The Least Of These; What I Learned From My Dog

moonshineI got my first greyhound after my divorce. Jamba was a Fawn colored retired track dog I rescued from a local rescue group. Rescued greyhounds are literally rescued. They are treated badly on the track, and before they had rescue groups, they were usually shot when they were no longer making money for their owners. He was a great companion and rescued me during my time of loneliness. He died eight months later from bone cancer in his hip.

After I remarried, I wanted another greyhound. I was remarried with a young son, so we contacted the rescue group, and went to see what dogs were available. I found a young fawn greyhound who looked like Jamba, and decided to take him. When we were getting ready to leave, my wife and son came to me about another dog. I never considered having two greyhounds, as they are big dogs. He was black, and was the only greyhound not taken. He was older, had been adopted, but given back because his owner was too old to take care of him. His teeth were bad, and he had pretty bad breath. I was told black greyhounds don’t get adopted as quickly as other dogs. In addition, he was eight years old. People don’t want dogs that old because older dogs health declines faster, and you don’t have them as long. I looked at him, behind the fence, all alone. He was the greyhound no one wanted. I felt sad for him, so we talked to the rescue people, and they gave us a special price, so we took both. I named our fawn greyhound Cookie, and the black one I named Moonshine. ari&moonshine

Cookie was the looker. He was beautiful and graceful, and outgoing. Moonshine was just a black dog. He was more reserved. He liked to lie around and was not nearly as food driven as Cookie. I figured that was because he was older. Cookie tended to favor my wife, but Moonshine attached himself to me. He would hang around when I was watching TV. I shared my snacks and coffee with him. He seemed to be the number two dog, but of the two, Moonshine was the gentleman. He seemed to understand that he was adopted, and looked to us with appreciation. He quietly worked his way into our hearts.

When we moved to Florida, we drove down, with both dogs sharing the back seat of our sedan. I asked our vet for “doggie downers” to keep the dogs quiet and relaxed during the two-day drive. They slept the whole trip except for when we stopped to eat. I got them each a burger from the drive-thru, and they took turns sticking their snoots between our seats as we fed them.

Moonshine was clearly the less demonstrative of our two dogs. When visitors came, he would go to the door and greet them, then go lie down. Cookie was more exuberant, but then followed Moonshine’s lead. When we’d walk them, it looked like we had pet deer. Moonshine was sleek and graceful. He was physically more hesitating, but he looked at me with trusting eyes. I grew to love him and called him my little boy.

As he aged, I watched him carefully lie down, and carefully get up. His face and muzzle became gray. He was obedient, and faithful; everything you would want in a dog. As he got older, it was increasingly obvious that he was in pain. He would yelp when he got up or lay down. He started to lose weight, looking almost emaciated. His teeth also caused him pain, and it got to the point that I was afraid to pet him, for fear of hurting him. He ate less, and was uneasy on his feet. We reached the point where his pain meds weren’t working. He started to become incontinent. We reached the difficult decision that life was no longer good for Moonshine.

We talked with our vet, and decided it would be too painful for Moonshine to get into the car, so we had her come to the house. My wife took Cookie and our son for a walk, so they wouldn’t be present. I stayed with Moonshine. He was given two injections, and he was gone. I’m still crying. The dog no one wanted was a kind, calm, peaceful presence in my life, and now he’s gone. He made an incalculable difference in my life. Sometimes the people we esteem the least, ultimately mean the most. I hope to God that I can make such a difference in the lives of others.

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12 thoughts on “The Least Of These; What I Learned From My Dog

  1. Great story.

    Greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane. Greyhounds endure lives of nearly constant confinement, kept in cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around. While racing, many dogs suffer and die from injuries including broken legs, paralysis, and cardiac arrest. And many greyhounds are euthanized every year, as the number retired from racing exceeds the number of adoptive homes.

    At racetracks across the country, greyhounds endure lives of confinement. According to industry statements, greyhounds are generally confined in their cages for approximately 20 hours per day. They live inside warehouse-style kennels in stacked cages that are barely large enough to stand up or turn around. Generally, shredded paper or carpet remnants are used as bedding.

