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The Love of an Italian Greyhound: A Short Story About Love and Loss

Updated on May 1, 2017
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Linda lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in central Virginia. She has been owned by two Italian Greyhounds.

9 week old Italian Greyhound
9 week old Italian Greyhound | Source

Age is taking its toll. Her face is turning gray and she doesn’t jump up with the same enthusiasm when she hears me coming these days. The faint clouds of cataracts are beginning to form over eyes that once glowed in the dark and I look at her and think how different life will be when she is gone.

Luna came to me when she was eight weeks old, a happy, healthy puppy with a mind of her own. She wasn’t the retired racing greyhound I had wanted but from the moment I saw her, I knew she was mine. Her arrival, like so many other events in my life, was a pivotal moment. She had come to teach me something but it would be a while before I understood.

A Mother's Wish

When I think back, I can remember a time when I was a challenge to my parents. Strong willed and hardheaded, I thought I knew it all. During one of my less than fine moments, I distinctly remember my mother saying to me “I hope you have a child just like you one day”. That statement may have something to do with my decision not to have children. I was confident that I would not have handled the challenges of a teenager with the same grace and patience as my mother. I thought it best not to find out.

As I aged and grew into a more mature young woman, I forgot those words of my Mom, until – Luna came to live with me. I had done the research and understood that Italian Greyhounds could be challenging but I wasn’t influenced by the experience of others. Still hard-headed, I didn’t think that this puppy of mine was anything like all the others. How wrong I was.

The First Two Years Were Tough

The first two years of sharing my home with Luna were almost more than I could handle. Her unwillingness to be fully potty trained drove me to occasional screaming rants that did nothing to improve the situation. Over many sleepless nights of wondering what to do next, it finally occurred to me that I had been warned. Italian Greyhounds are frequently turned over to rescue for their horrible potty habits. I would have to live with it or surrender her, which wasn’t an option.

Luna had another irritating behavior that seemed impossible to conquer. This little dog demanded attention and could transform from an adorable puppy to an aggressive tyrant when her needs were unfilled. Her attention seeking behaviors ranged from incessant barking to the lunges that are typical of the breed. The lunges were often accompanied by playful bites from razor-sharp baby teeth. I began to wear long sleeves to hide the bruises and scars.

At my wits end, I hired a trainer to do what seemed impossible for me; to teach this crazy dog some manners. The trainer failed too. Never one to give up, I hired a second trainer who was convinced that clicker training and treats would turn negative behavior to a more positive one. It probably does for most dogs but not this one. My beautiful Luna would perform flawlessly until the treats and trainer were gone and then revert back to her old attention-seeking, bad behavior. It lasted two years.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Luna at 14 weeksLuna at 20 weeksLuna ready for the snow at 26 weeksLuna at 24 months - the look!Luna at two years, mature and sweet.Luna with her sleepy look on.
Luna at 14 weeks
Luna at 14 weeks | Source
Luna at 20 weeks
Luna at 20 weeks | Source
Luna ready for the snow at 26 weeks
Luna ready for the snow at 26 weeks | Source
Luna at 24 months - the look!
Luna at 24 months - the look! | Source
Luna at two years, mature and sweet.
Luna at two years, mature and sweet. | Source
Source
Luna with her sleepy look on.
Luna with her sleepy look on. | Source

The Turning Point — Two Years Old

It was clear that at the age of two, the switch in Luna’s brain was flipped and she became the most endearing and loving dog I had hoped to have. She entertained me with her whimsy and I began to see the “little clown” that had always been there but just needed time to grow up. Luna was bright and learned tricks quickly and with little practice. She could be entertained with almost anything but nothing was better than chasing the red dot of a laser pointer or one of the colorful balloons I purchased at the discount store in volume. She was also partial to the dozens of stuffed toys that filled her basket in the living room and would drag them out one by one each evening for a game of toss and retrieve. She resisted all the training that I attempted to have her put them back in the basket. That was my job.

