In her racing days, Brooke was known as Craigie Hummer. From what I can tell, she did pretty good! 14 wins out of 64 races (with 4 seconds) according to greyhound-data.com. Not good enough to breed, I guess, but winning more than a fifth of the time seems pretty good to me.
Brooke's parents, on the other hand, were pretty busy. Her mom, Go to Bellair, had 33 offspring, and Brooke was one of 321(!) siblings and step-siblings by her dad, Craigie Brooker. I couldn't find any pictures of Brooke's parents, but I did find pictures of both grandfathers. That's Flying Train, Craigie Brooker's dad on the left (posing in an appropriate setting) and 1995 Greyhound of the Year Staplers Jo, Craigie Brooker's dad, on the right. Noble lineage indeed.
But the dog we knew was a couch potato named Brooke. (We didn't name her, by the way. Like Brady, she had already lived a post-retirement life with another family before coming into our lives.)
Here she is in her primary capacity as an affectionate layabout. It wasn't easy moving to Potsdam from the big city, but having these dogs really helped through the long lonely winters.
Enjoying a delicious bone snack.
Unlike Brady, Brooke wasn't particularly skittish or neurotic. With ex-racers, you never really know how well they were treated during their work years. Brooke was so well adjusted, though, that it seemed pretty unlikely she was mistreated.
It gets hot up here in the summer, but these dogs don't swim. (Fat floats, I'm told, so I suppose greyhounds must know that they'd sink like rocks.) Brady was a little more awkwardly adventurous, but this is about as far as Brooke usually went.
Camping on Grand Isle. We bought the blue tent in the upper left corner thinking the dogs would like a space of their own. We were wrong. Fortunately, both dogs loved the car so much they eagerly jumped into and spent the night in the back of our Outback wagon on numerous occasions.
Brooke was not a small dog. She just seemed small compared to her horse-sized friend Brady.
Before they got too old, we took these dogs on a lot of hikes.
We'd signed an agreement saying we'd never let the dogs off-leash in an area that wasn't fenced in. In pre-dogpark Potsdam, this meant almost never. At first we followed the rule pretty strictly, but over time we became a little more lax.
Here's Brooke running down the trail at Stone Valley, catching up to us after sniffing some stuff. Our biggest concern was not that she'd run off and get lost or hit by a car (the motivation behind the above-mentioned agreement), but that she looked a lot like a deer in a county with a lot of hunters. Eventually we started tying things to her collar and dressing her in a hunter-orange coat.
The hunter orange coat came later, however, after several seasons in this smart jacket made by Lynne! (The scarf, by the way, is the cut-off sleeve of an XXL blue fleece from the thrift store.)
Despite their size, greyhounds seem to think of themselves as lap dogs. Whenever either of us sat down on the couch, there was usually at least one greyhound that would stand up, stretch, walk over, and hop up.
People tend to think that greyhounds must make terrible pets since they have so much energy. The truth, though, is that they're really energetic for about a half hour each day. The vast majority of their time is spent sleeping. (Greyhound owners like to post time-lapse videos of their dogs napping in front of clocks on YouTube.)
But when they get ready to go, they really get ready to go. Here, Brooke and Brady have just been informed that they are going out.
And they're off!
(It wasn't exactly "fenced in," but the church down the street from our old place had a huge field that was set pretty far back from the road. We figured it was safe and in retrospect it was.)
It was never very clear if Brady was faster than Brooke or if she just let him win. Watching her run, you got the impression that, while she liked going fast, winning wasn't her priority. The fact that she won as many races as she did must have just been a result of her wanting to be a good dog.
We took both of our dogs on some ridiculous hikes. Here they are at the top of Mt. Azure (seen from the top of the fire tower). If you've been up Mt. Azure, you know how it can get a little muddy, rocky, slippery, and scrambly near the top. These spindly bastards made it up no problem!
Similar shot from the top of the tower on Goodnow Mountain.
Same hike, bottom of the tower. Just because they made it up doesn't mean their weren't panting! Fortunately, there were streams to plop down in on the way back to the car.]
(Brooke had the same leash the whole time she lived with us. I just noticed how new and clean it looks in this photo!)
I don't know, Brooke, those rocks look pretty slippery. Is it worth the risk? Despite our constant concern, Brooke never did slip on a rock and hurt anything. She did, however, slip down some stairs once...
Despite her good nature, Brooke's one vice was sneaking around and stealing food. We had to put child-safety locks on our garbage cans and cabinets because Brooke had a habit of poking around the entire house every night looking for some new and tasty opportunity. Once, I came home from work with a sandwich I'd picked up at the local IGA. I put it on a plate with some chips and ran upstairs to grab my computer or some other thing. I had been gone less than twenty seconds, but when I came back the sandwich was COMPLETELY gone with nary a dog in sight. Brady was fast asleep and Brooke had resumed the same relaxed position she'd been in before I went upstairs.
