I have Cherry, who is 4, and Trista who just turned 9 months old. Right after I got her, we took puppy classes where she impressed me with her eagerness to learn and ability to understand quickly. She even sits on command, a rare greyhound trait. Three months ago, I was on the road to a well-trained dog.
But, I never did sign up for the next set of lessons. I had started a new chemo which made me even more tired, and I stopped practicing with her because Cherry got in the way. Trista sits when told and my husband walks her twice a day and she seemed obedient enough to me. We are working on her jumping on people, but aside from that problem, I thought she was doing well for a puppy her age.
More importantly, she keeps me company; I am alone a lot.
My days are spent in expressive conversations like this:
Mom, Timmy is in the well!
Because I don't speak her language, I joined a Facebook Group for Greyhound owners to help translate, and was pleased to discover that Trista's brother, Petie, was a member of this group.
Okay, wait. I'm a dog-lover but am not (yet) nutty enough to think dogs can join facebook groups. I still have a child at home so I haven't yet confused my dogs with my babies (although I did buy the dogs Christmas clothes). So, I mean to say it was Petie's mother who joined the group. (Yes, mother, not owner. I am a little crazy.)
A couple weeks ago, somebody posted about a Greyhound Meet and Greet that was happening right near my house, at Whole Foods, from 11:00 to 1:00 - and Petie was going to be there.
Although stomach pain and fatigue makes leaving the house harder these days, I wanted to meet Trista's brother. (And, mother, of course.) So, I decided to go.
Sunday, I set my alarm for early in the morning, 10:00 am, so I could be ready. I had promised to be there by noon. I decided to take just Trista and not both dogs. Dad was putting up Christmas lights and was too busy to go, and I couldn't manage both. To fool Cherry, he took her for a walk while I put Trista in the car.
Trista behaved beautifully during the ride, sitting in the center of the back seat and not trying to get into my lap as I drove, unlike when I'm watching TV, when my lap is fair game. I parked a bit away, and walked my dog calmly to Whole Foods. She walked by my left side, as she had been taught.
Then we saw the greyhound pack.
Trista exploded. "Dogs! Dogs and Dogs! Greyhound Dogs!!! People too! More Dogs! Food! Dogs! Yay!!! Yay!!!! People and Dogs!" She started dragging me to the group, tail whipping around like a helicopter, tongue hanging out. I realized that I had put on the shoes I'd been wearing when I stepped on the bug, and they were a bit slippery, probably from leftover bug guts. I tried to be super cool and let people think I was so eager to get there that I was running and sliding on my own. What, a dog pull me?
We reached the pack and jerked to a stop, and then Trista had a wonderful time sniffing butts and showing off her tallness and meeting her even taller brother. Petie is a fawn beauty, and disturbingly, very well-behaved, although he is the same age as Trista.
Now, in my defense, my managing with an exuberant teenage puppy is not like you doing so. Remember, I am dealing with cancer, pain and some pretty odd chemotherapy side effects. Yes, it's an excuse, and I'm playing the cancer card. It is also true.
My first problem is my continually runny nose and eyes, caused by herceptin. When I say runny, I mean running like you have a vacation home in North Dakota and leave the bathroom faucet on in the winter so your pipes don't freeze. There is a constant, thin stream that can't be shut off. I must have a tissue in one hand at all times, or I end up looking like a toddler with a slimy upper lip who sprinkles little nose drops that splat on the sidewalk.
When I'm outside, my eyes run too, even when I have lashes, as I do now. So half a tissue is used for my eyes and half is for my nose and I have to juggle that while holding a dog and leash.
As I arrived, I began talking to a woman who was telling me a story about a greyhound, and my eyes were tearing and my nose was running and she looked at me with serious concern, not thinking her story had been that sad, "Are you all right?" I had to explain that it was medication side effects, that I was not crying over a re-homed dog.
I suppose that wetness could come in handy if I should ever need to fake it though.
The next problem that interferes with my dog-control is my frozen shoulders, which still have not healed, especially the left which is getting worse again. Compounding the problem is some sort of pain I am having in my midsection, which might be cancer or might be chemo or might be the return of c-diff, but whatever it is, it feels like I've been kicked in the gut.
Needless to say, putting a muscled animal like Trista in a pack of ten greyhounds in front of a grocery store where people were leaving with delicious smelling bags of food did not do my shoulder and stomach any favors. She pulled my arms right out of their sockets trying to stick her nose into the green cloth bags, or worse, the crotches, of the Whole Foods customer while I winced in agony trying to pull her back, a drop on the end of my nose, continually sparkling in the sunshine.
My shoulder also came into play when a greyhound mommy decided to walk her shy dog around the back of the store, either to get away or have some privacy. Trista decided this walk was a fine idea, that she needed a walk too, and with this particular dog and this particular time, thank you very much. As soon as they walked away, Trista followed, me slipping and sliding behind her. I had a choice: follow Trista on my feet, or follow her on my butt. I chose feet. That poor woman got our company whether she wanted it or not. She was, of course, quite gracious.
After our unexpected walk, I went back to the group. It seemed that Trista had relaxed, so I began chatting with another dog owner, petting her beautiful animal while mistakenly taking my eyes off my own dog. That moment of quiet proved to be treacherous. While I was happily chatting away, tissue to my face, my dog snuck to the very end of her leash, where a man had unknowingly sat at a nearby table to enjoy his lunch.
And, Trista licked his bread.
The only reason I chose the word "licked" instead of ate, was the length of the leash.
The man, to say the least, was not happy. I apologized profusely and asked somebody to hold my dog and went in to get him an entire loaf of gourmet, expensive, Whole Foods bread to make up for the roll she had ruined, but when I came out, he was gone. Some of the people thought he went to the store to complain, which I hope won't affect future meet and greets. Because of that, the woman who had arranged the gathering had to go in and explain the situation to the store staff.
There were at least ten other dogs there, all behaving like greyhounds do: sitting or standing calmly, beautifully posed and behaved, slightly aloof but friendly when approached, regal and composed, impressing everybody who passed by with their beauty and quiet personalities, their owners rightfully proud.
Then there was me and my dog. Me being dragged around uncontrollably, "crying" and snotting everywhere, trying to hang on for dear life, while Trista demonstrated her eagerness to sniff a crotch, stick her nose into somebody's full (and expensive) grocery bag, and participate in uninvited food tastings and walks.
I adore my energetic, enthusiastic, friendly, and brash puppy. She gives me a lot of joy and her zest for life is a lesson for us all.
But next time? I'm taking Cherry.