* Pickles (1998 - 3/19/2011)
A year ago at Christmastime, a good friend in Southern California called to tell me that 11-year-old "Pickles" was being returned. This good friend had no doubt about how Jerry and I would respond.
Described as "dominant, space aggressive, food aggressive and doesn't like her butt sniffed" we found those to be situational disordersť. Pickles showed none of those dubious attributes in her new home with 6 or 7 other greyhounds and only one which manifested itself in the form of being closest when we got dressed which meant straddling one's knees making it impossible to tie shoes.
Pickles quickly became my very personal companion- following me from room to room and staying with me all day on her couch by my desk as I worked. Here's the silliest thing about my quirky girl: when doggie dinnertime arrived, she could hear Jerry cooking all the way down this long hallway in the kitchen. Pickles would come stand by my knee, head under my desk, pawing my calf to demand pets. If I stopped, she'd venture to the doorway peering around a corner with ears up, listening for Jerry's call, then return to my knee until he did. Once she heard her name called, she'd thunder down the hallway like a race dog for her dinner. But unlike 7 others who lay around the kitchen watching Jerry prepare their meals, Pickles would, under no circumstances, leave my side until she was called.
An oddball of sorts, Pickles was certain that steps were treacherous obstacles out to get her- even two wooden steps in from the garage. Consequently she had little nicks and bumps on ankles and wrists from trying to conquer them by sheer force. She'd go down the 4 wooden steps out of my office, but when she wanted back in, she'd eyeball me until she saw me head to the kitchen to let her in there. The girl trained me well. With two carpeted steps up into the Greyt Room, we'd watch Pickles every evening look at them, make a circle around the dining room and approach them again and again until she'd finally keep her momentum going and run up- diagonally.
Pickles, with her lithe ballet dancer bodyť, after her original dental when she lost most of her teeth, was the picture of health. We were certain she'd be the one to reach our never-before goal of 15 years. On Saturday morning, Pickles appeared fine- she ate her breakfast and slept on my couch. By afternoon, her chest and abdomen had filled with fluid and her breathing was labored- a tumor on her heart, we were told. It was a shock - as is still, her absence here in my office.
15 months may not seem like long, but Pickles was such a presence here, so entertaining, such a relied upon personal companion, that it seems much longer. It seems like Pickles was always here. And now she's gone. But not from our hearts. Our Southern California friends are more than that now- they are family. Thank you, my precious girl, for making our lives so much more than they were before you.