A composite of three photos taken moments apart.
Back in the day, Nina only ran when seven other dogs were at her heels.
Frankly, most of the time she was the one watching seven other behinds, as she wasn’t particularly fast – winning just 13 out of a nevertheless remarkable 111 races. It’s amazing to think of the thousands of dollars won and lost on her over the years.
But as I watched her run today at the beach – in full retirement and sporting a bit more tummy than would’ve been permissible during her career – something occurred to me.
We’ve always assumed the main reward of retirement for these dogs was just that; a glorious, unexplained transition to a life of endless naps, better food, plenty of treats and way more love. And certainly that’s very rewarding for us as owners.
But seeing them off leash reminds you that being the fastest seems to be immensely satisfying to these dogs: catching up – and ultimately passing – everything in front of them. While other breeds live for tug of war, playing fetch, swimming or wrestling with other pups… blowing everyone else’s doors off seems built into a greyhound’s DNA.
So along with all that fluffy retirement stuff that makes us people feel good, Nina and her big sister have obtained another wonderful, intangible prize in their post-track lives: the fact that they’ll never be beaten again, if they choose not to be. They’re the fastest goddamn things on any stretch of land they step onto. Nothing can touch them.
Maybe I’m personifying them too much, projecting feelings like pride and, by extension, disappointment onto animals. But something tells me Nell, Nina and all their fellow greyhounds experience a genuine burst of confidence in the knowledge they’ll never see another dog pass them by.