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Driven By Dingo

Katie Greyhound was my dog. Or, perhaps more accurately, I was her person. (We all know who was really in charge…) As the story goes, she and I chose Ellie two years later. Almost to the day.

But George wanted a dog of his own. It had to be a greyhound, I told him, as I hadn’t yet learned about the availability of Whippets or Salukis — or that Galgos even existed! But I did know that temperamental Katie G wouldn’t tolerate a non-Sighthound. (She had her reasons…)

At the time, there were two Greyhound adoption groups in Vermont and several others in neighboring states. So, we asked ourselves, where do we begin?

Petfinder, of course!

Scrolling through rows and rows of available dogs is enough to make your head swim. Even when you filter for breed — or gender or geographical location — the number of dogs looking for their forever home is overwhelming. We needed to settle on a specific search term without appearing superficial. And then we landed on his profile: Driven By Dingo.

George is a car guy. He went to art school and considered a career in automotive design. He was a mechanic for 10 years and today teaches Driver Ed. He auto crosses and ice races (not now, obviously!) and does track events. He’s proud of his ability to identify vehicles at night, merely by the shape of their head (or tail) lights. He gets angry when movies include parked cars…from the wrong vintage. (“This movie is set in 2012! That SUV is from 2014!”) Watching a movie with George is quite an experience.

So when we landed on that big white greyhound with the tempting name, we had to read the profile. He sounded perfect, even without George forcing the issue. We contacted Fast Friends and made our appointment.

Dingo, we found out later, was afraid of men. Which was perfect because George, as a child, was afraid of dogs. And he still wasn’t 100% comfortable around Katie. Dingo was also large, much larger than we anticipated. At 88 pounds, he had significant heft over our “little” ladies (62 pounds each). But he was gentle, and came right up to me for a snuggle. From our perspective, it was love at first sight. (Dingo, I think, had the hots for Ellie. But that’s another story…)

He was also a terrible racer, which is why he landed at Fast Friends at the age of 3. Don’t get me wrong — the guy was FAST. And he knew how to efficiently run laps. It terrified us when he turned corners in our backyard. “Slow down,” we’d silently cry. “You’re going to slide into the fence!” He never did, though. (Like I said, he knew what he was doing...even if we had little faith.) That said, it didn’t surprise us at all, when we found his racing record, to see “Not a factor” all over it. At the dog park he’d walk right up to the slowest one there — a bulldog more than once — and goad the poor pup into a game of chase. As in, this incredibly dense dog would plod along the park with a greyhound trotting behind. It was utterly ridiculous. Sweet Dingo never, ever, ever, ever, ever wanted to be out in front.

Ellie always chased him around our fenced in backyard, but that made sense. She was a retired racer as well — a terrible one, too, but with a bit more of a competitive edge — and he continually tried to impress her. So, yeah, let “Girl Pretty” win. But a bulldog? Seriously. It was shameful. He almost gave greyhounds a bad name…except he couldn’t. Because he was the absolute sweetest dog I have ever encountered. There wasn’t a single mean bone in that boy’s body. He wanted everyone to love him, and he wanted to love everyone (even the people who slightly terrified him, like our very tall neighbor next door, Alex, who was never able to get too close — Dingo chickened out at the last minute every single time).

Eventually, Ellie decided she was too old for chase. Katie by this point had crossed the rainbow bridge and we had welcomed Vishna into our lives. Dingo absolutely needed to impress this truly little lady, his new 28 pound Whippet roommate, and she demanded to be impressed. It was the perfect setup. They became fast friends — get it?! — and the best of friends. Their games of “tug” were the things of legend. She’d put her all into it, twisting and turning and grunting and pulling. He’d just sit there with a stuffed toy him his mouth until his jaw got tired. Then he’d open up, she’d go flying, and they’d start all over again until she was finally worn out. Outside, they didn’t play chase — instead, he’d run laps and she’d literally run all over him. Jumping on him, over him, at his face. He loved it. She loved it. It was strange to watch — and slightly scary — but they were exceptionally happy for those 3 years they had together.

To know Dingo was to love Dingo, I think it’s fair to say. Most greyhounds are pretty darn lovable — there’s just something about their nature — and it was definitely true of him. Unfortunately, Dingo like Ellie, developed osteosarcoma. Unlike Ellie, his story lacked a happy ending. Osteo is the number 1 killer of retired racing greyhounds. It's important that people realize this, though I would never use his story to turn someone away from adopting one of these magnificent dogs. We didn’t have as many years with him as we would have liked. (Then again, isn’t that always the case?) But the years we had were amazing, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world.

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