Friday, October 31, 2008

Yipee, we got the all clear!

Lily has had surgery, 4 lumps were removed and all diagnosed as cysts or benign skin/blood tumours called Hamartomas which rarely cause problems like cancers. Her vulva biopsy though showed a chronic thickening and inflammation within the folds so we have to wash and dry her and put nappy rash cream on. Talk about a child substitute!

We are so relieved, and she was so brave despite being bruised, scarred, stitched and poorly. We are proud of her. She seems to be getting over her 'man phobia' as well and is following any man that has a biccie in his hand!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Lily Update
We picked her up Wed eve. Poor Lils has been in the wars, lots of bald patches and stitches as well as having had internal biopsies and scans. Now we have to wait until biopsies are back to find out whether the skin tumours are sarcoma, or benign. Her behaviour though was impeccable, she was confident and allowed other people to handle her and the vet introduced her to his daughter who now wants a greyhound of her own. She was s excited to be home and have all her home comforts and it reminded us of how good life is for her here even if she does sometimes act a bit princessy!

The other strange thing is that the vet started to explain that her urine test showed an inability to be able to concentrate the urine.....and I had deja vu.
I had been told the exact same thing, and in fact after some hideous tests I was diagnosed with Cranial Diabetes Inspidus which is a very rare problem with kidneys not concentrating urine and losing water, and being thirsty as well as peeing ALL the time and even incontinent (sorry to go into the pants region here).

Now DI, is so very rare, so what is the chances of Lily and I having the exact same thing? It is not a transferable condition.

This means that as well as me having to get up to pee throughout the night and getting thirsty and drinking, Lily is doing the same thing. She needs to pee about twice once at around 2-3am and another around 4am and then again at around 5.30 am. So I trudge down the stairs, totally shattered and let Lily out go myself have a couple of hours kip and then up to do it again....It is so tiring I am starting to feel ill....wait a minute, I am feeling ill already! I do hope that we can sort Lily out and perhaps give her some replacement hormone further down the line.

And I really hope that Lils doesn't have a nasty skin problem. She is so cute lying there with her A K Creations custom made pyjamas; red with little sheep on.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lily

Lily is a white dog, in that she has a lot of white fur which is quite thin in paces over her skin. This has caused us a bit of worry and so we have used sunscreen to help stop the sun's rays doing harm to her skin. As you may know, white animals are particularly prone to skin cancers.



A while back, Lily had a mole/scab that kept bleeding on her flank and we pointed it out to the vet who said it looked like a mole which had been caught and we should keep an eye on it. We did and it never healed, you can see here it looks like it has a bruised ring around it.

Last week just as a routine we took her to have it checked out because it worried us. The vet said we were right to be concerned, and he wanted to take it off as soon as possible and have it biopsied. From its appearance and behaviour, he diagnosed it as either a hemangioma or a hemangioma sarcoma, the first word meaning a benign blood/skin tumour and the second word meaning a malignant one. Both look the same and it is 50%/50% as to which one of these Lily has. The nasty kind if left untreated can spread to liver, lungs and kidneys and can be very aggressive.

Of course we are hoping like mad that it turns out to be a plain hemangioma
Both look absolutely identical though, little blisters that can burst and bleed and have a reddish or purplish appearance.

If your own greyhound gets one of these, don't panic they seem to be fairly common but do get it checked out like we are.

Fingers crossed for tomorrow!!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tilly

Poor Tilly had an injury, and needed a leg removed right up to the shoulder. Julie, her rescuer was really worried about her balance. However, I can report that Tilly has recovered from her amputation and is flying around so fast, she isn't allowed out in the garden with other dogs in case she knocks her wound. This is just proof that a 3 legged hound can be just as good as a 4 legged one and one less leg is not a reason to put them to sleep.

As far as I know Tilly is still up for adoption, so anyone in the UK who wants a three legged hound contact me as an enquiry.

Friday, October 3, 2008

My Hounds really are gorgeous!


Lily's confidence is growing and growing and she has even started to give male strangers a little investigative sniff, rather than backing off and trying to escape. However, she is still cautious, but that is what makes her such a well behaved girl and we can let her off the lead and she comes back when called. She doesn't wander far, especially not from her favourite person in the world....(not me! Her Daddy!!)

