I’m afraid I have some very sad news to report. A few days ago, while we were out west visiting Arizona and Colorado, our beloved greyhound, Robbie, died unexpectedly and suddenly of bloat. He was two months shy of seven years old.
It happened overnight last Sunday night at the kennel where he was staying. It wasn’t the kennel’s fault; bloat strikes rapidly and without warning, and there was no indication anything was wrong until too late. I got a call early Monday morning giving me the news. I didn’t mention it here on the blog until now because I wanted to wait till I had had time to put together a proper photographic tribute. I’ve now done so; you can view 186 pictures and 12 videos of Robbie, from 2004 through 2008, on Flickr. (Slideshow here.)
The photo gallery traces not just Robbie’s life, but our lives over the last four-plus years: getting our graduate degrees at ASU and Notre Dame, moving in and out of various apartments, and criss-crossing the country by car, from Mesa to South Bend, then to Glendale and back to South Bend, and finally to Knoxville. In each place, we’ve found new places for Robbie to play, from Mesa’s Quail Run dog park, to the tennis court and lawn at South Bend’s Clover Ridge apartments, to Jay & Ashley’s back yard in Loudon, among others.
And of course, geographic changes haven’t been the half of it. Since adopting Robbie from the Arizona Greyhound Rescue in March of ‘04, Becky and I have gotten engaged, married, and had a baby. We’ve both earned graduate degrees, and have gone from being 21- and 22-year-old kids to 26-year-old adults. Oh yeah, and I briefly became a national media sensation — to the point where Robbie himself made the New York Times. :)
Through all these changes, we’ve had our gentle giant — our very own “40 mile-an-hour couch potato” — as a constant presence in our lives. Needless to say, he will be sorely missed.
Much more after the jump.
It’s hard to believe he’s gone. Although you could tell Robbie was getting older — he had more gray hairs than he once did, and he was slowing down a bit, getting even a little lazier than he’d always been :) — we certainly never expected to lose him so soon. Retired racing greyhounds usually live to be 10-12 years old, or older. We simply assumed that Robbie would be there for our next move, our next kid, etc., whenever those things might happen.
To give you an idea: we picked out our Mazda 5 in January with Robbie specifically in mind, thinking about what we can fit inside with the dog in the back. Earlier this month, Becky attended a meeting for dog owners who want to bring their animals to nursing homes and such, as “pet therapy” for the residents. Whether Robbie would live long enough to take part in such a program was never a question in our minds. Nor did I figure that our evening ritual of walking Robbie, with Loyette in tow inside her sling, would come to such an abrupt end. (If the thought had crossed my mind, I would have taken more pictures of us doing that.)
Still, as sad as his sudden departure is, Robbie lived a good, full life, and he was a fine companion and friend. We don’t know much about the first 2 1/2 years of his life, except that he was supposedly a fast runner who was nevertheless retired early from racing because he was too social; he would hang back to be near the other racers instead of running ahead to beat them. (We observed the same behavior constantly when he was playing with other dogs, who were invariably slower than him.) But we know for certain that, over the last 4 years and 3 months of his life, he was well taken care of, and took good care of us in turn.
We got him as a “foster dog” in March 2004 — and then, 10 days later, having fallen entirely in love with him, adopted him ourselves. He entered a household that was run by our cats, Toby, Sasha and Butter, and at first they weren’t happy about the canine interloper; for the first few days, they confined him to the kitchen! But before too long, the animals reached an uneasy truce, and eventually they would get along famously. Meanwhile, Robbie got to enjoy life in beautiful Arizona.
Then in 2005, we moved him from the desert heat of the Phoenix Valley, where he’d been born and raised, to the snowy cold of South Bend — which he quickly took to, as you can see in this photo (among others) and in this video:
After 2 1/2 years in Indiana, Robbie spent the final year of his life back in a southerly climate, here in Knoxville. He seemed equally happy in all three of the states where he lived. Mostly he just loved being around us, and we felt the same about him. He was truly a wonderful dog. We often felt like ambassadors for the breed when we’d go out with him; he exemplified all the reasons why greyhounds make such good pets. He was kind, gentle, easygoing, quiet, calm, good with people (including strangers and children of all ages), good with other dogs, and just generally sweet and good-natured.
Anyway, here are a few selected photos from the Flickr gallery: