In june of 2010 a tampa, florida man's wife had just given birth. she was afraid that their 2YO borzoi boy might hurt the baby. they put a "free to good home" ad on craigslist. that is how vladimir came into our lives. his dam was chataquas western white (olga of aragon) but i never knew who his sire was.
vladimir was a smart boy. on our very first walk, he knew which lane led back home, and which was our house at the top of the hill.
he was a quiet boy, rather aloof. his "spot" was on the couch in my husbands office in the front of the house---frequently upside down, back legs splayed. if anyone came around, he let us know! he often leaped off the couch and barked hysterically at a neighbors dog julie, who always ignored him. sometimes he even barked at me walking by with one of our other borzoi at night, a flashlight beam the only illumination.
when we adopted our puppy nikolai in 2012, vladimir was terrified of him. nikolai pursued him relentlessly, determined to be his friend. within a few days they were best buddies.
vladimir and nikolai used to eat only part of their dinners. then, as though on a pre-arranged signal, they would simultaneously trade bowls. vlad was very patient when nik put his nose into his ears. he was even more patient, looking up at the sky as though to ask, "why me?" when nik mounted him in the yard. when nik started a howling concert, vlad always joined in.
though he put on a good show, vladimir was a fearful boy. once he got away from my husband when our neighbor was out with julie. he charged them, stopping abruptly to sniff her nose. then he ran up the hill to our house. firecrackers and rumbling storms made him nervous.
an accomplished counter thief, he stole and consumed entire sticks of butter---wrapper and all. he would put his head into our ice machine and chomp on ice cubes. the stuffie graveyard contains dozens of corpses. their missing eyes, noses and squeakers filled a basket.
eight years passed. vladimirs bright flame color faded to beige. routine veterinary exams always came out perfect. he turned 10 in march 2018, celebrating with a sirloin steak enjoyed by the entire pack. on july 1 he stopped eating and going for walks. a 7/2 ultrasound revealed pancreatitis and a mass in his right liver lobe. chest xrays revealed lung nodules. back home, he continued to join nikolai's concerts, to enjoy chomping on ice cubes and to lie on his couch, gazing out the window. on 7/11 he had a seizure. on 7/12, a follow-up ultrasound revealed that the liver mass had doubled. there were new growths all over his liver, and one on his kidney too. we drove home in stunned silence. vladimir sat up, intently watching everything pass. he knew that this was his final car ride.
at 9:09AM on friday 7/13, dr bonnie gently put vladimir to sleep in his 'spot" on his couch, looking out the window. nikolai, who had been lying in the doorway, howled at the precise moment that vladimirs heart ceased to beat. his best buddy did not join in. that afternoon, we brought vlaidmir home from the crematory. our smart, beautiful boy is now a five pound wooden box of ashes. nikolai misses him and howls mournfully several times a day. my husband and i fill in for vladimir. we like to think that vladimir is howling with us in doggie heaven.