Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nervous Greyhound Needs a Foster Home

Could you give a long term foster home to 2 yr old Finlay who is very nervous? Some greyhounds come out of the racing industry as "spooks". Nobody is sure why but it can be to do with inheriting a nervous streak or can be because the greyhound had bad experiences and becomes overly fearful of new situations. I would not always assume that the treatment they have had was particularly cruel, but more that they are highly strung and intelligent and the industry just did not suit pups like them. 

Our Lily was such a dog and was so scared she would shake, thrash around and do anything to avoid being handled. These dogs need to be removed from kennels as soon as it can be seen they are not thriving and put into a calm, stable home, preferably with another greyhound who is confident, and given the time and space to settle.

As we have done so well with Lily in making her stable and cuddly we were asked if we could do the same for another nervous boy Finlay who needs to be put into foster care whilst looking for his forever home. It is important that he is not put into any situation that is not right for him because he may learn behaviour that is not desirable or just be downright miserable. Sadly, we were already fostering so were not available. 

Finlay was put into another temporary foster home as a third dog. However the foster carer worked and so he was left alone for about four hours per day. Everyone thought this would be ok as he had two other dogs to keep him company but he had bonded so well with the lady that he pined for her. She found this out when she had complaints from neighbouring flats about a whining dog and was put in a position of rectifying it, or having to get rid of him. As giving up work was not an option for her, and he could not tolerate her absence for four hours right away, he went back to kennels. This does not mean he will always have separation anxiety and be noisy, it just means he needs to build up to 3 or 4 hours slowly, ten minutes at a time which obviously his carer could not do.


Can you give Finlay a new home

Getting separation anxiety is quite normal for hounds used to constant companionship with dogs or used to kennel maids being present all day. The correct way to get your dog confident enough to be left alone is by leaving him for very short periods like five or ten mins, and then increasing those periods gradually over time. He eventually learns that you might go, but that you will come back very soon. This is not possible if the owner has to be absent for a large block of time to go to work right away.

So Finlay is again looking for a long term foster home, until he finds the right home to go to forever. If anybody lives in the UK Southeast and is home all day and committed to working with a nervous dog by slowly introducing him to new things, as well as building up to him being left for short periods, then contact me and I will put you in touch with the rescue service. This would be ideal for someone who has a greyhound already, preferably a friendly confident bitch. We are already committed elsewhere, I will tell you more about that when we have our commitment confirmed (Lily might not be the perfect match for this dog anyway).

If you would prefer to ring to find out more about Finlay, then you can go here to get the details of the rescue service in Essex who currently hold Finlay.

Dogs like this are so rewarding once they get to know you and have a lot of love to give back as well as being quick to learn and intelligent.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Harry Goes Back to the Rehoming Kennels

Harry went back to his kennels on Friday. I cannot say that I personally was not glad to see him go, I was a little bit jealous and bossed him around a lot being the Bitch of the House. I was getting used to him, but I would never admit that to Mummy and Daddy...and they are MY Mummy and Daddy not Harry's. Anyway, I will leave Mummy to write the last report on Harry.

Lily









Our fostering of Beautiful Harry came to an end on Friday and he went back to kennels.
The day before he went, we had a wonderful time walking at Forty Hill, then sitting in front of Forty Hall, watching the ducks and Harry enjoyed watching the world go by. He had got used to his little routine here, and we were sad to take him back. Look how handsome he is, how can anybody resist him? 

We would have kept him if either of us had been working full time, but we are both out of work at the moment....me with illness, and the OH was made redundant in February. It might be temporary, but not sure for how long. But Harry is more than ready to go into a home now though. 

We think that he would suit a family, might like being the only dog or with another greyhound. He should be great around older kids (not babies) and he should have one strong handler in the family, just while he is training because his one tiny trait is that he gets excitable with dogs of other breeds, he really is not used to them yet and can pull a bit too hard for an elderly person, or younger child.


''I am a distinguished, handsome gentleman looking for a home,
 where I can get to do all this exciting walkies stuff again''
Harry announced after his first time out of kennels in his life.

When Harry arrived at kennels and heard the dogs barking, he was not a happy puppy and grumbled a bit. I think part of the problem was that whilst he was away, new dogs came in for re-homing and to spend a holiday there as dogs also board at the kennels. This probably upset Harry a bit as the old pack had gone, and this was a new pack. I hope he managed to settle back. 

