We’re the greyhounds you see on the Plaza just about every day.
Freya, the black and white cutie, ran ten races in Tucson before the track closed. She had a litter of twelve, thus her name for the Norse goddess of fertility. Friday is named after her: Freya’s Day. How many dogs have a day of the week named after them?
Odin, a lanky black champion, won or placed second in almost half his 88 races, mostly in Florida. Odin was a big deal in German and Viking mythology, and Wednesday is named after him. So there are two.
When folks ask us what we did in Year Two of the pandemic, we think of places we spent the most time together. An obvious choice is our house next to Thumb Butte, where we have provided a loving, forever home for our caretakers Susan and Ed. But that presents a problem. As greyhounds, we’re introduced as “45 miles-per-hour couch potatoes” when we march in downtown parades. So recounting sleeping 14-16 hours a day won’t be particularly stimulating. In June our humans drove us seven hours to Telluride, where we stayed in a fancy hotel and ate people food like steak and hamburgers. But that was only for a week.
So, by a process of elimination, it has to be our walks in Prescott. One important requirement of our rental agreement with our humans is walks at our beck and call, every day. We also insist on spreads of frozen beef, chicken and lamb nuggets topped off by kibble, plus treats available 24 hours a day, Frosty Paws and plush dog beds in several rooms. They are so happy we rescued them.
Summer 2021 was scorching! That’s why Ed took us so often to the shadiest part of the Greenways trail system, the half-mile stretch between Willis and Aubrey Streets that meanders along the banks of Granite Creek under a canopy of elms and cottonwoods. It was so much cooler than West Gurley and Goodwin Streets, which pass over the path. Walking on the packed dirt sure beats searing sidewalks. In early summer white, fluffy cottonwood seeds blanketed the trail like fresh-fallen snow.
One day, while sniffing around near the West Gurley bridge, we found a baffling beast with sharp teeth and scales running down its back like an alligator. We must have walked past the creature a dozen times last summer and never noticed it. It was carved out of a tree trunk! We have no idea who did it. When we walked under West Gurley our noses savored the aromas wafting down from two restaurants above us, the Dinner Bell for breakfast and Casa Alvarez for dinner. When we passed under the Goodwin bridge El Gato Azul sometimes provided musical accompaniment to our olfactory feast. (How’s that for canine vocabulary!)
If we were lucky the gate to the large grass field next to Mile-High Middle School would be open so we could chase each other. Ed always left the area much cleaner by picking up assorted paper and plastic bottles and our poops, of course. Nevertheless, signs soon appeared banning us and our trash collector, so we complied. Ed still gave us water near the south gate, next to the metal plaque mounted on a rock: “McNarie Field 1951.”
We had to endure a treatise from Ed, a history nerd, who told us more than we cared to know about this McNarie fellow, a geometry teacher, athletic director and principal in Prescott for four decades. With students, including his sons, providing most of the labor, “Pop” McNarie devoted almost every weekend from 1947 until the Class of ’49 graduation (Mile-High was Prescott High then) to transform what started as little more than a mud bog into a natural-sod athletic field and cinder track that haven’t changed much in 70 years.
On the southwest corner, next to the basketball hoops, Ed always stopped to stare at the cottonwood behemoth with a trunk the size of a VW Beetle. He can be like a broken record, always pointing out that it’s bigger than the ones on the spur at Willow Lake, where we also walk. To us it’s just another tree to sniff and mark.
Sometimes Ed led us off the trail onto Carleton Street. We’d take another left on South Montezuma at the former church turned furniture restoration shop. Our history geek Ed pointed out a faded plaque next to it at Montezuma and Carleton: “Mt. Olive Baptist Church, 1925.” Now we’re equipped to pass a test on little known Prescott history.
At Goodwin we crossed Montezuma to bask in downtown Prescott’s other summer oasis, the Courthouse Plaza. Remember, it’s not a square — we know from our laps around the courthouse, always on grass. Ed always points out the 1916 cornerstone as if we’d never seen it before.
We love to socialize with all dogs, especially Sebastian and Sunny, and be scratched and adored by their humans. We pranced around the rectangle, stopping to smell and leave our marks on every tree, before plopping down on the cool turf. While we scratched our backs and stretched out, Ed fiddled around with his cellphone and occasionally took adorable pictures of us. (That’s also in the rental agreement.)
When we informed Ed we were ready to go, we walked down the shady south side of West Gurley, before descending the ramp next to the Dinner Bell to the trail and completing the loop with a short walk to our car parked in the lot of the Oaks business building — a reliably open spot, especially if there’s an event on the Plaza.
In 2018 Floridians voted to liberate about 7,000 greyhounds from their muzzles and crates by the end of 2021. Closing Florida’s eleven tracks leaves only two left in the US, both in West Virginia.
Though we’ve been around since ancient Egypt, most people are unfamiliar with our breed. The most common misconception is that we need a big, fenced-in backyard. A studio apartment is fine as long as you follow our orders for daily walks, as Ed does.
We are gentle, calm, don’t shed much, don’t bark, and get along with everybody, except for the rare occasions when a few of us don’t like to share our houses with cats.
Maybe we’ll get some new friends in Prescott through Greyhound Pets of Arizona (gpa-az.com). Most of the year Jim, Leah, and available greyhounds for adoption live off of Williamson Valley Road, past Outer Loop Road.
As Ed and Susan often tell their friends, once you share a home with greyhounds, you’ll be hooked on the breed for life. Now you see why.
Ed Wisneski contributed to this story.