Monday, January 21, 2008


Here is Delia's story, written two years ago, from my book:

I have always said I could never place one of my adult dogs. I have nothing against folks who do, mind you, but heck, I have a hard enough time placing a puppy. I'm just too selfish. Until Delia.
My husband Bill would not own a dog if he weren’t married to me. When people comment that he must really love dogs, upon realizing that we have eight of them sleeping in our bedroom, Bill loves to reply, “No, I don’t. I love my wife.”

Back when we lived on the farm, the animals were my thing. Bill loved watching me ride. He loved watching the foals in their paddocks and the yearlings playing wild stallion rearing games. He loved singing to Rosie, our rescued abuse case, who used to hide her head in the corner of the stall, and who now rested that same head on his shoulder, eyes closed, as he sang her song.
But my rules were that he never mucked a stall, never cleaned a bucket, never turned the horses out or brought them in. Never fed the cats, or the ducks, or the dogs. They were my responsibility. That was fair.

As the horse numbers dwindled and the whippet numbers grew, the same rules applied. I fed, walked, bathed, trained, cut nails, paid vet bills, and picked up poop. Bill generously shared his couch, lap, bed, affection. And then came the Big Move. To the city.

My husband and I have been married twenty-two, nearly twenty-three years. [Twenty-five, now.] I flat out love him. I love him so much that when he wanted to sell our farm and move to a blighted section of a city fifteen hours away from my friends and my extended whippet family, I said, “Let’s go.” Seems they were recruiting artists to come to this place and rehab the houses and start a community. Bill’s dream come true. The farm had been my dream. It was his turn.
But as doe-eyed in love with him as I am, I am also a realist. I told him I would need help with the dogs if we moved to the city. Nine dogs in a teeny city lot. Nine dogs who were used to a fenced two acres right out their back door, and 450 acres out back. Nine dogs who had their own race track mowed out of the hay field. Nine fit dogs. Nope, I would need help. So Bill started walking with me. Getting to know the dogs a little better. And vice versa.

Well, by now you’re wondering what all this has to do with Delia. Delia was one of my most promising puppies. Stunning to look at and fast to boot. She split the bottom ARX points in her first race meet, and had nice show placements in some puppy Sweepstakes. But she caught a squirrel at the same second that the squirrel got to the tree, which Delia hadn’t noticed in her locked-on-missile-mode. Twenty-four pound Delia at about thirty mph, versus the seventy-five foot beech tree. The tree won.

I called the contractor who was rehabbing the house in the city. “Mark? You know the granite counter tops we planned for the kitchen? Well, one of my dogs collided with a tree… yes, a tree… What? Oh, a squirrel. Well, the dog destroyed her hind leg. What? Yes, I was talking about our granite counter tops. What does that have to do with my dog’s broken leg? Well, everything. See, She just had surgery, by a Board Certified Orthopedic Surgeon to reconstruct her knee. So, I can’t afford the granite counter tops any more. … Corian? No, can’t go there, either. Did I mention the word ORTHOPOD? The way I figure it, we’ll go with corrugated cardboard covered with heavy duty Reynold’s Wrap. It will be the new, environmentally conscientious thing. Disposable, recyclable counter tops. No, I cannot do Formica! Yup, cardboard! OK. Bye.”

Delia’s days of any sort of competition were over. She was the best patient, and healed beautifully. She had to have some hardware removed a year later because it was working its way out. When we went to chase the lure at the Kennel Club property, we’d muzzle up Delia, and let her kill it without actually chasing it, and she’d wear herself out and smile. Delia is not a complainer.

And so our lives went. Delia happily one of the pack. Getting her share of tummy rubs and ear scratches. Staying behind with her mother Maria and the rest of the retired gang when I took her brother and nephew to dog shows and racing. Greeting me with big smiles and woo-woos and wags and dances when I got back. Never a grumble about her lot.

And then we lost our Queen. My sweet Gracious died. The dogs all stayed on inconspicuous tiptoes for the five days of her illness. (Was it only five days? Everything was in slow mode. Gracious on the couch with her IV bag attached to the wall above her. The rest of the dogs being so respectful, so quietly present, so visibly invisible. Seemed like such a long time.) And afterwards, while Bill and I cried we didn’t notice Delia being the one on his lap more than any other. But she was. In retrospect, she most surely was.

And then I noticed that Delia would frequently sit on the hardwood steps, watching out the window facing the street where we park. I thought she was bored, just looking for interesting sights. And one day while I was upstairs sewing, and the rest of the dogs were draped over the couches and each other in front of the fire, I heard a dog whining downstairs. “Delia! Do you have to go out?” She wagged in relief. But when I let her out, she bounced across the breezeway and scratched at Bill’s studio door. “Are you looking for your mom? Maria is upstairs, silly!” I told her to go pee, and brought her back upstairs.

