Monday, November 26, 2007

A Reason to Live

I used Phyllis as a basis for the fictional character in my story, Time for a Little Fiction. In real life, Phyllis is eighty-six years old. She is a widow whose only son passed away several years ago. And her beloved fifteen year old whippet died this past summer.

Phyllis hadn't been without a whippet for at least twenty-five years. Possibly longer. (There are more stories for me to hear.) I had met Phyllis on two occasions during the last five years, when friends of hers brought her by my husband's gallery to see "the whippets." A lovely lady, soon forgotten among the hubbub of my everyday craziness.

She called me this summer. At fifteen, her Zipper had succumbed to renal failure, and she couldn't bear to be without a whippet. Could I help her find one? She said she understood that many breeders would be worried that she was too old, but perhaps since I was involved with Whippet Rescue I might hear of an older whippet who needed a home. Yes, I said, I might. I would get the word out.

I posted a note to the Rescue List, and looked through the available rescues. There was an eleven year old in Texas, but her foster mom did not want her to travel out of state. And there were no other older whippets in rescue. Good for whippets. Bad for Phyllis.

A friend of Phyllis' called me a few weeks later. No, I hadn't found a dog yet. Yes, I was looking, but it might take a little while to find the right match. I asked Pam to email me. I kept the email message in my "unfilled orders" folder, to keep me on task. But I really didn't need the daily reminder; Phyllis stayed on my mind.

My summer went busily on, filled with the magic of whippet beauty and grace and silliness and unstuffed stuffies and show wins and tender curled up moments on the couch and zoomies and wags and ah-wooooos. I got another phone call from Pam. She was worried about her friend, who was getting too sad. "She just wants a whippet to love, surely you can understand that." Surely I could. And I thought about outliving my husband after years of our precious marriage, and my only son, and finally my whippet, and I felt my heart start to twist into a fisted ball. I put out another plea, but there just weren't any whippets in rescue which would suit.

And autumn came, and Sammy and I were training for our Agility Trial, and I was going to Marketing meetings, and Mainstreet Board meetings, and I was sewing orders, and sitting on the porch in the evenings with my Very Old Dog in my lap and my husband in another chair and the young dogs playing tug with a toy and amusing us all. And friends stopped by for a glass of wine and a dish of pasta and we laughed and I begged them not to give the dogs any more cheese and they did anyway.

And one morning while I was so busy, out of the blue I thought of Phyllis. And then I found I wasn't so busy after all. I thought, "There has got to be a whippet for that woman." All I could do was post another request to the Rescue List. I clicked on the Yahoo Groups page and signed in. I clicked on the Rescue group and posted my message.

  • I still have a wonderful home for an older bitch. A woman in my town lost her fifteen year old whippet this summer and is devastated. She is eighty-six, but would be a perfect home for a senior needing love. If there are no rescues, does anyone know of a breeder who wants to place an older bitch? thanks - Patience

Within minutes, my own message came to my Inbox. What? I don't get the rescue list messages, I read them on the web. Oh no! I had clicked on the wrong group and sent the request to the general whippet group where it is against the rules to post "whippet wanted" and "whippet available". Oh, I almost died. I immediately posted an apology and an explanation that I had clicked on the wrong group and wished I could melt.

And then another message came to my Inbox. "I think I have the perfect bitch for your lady. Her name is Maddie."

Pam took over and arranged with Maddie's generous breeder to get her to Phyllis. In talking about the how's and when's Pam mentioned to me that Phyllis had recently prayed that if she couldn't ever have another whippet to please let her accept that and to help her stop aching and feeling so empty. "When did she pray that?" I asked. "Um, I think just a couple of weeks ago," said Pam. I realized then and there that it wasn't my fault that I clicked on the wrong group.

And today, I went to visit Phyllis and her new whippet. They've been together for just over a week. "Oh, she just snuggles so close in bed and we keep each other warm," beamed Phyllis. Maddie wagged and smiled and circled adoringly around Phyllis. "And you know, when I get my cane, she waits for me to get the door open and she lets me go through first. And she tells me when it's time for her dinner!" I sat on the couch, listening to Phyllis talk about going off to college ("my parents wanted me to be able to take care of myself if something happened to them") in New York, and seeing her first whippet. And I watched Maddie lying under her new human's chair, listening as intently as I was to every word. "She's perfect, you know. She gives me sweet kisses and isn't she so beautiful?"