I noticed in these pics though, that she has grown into a proper woman and is not so much of a puppy to look at, although she is still pupp-like in her behaviour.




We took the hounds away twice to our favourite cottage in Devon. We also went to the beach at Kessingland in Suffolk (above) for my birthday, then went and had tea and sandwiches at Southwold and had a stroll along the seafront by the beach huts.

It was an unusually warm and sunny day, the first bit of 'summer', on 27th september but sadly it didn't last.



Now I have to get all sad about being a year older AND the winter coming on. It is always the same if your birthday is in September. I have moved as well from being in the early part of a decade agewise, to the middle, and can be called middle aged now.


Thursday, July 31, 2008

Fostering a greyhound.....

Essex Greyhound rescue have a dog called Morgan who needs to be fostered for about 3 mths. I don't have the full information but please do contact me if you are based in the UK, in the South East or don't mind driving to Essex.

You can email me erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk for more details.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Minky and Spook

UPDATE: MINKY AND SPOOK HAVE FOUND NEW HOMES...HOOORAY
GOOD LUCK KITTIES IN YOUR NEW LIFE.......YOU WILL BE MISSED BUT I AM SURE YOU WON'T MISS THEM OR WANT FOR ANYTHING

I know, they aren't greyhounds!! However Minky and Spook are desperate for a new home. Their owner is leaving the country and the cats were supposed to go to a family member who has let them down at the last minute. Her heart is nearly breaking with worry about what happens to the cats, and she can't leave the country til they are settled. She really does not want them to go to a shelter or charity. So, if you can give 2 kitties a home, pop over to her blog

Monday, July 7, 2008

Our Holidays



We have just been on our holidays. We went to Devon again to our favourite farm cottage. As promised, the farmers were able to give us one of their fallow fields which was a meadow right at the top of their land with gorgeous views over the valley.


It was completely enclosed and we are excited to announce that the greys were let off for a proper run.
For a while now, Lily being nervous has been in her favour when let off the lead because she doesn't want to stray far from her favourite person (Daddy) and she gets a regular run but poor old Dizzy could not be trusted. We let him off just once, and he bolted so we were restricted to using enclosed fields.


Steve did some good work with him. He was allowed off the lead in the enclosed field and then we just ignored him. First of all Dizzy stood looking confused, then had a short sprint followed by a little rest where he had to lie down in the field. We used whistles and biccies to get him back, but he showed only mild interest in both. Over the course of the week, we became more and more confident as he was let off and just walked beside us LIKE A NORMAL DOG!!


We can't tell you how exciting that is. Since then, he has walked off the lead in the middle of our park, for a very short burst, and he does not show the urge to bolt but we will continue with caution.
It was so lovely to see the dogs running together. Lily wanted to chase and have fun and kept nipping his snout like every other bitch and Dizzy just wanted to run on his own. Their legs move so fast, you can see the power but not appreciate the beauty of it until you see the still frames.

Dizzy looks like a kangaroo though, and we are on the verge of renaming him Skippy, the bush Dog-a- Roo. See how at certain points though, the dogs actually mirror each other's movements. You can see them studying each other then falling into synch by the side of each other. Beautiful! If only we had a field here at home.

Thursday, May 8, 2008


Lily has another double

I couldn't believe my eyes when Lily's dad showed me this pics, Lily has a double. She is nervous like Lily, about a year older with all the same traits....could they be sisters? Lily above, and her double Brodie below!!

Sunday, April 6, 2008


Dogs That Need Adopting

Please go here, as soon you will see some new pics of dogs that need adopting. There are about 13 dogs at Essex Greyhound Rescue in need of adoption, and two of these are the brother and sister of our own dog the lovely blue brindle Dizzy.

They are both chocolate brindle, similar colour and markings to the picture above. Both ex racers age 4 and are looking for a loving home together. If you think you can give them a home, then do contact me. Also, there are the other 11 dogs there, that desperately need to be found homes. Not only to benefit them, but to free up some kennel space for other dogs in need of fostering.

