Why Greta’s Kingdom?

Greta in summer of 2010. She loved getting out in the mountains. This was her last summer.

i’m sure many of you have noticed this week the constant bombardment of posting i’ve done on the auction for Greta’s Kingdom.  and so i thought i would say a little something about Greta’s specifically in a post.

i often get asked why the name Greta’s Kingdom?  i chose this name, as it’s named after my greyhound Greta who passed away the beginning of this year in late February.  many are often surprised by this answer, because of my obvious penchant for cats in general, and while I grew up with cats and having them around me i consider to be part of my normal environment, as an adult i also grew to appreciate the finer qualities of dogs, in part, due to my adoption of a retired racing greyhound in December of 2000 that i named Greta (after Greta Garbo, and a year or two later the second middle name Saint would be added).

the thing about Greta was her unbelieveably kind and forgiving nature.  upon my initial adoption introduction with her, she was absolutely terrified of anyone and everyone.  not to mention just about everything.

Greta in her sanctuary: her crate. It's where she went to feel safe, to rest, and to get away from any kind of other drama or activity going on in the house she didn't care for

the life of a racing greyhound is a grueling one.  the word kind, generally does not come into use very often when describing their life.  these dogs are expected to show signs very early on of being achievers when it comes to racing.  if they don’t meet up to standards, certain death is likely for them.  one of my vets went to school with a classmate who grew up in a family that bred racing greyhounds and my vet was able to pass along to me some of the details of their lives.

-if a puppy was born deformed or thought to be a looser in any way, their necks were “rung” and they were thrown into the trash heap.

-underperforming dogs, were often sold to colleges and labs for testing in attempts by owners to recoup some of their investment.

-dogs in training were often fed at feeding troughs like cattle.  the more aggressive ones got the majority of food, while the more mild mannered usually wound up underfed.

-most racing greyhounds are kept very lean i.e, underweight, in attempts to assure more wins at the track.

at her first vet visit, after initially arriving home with me and getting preliminarily settled in, it was determined that the last rib on Greta’s right side had been broken and never properly set.  this allowed it to  heal improperly and now the tip of that rib stuck out.  Greta was also extremely malnourished and the vet said to allow her to eat as much as she wanted.  being underfed, now meant that for the rest of her live, Greta would constantly overeat.  at times to the point where she would make herself gag, so feeding her for many of her years had to be monitored so she wouldn’t hurt herself or choke to death.

despite her very ruff beginning, the thing that got me about Greta was her ability to accept and befriend so many around her.  not so much people, at least not at first, but other animals.  she had been cat tested and was cat approved so i knew there wouldn’t be any issues, but with alot of dogs cat tested just means tolerant.  not so with Greta.  she was always a favorite of many of the cats that passd thru my home.  beginning with Ashley my senior gray lady.  Ashley while not interested in cuddling with Greta, always showed her affection for her by rubbing up against her and following Greta around.  this is the only dog i’ve ever had that Ashley showed such a fondness for.

Sherlock is another who tremendously favored Greta, and surprisingly, she would even allow him to sleep with her on her bed in her crate.  for Greta, her crate was her sanctuary: her place to go when anything was going on she didn’t like, or simply just to sleep.  no one ever entered her crate, not even another dog.  however, Sherlock was a different matter, and from the time he was a kitten, he would march on in and curl up next to her.  it amazed me how she would never kick him out!  no other animal would have dared even tried!  of course, Sherlock has always percervered to a point to prove to me that there is an acception to every rule; especially when it came to him! lol

it took Greta several years to get over her fear of humans in general.  but those that she got to know, she instantly became a favorite of.  very surprisingly, this included my mother who was NOT a dog person at all.  my mom not only grew up with cats, but had pretty much spent her entire life shared with a cat, so for her to take a liking to Greta was very rare.

Greta in her younger years

i guess i shouldn’t be completely surprised, since greyhounds are often described as “cat like” in their nature.  they can be very independent, to the point of stubborn, and in showing their affection it’s not uncommon at all for them to rub up against you like a cat.  altho some will jump on you, this trait was not in Greta’s mild, shy nature.  she wasn’t the type of dog who got in the way.  she preferred at gatherings to either stay in her crate, or in later years, mingle but still stay out of the way in general.

i believe that in part due to her independent, cat like nature, was why my mom took such a liking to her.  eventually my mom would come to even pet her and stroke her, and talk to her like one of her cats.  as Greta aged, my mom also often identified with Greta’s ailments which were so similar to her own.

despite arthritis in her hips and her back end not always willing to go where she wanted, Greta still was determined to keep up with the rest of us that summer of 2010

eventually my mom would suffer major setbacks healthwise that affected her memory, but she always would ask about Greta or would remember her whenever we came over to visit.  The only thing she does now forgot, is that Greta has passed on to which I must inform her of, over and over again when she asks.

it was Greta’s body that eventually gave out.  Not her heart, but moreso her mind and her limbs, motorskills, and ability to control bodily functions.  she continued to fall more and more frequently, and have episodes that we believe were seizures.  she had been falling alot the weekend prior to being put to sleep, and on the day before, wouldn’t get in the car to go for a ride in the sunshine which she loved so dearly.  it was then that i knew she was done:  done trying to fight and just wanted to rest.

i called this the Greta pose as this is how she usually rested

and so i let her go.

it was around this same time that i had been toying with the idea of a rescue and a name, and the more i thought about it, the more i came to realize how Greta was able to always bring everyone together.  in all the 11 years i shared with her there wasn’t a single person who didn’t like her. (there one was dog that didn’t, but that dog had issues with all dogs, so i see it as a shortcoming in that one dog lol).  with the exception of that dog, creatures of all types accepted her and she accepted and friended them, and in the least like of scenarios, she would even share with them.  it was in this spirit that i came up with the name Greta’s Kingdom.

if there was one place on earth where an animal in need could come and find comfort, support and sanctuary, just like the crate and bed of Greta’s, then i wanted this place to be it. and so hence the name, Greta’s Kingdom.

i have always said that i will always have a greyhound in part due to the years that i had Greta, what she taught me, and because i truly find them to be one of the most fascinating and marvelous of pets to share your life with.  Granted right now I don’t, but that hasn’t stopped me from at least looking at the ones up for adoption.

i know that when the time is right, i will adopt another.  until then, i will continue to try and do what Greta was able to do: accept and love all.

4 thoughts on “Why Greta’s Kingdom?

  1. What a beautiful story and what a beautiful girl Greta was. I, too, grew up with cats and had two when I adopted a retired racer nine years ago. Sophie Dog was a gentle and loving soul who healed many hurts. She was wonderful with the two additional kittens II brought into our home. Sadly, Sophie suffered with many of the same Ilments as Greta and last November we made the difficult decision to let her go. That experience was so painful I thought I would never adopt another dog ever again. But, on Saturday I will be bringing home a new Greyhound, James. Greyhounds are so sweet, so gentle, so goofy you just can’t help but open your heart to them.

    • ty sara for that moving comment. it brings tears to my eyes! ironically, at the time, letting go of Greta was comforting as I knew her suffering would end, but writing about her tonight really got me going! She was a precious old soul that i was fortunate to share my life with, and i look forward to the next greyhound that comes my way! i’m so happy u found James! i continue to check in with the local rescues but just haven’t found anything that turned out to be a good fit. it’s not that i’m trying to replace greta, but it has to be a dog i’m certain will fit in with all of us here at Planet Kitty! congrats to u and james! and ty for your sweet comment!

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