2/25/1994 - 12/18/2007
I met Rush, my first greyhound, for the first time on the evening of Oct. 10, 1997 when Joy Axe and I went to the kennel to bring him home. Joy had told me he was a blue but that really meant nothing to me and I truly didn’t care about his color. The first thing I noticed when I saw him was his beautiful shade of dark grey and his striking silver ear tips and muzzle. His amber eyes seemed to look into your soul. While they were piercing they were also soft and kind. His handsome appearance and coloring drew compliments and comments throughout his life. Early on people assumed he was older than he actually was because of his silver ears and muzzle and I had to explain that it was just his shading that gave that impression.
When we arrived home I introduced him to windows, the kennel run and his dog bed. He settled in fairly easily and didn’t seem at all nervous. When we turned in that night I gated him into the bedroom with me and turned out the light. Not ten minutes later Rush was standing at the gate crying. When I let him out of the room he immediately ran into to another bedroom and looked out the window at my neighbor’s porch. Being that it was dark, I saw nothing. I tried to coax Rush back to bed but he would have none of this. After several attempts I finally got a lantern and shining it through the window I saw a raccoon sitting under the neighbor’s porch. The critter took off and Rush finally came back to bed. To this day I’ve never figured out exactly how he was able to sense the presence of the raccoon from within the closed up house.
On our first full day together Rush found his “spot”. Right in front of the sofa where he could simply raise his head to nudge me so I would pet him while I read or watched TV. He could always be found in that spot or on another dog bed in the living room “killing” a stuffy. I say this with a smile on my face because I learned very quickly that Rush loved stuffies until they stopped squeaking-I have a large collection of “dead” stuffies that the other dogs played with but Rush was done with them. I had been told he was “high prey drive” so this made some sense to me, I didn’t fully understand the term though until he and I started doing meet and greets.
I also learned very early on that Rush loved to shred his toys. About a week after he came home I was getting ready for work and Rush was in the bedroom, I assumed he was sleeping. When I went in to get him to go outside before leaving I found the “guts” of his stuffy lying on the floor and the remains of the body tossed on the side and Rush looking at me with a “I didn’t do this” look on his face. As I picked up the stuffing I quickly realized I didn’t have all of the stuffing, rather than call the vet I asked my girlfriend about this. She told me to just watch him for a day or two and see what happened. Well, later that evening Rush started pooping that strongly resembled bales of cotton so I figured he’d be just fine. The following morning however, I realized that Rush had also most likely eaten the squeaker from the toy. This realization came to me as he was eating his breakfast and passed gas that actually squeaked! It only happened the one time so I guess he passed the squeaker too.
When Walt came into the house I started doing meet and greets in order to socialize both boys and to push Walt past his shyness. Rush loved these events because he was very handsome, and knew it, and attracted a lot of attention which he basked in. He was a great meeter and greeter because he would approach everyone in order to get pets and ear scratches. At one early meet and greet I truly came to understand Rush’s prey drive, much to the dismay of the folks at PetsMart and much to my embarrassment. We had been set up very near the gerbil case and when the critters started moving around Rush caught sight of them and started to whine and cry loudly and persistently in frustration because he couldn’t get to them. This continued for what seemed like hours but was probably only about 15 very long minutes until a PetsMart associate came over and placed a large piece of cardboard inside the glass case effectively blocking Rush’s view of the innocents. We continued to do meet and greets for several years and eventually Rush figured out that he could lay down and sleep on the bed I brought along because people would still come up and give him pets and make comments about his handsome coloring. But, whether asleep or awake Rush would always be the first to greet any arriving greyhound cousins who came to join us.
About three months after Kimmy arrived she jumped on my bed. Rush, who had to this point been sleeping very happily on the bedroom floor took note and decided he wanted to see what was up there. As I stood watching him he tried several times to coordinate his body to complete the jump onto the bed. It was amusing to watch because he’d drop his hind end and pop his front legs up on the bed without pushing off with his back legs. He’d drop his front legs to the floor and try again. With each attempt like this you could almost see the wheels in his head spinning trying to figure out the right combination of movements. Eventually he got the hang of it and from that day on Rush was my “sleeping buddy”. He would stretch out along side and put his head near my shoulder and fall soundly asleep. He willingly let Kimmy share the bed with us when she chose to do so. Rush had also found another “spot”, my bed when the sun was shining through the window.