We've Both Grown up and Learned Some Lessons

It has been ten years now and we have become lifelong buddies. We communicate without words and a look from Luna can bring me to tears. I am still amazed at the love I see in those beautiful eyes when I need it the most. Thinking back over the years, I am sure that she has never judged me for not greeting her with the same enthusiasm she showed me sometimes. She has never held a grudge when I worked late and her food bowl wasn’t my first priority when arriving home. With age, Luna has learned to sit and stare at me when I am too busy to sit and provide the lap she wants to curl up in. She waits patiently for me to lift the covers up so she can burrow under the electric blanket on a cold winter’s night. She has grown with me in this journey of sharing our lives and perhaps we have both absolved the pain of those earlier days.

An Italian Greyhound and a Mother's Wish

Italian Greyhounds have few health problems but to love one is to be ever watchful for the opportunity to break the tiny bones of those long, slender legs. It is a fear that everyone lives with if an Italian Greyhound shares your home. Luna and I have been lucky. We have survived ten years of a very active life without a broken bone. In fact, Luna had never had an injury until very recently when she turned too quickly and banged her muzzle on the door frame. A large hematoma quickly appeared on the bony structure beneath her eye. I expected it would resolve on its own with time. But no, that wasn't the case for Luna. Her boo-boo turned into a raging carinal abscess and required the extraction of most of her teeth. Like my motherI ill, I found myself worrying with the same intensity that my Mom must have felt when I wasn't well. d. I am reminded of my Mom’s love for her children and for a moment, I understand the depth of that love. And, I think my mother’s wish has come true.

Learning the Lesson of Unconditional Love

Some might say that it s foolish to compare the love of a pet to the love of a child and to them I would say – rubbish. Children and pets love unconditionally. They forgive our transgressions without judgment and they love us even when we are not worthy of love. Children and animals allow us to learn from our mistakes and sometimes provide us with the opportunity to make those mistakes. Theirs is a love beyond measure. It is a love that lasts a lifetime and shows us the best and worst of who we are.

When Luna, the Italian Greyhound came to live with me, I did not know or understand that ten years later we would have such an undeniable bond of co-existence. There were lessons I had missed in life when I chose not to have children. Luna has taught me the meaning of unconditional love and she has shown me that love does conquer. She has taught me to be patient and forgiving and when I look at her cloudy eyes and touch those soft white hairs that once were blue, I am moved beyond words. Time passes and life changes but where there is love, all is possible.

January 20, 2014 - The Final Chapter

It has been a year since I wrote this piece about the love of an Italian Greyhound and this morning, at 9:30 A.M., I said my final goodbye to my precious Luna. Her last month was a hard one as she developed tumors on various parts of her little body. Her breathing became labored over these last few days too. On a recent visit to her veterinarian for what we thought was bronchitis, While there, Luna had a seizure. Tumors began popping up rapidly and growing equally fast. She was scheduled for surgery this morning to remove the tumors and to get a pathological diagnosis. A kind and loving stranger suggested a chest x-ray before doing surgery. Our vet agreed and this morning a chest x-ray showed that Luna's lungs were filled with tumors.

Luna could not get well. Her days of being a happy-go-lucky, silly girl were behind us. I made the only right decision - to end her suffering. It hurts and it will take time for the pain in my heart to heal but I know that Luna understood. She was very brave, but I always knew that. This was a decision made out of love; the love between an Italian Greyhound named Luna and her "person". Run free little girl, run free!

Luna - 10 years old with the tender eyes of love.
Luna - 10 years old with the tender eyes of love. | Source

© 2013 Linda Crist

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  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 3 years ago from Central Virginia

    Oh Randi, you are so tender. It's okay. Dry the tears. Luna is happy nowl; free of pain and running with the wind in her face. And yes, I know she will greet me one day with her tail wagging and a silly smile on her face. She was a very unique character and a challenge to me at every turn. But I loved her beyond words. They are each special little creatures and they fill our hearts with so much love.

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    Randi Benlulu 3 years ago from Mesa, AZ

    Now, I am simply sobbing....What a beautiful girl she was! My little Ella is very much like that, sweet, loveable, sensitive. The first to greet me, loves to play and snuggle and the kindest to the baby....but....she defies training! Of course, that is a big part of her appeal!

