We met Chloe in 2004. She was the first greyhound we lived with, and was such a nice dog that we adopted two more within three years. But she was the first.
She was five when we met her, and was already retired from a career racing in Florida. A salvage dog, living with a recycling historian. This is her sitting obediently waiting for a salmon treat that first year.
Chloe taught us all about greyhounds. She taught us how they run amazingly fast for a couple of minutes and then spend the rest of the day lying inert. She taught us how they groom like cats do, eat ravenously, and pick up weird neuroses such as being afraid of the closet where The Monster (what we humans know as the vacuum) lay in wait for her. She taught us about the dental and medical issues these dogs can have, with some of the worst teeth this side of Shane MacGowan and a variety of reasons to visit veterinary offices.
When she was seven years old, in December of 2006, she started taking on fluid in her midsection. The vets said that her intestines were malfunctioning, maybe due to a virus, maybe due to cancer. We thought we would have to put her down by New Year’s.
Some medication later, and the liquids in her abdomen resolved themselves, but she was very weak. She could not sit up or walk for three weeks. Mostly she lay with her head on the ground and we had to hand-feed her.
She recovered. Fully. Maybe better than before. Got a little whiter, especially in the face. When our local rescue group got a puppy named Hudson, we took him in and she was quite happy to hang out with him.
Chloe moved with us from Ohio to Illinois and then to Brooklyn. (Here in Brooklyn, I used to joke to passersby that she got it backwards, working in Florida and then retiring to New York.) Wherever we were, she always tried to dig a little hole and laze around in the dirt.
Greyhounds tend to live from 12 to 14, though several illnesses kill them younger. Her half-brother Huey (they share a sire, along with 8,300 other dogs) died a month shy of his eleventh birthday from cancer. They spent several years together (mostly asleep) hanging out with Hudson.
Chloe turned 14 last April. She got frail in her old age, but doubled her age since we nearly lost her in 2006, seven years ago.
None of that time was taken for granted. Last night before I went to bed, I thanked her for sticking around for my birthday. Today, that day, she got up, had breakfast, took a walk, had lunch, spent some time getting love from people walking by the yard, and then got in her bed. Late in the afternoon, she moved to get up and snapped her back leg. The decision was easy, and we said goodbye to her just about the time she’d usually have her dinner. The last taste in her mouth was a farewell brownie hurriedly purchased from the market around the corner from the emergency vet.
Saying goodbye to Chloe is sad, but we are grateful for the time she spent with us, and for teaching us about life with greyhounds. If you are curious about greyhound rescue, I encourage you to talk to your local rescue group about sharing your life with one of these wonderful creatures.