by Neena Derf
Everyone knows that “Genies” are mystical beings who pop out of lanterns and grant three wishes. Tim found a Magical Genie who granted SO MUCH MORE than three wishes to our family! Our beautiful greyhound named Genie was nothing short of a miracle! She changed our lives for the better. We love to tell her marvelous story.
Tim and I moved from Tennessee to Florida in September of 1998. At that time, we had the sweetest old black lab named Samantha. She’d been with Tim since she was a baby, before we even met! She was loving and beautiful, but like so many older large breed dogs, had health issues that required a lot of care. It was so difficult to see our Lab suffer, that Tim said that once Samantha was gone…No More Dogs!
Until the day he saw GENIE!
On the Saturday before Easter in 1999, we went to a local arts and crafts fair. GPA Tampa Bay set up a tent to promote adoptions of retired racing greyhounds. We stopped for a while to see the graceful, elegant dogs, and our group moved on. Everyone, except Tim. He stayed to find out more. There were several dogs in the tent that morning, but one stood out. GENIE! As volunteers told the story of the 11 year old, who ran for 5 years and served as Brood Mom for another 5, Tim fell in love. He didn’t care that volunteers told him greyhounds normally live to be 12-14…at best. He only saw beautiful little GENIE… who stood so proudly, with her bunny soft coat, shining eyes and winning smile.
I was reluctant. We were caring for an old dog in very poor health. Taking in another who may have a year or two would be more than difficult. We talked, OK… TIM BEGGED! SHE NEEDS US! We called, we completed the application, we were approved to take Genie. The first week was certainly a test! Genie ate furniture. Genie ate the wires out of the garage door opening system. Genie had worms!
The following weekend we had an appointment to bring Genie to the local PetSmart where GPA Tampa Bay had regular “Meet n’ Greets”. Papers needed to be signed, meds to be given for the worms, and a new collar & leash for our new pup. As we pulled into the parking lot, Genie cried! She knew this place from the weeks she’d been brought to find a good home. She put on the brakes; Tim had to drag her into the store.
Genie believed we were giving her back! She wanted to be part of our family! No more furniture eating or ANYTHING upsetting to us. Genie was HOME! She immediately transformed into the perfect angel.
Genie was so comfortable in her new home that she claimed rights to our guest bedroom’s queen size bed. She just loved it, maybe because it sat so low to the ground or that it was so comfy. It was Genie’s! One slight problem; this WAS our “guest bedroom”. Tim’s oldest son came to visit, and we gave him Genie’s room. One afternoon, we went to the community swimming pool and came home to find that Genie had moved every single piece of Kim’s clothing, shaving kit, wallet… EVERYTHING into the middle of the living room floor! There was Genie, lying happily on that big old bed. She was smiling proudly… “MY BED!” That bed was hers then, and proved to be her very special place until her very last day.
We knew Genie was special from the start! We would take her to Derby Lane Dog track to help promote greyhound adoptions. Genie was the perfect ambassador, as she loved everyone! She let children of all ages come to greet her, take pictures, and love her. One Saturday afternoon, as we mingled with the crowd, a man asked a favor. His blind daughter was up in the stands. He asked if we could please bring Genie to her so that she could experience a greyhound. Genie did an amazing job of walking up the concrete stairs, past several people’s knees in the row toward the girl. Once there, tears came to the young lady’s face as she felt our soft and sweet retired racing greyhound. The father was grateful, we were proud. Genie always seemed to understand that it was her job to help other greyhounds find homes.
Three years after bringing her home, Genie proved to be a most important family member, as she truly saved Tim’s life! I took Genie to the vet for annual shots one Sunday afternoon. That night at 3:30 AM she urgently came to wake me. She insisted, jingling her tags and nudging me. Genie never did that. I thought she must have been sick from the shots. I quickly threw on clothes to take her outside. Instead, Genie led me directly to her bedroom at the other end of our home. There I found Tim, passed out cold on the floor. He was gray and cold. I called 911. He had an internal bleeding problem and hemorrhaged to the point that doctors told us he was ten minutes from death. Genie certainly granted a wish that night!
Genie’s heroic story was published in CG Magazine (Celebrating Greyhounds), local newspapers, and in local greyhound adoption groups’ newsletters. People were always thrilled to meet our special girl at reunion events and were inspired by Genie’s age and vigor. Genie loved to run and play…until her last day.
In January of 2008, I contacted a former neighbor, Cynthia Smoot, who is a FOX 13 Tampa Bay Anchor and owner of a beautiful white greyhound named Bandit. I told her that Genie was still doing well and was going to turn an amazingly spry 20 years young in May. Cynthia didn’t wait until May to come to our home to film a piece. On the first day the segment aired, the web piece had over 5,000 hits. It was the most visited news story for the month of January for FOX! We received emails and gifts for Genie from Australia, England, France, U.K., Germany, Canada and all over the United States! How exciting!
Every year since saving Tim’s life, we always threw a big birthday party in celebration of Genie. We celebrated not only for her increasingly miraculous age but because she truly saved a life! Genie loved the festivities! Friends always wanted to attend because Genie was so much fun! After the January FOX TV piece the WORLD WANTED TO ATTEND GENIE’S 20th Birthday Bash! YIKES!!! More than we could handle!! Thankfully, her adoption group, GPA Tampa Bay, dedicated their annual “Run with the Big Dogs” Poker Run fundraiser to our Genie! What a thrill! FOX 13 agreed to film!
Tim hired a big black stretch limo to bring our star to her big party in grand style! WHAT FUN! Over 1,000 people attended from across the State! Fans of Genie drove hours to help experience the big 20th Birthday Bash! Genie helped to raise over $8,000 that day, to help other greyhounds in need of good homes!
Our local ABC 7’s Michelle Rieg heard of Genie’s story and filmed a piece. The Bradenton Herald’s star reporter, Vin Mannix, called. His sister in Oregon heard of Genie and told him to ‘DO THAT STORY!” He certainly did! Genie was featured as the front page premiere article on May 29th! People called wanting to adopt greyhounds because of Genie! Our little starlet was doing her best to help other greyhounds!
On Sunday, July 20, 2008, Fast Friends Greyhound adoptions of Sarasota invited us to bring our two greyhounds to a party! Genie was thrilled; she danced and begged for the ride in the van. She was the star of the event! She sniffed every boy’s butt and was admired by all. We only stayed a short time, but on the way home, she developed a breathing problem. By the time we reached home, she couldn’t walk on her own. We helped her into the house and to her bed in the kitchen area. She laid there for about 20 minutes and then got a sudden spurt of energy. Genie ran two laps around our kitchen island and then went into her bedroom. Our Genie mustered the strength to jump up onto that queen size bed of hers. She chose that big old bed from day one. This was to be Genie’s last day…and where she chose to leave this life.
We will always be grateful for the gift of Genie. What a Miracle! We loved her more than words can tell. She gave hope to owners that their dog might live as long and as well. Genie helped promote greyhound adoptions. Genie helped adoptions of seniors. Our GENIE gave much more than THREE WISHES TO OUR FAMILY! We are so VERY Blessed that she chose to be part of our family! Because of her, greyhounds like our dear Eddie Spaghetti and Anna Banana will always be a part of our lives. We now donate time and funds to help other greyhounds find good homes. ALL THIS BECAUSE OF GENIE! She was the Prize!