Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where's the umph?

I've noticed something.
I have become exclamation mark disabled. In my informal writing (email, blog, groups and lists) I usually evoke emphasis with
bold and italics,
and three exclamation marks.

These tools, well, they're familiar friends really, have left me. Left town altogether. Vamoosed.

I think it's this new bloggy place to express myself. I mean this blog is for you, dear readers. So I can't bore you with wallowing. Ah... maybe another reminiscence?

Maria loved to lure course. I can't find any photos of her coursing, because she was in the days before digital photography. In lure coursing three dogs of the same breed chase a lure - three white garbage bags - on a string around a series of turns (think of the cats cradle string game, only instead of your fingers, there are pulleys nailed into the ground).

Whippets LOVE this game. Well, they love any game that involves running and chasing.

Maria was pretty fast, and her small size made her very agile; she could turn on a dime. She got her field champion title in fairly short order.

But there are RULES to this game. Number one rule is no aggressive activity ever. In lure coursing muzzles are optional, and most don't use them. (They are used for dogs who feel the urge to bite at the moving string or dive at the baggies, most often.)

Maria developed her own rules. RULES, I should say. Once she had moved up into the Field Champion division, some of the more experienced runners would cheat. Meaning, instead of following behind the baggies, they would guess which way the course would turn, and cut the corner. Maria was Highly Offended by this and would respond by running over to the cheater and SCREAMING, no, by SCREAMING in his or her ear.


I don't know why, but the judges took this as a sign of aggression, and no more lure coursing for the mouthy little redhead.

But she could race.

In racing, the whippets run in groups of six, out of a starting box, for 200 yards straight. No turns, no cheating. In racing they chase a furry lure, with a squawker inside, and a white garbage bag too. In racing, muzzles are mandatory, because all six whippets get to the end at around the same time, all bent on mauling the evil squawker lure.

Oh Maria did LOVE to race.

But by the time we started racing, she was not so fast. This did not diminish her love of it. This is a picture of Maria (#1) and her best ever friend Willow (#6). It looks like they are first and second, but I am quite comfortable in my assumption that they were last and next to last.
Can you see the smiles?

Maria only had one litter. Four girls and a boy. In the picture she is resting on Delia, with Promise and Pippin. I've never known her happier, and she loved her Luciano and Delia with all her maternal heart until her last day.

Showing Maria was a blast! She never did get her last win for her championship, and when she started to get bored with it we stopped. I could have sent her with a professional handler; she would have gotten her last win quickly. I had good handlers offer, frequently. But I just couldn't bear to send her away, or even to hand her to a professional ringside and then disappear. She drove my friends CRAZY. Good friends who were kind enough to hold her for me while I was in the ring with Caruso, Jazzbo, Giacomino, Willow, or Jessie.
Maria squeaked, trembled, cried, "MY TURN!!! MY TURN RIGHT NOW!!! I SAID IT IS MY TURN!!!!"
(To those of you who have held Lindy Loo ringside, she gets it honestly.)
There. It worked.
I found my exclamation points!!!
hug your hounds


  1. Oh dear. That was lovely and Maria was beautiful. You honor her memory by sharing it

    Gussie and Muzzer

  2. Thank you so much for sharing your memories. We love to watch the lure chasing at the dog farms we go to for agility training.

  3. !!!!!!!!!!!!! There are some you can borrow too, because Tanner has an ENDLESS supply.

  4. Aww.. Sweet Maria. Thanks for sharing. I was real surprised to hear muzzles are not mandatory in lure coursing! (Allthough I should have noticed concidering the amount of pix I've seen on WW)


  5. Hey!!! That's my Great Gramma you're talkin' about!! I love to run too, so mom takes me and my bestest buddy Buster to the ball field to run. Buster has to wear a muzzle as he likes to bump me, HA, that is when he can catch me. I run him into the ground too!!

  6. We so love your reminsicences of Maria!!!!! And we hope as you share them, your heart lightens just a little and the waggles tails start to wag just a little.

