This week, Gail and I bid farewell to Styxx, our much beloved greyhound/lurcher.
Styxx came into our lives on December 14, 2013 after a journey that started in Ohio and Michigan and ended at his forever home that cold winter night in Winnipeg. So began the adventures of we three comrades, bonded by unending loyalty and affection. Adventures that would see us wandering through our city, across Manitoba, and as far west as Vancouver. We shared salmon pasta at home, shawarma and fries on Garbage Hill and pickerel in Gimli. He supervised wine tasting in the Okanagan and cider-sipping in Saskatoon.
And, of course, he was the subject of many, many photographs.
A calendar every year. An annual Twelve Days Of Styxx feature on this very blog every Christmas. And a book: Walking Styxx, a month of psychogeographic walks with a greyhound. In the forward I wrote:
Styxx, shortened from his original name Firestyxx, is a greyhound. Or, more correctly he is a lurcher, the less romantic name for a greyhound mixed with a little bit of some other breed and used to race on “unofficial” dog tracks in the rural backwaters of states such as Ohio and Michigan. He has an unknown past and his age is pure guesswork (likely eight). But Styxx is every bit a greyhound, 80 pounds of muscle bound into a graceful Art Deco form.
He was a strong, fit and elegant walker. A true flâneur. He would sniff incessantly at times, glide along forest paths with aplomb and occasionally, without warning, shift into a full running gait, dragging his leashed minder behind. Choosing a walking route was a mutual, non-verbal negotiation, a slight tug from us and a counter-move from Styxx determining an agreed-upon direction.
That initial energy of a young dog couldn’t last forever. Over the years, as he aged and as various ailments came into play, our adventures adopted to his needs. A degenerative spinal condition was the most serious, the thing that finally took him down last week. But the walks continued, just a bit shorter and slower. He was always eager to get out for his daily walks, wildly tossing his head in anticipation as Gail or I put on boots and parkas. The bonds between we three comrades just deepened. Making the end so very hard.
Styxx was not just a dog. He wasn’t our child. He was that rare thing, a silent sage on four legs sharing an unending compassion for pure, uncomplicated life with his dearest companions.