By Debi Kilar
Nawty was and continues to be an amazing dog — a hero even after he died.
I adopted him via the Golden Years Senior Referral Program and Quad Cities Greyhound Adoption, both in Illinois, in October of 1999. He was my first senior and fifth Greyhound. My pal. He lived with me for 374 days.
In August of 2000 Nawty was diagnosed with a fast-growing, advanced lymphoma. My only option was to take him home and make him comfortable. I vowed to celebrate living with cancer.
From the moment Nawty trotted through my back door and jumped on his sofa, we had an indescribable connection.
Once, as all five Greyhounds and I were walking through the pet store, a lady looked at us in utter amazement. While this wasn’t an unusual event for us, what she said was. “That dog,” (pointing to Nawty), “just told me to tell you that you are his heart-human.” I asked her to repeat what she said. I looked at Nawty, and there he was, looking up at me, smiling! All I could manage to do was to choke up and give her a tearful thank you and hug my pal.
Many times, Nawty came to me in dreams and gave me messages from my deceased grandmother. He truly was a messenger.
A Celebration of the Final Days
Three weeks before Nawty died, we had a “Celebrate Nawty’s Life” party. His littermates, Tyler and Shygirl, attended with their owners Anita Vlchek from Cleveland and Melinda Capers from Columbus, Ohio.
Although the littermates would not turn nine until April, Anita and Tyler brought ingredients to make liver birthday cakes. Melinda and Shygirl presented me with an early Mother’s Day gift — the most beautiful necklace from Nawty. It was an incredible weekend filled with tears, laughter, and love.
Nawty began limping on October 24, 2000. An x-ray revealed my worst fear — osteosarcoma. Part of the x-ray showed some of his lungs. They were filled. The end of his life was near. He’d stopped eating a few days before the limping started. He was breathing harder and was becoming very grouchy. I had asked him each night since August if he had had enough. Each night he looked me in the eye. When we went home after the last x-ray, I asked him again and he turned away. He told me it was time for him to go.
I made all the plans that day. I spoke to the doctor, the crematorium, and family members. I called Melinda in Columbus. She and Shygirl were unable to come and say goodbye. I called Anita. She and Tyler came in from Cleveland.
At 4:07 p.m. Thursday, October 26, 2000, Lars Sundaynawty became an angel.
An Uncanny New Beginning
A dear friend told me that dogs leave us to make room for a more needy dog. I decided to put my faith in Nawty and our bond. Less than two weeks after Nawty died, he came to me in another dream. I kept hearing the name “Glenna.” While I didn’t forget this, I didn’t dwell on it either because the name was unfamiliar to me.
A few nights later, I was online, talking to Heather Wester. She asked me to highlight a bounce back on Kelly Graham’s Golden Years web site. Heather described the dog as a brindle with a white face, 12 years old, and was a real sweetie. She said her name was Glenna. I asked if she were kidding. She said no. She sent me an Internet link to Glenna’s picture. When I opened the file, my heart stopped beating. She was so pretty. And in my head, I heard Nawty’s raspy voice telling me this is the Glenna.
For nearly a week I obsessed over Glenna. She consumed my every thought. Should I adopt her? Shouldn’t I? If not … why not?
One week to the day after I first saw Glenna, Nawty visited me in a dream and again, he brought the brindle with him. He nudged her towards me, saying “Glenna.” He nudged her, smiled at me, nudged her to me, and walked away. He never looked back, as if he was telling me that my life has to go on.
When I awoke that morning, I immediately logged on to the computer and sent an e-mail to Peoria Greyhound Adoption asking about Glenna. I needed to know if they did long distance adoptions and, since she is 12, would they do one for her? Within two hours, I was on the phone with a PGA volunteer and had filled out an application for her. Then I held my breath. By that very evening it was official. Glenna was mine!
I miss Nawty every day. I think of him non-stop, not with sadness but with a smile and a thank you.
Six Weeks Later
What a change from the little old lady I first brought home back! The physical change is remarkable. Within a few days of coming to live with us, Glenna had a stroke. She recovered quickly from it and has become a spry, quite agile young lady! Her wobbles are nearly unnoticeable now.
The most striking change has been her mental attitude. She’s always been a love but now she seems to trust. When she first got home, she’d not allow kisses from me near her head nor would she look me in the eye or hold her head up. She always seemed to be looking at the ground.
Now she has no trouble receiving the many kisses I pass out each hour. She looks me in the eye and smiles when I speak to her. She holds her head high now and walks looking up and out. She even prances around the back yard like a queen.
As time goes by, Glenna has become more and more like Nawty. It is beyond coincidence how similar they are. He demanded petting by whining. So does Glenna. He loved to ring the bells to go outside (long after he needed them as a training tool). So does Glenna. He didn’t need to be with the other dogs. Neither does she. As long as I was in sight, Nawty was fine. So it is with Glenna. Nawty hated lamb. Glenna turns her nose up at it too. When Nawty drank, he made sure he drank the whole bowl, and then tipped it over with his paw! Yes. Glenna does the exact same thing. Nawty had a nail missing. Glenna lost a nail a few weeks ago. The similarities are endless and more than coincidental.
I love this girl. Does it show? Welcome home, Glenna — Nawty’s Legacy.
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