For various reasons I haven’t done much writing recently, and I’ve left Teresa single-handedly holding the fort that is Tree and Leaf (and a great job she has done, too). Sorry, and thank you, Teresa.
But here, at last, is my rather overdue follow-up to my earlier post where I told you we had been approved to adopt a retired racing greyhound.
Meet our just-turned-four-year-old, blue-brindle beauty: Aria. AKA Ariana. AKA Editorial (how appropriate is that?)
Aria’s breeder/trainer/owner called her Ariana, but four syllables is two more than any other dog I’ve ever had*, and also the name of a friend of my daughter’s. I don’t mind animals with ‘people’ names, but I’m not keen on them sharing names with people I actually know**. My neighbours have a llama called Belinda, I’ve always felt a bit awkward addressing her, and I really wished they had changed her name to Bella when they inherited her (she came with the house, along with her son and cousin), but there you are. Anyway. I like ‘Aria’ as a name.
Editorial was her racing name. If I had a racing greyhound I couldn’t choose a better name! She was a sprinter with a very good track record (bad pun, sorry) until she broke her hock and ended up in early retirement. Her people were tempted to keep her but they already have four taking up most of their furniture and wandering off with their footwear, so now she’s taking up our furniture and, yes, stealing our shoes. But she stole our hearts, so shoes are nothing!
It took her only about three days to really settle in and she has been so good, I can’t get over it. She even ignores the chickens – the only danger they are in is if she’s going at full speed and they get in the way, they risk being bowled over. Happily the other two house animals – Faith the Samoyed and Chenille the cat – took to her as quickly and thoroughly as we did. She is an absolute dote, and such a cuddle-bunny.
Being absolutely honest, there are some things I’m slightly disappointed about: she is somewhat wary of strangers and, although she only takes a short while to get used to visitors, going out to ‘meet and greet’ and be an ambassador for retired greyhounds, as I had hoped she would be, might not be something she’d enjoy. She also hates big vehicles, so walking beside the road has so far proved a nightmare – when we want to visit her Springer Spaniel friends who live just two doors away (with the llamas), we have to go by car. Luckily we have several acres of paddocks for her to do zoomies in, and she’s happy to walk down the lane to the river and paddle there with Faith, her adopted Samoyed sister.
She’s all legs and angles and makes us laugh with the way she bounces and tries to play. I can’t imagine life without her. And she looks absolutely fabulous in her designer collars (which there will be many more of, I suspect) and her Elmo pjs. Would I recommend adopting a retired racing greyhound? Absolutely!
*Petra, Bambi, Thor, Nina, Freya, Rowan, Benji, Maya, Abbi, Treelo, Laurel, Whisper, Faith.
**Writing this reminded me of one of my rare non-fantasy writing projects, which came out of nowhere (and sadly is currently going nowhere – though I would like to get back to it one day).
It’s about a woman whose marriage and life begin to disintegrate and she goes to stay with her mother while she tries to sort herself out. Her mother is a dog breeder…
Her mother’s house bordered Windsor Great Park, and Selina had keys to the private part where she would ride her horses or walk her beloved pugs. Riding in the park Suzanne was looking forward to; walking the pugs was another matter, however it was compulsory when staying with Selina.
When she arrived, her mother greeted her at the door with a cheerful, “Just in time, I’ve got a lively bunch to worm, could do with a second pair of hands.”
There was a pause – into which Suzanne just managed to squeeze, “Hello, Mother, you’re looking well.” – before Selina continued, “Clean hands of course. Go and wash up, can’t be having foreign germs getting to the pups.”
Suzanne shook her head and took herself upstairs where her cases and trunks were already waiting for her. She did wash up, as instructed, and she changed too, though not into cleaner clothes but into something she less minded getting worming syrup and pug drool on. By the time she got down to the homely kitchen there was a pot of fresh tea and a plate of cherry scones waiting for her.
“You don’t look so hot yourself,” her mother told her, as if twenty minutes had not elapsed since their last words.
“Just weary from the journey,” Suzanne replied, half-truthfully.
The pug puppies swallowed their worming syrup readily. One of them piddled on Suzanne’s knee.
“Ah, home. There’s nowhere like it.” She smiled as she mopped herself up.
“Little tyke,” her mother guffawed, putting the offending pup back with its mother and litter-mates. “I’m keeping that one.”
“Another one! How many’s that?”
“Only seven. I lost old Julian last month and Emily the month before that. Mind you, they were both getting on.”
Suzanne chuckled. “I don’t know how you get away with naming your dogs after your friends.”
“It’s considered an honour. I’ll have to think hard about what to name this one in fact. Might have to keep a second pup. There’s a couple of people who are beginning to feel slighted, you know.”
Suzanne shook her head. “Let’s have another cup of tea. Put the kettle on while I go and change – again.”
Yes, the first day or so would be fine. They wouldn’t start to get on each other’s nerves until Wednesday, even Thursday if they were lucky. But then what? Then what?
From the unfinished novel: ‘Dress Circle’