I first met Siegfried when he was six years old. He had been a winning racer and had raced until he was 5 years old. How he loved to run! A side effect of being a winner was that he was used to the best of food. I never did succeed in getting him to accept just normal dog food. He knew how special he was.
I knew very little about greyhounds when I first got Siegfried, and foolishly thought he would be content with a small yard and walks on a leash. He quickly let me know that this was not acceptable. I soon built him a fenced area in the woods where I live that is 100 feet by 100 feet square and enclosed a few big trees and lots of grass and native plants. When the fence was complete and I turned him loose for the first time, Siegfried ran non stop figure eight's until he could run no more. Then he came back to me with his big ear to ear grin that told me how happy he was.
June 1990 - March 28, 2003
In the woods where I live there are many almost tame deer and wild turkeys that seem to think they own the place. Siegfried defended his turf! Not one deer ever dared to jump into his yard! A couple of turkeys only tried it once. The first time there were deer near the fence when I let him out, he was on top of them before they even knew he was around. I'll never forget the first time he surprised them. They were quietly munching grass at the far corner and he was on them before they knew he existed and barking in their faces. They went straight up in the air like they would like to jump out of their skins, and then ran in the opposite direction. Siegfried saw them off and then returned to me with his big ear to ear grin. He once surprised a couple of deer beside the fence so completely that they ran in opposite directions with one running the fence line. Siegfried stayed right with him and was gaining on the deer on the other side of the fence. The deer gave up all hope of rejoining his friend and ran away from the fence through some of the roughest brush around.
I let Siegfried out early one morning and he surprised some turkeys in his yard. I heard a commotion and looked out, but I was half asleep and didn't have my glasses on. All I saw was feathers floating through the air and two or three big turkeys clearing the fence. No turkeys ever got in his yard again. They stayed on their side of the fence. He never tired of chasing them off when they got too near. Once there was a flock of about 15 turkeys feeding in my garden near the fence when I let Siegfried out. He went nuts that they would dare be in his territory. He ran back and forth along that section of fence barking, and convinced those turkeys that he would soon be on them. He didn't stop until he had every one of them up high in the fir trees surrounding his yard. It was unbelievable, you just had to be there!
Siegfried and I never kept a regular schedule. The deer and turkeys learned that there was no time of the day or night when they were safe, so they learned to just steer clear of his yard. It was the squirrels that did get the best of him. He once chased one from tree to tree all around his yard. He really thought he would catch one some day and he never quit trying.
Siegfried was the best of companions. He was always there to greet me when I came home. He offered unconditional love at all times. He was always there when I needed him but never under foot. He would sleep or amuse himself when I was busy. When I did yard work in his yard, he would follow along or find a cool spot to lay down near by and watch. When my daughter was in despair over a broken marriage and moved in with me with her children, Siegfried watched over her. He was there when she needed a hug, he would nudge her if he thought she had been still for too long. He slept with her at every opportunity.
Siegfried loved life and he got a lot out of it. He had stuffed toys galore. He would work up his appetite by tossing them high in the air and then shaking them to death. He would run around the house with a squeaky toy in his mouth and squeak it nonstop like a fool for as long as he could. He had a way to enjoy each moment. Of course he slept a lot, but the rest the time he played or nudged for attention. He even taught me to give him eargasms. He loved having his ears rubbed, and if you rubbed long enough and hard enough in the right place, he had what can only be described as an eargasm. He would hold very still so you could keep rubbing the right spot and then he would get this drugged look on his face and finally he would give out with a big groan of pleasure and almost collapse.
When he was outside, he would promptly take care of business and then sometimes run just for the joy of it. Other times he would check out everything that might be going on near his yard. Sometimes he would just stand and soak in the sun. He loved winding up on the far end of the yard, often out of sight behind bushes, and then running full speed all the way back up to the house. My hot tub shared space in his yard, and when I was in the hot tub, he would either stand on the deck beside me, or lay down next to the hot tub to keep me company.
Siegfried loved to ride in the car! Every time he got in a car, he got this big ear to ear grin on his face. It didn't matter where he was going, he just loved getting into the car. He could be going to the vet or just to the bottom of the driveway to watch me do yard work; he had the same enthusiasm each and every time. The only time I could trust him to run free was when I told him to go get in the car - nothing would deter him from his mission. On the rare occasions when he got away from me, all I had to do was to open a car door and he would give up his freedom to jump into the car. He liked to stand up in the car so as not to miss anything, although he would lay down for a long ride. I took him with me almost everywhere.
I do a lot of photography and Siegfried was my companion on trips to the coast, and hikes after waterfalls. Everywhere we went we would be stopped by people who wanted to pet him and admire him. He taught a lot of people what great pets greyhounds could be. As he got old, I had to cut down on his car rides since he didn't really have the energy to spare to stand up so long. The last time he got in the car, it was to be a simple trip to the dog groomer. He had trouble getting in as had been happening some recently. Upon getting out, he had trouble walking and collapsed at the groomer.
I rushed him to the vet, and x-rays revealed an enlarged spleen with a large tumor on it, and a smaller one on his heart. The vet thought the tumor and/or the spleen had ruptured, and Siegfried's time was up. I made the vet carry him back out to the car and lay him down on his car bed. It was a beautiful spring day, and he lay there in my arms with the back open and a clear view of the sky and the trees. By the time I was willing to let the vet give him the final shot, he was pretty much gone. I suppose it was fitting that he died in the back of the car...
Siegfried had a long life for a dog, but far too short of a time with me. I didn't realize how much joy he brought into my life until he was gone and left this gigantic hole that can't be filled. However, he did show me how life should be lived and savored. I will always cherish his memory, and I hope I have learned from him how to get more out of each passing moment, and to enjoy the present as it happens.