Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Cruel Lampshades!

I will be very happy when these silly collars can safely be left off the hounds. They have both been neutered so have stitches, and poor old Dizzy actually had a stone wedged up inside his paw. They get over excited in the middle of the night if I nip to the loo and keep getting their lampshades wedged in silly places and need rescuing. Lily likes to lie behind Dizzy and then she bashes her head again and again clashing collars with him until she has managed to squash it into a shape that she can comfortably wedge down the back of the sofa.

These poor hounds probably think they have been rescued and subjected to more cruelty in their new homes than in their previous racing lives!

Dizzy much prefers to be covered up and pampered with my hippy scarf. It might be Glastonbury festival weekend
, but this hound is not camping outdoors!


Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lily Pinched my Alpaca Hummingbird!

No sooner had I been singing the praises of the greyhounds and their distinct lack of interest in my yarns when I discovered a pile of tangled mess and a half finished sock on the living room floor. Nooooooo!

I only went to the toilet for a few seconds, and Lily even poked her head round the door whilst I was there before Dizzy barged her out of the way and she ran off and secretly pulled out the very centre of my neatly wounded ball and obviously kept on doing it and doing it until my ball was inside out. What an unholy mess I found about 20 seconds later!

I had to get that ball rewound and so the socks which should have been finished today are not and a lot of my knitting work is b
ehind as a result (I am write knitting books and patterns for a living)

I thought I had constantly watched these two for weeks now, locking away bins, moving my yarns upstairs, putting lamp shade collars on their heads to stop them chewing their stitches. I am exhausted with my own vigilance, like a mother with two toddlers and when my partner comes home after being away I am going to be doing the old "It's your turn to watch them now, I've been doing it constantly..." routine just like a real
Mum.

Lily is a Tea Leaf (rhyming slang for thief if you didn't know), the little Minx! Is she part lurcher then? Or does the lurching of a lurcher come from the greyhound element? She has stolen so far; Piece of toast, half a banana, my yarn, biscuits as she leapt into a huge arc from standing, my slippers and covered them in drool, my sock, my knitting case....all in the space of a few days. I would guess that her confidence is coming out and this is what people mean when they say she is 'cheeky' i.e. 'naughty'! Look, she is even mocking me with those grinning lips and snaggly teeth. Very funny.



Saturday, June 23, 2007

Smooth Design
My new dog Dizzy was once called Smooth Design, and he ran 10 races bless him. His last race in December 2006 he won, and I wonder why he was retired. I was told he had a dodgy gait but actually, he had an ulcer on his pad and the vet has removed a stone wedged into his paw under anaesthetic so I wonder if Dizzy will be whizzing around the
enclosure next time we take him out. However fast he is, he is never going to race again and we will just have a private viewing of his speed.

You can find out more about Dizzy and your greyhounds from this database:

http://www.greyhound-data.com/db.php?i=1182349&time=1182615609

We even found a picture of his father, here he is, his name is Cool Performance.

Please note that I am interested in my own dog's history and what made his character like it is or led to his 'strange gait' and I hope you don't think I am condoning what goes on in the racing industry in any way by putting up this information.
Finally Nervebox Lily is beginning to Relax

This is our little nervebox, who used to either bolt or eye you suspiciously even whilst lying down. Last night we heard lots of grunts and groans and when we looked behind the sofa, this is what we found; Lily hogging the whole dog bed.

Just look at her toothy grin. I think she might be happy at last.


Friday, June 22, 2007

Poppy and Bailey Need Homes

Poppy

Poppy is a 4yr old fawn bitch greyhound, the same colour as Mick in the post below. She has been well trained and is loving affectionate and very playful. She is a retired racer from the Essex Greyhound Rescue service who has been returned from her permanent home due to her new owners divorcing and not having the time to look after her. She was being well cared for but walked and fed by outside helpers and as the one owner left thought this was not fair, they returned her to Julie to see if she could find her another permanent home with people that could spend more time with her. She has been vaccinated and micro chipped and is due to be spayed next week. She is available following a meeting, home check and if passed a donation to the Essex Greyhound Rescue. Bear in mind the costs of all of the vets bills when giving a donation.

Bailey

Bailey is the friend of Lily my greyhound. they came over from Ireland together as pups, they could be siblings as they are similar in stature and the same age and due to either neglect or ill treatment, they are mistrustful of strangers, especially men, and so are very nervous. However, as you can see from this blog Lily was able to come out of her shell and has started approaching men and absolutely adores my partner. She is easily handled, intelligent and easy to train now and it has been rewarding. Therefore, 22 mth old Bailey who is less nervous than Lily would benefit from having a loving patient home and perhaps would benefit from being homed with a more confident bitch or dog. |I can vouch that it is very rewarding if you have the patience when these dogs come up for a cuddle or a kiss and it is well worth the wait when they do! Bailey is a white, black and tan dog and has a sad and appealing face.