Well, one summer, in Lake George rental, Brooke was on a midnight snack hunt when she fell down the stairs of the unfamiliar house. We all woke up to some loud greyhound crying and found Brooke with a broken leg at the bottom of the stairs. We got her fixed up the next day: cast and other dressings along with some painkilling meds. The vets seemed to think she'd never bounce back, but Brooke made a full recovery. Even at her advanced age, she made it back to running shape again. (Well, trotting shape at least.) And all this, despite a lengthy fiasco with the local vet in Potsdam, an off-his-meds quack who advised us to to amputate immediately.
Gentle Brookie on the couch.
Brooke really wanted to be a sociable dog. Her awkward companion Brady, however, made this difficult. Although he was gentle and affectionate with people, Brady tended to get really nervous and barky around other dogs and so we'd always cross the street when we saw another neighborhood pooch coming our way. The one dog whose butt she did get to sniff was Buzz, who visited on occasion. Here they are at the Ottauquechee Farm in Vermont, scoping out our wedding location.
These were gentle dogs, but that couch became more and more dismantled with each passing year.
Brooke's head was satisfyingly the exact same size and shape as a yogurt container. This was one of her favorite treats, too, and whenever she heard the sound of a spoon scraping out the bottom of the container, she'd come running to lick the rest of it clean. (I never got a picture of it, but on a couple of occasions she got so into it that the container stuck to her head for a moment.)
Lounging out in front of our cabin on our Vermont honeymoon.
What a treat! Singing Beach in Manchester-By-The-Sea becomes a dog beach in the winter. Brooke finally got to meet some other dogs!
Sarah throttles Brooke, Brooke does not resist.
This was, I think, the first hike we did with the dogs. We took them to Sugar Island, just up-river from Potsdam. We were a little nervous to see how they'd adjust to our hikey lifestyle...
...but they were clearly very excited to be out of the kennel.
Grass-stained racing feet.
Goofus arrives first and takes up the whole mess hall with a diagonal stance. Gallant comes next and politely makes the best of the situation.
Shaking off a nap before heading out. (Also of note: that white thing in the background is The Dryer That Caught On Fire.)
We thought it was a little weird when we first saw it, but this remarkably unladylike posture is a favorite among greyhounds. It must stretch out their backs in a satisfying way or something.
This is not a very dignified thing to do to such a respectable dog.
Brooke waits patiently in the shade while Sarah and Andre bask in the summer sun at Sylvan Falls.
Going back through all these pictures, I noticed that (not too surprisingly) the percentage of greyhound photos dropped off dramatically when Otis was born. All of our attentions, including Brooke and Brady, turned to the baby. Brady was always a little incredulous about our bringing a shrieking banshee into his quiet home, but Brooke took it in stride. She was so patient with Otis, despite his screaming and later his inevitable exploration of her fur and face. She never snapped at him and the only time she scared him was when she jumped up after he'd woken her up from a nap by grabbing her teeth. Sarah always talks about the greyhounds at her daycare when she was growing up being the most patient old dogs, walking around the yard with dozens of small children hanging off of them. Brooke was of the same pedigree.
She won't remember it, but we were glad to see Juniper old enough to at least begin to interact with The Wonder Dog.
When Brady died, Brooke found new energy. It was as though she was elated to have lived long enough to be top dog. The tired old lady had a spring in her step and was more excited about going for walks than we'd seen in a while. But over time, this too wore off. Her eyes got bad and she was increasingly disoriented. She recognized the sound of our voices and would come hang out in the kitchen with us, but would frequently end up getting stuck under the table or lost in a 90-degree corner. She slipped on the floor, so we put some rubber booties on her feet. She was skinny and cold, so we put her hunting jacket on. She peed in the house a lot, so we put diapers on her when she was indoors. The black strap there held the diaper in place when it became clear that they weren't very effective on greyhounds. In the end it was a pretty elaborate (and sad looking) outfit.
It took us a long time to come to what we eventually realized was the right decision. Probably too long. In the end, though, we decided that Brooke probably wasn't going to make a third remarkable rebound and that she was probably living most of her life in a scared, confused haze. We found a vet that made house-calls and cooked up a last meal. In the dish: sliced Virginia ham, Swiss cheese, and salty chicken chunks. Brooke ate it with characteristic speed and thoroughness.
We didn't want to beat around the bush with Otis and when we asked if he wanted to be there with us he said "yes." The doctor came and we all sat in the hall holding and petting Brooke as she quietly went to sleep. Otis made her a drawing and we held it in front of her as she closed her eyes.
You were difficult at the end, as old dogs always are. But we love you, dear friend, and will always miss you.