I feel like we got to know him really well, and cannot help thinking about his teeth which as he has been so long before adoption have got plaque on them, and it would be good if the teeth could be cleaned every day, and his ongoing training with other breeds continued daily. It is normally quiet on the beautiful woodland walks there. The dogs seem very happy in those kennels once settled and are extremely well cared for in a beautiful setting. Lily approves as she squeaks with impatience when we arrive there. They get to go outside about four times a day and their paddocks are about the size of a lot of people's gardens. These are the best kennels we have seen and Johanna and Louise set really high standards and the other staff there (Martin and Rosie who we have met plus others) are brilliant at keeping it up. Not a whiff of poo or wee anywhere and no fleas or ratty tails on the dogs. Nor any horrible pancakes or mounds in the paddocks either, just lovely green grass.


Whittingham Kennels with a new roof, and kennels on the left, 
and paddocks on the right. Behind the kennels is a large 
field sloping down to beautiful woods which are part of a forest.

When Harry first went into the back of the car, he just lay down and snoozed and was no trouble at all. When he arrived here, he had a good look around and then was right up on the sofa. He found the garden and throughout his stay, was happy to ask or go into the garden himself to do his toileting. He soon learned as well to do a wee on command, or to do a poo on command and to not do it on the patio and stick to the grass.


''I couldn't really smile any wider, 
not even for cheese'' Harry said.

Indoors he learned some manners too. He was a bit of a fussy eater, but this is normal when hounds are settling in. They tend to get a bit stressed at change and pick at their food. Harry did have slightly sore looking gums, and we cleaned his teeth after every meal with a toothpaste that has antibacterial properties, and that was getting better after just a few days. All greyhounds and other breeds benefit from a good dental routine with doggie toothpaste as prevention of problems.

He was playful, cheeky, intelligent and quick to learn. He wanted to please and was very quiet at night and settled in with no separation anxiety at all. He was quite self sufficient and able to amuse himself, mainly by snoozing or looking out the window. He loved a cuddle, but was not insecure or clingy...just very friendly and likes to lean on you. He mainly avoided and ignored Lily's initial rudeness, although we kept our bedroom door open and could hear if any grumbles occurred.

Training
Harry does get excitable with other breeds of dog, and will bark, whine, pull and jump in the direction of another dog. This means that for the moment, he could not be let off the lead and even on the lead is safer if he has a muzzle and a harness. But this was improving daily, and often he would choose to ignore a dog. The thing is to try and face the triggers that greyhounds have to chase, and to try and desensitise them to those triggers by constant exposure. If he got too excitable, we would yank the lead firmly and say ''No'' and the moment he is quiet we would say ''Quiet Good Boy'' and heap the praise on. Eventually greyhounds do give up the urge to lunge at other breeds, and if safely on the lead cannot do any harm anyway.

Sometimes sight hounds just cannot stop staring at their 'interest', after all they were trained to do that and if they are intelligent, then their behaviour was exemplary for the racing industry but we need to train them to be pets and they might be 100%  distracted if they see something they want to chase. In those instances, an owner can grab hold of the dog's muzzle and point their face away from the object of interest, and try and get eye contact. A command of ''Watch Me'' is quite good, so that the moment a dog has eye contact and is paying attention to you, the Pack Leader, you can pet and reward with praise, or a biscuit, and say ''Watch Me'' as soon as the dog is looking at you.

When it comes to commands and praise timing is of the essence. I have known people with noisy dogs trying to teach their dogs to be quiet, who get the timing wrong.
Normally it goes like this:

A dog barks and gets excited. The owner, hoping to teach their dog to be quiet shouts ''Quiet, Quiet'' over and over again. Dogs being creatures of habit make a connection with that command, but the wrong kind of connection. The dogs think that every time they make a racket, their owner is shouting ''Quiet!'' therefore the behaviour they are displaying is the correct one for the command to be Quiet. It is important with all commands, that first of all a dog is shown what to do and then the command is given at the exact moment a dog is carrying out the correct behaviour. So we said Quiet to Harry when he was actually being quiet. Eventually, you should be able to make a request of a dog, and they should be able to associate the right behaviour with the command and carry it out for you to praise and reward.

