I know that different people have different breeds of dogs that they love. We all fall for different reasons. While thinking about Adopt A Greyhound Month, I’ve been remembering how we got started in Greyhound adoption. Every love story has a beginning, and I remember clearly where our love for Greyhounds started.
When we got married, it was the first time Mr. Taleteller or I had ever lived without a dog. I grew up with herding dogs, Border Collies, Shetland Sheepdogs and a very special Australian Shepherd. My husband grew up with a variety of dogs that included a Chihuahua, a Collie, a Schnauzer mix and a Cocker Spaniel.
I had no delusions when we bought our house that soon we would have a dog living with us. Mr. Taleteller had a dream of owning a German Shepherd, but I knew any dog we got was going to live in the house with us and I was afraid that a German Shepherd would be a bit like a bull in a china closet. I was thinking of something on the smaller side, but we hadn’t really had time to discuss it much up to that point. We closed on our house the very end of October and spent a month painting and sprucing a few things up while we had a month left on our apartment lease. That meant that we found ourselves moving in at the end of November.
We found ourselves at Petsmart doing some shopping for presents for our two cats one Saturday morning. As Fate would have it, there was a Greyhound there representing an adoption group. They weren’t doing a full-fledged meet and greet because they were in charge of pictures with Santa, so we only met the one dog, but we were smitten. We talked about it all afternoon while we were out shopping and we stopped by Mr. Taleteller’s office to get online and fill out an adoption form because we didn’t have internet or a computer at home. We wanted to fill out our application right away because we knew there must be a long waiting list of people waiting to adopt these awesome, rock star dogs. How naive and young we were back then.
Before long, we had been approved to adopt and invited to the adoption kennel to meet adoptable dogs. At the time, we had two cats, so we had to choose a cat safe dog. At that time, they had four in the kennel, so we met all four of them. In the beginning, we wanted a female, but after reading the required books, we thought that a male might be a better fit for us. They happened to have three males and one female that fit our criteria. We arrived around dinner time, and the first dog we met almost convinced us we’d made a bad choice. He came into the room, leaped up, hit the couch like a springboard and launched himself up at the window. It was like a dervish had been unleashed. The second dog was interested in one thing. That was getting back to his crate to finish his dinner. The third dog was extremely quiet and shy, but stood quietly beside us, letting us have our fill of petting him. We were really warming up to Abel, but finally let them take him back and met the little female. She leaned against us and clearly liked our attention. Of the four, she was the only one who looked back over her shoulder at us as they led her back to her crate.
We talked about the dogs the entire drive home. When we got home two hours later, we called the adoption coordinator and told her we were interested in Abel. She didn’t think he’d be the best fit for us because he was very shy and prone to walking with his head down. Since we were going to have to walk our dog every day for potty breaks and exercise, she worried he’d slip out of his collar and we’d lose him. We told her we’d think about that and we set a date to go back up to choose our dog and bring it home.
The day before we were supposed to go, we had a wicked snowstorm, but we were determined to go get our dog. We borrowed my mom’s SUV to be sure we wouldn’t be blown off the road and set off. Getting there was the easy part. We still hadn’t decided which dog we wanted yet, and they were bringing a foster dog for us to meet who hadn’t been at the kennel. We knew the wild and crazy dog was too much for us, so he stayed in the back and we met two of the males and the female again. At one point, all four of the dogs were in the front room with us and several volunteers.
The males were milling around, going up to visit the volunteers because they knew them, but the female had planted herself between the two of us. Whenever one of the males came over to greet us, she wormed herself between whichever of us was petting the other dog and made sure we knew she was there. Then she’d turn around and see the other of us petting a different dog, so she’d have to push her much smaller self between the other person and that dog. After about an hour, we had made our decision and Treat was ready to come home with us with a trousseau consisting of a new collar and slip lead, a muzzle and a new coat.
We hadn’t been sure what to expect, so we’d set up a crate in the backseat of the SUV, but the adoption coordinator told us we wouldn’t need it. So, Mr. Taleteller went outside to take it down and put it in the back. Treat stood, in her new finery, at the door, her nose pressed against the glass as she watched for him to come back. When we escorted her out to the car, she trotted along, as happy as could be and laid down on the back seat like a little princess.
I look back and realize from the get go that Treat made up her mind that we were hers from the moment she laid eyes on us. I still remember her looking back at us that first night as they led her back to her crate. She was, without a doubt, the perfect first Greyhound for us. I learned a great deal from my experience with her, and she was definitely my first Greyhound love. She had epilepsy, but it didn’t hold her back from doing anything that she wanted to do. I can still picture her standing beside me every evening, demanding to go for a walk no matter what the weather was. She wasn’t big on running, but the girl loved to walk like nobody’s business and it was good for me. I met some of the most wonderful people in the world because of my association with her, I traveled to places I never expected and I found my writing voice. She was my original therapy dog and opened my eyes to volunteering in a variety of capacities. She even appeared in a ballet production of Giselle.
Treat was the beginning of my love story with Greyhounds, but she wasn’t the end. I can’t imagine not having at least one Greyhound in my life at this point. They have spoiled me for other dogs. Bunny was adopted weeks after Treat died as I tried to recover from the grief of losing her and I have been incredibly lucky to have her as well. When I look back at our life with Treat, I realize that those first meetings and moments were pretty indicative of what our life with her would be like. She changed us for the better and started us on a path we love. You can’t ask for a better opening chapter than that.