FTH Oopsie Daisy, 14 August 2004 – 2 December 2016

She truly was transcontinental.

You know, I’m sitting here staring at the blank screen and can’t even bring myself to type the words that she’s gone…and she’s been gone for two months now.  I still expect to come home and hear her whistling from the bedroom, demanding that I hurry up and let her out. But the whistle has fallen silent.

I listen for her toenails on the hardwood floors and remember how, when we lived in the UK, she made no sound at all on the carpet and could sneak up on me, suddenly jamming that needle nose into my ear and exhaling. There’s nothing in my ear now, no cold nose or loud exhalation of warm doggie breath. It’s just silent.

I call the other two dogs by her name and they look at me, with a mixture (I think) of confusion and sadness, wondering simultaneously who I am talking to and where Daisy is. I wonder that too.  Is she with the Fab Five Plus Clowny? Are they now the Magnificent Seven? I don’t get answers, though. As always, my Bridge Pack is silent.

We see things that she would have loved, go to places that made her happy, and the memories are sometimes so strong that I can smell her Frito Feet and feel her nose pressed up against my neck, as she would do to make sure of me. I think for a moment that I can hear her Snappy Jaw that should have struck fear, but didn’t, not in me…but there is no snappy jaw, not anymore. Everything is silent.

She was a larger sized female for her breed, but she was Bryn’s Little Big sister.  She was a good foot taller than Willow, and lorded that size over her Little Little Sister. They still run and play and I can hear their tags jangling as they bound up and down the stairs. But Daisy’s tags, still on her purple dragonfly collar, remain silent.

I want a do-over.  I want more time. I want for her to not have suffered through the heart murmur and the heart disease and the Lasix. I want to take her to Ireland and to Canada. I want her to have the jacket with all the little patches from everywhere she was able to visit. All these things I want…and all she wanted was to be able to rest.  Rest well, my world traveler, my Psycho Puppy Girl, my Angel…my Mei Mei.  You earned it.  I just wish it wasn’t so silent around here.

Sandy Paws Wrap Up or "I told you I’d blog that!"

Screaming at the beach is gnome-much fun!
Photo Courtesy of K. Lazenby

In its own unique way, Sandy Paws time has come and gone again.  We spend weeks on Facebook and in text messages and emails planning and laughing and looking forward to seeing each other.  We despair that we only see each other once a year.  We arrive, and from that moment on there is hugging and laughing and screaming and cheering and spending money and all the exciting things we’ve looked forward to for the past 364 days.

And it is gone, it is over, in the blink of tearful eyes.  Even though this year my time at Sandy Paws was infinitely more challenging due to the addition of one big furry puppy who only has manners when she pleases, it was still gone and over too fast, and we were heading back up I-95 to our lives and jobs.  How does that happen?  Why can’t the enjoyment last as long as the anticipation?  I find myself now back in those 364 days, waiting for Sandy Paws 2015 when I can see my FTH family again…hopefully with a much better behaved Bryn next year.

Now, on to the part of the weekend that made me put my “I’m Gonna Blog That” face on:

I will admit that in the past I have been one of those greyhound owners that I’m about to talk about…and I will extend my heartfelt apologies to anyone that owns a little dog or a big dog or any other kind of non-greyhound or non-sighthound dog that has come to a greyhound event and gotten the Hairy Eyeball from me.  I found out on this trip just how unpleasant even the most well-meaning people can be when they identify your dog as Other or NotAGreyhound and make a point of either looking at you like you’ve got four heads or telling you how to manage your dog in the sea of apparently ravenous high prey drive greyhounds ahead.  I mean really…I think if we did a survey of the dogs that attended Sandy Paws this year you would find that a great many of them live…are you ready? WITH OTHER BREEDS or even…gasp…CATS AND OTHER SPECIES.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I have known, loved, and lived with some real Cat-Zappers.  I saw a foster dog catch my cat in his front paws in mid-air.  I know the possibilities.  But for crying out loud…the reception that Anne and I got when we entered the conference center with Millie (Boston terrier who lives with a greyhound and a bloodhound and was NOT on a flexi-lead, thankyouverymuch) and Bryn (wild-eyed Irish Wolfhound puppy of a mere 9 months who is still not sure about everyone and everything she meets) was less than welcoming.  Granted, not all of the almost 200 people that attended know me personally and/or know that I have a greyhound as well as the Big Hairy Beastie that came with me to Sandy Paws, but it’s a good guess that I do IF I AM THERE.

Here are just a few things to chew on if you happened to be in the vicinity of the traveling circus that is me, Anne, and our Nons at the Jekyll Island conference center over the Sandy Paws weekend.

1. The fact that Bryn pulls me around is not funny, really.  It happens when you have a puppy brain in a 97lb body attached to an owner with the upper body strength of a Keebler Elf (to borrow from Sheldon Cooper).  It is a little embarrassing, to be honest, because I’ve never owned a dog like her before and am still learning the best way for both of us to be able to walk calmly and pleasantly.