Harry's Vocabulary
Here is a list of all the commands he picked up whilst here:

Harry: He learned that this was his name. Might sound daft, but a lot of the time greyhounds just do not pick up their individual names in kennels. When they go home they often have their names changed by new owners anyway.

In the car: means he can jump in the car. It is important to get him to wait, just in case you need to move seats or objects or get another dog in the back...so he should only jump in the car on command.

Out: means out of the kitchen, and standing quietly on the step outside the kitchen whilst food is prepared and once it is put down, then the release command of ''off you go'' is given.

Off you go: Used to release a dog from an intensive command like sit, wait, down etc....

Do you want to go in the garden? This is an offer of the garden, which may be taken up if needed, but there is an option to choose not to go.

In the garden: This was to command the dogs to go into the garden to do their business intermittently and last thing at night.

Do a wee-wee (or whatever word you want)
Do a poo-poo (or other appropriate word): When it comes to toileting, the best thing to do with a new hound is take him into the garden about once every 90 mins or so, and get them to relieve themselves on grass or a chosen area. On the 2nd day, increase the gap between garden visits to every 2 hours. On the third day, try every 3 hours and then on the 4th day even longer. Eventually you will find when the dog wants to go, he will ask to go by quietly whining at the back door, or sniffing around. if he should have an accident in the house, just say 'No' firmly whilst he is misbehavin, and then drag him into the garden to try and finish the action and heap praise. Hounds don't want to go in the house which they see as their giant kennel, and they do ask to go out.

Whilst he is relieving himself, give the command for a wee or a poo at the same time as he is doing them, and tell him he is a good boy. Eventually the command will sink in and you will be able to request that he does a particular action, and it will stimulate him to want to go. Very useful for long car journeys when you need to stop for a quick toilet break. Try to get your dog used to doing this on the lead too.

Out the way: Literally means move out the way, to avoid being stepped on.

Up: This was usually an invitation to get up on the sofa, but could equally mean jumping up onto a bed, or other place. Hounds need little encouragement to jump up into a soft place, so why ask them to do it? It is important to do it so that the dog knows he is up there under your permission and there are conditions to having privileges  if he misbehaves (starts kicking, grumbling or getting possessive over a sofa...then he needs to be asked to get down for you to reinforce your position as the pack leader.

Off: You can ask your hound to get off the sofa if you need to, and he should obey you as pack leader. If you are having trouble with the off command and he is not listening, then it is advisable to get the lead, clip it on, and then ask him to jump off whilst pulling on the lead. You could grab his collar but if a dog is confused and you do that, some dogs may give you a little nip...and that is to be avoided if possible. Once he is off give him loads of excited praise and a treat if you want.

On your bed: I like to train my hounds to get on their own beds. The rule is they keep all four paws in contact with the bed, and if they do that they may instantly be rewarded with a treat. Each dog should have a different bed that is normally 'theirs' at that moment.

Down: Greyhounds do not sit easily, so although the down is normally an advanced command from sit for obedience classes you may find that getting them to lie down is much easier. I normally go from standing, to down, by getting down to their level myself with a treat and it works. With Lily, I can get her to go down and then up into a sit.

Sit: a lot of classes will teach you to get a hound to sit by pushing gently on its rump. However, a lot of hounds have very stiff back legs and short hamstrings and tendons so do not easily bend those gangly legs into a sit. You will be lucky if your hound does a sort of sideways sit before dropping into the down. With Lily, I ask her to go down, then I reward, then I ask her to sit and with another treat, move it up and over her head and she will temporarily sit up, and I just repeat the word sit whilst she is sitting and tell her what a good girl she is and give a treat.

Wait: This commands a dog to stand perfectly still. It was used to keep Harry on the step until released, or to stand in the back of the car and wait until told he can jump out, and any other situations where he needs to wait. For example, I would expect the pack leader to be the first to through a doorway. It is bad manners for dogs to barge through a doorway and can be dangerous if doors shut on tails, so Harry learned to wait patiently and go through doorways calmly.

Night night. See you in the morning: this usually follows the command for on your bed, or up, and I make sure dogs have put themselves to bed wherever they want and are prepared for me to go for the night, and come back in the morning. It is a bit like putting babies to bed but without the story.

