A Greyhound Taught Me My First Lesson In Hardship.

Her Name Was Skyy.

3 min readMay 4, 2022


Photo by Ibrahim Boran on Unsplash

The first greyhound I met was also the first dog that triggered a fear response in me. Like Skyy, he belonged to my aunt and uncle. Also like Skyy, they adopted him after his racing days were over.

Brendon was a male greyhound with a brindle coat. His racing name was Brindle, but my aunt and uncle switched to calling him Brendon because they thought it was weird to name a dog after its genetics.

My first time meeting Brendon went like this. After driving to my aunt and uncle’s house in the Poconos (which might as well have been Alaska, to my younger self, for how far it was from my house in the suburbs and how remote it felt) we trekked through their backyard, which was basically an extension of the Pennsylvania woods. At the top of the steps behind a glass door there was Brendon, watching me watch him. I walked inside. The next thing I knew, Brendon was on his hind legs and the force of him knocked me flat on my back.

That is the strongest memory I have of Brendon. After that, I wasn’t afraid of dogs, but I do remember what it’s like to be afraid of a dog. I suddenly understood all the age-old adages about strange dogs. Don’t pet a dog you don’t know unless you ask for permission first. Always hold your hand out first for a dog to sniff. Brendon wasn’t a stranger’s dog, but to Brendon, I was a strange, unknown quantity.

Nothing except a greyhound could be so powerful on the basis of its own fragility. While still, greyhounds appear ludicrously disproportionate. Their features are almost grotesquely designed. Running, they are sublime. To this day, greyhounds seem extraterrestrial. They look more like a horse than a breed of dog; their twiggy limbs look like they could snap at any second. With their elongated and emaciated frames, they remind me more of a fantasy creature than family pet.

That was even more true for Skyy. After her sprints in the yard, you could almost see her heart pumping blood through her body. I could count her vertebrae. She had a racing background, but unlike Brendon (who had placed in a few of his races) her racing days were short-lived. Either for her small size or temperament, she was deemed unfit to race and left chained to a tree.

I was older by a few years at this point, so I was better able to conceptualize what she had been through. By that, I mean I had to come to terms with the fact that I had no way of knowing what she had experienced. Hearing her story made me feel a mixture of pity, sorrow, and, worst of all, shame.

I can’t tell you if Skyy is a good brand of vodka. This is the kind of dog she was. Skyy was fidgety and compulsive. While inside, she circled the living room furniture like a shark. In the dark she blended in. When I got up and moved around her, I felt the same way I feel walking in the city at night. My animal instincts were heightened around her.

I think I couldn’t control my fear response anymore than she could. Even though she could turn on a dime, when Skyy was out in the yard, my uncle made us stand on the porch. There have been other times (not many, thankfully) I have felt fear around a dog. Then I think about Skyy, and remember it’s never really the dog that causes the collision.




Writer. Hiker. Lefty.