Critters: Saying goodbye to Laura
Even now as I sit to write this column, I’m not entirely certain where to start. How do you describe the impact that your family pet makes on your life in such a short space? How do you tell their story when it’s come to an end?
Laura was a very unusual greyhound. In fact, we felt she was really more like a lab than a greyhound. She broke every stereotype about greyhounds while also shining the light bright on the beauty and uniqueness of the breed.
She was one of a kind. And that’s why I have a hard time being sad. Because even though a part of our home — and heart — is gone she lives on in so many ways.
We adopted Laura on Dec. 27, 2009 from Maine Greyhound Placement Service in Augusta, after researching dog breeds to mesh with our lifestyle. We met some greyhounds at a local MGPS meet and greet and fell in love with the breed. During our adoption appointment we looked at several dogs, but of all the dogs we met, Laura made it evident that she wanted to go with us. Another family almost scooped her up, but she looked at us with such demanding attention that even the other adopters recognized that she had chosen her family.
She chose us. And on a snowy, slightly rainy night in late December (a day before my birthday) we came home.
And she was my first dog. Ever.
I know it’s probably surprising that the pet photographer never had pets growing up. But Laura and our Maine coon Olivia made up for lost time.
Olivia laid down the law when we first brought Laura home. Over a six month period, while we were acclimating to Laura (and vice versa), Olivia carried out a campaign of terror, striking out against the poor dog when she least expected it. Laura accepted it with grace, but also respect (and a bit of fear).
I’ve never met a dog more motivated (or delighted) by food. We enrolled her in training classes at Green Acres Kennel Shop where she excelled, learning sit, down, place, paw, and much more. She even taught the trainers a few things, including that they needed to guard their treat bags. There’s a reason they call greyhounds needle-nose dogs. And her reward was a mouthful of high value treats.
Laura was an ambassador showcasing how amazing and unique the breed was. She loved meeting people and getting all the attention of people young and old.
She taught us the importance of making sure that edible items not intended for dogs were put away. In her time with us she ate birdseed, a pan of brownies, three loaves of rising bread dough, tissues, a candle, and countless human foods.
She taught us the importance of patience and humility. Because of her, I developed a branch of my photography business dedicated to pet photography. She was my muse and my favorite subject. She is memorialized (along with Olivia) in my pet photography business logo.
Laura’s favorite places included visiting with her friends at Green Acres Kennel Shop, gallivanting with her greyhound friends at the City Forest and in play groups, going on adventures in the car, and her most favorite place: the couch. She loved destroying tissues, paper towels, newspapers and even part of the training book from her dog training classes at Green Acres.
Laura also loved cuddling with her humans on the couch, licking their faces and feet. Then she would roll onto her back and “roach” with all feet in the air; usually hitting one of us in the face if we shared her couch.
She loved being in charge, whether it was of her people or her “brother” Buddy. She was a good, yet demanding, older sister to Buddy. She loved walking her “grampie” all over the yard when he came by to let the dogs out in our absence. Laura was an outgoing social butterfly in the body of a sleek greyhound goddess.
She was one of a kind.
We made the choice to say goodbye to Laura after Dr. Cloutier at Veazie Veterinary Clinic discovered a mass in her intestines after her appetite had waned and disappeared over the course of two weeks. Yet, in her last days, she was happiest. She did all her favorite things and in the end snuggled with us as she passed.
This is truly the brief version of Laura’s story. She was a bigger-than-life personality full of love and vitality. She retains a part of our hearts, yet remains in there still.
The house is a little quieter, yet we all are better for having known her.
Rest in peace sweet, goofy girl and run free at the Rainbow Bridge.
Debra Bell is a freelance writer, graphic designer and the owner of Bell’s Furry Friends Photography (a division of Bell Imaging & Design LLC). Bell’s Furry Friends Photography has been named Bangor’s Best Pet Photography Studio in 2014–16. Debra and her husband Bill, are owned by a Maine coon cat named Olivia, a greyhound named Buddy and an angel greyhound named Laura. See her work and learn more about Bell’s Furry Friends Photography at bffpetphotos.com.