Another instalment in the Me, My Pet and I blog series where I ask bloggers to reveal their pet-loving side.
Toby Bloomberg of Diva Marketing referred me to Donna, saying "Max's best friend [Toby's dog] is her dog Alex. I know her story will be wonderful!" And she was right...
Every life should have at least one passion. You know what I mean….some aspect of the arts, raising children, religion. In my case the passion was unmistakably animals and I knew it from a very early age. I was blessed to have a show pony named Red Bird when I was pre-teens. She was our pride and joy always took “blue.” My first canine friend was a Chihuahua named Michelle (after the Beatles song of the same name). We adored each other – a mutual admiration society of two.
One Sunday morning in the early 1980’s I awoke with a burning desire to adopt a puppy. The breed must be a Borzoi I proclaimed to a friend. Oddly enough I did not really know what a Borzoi was – so I looked it up in the encyclopedia (no Google in those days). There was a picture – Borzoi - all the glory of a long-haired royal sight hound wrapped into about 100 pounds of pure beauty. I lived in a 2 bedroom condo at the time, but no mind. This was going to work – it was my fate and I knew it. That afternoon I adopted my first of fourteen Borzoi, Dmitri.
I could write a chapter on all fourteen of our Borzoi and someday I might. But today I’ll write about Simba, one of my “heart dogs.” I often felt guilty for loving him so much and then I realized something. I loved Simba no more or less than the others. The difference with a “heart dog” is that they allow us inside. They allow us to get so close that all the walls of separation melt away and we’re left with pure love. It’s a rare experience and one I wish for all dog lovers.
Simba delighted us as a puppy. He was all boy….curious, playful, innocent…all the things we adore in puppies. As he matured he developed a presence that was a bit paradoxical. At 130 pounds of pure muscle, he had a commanding presence and a goofy sense of humor at the same time. Did I mention how beautiful he was? Simba had the full package and we cherished 9 wonderful years with him. Then in August 2003 he suddenly broke a leg while romping in the yard – the cause was bone cancer and the emergency vets recommended euthanasia. Little did I know the aggressive nature of his cancer, but it did not matter. We had to try everything possible to beat the cancer. Simba endured amputation followed by a series of immune support treatments and for 6 months we were hopeful that we were winning. Then he lost the use of his other back leg as the cancer spread. That did not stop Simba. We purchased a canine cart and our boy was the hit of the neighborhood as we took our morning stroll. During this entire ordeal I learned more about courage from Simba that I could have imagined. Oh Simba had a few depressed days, but for the most part he was full of life through the whole ordeal, ready to ride in his van at the drop of a hat, and he never lost his quirky sense of humor. When the vets would get uptight, Simba just gave them his “chill out” look & they knew everything was going to be fine.
Shortly after losing Simba, my husband and I started to work with the National Borzoi Rescue Foundation. The experience with Simba, my love for the breed…all led to our adopting several more Borzoi and today we are happy to have Mesha, Alex, China Doll, Zena and Katie as part of our family. Our support of the Foundation grew in 2006 as our company, GourmetStation (online merchant for upscale prepared food gifts) started a campaign for dog lovers called the “Dog House” program. By entering a code at checkout, customers donate $10 of their purchase to the NBRF plus they receive $10 off. It’s a win-win and the Foundation is able to use the cash for many causes like rescue vet expenses, transporting and supporting foster dogs. Getting involved with the Foundation is one of the best associations of our lives and it started one Sunday morning in 1984 when I declared, “today I must adopt a Borzoi.” If you wake up one morning and have a similar inclination, I have two words to say to you “do it!” __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Donna Lynes-Miller is a foodservice veteran with 28 years in the foodservice industry. She has served as President of Arcop, the national purchasing cooperative for the Arby's system as well as Sr. VP of AFC Enterprises, the franchisor for Popeyes & Churchs. In 1999 she launched a new online brand, GourmetStation, providing upscale gourmet food gifts nationally.