I will be taking pics of all the dogs looking for homes, and putting up details here as well as on my Flickr Gorgeous Greyhounds Gallery site.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Greyt Sweaters!





I am a part time knitwear designer and pattern writer, and goodness knows my hounds could do with covering up, but I just don't find the time to hand knit for my hounds, especially a full size sweater for a 32 Kg dog and a 25 Kg dog! On my searches to see what is out there, I came across a website advertising machine knit sweaters, and they are called Greyt Sweaters and I know I shouldn't really be advertising someone else's knitwear business, but I had to give her credit for the best knitted dog sweaters I have seen for a long time.

















Considering the time it takes to hand knit and make clothes, these are so reasonable in price even though they are machine knitted, see below. I cannot resist and I think that Lily would look good in either Blue, or as she is a little Madam (nickname: Mads) and a princess (her wish is our command) perhaps she would look good in elements of pink, or fucshia.



Dizzy Rascal I can imagine in the urban black and white. Now though, I have to go off and measure my hounds which is when they usually decide to lean against me, move or lie down or jump up and down as any movement in the afternoon could mean dinner is imminent!

Laney, who makes these glorious Greyt Sweaters, donates part of her p
roceeds to a greyhound charity.
She also makes these sweaters for whippets. They are all custom fit and custom designed, with a buttoned chest panel which is ideal for those dogs who get a draught right on their baldy bits on walks!
You could also, if you wanted to, wear a light waterproof mac on top of the coats.
Prices for a Greyhound are UK GB£34.50
Prices for a Whippet are UK GB£29.50
Postage UK £3.50
See website for other details of postage for the rest of the World
and how to measure your hound properly




She has also mad
e sweaters for the Beastly Beasts.

The Beastly Beasts are a group of hounds who go to events and promote charities related to rescuing greyhounds, they are literally' hounds who help hounds' and you can read about all their adventures on their website, as well as get medical and healthcare tips and find out about the arithmetics of racing. I too have the same misgivings as these dog owners with regards to the racing industry, and reading that article confirms what I have seen.

I know that Julie from Essex Greyhound Rescue
often intervenes to take on challenging dogs difficult to home, or bounced from many kennels and homes and without her those dogs might well have 'disappeared' and could well have been the fate of at least one of my dogs, who did not appear to be officially registered from a pup, despite having some ear tattoos.

If anybody feels moved to donate to a lady who single handedly with little funding has rescued about 300 dogs over the past couple of years, I do collect funds for her, and you can donate by sending money to me
via PayPal username erssiemajor@yahoo.co.uk
100% of your donation goes directly to the hounds for food, medicine or vets bills.
I swallow any admin or bank charges
Julie also always has about 20 dogs to choose from for adoption aged from pups who can't be trained for racing (usually from 12mths onwards) to ex racers who are just not fast any more. She is always looking for people to foster dogs that are wasting away in kennels so if you feel moved to take on a dog, even temporarily, either myself or Julie can homecheck you if you are in the Essex area. Email me to find out more.



Anyway, back to the Beastly Beasts, on their walkies above, their website also has useful links, follows individual stories of rescued hounds and talks about large dog agility, walks, meets and greets and shows. One criticism of the site, just a tiny one, perhaps it is me being silly but I can't seem to find one page which has future events. I would like to meet the beasts, their owners and join in some communal greyhound fun.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Choking or Inhaling Food

It can be a common problem for sight hounds, in their greediness, to eat their food so fast that they can inhale kibble pieces up their nose or in their windpipe. When we had only been living with Lily for a few weeks, Steve was feeding in her in the kitchen and called me in a frantic voice as Lily was choking and she could not clear the obstruction. The noise was horrendous, and blood came out of her nose. Steve picked her up and smacked her rib cage and she eventually coughed up more blood and the offending piece of kibble and wet fish. I reckon there was every possibility Lily had it stuck in her windpipe, but also her nose, thank goodness it has only happened once in 10 months now.

