STELLA, ONRUSH STELLA OF SUMMERWIND
(2003 - 2013)
Today we said goodbye to Stella, Onrush Stella of SummerWind. She had gone into kidney failure in early December and had been managing it reasonably well until the last couple of days, when she went into a rapid decline and let us know it was time to let her go.
Stella was one of the Onrush Amelia (Amy) x Flying Oak litter bred by Pam and Glen Davis in 2003. She was distinctive for her stub tail and dimunitive size, and was given the puppy name "Stubby." She was the smallest of the litter, but as always seems to be the case, was the toughest one from the beginning, fearing nothing. Pam and Glen felt that her stub tail might be the outcropping of a spinal abnormality and that racing might be inadvisable, so it was decided that she would come to stay with us as a "temporary" playmate to her littermate Colonel, who was our designated puppy in the litter.
To say that Stubby kept Colonel busy and exercised would be an understatement. Her most usual position was running alongside him with her mouth on his neck, which he tolerated with the patience of Job. Naturally, since she made us laugh almost every day, it was soon decided that she was not leaving and could continue to pester Colonel on a regular basis and otherwise keep life interesting for him. Laura felt that "Stubby" was not sufficiently feminine, so her name was changed to "Stella," in part so that we could do our best Marlon Brando impression when calling her. She was always the last to come in from runs in the dog pasture, so the scene from "A Streetcar Named Desire" was re-enacted many times over the years. I've never had a Greyhound that enjoyed having her nose to the ground "hoovering" around a field for all the smells almost as much as she enjoyed running.
I soon noticed that Stella was almost always faster than Colonel and that she could "jink" on a dime when he chased her, so I began wondering if lure coursing might be in her future. I took her to an orthopedic vet to address the concerns about spinal abnormality, and a series of x-rays revealed nothing that would rule out hard running. So, we decided to give her a go at chasing the plastic hare.
She soon excelled on the lure coursing field. It is often theorized that Greyhounds use their tail in some way when turning, but Stella with her fixed stub soon dispelled that notion â€“ she could turn at speed with the best of them. She was a very handy runner, making every stride count for the maximum with the utmost efficiency of motion. Her only weakness was her toes, and like her littermates had her share of dislocations, but she always recovered from them and came back for more. She won her share of trophies, including the Edsel Trophy for Best in Field at a CHASE trial, and divided the Master McGrath trophy for best Greyhound of the Fullerton Cup trials.
Stella retired from lure coursing in due course and took up her next career as comedienne of our kennel. If the outdoor weather was more to her liking than the controlled climate of the kennel, she would drag her bed out the dog door of her run so that she could sleep on her "veranda" under the sun or stars. If tall lanky Admiral was between Stella and where she wanted to be, she would simply walk under him to get there and dare him to grumble about it. We found that we could get her to leave her mouth off the other dogs if we gave her a kong toy to mouth during turnouts, so she was often seen in the kennel yard throwing a red kong about to amuse herself. She had an indelible memory for her breeder Glen's "puppy voice," and would about bend double with body wags whenever he greeted her during a visit.
Her "hell on wheels" personality was not mellowed or diminished by the passing of the years. She brooked no foolishness from the litter of puppies that moved into the kennel in her 8th year, and backed them off with a sharp bark if they mobbed her. I donâ€™t think she quite knew what to make of so many young â€˜uns with as much hutzpah as she had.
Stella bore her final illness with stoicism and a seeming determination not to let it interfere with her enjoyment of life. Just a day or to before her recent decline, Laura came home to find her playing tug-of-war in the turnout yard with youngster Dublin over a new bed. I only hope that I can have that much "spit and vinegar" in my final days!
She leaves us too soon, but with many fond memories and many laughs. I have no doubt that she has located Colonel on the great running grounds of Greyhound heaven and very likely has her mouth on his neck. Thanks for showing us the simple act of loving life, Stella - we're glad you made it permanent!