Hillary ("Hillzer")

January 2013 - May 12, 2023

It seeems fated that Hillary was brought to us. We first saw her in November 2016, fresh off of the greyhound racetrack and on Adopt a Greyhound Atlanta's website. At the time we thought we might be interested in having her, and went to go meet her. When we visited, she didn't seem too interested in us, taking a quick sniff before she laid in bed. Ark was following us around, though, and so we took Ark home instead. A year and a half later, we thought that Ark might want a friend, and boarded him at the same agency for an Arctic Monkeys concert (which my dad kindly bought us tickets to go see for Kelsey's birthday). And lo and behold, there she was, sniffing Ark and wagging her kinked tail, perhaps remembering him from before. We asked Carl, the agency owner, how she was still there, and he snarled that her previous "forever" home had dumped her at the pound just a few days earlier, and the pound had just let him know she was there. At some point she had ripped open her side and had to get sutures, but the sutures had come out and left a huge gash in her side. She was obviously very anxious to be near people, and we suspected she was often left alone or outside. She was getting along with Ark, though, and we'd talked about getting him a buddy. We are not superstitious people, but it seemed that fate had ordained that she come with us. Fortunately, my dad and stepmom, who we lived with at the time, agreed that we could take her home.

When she came home, she was full of energy, vigorously sniffing every room with her loud nose. She loved their yard, promptly sniffing the entire perimeter before zooming back and forth across it. She loved laying on their big shag rug, and cuddling with everyone, and saying hello to the neighbors, wagging her big kinked tail. She had a bizarre obsession with bread, swiping an entire baguette off the counter and eating it; only a plastic wrapper buried under her blanket made her crime plain. When we tried to keep her out with a breadbox, she somehow figured out how to open it, and ate the entire contents. With her voracious appetite, she was easy to train but difficult to control.

She was a ferocious cuddler. The first morning we had her, I awoke to find weight on myself, and thought it was Kelsey. I went to stroke her hair, and found my hands full of greyhound fur, and looked into the big, loving eyes of Hillary, who'd taken Kelsey's place when she got up in the morning. We often joked that with her cuddly and sweet demeanor she was our therapy dog. This love was sometimes violent as she, a 70-pound greyhound, would forcibly cuddle both us and our friends, pawing aggressively if you stopped petting her belly.

She was a huge troublemaker with her appetite. She would not beg, but instead tried to simply swipe your food before your very eyes, mistakenly believing she was being stealthy. At one party, she took a co-worker's kid's chicken wing, and our friend had to pry it out of her throat. She was, absurdly and inconveniently, particularly addicted to chocolate. To this day we do not know how, but she scaled my parents built-in bookshelves all the way to the top to fetch my sister's Christmas Gifts: an unopened, completely sealed, box of chocolates. Fortunately they were mostly milk chocolate, and Hillary was fine. She was less fine when she got a hold of an entire bag of bakers' chocolate, eating the entire 12-ounce bag, but she made it through the night at the emergency vet and we got her the next day. On another ocassion, she ripped the cabinet door off an airbnb kitchen island just to eat some trash. When it came to eating things she wasn't supposed to, she was a relentless genius.

Even for the notoriously goofy greyhound breed, she was a goofball. She sniffed the flowers too hard, and frequently sneezed back into them afterwards. She would ignore ceiling fans almost every day, but the few times she noticed them was absolutely stilled with fear, tracking the spinning blades with her eyes in abject terror. She woudl whine desperately to go out, and then just plop herself in the sun. Like many greyhounds, she would woo back at sirens and certain high-pitched vocalists.

She loved her sun time, both inside and out. She sometimes whined incessantly to go out, only to flop herself on the grass and close her eyes in contentment while she caught the sun's rays. When it was too cold out, she settled for finding a nice spot under a window and spreading herself out. When the sun would move, she would shift to get back into it, sometimes by getting up and sometimes by gracelessly flailing herself about.

It was no secret that I was Hillary's favorite; she followed me around and moped or cried when I would leave. Others would find it difficult or impossible to get her to behave in my absence, but for some reason my voice held some weight. She was loyal to me in her own way. She would woof at me if she thought I was working too late (even though sometimes I was just playing video games at my desk). She would often sprawl in a bed or on the carpet just to watch me and smile. When a dog at my in-laws got in my face once, and she sensed my irritation, she immediately wrapped around me and snarled, one of the few times we saw her snarl in our time together. And this 70-pound greyhound trying to protect a human twice her size made her deep love and loyalty known.

When she started limping in her back right leg, we thought she had injured herself, as she had injured herself many times before with her hardcore, no-holds-barred sprints through the yard. We tried our best to help her get better, but nothing seemed to work. Vet trips failed to elucidate the problem for weeks. Finally, the diagnosis came through from a radiologist: it was aggressive bone cancer. When she couldn't get comfortable the next night, and in knowledge of the prognosis, we knew we would have to say goodbye. We were lucky enough to find a vet to euthanize her at home. She spent her last day being pet continuously in her favorite spot by our big bay window, with the breeze from an open window. When she got restless we took her out to the front yard, and since we knew we could catch her and the end was near, we let her off leash. She shuffled forward, and realized she was free. She shuffled a few steps more, sniffed the air, and smiled one of the biggest smiles we'd seen before turning back to go inside. We fed her as many of her favorites as we could find. Hot dog buns for bread, some chocolate chips, and fortunately some pork ribs, and she enjoyed snapping the bone in two. She was hungry until the end, begging for chips from my lunch (which I of course happily shared). When the vet came, she suffered little more than the pinch of an injection, and quickly left us.

There is incredible grief in losing a dog so full of love and so full of life. The night and the morning was so quiet without her, and we grieved for the loss of her. The next day was so beautiful, though it was overcast, and we kept thinking of how wonderful she would find it, how she would love to lay in the sun and enjoy sniffing the breeze. Our eyes were aching from the tears, and though I'd spent the whole day down I took a moment to look up. Crazy as it sounds, I saw her in the clouds: our sweet girl, ears flopping, and zooming across the sky. She was there for just a moment, just barely long enough for Kelsey to see her, too. I hope that she is enjoying sunny days wherever she is.

We love you Hillary, and we will remember you forever.