I couldn’t stand it any longer. Never mind my annoying neurological condition, which affects the strength and stability of my legs and requires me to wear braces on my calves and “Forrest Gump” shoes. My desire for a second dog was far surpassing the logical fact that trying to maneuver two 65-plus-pound Greyhounds might not be a good idea.
No one ever said I was logical.
And so, in spite of my better judgment, I paid a visit to Stu Homer, president and founder of Golden State Greyhound Adoption in Walnut Creek, Calif.
I told him I might (operative word here: might) be interested in adopting a second dog, but it would have to be a good fit. I showed him the braces and explained the reasons behind my shoes. I told him that I adored Hazel, the ex-racer I adopted from him three years ago, but knew I couldn’t physically handle two of her. This girl isn’t your typical retired “couch potato.” At eight years of age, Hazel shows no signs of slowing down, and while I delight in her youthful vigor, I would need a yin to her yang. A second dog would have to be—I stressed again—a good fit.
A few months went by and I hadn’t heard from Stu. Secretly, I was kind of hoping he’d forgotten our conversation, since I was having second thoughts. Hazel and I had a good thing going, I reasoned. Why rock the boat with a second dog? Still, it niggled at the back of my mind like a pebble in my clumpy shoe. One night, I even dreamed that I was snuggling with a black Greyhound.
Then, three months after I first spoke to Stu, the phone rang. “I’ve found the perfect dog,” he crowed. “He broke his hock at the track, so he’s got a bit of a limp and can’t walk too far. He’s got leg issues, you’ve got leg issues—it’s a perfect match! (Stu is from Brooklyn and doesn’t mince words.) “In fact,” he continued, “you’ve already met him on one of your Sunday Greyhound walks. He’s Marilyn’s new foster.”
What? Oh, wait … was he referring to Aiden, that bony black Greyhound with the gray muzzle and sad eyes? The shy, skinny, three-year old with the spine that resembled a silhouette of the Andes?
“Yup, that’s the one.” Stu said. “Want him?’
Did I? Even the sorriest ex-racer straight off the track usually shows a hint of promise, and you can imagine the dog he’ll become after he’s been on a healthy diet and packed on a few pounds. But this boy looked hopeless, like a black sack of rocks. With a drippy nose and dandruff, no less.
“I’ll take him,” I said.
Six months later, Aiden’s coat has the glossy black sheen that comes from a diet rich in fish oil, vitamins and nutrients. He’s filled out nicely, with no sign of the jutting ribs or sharp vertebrae he once pathetically sported, and his limp is barely visible, thanks to a daily joint supplement. Best of all, he’s morphed into a gentle, sweet and happy boy who has bonded beautifully with Hazel. The two are inseparable, always ensuring that some body part is touching whether they’re walking side-by-side or spooning on their Slumber Ball.
These days, when I’m sitting on the floor cradling Hazel under one arm and Aiden under the other, I think how happy I am that I didn’t listen to that little voice in my head—that same paranoid parental voice that used to warn me not to go outside without my coat or I’d catch pneumonia. Or not to get in a car with a stranger because I’d be murdered. Or the latest incarnation: not to get a second dog because I might trip while walking and break my neck.
Of course, anything could happen. I might yet catch my death of cold. Or poke my eye out while running with a steak knife. But the risks of the unknown can’t compete with the joys of the present.
Such as welcoming Aiden into my heart—a dog I’d already loved in my dreams.