In the days since Sabrina’s passing, I’ve come to realize that she touched a lot of lives: ours, of course, her followers online, people from our greyhound adoption group, people that she met in our travels during her five years with us. She took all the fawning and pampering as her due, Princess Diva to the core.
I remember the first time we laid eyes on her. We had been matched up with her by the adoption group, but had yet to meet her. We travelled to Edmonton to pick her up. We went to the adoption rep’s house. We were met at the door by her four (five?) greyhounds (including one 120 lb cold-blood) and her gorgeous borzoi. After wending our way through the herd of sighthounds, we saw her. Maddy (as she was called at that time, short for her registered name of Tyville Madison) was in an x-pen in the dining room, waiting for us. She was sitting demurely on her haunches, her front paws crossed, those copper eyes taking it all in. She was gorgeous. It was love at first sight for all three of us.
We learned our first lesson in being greyhound parents on the 7 hour drive home. We’d stopped along the way to dash into A&W, I think, to have a bathroom break and get some coffee and food to go. We left the princess in the car – along with a muffin from Tim Horton’s in a paper bag on the dash. We learned that a greyhound off the track had no idea that any food in their vicinity would NOT be for them to eat.
That lesson was reinforced a week or so later when she helped herself to two fruit-filled pastry sticks that were on the counter top. On top of the bread box. Wrapped in plastic wrap. She managed to unwrap them and gobble them up in mere minutes. After that we were always conscious of counter surfing and never left any temptation out. Except for that one time she ran off with a deep-fried turkey leg when the big fella was entertaining one night when I was away on business … She did a good job of teaching us to be good greyhound parents.
I remember getting home after midnight that first night, us trying to get her up the stairs to the second floor of our duplex so we could all go to sleep. Stairs were another thing greyhounds fresh off the track had no idea about. It took both the big fella and I, armed with liver treats, me pushing her and lifting each paw onto the next step to get her up there. After a couple of days she was flying up and down those stairs like she’d been doing it for years. We had to teach her about glass doors and windows; doorbells, tvs (especially when dogs were barking on it).
Her favourite spot in the house was wherever we were, but in particular, the big fella. They bonded during the three days he took off when she first came home with us. She had potential for separation anxiety. Most people don’t realize that until a retired racer is in their adoptive homes, they’ve never been alone. They were with their littermates until about 18 months old; then racing school, then the kennel and at the track, all with 40 other dogs. With our group, even when being fostered, there were other dogs around. The big fella spent those three days gradually leaving her alone for longer and longer times (and he’d go next door to the vacant side of the duplex and listen to her howl). But by mid-Day 3, he came home to this:
After a few months, she blossomed into her retirement. She grabbed it with both paws and thrived.
Everyone she met commented invariably on 1) how soft her fur was; 2) what a personality she had; 3) how pretty, and 4) how calm (after her initial enthusiastic greeting) she was. She definitely let it all go to her head and believed she was a gorgeous princess. She was a great ambassador for greyhound adoption. She was also goofy, spazzy and silly, a little neurotic. She had that one spot on her ribs, if you were petting her and touched that spot, there would be a growl forthcoming. Pet me, pet me, just not there!
She had a knack for finding the best seat in (any) house and claiming it as her due.
This was taken on her first vacation. We were staying in a suite in a nice hotel in downtown Vancouver, on the 34th floor. I guess she was “making do” with that, instead of the penthouse suite she probably believed she deserved.
She was a good little traveller. She had many trips to Edmonton, the greyhound picnics, our West Coast trips. She had her feet in the Pacific Ocean and rode the elevator to the 34th floor with ease, she rode the ferry, etc.
And then there was the Monk Incident. Poor Sabrina was unbearably tormented and taunted by Monk – he rubbed up against her, he sashayed his tail under her nose, and when she reached out to take a little, wee nibble, Auntie Ande slapped the muzzle on her. Oh, the indignity, indeed!
She invariably hogged whatever bed or couch she was on. You considered yourself lucky to have whatever space was left.
She loved walks, laying in the lake to cool off, going for car rides. She loved meeting people (of course they were only put in her path to fawn over her and pet her).
She loved us unconditionally. If we had the temerity to displease her, she’d forgive us in a heartbeat. (Roast chicken also helped.) Her favourite place ever was snuggled up on the couch next to her daddy.
After we’d had her about 18 months, Apollo joined our pack. She was a good sister to Apollo; she was the Princess and he was more than happy to be her minion. She was the bossy cow and he was laid-back and needed someone to tell him what to do. (The big fella often comments on the similarity between that and our marriage …) As much as she thought herself to be independent, she really thrived with Apollo as her companion.
When we bought our current house, while they both had to get accustomed to more stairs and slick laminate flooring, the bonus was the lush, green roomy back yard.
As most retired hounds, they both enjoyed a set routine to their days. Sabrina would know when it was 4 p.m. and would start watching for the big fella to return home from work. Because I work from home, apparently I was expendable.
I will miss her greeting any and all people (including us) who came through the door with a barrage of squeaking from a squeaky toy. She would scramble to find just the right one whenever she saw someone on the sidewalk or heard the doorbell.
Oh, I just remembered one other thing people often said of Sabrina upon meeting her; how elegant and graceful she appeared.
Glamorous and elegant? Not so much. I remember her rolling around on the bed and falling off – then giving me the dirtiest look as if it was my fault that she fell off.
Sabrina was a wonderful addition to our family; she was the best “first greyhound” for us as newbie GH parents. She was easy to have and of course so easy to love. She made such a big imprint on our lives, our hearts. We’ve had dogs before, but none so beloved as Sabrina. We’re gonna miss the hell out of her.