Life Moments column
By Christine Bryant
It’s never easy to know when to say goodbye.
Often times, as pet owners, we have the unique responsibility of deciding when the furry, scaly or feathered members of our family shouldn’t have to suffer anymore. It’s something no one looks forward to, yet as a pet owner, you know that day eventually could come. You also know goodbyes are always inevitable.
About two weeks ago, my family said goodbye to our Annie, who at almost 14, was suffering from kidney failure.
I adopted Annie from a greyhound rescue about nine years ago. She was a retired racer, having competed in Kenosha, Wis., for about a year. A decade ago, greyhound racing was still popular, and though some tracks still exist, many have since closed.
Once greyhounds are finished racing, rescue groups often race themselves to take in the dogs that the kennel owners no longer want, ultimately saving their lives and giving them a family.
When Annie came into my life, I was living in Indiana. I had heard about greyhounds, but didn’t know much about them, so I reached out to a local rescue organization. A volunteer contacted me and asked me to stop by a pet store where the group would be that Saturday, and that he had a dog in mind for me.
As soon as I met Annie, I have to admit, I was a little unsure of whether our relationship was going to work. The rescue volunteers said she had been adopted out once, but was returned. As we walked around the store together, her stubborn side immediately came through as she planted her feet and refused to move in any direction except for the one she wanted to go.
She also immediately stole my heart, however, with her leaning.
If you’ve never met a greyhound, you’ve probably never experienced one of the ways they say hello. I’m not entirely sure why they do this, but greyhounds love throwing their entire body weight against your legs. Make sure you have good footing – otherwise, you’ll end up on the ground next to them.
I took Annie home that day, and I remember lying on the floor next to her, both of us with that “what do we do now?” kind of look.
It wasn’t always easy – having a dog of my own brought a set of challenges I hadn’t expected, from dealing with separation anxiety to working through what I suspect were the lasting effects of years of abuse as a racer.
But what I remember most are the good memories – the days watching her outrun all the other dogs at the dog park, our staring contests when she wanted something (usually a biscuit), and our walks along Lake Michigan as she pranced around in the sand.
Nine years and many memories later, we said goodbye one last time. Her health had begun to deteriorate from kidney failure, but over the last month, it became apparent her time with us was coming to a close.
It’s always difficult to know the right moment when you have a pet suffering from a chronic illness – that moment when you’re confident you aren’t cutting your pet’s life short too early. That moment when you know it’s time.
That night, Annie started experiencing violent tremors in her legs, which our veterinarian said was likely the beginning of seizures caused by neurological issues stemming from kidney failure.
It was time.
I still hear her footsteps coming down the hall, despite the fact she’s no longer here. I suspect I will for a while.
I’ll always remember that day nine years ago when Annie and I met. Though it may have seemed I was there to adopt her, I think in many ways she picked me. Rest easy, sweet Annie.
Christine Bryant is a Messenger staff writer.
What a beautiful tribute to your faithful greyhound, Annie. Every word written from your heart shows how deeply
Annie was loved. I agree that writing is therapeutic and I know your lovingly written story of your years with her
will erase any anxiety you may have in saying goodbye to her. She will always have a special place in your heart.
Thank you for sharing, Christine. How fortunate Annie was to have had you in her life all those years.
Thank you for a lovely story, Christine.