Sunday, November 25, 2012

One Year Later

It was one year ago today that I entered the garage of Stu and Barbara Homer (who operate Golden State Greyhound Adoption) and met my new dog, Olivia.

The Homer's dark garage was brimming with double-stacked crates holding ex-racer hounds that were about to meet their new guardians and discover freedom after a lifetime of confinement. At the moment though, the dogs were unnaturally quiet. They had no idea of the wonders that awaited them in just a few hours. Instead, they appeared shell-shocked, having just left their Florida race track one week earlier to endure a 7-day cross-country ordeal in the back of a truck.

And there, among the dozens of dogs, I spotted my underweight little girl, her cage marked with her racing name, MamaLu. A striking red brindle, the 3-year old looked especially frightened and withdrawn. My heart melted. I couldn't wait to give her the home she deserved.

However, this didn't happen right away. That's because, as readers of this blog and my Pet Tales column know, Olivia's arrival coincided with the cancer diagnosis, three days later, of my other greyhound, Elvis. Instead of doting on my new dog, Olivia watched from the sidelines as I nursed Elvis through surgeries, sat with him through chemo, and rushed him to emergency to treat leaking incisions almost every single night for two months. It was a nightmare in the truest sense of the word. And a losing endeavor because three months later my beloved boy lost his battle.

But through my tears I realized there was still another life depending on me. Not just for food and shelter, but for the same love and devotion I had bestowed upon Elvis for nine years. I started seeing Olivia -- really seeing her-- for the first time and appreciating her unique spirit. Appreciating how lucky I was to have this dog help heal my grief-stricken heart.

Today, Olivia is affectionate, playful and giddy, every step she takes bouncing with paws of joy. She hates carrots, loves baths, sleeps with her eyes open, and has breath that smells like frogs.  And she loves to snuggle, something I would have never risked doing with the stiff, wary, suspicious Olivia of one year ago. Today's dog makes satisfied little "ummmm" sounds as I rub her belly, neck and ears, and uses her needle nose to nudge me when I stop.

This is the home that Olivia deserved. The home I envisioned before life threw a monkey wrench in the works. Better late than never.

Happy Anniversary, sweet puppy.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Autumn in California

Who says California doesn't enjoy the same vibrant colors of the east coast? Our burst of beauty just comes later in the season, as evidenced by this shot I took today on an early morning walk with Olivia on the Iron Horse Trail.

"How silently they tumble down,
and come to rest upon the ground.
To lay a carpet, rich and rare,
Beneath the trees without a care.
Content to sleep, their work well done.
Colors gleaming in the sun."

       ~Elsie N. Brady


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Pet Tales on CBS

Ah, nice and refreshed after a few weeks off. Didn't do anything special, just took a little time off the computer and recharged the brain cells.

But while I was off, CBS was busy, sniffing around my Pet Tales column in the San Francisco Chronicle. They picked up a story I wrote on September 25 titled "Bet Puts Man and Horse on Healthy Course" and interviewed the subject, Sam DiLaura. CBS didn't credit Pet Tales (of course), but it's still an inspiring human interest story that played out nicely on the big screen.

Mark my words, this is a Disney or Lifetime movie in the works. I can just see it now: Bonnie Bedelia as the wife and Craig T. Nelson as the husband.

Check out the interview that ran on CBS!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Taking a Blog Break

Taking a much-needed snooze and recharging the creative juices.

Be sure to check back on November 21!
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