2. My wolfhound is not going to eat your (fill in name of other breed here) as long as I am still attached to her and/or am conscious.  There is no need to glare at me or pull your greyhound around on the other side of you to protect your precious greyhound from Bryn.  In fact, you may be called out on your Death Glare if we happen to see you do it.

3. I understand that not everyone likes big dogs.  But for heaven’s sake, y’all…this is a sighthound gathering and the hound in question is not an Italian Greyhound!  I’m assuming that most of the people there have at least a passing familiarity with sighthounds that are at least 50lbs and some much more than that (not always because they are big boys, either, but that’s another blog for another day).

4. If I tell you that Bryn needs some space then she needs some space.  It doesn’t matter how many whatevers you have raised/bred/raced/whatever in your day, I know my dog better than you do.  End of.  I appreciate all the offers for help over the weekend from everyone (including my friend Brian who asked me to let Bryn come running at him…which I did) and the compliments were fab for her and me.  It’s hard to believe she has only been in my life for just under 5 months…feels like 5 years some days.

5. A Boston Terrier on a stationary leash that is being held by her owner is probably owned by someone savvy about the prey drives of greyhounds and other sighthounds and will NOT be putting her dog or anyone else’s in a dangerous position, at least not consciously.  A person who brings a small breed into a sighthound event on a flexi lead is a different matter, but that, again, is a blog for another day.

Overall we had so much fun…Bryn slept most of the way home when she wasn’t trying to chew on her Auntsie’s ears or get in the front with Millie.  My FTH family is more precious to me than I can express and even now, as I sit here typing, the thought of THEM…the thought of US…it brings tears to my eyes at how important we all are to each other.

Metrognomes of the world, unite.  Onward and upward…to Mountain Hounds if not before!  (You can see pictures of Bryn at SP14 on her blog, Our Daily Bryn, beginning with the entry for 26 March.)

I’m so glad she was born. SO glad.

At first, she looked like this…

I’ve recounted the story of how FTH Oopsie Daisy/Daisy/Daisy Duke/Daisy Mae/Mae/Mei Mei/Princess came into our lives.  You have undoubtedly heard me brag about how she was named by the community of greyhound freaks over at GreyTalk, how she lived on her Mama Caffie’s kitchen floor until she was old enough to go outside in the puppy runs, and how my entire family on my mother’s side once gathered around the computer to watch her come in spectacularly, amazingly, and fabulously dead last in one of her attempts to break maiden at JAX.

(For those not versed in Racing Vocab, that means she has to win a maiden race to get to run with the big dogs.  She didn’t do that at JAX but did at Sanford Orlando, where she got up to Grade A.  I’m sure you’ve heard THAT story before as well, so I’ll move on.)

Then, this happened…

What you haven’t heard from me lately is that Daisy is nine years old this week (there is a running debate about the Leelo Babies Birthdate so I celebrate 12-14 August to cover all my bases…and because I love her too much for only one day).  Nine.Years.Old.  It has been almost a decade since I watched via text on GreyTalk that she had been born, almost a decade of knowing about her and waiting for her and loving her.

I know, everyone moons over their dogs like they are the only ones that have that sort of relationship.  I know that I am not the only one that loves my dog.  But y’all, my Mei Mei is special.

She came home to me and Simon at the tender age of 2.75, in March of 2007.  Me and Simon weren’t even a Me and Simon at that point, not officially, but he was Daisy’s Dah-dee from the start.  She never had trouble understanding him like the other dogs did, and would look up at him with the most adoring expression as he talked to her, as though trying to understand every syllable that came out of his mouth.  She still does that.  With him.  With me if I prattle on too long she licks me to shut me up.

She came into a family of old dogs.  Hunky was 10 when Daisy came home, going on 11, and Jeany would turn 10 the next month.  They were still reeling from the loss of Profile, who was the clear pack leader, and were none too thrilled to have this young and bouncy dog around.  So she adapted to them, not the other way around.  She would defer to them in all things, and became a comfort to both of them as they got older.  She also took their Mommy’s focus for awhile, so that they could sit around and love each other and not be bothered by my constant fussing and attention seeking.

After Jeany fell down the stairs in Keighley, Simon kept finding Daisy curled up next to her.  She could have been out exploring her new home, terrorizing the cat, or doing a host of other doggie things, but instead she decided to make sure Jeany was comforted.  I think Jeany actually liked it.  After we lost Jeany, Daisy was forever snuggling up to Hunky, even when he wet his bed, and I’m not sure if it was to comfort him over the loss of Jeany or herownself.  Daisy falls hard in love, and when she loves you, you know it.  She loved her big brother and sister with a fierceness that I wish more people could possess.

And now, all she has to do is this and I’m a goner. 

Now she’s back in that position again, after two years in the UK of being the only dog, getting all the attention, and generally living like the Princess she is.  With Clowny’s injury and subsequent paralysis, Daisy has to navigate a world where her people are either ignoring her or telling her to be careful, don’t stand on Clowny, let him finish eating before you dive into his bowl, etc.  She could turn into a spoiled brat, acting out because she isn’t getting the attention she’s used to, taking her frustration out on Clowny who is, to be fair, the easiest of targets right now.

