[all of the photos are from a couple of years ago, and are all courtesy of Laurie Erickson.]
I went to see my dear friends, Carolyn and Greg, way up in western Pennsylvania. They have whippets and are my source of advice for all things. That's Carolyn (the beautiful one in pink) with me (the goofy one in yellow) and Greg is in the chair in back wearing a baseball hat. Carolyn knows everything about whippets, and I mean everything. And Greg knows everything about RV'ing. And he can tell a story that you end up laughing so hard that your tummy hurts and you have tears running down your face and you peepee your panties. Like the time their pop up camper wouldn't pop up and they had to stay in it, well... Greg tells it best.
Two of their dogs, eleven year-old littermates Easy and Spice are buddies of mine. Easy and Fat Charlie were best friends. They were the same speed, so when they raced, it was often in the very same races. (Whippets race for fun and championships, like terrierists do the earthdog tests, not like greyhounds. No betting, no money, just fun, fun, fun!) I would take Easy and Fat Charlie to the starting box, and Carolyn would pick them up at the end. Or sometimes we'd walk the 200 yards down together.) There is not much in the world whippets love more than racing. So Fat Charlie and Easy associated each other with the bestest fun. And Spice is a perfect mirror image of my Maria, and they were about the same speed and would be in the same races, and I would pick up Maria at the end of a race, only to have Carolyn say, "That's Spice!"
Carolyn giving Fat Charlie a cooling sponge off and a kiss after a race.
I haven't seen Easy for at least four years and it's been more than six years since I've seen Spice.
When I arrived, Greg and Carolyn were still at the doctor's office. At the door, eight whippets were doing their best impression of house-guarding Dobermans. As I peeked in, I saw the recognition in Spice's and Easy's eyes. First a little spark of puzzlement. Then a smile. I said, "Hey Easy Boy! Spicey Girl!" And then full blown Whippet Excessive Greeting Disorder - heaven to my ears.
"WOOO-HOOOOOOOOO," sang Easy and Spice! "It's youuuuuuuuuuuuu!!!
They danced their delight, and then the younger gang, who also know me but not as well, joined in the welcome. Once I was in the house, Easy and Spice turned inside out, and I hugged the living daylights out of them. I had rubbed my dress all over Fat Charlie and Maria before I left my house, so Easy and Spice got a good "sniff picture" of them. (I did the same thing in reverse before I came home. Fat Charlie and Maria and Giacomino and Mama Pajama and Sam I Am who loves Carolyn wagged and wagged as they snuffled in my suitcase. I think when the dogs get smells of far away friends they smile, just like when we see a photo of someone we love who's away from us.)
My visit was purely selfish. I actually stayed at some very kind and generous friends of Carolyn's, so as not to make more work for them, and to let them have their evenings to themselves. Carolyn is fighting brain cancer. We had our booths next to each other the last week of April in Oregon at the National (which we've done since 1997) and she seemed her absolutely usual brilliant funny smart shining self. (She later said she was having a hard time thinking of the word she wanted.) The next week her leg went funny. Now she has had brain surgery and is going through chemo and radiation. Mind you, this week when I couldn't think of a word, she found it for me. And even though I'm an RN, she came up with a better way than I could to keep track of her meds. And she was feeding her eight whippets and fixing our meals and doing the laundry and keeping up with her email and thank you notes. And making jokes. I couldn't keep up with her.
See why she is my hero? So that's why I had to go, and that's why it was for me. No "oh how noble of you to go" comments. Nope. Please, though, if you could send some positive energy, if you could offer a prayer for Carolyn and Greg, I'd appreciate it. Sometimes life just seems unfair beyond our human comprehension.
The dogs have the right idea. Enjoy every day, and rejoice at seeing friends.
[Greg and Carolyn gave me that shirt. It says Official Dog Walker: FREQUENT STOPS]
hug your hounds, and your friends and your friends' hounds