Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Trails to You, Til We Meet Again

Today was the end of a journey, one that took a lifetime of almost thirteen years to complete. January 30, 1997 Stat US Hawk came into this world as a member of a large litter of puppies. Tonight, he left to move on to a better place, where old bodies don't give out, there's no danger of the sky ever falling and there are endless morning scratches and treats. If I'm honest with myself, he was ready to go when Treat left us a year and a half ago. He grieved for her almost as badly as I did, perhaps more in some ways, but I have a feeling he was torn. In his world, things were perfect when we were all together. When we were at home, everyone was supposed to be in the same room so he could keep track of them. He would never stand up for himself, but he was fiercely protective of Treat and me. I think he would have lay down and gone right along with her when she died, but he felt that he had to continue to do his job and keep the rest of us all together. Every night when it was time for bed, he couldn't rest until every person and dog was secure in the bedroom. If one of the girls didn't come to bed, he had to pace restlessly back and forth from the bedroom to the living room.

He wasn't an easy greyhound. We got Treat and she came into our lives as effortlessly as if she'd always been here. Hawk bit me three weeks after we brought him home, and we learned about things like fear biting. When he'd bite, it was because he felt cornered, and he was a very nervous sort of guy. When we went to the kennel to choose a second greyhound, Treat made her preference clear. When Hawk came in the room, she played for the first time since we'd adopted her months before. Several others came in and she was completely indifferent to them. Hawk came back in and she was playing again. We'd thought a new dog would make her feel safe and confident on walks. As it turned out, she stepped up because she realized he needed to be protected from the world. He was happy to be at home with his toys and his family, and he really didn't care to go anywhere else.

A year after we brought him home, we enrolled in a greyhounds only obedience class, partially because we wanted to start doing nursing home visits with Treat and partly because we thought it would give Hawk some much needed confidence. He excelled at obedience -- at home. For the class, I took Hawk while my husband took Treat. We would practice all week and Hawk was spot on. Treat would turn her head and ignore my husband completely, much to his irritation. Then, we'd go to class. Hawk was convinced that our instructor was a devil in disguise and he wanted nothing to do with her. He refused to do anything in class besides the recall, which he did excellently, running from the instructor to find me as if the hounds of hell were at his heels. He was so good at obedience that one day when he slipped his collar because he was afraid of a neighbor of ours and ran for home that I yelled "sit" and he sat at the intersection and waited for me instead of crossing into the street.

He didn't ever really mind the weather, but he loved this time of year in particular, when my husband would start bringing his quilt out to lay on the floor. In the first year we had him, he was so jumpy that we couldn't lay down near him. Then, one day he decided it was okay and came over to lay down beside me, resting against my leg. It was a moment I'll always remember. He became quite a snuggle hound in his older age. As soon as he saw someone with a quilt or blanket, he was pacing, waiting to get to the dog bed nearest that quilt first so he didn't miss out. I can't begin to count the number of days I've come out of the shower in the morning to see Hawk's nose and my husband's feet sticking out from beneath the quilt.
I can remember the first Christmas we had with them. We got a snowman toy for him that sang "Jingle Bells" and it drove him crazy. My husband's grandmother was in the hospital, so a short while after giving him the toy, we ran out to visit the hospital. When we came home, it was Christmas Carnage. Instead of two happy hounds greeting us at the back door, they came creeping towards us, guilt and terror on their faces. Our best guess is that the snowman got too close to the Christmas tree and then he got something caught in the tree lights. The tree was entirely down, ornaments were strewn about and two very nervous greyhounds awaited us. Then the cat peed on the tree to add insult to injury. Things with that tree just kept getting worse. We laugh about that every year at Christmas when we pull out the few surviving ornaments.
We often took Hawk to the nursing home when he was younger. He had a repertoire of tricks that he would do to entertain the residents because he wasn't always the most social with people. Yet, he always had a knack for finding the one person off in the corner alone who needed a quiet presence to lean against them. One woman in the Alzheimer's ward asked me every month what his name was. Then she'd turn and announce to the others "This is my dog Spot" as she gripped his leash between me and him. He always stood there patiently, waiting for me to disentangle him so we could move along.