But she doesn’t.  My precious baby girl, my Daisy Mei Mei backs up when we ask, she waits to be allowed to clean up the food Clowny leaves behind, she snuggles on the bed with him at night until he grouses at her to move.  She takes her toys elsewhere and plays on her own, tossing George, her stuffed monkey, up in the air over and over until someone notices.  She follows me down the hall when I just need to go cry about Clowny a little without letting him see me do it and licks my tears off my face.

Today (and the two days prior) are more than a celebration of her birthday.  Today is a reminder that through some twist of fate, I was given the gift of Daisy.  Love you to absolute bits, my babygirl, to the moon and back.   I don’t know what your Daddy and I would have done this summer without you.  Thanks is not enough, not by a longshot.

“You’re my back bone.
You’re my cornerstone.
You’re my crutch when my legs stop moving.
You’re my head start.
You’re my rugged heart.
You’re the pulse that I’ve always needed.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum, baby, don’t stop beating.
Like a drum my heart never stops beating…
For you, for you.”

(from Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips)

Sandy Paws and other Peaches

Clowny’s paw print, Jekyll

It always amazes me how Sandy Paws is up on me and then is over so fast.  I spend all year waiting, anxiously, to see a group of people that in some ways are closer to me than my own family…and like a flash, I blink and I’m on my way back home.

This year’s get together was no different.  My Mister and I rented a minivan (go on, get that out of your system, me in a minivan) and headed down to Jekyll Island with Clown and Daisy.  Those two rode in STYLE…I was even more irritated than normal that the Mister hasn’t gotten his SCDL yet because it would have been HEAVEN to crawl back there on the gooshy dog beds and nap all the way to Georgia’s Golden Coast.

The hotel where we stayed was okay…older, and definitely not the posh affair of the last two SP events, but homey, in a way.  What was NOT cool was vending from hotel rooms rather than in a large vendor hall as we’ve done in the past.  You didn’t get to see anyone if you were vending, other than those you were staying with or your vending partners.  I was lucky enough to glom (is that a word?) onto Janet Schaffer of Casual Bling and Suzie Collins of Skinnyhound Designs so that I could sell my books.  I sold seven, which is a record for a greyhound event.

Sandy Paws started out as a means to an end for me, and remains so.  I didn’t go initially because I wanted to attend an organized gathering with workshops or because I had a stack of books to hock.  I went because I had preadopted an amazing creature called Daisy (FTH Oopsie Daisy) and was now a part of the Follow That Hound family.  So changes to the venue or schedule, ice cream socials and over-priced buffet meals really aren’t a factor to me when I think of Sandy Paws.  The only thing that I do, really, that has anything to do with the event, is help sponsor the creation of crowns for the greyhounds named King and Queen of SP (even though my own hounds have never even been nominated…not even after Daisy went to SP 2012 a mere 5 days after a transatlantic flight-turned-nightmare).

Anne and I pay to have someone make crowns that fit the theme of the gathering, and this year was no different…except that prior to this year’s SP someone in the organizing group got her pants in a bunch over a design for a Tshirt that the aforementioned Suzie made…for us, the FTH family…because she wanted EVERYONE to know that it was NOT an official SP13 shirt.

Well, duh.  Suzie didn’t make it for everyone.  Not everyone is a Peach.  🙂  Not everyone is part of the FTH family. But the WAY that the person made it clear to anyone that was listening was just over the top and plain rude, really.  You would think that it would be common sense not to make an enemy of a very popular vendor, but apparently it wasn’t.

So jump ahead now to the crowning of the King and Queen at SP13.  Anne and I are there, she has the crowns and I have the bling that Janet made for the winners.  The person with the twisted pants approached us and took the lot, heading up to the front of the room to get things started.  We didn’t think anything about it until we heard HER announcing the King.

Problem…part of our sponsorship of the crowns and bling means that we get to present them to the winners. It’s a neat way for us to be a part of the gathering and to get to meet the winners…or, like at SP12, crown one of our own as King when Lightning (FTH Lightning) won.  Well, because Anne is a superhero, she charged down to the front with me, Mighty Mouse, trailing behind her to find out what was going on.  We were offered the chance to announce the Queen, but she turned it down, pulling a victory lap back to her table, and I continued on Anne AutoFollow back to the back.

Y’all…I don’t have time for grownups that act like children, I really don’t.  Not during a swiftly moving weekend with people that I adore that I only get to see once a year.  To the organization’s credit, a few of their members approached us afterward and apologized, but you see, the damage was done.  Once again, I’m not “in the know,” or a part of the core crowd…and finally, after over a decade of doing greyhound adoption and hanging out with greyhound people…that’s okay.  I don’t need it, or as my perfect niece Joy says, “I can’t use it.”

Keep the drama.  I love my Peaches, I know what is important in my life, and I’m off to celebrate it.  GEM and Mountain Hounds ahoy!