-Betty Zubritsky (Breeze)
Many years ago, I was an adopter. Just like many of you folks. Difference is that I adopted from an AR group and didn’t know any better. Knew not a drip about racing and they convinced me that I didn’t want to know. Ok, I had a dog and she was delightful in every possible way. Adopted a second one, from the same group, and he was…. well, he was different.
Pikey had raced well at the Dells in the upper grades till he broke his pretty little leg. He came to me all mended, but somehow timid. Not a spook, exactly (now that I know what one is) but kept himself apart from me. He was afraid of my kitchen floor. Would not take a cookie from my hand (and you guys know me and cookies). Was not animated in the slightest. Never did a naughty thing… not once. Nothing. Did not bark, did not pee in the house, did not molest the cats. But avoided me as much as he was able.
I wooed him for months, wishing for a light in his eyes, a love spark. Hell, I’d have done cheetah flips if he’d have taken a damned cookie, but he was apart from me.
I had, by then, come to adjust my feelings about racing, and had befriended a lady at the NGA. Asked her to track down any info on this dog she could find. I was convinced that he’d been abused somehow. The reports came back that he was adored, his trainer cried actual tears when he himself carried our boy to the transport. My dog was not mistreated in any way while he raced.
And so the years went on. Pikey was cheerful most of the time, and I suppose he came to love me in his way. But nothing delighted him.
And he had still never barked.
On the day after Christmas, when my darling was 9 years old, he leaped off the daybed, launched himself at the bay window and BARKED!!! His body was tensed, ready for … I had no idea what, and I hurried to be beside him, to see what he was seeing.
It made a peculiar sound, a whirr of mechanical origin. Its tail stuck straight up, and it spun and scampered along the sidewalk to the demands of the child behind it. I curled my arm around my precious boy, and he whimpered his desire. The Bunny!
6 full years after his retirement, my Pikey was still a racer. A little boy playing with his Christmas present showed me. It wasn’t a bunny at all, but a remote control car.
I’m crying now, remembering that. I’ve had dogs of some sort all my life, and I used to think I was pretty smart about them. Food, toys, cookies, big soft fluffy beds. Kisses and cuddles and romps in the yard. Any other dog will thrive that way. These guys are different.
I had finally seen the light in his eyes, and it wasn’t for me. But in that last year of his life, I knew who he was. No dog should wait 6 years to be understood.
And now.. the rest of the story…
It was that incident with Pikey that finally drove it home for me. I had to know the truth. All of it. The down and dirty, getting in the trenches and being up to my eyeballs in it. Oh, I promise I believed what I was told, and the logic and the very depth of your souls didn’t escape me. And Pikey had told me plenty on an afternoon in December, many years ago. I believed him too. It was the depth of HIS soul I needed to touch.
You can’t just scrape the surface on a quest like that.
And now there is nothing else for me. Far beyond anything I could have imagined, I am utterly in love with the work I do. Proud to do it with my whole heart. I love my dogs. I have held greatness in my hands (I have also held dumbness, but those have been just as delightful), played bobble-head with them, fussed and bedded and mopped and danced. I’ve created a cartoon voice for some, made up songs for others, given bananas at every opportunity. What I could never have believed .. is absolutely true.
Each one is an individual. And even the nutbags are perfect.