    I am so happy that I read about your sweet Sadie first because Luna's loss has certainly left a gaping space. I believe she'll be waiting for you on the Rainbow Bridge!

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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Faith, thanks for stopping by. I love the mini-dachshund's too. A friend of mine has one and it is just a bundle of love. My brother has a chihuahua and Sophie has been a sweetheart since they brought her home at 9 weeks of age. Some of them can have big attitudes packed in those tiny bodies. lol Thanks for visiting with Luna. She appreciates it.

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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    OMG avianvoice....19 1/3!!! Amazing. I love the names of your Iggies too. I honestly don't think there is another breed like an IG. Luna will be my last though and will leave a gigantic hole when she is gone. As much as I love her, I have decided that I need a dog that isn't quite so fragile. The risk of slipping a lead and not having enough sense to not flee at the sound of everything that moves or makes noise, couped with the risk of broken legs is just more than I want to live with again. The huge personality will never be replaced though. You must certainly have been a good mommy to both of your guys and I know you miss them. Horses are good though, especially when they live close and you don't have to pay for them. lol Tanks for the visit.

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    Faith A Mullen 4 years ago

    Luna looks like such a sweetie! I have a miniature dachshund who has always been laid back and easy, and a chihuahua who is just now hitting the two year mark, and like your Luna, is becoming much more obedient and loveable as he ages. Thanks for sharing your story! Voted up :)

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    Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

    I had two IGs: Little Fleanardo was 12 1/2 when he was put down for his fourth leg break, and it was a compound fracture. Bacon Puppycookies made it to 19 1/3, yes, you read that correctly. Then came the retired racing greyhound, who made it to to 12. Right now, I am petless, which leaves a bit of any empty feeling. However, I have a horse friend next door, that I am getting to know.

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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Jaye, thanks for the return visit. I love schnauzer's too. They are so very smart. I would have done the same with the grooming in that situation. My Mom had a teacup poodle once that we refused to groom like a poodle because it gave her such an attitude for the first few days after getting that high-dollar hairstyle. The puppy cut we settled on ( really just a very short cut) made her adorable and lovable. Just love them and they'll do their job of loving us back. I'm sorry your baby has eye problems but it sounds like she found the right home. :-)

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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Jackie, I would be delighted for you to link to this one But, you might like the one I wrote about Chessie, my Chow Chow even better. Your choice. I would be happy either way. Thanks for asking and for thinking me worthy of a link.

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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Mike. It's okay if you love kitties more. lol Italian Greyhounds aren't for everyone and I stand on that statement. They are adorable puppies who are terrible teenagers, and then grow into very adoring little old critters. PS - I love kitties too. :-)

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    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    Linda...My dog is a medium-sized miniature schnauzer (not the toy variety). She no longer looks like a schnauzer because she can't have the schnauzer haircut any more. A chronic extreme dry eye condition that began last summer has to be treated with ointment all through the day and evening until late at night. All that hair (especially the schnauzer eyebrows and eyelashes) was making it difficult to clean and treat her eyes, so I had her face shaved, then had her entire body hair clipped very short to match it.

    She now looks like a short-haired terrier, but I love her no matter how she looks. I don't miss the long hair and all the grooming it required, and she looks pretty sleek. The dark shading on her face with the gray is actually very pretty. She's still my sweet girl, no matter what! Jaye

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    Jackie Lynnley 4 years ago from The Beautiful South

    This is great, if you don't mind I would like to put a link to this on my new hub about whether animals go to heaven or not. You share the emotions many of us feel for our pets to know they are not just stupid pets. These animals have a heart so big there has to be a spirit there too! Are any two alike? Is another dog like your Luna? They are like children.

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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Shauna, yes, Luna is my kid, the one my mother wished on me. I wrote this after a sudden realization that like me, she's getting older and slower. We're just two little ol' women trying to find fun in every day. lol

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    Shauna L Bowling 4 years ago from Central Florida

    Linda, before I had my son, my cats were my kids. They still are. Pets are our companions, care-givers when we're sick or down, and love us know matter what. I understand how you feel about Luna wholeheartedly.