Although both of these dogs are looking for permanent homes, Julie is also open to the idea of fostering because it will help them adjust to the outside world and make them easier to rehome.

If you are interested, both these dogs are being kept in the Essex area and I can put you in touch with Julie if you leave your details here.

Lurcher Link Auction

Help Save Mick's Leg


Lurcher Link are raising money to fix Mick the lurcher's leg. The vet's bills are mounting up a bit, so go and look at the auction here and bid for some of the lovely doggie things that are going. http://www.lurcher.org/llink/forum This will help raise money for the bills.

Also, if you wanted to make a donation to this worthy charity, you can do so via PayPal if you wish. Kaye who runs the Lurcher Link service rescues lurchers all over the country, many of whom are on death row, and she tries to find them loving forever homes as well as sorting out all their behavioural and medical needs.The forum itself has a wealth of advice on living with lurchers and a lot of this advice is obviously relevant to greyhounds and other sight hounds too. It was through Lurcher Link that the lovely Sibs and Ian came to check our home and this reference was supplied to the greyhound rescue services through which we found our two doggies.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Holidays with Dogs

Holidays Booked At Last!


We have plans to take them on holiday, a cottage nr Bude on a wooded valley estate (www.mineshop.co.uk) running down to the beach at Crackington Haven (although beach is a no dogs beach from April-Oct). This is going to be our little cottage which sleeps 4, dogs are allowed at a cost of £15/week.
Then we are taking them to an inland valley farm called Little Comfort Farm
on a Christmas holiday in a little cotta
ge with a wood burning stove and then again for Sep next year.

We were lucky to find the cottage for Aug/Sep, these places get
booked up well in advance. If you have greys, and msot people have more than one, I would thoroughly recommend booking for next year now.

Going to the Vet

Doggie Hospital


Our greys are in Doggie Hospital today. They are being neutered, having nails clipped, vaccinations done, microchips and blood tests all under anaesthetic. dizzy is a little bit lame as he has an ulcer on his paw so he is having that looked at too.

The vet confirmed my suspicions that greyhounds are big babies and cry and shriek with the least bit of discomfort so it was best to get these things done whilst they are under.

The price for everything is going ot be £300 - £400 and I think that is very good considering it is a complete overhaul. This is a link to The Animal Ark.

Our vet Lyndon Basha was understanding of Lily's nerves and her hatred of men, although she is improving. She couldn't bear Dizzy getting all the attention and went in for a quick brush of her nose against our male vet's hands. He is going to give her time to come round to him, and avoid any traumatising events that might set her behaviour pattern in stone. Lily did not backflip, try to pull out of her collar or show any outward signs of nerves other than wariness to approach. I could feel her little heart pounding in her rib cage though. She does seem to settle well when with the pack (the two humans and two dogs).

Poor Lily despite having been treated f
or it, still has worms and I was horrified to see big flat pink things squirming about in her poo! I guess these are tape worms, although they had a curious hourglass type shape, must look into that. They have received more treatment for these today as a double up to treatment given by Essex Greyhound Rescue a few weeks ago.

We pick t
hem up later although have heard both have come out of anaesthesia and are perky. What a relief! My biggest worry is that they might think that this home was just another one of their many fostering places and so I can't wait to bring them here again and reassure them this is their forever home whatever happens.

Photos of Our Greyhounds

You can see more photos of our greyhounds here:


http://www.flickr.com/photos/steviesbigadventure/

Sunday, June 17, 2007

7 days later, Lily's Hardest Day Yet
Today we took my nervous hound Lily along with Dizzy Rascal to our local country park which was hosting the Race For Life event in which approx 2,500 women were running.
Of course, as we approached the edges of the park, we made sure that Lily slowly crept up on the crowded areas and we stopped at each point for a little rest until she had acclimatised. I was like a proud Mum, she was fantastic on the lead. Her face looked wary but she was looking at everything and taking it in. As the morning progressed, it got more and more busy but as the majority of people attending this event were women, then I think Lily had less reason to be nervous. I never once had to grab her by a very short lead. I did take the precaution of muzzling her because anything could have spooked her in a crowd and she might have snapped. Also, I know that her wearing the muzzle is more of a message to onlookers to be careful with this dog which is no bad thing.

