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A Tribute

     Hi! Just wanted to tell you that we are not just "cat people" anymore. We now have an almost seven-year-old Borzoi. Her name is Lydia and she is a real sweetie pie. She is mostly white with very light tan ears and two spots, one on each side. Doug (my husband) says they are coffee stains. 

     She can run like the wind, although she doesn't have much opportunity to do so. We took her out on a dirt road that runs between the soybean field across the street and the woods on the other side. I sat on the tailgate of my Toyota Pickup with a long lead while my husband drove.

     I had to be very careful that the lead didn't get caught or tangled, so it was a little nerve wracking. Doug couldn't drive faster than 20 mph because of the ruts in the road, but Lydia kept trying to pass him. I walk her two miles every day, but I certainly can't keep up with her running.

     The way she came to us is very sad, however. A girl in our area who was a reporter and photographer for the Rappahannock Record had esophageal cancer and when I heard that she had been diagnosed, and given maybe six months, I offered to help her with Lydia if the time came that she needed help. 

     She lived close by and I had casually known her for many years, and had met Lydia several times, as Tanyua always had Lydia with her, like you do with your puppies. I got a phone call two days after my offer and was asked if I could take care of Lydia right away because Tanyua was going to a clinic in Texas for an experimental treatment program. 

     She was gone almost a month but had complications and they had to discontinue the treatments. She was airlifted back here to Rappahannock General for one night and the next day was to go to her home here for the rest of her time. The night she arrived, the nursing supervisor allowed me to bring Lydia into her hospital room and Tanyua was so happy to see her. 

     The next day I had her doggy things packed and was waiting to hear that Tanyua was home so that I could take Lydia to be with her, but when I did get a phone call it was from one of her friends and coworkers who told me that Tanyua was in the final stages and wasn't responding to people any longer. 
Soon after, though, one of the hospice workers called and asked me to bring Lydia because Tanyua had been asking for her earlier that day. When we went in the nurses were fixing Tanyua's blankets and said, "Look, Tanyua. Here's Lydia." And she opened her eyes for just a minute and smiled and she and Lydia touched noses. We stayed for about two hours, but she didn't open her eyes again, and about an hour after we left they called and said that Tanyua had died. It was very, very sad. Did you ever know Tanyua Dickenson? She was 51, just a year older than I am.

     So, I adopted Lydia and she is a wonderful dog. The cats didn't think much of her at first. They wanted to know who ordered the pony. And, Lydia wanted to play with them, which did nothing to elevate their view of her. They elevated themselves to the second floor and stayed there for two weeks was what happened. 
But, one by one they have come around, and Lydia has decided that they aren't anything to get excited about, so all is calm. My husband really likes her, too, even though she stole his last four homemade peanut butter cookies off the countertop when he left the room. 

     I have already had a request for a stained glass Lydia. There is a 26 year old girl here in Kilmarnock who lives in the "New Horizon" apartments. She just loved Tanyua and Lydia, and when she found out that I had Lydia she asked me if she could walk her in the Kilmarnock Christmas parade. 

     The theme this year was a Scottish Christmas so we put the red antlers on her that Tanyua had bought for her, jingle bells around her neck, and a plaid blanket on her back on which I did an iron-on transfer that said "In Memory of Tanyua, With Love, Friends from the Northern Neck Humane Society, Inc." Courtney really enjoyed it and our picture went in the Rappahannock Record. She calls me every day to check on Lydia and she has asked me to make her a stained glass hanging of Lydia. 

     I had already taken photos with poses appropriate for a portrait because I had wanted to make one for Tanyua when she got back, but that was before they terminated her treatments. 

     Lydia is a beautiful and regal looking dog. The Borzois belonged to Russian aristocracy, I've learned, and they almost became extinct because they were resented by the lower classes. The hunters used them in pairs to course wolves. (Probably for those Russian hats.) But she is also a very gentle dog. Tanyua took her everywhere with her and she is very well behaved in public. She was Tanyua's "baby" and it is impossible not to fall in love with her. 

© 2001 Kathy Ryan Juron All rights reserved.

Kathy is an artist who owns Black Stump Stained Glass, in Kilmarnock. We thank her for sharing the story of Lydia and we’re certain Tanyua is smiling at Kathy for opening her heart and home to such a wonderful dog.

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