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by Nancy Waddell
It was not your typical “Senior Weekend” at the beach. There were too many underclassmen there for it to qualify as solely a Senior weekend. It was quiet — never did get raucous. Not one of the seniors got rowdy or was arrested. Not one did any drag racing or bungee jumping. Drinking was confined to nonalcoholic beverages. Everyone already had his or her tattoos. And the sex? Well, there wasn’t any.
That didn’t stop 17-year-old Suzi Waddell and 12-year-old Star Hecht from having a wild time. These two seniors joined hundreds of other mature greyhounds who mingled with hundreds of youngsters and remembered friends gone to the Bridge. Joyfully, they were a definite and visible part of “Greyhounds Reach the Beach 2000” in Dewey Beach, Delaware.
Both Suzi and Star arrived with their own means of transportation. Oh, they can walk, but they don’t always want to. So, to enable the girls to get the full benefit of the Dewey weekend and visit any venue they chose, Robin and Marty Hecht had an open-air wagon pillowed with comforters for Star and the Waddells built a rickshaw from spare parts and neighborhood discards for Suzi. Yessir, these girls rode in style.
The Senior Beach Walk
In addition to being loved by everyone they met, the seniors had their own special event. Around noon on Saturday, a multitude of senior greyhounds (8 years and older) made their way to the end of McKinley Street for a beach walk of their own. While some of them did walk, others settled in the sand or stood in the sun and watched. Star made her first foray into the ocean and loved it.
Suzi and her 8-year-old brother Kelvin never made it to the beach. To Suzi’s delight and Kel’s annoyance, so many people stopped to comment on her rickshaw and senior scarf that it took them 45 minutes to go three blocks. Suzi loved being the center of attention. She reveled in the petting and ear rubs. She dazzled her fans with Princess Diana glances from under her still-black eyelashes. She did everything but give autographs. Kel? Well, he peed on my shoe.
For many seniors, it was their first Dewey adventure. Sadly, for others, it was their last. Regardless, it was a wonderful time for these special members of the greyhound community and a memorable time for their grey folk.
It isn’t always a sign of age when a greyhound goes gray. Nevertheless, when you look into these sweet faces and see a little salt in the pepper of the black beauties, or silver intermingled with the brindle veins of red and black and gold, or the “got milk?” mustaches on the sable snoots of the fawns (the eternally-youthful-looking Dick Clarks of the greyhound community), you realize you have probably met a senior Greyhound. At Dewey Beach, that telltale gray was about the only thing that gave the seniors away. They dug holes, pogoed in the waves, rooooooooed long, loud, and lovely, and ambled on the beach in the early morning. Exhibiting the patience of Job, they waited with their younger brothers and sisters at registration, at Sharky’s take-out, the tents, for Reiki, and for ear rubs, scritches, and hugs.
What’s so Special about a Senior?
This is a question that people who share their lives with a senior greyhound will be pleased to answer. Seniors are delightfully congenial companions whose wisdom and patience often exceed those of their people. That’s not to say they can’t be goofy or energetic or childish or funny. They can be and are.
In a house with other hounds, a senior may assume the position of matriarch or patriarch, always ruling with a firm but just paw. Or they may be a not-too-subtle role model and mentor to their younger housemates. Their people are the center of their lives and at least in our case, can often benefit from gentle correction as well.
Without exception, senior greyhounds deserve every bit of love they request or demand. Every senior greyhound has a story. Their personalities are born from their history. They have acquired wisdom, learned devotion, and earned dignity. Their people don’t need to know their history; for them it began the day they brought them home.
Whether they were conveyed in wagons, assisted by harnesses, or stepped out on their own four feet, the senior greyhounds at Dewey were a presence. They made their way along the streets and among the shoppers with joy and dignity. They lay quietly by their people at seminars and workshops. They stood politely and without complaint during numerous conversations. They left their paw prints in the sand of Dewey Beach and on the hearts of those who saw them.
Our family plans for 2001 include our sixth trip to Dewey Beach for “Greyhounds Reach the Beach.” This year, with grace, we will bring three seniors, Suzi, Kel, and Tess, who turns eight in April. This year, we will definitely make it to the Senior Beach Walk.
CG W 99
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