Humans are slow in the ways of the heart. We rely on clumsy spoken language, with its innuendo, lies, and defense mechanisms. It took me about two weeks to realize what Delia had done. She had fallen in love with Bill. I finally realized one day when she was on her stairway perch looking out the window. She started screaming and flew down the stairs, missing at least half of them. I thought she had seen a cat or a squirrel outside, but no … Bill’s car was pulling up to the curb. What??? “Delia?” I watched her as he came through the door. There it was, clear as day: Excessive Greeting Disorder. I said, “Bill, you have a dog.”

Oh he pooh-poohed the idea completely. He had a million excuses. It’s just because she wants a biscuit. It’s just because he had walked her. It’s just because he had treats in the studio. But I saw her look at him. “Nope,” I said. “That dog is your dog. Plain and simple. I don’t think you have a say in this.”

About a week later, he was sitting in his chair with Delia in his lap. He looked up and his eyes were full of tears. “I’m afraid of the responsibility.”

My husband who had been responsible for literally thousands of people’s very lives over the span of his medical career. My husband who had raised four children to be responsible, wonderful adults. My husband who had been responsible for a hospital as President of the Medical Staff and even now is responsible to our new city as President of the Neighborhood Association. There he sat, tears in his eyes, his “new” dog in his arms, afraid of the immense responsibility that comes with true love.

Delia doesn’t sit on the stairs and wait for him anymore. He puts her little coat and lead on and takes her with him on all his errands. He took her along to Memphis to pick up his new computer. That’s four hours each way. She goes to the studio every day with him. I still feed her, and I tuck her in, and do her toenails and give her the treats.

But with every ounce of her beautiful being, Delia is Bill’s first dog.

©2005 Patience C. Renzulli


  1. We love reading your blog! We enjoyed Delia's story lots.

    Toodle pip,
    Harry x

  2. Ahhhh, beautiful post, beautiful blog. I am new to your blog and was up til 1:30 am this morning reading it (yawn). I am now going to be a regular. You are bookmarked. You have enourmas writing/story telling ability. I am SO glad you decided to blog. I literally cried and laughed hysterically during the 2 hours of reading enjoyment your blog brought to me. Thanks and congratulations to Bill and his first dog love. We know he will never be the same, don't we?

  3. That was a lovely story. We are so glad Bill now has his first dog.

  4. To be loved like that is the greatest gift....what a compliment to Bill.

  5. What a GREAT post! Loved reading this, Patience...and what a sweet, everlasting relationship those two have now.

    You made my day with the previous photos of Shelby too. What an amazing story about kind hearted people willing to help...and a very courageous dog.

  6. What a wonderful story, as we're wiping away a tear!

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

  7. Hey Patience,
    Tell Bill that this happens to the best of us. While we were evaluating puppies at a breeder's house, Meghan jumped into my lap and was not letting me leave without her. She isn't my first whippet but will always be one of my favorites. All of us should be so lucky that WE get picked.

    Basher's Dad

  8. It's been a long time since I read this the last time.. And of course you make me all teary eyed as usual! Hug Delia. And Bill! ;)

    Hugs, Ane

  9. Dehlia is a very clever dog. She knows a caring soul and she also knows how to love and be loved. One special dog and a very special relationship. I also think she appreciates Bill's artistic side. Her picks from Bill's art work are always gorgeous!

    Thank you Dehlia for helping your manservant! You are both incredibly dear.....

  10. Being chosen as "The One" by a creature, especially a dog, is the most amazing (and sometimes frightening) experience. We already had 3 dogs (1 more than we had agreed on), when I stopped to help a dog that had bottles and rocks thrown at it. I tried placing him (and turned down4 places as not good enough), but the 2 places that were very good by my standards, didn't have me, and that was his only requirement. After he tried going through a picture window after me (in a home I would have loved if I was a dog), I accepted the awesome responsibility and all his love and have never regeted it. To be a dog's person is a gift of mutual love that is incomparable. (Except to compare to those great people in our lives who accept them too!)

  11. Beautiful thing you are doing here!
    Lovely blog!
    Sandra Evertson

  12. It's lovely to hear that Delia has adopted Bill.
    Love from Hammer

  13. What a touching post - it really brightened my day, and speaks volumes about Bill & Delia.

    It's great to see Shelby looking so well too!

  14. We just love reading your blog!!! I can even get Tanner to sit still long enough to listen because he gets so involved in the story. He said the stories are even good without any whattssuupps and HBO words. I believe that to be a HUGE compliment coming from the Doofus :)

  15. Oh, Patience, what a lovely, heartwarming story...

  16. What a beautiful love story. Bill is a lucky man.

    Love and Koobuss Kisses,


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