Four-Legged Friends: Dog Search


A few weeks ago on a beautiful Saturday morning I met up with a woman who I have called a “friend” for about 10 years now. Kerry Wyler from Portland, Maine. It was on the happy occasion of her looking at the available greyhounds at the Greyhound Pets of America-Massachusetts kennel in Middleborough. Kerry has recently lost both of her greyhounds to the disease known in the greyhound community as “osteo,” which is a shortened name for Osteosarcoma, or bone cancer. Bone cancer can strike any breed, but racing greyhounds have an approximately one in five chance of getting bone cancer. This is thought by most to be a result of genetics and not racing. Whatever the cause, it is a devastating disease.

Pippin, formerly Conrad (Photo by Kerry Wyler)

Pippin, formerly Conrad (Photo by Kerry Wyler)

Kerry and I are both part of an online club primarily made up of women who do, or have in the past, owned pet greyhounds. We feel the loss of every hound as keenly as if it were our own. We have a tradition of taking up a collection when a dog dies. Since Kerry lost two almost at the same time, the collection was extra special, and we were able to surprise her with more than enough money to adopt a new hound, or even two if she wants.

Kerry came from Maine to Massachusetts on my recommendation. The kennel volunteers, Matt and Denise Schumitz, do a spectacularly good job of matching up the right dog with the right person. No adoption kennel likes to see “bounce back” dogs (dogs who don’t work out and are returned), so it behooves them to make good matches to start with.

Kerry knew she wanted a male dog, and beyond that she had no preconceived notions, which is always good. She’s smart enough and dog savvy enough to know each dog is an individual, and while all greyhounds are the same general size, shape, and appearance, some are laid back, some are bouncy, and some are timid. You cannot tell from photos; you can only tell when you meet them in person.

We met at 10 a.m., hugged, and squealed a bit over the excitement of meeting in person, finally. She loved on my dog, Buck, who was with me, and then the real fun began.

One by one, Denise (kennel volunteer) led each male dog out of the kennel into the yard for Kerry to meet. Each dog was then turned over to Kerry, who walked off with it on a leash to have a few private moments. I was having such a good time I forgot I was supposed to be taking pictures. Oops. Sometimes it’s best to be in the moment and enjoy it with all of your senses and not through the lens of a camera.

She had seen photos of most of the dogs on the internet and read the short biographies posted. She had a vague sense that there were a couple of dogs she was most interested in, but wanted to try out each and every one of them, which was amazingly fun. While all of them are tall, thin, long, with whip-like tails and ears as soft as a bunny, they were all so very different.

What Kerry was looking for was a connection. It’s one of those things you can’t really describe, but you know it when you have it.

We learned a little bit about each dog, any previous injuries, and quirks, which ones would or would not be able to live with cats and/or small animals, which ones were most likely going to be okay around small children, and which ones might require some special handling. I didn’t ask Kerry a lot of questions — I really wanted this to be her day — and she proceeded at her own pace, asked her own questions of Matt and Denise from the kennel, and gave each dog her full attention.

There was only one she rejected outright, and while she found him beautiful and fun, he was just too much dog for her — very rambunctious, kind of large, and quite young. He was just not the right choice.

When she had run through them all, she had a short list in her head of dogs she wanted to look at again. That’s when it got really exciting for me. She didn’t think she would be able, emotionally, to actually select a dog that day and take it home. But I could see she was changing her mind. I could see the heavy sadness that was weighing her down when she got there lifting ever so gradually. The pain of losing her two boys will always be with her as it is for everyone who has loved and lost a dog. But today — today there was light at the end of that tunnel of pain. Today was a special, special day.

Eventually she had it narrowed down to two: Pickle and Conrad. Neither was a bad choice, both being beautiful fawns. Pickle was larger, by far. Both were about the same age, but I think she felt a stronger connection with Conrad, so Conrad it was, and he was heading for Maine!

Paperwork was filled out, a check was exchanged for the dog, and a lovely new leash and collar were given to Conrad. I couldn’t have been more excited if it had been me bringing him home!

He jumped right into her car, we hugged and said goodbye, and my last view of them was Conrad, sticking his head out of the window, looking thoroughly pleased by this happy turn of events.

It’s been a few weeks now. Conrad is now named Peregrin Took, or Pippin (Lord of the Rings fans will understand). He has adapted beautifully to home life, and there is a lightness that has returned to Kerry. We all hope they have many long and happy years together, and that Kerry uses the rest of the money we gave her to get Pippin a brother as soon as she can.

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avatar Posted by on May 12 2017. Filed under Featured Content, Opinion. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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