Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Sky Is Falling -- And Other Mythic Tales by Hawk!

Hawk is the only male greyhound we have here in the house. He came home five months after we got Treat, and she chose him at the kennel. When I say that she chose him, I mean that we met one dog who was so frightened they had to drag him out of the kennel for us to meet and despite all her efforts, he wouldn't even look at her. Hawk came out of the back and we saw a side of Treat we'd never seen before -- our reserved little princess was jumping, barking and chasing him in an attempt to play. Two more hounds came in and she completely ignored them. She turned her cold little shoulder firmly their way. Hawk came back out and she came to life again. We brought him home that day.

Our intention when we brought him home was that he'd make Treat feel safer when we went out on walks. She had developed the habit of freezing up on our walks whenever a strange dog barked at her, even though she dearly loved going for walks. We figured a big, confident male greyhound would make her feel safer and make walking fun again.

That wasn't quite how it happened. It turns out that Hawk is a nervous sort of guy. The end result was what we hoped for, since Treat decided that she had to go out and protect the big lug from the world, it just didn't happen in the way we'd expected.

Treat and Hawk were always quite a pair. They served as role models for almost two dozen greyhounds that went through our home as fosters. Still, there was a unity between them that kept other hounds slightly out of their inner circle. Treat had epilepsy and Hawk was always very concerned about her when her seizures hit. While he would never stand up for himself, my mom's ten pound Bichon-Maltese cross used to put him in a corner, he would always stand up for Treat and me. He went after that same little dog once for going after Treat, and that little dog didn't mess with him again!

The funny thing about Hawk is that you never know what his neurosis of the day will be. Some days, he is convinced the sky will fall on him at any moment. This started after an unfortunate incident when we heard gunfire going off out on our walk. If we get in the car and go somewhere else, it's fine, but if we try to walk here in town, forget about it! He knows that the sky WILL fall on him one day. I'm sure that's how he will eventually die.

Other days, it's power cords! Pull a cord out of the wall and let it move in any way and he is a mass of quivering jello! I have never figured out the reason for this fear. I do know that one day he refused to go back across the living room after he realized that he'd walked over the fan cord that was plugged in to the wall while the fan was running. When I unplug the laptop to take it with me in the morning, I must do it with the utmost caution, lest it make noise or touch him while he sleeps on the nearby dog bed.

One day, he frightened himself out of a sound sleep with one of his own farts. I could not make that up. I nearly had a heart attack as my big, eighty pound dog leaped off the dog bed and streaked across the room. I thought the apocalypse was truly upon us! Then the stench hit me and I was sure that it had. From across the room, the frightened dog turned, sniffed at his butt and I swear that if dogs could blush, he would have. Being the horrible greyhound owner that I am, I laughed until tears streaked down my face. He never saw the humor in the situation.

Step over him while he's sleeping and you'll be lucky not to be knocked to the ground as he flails and then leaps to his feet. Any movement near where he sleeps is highly suspect. How he's managed not to injure one of us or himself with that one in the past nine years is beyond me.
Still, Hawk is one of those rare gems who is utterly devoted to his family. It bothers him a great deal at night if we're not all in the same room where he can keep watch over us. If I hadn't seen his pedigree, I'd swear there was some border collie in him! He is also affectionate in a way that is different from the girls. If you're having a bad day, Hawk is the one who looks like he could cry along with you. If he were human, he'd look like a tall, lanky cowboy and have the soul of a poet. He was not an easy dog when we got him, it was a lot of work. And yet, when I look at him now, and see how far he's come from what he was, I feel the most proud of him. The perseverance of his spirit is stronger than almost anyone else I've ever met. I look at him now and see his body growing frail, and he has missed Treat terribly since we lost her last year. I see the sands slipping through the hourglass of our time together and I realize that I want to cherish every one of those grains of sand. So even though the possibility looms that the sky might fall at any moment, I realize that just means that we'll have to take some long drives together. I realize that what may seem like a trivial accomplishment for some is a huge leap for others. The life lessons I've learned from him have been quiet and subtle, but they are important just the same. I feel lucky that I've been able to learn them with him!


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