What a gorgeous little star she was! We took her to the pub with us and she was calm but wary. Her confidence is growing, we are definitely progressing by going out as a pack, and the 2 of us and Dizzy acting as if there is nothing to fear so that she gets the message.

Now, I read an interesting thing in the RRG's for Dummies and it suggests using a safe word for loud noises and crashes. If something ends up being a bit noisy and it startles the hound, she will look at me for reassurance and I can either pretend I haven't noticed or I can make it known I have heard and that it doesn't bother me. So, when I opened my new tape measure and it made a ratchet-like noise, I said "Oh what a racket Lily isn't it" in a happy voice. This had the effect of her creeping further and further to the source of the noise and investigating rather than cowering or bolting. I used the safe words "What a racket" for most noises, and she seems to take this in. Her little brain is thinking "Mum told me that this loud noise is OK, even though I never heard it before". however, there was a lady in the pub car park talking to her friends, obviously having a good old bitch about someone and as it sounded venomous, no amount of encouragement would make Lily come forward to jump out the car. I did want to go over and complain about the disturbance of the peace, but thought never mind, Lils has to get used to this sort of thing. So I just kept saying "What a racket" until we were out of earshot. Lily had her hardest day yet, and was so tired and snoozy she slept through me massaging her pads and grooming her paws and claws. Bless her!



Dizzy Rascal gets more well...... rascally!

This boy has caught on to the fact that if he squeaks as if someone is murdering him, a person will stop from either embarrassment or real concern that they are injuring him. So, at the moment he is using it to delay going out for a late night bit of business in the garden, or sometimes he is just using it on our friends and continuing to cry like a baby until the cuddle him. However, I am fully aware that what is happening is firstly he is getting the better of us at home by not budging when we ask and secondly getting huge rewards for behaving like that from people who don't speak 'dog'. If I try to put a lead on him and drag him and he is having none of it, he makes a terrible gurgling coughing noise as if I am choking him. I thought I was! So I gently slipped a hand inside a very loose collar in the house and left it there, not even touching his throat or pulling and he started making fake choking noises. He has even done this before anyone has touched him! Whereas Lily's new confidence is progress, with this hound it is regress, to a puppy baby! An expert in handling greyhounds from the kennels where we got him said some greyhounds are like that,big babbies and they yelp and squeak before you have even touched them. It must be learned behaviour from a puppy which worked on humans and was rewarded.

It is very hard to train him out of habits already learned and prevention would have been key but he is 3 yrs old now and has been doing this for a while. Greyhounds do not respond as well to correction as other breeds would. They are sensitive so raising a voice makes them freeze, even a stern low voice can upset them. They also turn into statues if you try to push or pull them to encourage them and this is one of the reasons it is difficult to get them to do basic
obedience exercises. Everything becomes lure based but I feel like it is a bribe.

All I can do for the moment is completely ignore his yelps, but not touch him and when he does respond give him lots and lots of praise. I am not looking forward to obedience classes in that respect because last time we had a collie who was easy to push into a 'sit' or a 'down' and other positions and greyhounds just freeze under pressure. They can't really sit either, they just don't do that and they are stiff and awkward when plonking themselves into a down position. I do hope that the training instructor we get can understand a greyhound's special needs without thinking we are making excuses. Iam certainly not going to let a class instructor ruin the progress I h
ave made with Lily by making her do things she really is not comfortable with such as pushing her around rather than encourage her.


These gorgeous dogs just want to please, they do want to know what is expected of them, of course they can give you a bit of cheek but on the whole, they do love getting praise. My little Lily yelps with delight when she has done a poo or a wee and hops around whilst she is doing it because I am saying "Good girl" in a squeaky voice to her and she is so proud! Sometimes she will come back into the house to get me to follow her, just so I can see her doing the wee and praise her for doing it outside on command.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Learning New Words and Getting A Sight Hounds Eye Contact

I have introduced some useful things in the hounds vocabulary and have found that Lily (the nervous one) is quicker to pick this up than Dizzy Rascal. These are their new words. I thoroughly recommend reading Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies it seems to have a fairly balanced view and does help you to have higher expectations of a rescue dog than perhaps you would have had as you don't expect adult dogs to be so open to learning, but they are!

I have been working on trying to establish eye contact with them. They seem more interested in looking away than Border Collies, and I think it will be important to try and establish getting their attention as they are never going to listen to commands if they aren't interested in me. They get loads of praise when they are looking at me and I keep repeating the Watch Me command.

