Olivia, who seems to sense when Eileen Mitchell is feeling down about the loss of her beloved Elvis, often climbs into her companion's lap or brings a toy. Photo: Richard Glygayton / SF
"Excuse me," a stranger called out, weaving quickly between parked cars to reach us. "Can I pet your dog?" Her purse flapped against her side as she hustled toward us and her arms were filled with groceries, but she was determined to meet my greyhound, Olivia.Can't add much to that, now can we Super C?
"Of course," I replied. When she reached us, she dropped her purse and groceries on the sidewalk, then knelt on one knee and wrapped her arms around Olivia's neck. She closed her eyes and buried her face against the soft fur, wearing a sad, wistful expression, and I realized there was more here than met the eye. After a few minutes of silence, she confirmed my suspicion.
"I live over there," she said, nodding toward a townhouse in back of the parking lot. "Every day I see you walking your dog, and I've been trying to get the courage to come out and say hi, but I've been afraid I'd start crying." She gave a heavy sigh. "We lost our greyhound a few months ago. I miss her so much."
I knew what she meant. Recently, I took Olivia, nicknamed Little Tiger for her striking brindle coat, to participate in her first Golden State Greyhound Meet & Greet. At these events, volunteers bring their hounds and educate visitors about what it's like to live with an ex-racer. Yes, many greyhounds are cat-safe; no, they aren't high strung and don't have to exercise constantly, stuff like that. We were approaching the tented booth filled with greyhounds when I saw him. I stopped in my tracks, mesmerized by the hefty fawn with gentle doe eyes that looked like Hershey Kisses.
He was the mirror image of my sweet Elvis.
I just stood there and stared, grateful that my Jackie O sunglasses were hiding my tear-filled eyes, when his guardian appeared at my side. "I knew it would be hard for you to see Victor," she said in a soft, knowing voice. "He looks just like him, doesn't he?" Of course she knew Elvis. Everyone knew my boy, whom I lost to cancer in February. Looking at Victor, I could almost imagine wrapping my arms around his neck, closing my eyes, and, for just a few precious minutes, pretending that I was holding Elvis. Would Victor have the same sweet musky scent? Would his lower jaw quiver with the same unmitigated joy that Elvis expressed whenever he was in my arms? Could I fool myself for even a minute? I wiped my eyes and turned away. I knew the answer.
Now, watching this woman holding Olivia, I shared my own loss, and then suggested she consider another dog. "Olivia will never replace Elvis," I said, "but she's helped me heal."
And she has. Every time I gaze at my boy's empty La-Z-Dog recliner or long for the touch of his velvety ears, Olivia pulls me back to the present. Maybe she climbs onto my lap, brings me a toy or simply lays her head against my chest. It's almost as if she can sense my aching heart.
Each time I hold Olivia, I inhale her unique scent and am reminded that she may be a different spirit, but she is just as eager to love. Every day she works her way a little deeper into my heart. Not in place of Elvis, but alongside him.
The woman thanked me, then gave Olivia one last kiss on her needle nose. And we continued our journey, my little tiger and I.
Super C is a very sweet, patient and gentle boy. He wants to be close to you and loves attention. He is housebroken. He will go in his crate but does not like it. He is not cat safe and shows a bit too much attention to small dogs. He is a big goofy boy who runs into things and trips on rugs. Super C would do well in a working home. He would do well with older well-behaved children due to his clumsiness. He may accidentally knock small children down. He would do well as an only dog or in a home with dogs his own size. For more information about this dog, and other rescued racing greyhounds looking for homes, go here. If you don't know about the plight of racing greyhounds go here.