Teenagers and Greyhounds

For anyone unfamiliar with the effect of a greyhound on raising teenagers, read on.

A little more than four years ago, we adopted our first greyhound. Her name was Amber, in reference, probably, to the tawny colored stone, which matched the shade of some of her spots. Or maybe it was her mild manner, combined with the mystery of hidden riches, the result of many wins and a bejeweled (with amber) distinction. At six years of age, she was old by racing standards, but a mere pup in the language of my children, who finally got their long awaited baby. The entire brain is flooded with chemicals, causing a myriad of changes, many of which result in an intensity of feeling about most things familiar, and a corresponding need for comfort and reassurance and stability.

Being a teenager is hard these days. Above all, there is the physical part of rapid transformations, along with corresponding hormonal and emotional upheaval.

As a racetrack survivor, Amber understood all of that. Maybe it was the chemicals that flooded her own brain- steroids used to enhance her performance, or perhaps a derivative of amphetamine to give that extra boost of intensity. Or it could have been cortisol, the all-natural stress hormone which can be released under the duress of an all-too-common beating... Whatever it was, Amber really understood angst; she was a buddha amongst race-track war mongers. Amber knew about abuse and she knew how to give comfort like no other... At times when familial tension mounted, or a cliquey group at school engaged in their mean thing, our teenagers found solace in Amber way better than that from a teddy bear. Amber was alive and warm and incredibly tender. She really did understand in ways that humans, in particular parents, simply cannot. Amber lived for nine more months, and died via euthanasia, at Angell Memorial Hospital. We all were there to administer the shot and to say our good byes, cradling her head and kissing her nose... She suffered from lymphoma, an aggressive cancer which loaded her belly with fluids, to the point of near-suffocation, and death. A brief review of the literature on greyhounds, revealed to my 14 year old daughter, that performance enhancing drugs and lymphoma is a possible link; a cause indeed, of premature death among many greyhounds-many beloved pups, babies and pets of countless receptive and compassionate teenagers everywhere. Since Amber's death, we adopted another greyhound, who is, thankfully, alive and well, and similarly conditioned to be loveable, patient and ever so wise.

For parents who worry about safeguarding their teen, a greyhound is a superior antidote- one which bears witness, quiet and careful, helping to protect our children from any number of possible perils...

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