It's been exactly one surreal week since I had to put down my beloved 12 1/2-year-old pet that I've had for eight years. Painter was my first dog that I had as an adult, and he was and will always be my heart dog. Even though I have another hound in the house, I think we are both grieving in our own ways.
In 1998, I was living in Redondo Beach. I got laid off from my job and vowed never to be an employee again. I started my own copywriting business working from home in my pajamas. The timing was right to get a dog.
Although I had never seen a greyhound up close and personal, I saw a mini billboard in the Oakland Airport with a greyhound wearing a stocking cap sitting on a loveseat with the caption, "50,000 greyhounds are killed every year simply because they don't run fast enough." I wrote down the URL, came home and filled out an online application in 15 minutes.
And that's exactly how my first greyhound Painter pogo-ed into my life and profoundly changed it.
I became enamored with the breed, and a year later, I failed fostering, as a second bounced into my life; Lily is 9 years young. I read every book on greyhounds and joined a greyhound listserv that in 1998 had 300 members and now has more than 3,000. When I moved to Tucson and realized there was a dog track in my own backyard, I became a greyhound activist and got involved in greyhound rescue.
Painter taught me how to work a room. He did that with such ease and grace that I followed his lead to become more outgoing. He taught me to accept others on their own terms without judgment; it's a big learning curve for me. And best of all, he made me laugh everyday.
Now Painter frolics without pain at the Rainbow Bridge along with all the other pets that have gone before him and lives on in cyberspace as I celebrate his life with Painter's Greyt Adventure.