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  1. "Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away." I had one of those moments when I first set eyes on Heisman. It was August 2008. His foster mom and dad, Ginny and Al, brought him over to introduce him to my husband and me, and to conduct a home visit for the adoption group. We were brand new to the breed, and simply wanted to adopt a dog that needed a home. I was not prepared for how much I would fall in love with this dog. Heisman's handsome looks had me at Hello! His soulful eyes, coupled with his air of quiet confidence and intelligence sealed the deal. Our first Greyhound was super cool. The next 7.5 years were measured by many more moments Heisman took my breath away and I am smiling through tears as I recall some of them now. The Grand-dog. My mother was always afraid of dogs, especially large dogs. But Heisman made the same first impression on her as he did with me and she was immediately comfortable with him. My parents live nearby, and Heisman enriched their lives as much as he did ours. They were always happy to see him and he developed special bonds with each of them. The Big Brother. Alex, also a Blue Brindle, joined our family in 2009. Only several weeks apart in age, Alex was always happy to have Heisman in the lead. Early on, I was in awe watching Heisman patiently teach Alex how to walk down stairs (their story was published in Celebrating Greyhounds magazine, Spring 2010) "Come on, Alex, don't be afraid. Let me show you how to walk down the stairs..." " It's easy, see? Follow me, Alex!" (Heisman wshhhttt down the stairs; Alex tried, but was still stuck at the top) "Okay, I'll come back up and we'll walk down together. Slowly. Step-by-step. You're doing great, Bro! I'll stay by your side." The Gentleman. Heisman was a joy to live with: he was good-natured, well-mannered, and he always carried himself well. On walks, curious drivers stopped their cars and got out just to meet him. He'd frequently lean on them, just like he did with this man at a community dog event. The Ex-Racer. One day, a man recognized Heisman from afar, and rushed over to us. It turned out that he was Heisman's caretaker from his old track days. He was on his knees, petting and kissing Heisman, and sharing heartwarming stories about Heisman's life as a racer. Heisman was a closer (slow to start, fast to finish) and ran best on longer tracks. He adored Heisman and I was delighted to learn that my dog was genuinely cared about in his former racing life. The Peacekeeper. One of the few times we took Heisman to a dog park, he diffused a dog fight. In the middle of a high-energy pack of dogs, a bully Lab started going after a Spaniel. Before any of us humans could do anything, Heisman came out of nowhere and thrust himself into the fight. He barked, attacked, and nipped at the Lab enough to distract him, allowing the Spaniel to get on her feet and run, then Heisman ran after and with her, fending off the Lab until the Lab lost interest. It was an amazing thing for all of us to witness and I get goose-bumps thinking about it. The Spaniel's owner happily thanked Heisman for intervening and we were all relieved no one had to go to the emergency vet. The Communicator. Heisman used a repertoire of sounds, pants, snorts, woofs, whines and gestures to communicate with us. He would tap his front paw against the wall, our legs, the refrigerator, etc, when he was trying to tell us something. Sometimes, he'd nip my butt. My mom taught him to play-bow on command - she called it "Happy Stretch" - and it morphed into as his way of answering "YES!" when we guessed correctly what he wanted. "What do you want, Heisman? Outside? (no reaction) Food? (no reaction) Treat? (Yes! Happy-Stretch!)" or whatever it was he was telling us. Watch his communication skills announcing to my husband that it is 5:30 and dinnertime. Yes, he could tell time, too! Turn on your speakers: View My Video The Greeter. Weekends and nice weather meant taking Heisman and Alex to community events (art shows, festivals, car shows), meet-and-greets, shopping (Home Depot, Petco, the mall) or dining at one of many dog-friendly restaurants in the area. We live in a touristy area, and many people approached us to say hello to the Boyz and to take their photos. So funny, both dogs would pose like Greek statues when the cameras came out. Often, we'd be surrounded by a crowd of picture-takers, and it's the closest we'll ever come to being the target of paparazzi! (smile) Along with the normal questions we all get from strangers, Heisman's demeanor, friendliness, unique coloring and bunny-soft fur were often subjects of conversation. Alex and Heisman anticipating their public relations duties Heisman enjoyed his life and our lives were better because of him. Then a few weeks ago... Another moment that took my breath away - an awful one - came when our happy and healthy Heisman suddenly fell in the house and broke his leg... in three places. It was the upper part of right rear leg. The orthopedic surgeon, who has fixed many Greyhound bones over the years, could not fix Heisman's. Healthy bones would not have broken that way, he told us. Further heroics were not good options. Our sweet boy was sure to have the Dreaded O. There was no hope. Devastated and heartbroken, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Heisman. We miss this special dog so much. My dad recently said that all of our lives are diminished because Heisman is not with us any longer. [Yes, a happy sad stretch to that one, Daddy Don!] As I look back over the seven-plus years, I treasure the memories of all those precious moments Heisman took my breath away. And someday when it is my turn to cross the Bridge, I know my boy Heisman will be waiting for me - ears up. I love you, Heisman.
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