While I think Rush would have been very happy as an only dog he readily accepted Walt into the house and eventually Kimmy, Stinger and Wrigley along with a stream of short and long-term fosters. He was the undisputed alpha of the pack and I watched as he would stand in the yard and oversee the positions of his pack members before he would head out to do his business. His pack was a “well-oiled” group that had somehow developed a hunting strategy without ever speaking a word that I heard. Together they caught several rabbits, until I rabbit proofed the yard. But that didn’t prevent Rush from snatching a few birds and small rodents. I took to calling the group the “blue crew” and Rush became my “blue man”.
In addition to their limited hunting excursions Rush and his pack loved to go for walks, lay in the yard on cool evenings and smell the fresh air, play with toys in the yard-although this usually ended quickly after Rush gathered all the toys in front of himself and guarded them. Perhaps the happiest times for Rush came when he was romping in a freshly fallen blanket of snow, something he did even at the age of 12. Additionally, Rush loved to share my sandwiches but his most favorite thing was to have me rub his eyes with the palms of my hands.
As time passed Rush’s silver turned to white and his dark grey coat became lighter but he continued to lay in his spots in the living room or on my bed and he continued to sleep with me every night. He was, and always will be my “blue man” but he picked up another nickname courtesy of the staff at the vet clinic, “powder-sugar face”. When Kimmy left us, Wrigley started moving into the role of alpha. This caused a bit of tension between him and Rush but there was no outright fighting. Shortly after Stinger left us Tina arrived. Tina connected with both Rush and Walt on a very sweet, affectionate level. Her arrival turned Wrigley’s attention away from Rush so an even keel was reestablished. When Walt left to join his sisters at the bridge Rush became more reclusive, spending a good deal of time in the bedroom. This behavior continued for a while but when Chance arrived Rush started spending more time in the living room with us again and I took to sitting on the floor with him.
There were many occasions when everyone was in the yard together that Rush would look at me as if to say, “Why did you bring these goofy kids here?” This would most often be when Wrigley, Tina and Chance started running laps in the yard while Rush was attempting to enjoy the air and the weather. While I think their energy level was higher than Rush really cared for, they also kept him going. He would run with them to the fence or gate, admittedly not as fast as he once did, with the same curiosity and intensity that he had in his youth. He also became interested in playing with toys again when he saw the others outside playing with them.
During his last few months Rush stopped sleeping with me even though he looked at me and the bed longingly because he had a hard time getting up on the bed and would not allow me to help him up. He took to spending much of his time in the back bedroom under the ceiling fan where he could catch the breeze on warmer days but more importantly I think where he could get away from the youngsters and feel safe. He also took to sort of barking when he went into the bedroom until I would come into the room. If I sat on the floor with him he would request eye rubs and pets and then nuzzle my face with his. After a short time of this he would fall asleep and be content for hours. This routine went on every morning and evening. He was content to spend the afternoons in the living room. Eventually Rush and I coordinated so that all he had to do was come into the living room or kitchen and stand in front of me and look into my face and bounce up and down on his front legs. That was my cue to move into the bedroom with him and sit on the floor. I don’t know how many hours I spent back there with him and I don’t really care. Not much got done when I sat back there with him and I only wish I could do it again for another day or two.
Rush was with me for 10 years and 2 months and he was just 2 months shy of his 14th birthday when I had to send him to the bridge. The time went far too quickly. I take some small comfort in knowing that the “blue crew” is together again and that they are watching over me and waiting for me to join them when the time comes. I am grateful for the gift of Rush’s love and devotion and the time we were given together. From each of my pets I’ve learned something. Rush taught me to never take things for granted, to romp in the snow as long as you can, to take time to enjoy the fresh air and nice days too, to charge with all your heart into whatever you do because you only get one chance, and to love with all your heart.
When Rush joined his brother and sisters at the bridge he completed a pattern whose only exception was Stinger. It may be coincidental but… My original three hounds left me in the reverse order in which I adopted them, Stinger didn’t fit this part of the pattern-she was the 4th grey I adopted and left 2nd rather than first, but all four of them left me in the same season of the year in which they came to me.
I hope that Rush now knows that I loved him as much as I loved the others, that I miss him terribly and that he was truly the ultimate rush in my life as well as my pride and joy. I thank him for the wonderful years we had together and all the greyt memories he left with me.
Run pain free my pal and shred the stuffies to your hearts content until we meet again. Know that you are much loved and missed but never forgotten.
With our love always,
Kathy, Wrigley, Tina and Chance