In the garden or Outside ( both means they must go outside on the lawn)
Toilet (they do a number one, normally straight away)
Do a Big One (they do a number two if they need one)
On your bed (they must go to their bed and have all 4 paws on it, I lure them then praise them)
Watch Me (means they must have eye contact and be ready for the next command, I am also luring them to do that)
Wait (they must freeze and literally wait, usually before having their

food, me opening the door, not the same as a formal stay for obedience)

The Clicker

I am not overloading them with new commands, just popping them in where they seem appropriate. I am also practising using a clicker. These are good because although praise is a good enough reward for a dog, sometimes you may say wait and a fraction of a second later they move whilst you are saying good boy/girl and they think the moving is what you wanted them to do.

So, the clicker is a reward marker, it means 'Yes that is right, I am goi
ng to reward you later for doing that'. So I started with calling their names, with a treat in my hand and when they came forward the moment I had their full attention I clicked and gave them the treat. Then I introduced a Watch me command so that when I called their name and they looked at me, they got a click followed by a reward. The eye contact to begin with can be so fleeting, that a click on that behaviour is the fastest and most accurate way of teaching them which of their many body, eye movements or other behaviours is good. Lily got this straight away, Dizzy is struggling to keep up, but he is struggling with his sight hound tendencies and male hormones bless him and he is older than Lily. Lily is still a pup at 20 months.

Rewarding them for being Quiet


I am also introducing a Quiet command. I recommend using this with caution. how may times do you hear a person shrieking Be Quiet, Stop it to a hound who is constantly barking. Of course, what is happening there is that the Quiet command is interpreted to mean Please Bark because that is exactly the behavior that is going on when you ask your dog to do this, he doesn't know you mean the opposite of what he is doing.

Teaching them not to jump up

The same goes for the Get down or just Down friends will repeatedly say this as your hound is jumping up at them so that is exactly what he thinks it means, please jump up!.

We use the command off, mainly because later on we will want the dog to learn a down command but that will mean lying down, not confused with this. We have said off to Dizzy as he is bouncy. so what we do is remove his paws from us, place them on the floor and then say Off, Good Boy and make loads of fuss while he has all 4 feet on the floor, he doesn't jump up at me any more but like most dogs, they can learn that behaviour with their owners, but test out each new person as it is different rules. So, they are really not that different from toddlers trying to assert their personalities and find the get out clauses.

I don't have hounds who bark a lot but Dizzy does a bit of whining when I am up the stairs, so I have been hiding around the corner and rushing down and clicking when they are quiet and making a fuss. If I hear whining, I go into the bedroom and shut the door. They don't want that so they are being quiet to try to make me come back to them and reward them.

Lily and her nerves

Lily has had a bit of training regarding her nerves and we have introduced her to new things but she has met her limit when I tried to walk onto the main road around our corner, she could hear big buses and a lot of traffic and could see men standing around so she became uncontrollably jumpy so I had to back up to the place she was comfortable, and get her to take it all in at a distance. We will get there in the end, i would like a companion I can take everywhere who will enjoy being with me so I think she will be capable of that one day. I must not betray her trust in me though, I must have patience and show her that nothing bad will happen but if I go too fast, she will lose that confidence. She is starting to calm down a bit with Steve as well,and we don't have bolting around the house. She does sometimes get a bit jealous of Dizzy or a bit stressed and she responds by going and marking his bed, just a little squirt (never her own bed though).

Dizzy being totally dizzy

Dizzy is asserting the power of his full strength though, when he decides he doesn't want to go outside for a wee, he pushes his bottom down and legs back into the floor and if I give even the lightest tug on his collar he starts yelping as if I have really hurt him. At first I thought I had, then one time I went near him to put a lead on and he didn't want to go because it was raining and he yelped before I had touched him. He is learning that if he does this, I can't budge him and I am worried that he will get his own way and I will have a habit which makes him uncontrollable on his walks. I must avoid him knowing he has the power over me at all costs. He does have a little whine as well if either of us goes out of sight. he is a big baby.

Separation Anxiety Training

Today, I must pop round the corner to go to the post office, so they must stay in and get used to that. I should be gone about 10 minutes or so. I can already go upstairs to my little office and work without much bother. The Godsend with these hounds is that they love to snooze and rest whereas a collie would get bored and destructive. I am going to see them every hour or so, and have a cuddle. They don't yet know how to play but we are trying with kongs and ropes, eventually they will become playful but it might take a few weeks before they are 100% relaxed.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Lily and Dizzy's first proper day

The greys have been with us less than 24 hours. Already they have sorted out that Lily gets the special furry bed and Dizzy gets the old duvet. They know where everything is that they need and had a quiet night.

