SAVANNAH GEORGIA BURNS
(2000 - 2012)
We adopted our Greyhound in April of 2004 with a racing tattoo in her ear and battle scars on her sides from running 86 races. She was born November 2000, the first of her litter according to that tattoo. She stole our hearts with her brown eyes and terrific, toothy smile. She won us over completely when she jumped into our Subaru ready to leave for a new life before we'd even adopted her.
Papers were signed. Rules for keeping Greyhounds were explained. The only other order of business before bringing her home was her racing name. We abandoned the appellation, War Bride, in favor of Savannah Georgia. We wanted her to remind us of our honeymoon venue and the wonderful old Southern charm we fell in love with there.
Savannah immediately took her rightful place in our home, sleeping on beds and sofas, insistent that she be recognized as a full fledged "human" member of our family. She snapped to attention for "rides" and "walks" and "dinner." She got our attention with often gentle, though sometimes downright forceful nudges from her always cold wet nose. She would not be ignored if it was time for dinner, stomping the ground at our feet, less we forget that three, not two, people needed to eat in the Burns house.
Playing with toys involved a lot of tackling and gnawing on me, sometimes requiring eyeglass repairs. She always played for keeps, just like she did when she chased that rabbit around the dog tracks of Florida. Allison wasn't always keen on the rough housing -- Savannah knew that she was the one to go to for unconditional sweet love and comfort -- of a calm nature.
Savannah never really stopped chasing that rabbit either. Her dreams were restless, always filled with running and pawing and crazy hilarious huffing and puffing. Naps were equally entertaining. Savannah blew bubbles and slept with her mouth hanging open like a snoring old man. She was as restless at night as me. We would fly out of bed in a panic as she howled in her sleep. She would quickly return to her fitful slumber and awaken us a few hours later with whimpers to be let out and fed.
The bedroom was a special place for this motley family of three. Savannah spent her first few months with us in bed trying to figure out where the hell that other Greyhound was in the den of our Dunwoody apartment. She didn't recognize herself in the mirror at the foot of our bed. She eventually came to trust that reflection and took more interest in the goings on outside our Alpharetta bedroom window. We've never cleaned her nose prints off the glass, and we probably never will.
Allison and Savannah would often curl up together on the bed waiting on me -- the insomniac night owl gamer. If I was up too late, I would receive a gentle reminder from my office door -- a sighing brown face hopeful that I'd shut down my computer and come to bed. On cold nights, Savannah would ask to join us in our undersized queen bed. A burglar would've thought he'd stumbled onto a drunken game of Twister the way the three of us had contorted to fit into that bed. Our sleep was fitful, but Allison and I were always warm when she slept between, in and around our legs.
In the mornings, if we slept in, Savannah would often join us in the bed and partake in our laziness. On work mornings, the routine was a little different. Allison would shower first if I was slow to rise. Savannah would join me in bed and turn three times -- it is a rule for dogs to do this -- before plopping her bony ass on my head. One would be hard pressed to find a more peaceful, albeit awkward way to catch some extra z's.
Outside the house, Savannah was people, just like us. Our weekends were spent hunting dog friendly venues -- tough in the suburbs of north Atlanta -- at which to spend our time with her. We looked for places that understood that dog owners want to spend time with their dogs -- their "canine" family. In addition to the usual fare -- parks and greenways -- Savannah shared in burgers and brews in Roswell, enjoyed Sunday mornings at a cafe in downtown Alpharetta, walked the square in downtown Dahlonega, and posed for a photo in the tasting room of Three Sisters' Winery.
Wherever we went, she drew a crowd, and they all had the same comments and questions. "Did you rescue her?" "She looks like a tiger." "Her fur is so soft." "I love her red brindle color." "Is that a whippet?" "Is she good with children?"
She was always good with children. She was good with people in general -- anyone that would come up and scratch behind her ears and let her lean -- Greyhounds always do this -- against them, eager to get a good rub of her back or her haunches. She was less tolerant of other dogs. We're not sure why, but we liked to think that she was protecting her people -- myself and Allison. That, or keeping us to herself. Always the competitor.
Always the racer. She was a specimen to behold -- agility and speed in the most graceful form one could imagine. You could feel it when you rubbed her haunches -- she loved that -- the muscles and the sheer power she could command when she ran.
We knew she was a brickhouse. We were told as much. Some body builder, looming over both Savannah and myself and carrying what looked to be a Weimaraner puppy in his massive hand, walked over to us on her first trip to PetSmart in Dunwoody.
"That bitch is stacked." Allison and I thanked him. We were and always will be proud of our "little girl."
Savannah Georgia Burns passed around 4:30 a.m. on Monday, January 16, 2012. She was 11 years old.
Michael and Allison Burns