Hawk taught me so many lessons about patience and perseverance, I can never count them all. I thought in the beginning that I was teaching him how to be a good dog, but the truth is, he was busy teaching me how to be a good person. In my heart, I can imagine him already running, his ball in his mouth with Treat running at warp speed behind him, the way they often did here at the baseball diamond. No doubt they have a lot of catching up to do. I know that I have been blessed to have them touch me in with all their perfect imperfections. Hawk, you wonderful, soft hearted mama's boy, I miss you so much already. Run free and be well!

Blueberry Types for the Blog


  1. I am so sorry for your loss...I didn't realize how attached i am to your pack and here i am crying. Reading your blog I fell in love with Hawk's "chicken little ways".... Run free sweet Hawk.

  2. Godspeed, dear Hawk, Godspeed.

  3. Oh dear!
    We want to say how sorry we are for your loss. Our heart breaks for you. We have not known you guys for long, but the pain of losing a much loved animal is universal.
    We have read Hawk's story from start to finish and you have done well to record it and share it with us all. Each dog is different in what they offer us! Each dog has their own special place and Hawk knew his well! It is a beautiful story!
    Please know that our thoughts are with you at this difficult time. But at least his life is one to be celebrated and remembered.
    With love

  4. We are so sorry for your loss. We will keep you all in our prayers during this difficult time.

    Emma Rose and The Duchess

  5. Oh no! I am so sorry for your loss..

    Anne (AnneGTS)

  6. Run free, Hawk. We are so incredibly sorry for your loss. As quirky as a rescue can be sometimes, they still are so able to wind they ways into our hearts and its hurts tremendously to let them go on their journey. But your tribute to him today was beautiful.

  7. Our hearts go out to you gal. That was a beautifully written tribute to a wonderful fellow. *Hugs*

  8. We are so sorry. I love what you said about instead of you training him, he was teaching you lessons. I believe all our dogs teach us so much.
    Run like the wind Hawk, at the Rainbow bridge where all is wonderful and there are no scarey things. We know he will be there waiting for you when it is your time.
    So very sorry.

  9. Thank you for sharing Hawk with us!!

    Run Free Dear Boy!!

    Beth (the Mama)

  10. Aw.... I'm so sorry. He's off galivanting somewhere with Treat.

    I'm so sorry...

  11. My heart aches for you and your family. I am so very sorry for your loss. We will keep you and your family in our thoughts adn prayers during this difficult time. We're here if you need us.

    Jess & Lilo

  12. Carrie, I just got out of a very long meeting and yours was the first blog I visited today. I'm done for the night, and I am heartbroken for you. I'll find you elsewhere to catch up, but please know the our family will pray for yours this day, and that you did one hell of a job with a wonderful hound who needed a little extra time to blossom.

    You should be proud.

  13. I don't know you and I just started reading your blog this week, but as I sit here with tears in my eyes I just wanted to say that you are in my thoughts and I am so very sorry for your loss.

  14. Oh gosh ... that made me cry, especially the last part.

    Hawk sounds so much like our first greyhound James. He was chronically anxious, and wanted nothing more from life than to be with me - oh, food, water, medical care and soft beds were all very well (according to Jim) but not to be compared with being right next to me, with no sign of me going anywhere. I loved that dog so much, and he loved me even more - and he and Hawk looked almost identical! Jim was perhaps a tiny bit redder in his brindle patches, but .. not by the time he left us. He'd faded to just that colour.

    I'm so sorry for your loss. I'm sure you're right; Hawk and Treat will be playing together, wherever they are now. It's so hard to lose them, but they are free from all pain and care now.

    I feel the same about Renie and Jack. Wherever they are now, they will be together, and she'll be protecting him, just as she did in life. It was her self-appointed role, and Jack was lost without her. He wasn't torn though, not like Hawk. He followed her five weeks later.

  15. What a absolutely beautiful tribute for your handsome Hawk. I am sitting her sobbing.

    I can't even imagine the reunion he and Treat had!

    Your family and boy are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time and always.


    Kim, Herman, Callie, Peanut, July, Pixie & Kitten

  16. Such a loving tribute. They do bring us absolute joy, don't they?


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