Friday, May 02, 2014

"Comely Being:" For Festus

There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; a greyhound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up. Proverbs 30:29-31 (KJV) 

Festus on the day of his arrival at 56 Vassar St., Labor Day, 2008
Our beloved greyhound Festus died on Wednesday (April 30, 2014) at the age of ten years, three months, of complications from bone cancer.  Like most greyhounds, Festus was a beautiful dog, and as gentle and sweet a dog as you would ever meet.  One assumes Proverbs calls the greyhound “comely in going” for its truly incredible ability to run like the wind.  We actually never saw that in Festus.  For us, his “comeliness” was in his being.

John adored Festus and usually took him for his walk before bed.  They wouldn’t do more than around the block, but it would take a good half hour because Festus, though at one time he may have run nearly 40 miles an hour, walked at great leisure. He knew thousands of smells in the blocks around our house and liked to check in with as many of them as possible every night.

Festus was ready to love everybody, or, rather, he was ready for everybody to love him.  There was not an anxious bone in his body.  My favorite picture of him will always be lying in the middle of my parents’ living room floor on Christmas Day, all 80 pounds of him with those long, delicate legs splayed out, with utter madness swirling around him, and he never flinching.  He was just happy to be there, happy to be.
Letting him go was excruciating.  He was only in our life for five and a half years.  It was only two weeks from diagnosis to one of his legs more or less spontaneously breaking.  He was in such pain, we had to help him on his way.  My last words to him were the warning that he where he would wake up he would have to learn to lie down with rabbits.

He was a dog with a history, so here, for the record, it is:

Odd Festus was born January 20, 2004 in Melbourne, Florida, the son of sire Dodgem By Design and dam Odd Drew (“Odd” being his family name, more or less).  He was the fourth born of a litter of eight.  Odd Drew would eventually have 38 children.  His lineage can be traced back 34 generations to the 1820’s to a sire named Pilot and a dam named Kitty in the United Kingdom.  The male line moves through Australia before arriving in the United States in 1962.  His damline moved from the UK through Ireland until arriving in the US in 1981.

Festus ran in 153 races on three Florida tracks.  His first race was September 12, 2005, a race he won.  His last race was February 12, 2008.  He won 16 races in his career, placed 15 times, and showed 19 times.  His fastest time was recorded May 17, 2006 at 30.52.  His career average time was 31.49.  In his retirement years he volunteered on several occasions for the Rochester Greyhound Rescue Organization, especially at the Park Ave Fest.

If you “google” “Odd Festus,” the first two entries will lead you to information about him, including a record of all his races and a complete history of his line.

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