Watch Me: Do this as soon as a dog has eye contact and you can instill a bond, connection, and control a dog if they get easily distracted. You can take a treat, and move in the air so that a dog follows it. Sight hounds are especially good at staring at treats. Then you can bring the treat up, to the middle of your face in between your eyes and close your hand around the treat....the dog may give you pupil to pupil eye contact, and if he does, you must instantly say ''Watch Me'' and use that command at any point you have eye contact.

What are you doing/Think about it: Harry was not long enough with us to get to this advanced command. This we use for Lily, when she is doing something she should not be. For example, digging her bedding up into a mound and then sulking because she no longer has a bed. If we say No, and she continues to dig the bed we can follow it up with. What are you doing? in a warning voice, and she will stop and think about it. This can sometimes be used in a situation where a dog has not quite got a command right, or is jumping too far ahead...you can say ''think about it'' and your dog might actually stop, reset, and retry the command properly. What are you doing, has been abbreviated to ''doings'' in our house, to make our TV watching a little less interrupted! Lily has a bed behind the sofa, and if she is feeling a bit cold, or a bit naughty, she will start to dig into a huge pile but destroying the duvet filling...we just have to say ''Doings!'' in a warning voice, and she will stop doing it and lie down again, or she will come around the sofa, tap my hand twice,  then lead me to the bed. I will smooth out the bed and insist she lies on it without any more digging. I would use the ''on your bed' command, or a 'lie down' command.

Leave (or Leave It): A very important command for a greyhound. From the outset, we make sure that hounds are happy with us taking their bowl away, or their bone away or other food or toy that they might get possessive about. This is important because greyhounds can chase, might get hold of something you do not want them to have or eat and its useful to get them to drop it right away. We managed to do this with Harry when he was naughty and stole a whole block of butter. We caught him and took it out of his mouth whilst saying ''Leave''. To safely  remove something from a dog's jaw, it is best that you do not put fingers into the front teeth area and try and pull the toy/bone etc, because they will just clamp down and pull back harder. I put my fingers into the soft corners of their mouth, and then tease their mouth open there. It is sensitive and you touching that area will often get a dog to open their jaws or yawn and you can retrieve an object.
I would try this out with a chew toy, and I would take great care that when you take it, the dog also gets the reward of being given it again.

Its on the TV: I normally say this whilst watching TV, if the hounds are startled by something (we watched a film with a bank robbing scene and gunfire). Giving this quick reassurance, without touching them or looking at them, means that we as pack leaders are not going to react to the noise because it means nothing. When the hounds hear a noise outside and bark, I will allow them to bark for a couple of seconds as having warning guard dogs can be useful but then if I follow it with a command to be Quiet, that must be followed through.

Timing is the secret of training
When rewarding a dog for behaviour, it is very important that the reward coincides with the exact behaviour you want so you have to be quick to get the praise in. If you are finding your hound has lightning reactions you might find that clicker training is useful here. In those instances, you would get a dog to associate a reward with a treat, when you click the clicker. You keep your thumb on the 'button' for the clicker and press down immediately you see the behaviour you want....then you reward.
The click means an affirmation of good behaviour to the dog, with a promise of a reward to follow. So it would go like this

Owner: Sit! (command)
Dog: Sits down (Desired behaviour)
Owner: Click (coincides with the dog sitting).
Dog: Hears click and knows he did the right thing and a reward is promised.
Owner: Follows up click by giving a reward or praise.

One of the things that a lot of novices seem to forget is that you cannot reason with a dog in English, to try and persuade it not to do something. Some dogs will see any nice gooey talking as a reward, and will instantly assume that what they are doing is correct....her is an example of what I mean:

Dog: ''Growls'' and grumbles at someone walking past (undesired behaviour)
Owner: ''There there Fido, there's no need to get grumpy is there? Please don't do that...try and be nice'' (pets dog and thus rewards it for undesired behaviour).

A similar thing can happen with a dog who is fearful. Imagine that there is a terrible thunderstorm, and a dog runs to it's owner in order to gain some comfort or to see if the owner is reacting. It goes like this

CLAP OF THUNDER. 
Dog: Whines, whimpers and runs to owner for comfort.
Owner: ''There, there, no need to be scared of thunder...I'm here'' (Pets dog, and thus rewards it for fearful behaviour).