I can confirm, that after talking to some vet nurses and read other sources, that the SPCA advice for doing the Heimlich Maneuver for Dogs , really is the right way. You have to aid the dog to cough up as well as let gravity give it a bit of an advantage. I don’t have the strength to lift Lily pads totally upside down and swing her, but I do support her shoulder, put my hand round middle, and lift back legs up so her head points downwards. Then I pat the ribs, whilst saying "Cough it up" and after having done this 3 times now since we have had her, she does breathe in and give out a really big snorty cough on demand.



Thankfully, she is quite a quick learner when it is anything to her advantage. She does not seem to be in a state of panic though as once she has coughed up, even when there was blood she just went back to her food greedily.



These are the things that made the situation worse: for Lily, I can't say it is the same for every dog

Increasing size of kibble
Wetting kibble or adding water
Mixing any other food with the kibble
Feeding her side by side with another dog
Allowing anyone to stand near her, or lead her to think the food is going to be taken up
Being given her food first, where she thinks she has a fair chance of scoffing in time to go over to another dogs bowl

What helps Lily:

Choosing a medium sized round kibble rather than the pointy triangular kind or very small pieces
Choosing a kibble that has a fair amount of oil
Avoiding kibble that is dry and dusty or cracks easily
Giving the food dry i.e. no water
Giving the food plain, without mixing in any other food. Fish, eggs, supplements or meat put in a different bowl
Feeding her away from the other dog, and well after the other dog so it is not direct competition
Letting her eat in peace without people crowding round (especially strangers)
Putting bowl onto a chair, where she has to reach the head upwards a bit to get food
Over time, Lily learning that we are not going to take food away, or she will not lose food to siblings (she was kept in a field like cattle at some time in her life and had to fight for her food)
Teaching Lily to take food politely at all other times, and training her not to snap at it convulsively*

What made absolutely no difference to Lily but might be worth a try for some dogs

Putting things into her food like chains/balls, or dividing food into sections
Feeding by hand one at a time (she can still inhale single biccies in her greediness)
Putting bowl onto a dog feeding stand (still too low, see above)
Putting bowl onto floor (as some people had suggested stands are worse for choking, not so with Lils)

A bit off topic, but this was our training for snapping as Lily used to snap at fingers in her eagerness to get a biscuit when hand fed during training. We have taught her to do this less in the following ways:

Close hand over kibble tightly, let her sniff around hand

Open hand slowly, and if she does snap and make contact say “OW!” in a really loud yapping voice so she knows she has caused pain

When she has stopped snapping/mouthing and is just gently licking, open fingers slightly and allow her to tease the biscuit out gently.

Always use the “OW!” reflex when teeth contact with flesh, even during play when it might be an accident. Dogs communicate this to each other, and it teaches good manners. Greyhounds are very very precise, there should be no such thing as accidental teeth on fingers, they are being unnecessarily clumsy or disrespectful when they do this and they can if they want, avoid your fingers even in play.

I can report, we rarely have any teeth contact from Lils now, and to think she was totally feral and unhandleable and bitey about 6mths ago!


Monday, February 18, 2008

How are we all Doing?
Getting to Know each other...


Well, we have got to know each other very well, and we gel as a pack now. The behavioural problems of Lily are practically non existent and we have had obedience, good toilet behaviour, and excellent recall from her and she can be let off on her walks! Not advisable for ex racers though, so I don't recommend this with a dog like Dizzy. Ex racers run in a straight line and can run for miles and end up running in traffic. Lily never raced, and being nervous stays close and does what we call a circle of joy, and her little smiling head bobs up and down as she dashes around us. If something spooks her, she comes in for the security of the pack and looks to us all to defend her rather than run away.

A greyhound will grin, and this is not at all a sign of aggression
but more a sign of being totally relaxed

No more fear or aggression and lots of Nose kisses....

So what about the biting, the backing off and the throwing herself against the wall? Most of the anxiety causing this has been greatly reduced. Lily adores Steve (and he is a man) and she is curious about strangers, rather than terrified. She still paces around and wants all escape routes open when we have a new visitor, but little Lils will wait until the visitor is concentrating on us with his back to her, and she will trot up and do what I call a 'nose kiss'. The nose kiss is used for her to show her approval of a new person, just one touch on the hand or the back of legs with a cold wet nose and then she retreats. She will then come in for more nose kisses, each one lasting longer than the last and eventually she might even let someone stroke her neck.