    Have we missed a story of how you came to be the humble servant to first whippet and then to each of the others? If so, please tell us where to find it -- or if not, please tell it for the first time.

    Wirey love to all!!!

    Jake and Just Harry

    (We are excitered -- quote Gussie -- too!!)

  7. Francarrich from WWNovember 25, 2008 at 4:13 PM

    Hang in there Patience, I think a little of your humour is returning now, & why not, when you have plenty of happy, loving memories to call on despite your current sorrow!
    When you first blogged your sad news I left a carefully crafted 'comment' which unfortunately seems to have disappeared into the ether so I'll make this a short one.

    I'm sure Miss Mouth Of The South enjoyed announcing your 1st blogging Anniversary prizes & is as proud of her servant's literary achievements as you are of all her Show / Coursing / Racing wins. We all enjoy reading your efforts, both happy & sad, if we didn't, we wouldn't!!! (See, I can do !!! too! )

    Thinking of you all,

    Carol, Banjo & Aida

  8. Maria was such a graceful beauty! How we love reading about her!

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

  9. Thank you for sharing your delightful memories of Maria. You touch my heart. Losing these familiars is tender. I feel as though I know you and your doggies from visiting here. Maybe she will run into my Rudy. He also, was a great fan of the rules and felt it his duty to keep everyone in line.

  10. Oh I see her smiling! What a wonderful gift Maria was for you!
    Hugs & Snugs
    Eduardo the Snuggle Puggle

  11. Thank you for sharing more about your lovely Maria! The photos and stories are wonderful and pull on my heartstrings.

    I am also glad that you found your exclamation points!! =D


    Dog lover

  12. I'm enjoying your Maria stories. I feel like I knew her.

    Hugs for you and pats for the pups,


  13. Thanks for sharing your good memories of Maria!
    Like Tanner I use lots of marks too!!!
    Kisses and hugs

  14. Such beautiful memory of Maria. She will always have a very special place in your heart.

    Take care, Patience. I hope you dun feel too sad for too long.



  15. You have found your exclamation points!!!! Maria would be proud.

  16. I can't do this anymore. I read the first draft of her new book and I cry. I read her blog, and I cry. I read her stories, and I cry. The only reason I won't stop is that for every tear there is at leas one "alone out loud laugh". Do you think that is why I love her?

  17. Thank You for continuing to share with us while you grieve. Your stories of Maria are wonderful - even though they make me cry!

    Sue, Gracie, and HotRod

  18. What sweet, sweet memories of your precious girl.

    Thank you for sharing her with us, both tears and smiles.

    Still Stardusted,


  19. No doubt about it. Maria was a great dog!

  20. Oh I've been slow in blog reading and I'm so sorry about your loss!
    I have lots of exclamation points here if you need any, and also commas, dots (.....) and semicolons!;;;
    I also LOVE lure coursing even if it's only practice. One day Mom's going to bring me and Josie and let us run the straightaway together. Can't wait!!!!!!!!!!
    (more exclamation points)

    (funny -- the password in order to post this comment is "twaggl". The Waggle?)

  21. Maria sounds like a great character! Thanks for sharing.

    Cassidy x

  22. Happy thanksgiving, my whippet friends. (I definitely think I am part whippet!) I am thankful for the wonderful stories you share on your blog so your dogs live on forever! That shot of Maria running--WOW!

    wally t.

    ps. I am stickler for RULES too and I shout at dogs who break them. So that part made my ma ape all damp eyed.

  23. Dearest P-being a HUGE fan of !, I am SO HAPPY yours came home! Thanks for more wonderful shared memories-and tell Bill I was going ok through the comments until I came to HIS!!! Then the tears flowed again...

  24. Oh my...haven't visited the blog in a bit, and am shocked to read about little Miss Maria! I have always loved reading about the "mouth of the south," and I hope you always keep her "alive" through your tales.

    Sending happy thoughts your way,
    Lindsey and Phoebe in Atlanta


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