It is so tempting to comfort a dog, when it appears to be upset, but that just reaffirms to the dog that it has a reason to be upset and that you prefer it to exhibit that behaviour. The best way to deal with fearful behaviour is to show strong leadership, and you can show that you did hear something but that it is nothing at all to worry about, and calmly carry on whatever you were doing previously ignoring the perceived threat.

Actually, if there is a loud noise or something on the TV makes the hound jump, they instantly look at the pack leader (owner) or other dogs, to see if they reacted to it and to find out whether they should be fighting or fleeing.
This week, there was a loud noise of something sliding and breaking on the TV and both Harry and Lily jumped and both looked at the OH, and then looked at me. We did not react in any way and carried on watching the TV. The dogs immediately settle, satisfied that Pack Leaders have not detected any danger.


''I could get used to this way of life'' said 
Harry gazing into the sunny woods

Meds: A lot of greyhound owners, especially in the US, find they are advised to give medication to their dogs to calm them in the situations where it is fearful. Actually, I feel that should be a last resort and only done if there really is a chemical or hormonal imbalance in a dog that needs treating. It does not always get to the root cause of behaviour. In our situation, Lily was an extremely fearful dog with her litter mate and they set each other off. We managed to cure a lot of behaviour, by simply pairing her up with an over confident dog. We have always used behaviour training with her, and giving her space to sort out her little neuroses and a calm atmosphere. She can still be wary, likes an escape route, but is nowhere near as bad and is a generally happy hound.


''Who could resist this jet black handsome hound eh?
I could be a model, I've got the legs for it'' says Harry.

I would not take my word for it though, I would always question what you read, check it out in established books or reports and talk it over with your vet. Choose a method of training that you feel works, and stick to any regime that works. Reading answers to problems on forums can be a good idea, but you should always realise that reading posts (even mine) can be misleading, and you should question the origins of any advice given. Especially where people advise foods or medicines, and they are not qualified to do so. They may often be right, but could be wrong too. I once managed to stop someone putting their poodle to sleep because they thought it had a stroke, diagnosed by someone on a knitting forum who said they were a vet. I privately wrote to the person, and asked her to ignore the advice that is was the end of his life, and go and get a proper consultation with a real life vet. I had suspected myself that the poodle had some sort of vestibular disturbance, as stroke is rare in young dogs and it can lead to problems with the inner ear that give the dog wobbly walking as if it has had a stroke. And in a young dog that can be treated with antibiotics and other drugs to clear an infection of the middle ear.....this worked with the poodle. There could be other reasons for stroke like symptoms and someone online should never ever diagnose a case and tell them to put a dog to sleep because it is finished. Thank goodness I saw that, and got the person to not listen to online advice and go to a proper vet.


''Am I supposed to be up here?'' said Harry, slightly apologetically, 
but not really that remorsefully.

As you can see from previous posts, it is important as well to try and get more than just one opinion from a real life vet too. I have learned the hard way that I should question and get specialist help. Contrary to a lot of primary carer's advice, insurance will pay for treatment from any qualified professional, but it might just cost more money to go to a specialist or receive surgery etc.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Fostering

I would like to introduce our foster boy Harry. I am afraid I have not been a very good foster sister as I got a bit jealous and bitchy with a new dog around. I have growled and snapped (but I didn't bite, honest) if I think he is getting more food. He had a bit of a cheek going on the sofa on my favourite spot, but now he has his own favourite spot and I suppose that is ok. Look, this is him in my favourite spot after only one hour of arriving here! And he was already housetrained by then.



Harry is from Whittingham Kennels who are having their roof fixed so he needed a place to stay. Mummy and Daddy chose to foster Harry because he is so good with cantankerous bitches like me.
Harry has been the perfect house guest, is now totally toilet trained (although he had no accidents in the house) and is a quick learner of all the new rules. This is his first time in a home and I think he likes the outside World. 

