was a beautiful caramel shade and was rabbit-fur soft. She would try to put herself into the leash when it was walk time. She was a little timid and had a habit of putting a piece of furniture between her and other people. She came to life outside and loved to play tag with my son. If she didn’t have a project to occupy her when she was left alone she would help herself to my books and literally devour them.

Ariel died about two and a half years ago. She went out fighting and endured several strokes and seizures one day before the vet helped me ease her out of her misery. It was a relatively easy decision because she was suffering but it was a gut wrenching experience. It took me well over a year to complete the grieving process. I still miss her.

Kristi is my first. She is with me today. She has the same coloring as Ariel but the similarities end there. She has a petite build and a silky coat. She loves people and will approach them so they have an opportunity to adore her as she feels she deserves. She expends most of her energy bounding around and tossing her stuffies at the prospect of going for a walk. (stuffies are the small stuffed animals that greyhounds are given as pups to prepare them for the big “race.”)

My son was 14 when we got Kristi. He’s 23 now and on his own. Kristi and I share the remaining empty nest. Her beautiful face is completely white and her legs wobble when she climbs the stairs. She doesn’t walk as far or as fast as she used to but she still does a little dance and throws her stuffies when it’s time for a walk.

I knew I was doing a good thing when I adopted Kristi and Ariel. I knew it was good for them and I knew it was good for my son. I just didn’t know how good it was for me.

I am a better person by having pets in my life. I am more compassionate toward living things in general and particularly toward those humans who choose to share their life with an animal. I understand how someone can grieve long and hard when they lose their companion and I appreciate how pets can ease the transitions we humans are expected to bear in life.

And all this time I thought I was rescuing them.