Steven D. Wolf was visiting the farmhouse of a greyhound rescuer, intent on adopting one. After admiring a pack of them racing around the land, he instantly chose a playful female. “Let’s see how she does inside,” said the handler. Wolf entered the living room and sat on the couch, struggling to get comfy. Once he was settled, he stowed his canes out of the way. He launched into his many questions about adoption–petting the dog.
Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed a dog regarding him steadily from behind the wood-burning stove. Just about ready to sign the papers on the dotted line, he felt a sudden thump beside him. A brindled greyhound had hopped up next to him and put her head gently in his lap, and kept burrowing closer. Her fur was gray, but her stripes made her look a bit like a tiger.
“Who’s this?” he asked.
“We call her Comet,” the handler said, whispering. “She’s one of our rescues.” The handler explained how the dog abandoned at the dog racetrack, seemed shy, depressed, and withdrawn, always staying apart from the others. She had never seen Comet do that before. As he petted Comet, he sensed her saying: Hello. I am Comet. I choose you.
Although I didn’t quote it directly, this is a summary of the Prologue from Comet’s Tale: How the Dog I Rescued Saved My Life, written by Wolf and Lynette Padwa. Immediately drawn in, I kept going back to this very heartwarming section. I have always wanted to be chosen by a dog in just this way. Enjoy Comet’s Facebook page as well.
As a lifelong dog lover, dog owner wannabe, and someone who wants to work with a service dog, I have read a lot about service dogs and all things canine to prepare for my most-longed-for “someday.” This service dog story is unusual because Comet is a greyhound–a breed not known for this work. Fetching thing things is not the breed’s strong suit. The trainers he did contact thought it wasn’t possible, and laughed him off the phone.
Comet eventually won Service Dog of the Year. Undaunted by the initial negative reactions, Wolf trained her himself. He got her used to public places and lots of people. He needed her to fetch his cell phone, pull his wheelchair, open and close doors, and help him to brace when getting out of chairs, bed, etc.–and more. Sometimes these things happened with humorous results. Along the way, he discovered that Comet adored any man in a uniform, and that she liked to sneak an extra toy into the shopping cart before they reached the checkout–a habit Wolf was quick to stop. He also had to educate folks who object to service dogs.
This story is more than a man-and-dog bonding memoir. It’s about adjusting to and accepting disability–how it affects the man, his wife, their daughters–a blended family. They all faced challenges they didn’t expect. The situation was also hard on family friends and work colleagues.
In his teens, Wolf injured his back. He healed, he thought; however, over the years, the injury worsened as he continued to play sports, causing extreme pain and limited movement. A partner in a law firm, his worried colleagues urged him to quit. Finally, they let him go. His doctors strongly suggested moving to a warmer climate for the winter. Off he went to Arizona for most of the year, leaving his family behind.
Struggling with these significant changes, Wolf still wanted to do everything himself, even though everything was harder. Little by little, he accepted the assistance of others. By the time he found Comet and her Zen-like, quiet personality, he knew he needed to slow down. Even before Comet became a service dog, she stuck close to Wolf. When things were bad, he didn’t feel good, or hurt a lot, he could talk to her, pet her, and cry if he needed to. His family, and their other two dogs, loved her right away. Comet still draws legions of fans everywhere they go.
Adopters of greyhounds often find themselves ambassadors for the breed. So it continues to be with Wolf. The information he shares about greyhounds converted me. I vaguely knew about a local greyhound rescue group, but I never felt drawn to the breed until now. They seem like really great dogs.
Everyone will love this book!