What would we advise for nervous dogs when visitors come?

I would advise, if your dog is like ours, that when a visitor comes in and the dog shows signs of anxiety and stress like pacing, circling, panting, that your visitor does not look at the dog or pay any attention to it. This would just re-inforce the anxiety. What seems to work with us is for the visitor to completely ignore the dog, and allow the dog space and freedom to back off. Never let your visitor corner a dog like this, or like my father keep badgering and chasing after a kiss or a cuddle. Some new visitors will say they love dogs and have experience and lunge in for a cuddle, or pester the dog. However, the dog does not know of experience. Their anxiety tells them to exercise caution, they will see the visitor approaching as a sign of dominance or aggression and this can have disastrous results. Your dog always uses the pack mentality rules, they will look to other members of the pack, especially the leaders to see how they react to a visitor and if they see the visitor relaxed, facing you, chatting, invading your space rather than theirs but see that you have accepted them, then they become curious and even start wanting to come and say hello themselves.


Nosy Girl!

Other meanings of the Nose Kiss...Learning to speak 'Dog'

Lily also uses the Nose Kiss to express her need to go to the toilet outside. The Nose Kiss means 'Attend to Me', that cold wet touch on my hand alerts me to her, then she looks me full in the face and I say "Does she want to go out?" and she nods her head upwards in the air, sometimes with a suppressed "Roo" and that means "Yes". Then the Nose Kiss may be used again if she is desperate for a 'toilet' but I am not moving fast enough. She dashes ahead, circles around, and touches my hand faster and more frequently, which hurries me up.

Dizzy learns to come down the stairs, as well as go up!
Greyhounds from kennels, may never have attempted stairs, so make sure you can lift them down as they will climb up and get vertigo and 'statue' i.e. freeze and get stuck!

Eager to please...the difference between collies and greyhounds

We have found that greyhounds can be very willing to please, they may pick things up at a slightly slower speed than our previous border collie but then there is a fundamental difference in how they use the learning. Border collie's quickly learn to do something, and then quickly learn ways of not doing that thing if it doesn't suit them. They manufacture loopholes in the contract. You might ask them, for example, to go and do their toilet in a paved garden on holiday and they will say "Ah, but last time you asked me to go on grass, I don't see any grass here, so perhaps I can forget that rule?" A better of example of that is begging at the table. We said categorically no to that trait with our BC, but, he would beg at the table of my parents. He might argue that we taught him not to beg to us, and when there are new people, the rules do not apply, and if they did they must be reinforced by my parents.

Greyhounds as creatures of habit

Greyhounds, take their time taking in the meaning of what you ask, then they modify their behaviour slowly to adjust to what you really intend, and then bingo, when they have hit the jackpot, they can't stop doing that thing. Creatures of habit, once you have made them learn a command, they will want to carry it out and the only thing that over-rides the command, is not a desire to find a loophole around it and then displease us, it will be the overwhelming instinct of FOOD only that breaks down a greyhounds behaviour into mayhem.

Food V Good Behaviour

However, even when the battle between wanting your food and wanting to please you is going on, you can still find that greyhounds after an initial feral fuss over the food on your plate, will go and quietly lie down whilst you eat.

I would strongly advise, never feeding straight from the table (I know we all crack up and do that occasionally) but if your hound is on their bed, lying there with big saucer pie eyes, and they are quiet (suppressed rooing doesn't count, nor does any faint nose whistling) then you can reward them with a treat on their bed, whilst reinforcing the command "On your bed, what a good girl/boy, On your bed". This is so much better than throwing stuff to snapping hounds from the table.

Dizzy is allowed on the sofa as a very special treat. Remember that in Dog Language, sit on my sofa is interpreted as, you have been promoted to pack leader, and you might find a greyhound's behaviour becomes bossy or unacceptable in other areas. E.G, we had a few snaps when we tried to get the dogs off the sofa for any reason, and this was out of character so we had to regulate when and where the dogs sleep.