Yes, she is indeed beautiful. I looked at this lady's beautiful face, so animated and happy. Radiant. And I saw the same radiance mirrored in Maddie's expression. I was completely satisfied that this was a perfect match, and I thanked Phyllis for the lovely visit. I needed to get on with my busy day. As I was putting on my coat, I remarked how wonderfully I thought everything had turned out. With her hand resting on Maddie's head, Phyllis said "Well, you see, I really didn't have anything to live for. And now I do. I'm Maddie's Mommy, and I can't stop smiling."



  1. It's so difficult finding good homes for oldies, they so often get overlooked because of their age but they still have so much to give. And so many older people get overlooked too, for the right dog, they too still have a lot to give. It's so lovely to hear that Phyllis and Maddie found each other!

  2. And what a wondewful weason that bootiful whippet is!!!!
    Mommi and I loved the stowies adn the pictoowes, and that last look on both theiw faces says it all!
    smoochie kisses

  3. What a wonderful story! We're still sniffing and blowing here! Phyllis and Maddie are a match made in Heaven! Bless you, Patience!

    Love ya lots,
    Maggie and Mitch

  4. Patience,
    This is Pam and Im so eternally grateful for you bringing Maddie into Phyllis' life.
    We talked on the phone Sunday and we have laughed more than I can ever remember laughing with her.
    She is so totally happy and Maddie is the perfect match for her!
    You know you and I have talked on the phone and on the computer but we really need to meet in person some day. I would love to thank you personally for bringing such joy into Phyllis' heart =)
    As you know I have Old English Mastiffs,not Whippets, but they seem to both have that special something that brings out the best in people =)
    Thank you again you are the best!

  5. What a beautful and heart warming "true" story. Thanks Patience.



  6. Thank you for sharing the story and pictures. We think Maddie and Phyllis are truly a match made in heaven.

    kissies for your efforts and love
    Gussie and Teka

  7. Patience,
    That one has made me a create a new personal rule -- never read Patience's blog while at work. How to explain the leaking eyes?

    What a beautiful story, and I believe that posting to the list really wasn't your fault.

  8. That is the best thing we have read in forever. We are so happy for Phyllis and Maddie.

  9. What a lovely tale. I'm so glad she found someone to love.



  10. A lovely "True Love" story, and I hope we all remember to think of each other so kindly as time goes by. Susan Kirkham

  11. Wow, such good news!!!! I am so glad she was able to find a new Whippet companion.

  12. Oh Bootiful Whippets, I'm so sowwy you had tummy tewwibles to, I hope today you'we all bettew! bwoth and wice sounds kind of nice..I got nothing till today, Mommi wanted me to be empty..I don't know why?
    smoochie kisses

  13. What a great story! Even better to know it's real. It's also another illustration of "nothing happens by chance" - your e-mail had to be sent to the "wrong" list for the chain of events to lead to these two finding each other when they needed each other the most. Thanks for sharing!

  14. Oh dear.. you have brought tears to my eyes. What a lovely story. Bless you for a soft heart, and love and best wishes to Maddie & Phyllis


  15. God bless you and your big heart.

  16. Hi
    That was a very touching story.It was meant to be !

  17. In the first and last pictures in this story Maddie looks identical to my Cheyenne. In the second picture it's easy to see that Maddies snout is longer and narrower, but the coloring, ears, and those eyes... And to think we are only guessing that Chey is partially whippet.

  18. SamI am
    Tell Mawia, that this will be a vewy sedate holiday pawty! no beew and cigaws at all!! just a cozy evening with fwiends..
    I bet you could wun hewe in a flash and with fabulous gwace, but it's too cold and I would woowy about about asking Ruby to give youa lift in hew plane??
    smoochie kisses hope the whole whippet waggle is happy and no tummy pwoblems

  19. Patience,
    Old dogs rule. Speaking of old dogs, my old boy 'Basher' has made a nice recovery from a nasty dog show virus and is doing quite well, again, thankfully...
    Basher's Dad


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