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    Mike Robbers 4 years ago from London

    How cute!! Probably I love kitties more but I could have never resisted to such a cute creature!

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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    MH, you may not have lived with a pet but I am confident that in caring for those of your neighbors, you enjoyed the loyalty and love they give so easily. Pet friends are just as special and they were lucky to have you.

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    Martin Kloess 4 years ago from San Francisco

    My life style didn't allow me to have pets. Instead, I use to help my neighbors take care of theirs. It is like having a pet friend.

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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Bill, your presence is always a delight, and I appreciate you even more when you shower me with such loyalty. lol I understand your "burn out" and can only suggest that you give yourself permission to take a day off from HP now and then. I have no choice right now with all that is going and to be honest, it feels healthy. Writing a daily hub here can become so much of a ritual that it can start to steal the fun out of writing. At least that's my take on it. A day or two without a hub won't kill all of us who are such fans of your creative and motivational works. It might do you good.

    Thanks for the visit my kindred spirit. Yes I am hrd-headed and strong willed and I'm sure you can relate to both. lol

    Love you and am wishing you and Bev an awesome Easter weekend.

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Scribenet - thank you for dropping by to share my story of Luna. Wishing you lots of unconditional love from a four-legged friend and a beautiful Easter weekend too.

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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Theresa, you're such a soft-heart. :-)

    Thanks for taking the time to share Luna and our years together. I have been tha "crazy cat lady" you mentioned and once had twelve at once. That's too many. I will have cats again one day but not as long as Luna has anything to say about it. Kitties are something to be chased, nothing more (in her opinion). Wishing you a beautiful weekend. Thanks for the votes and sharing.

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    Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I'm a sucker for dog hubs! :) I am burned out, Kindred, and hardly reading hubs this weekend, but I'll never ignore you.

    You, hard-headed and strong-willed?

    Who would have ever guessed? LOL

    I hope your weekend is enjoyable my friend.

    lots of love,

    bill

  • Scribenet profile image

    Scribenet 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I can never resist a good pet story and yes, I believe they give unconditional love. I hope Luna has many more years for you and her to share the love!

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    Theresa Ast 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

    Linda - What a wonderful story of the life together that you and Luna have had and still have, and she is a beautiful creature. Animals add so much to our lives if we will let them. Two of my four cats (four is my limit so I don't become the crazy old cat lady) will circle and circle near the head of the bed, until I lift the covers and they can find a warm spot to sleep. :)

    The best stories and poems bring tears to my eyes and yours did. Voted all the way across and sharing. Have a Blessed Easter. Theresa

  • lrc7815 profile image
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    Linda Crist 4 years ago from Central Virginia

    Hi Jaye. I'm so glad you liked this one and got to meet my Luna. She's a real sweetie. I never cease to be amazed at how much love can be bundled into one small package. You didn't say what kind of dog you have so I am assuming it's a small dog too. Don't regret that you didn't have one earlier. They seem to know when we need them and just show up. Enjoy every day with your four-legged confidant. And thanks for sharing Luna with me and for voting this one up and sharing too.

  • JayeWisdom profile image

    Jaye Denman 4 years ago from Deep South, USA

    This one brought tears to my eyes because my own sweet girl dog is getting older (aging in doggy years as I age in human ones). I miss her bouncing around like a rubber ball and "zooming" (jumping from sofa to chair, to floor and around, around, around till she was out of breath--quite a sight!)

    Your Luna is a beautiful dog and, yes, you are blessed to have her in your life. I, too, have learned lessons about unconditional love from a pet that I didn't know before getting my first pet so late in life. Even though I had children, they grew up and became involved in their own lives. A dog seems like a toddler even when she begins slowing down and getting gray, and--no matter how cranky I might be, she forgives me like no human would do.

    I wish I hadn't waited so long to learn the wonders of sharing my life with a dog. But then, perhaps that was when I needed the lesson most.

    Voted Up+++ and shared

    Jaye