Saturday, November 1, 2014
The Dog Stays in the Picture - Susan Morse
The author of this book is going to be at my fantastic local independent bookstore, Head House Books, in Philadelphia, on Wednesday (Nov. 5th), and after reading the book, I'm looking forward to the event.
The author was an actress until she retired to raise her three children with actor David Morse. I didn't recognize him by name, but I recognized his face after Googling him. You probably will, too. They've been married for over thirty years, unusual in the film / TV industry. Most of the time, she's stayed home with the kids and he's been away on location filming. They moved to Philadelphia after surviving the terrible California earthquake in 1994.
The children are either off at college (the girl) or about to go (the twin boys). Freedom looms for the couple. Susan will now be able to join her husband on location and they can rekindle their romance. Until she decides to adopt an ex-racing greyhound with issues.
Racing greyhounds have never known family life or domesticity. They've spent their lives in a crate or chasing a mechanical rabbit around a track. Their professional lives are short. They have a lot to learn when they're adopted into a family. Fortunately, they're smart, sensitive dogs (which makes the thought of how they've been treated at race tracks deplorable). Some things Lilly learns quickly. But she immediately attaches herself to Susan as her rescuer and savior. She's extremely anxious if Susan's not with her - all the time. This is a problem. She also doesn't seem to like men, although that's not surprising considering that during her professional life, she was probably handled only by men. They don't have a pleasant association for her.
The book relates the problems with Lilly, how they were resolved, and how they affected the lives of everyone in the family. It's a funny, honest book about a family that's not quite like other families but that has all the same problems. There are some stories about celebrities. There are stories about mysterious illnesses. College applications must be filed before the midnight deadline, but the fax machine isn't working.
It doesn't end with the dog's death, which made it much more fun than a book like Marley and Me, which I have not read and will not read. Over the past eight years, I've held six of my darling pets in my arms while they peacefully left this life. That's too many too often and I don't want to read about anyone else's pet grief. That's not cathartic for me. I'll continue to struggle with my PTSD, dreading our last remaining cat's death.
We've shared our life with three Irish Wolfhounds, sighthounds, like greyhounds, and they seem to share some of the characteristics of greyhounds. Wolfhounds aren't used for commercial racing, so they tend to have better lives than greyhounds. But they often have difficulty with stairs (you try going up and down stairs on your hands and knees!), they need to have their food and water elevated for better digestion, and they are huge lazy slugs most of the time. But they're gorgeous when they run. They are the sweetest dogs on earth, but have been known to knock people over when they lean against them, and ours have always befriended our numerous cats and kittens.
There are so many dogs (and cats and rabbits and other animals) in need of permanent loving homes. I'm delighted to see many adopted greyhounds in my neighborhood in Philadelphia (but I don't think I've seen Lilly). You might just want to adopt one of these beautiful dogs yourself! (The Greyhound Project)