"An Emphatic Whisper"

Leland's Quantum Leap - Part II

By: Ron Evans

By the summer of 2010, Leland and Emilee had been retired and living with us for 5 years. For as many winters, they and we had packed three months worth of artist materials, clothing, greyhound toys and a few select "odd job" hand tools, into a little copper colored Honda Fit and made our way south from the banks of the Mill River in central Vermont to the comfort and contemplative environs that are sub-tropic central Florida. It seemed like only yesterday that Leland made that "Quantum Leap" that brought both he and Emilee into our lives and into the hearts of so many.

As Vermont's sugar maples took on their brilliant fall hew and the days here grew shorter, Leland's leap became a hop, then a limp. We greyhound lovers know what that symptom usually means. Could it be that our second fawn male would acquire osteo in the exact same joint of the exact same leg as Nubie, our first?

The diagnosis was conclusive. The tumor was relentless. As our December departure neared, we again drew strength from the gift of each day together and from the knowledge that Leland would communicate his wishes and needs to us as his atrophied body succumbed to his cancer.

Ten years earlier, at age nine, Nubie made it crystal clear that he wanted to live, if need be as a tripod. You might say he was our first Human Whisperer! When the disease in his front right distal-radial (wrist) grew so large that the circulation to his foot was compromised, his wishes were communicated precisely. "Get this thing off my leg and lets get on with it." Our holistic approach to strengthening Nubie's lungs and immune system seemed to contribute to preventing the sarcoma from metastasizing. The softball sized tumor remained isolated to the affected joint. Our Vermont veterinarian, Dr. Rob McPherson, agreed. Nubie was a perfect candidate for amputation.

Nubie came out of surgery ready to run ... and never looked back. In the two years following, he ran the dunes of the Outer Banks, visited the Grand Canyon, cruised Route 66 and thanked us everyday for having made him a respected and honored member of our family. If you're reading this, I know that you know.

At age 11, having spent four years and 158 races at the now closed Hinsdale, New Hampshire greyhound track, Leland's (aka. "I can Feel It") wishes would not be the same. His diagnosis came in October of last year, just weeks after hurricane Irene struck our state with bands of floodwaters that demolished three sides of our home, one quarter of its foundation and altered the states topography forever. It was the unfathomable double whammy! (see; "Emerging from the Storm", Vermont Magazine, winter 2012. story by Ron Evans).

We once again loaded the Honda and made our way south knowing all to well that we would be returning with only one very lugubrious Emilee. It was mid December when we arrived at our north Tampa destination.

Our pack made the most of everyday together. Leland and I would lead the 1 mile morning family walk around the community of Tarawood with exuberance and intent. Seldom did we vary from our clockwise route and neighbor visitations. As mid-January approached, our outings remained closer to home; Leland's pain meds increasing in dosage. Listen to your companions. Read their many ways of communicating their thoughts. He knew it was time. It had been weeks since he had visited Tarawood, limping out of the condo only when nature called. To honor our solemn promise to love, honor and respect him to his last breath, we called a young veterinarian in the Tampa region named Dr. Dani and arranged to have Leland's end of life held in a private ceremony at our rented condo. Dr. Dani has introduced a new compassionate service which she hopes to take nationally called "Lap of Love". She and her associates offer an affordable and dignified means of bestowing just such an honor when our beloved greys tell us they are ready. With only weeks or days left, we kept Dr. Dani's contact information close by on our refrigerator door as we anguished over what would become of Emilee. As you all know, Leland had rescued Emee from her personal prison once before. Would she go to pieces at his loss? Would her grieving prove to deep to rise above? Would Linda and I have the eupraxophy to help her carry on without him? You won't believe what happened next.

Two doors, away in the same Lake Magdelene condo complex, lived the former partner of the late Warren Zevon. Remember Warren? He wrote and sang "Werewolves of London". Katherine, her son Austin and mom Marjorie had adopted a breathtakingly handsome red fawn male named Tully almost a year prior to our arrival. On the morning of January 14th, this year, came a knock on our door. Circumstances had changed for them and Katherine was preparing to return Tully, ( now Fullers) to Bay Area Greyhound Adoption. He was about to become a double bounce. Katherine was heart broken. She loved Fullers so and once again, it wasn't his fault. We agreed to introduce him to our guys.

We brought Leland and Emilee outside for the meet and greet. It was a very serendipitous moment. Fullers was an instant success...his intuition strong, his future understood. I suggested to Linda that we bring him into our pack while Leland was still with us. For 10 days this past January, we became a pack of five (2 bipeds, 3 quads). Leland showed Fullers, now Tully Fullers, how things worked in our family; where to go, how to behave, where to sleep. Tully got it. Leland could rest in peace knowing that Emilee had a canine guardian. Then, the day before Dr. Dani was to arrive, Tully awoke with what seemed to be a super-natural sense of purpose. We leashed up the pack and without hesitation, Leland led the charge on three legs on a final one mile tour of his beloved Tarawood. Lin and I were spellbound. This was Leland's swan song and he hit every note.

Leland's farewell was attended by all of us. When Dr. Dani arrived, Leland was lying peacefully on his bed in the living room. She ran through a series of visual and palpation-al tests to verify his condition, then spent time asking about Leland's life. "Tell me about Leland; his likes and dislikes, his personality, his special gifts, his favorite toys." Linda told her about Leland's Quantum Leap. She told her about his un-compromised nurturing of his very fragile and vulnerable sister. Dr. Dani administered the final shot and as Leland's pulse slowed and weakened, Emilee arose from her proximal rest, walked behind her brother's prone body, laid down with him and draped her entire head and neck over his chest. It was Emilee's time to return the favor. Lost for words, we all wept openly. Leland was gone. Still, in our pack, 4 heartbeats remain. Thank you, Leland. As "Scooby" would say, rest in peace.

Update; 12/1/12 Leland's legacy continues to resonate in Emilee's growing bond with Mr. Tully Fullers. He is by far the most perceptive, content, patient and inter-active greyhound I have ever met. Turns out he was a track "Conscientious Objector", refusing to come out of the starting gate. With zero races to his credit, Tully ran straight into retirement at 18 months of age. FYI; He's first to the food bowl every single time!

Note; Stay tuned for more "Travels with Tully", and Emee of course.

About the Artist

Linda Kiracofe Evans is a design artist, making her home and studio in the Historic Kingsley Grist Mill of East Clarendon, Vermont. With undergraduate concentration in both art education and printmaking, and graduate studies in studio art and design, Linda has had the opportunity to work with such notables as artists Clas Oldenberg, David Flaharty,and Anna Held Audette.

Linda is the creator of the cloisonne colored pencil technique. By layering colors and trapping them in fine outline, she weaves them among the wonders of both architecture and nature, forming designs rich with color and iconic beauty.

A deep love of the Greyhound dog is a recent focus in her work, bringing Linda recognition as the nation's foremost Greyhound Design Artist.

By integrating her appreciation of architectural & natural forms, Linda’s creativity guides her to produce the artwork she has always envisioned, at her beautiful “Art on the River Studio”, located in the Historic Kingsley Grist Mill in Central Vermont. Through 30 years of preservation with husband Ron, this National Historic Site has been showcased in numerous publications and media including; The Boston Globe, Vermont Magazine, F.H.B. Deck and Patio Idea Book, and The Today Show.

Linda K. Evans
Historic Kingsley Grist Mill
Linda Kiracofe Evans
2964 East Street
North Clarendon VT 05759