Monday, March 14, 2016


If your name is Scruffy, you must either be ugly or ironically beautiful.

The Scruff I knew was the latter.

He was a gentleman, too - a gracious host, a kind soul. 

He lived a long life, in greyhound years.  His life's beginning was stressful I'm sure - at the tracks, bred to race, caged when he was not in a race.  It is a difficult life for these sleek, fast dogs who only look to please, and connect.

His second life was not much better, as far as we know.  It did bring him Ivy - what a good girl she was, another greyhound from the track - a powerful chest, and runner.  They were adopted to a home, as happens with retired greyhounds, but it was a home that did not work.  By the time Scruff and Ivy were returned, they would not leave the other's side.  I've wondered often what happened there.

It was in his third life that I met him - with Ivy by his side.  My friends adopted the two together.  They had had other greyhounds before, saved from the track, to live with love and comfort in their final years.  It was time for a new pair - a male, a female - one of each.  My friends understood that, by that time, Scruffy and Ivy came as a pair.  They liked it that way.  It was a perfect match.

I'm assured I was Scruffy's favorite visitor.  I'm sure he wouldn't play favorites like that.  He was too much of a gentleman.  But I did love how he would stand at the window in the mud room when he heard my car drive up, and how he would dance a little dance as he watched me walk up the driveway to his house.  I loved how, once the greetings calmed down, he still stood with me and leaned into me as I stood.  I knew, always, to give him some moments to lean - to give us both those moments.  When he finally would pull away, I would be sad.  Yes, it was time to stop the greeting.  But it was a such a nice moment, each time.  

My friends thought of changing Scruff's name.  After all, he was a beautiful tan - nearly elegant in stature - not Scruffy in any way.  But a name change never came.  He answered to Scruff, wagged his tail when he heard that name, and seemed so grateful that this name was said with love, that there seemed no need to change it.  We all knew how pristinely beautiful he was.  My friends didn't need to change his name to know that.  And all that mattered to Scruff was protecting Ivy, loving his new family, and appreciating the gift of his new, comfortable life.  So Scruff he stayed.

Scruff had a fourth life too.  It was after Ivy died.  She died abruptly, unexpectedly, on a walk - while relishing life as she always did.  It was devastating to lose her.  It was Scruffy who'd been aging at that point, not Ivy.  But it was Ivy who passed, who was sorely missed by everyone - I think by Scruffy most of all.

We worried that, without his Ivy girl, Scruff would have no will for life.

But he did.

When Ocho came, she lightened his world.  She was almost a puppy, compared to him.  He was not quite sure what to make of the brindle-colored little greyhound, but then again - well, he was Scruff. He was the gentle gentleman, humble in spirit, kind, aware - always aware - and he welcomed her to his house, to Ivy's place, just as you would expect from such a grand boy. 

I ended up moving away, and so saw him less.  I came to visit a time or two and watched he and Ocho do so well together.  We'd go for walks - short ones, now.  Scruff couldn't go far.  I'd still get my greeting, though - the dance, and the lean. 

The last time I came, I saw him through the window in the mud room.  "Hey, Scruffy," I said.  "Hi, honey...."  He lifted his head, struggled to his feet, and stood at the door, dancing his dance, slowly now but still with a lift in his step.   As I opened the door, he came to my side and leaned in to my leg.  We stood there awhile, until he had to lie back down.  I stroked his beautiful fur, and talked with my friends of his sweet spirit.  He listened, I think, while he napped.

Scruffy passed away a month or so ago.  It was his time, so it was all right.  I'm going to his house soon.  I won't see him, I know.  But I will look for a flash of light that dances in the mud room just as I arrive to the home that he loved so much.


Unknown said...

Thank you, Beth. Your blog on our Southern gentleman greyhound brought back many wonderful memories and was a (tearful) joy to read. You captured his spirit perfectly. Love, Jerry

Beth Bollinger said...

I'm so glad you liked it. I cried too, as I wrote it. He was such a good guy.