How could I not want to read a book that has a smiling black greyhound on the cover even though I detest when people call female dogs “bitches?”
The book, DASH: Bitch of the Year, was a review copy supplied by the Independent Publishers Group. The author Andrew Dilger wrote a first-person tale about one year in his life after adopting a retired racing greyhound in the United Kingdom.
I have to say I was lukewarm in the beginning because there was too much information about greyhound lineage which would be interesting to me if it was not about greyhound racing. The book is also written in first person and I find that style of writing tiring for chapters on end. In the case of Mr. Dilger, he was quite animated which is more British in nature and also used some slang which was unfamiliar to me. I almost needed a glossary. One particular word, “flabbercocked” stuck in my mind. According to the Urban Dictionary, it means: A person who is really interesting but a bit of a dick!
I guess that could be said about the author by the author himself because he kept trying to do what I felt was impossible. Greyhound adopters are repeatedly told never to let a greyhound off leash unless in an enclosed area. Why? Because a car backfiring, a twig snapping, a loud noise and the dog takes off running. On the third stride, a greyhound can run as fast as 42 mph or so the propaganda says. Not once, not twice, but three times did the author try letting the dog off leash in wide open spaces and none with good results.
I don’t mean to male bash here but once I was at the gym on the elliptical machine. I was wearing a greyhound rescue t-shirt and some guy got on next me and started talking about his greyhound. I listened politely and then he conspires to tell me how he walks to his mailbox with his greyhound off leash. Another time I went looking for a lost greyhound whose owner said he always let her and his Labs off leash in the Tanque Verde wash. One day the Labs came back; the greyhound did not. She spent the night at PACC with cactus stuck all over her.
Greyhounds have sad stories. The first part of their lives suck as they are racing machines whether it’s in the UK or the US or beyond. I would venture to guess that more than half of the people who adopt greyhounds do so out of pity. The author did and I did as did most of my Tucson greyhound adopter friends. At least we have something in common. In the author’s case, the breeder brought the hound over and they had tea and a chat about Dash. In my case I rescued a greyhound from an adoption group.
The author and his future wife gradually learned about Dash but Dilger was the primary caretaker because he worked from home. The author soon learned after consulting several websites that greyhounds didn’t necessarily want to please, say like Labs or Goldens and that greyhounds are a tad more independent — like cats.
As the chapters progress, the author begins to learn more about the breed and to realize there is no one cookie cutter solution to raising a dog. More importantly, there is no such thing as a perfect dog. Phew. While Dilger and Dash bond, he’s also planning a wedding which I thought was hilarious because how many brides would let their grooms plan the wedding? And while planning the wedding, he had the (bright) idea for Dash to be the ring bearer.
In the end, I do give him credit because he finally hones up to his mistakes. Also in the beginning of the book, he almost applauds greyhound racing even though Dash was a pity adoption. On the last page, he says, “From an animal welfare perspective, the world of greyhound racing is a deeply troubling one. The facts and figures on http://greyhounds.uk.org are a necessary sober reminder that a greyhound’s life can be as short as the odds are long.”
If you are the least bit curious as to acclimating your life with an endearing ex racing greyhound and how to plan a wedding UK style, then this book is for you. Dilger dedicates the book to Sarah (his wife) and Dash…in that order. The book is available on Amazon.