Harry has one tiny characteristic that some people think is daunting, but it isn't at all, which is that he has been quite excitable when he sees other dogs. Especially small fluffy ones. This is so typical of hounds, remember that they were first encouraged to be really excitable and chase a lure which is often a fluffy pelt or artificial thing that looks just like a small dog. Harry was a proper racer, unlike me. At first he went a bit wild barking, spinning and pulling, but actually on Day 3 of his walk all he did was a mild whine, two barks to let us know that small dogs were around but his Foster Daddy (remember this is MY proper and permanent Daddy though, so not really his Daddy) had him under perfect control. The thing is, being excitable also means he has other wonderful character traits that come along with it of being happy, confident, exuberant, cuddly and just very enthusiastic about everything....these are all characteristics that make Harry who he is and a very fun and comical hound to be with. But some new owners do worry that they will never be able to train the excitability over smaller furry things out, but yes you can and it improves all the time. Obviously he has to wear a muzzle (pic below without muzzle was just for a photo and not for the walk) but being on a martingale collar that he cannot slip and a body harness with an extra lead means he is not going to get loose so everybody can stay calm. Harry just needed a bit of exposure to the thing that makes him all excited, and then he needs to be shown what acceptable behaviour is and he really is getting it.



This is me on my harness when we first came here. It gives the added safety so that Mummies or Daddies feel calm and relaxed knowing I am going nowhere. If you add a martingale collar and an extra lead it gives the perfect control. I would recommend always using a buckle to attach leads and not a clasp. Sometimes with a lot of movement a clasp can come open and a dog like a greyhound can get away very fast and do some damage if they catch something but are more at risk of being run over. 




Anyway when it comes to excitable hounds often whilst an owner is struggling to hang onto them, their mind is fretting thinking ''oh no, he is going to get loose at any moment at this rate'' and it has been known for hounds to slip normal collars. Hounds can pick up the agitated vibes from an owner and it feeds into their excitement. Being safe and secure means that when a hound does play up, it is the perfect opportunity to show them your leadership. Remember that exposure, desensitisation and repetition all help to train a hound so an owner should welcome the triggers to certain behaviour as perfect opportunities. Exercising avoidance only means that the hound never gets to learn how to behave properly.

I hate to say this, compared with when Dizzy Rascal and myself arrived, Harry has been extremely easy to take care of and train. This is a bit embarrassing for me, so no wonder I have my greyhound knickers all in a twist over an extra hound coming back from the kennels. I am supposed to visit them, but being royalty, was not expecting one of my commoners to come back to the palace with me! Secretly though, I am enjoying my new position in the pack as a bossy little princess. I am much more confident and happy on my walks and can show off my model behaviour then.

I'm fine!

I had my little operation for a tumour in my mouth and that went absolutely smoothly at my new vets, and have been waiting for results. We have the results now and it was a plasma tumour, but was actually benign. Sometimes these can be nasty if inside the jaw bone, but mine was from the gum so was just an extra bit to be snipped off. There is a chance it will come back again, but we can just deal with that when it does.

Lily


Monday, August 12, 2013

Another Bit of Not So Good News,,,,,,

Last week Mummy was checking my gums and teeth and noticed this horrible lump growing down from the gum. She thought it might be a gum boil or a dental abscess or something, so she tried to find a new vet and we were recommended one. However, he was going on hols, so someone else from the same practice dealt with the small tumour in my mouth. Mummy was told this is not anything to do with the teeth, it is actually a mouth tumour that needs removing asap, but we will not know if it is malignant or benign until we get the results back.

I went in to have the op to remove it on Monday, but the vet after knowing I was a bit of a bleeder decided it would be best to do a full haematology test with clotting profiles etc.....and those came back normal.
I had a little operation yesterday to remove the tumour and now have sparkly white teeth, and clipped claws, and some of my blackheads and pimples on my tummy squeezed and cleaned up. Mummy was pleased to see that no antibiotics were needed after the op and no bleeding whatsoever. No stitches necessary and the gum tissue was just cauterised and sealed shut with no after effects. I was a little bit dopey and sleepy yesterday but today was perky and back to normal and starving hungry! I had very special food that was soft. We are just waiting for the results to come our way and will find out if that tumour is malignant or benign and what other steps we need to to take. Hopefully it was just an epulis and overgrowth of gum tissue that is benign.

