No comments of what a great thing I did - no. It was my privilege.
I guess ten years ago, Carolyn and Greg asked me to be named in their will with two of their other friends to be responsible for placing their dogs should something happen to both of them. Sure I would and I was honored. I barely knew the other two friends at that point.
We never dreamed... Greg and Carolyn were my age. We were young.
A month before she died, Carolyn said she was just worried about her eldest two, Easy and Spice. They were old and had been together since birth. Easy had thyroid cancer and wasn't expected to live much longer. Could they stay with me when she - Carolyn - was gone? She just needed to know where they'd be.
Easy wasn't expected to live beyond January of 2009. Spice on the other hand would be typical of Wistwind dogs and live well into her teens - fifteen, sixteen, even seventeen. But Spice got her own brain cancer, just like Carolyn, and suddenly she was gone.
That was purely awful. I mourned the loss of Carolyn and Greg afresh. And Spice, oh God had not made a sweeter being.
Easy kept right on. He slept on our bed. He played with squeak toys like a rowdy puppy. He rolled and rolled and rolled in the grass. He never felt bad, though his tumor kept growing.
I am saving up for a small used motor home. I want to take all the dogs when we go to dog shows. It is physically painful to leave the old dogs at home, but around here it's too hot for them even with the van tarped, and it's no fun for old dogs in a hotel room.
Last weekend I went on a long awaited trip to Minnesota. I picked up Crystal who had gone to Sweden with me and we talked and talked. I got to see my dear, wonderful friend Laurie (who takes these magical photos) in person - we talk on the phone every day. And I got to see Sam I Am's brother Rivet, and Lindy Loo's sister Simmer who live with Laurie. I got to see Laurie's 89 year old dad, with whom I am a little bit in love.
And we showed in a big giant Whippet show. Swede William was a star and a half and finished his Championship with a huge win: a five point major, which is as big as they come. But that was Saturday.
On Friday, Swede William was Reserve. It's an honor to be Reserve at a Specialty (it means next best, almost, dang close but no cigar), and I was thrilled. See, Swede William's color is very common in Europe, but not in this country. It's all due to silly fashion and prejudice. (The written whippet standard says famously, "Color is immaterial".)
Out of sixty-six whippets, Swede William was the ONLY blue fawn. So he has to be extra good and he was oh boy was he!
When I got done showing on Friday, I saw there was a message on my phone from Bill. Bill does not call me during the day at a dog show and my heart stiffened. I thought oh no Mama Pajama or Fat Charlie. I wished my heart would beat again because I didn't have any air.
I called Bill.
Easy? No! Easy? How? He had taken his walk in the morning, barked at a Stupid City Squirrel, wolfed down his breakfast of Cheerios, Grapenuts and yogurt and rolled in the yard. And he had had a grand mal seizure.
I bawled then when Bill told me. Bill had never had to take a dog in for that; he's a gentle soul and that is my responsibility. Easy was still groggy from the seizure and in fact was starting to seize again. So he was not a bit worried which was a blessing. There was no decision to make. But still. I wasn't there. I was at a dog show in Minnesota in my van with my very good friends and all those losses: Greg, Carolyn, Giacomino, Spice, then Martha, and now Easy. Woo-wee it was loud for a little bit, I sort of keened. I sort of forgot where I was; and luckily I was not ringside, but down by a kind soul's motorhome.
Arms were hugging me. They had all been there. They understood. But I got a grip.
Then Saturday morning Swede William won and that was all he needed to finish his championship. I have fun showing dogs, and I think it's important to be an ethical breeder. How horrid would it be to not have any whippets, or wire fox terriers, or collies, or papillons? But I don't live and breathe for championships. It's fun and a thrill and a challenge.
Well, when I was standing with Swede William, waiting for his Winners Dog ribbon, the dam broke. Maybe it was my imagination - of course it was - but I had this overwhelming sense of Carolyn's presence. Like she was right in front of me smiling, and Greg was sitting in his fold up chair, smiling too.
Here came the tears! Big snotty ones that aren't a bit pretty. What did everyone think? People didn't know about Easy, except for Laurie and Crystal and the motorhome friend. There I am standing with my dog who just had a big giant win for which I can take no credit (Lisa in Sweden, his breeder, gets all of that) and I'm just a-bawling snot bubbles. And there was Carolyn with a big grin. Just all around me.
Every time I looked at Easy I saw Carolyn. I often saw Greg and Spice, too, but every time I saw Carolyn. I think after you're dead that there are more important things than dog shows. Maybe Carolyn's presence had nothing at all to do with Swede William's win. Maybe I was finally saying goodbye.
Like I've closed the cover of a good book, hating to leave the characters. Knowing they'll stay with me, but not be a part of my every day anymore.
Carolyn and Greg
It was a great long friendship, and I've been much luckier than I deserved.
hug your hounds and your friends