Twitter nicknames are somewhat important as user names can be reused for multiple critters in succession. I inherited my Twitter user name from Lord Nick which explains the @nickgreyhound1 bit. But although I look somewhat like Nick and I’m young like Nick was in the beginning, I’m definitely not Nick. I deserve my own Twitter nickname. Sadly, I don’t get to pick it, head Moocher does.
- Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies, Lee Livingood, Wiley Publishing, Hoboken, NJ, 2002.
In the US, it is common for the adoption charities to issue you a dog. The adoption questionnaire asks about your preferences for gender, age, personality, etc and about your incumbent dogs and other housemates. Based on their knowledge of the shelter’s inventory, they pick one or more candidates for you to meet one at a time.
Rocky came about his name by accident. James River Greyhounds had originally matched us with a male named Rocky and I ordered a neighborhood tag for that name. When the hauler arrived in Richmond, Rocky was found to have a swollen foreleg in need of orthopedic surgery so Nestor replaced Rocky as the dog chosen for me. On meeting Nestor, it was obvious he hadn’t learned the Nestor name. Nestor was also hard to say. And this dog definitely was not of minor mythic character when we met. On first meeting, he was somewhat attentive to a cheerful voice but was not responding to his name. On arriving home, it was obvious that Nestor had no behaviors on cue. We were starting from scratch with the beast.
Rocky was a pain on the way home. I foolishly left my snacks in the front passenger position. About halfway home somebody’s nose detected them and Rocky kept trying to clamber into the front to ride shotgun, an unsafe position for a dog of his size. He plain didn’t fit. So I had to stop, store the goodies in the boot, and restore Rocky to his spot in the back seat.
When we got home, he unloaded nicely and walked into the back garden for me. I fetched Missy and let the two meet muzzled. I kept them muzzled for Sunday evening and part of Monday. They were getting on well so I took muzzles off for bedtime. Both piled into bed with me! And they got on. No harsh words. No snapping over crowding pokes. So it was apparent that Rocky and Missy could be a pair.
The Urban Dictionary gives the following definition of a gorm.
It was pretty clear Rocky had no concept of companion life and that we would have to start his training at the beginning.
One hungry hound
He was a genial and compliant creature but very hungry after a day of fasting on the haul. And foolish me, I fed a young male having a fast metabolism using the senior adult feeding rate chart. I had a very hungry dog on my hands for the first couple of days. He was very pushy about food stealing. He was continually trying to raid the worktops, easy when they are at eye level. And easy when you’re adept at hind leg stands.
So we got the bag out, checked the rate chart, and doubled Rocky’s ration. He was now eating four and one half cups per day, more than Nick plus Missy as adults. So a 24 pound bag of food is lasting about a week. I’m ordering food from Chewy and Amazon to maintain social distance during the pandemic emergency. So far, so good but I keep a bag on inventory and order when the scoop scrapes bottom for the first time.
So, Rocky the Gormless?
Yes for now because Rocky arrived with zero companion knowledge. He didn’t know his name. He didn’t even know “kennel” or “kennel up”. He had nothing on cue and limited indoor manners. He really has no concept of companion life.
Boot Camp Training
Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies by Lee Livingood is a pretty good guide to racing greyhound adoption and training for home life. It’s emphasis is on being a good companion rather than on passing an AKC Canine Good Citizen exam (sit, down, recall, stay). There is so much more to learn.
The first week has been a bit of a boot camp for Rocky. We’ve been working on the skills he needs to have to get along as a resident of Dismal Manor. He is hardly an idiot. He’s keen to learn but you have to figure out how to teach what he needs to learn. Fortunately, Dummies has guidance for most of the basics.
The important thing with greyhounds it to realize that they are not suck up retrievers. The will stay with you only so long before they loose interest. If it is not moving, it is boring. They learn a little at a time, a few repetitions at a time. So every interaction is a training opportunity to maintain a skill they have mastered or to work on a new skill or competence. So far, Rocky has made significant progress on the skills listed below.
- Learned to keep his head out of the toilet while the moocher is weeing.
- That his loo is outside.
- Not to sniff the ground under Missy’s aft end
- To lie down during meals.
- That there are pancakes to be had every now and again.
- That there is a regular meal plan and that he eats first, then Missy while he is at the loo, then the Moocher.
- Feet are to stay off work tops.
- To climb into the big bed
- How to fall off the big bed
- Safe hound areas on the not so big bed
- Moocher’s territory on the not so big bed
- Sharing not so big bed with Moocher and Missy
- His name “Rocky”
- That recall is a thing and that he sometimes gets a treat when he comes. It’s shaky and no greyhound will abandon a chase for a recall treat. But the idea is there and we can work on
- That he’s Missy’s wing man
- That there are squirrels to chase
- To ask to use the loo (or chase the squirrels).
- That, inside, there are glass windows between him and the squirrels.
- That skateboarders and cyclists are blighters to be chased at the fence. But not on lead outside the fence.
- That he is not small dog or cat safe at the moment. Small dogs on lead are menu items.
- To play with a noisy stuffy when frustrated.
- Wobbly KONG is great. It gives treats when tipped.
His next nickname?
Probably Radar after Mash’s Radar O’ Reilly. Radar was so named because he had a keen ear and was always first to call ‘choppers when a medivac flight was inbound to the pad. Rocky is the same way. He has an ear for Harleys, bicycles, skater kids on skateboards, Missy running the fence, and Missy calling tally ho at the fence.