Today we had a bit of sad news. We found out that one of my doggie friends who had been fighting bone cancer, was put to sleep as it was his time. His name was Dixie and he was a big old friendly and cheeky lurcher. He had a leg removed to try and combat the cancer, and some chemo, but sadly the chemo made him too sick to enjoy his life so it was stopped. He had a good few months with no chemo, and no sickness, but then one morning would not eat or drink, had pale gums and was very flat and lifeless. Obviously the cancer had spread to affect his system, and most likely was stopping enough oxygen getting around the system. His Mummy and Daddy gave him a very dignified end and put him to sleep rather than wait for him to become even more sick. It could have been so much  worse for him and he was not in any pain. Here is a pic of him at Christmas



Obviously my Mummy is really upset, knowing how it feels to have your furry boy ripped out of your life after so long she sympathises with Dixie's Mum....he will be really missed and was a very big part of their lives. He leaves a furry adopted sibling, Dolly, and she is in the same situation as I am. I was confused at first, but am quickly adjusting to being the only dog. For about 4 weeks I would not go for a walk and kept looking for Dizzy, and trotting to his collar and lead and wondering why I had to go on my own.

Also, another online buddy of ours Sam was pts recently, he was quite famous modelling for this life size crochet hound pattern. He was 13 and had a very full life, and was treated for elderly complaints etc but it was his time to go and he went with dignity. He had lived there 10 yrs so it will feel empty without him. I think he was a heart dog really.


Thursday, July 25, 2013

Whittingham Kennels

Mummy and Daddy took me to visit some furry friends today at the Whittingham Retired Greyhound Trust rehoming kennels in Waltham Abbey. We like it there. There is a huge field at the back and a pretty walk down into the woods on the edge of Epping Forest.

First of all we took out Rooney for a walk. He was as quiet as a lamb and very well behaved. He would make a lovely pet for someone. Being 5 means he is just youthful enough for a bit of fun, but mature enough not to have any annoying over exuberant puppy characteristics. He has a very waggy tail, which has been shortened as he kept banging his tail against the wall.


Whilst we are on the walk, we also met another lovely Black boy called Charley. He had a very calm, cuddly nature and is still a pup really at only 3 yrs old. He seemed very good around other dogs.


Daddy has a soft spot for very large greyhounds, and Lenny is the tallest one they had. I was very distraught when Daddy put me in a paddock, and then took Lenny out for a walk...what a cheek! I quavered and whined and did my most heart rending rattles and sighs......and sharp squeaks. They did bring Lenny back though. Mummy thought he looked really elegant trotting beside Daddy. He reminded her of a trotting carriage horse. Daddy was jogging quite fast whilst Lenny's stride was not even a run, just a fast, walk with the occasional trot.


Mummy has a soft spot for Harry. He is 4 and he did get a home, but his owners felt that owning a dog was not quite right for them after one night....and it was nothing to do with Harry really.


Now here it the thing about us greyhounds. If you have never owned one before, and you take us home, it can feel a little bit odd for a few hours...you can be filled with anxieties and worries that we won't settle or behave.  We might even seem a little bit feral, or over-excited. When Dizzy and I arrived here we both reacted to things with enormous enthusiasm and I have to admit, we did not know the rules and got a little bit out of hand on the first night. Mummy and Daddy had a Chinese and had no idea quite how quickly we can move when one food appears....Dizzy pulled a nest of noodles from the bottom and off Mummy's plate, munching at the speed of light. Of course, we were taught not to steal or beg and as soon as we are shown the rules, once is enough and we get it. But to begin with, Mummy and Daddy did say ''oh no. what have we done!'' as we seemed odd to them. Greyhounds move and do things in an excited fashion which can give the appearance of being wild or out of control, but actually we are creatures of habit and just as happy to unlearn any kennel or racing behaviour....so we say, if you adopt a hound then just give it a go for a week or so, and you will see that we fit into your way of life and we will love you like nobody else has ever loved you. it is common to get first time nerves when you have a child, or you adopt a new pup, but sadly unlike human babies who on the whole get to stay after one day whatever happens, we often get handed back to kennels by folks who think they made a mistake and a dog is not for them. We are big, we can be excitable and sometimes a little aloof if we have been passed around but all of that wears off so quickly and we learn to behave the way you want us too. After all, it is the submissive and gentle characteristics bred into us for racing and coursing which has made us the gentle and noble breed we are. No other breed could take what we have had to endure and turn out to be so loyal and stable. I would like to be an ambassador for the adopted greyhound. 