    An undercover video recently released by GREY2K USA shows the conditions in which these gentle dogs are forced to live: http://www.grey2kusa.org/azVideo.html

    For more information on injuries these dogs suffer, please view:

    http://www.grey2kusa.org/azInjuries.html

    http://www.grey2kusa.org/eNEWS/G2K-022811Email.html

    Dogs play an important role in our lives and deserve to be protected from industries and individuals that do them harm.

    V Wolf Board Member, GREY2K USA

  2. Thank you for sharing. Our sweet boy, Duncan, who was a beautiful collie had similar problems near the end for him and it was very painful to let him go. I still miss him now after 3 years. What a blessing you were for Moonshine and what a gift it is for us to love our sweet friends. I hope that you can have some comfort in knowing that you made his life and death easier.

  3. That was as hard to read as it must have been to write. Having been through 2 of those senerios with very loved animals, I intimately know your pain,, I’m so glad our Master will someday wipe away all our pain and give us joy for mourning. We have had 5 greyhounds over the last 20 years and enjoyed them all. A great pet to adopt. I would do it again.

  4. Forty years ago, we had a Siamese cat named Suzie. She wasn’t even an animal, really. She was one of us. We got her just after we got the kids, so they sort of grew up together.

    She never had the arthritic problems, but at 17, she became incontinent, which is the usual final notice for cats. She had to go to the place of departed cats. Our kids were old enough by then that it seemed time to give them a closer understanding about death and its permanence. So, when our daughter insisted she go with me on the final trip to the Vet, we let her go.

    Suzie, the precious and trusting little thing that she was, never made the slightest complaint when she was put in her carrier and then in the car. Unfortunately, things went straight to hell when we got to the Vet. She gave her the second shot first!

    Poor Suzie cried and cried and struggled in my arms for about five minutes before she finally went, and of course our daughter was there for the whole thing. Suzie had loved and trusted us for 17 years, and her reward was to be killed by the ones she had so trusted. Anybody who thinks animals don’t have facial expressions is dead wrong. That poor animal looked up at me and cried and begged for help the entire time. That final remembrance of her is still with me. Our daughter took it a lot better than I did, and she had to drive us back home, where Suzie was laid to rest about 4 feet under the back yard.

    Anyway, Michael, I know just what you and Moonshine went through. They are just animals, but yet we get so attached to them and they to us, that we’d do just about anything to avoid putting them through pain and suffering.

    God bless you for caring so.

    Dave

  5. Thanks, Michael, for sharing. I imagine easy to share. It was a blessing to me and touched me deeply with God’s kindly love. From reading the comments here- it looked like it touched others deeply, as well.
    We can learn so much from our animal friends. I believe God also gives us glimpses into His love for us as we lovingly care for them. Throughout Scripture were told of the strurdy love a shepherd has for his sheep and the love/trust they have in him. We also find that God (and more specifically Yeshua) is our Awesome Shepherd Who loves us with such deep caring love.
    May God bless, comfort, and strengthen y’all- incuding Cookie. (Animals, too, build deep friendships and can feel the loss of a loved one.)
    Much love to you and your family!

  6. I just noticed your last sentence, that you hope you can make such a difference in the lives of others. Rabbi, Hello? You have already done that more than once. You have certainly had that much effect on my life. What about your wife and son??? What about your parents? Just to mention a few.

    Tikkun olam is, of course, one of the goals of Judaism, and you have been a wonderful example to the rest of us as to how to do that..

    Dave

  7. This story brought tears. An animal wether it be a dog or cat, or other critters are just not yer pet. their part of the family. they give their love unconditionally . all they want is your love and together time. I use to take in all sorts of animals people didn’t want or forsed to give up. I just wanted them to have a good home an be loved like my critters. what i got out of it was more love than i ever dreamed of. And them someone they knew loved them an gave them best home i could. Bless u and yer family .

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