I grew up loving the Cleveland Indians. That's one of my Slovak
father's legacies to me. He and I would listen together on the
radio the baseball game in progress in the old venerable
Municipal stadium - now demolished. As the game progressed,
we both yearned to hear the loud crack of the ball from the bat
of one of our Indians - signaling a home run. Of course, it had
to be verified by the announcer's excited commentary. Today,
I could not help but think of Ddraig's (a greyhound) story
in base ball terminology.
This story also makes me recall about how I always berate my
older sister for crying at the drop of a hat. You just know when
tears will well up in her eyes after telling her about a sad event -
especially involving animals, though certainly she would cry about
anything untoward happening to children as well.
Well, today my eyes welled up with tears too as I read the story
of Ddraig (Welsh for dragon), a retired greyound racing dog. Patti
Goettler of Virginia wrote about this wonderful dog whose start in
life was anything but. Having been part of the cruel greyhound
racing life where many greyhounds led lives of frustration and pain -
kept in cages when not racing and some later even killed or
abandoned when they no longer performed under their owner's
expectations. Strike one for Ddraig.
But Ddraig in reality seemed one of the fortunate ones as he would
be rescued from the grueling days of greyhound racing by BRG A,
a local greyhound rescue group. Adopted by a single man who
claimed to love him, the love was tested after a year when the man
became romantically involved with a woman who had a young child.
Only one problem and a big one for Ddraig. This woman and her
child hated him. Wow, this should have sent up warning flags for
the man, b ut didn't. As they say - sometimes love is blind.
Then one day when Ddraig and the child were left home alone,
supposedly Ddraig bit the child. No witnesses of course. Did the
child provoke Ddraig? It didn't really matter the circumstances
because n ow the mother wanted Ddraig destroyed, and sadly, the
man agreed. What shallow love for a dog he supposedly loved.
Strike two for Ddraig.
T hankfully, the adoption group learned about this and jumped in
and would soon take him back. He would become a "bounce back,"
a dog whose adoption didn't work. Poor Ddraig - first a terrible life
as a greyhound racing dog and now adopted by a man whose
affection for him was superficial at best.
But there would be no strike three, because Patti Goettler, a dog
trainer/behaviorist who also trains and certifies service dogs would
come to Ddraig's rescue. BRGA had notified her about him needing
fostering immediately. So she and friends from BRGA drove the 90
miles to pick him up on a Wednesday night. Ddraig looked terrible.
He had lost 20 pounds and he was obviously depressed because he
didn't even try to make eye contact with his rescuers.
However, when finally arriving at Patti's home, Ddraig must have
immediately noticed a change in atmosphere because during the
night he crept up on the bed to sleep on Patti's side of the bed.
Patti had been in an accident in 1985 and, as a result, always needed
a service dog to help her. She also is a dog trainer/behaviorist and
trains service dogs. She lost her beloved 13-year-old Lurcher in 2010.
He had also helped her in the training of service dogs.
When Patti got up the next morning with her daily struggle to get
out of bed, Ddraig leaned into her for support. He also assisted her
down the stairs. She had been training dogs to do this and here Ddraig
seems to have instinctually realized her need without having had
any training at all.
Patti soon realized that Ddraig was special and it would be wrong to
adopt him out to yet another home. She notified the group that he
was no longer a foster and that her home would be his real forever
home. A home run for Ddraig at last!
After regaining his health and joy, Ddraig became her service dog and
he also helps her train other dogs in the group she started - Greyt Hearts
Service Dogs, Inc
This wonderful dog adores children and loves his job of assisting Patti
in her dog training work as well as his job to spread his love to all. For
Patti - this "bounce back" has become her hero. I'm sure Ddraig feels
the same for her. I don't know when my tears started to flow but I can
hear my sister say - See, you too have a soft heart.