You might also find that we are not quite housetrained, but even that can be a worry but is easily corrected. It took me about one day to understand not to pee indoors, and then I got it. Dizzy took about 2 days. Mummy and Daddy took us out every hour on Day 1, every 2 hours on Day 2, and enforced the double toileting outdoors first thing in the morning, and last thing at night. All we needed was praise and a biccy, and if we did pee accidentally....we do not need any primitive behaviour please like rubbing our nose in it or spanking our bottoms. We just need you to say a firm 'No' and take us outside as quickly as possible with a command like ''In the garden''....and that explains it.
Often in racing kennels we are locked up for hours, so are allowed to pee in certain areas of our kennels so we don't immediately know we should not be peeing in your giant kennel too!

These kennels do such good work at rehabilitating dogs and getting them homed. There is a very happy atmosphere there and none of the dogs are distressed in any way as conditions are so favourable. They have lots of light, air, company, fuss, walks and trips out to the paddock to be outdoors. The only problem is, if these dogs do not find good loving homes then it will not make way for the hundreds of other dogs that need a home.
Whittingham needs to empty its kennels regularly and make way for new hounds in need.

They do have some residents, who get overlooked though which is a shame. There is a girl called Pixie, who is very sweet but has spent all her life of 8 yrs in kennels. With good health, she may have another 8 yrs if she is lucky, or at least 6...and it is a shame that she might never get to know what a sofa is like or have a loving family because of her age.

There is also a lovely, lively boy called Red who is a bit of a character called Red. He is 6 yrs old and that is getting dangerously near to the age that means he is a veteran and more likely to stay in kennels. He is a lovely red/fawn colour, has a short tail (his was too waggy too), and is cuddly and cannot wait to get out of his kennel for walks. 



Apparently, he can be a bit choosy about making friends with other dogs...and I know just how that can be. I am of Royal blood and a personage such as myself, could not lower themselves to talk to the underdogs like whippets, or jack Russells, or spaniels. And don't get me started on labradors. If one of those comes indoors, then I just have to show my teeth and complain to establish a correct working hierarchy.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Living as a Solo Dog, Doing Two Dogs' Jobs

Mummy and Daddy say I am a brave and independent little girl. A few times, when Daddy asks me if I want to go for a walk, I look around to see where Dizzy Rascal is and then remember that he is gone for good. Mummy keeps crying, Daddy is a bit quiet, and all I can do to help them is try to be twice the dog I was before. I am doing two dogs' jobs of looking after my bereaved humans. I have been exceptionally good, haven't even tried to get up the stairs at night except for Storm night.

OK, Storm Night....I could not help myself. The whole evening was spent with flashing skies and banging noises and it looked like Mummy and Daddy were ignoring it. Then we went to bed and it started again. I whimpered a little bit, just to alert them in case there was danger, and Daddy invited me up. It was a really hot and sticky night with not much room on the bed and I have never slept on the bed at night (well, except when Daddy goes away). I just threw myself on top of Mummy, dug my claws in, and then panted which shook the bed and sent hot breath down Mummy's neck. In fact, I was such a hot dog that Mummy was dripping in sweat and then was icy cold where it was evaporating! Eventually Mummy persuaded me to sleep in the middle, but it was a hot steamy night. This is the first time I have shown any fear of lightning  normally Dizzy helped me feel safe. he was a handsome boy too and always made me look good. Who would have thought this pampered pooch, on organic and mixed food diet and regularly exercised would have got a complicated illness so young? He was the picture of health this time last year.

Handsome Dizzy in the Snow 2008


I have been on a little trip to Whittingham Kennels and we took a dog called Sky for a walk, but he was not interested in me or Mummy and Daddy, he was a very aloof kind of boy. We like the big, bouncy confident boys...like our Dizzy Rascal. We don't want to replace him, who could? We just would like to meet other greys and get to know them and we are going there about once a week whilst Daddy is off work.


Our First Day at our new Home in June 2007


In September the Whittingham rescue kennels are having their roof redone and so need to empty each half of the kennel for a week at a time and put the hounds into temporary foster homes. So a greyhound will be coming to live with us for a week in September hopefully. Well, I have my faves and I might just fancy a black boy this time. What about these lovely chaps?


Charlie...he is 3 and very sweet and cuddly


Harry is 4


Cameo who is 3 yrs old  is sweet,
and a little bit shy like me, but very handsome


Rooney is 5 so closer to my age. He looks quite cheeky



See how I have gone for the toy boys? Anyway, this is just one local kennel of many.....If you did not want to adopt, or foster, they always welcome volunteer walkers once they know you.

Lily