January 22nd, 2014 ~ Vol. 84 No. 3
Looking Back - John Kinnear
A Matter of Commitment
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
John Kinnear Photo
My artist daughter’s stylized greyhound design on my Ford Expedition.
Just four months before he died Mohican Sonic treed a big old black bear that had invaded my back yard in Fernie. What makes this act so remarkable is that Sonic was twelve years old and missing twenty-eight teeth at the time. I had never heard him bark once in the ten years that I had him but that night he let out a forceful woof and promptly charged around the yard in a circle like he always did. I quickly ushered him back into the house along with the four chihuahuas I had just let out for their pre-bedtime bathroom break. That calorie driven bruin, who had pulled down the suet cakes and a bird feeder, eventually scrambled over our chain-link fence and lumbered off. I was proud of the old boy that night.

Mohican Sonic was the third rescued greyhound racer to permanently join our family back in 1995. Like Brave Time and Betsy Nite before him, we kept his racing name. I can almost hear that track announcer’s voice barking: “Here they come around the bend with Mohican Sonic in the lead by a head”.

Sonic was not knocked out of his winning racing career by an injury or a lack of speed as most greyhounds are. He was a casualty of the track closure in Post Falls, Idaho back in 1995. Of the 1200 dogs kept in kennels there the top 400 were sent off to other tracks in the U.S. The remaining 800, including Sonic, were turned over to the Inland Empire rescue groups who scrambled to place them all.

I got a call to see if I could find this jet black racer a good home and agreed to transport him here and care for him until he was placed. My government made me pay $18 in GST to bring him across the line.

Sonic found a new home real quick. As soon as he walked in the back door I knew he wasn’t leaving. He had a truly unique disposition and was one of the gentlest animals I have ever met.

He had a tail almost as long as his body and that anatomical fact led to the first of many veterinary headaches with him.

Sonic wagged his tail, hard and fast. Every time its white tip came into contact with our hardwood furniture it would split open at the end. The result was that subsequent wags sprayed blood everywhere, up the walls and on the ceiling. A hair curler and bandages taped to his friendly whip proved to no avail. For three years we tried. Eventually it would not heal at all and the decision was taken to take it off.

A greyhound without a tail? Good grief! Was he able to do 45 miles per hour after the surgery? You bet he was. Pure poetry in motion. No dog I ever met loved running more that Sonic. He was a bullet fired out of a gun.

One time I let him and the other greys out at dusk for a run at the soccer field at Ridgemont School in Fernie. It was dark enough that I couldn’t see his sleek black frame doing his racetrack, flashback circuit but I could hear him. His paws pounding in a powerful rhythm on the soccer field grass and his breathing hard and regular. It was a magical moment.

He came at me out of the darkness with his throttle wide open. A group of young kids were standing with us visiting the other two greys at the time. Sonic ran dead on into one of them and as I watched the kid fly through the air I was sure he must be critically injured. Mercifully instead he got up, dusted himself off and said: “Wow mister, is he ever fast!”

Sonic’s second vet visit revealed a heart murmur and low thyroid levels. The murmur he lived with, the thyroid problem meant little blue thyroxin pills twice a day for the next nine years. The following year a creeping cloudiness in his eyes was diagnosed as a condition that could lead to blindness and yet another twice a day regimen of special drops was required.

Sonic seemed to be an accident waiting to happen. Gashes and cuts appeared for no apparent reason on him some of which required serious stitching. Most track racers generally sport a few racing scars but as the years went by this gentle soul looked more like a street fighter than a racer.

As with any dog the signs of aging crept slowly into his life. His muzzle turned grey, his coat got duller and a distinct shakiness appeared in his hind legs. Yet that “lets go for a run” willingness never diminished from his spirit. Towards the end the mad dashes around the soccer field led to a disturbing coarse coughing. He slept longer and deeper. His breathing at rest seemed entirely too fast. The murmur and the thyroid problem no doubt were taking their toll on his compromised physiology.

In the end, in January 2005, he became quite stressed. His breathing was rapid and erratic, fits of trembling seized him and he broke out in panting sessions while at rest. The signs were all there. When the quality of life is gone you MUST release your friend from the pain. It is the last compassionate act in your commitment to providing a good life for your companion.

He was and always will be a champion in my mind. Our household at one time held four rescued greyhounds that finished their careers off in couch potato comfort. We helped facilitate the rescue and placement of fifteen greyhounds in total and never regretted a minute of it. In the end all you can do is give your pet the best of care, lots of love and enjoy the time you have with them. Because you’ll never have enough.
January 22nd ~ Vol. 84 No. 3
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