Patience is Key...Not all greys like to sit

Your greyhound does have endless patience, and a sense of nobility and loyalty. Some people may find their greys do not like to sit, and with ours, it was causing great distress and Dizzy even screeched and snapped at my head thinking I was trying to hurt him. We decided, after a couple of months trying, that we would not enforce the 'Sit command'. Our greys behaviour was more advanced than the sit command, but not being able to sit easily held them back and way behind the smallest of puppies in training classes; we didn't find it dignified in the end. If you are trying to teach them something, and they don't seem to be getting it, don't abandon your efforts. They will surprise you and suddenly get something you would have thought impossible.

Table Manners

An example of this, is teaching our hounds to behave respectfully over their dinner habits. Our dinner behaviour went something like this:

Day 1: Cupboard and food noises in the kitchen causes hounds to dash frantically underfoot and climb the surfaces like mountain goats and snapping at anything going like a couple of turtles.

Day 2 onwards: We decide that the hounds must give us time to prepare food without tripping up and snapping at any crumbs in the air. Steve holds the hounds on the kitchen step, outside the kitchen doorway, and I use the command out.

Day 3: We keep repeating the 'Out' Command, and keep them there even when the food is put down for them to eat. Steve puts a hand in front of their chest but not touching, and lets go of their collars whilst I say 'Out'. First of all they charge forward as soon as they are let go, but his hand stops and corrects them and pulls them back

Day 4 onwards: Steve increases the time he releases them and then corrects them.


Day10 onwards the hounds finally get the idea they must stand outside the kitchen, and must only come for their food when released.


Day 14: After about 2 weeks of this training, the dogs can stand quietly (but saliva dripping) on the step, outside the kitchen, and we can put their bowls down and they can stand their waiting to be released. The self control, when food is down there on the floor, is so powerful.

Peeep! Peeep! Peeep! thunder, thunder thunder (8 paws in motion)

Day 30 ish: Once they understand their need to be respectful at dinner times, they start to enjoy doing this and then when released, their food is the best and biggest reward they could have. We introduce a dog whistle, we blow on the whistle for three long peeps after mentioning their name, and we stand near their food, so this reinforces the recall and introduced a whistle command which means "Come her as fast as you can" as whistles will carry across the park on a windy day, and will excite them but not trigger the prey instinct as much squeakers and squawkers.

We all Speak Dog...

Training for our two greys, is quite relaxed. Lily is quicker than Dizzy, but has slight BC traits of picking and choosing when to hear a command. On the whole, we have got to know each other, and we all speak Dog albeit with slightly different dialects (Greyhound Dog, Human Dog, Border Collie Dog).

Playbow T-Shirt available on http://www.greytwear.com/

Will You Play With Me......

Many dogs from kennels, will be buoyant and playful, but not actually know how to express that apart from rushing around like a mad thing. I have always felt strongly that dogs learn to behave the way we would like, not by fear and punishment but by play and reward.

However, dogs often come home and initially do not know how to play. It took a while, but we got our dogs to play. I would recommend, having something soft like an old sock, and throw it high in the air, then catching and running with it, the movement often triggers their chase and play. You can let them mouth the sock, but with supervision only as my vet says a grey left alone with a sock will chew the whole thing and can get obstructions.

Rhinestone Grey T available from http://www.greytwear.com/

When your dog it in a playful pose, front paws down and tail in the air, you can go and pat the bum lightly, or give it a gentle nudge and in dog, this means "Will you play with me? Chase me go on!” Get down on the floor with them, even do a play bow yourself, get their interest focused on you, and control that toy, letting them have it, then them letting you take it away. Don’t stand for any aggression or territorial behaviour over a toy, either with you or other members of the pack. Playing can all turn a bit nasty if the dogs have pent up energy and turn on each other, so do distract them from this if you can! If you make sure as well that you don't play close to dinner, either before or after and leave about an hour and half, this is safer for your dog’s metabolism and they won't get bloat. Each day, you may get a slight bit of interest in play, and this will increase each time. A dog that can play on its own, with toys you have provided (and you know are safe to leave with them) is a happier dog and won't miss you so much if you have chores to do in a different room.