Saturday, August 1, 2009

Travels with Norm (All Apologies to Calvin Trillin)

Then God sent the Greyhound to live among man and remember. And when the Day comes, God will call the Greyhound to give Testament, and God will pass judgement on man. (Persian Proverb)

At 3:45 PM on Saturday, August 1st, the Great Dog Norm was laid to rest. A gentle beast, Norm had been with us for just over five years. Many of you had met Norm, been subjected to the hypnotic gaze of his deep brown eyes. Not a single person had met Norm and walked away without thinking that this was a special and unique dog.

As I had pondered this day coming, I began to reflect on the short years we have had with Norm, and what he had brought to our lives. And the amusing things he had shown us.

I realized just last night why it was he was always so unenthusiastic about going for a walk. During his racing career, there was always a Grandstand Parade, before each race, then into the starting box and away they went, flying around the track, chasing Rusty. I believe that for Norm, the result of the walk was the chance to run. When we walked him, it was always back to the house, no run. Eventually, he learned this and decided that the walk was a lose-lose for him.

The car ride, though, always resulted in a run, or someplace new to explore. The mornings or afternoons I wold come home with a rag-arm, and Norm would come home exhausted because of the constant chasing of the Kong Ball around the field in Portland were the best days ever for him, I believe. He would not stop until I did, and usually, it was me that stopped first- the Kong is heavy and gets hard to throw.

The car ride also resulted to trips to the beach, wide open runs on sand so reminiscent of the track. I believe that there was actual joy emanating from his body as he raced between Katie and myself one spring on Gleneden Beach while we stayed at Pan-a-Seah. Up and down the beach, until his tongue was hanging from the side of his mouth.

But Norm taught me slowness, as well. To take time, to enjoy. The luxury of the late afternoon in the yard. The indulgence of a good stretch. Watch a Greyhound do “Downward Dog”, you don’t need a yoga instructor, trust me.

But most of all, Norm taught me to be gentle, and kind, that I will be judge. He was always patient with children, adults, with us. He looked at me, at us, with trusting eyes, knowing that we would always do right by him. Although today was difficult, and will be hard for a long time, it was what was right by him.

And on that Judgement Day, I hope Norm stands as witness for me, for us, and testifies that we did what was just.