A few memories, in honor of my greyhound Dixon…
Must Catch the Furries!
When I first adopted Dixon, he was fresh off the track with a prey drive as intense as a teenage boy’s sex drive. Ears erect, eyes sharp, he lusted after every small, furry creature in sight. I walked him with a muzzle, his leash wrapped tightly around my wrist to keep his urges under control. One day though, Dixon caught Orange Kitty in our own back yard. Great clumps of orange fur covered the yard, Dixon’s face sported some fresh scars, and I feared for Orange Kitty’s life. Two days later, Orange Kitty returned, looking no worse for wear, although he never stepped foot into the back yard again.
Take That, Border Collies!
Not surprisingly, in his prime, Dixon was the fastest dog at the dog park, even faster than those brainy, Frisbee-catching Border Collies. They might be smarter than every other dog at the park (and possibly smarter than some of the owners too), but they could never outrun my boy. Many times, I laughed as Dixon took a Border Collie’s cockiness down a notch or two as he chased the dog down, flipped him into the air with a quick scoop of his head under the belly, and then stole the Frisbee right out of the dog’s mouth. That’s my boy!
OMG! The Flies! The Boxes!
Greyhound racing is a cruel sport, even at the best of tracks. From everything I’ve read about where Dixon raced, there was no way his life at the track was anything but brutal, leaving him with a few heartbreaking quirks, including a fear of flies and Amazon boxes.
The innocuous buzz of a nearby housefly would often wake Dixon from a sound sleep and send him bolting in panic, often straight into walls or down the stairs. I’m amazed he never hurt himself. Those times when he simply gave up – flinging himself to the ground, curling into a tight ball, and closing his eyes in an attempt to ignore the fly – were even more distressing. Whenever he did this, I imagined him trapped in a cage, with no choice other than to surrender to the flies’ unrelenting bites.
Amazon boxes plagued Dixon almost as badly as flies – not the boxes themselves, but the sound of us opening them, that loud POP! as the scissors pierced the packing tape, the ripping as we peeled back the tape. There wasn’t an Amazon box opened in our house that didn’t compel Dixon to leave the room. In fact, he often wouldn’t even wait for us to open them; he’d head to the back of the house as soon as we brought the boxes inside off the porch. I assume that each time we opened an Amazon box, Dixon again heard the POP! of the starting gun at the race track.
Dixon was one of the gentlest creatures I’ve ever met, and he had a way of gazing into your eyes, making you feel as if he were looking directly into your soul.
At the same time, he was the goofiest dog!
Case in point: in the evening after work, while I relaxed on the couch, Dixon would stand by me, velvety brown eyes beseeching me until I asked: “Who’s hungry? Dixon, are you hungry?”
Suddenly, he’d be spinning in circles, play bowing, helicoptering his whip-long tail, spinning in more circles, punctuating it all with: “Ah-roo! Ah-roo! Yes, I’m hungry!”
And really, that tongue…
Dixon was a study in contrasts: a powerful athlete with rippling muscles and yet a Drama Queen of the highest order. One day, I trimmed one of his nails too short, and it started to bleed. He didn’t notice the pain of the cut, but as soon as I wrapped his foot to keep the blood off the carpet, his foot was gone! Amputated! He couldn’t stand, couldn’t walk, and certainly couldn’t go outside to pee! He was just going to have to lay down on the dog bed and die. The paw was gone – life was over!
Maybe it was the years he spent racing in the heat of the Arizona summer, but Dixon absolutely loved snow. The more, the better! Being in Texas, we don’t get snow often, but when we did, he was the first dog to bolt out the back door. A wide smile on his doggie face, he’d racetrack around the backyard, throwing his tennis ball into the air, catching it, pouncing on it, having a supremely grand time.
Too Much Love
As much as I loved Dixon, I realized he was the most disloyal bastard in all of dogdom. When he was older and could no longer run at the dog park, he’d spend his time there walking from one person to the next to the next, leaning into them so they’d pet his rabbit-soft fur and rub him behind his silky ears. He would have left the park with ANY SINGLE ONE OF THEM! He simply loved everyone, unconditionally, unreservedly.
Just as I loved him.