The big brown eyes stared up at me and my heart melted.
Quivering in front of me, Blue – the beautiful greyhound with the broken leg – was enormous!
I’m only fostering him, I told myself.
As a social media director for Animals Australia – an animal protection organisation – I was used to seeing adorable pups come and go. But he had me hook, line and sinker.
I knew Blue was staying with me for good.
It was all because of my sister, Leah, who was friends with someone in
a racing syndicate.
When she told me the ace racing dog had no home because he’d broken his leg, I was horrified.
Jumping at the chance to foster him until we found him a permanent family, I took Blue, then two, home from my sister’s in June 2014.
George my cat stared unimpressed at the shaking new housemate.
Blue let out a low, whining nose that sounded like a kettle boiling. It was Blue’s way of telling me he needed a cuddle and some love.
Stroking him, I realised Blue was a whole bundle of emotions – he felt everything.
Slowly, his leg healed and he started to feel at home.
Jumping up on the sofa, he bounded off like he was taking flight.
Before long, my big doofus was part of the family.
My partner Anna, 39, loved him, too.
He had the biggest heart, always wanting to snuggle on the couch, even though he was so big you ended up hanging off the edge as he took all the space.
He was such a lazybones and slept most of the day, unless we took him to his favourite beach in Lorne, Vic, where he galloped endlessly.
And his most beloved place to sleep was my bathroom, snuggled up in his warm doggy pyjamas.
I took him to work with me every day, putting a dog bed under my desk.
We soon found out Blue had a particular obsession with toast. He’d stare intensely at it, with drool pouring from his mouth, until you gave him a piece.
Then he’d gobble it down.
Soon I was giving him toast in the shape of an egg with dog-friendly butter for Easter, and at Christmas I wrapped up toast for him in festive paper.
But it was when a video montage of Blue went viral in 2018 that I received messages from all over the world.
My son has autism, one heart-warming message came. Seeing Blue calms him down.
Blue amassed a global following of thousands.
Although the birth of our son, Leo, in April 2021 meant Blue wasn’t our only baby anymore, he soon got used to it. He was so gentle with children and baby Leo adored him.
When Leo started on solids, Blue hoovered up all his leftovers.
‘Woof, woof,’ were even Leo’s first words.
But when, in March this year, my big horse of a dog stopped bounding round the house and went off his food, I was terribly worried.
I rushed him to the emergency vets who broke the awful news.
‘Blue has a cancerous tumour in his heart,’ the vet explained.
It didn’t seem possible that Blue’s big heart was sick.
The vet explained that the tumour would be excruciatingly painful and ultimately kill him, so it was more humane to put him down.
Clutching my beloved Blue, I wept. How could our force of nature be dying?
We convinced the vet to let us take Blue home one last time, and settled him down with his favourite treats. The vet arrived at our house that day, and administered a drug causing Blue’s huge heart to stop beating. I could scarcely believe he’d gone.
He left my life just as he had entered it – unexpectedly.
In tears, I knew learning to live without him wouldn’t be easy.
To numb the pain of losing Blue, I set up a GoFundMe page in his honour that night.
I called it ‘A Toast to Blue the Grey’ asking people to donate the price of Vegemite on toast, $5, in his honour.
Donations would go to greyhound rescue charities.
‘It might raise a few hundred,’ I sighed to Anna.
The next morning I looked at the computer in disbelief.
‘Oh my God,’ I gasped.
We’d raised $10,000 overnight. By the end of the day, it totalled $50,000 and donations kept flooding in.
A huge outpouring of love came from all corners of the globe with people devastated by Blue’s death.
Knowing people were thinking of Blue helped ease my grief.
Anna and I had Blue cremated and kept his ashes in silver necklaces.
Rummaging for Leo’s nappy cream one day, I spotted Blue’s doggy PJs and cried.
But the GoFundMe kept me going. I even started selling mugs with Blue’s face on them, donating the money to greyhound rescue.
In 2022 we raised an amazing $122,000.
Life will never be the same without Blue, but it warms my heart that we can help rescue greyhounds from kennels to couches.
Everyone deserves a special companion like big-hearted Blue.
To donate search A Toast to Blue the Grey on GoFundMe