Tuesday, September 9, 2008
I received sad news on Monday that my parents' precious greyhound Yazoo had woken up ill and died all within the course of a few hours that morning.
For those of you without any knowledge of greyhounds, they are strange creatures. A prime example of human cruelty and selfishness. Born and bred for racing, they are kept in small cages, only allowed out at race time to run around the track. They are treasured for their speed, at least until they slow down a little. They are destroyed without a second thought. There's always another faster dog.
When I first met Yazoo he was a recently retired, rescued racing dog. I thought he looked like an alien. Or maybe a misshapen cow. He was scared of everything. You see, being caged up his entire life meant the world as we know it was a mystery to him. He'd never seen cars, sidewalks, or sliding glass doors. I derided my sweet parents for willingly bringing this inept creature into their home.
I never lived in the same house as Yazoo, but with each passing visit, I continued to warm up to him and considered him an integral part of the home I grew up in. He was a sweet, dopey animal. His teeth, the few that he had, often chattered, whether from fear or anticipation of some treat, I was never certain. Sometimes his tongue would fall out of his mouth owing to his lack of teeth. While caged up, greyhounds often chew their cages out of boredom or nervousness. This in conjunction with poor diet, means poor teeth are a common trait of former racing dogs. Near the end of his life, Yazoo had very few of them left. That didn't keep him from asking for treats. He usually got what he wanted.
We'd run around the backyard together. He ran a lot faster than me. Afterwards, he'd return to his bed inside the house, and lay down spent after the mini race, his day simple yet complete. He wouldn't spend his time alone chewing on a metal cage, but happily surrounded by his people, occasionally gumming the treats we gladly gave him.