We had problems with Lily bolting when off the lead but we took the decision to ignore this and whenever she is near we grab her cuddle her and give her the biccies so that she learns that being near us is no bad thing. When she is on the lead, she is the complete opposite and turns into a shy but tame little girl walking by my side on a loose lead.

We went out for a mid morning walk, they loved it. Lily showed signs of nerves every time we were near strangers but I made an effort not to avoid them and to just carry on walking normally.

After an enjoyable walk, I did notice that Lily has not been relaxed enough to do a proper wee and a number 2, far too nervous but stimulated as well. Neither one of them were interested in treats oudoors there was so much for them to think about.

Then, we went to the pub for lunch and the two were quite happy being tied to the table legs. Dizzy whined a bit, mainly because of the smell of our sausages. Lily was very well behaved and kept coming to je for a cuddle. I have developed a particular mannerism which is her hand signal for coming to me now. She prefers that at the moment to her name being called for some reason so I can just tap my thigh or hip twice and she is there in a few seconds.

I am just aout to take her on a little walk now past the school so she will hear children's voices and then we are going to walk into the vets, register her, weigh her then walk out again. Just as a little bit of training.

I think with her temperament, she responds well to be handling gently but consistently and looks to us for signals of whether or not she should be behaving fearfully, if we pretend we haven't noticed and behave as if everything is completely normal, then she tends to settle. I don't look at her or face her and try to pull the lead when she does the backing off and flipping her head from side to side like a horse. I just slowly but steadily walk forward and then she starts to trot by my side.

I love these dogs to bits. In 24 hours they have learnt where their food and water is or coming from, where to poo and wee, where to sleep, commands like NO and wait and come here, their names and all sorts of other things difficult to describe.

I can honestly say, greyhounds make wonderful pets, I can see no reason why these two won;t just get better and better. We have yet to leave them in the house on their own, that could cause a bit of challenge, they may get frustrated quickly and chew something or they could just climb on the sofas and snooze. I will be trying out some separation training on Wed, for the moment they are just having their acclimatisation days where we do a normal routine for those days and they join in. I work from home, so will only be going out for short breaks anyway.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

They're Here!



Hardly got a moment to blog with these two around, even when they are sleeping I just want to sit and watch them. How daft is that???

The brindle boy is now called Dizzy Rascal and is very cuddly and the Blue and White girl is Lily, she is such a princess.






Now Lily doesn't like men normally, but somehow Stevie is getting all the cuddles! I've worked out that it depends on where you sit, she has her eye on all the escape routes and if you are blocking them, she won't come near you. so this chair is the magic chair as far as petting the dogs go.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Update: Valdi has now been homed and is very happy as the only dog with a lady who has horses and fields.

However, Julie has many other dogs who have retired form racing as well as dogs who have never raced at all. Contact her
01702 460631 and ask for Julie of Essex Greyhound Rescue or email me erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk

A Gentle, Loving and Easy Going Hound Needs a Home

Click here for more information about ValdiHome Urgently Required for Valdi

"My name is Valdi I'm a small black greyhound and my foster Mum says I am a very nice dog who is friendly with everyone. I need to be in a home on my own without any other dogs as I really want all the love and and attention for myself and I do deserve that after spending all my life in kennels. This isn't me, but this is a photo of a greyhound who is similar to me.

Is there any one who could offer a foster home to me? No offers as of yet have come forward for me and if I was in a foster home for a little while it would make me very happy as I currently live in kennels and don;t see much of the outside world or comfy sofas. I'm not too keen on other dogs so it will have to be a home where there are no other animals

You can see many more dogs like me that need good homes, some are dogs who have never raced and some are dogs who are no longer interested in chasing. Many dogs get on with other dogs well as they are used to sharing kennels with a friend. Go here to see them or email Erssie for more information about dogs in the Essex area.
http://www.galr.co.uk/dogs.asp
"

I rescued our two dogs from Julie and I can afford to have the dogs spayed and neutered, vaccinated and microchipped as sadly she does not have the funds to do this for all her dogs but doing this will be a condition of you being able to offer a home. These services are already carried out by the Retired Greyhound Trust as they are a registered nationwide charity with a lot of support and if you take a dog from their kennels, they will advise you what their minimum fixed donation is to go part way to covering that cost although you are welcome to donate more. Julie who runs Essex Greyhound Rescue runs a one woman service and alone has rescued somewhere in the region of 300 dogs over the past 5 years and she does not ask for a fixed fee, just a loving home for her hounds and a donation.