In Memoriam: Zane Greyhound

Our family put our beloved greyhound Zane to sleep Friday evening about 6 p.m. A veterinarian who does such things for a living came to our house and gently administered a lethal injection. She was followed immediately by a tall, muscular man from Pet Care who carted the inert 80-pound dog to a pickup truck and then on to the crematorium.

Zane was an extraordinary dog. Of course, all dogs are extraordinary in a way. If I were a believer, I would say they were God’s gift to man. And the death of a dog makes you want to be a believer, to see him cavorting in some canine heaven off into eternity.

I did not have a dog much of my life until I married Sheryl — a dog person — and I cannot imagine not having one now. Dogs are a necessity of life to me, an expression of sanity and love. You take care of a dog, and he or she will definitely take care of you, in a deeper way.

Zane was our second greyhound. We adopted him some eight years ago when he was 2 from one of those rescue programs for retired racers. Zane wasn’t much of a racer though, hence the early adoption. I would joke to friends in whisper not to say that too loud lest we hurt his feelings.

Still, like all greyhounds, he could really run when in a healthy state, legs moving in tandem, like an antelope.

But largely Zane was the gentlest of pets, friend to man and beast, as the saying goes. In fact, he had a smile so broad when meeting new people, sometimes they would mistake it for a threatening scowl, though Zane was the Ferdinand the Bull of greyhounds.

One time, when driving south along the coast, we stopped for the night in Pacific City, a small Oregon town, which years ago had been accidentally overrun by rabbits. Little bunnies were everywhere you went. We kept Zane closely on a leash, petrified he would try make lunch of a few of them. But he just stood there wagging his tail, trying to make new playmates.

If you had to characterize Zane with something most of all, it was courage. He was a real trooper. He contracted his first cancer at the age of five, the neural sheath variety in the shoulder area. Amputation seemed dicey, so Sheryl and I elected radiotherapy, even though the oncologist promised very little time. Perhaps a year.

So Zane the trooper endured a number of weeks of serious radiation, becoming a favorite of the nurses at the dog cancer hospital during the process, and miraculously lived five more years.

We assumed it was the same cancer coming back when he started to limp again a few weeks ago. The MRI, however, told a different story. The old cancer was gone but a new form had attacked his clavicle — on both sides.

The poor fellow was in excruciating pain, crying out in the middle of the night despite medication.

It was time to end it. RIP Zane Greyhound.

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