Rocky’s 2021 Reunion

Saturday October 2, Rocky, Missy, and Dismal Wizard clambered aboard Das Auto to make the 2+ hour trip to Mechanicsville Virginia where James River Greyhounds, was having its first reunion of the COVID-19 era. In 2020, public health travel restrictions canceled that year’s reunion.

Rocky was a good traveler. I stopped trying to ride shotgun or in the driver’s lap. But I did stand from home to Williamsburg, about half the trip.

Anyway, Siri got us there, eventually. Badly mispronouncing the the Native American named road. And she tried to take us in at the far end of the circle where there were 5 county roads and a couple of private farm roads to confuse us. None of these were identified using the the name Siri was mumbling. Great fun. Anyway, we doubled back after giving her a stern lecture she pretended not to understand.

It Was a Typical Reunion

Our gathering was a typical greyhound picnic with food, silly contests, vendors selling wares, and did I say food. And cake! and Ice cream. We had a perfect day, cool with sun and a breeze. And shade! This frame is from a pan around the largish lawn. Off camera to the right, the terrain drops to another field this size. The residence back garden is fenced for dog prowling with multiple wading pools set up.

People and dogs everywhere

We all roamed around chatting dogs before settling in a shady spot.

There were marshmallow runs!

While we were training on the farm and at the track kennel, we would do speed work every now and again. We would go to a long, narrow run. At the far end, a trainer squawked a squawker. The trainer minding us would slip us and we would run buster to the squawker. The squawker operator would produce a marshmallow. We’d eat our marshmallow and catch our breath. Then we’d be called back to the start by squawker and receive a second bribe.

Marshmallow run still

While publicist was putting this together, he was editing the video to extract these stills. As the video played, foolishly with the sound up, I started going crazy and demanding bribes. The squawking recalls some pretty powerful memories as it was used a fair bit to get us to run. There was a way to rig it on the lure machine so it would squawk….

James River Greyhound needs donations

Anyway, we had fun and I had Dismal Wizard start a monthly donation to JRG as they are running a loss this year. With COVID-19 and the end of live wagering in Florida, the economics of adoption have changed. While wagering was on, the track would fund the spay or neutering procedure. This year, the dogs are donated in tact and the adoption charity now has to have the dental, spay, and neuter done in the area. A local veterinary surgery practice does the procedure and the dental at a substantial discount. But, that is still $600.

In the past, the subsidy allowed JRG enough margin to do the occasional orthopedic repair with organization funds. This is proving no longer possible so the group takes donations to cover corrective surgery. To remain financially sound, the group’s directors are considering a fee increase for future adoptions.

Live Racing is in Decline

The JRG principals expect to continue as long as greyhounds need homes. JRG has replaced its Florida sources with West Virginia sources, the nearest state where live wager racing is allowed. Arkansas and Iowa continue to offer on site wagering.

In the US, it is becoming increasingly difficult to operate a live racing venue. Attendance is declining and revenues are 1/3 what they were at the start of the century. On-line gaming and casino table games and slot machines are drawing the gambling audience away from the track.

And We are Different…

There ain’t no stinking breed standard and show judging is Swiss timing machinery and video order of finish. Racers are bred to be keen to chase, intelligent, social, and of sound structure and health. The result is a dog that does well in groups getting on well with people and other dogs. We are generally easy going and un-reactive. It takes us a few days to decide to keep you and about 3-4 months to become fully integrated into the household.

,Most of us are adolescents or young adults at the start of companion life so we are still growing up and growing into our adult personalities. About 1/3 have run in the show, coming home at 4 years of age. The rest of us couldn’t get the hang of racing are offered for adoption at about 2 years of age. At 2 we are pretty much adolescents. At 3 we are young adults. At 4 we are pretty much adults. Some of us, like me, take a bit longer to become an adult. I’m still pretty silly and need some toy play.

As adults, we tend to be less juvenile than other dogs and we’re generally lay about needing little activity unlike the live stock herding dogs, field dogs, and terriers. We also have an independent streak. We like nothing better than doing something with you but are likely to hit the couch when you try to get us to do something for you. Training us is largely a matter of making the right thing easy and rewarding us for doing it. We/re not suck ups but we do like some approval and notice.


Rocky’s First Beach Visit

Dismal Wizard took Missy and Me to the “puppy beach” at First Landing State Park. Oh, my, that worked. WordPress let my editor upload a live photo! I just can’t put it on the masthead. So we had to put a regular one there.

First Landing State Park

Saturday was a busy day. We got like the last parking place in the car park and had to walk, and walk, and walk to the beach trail head.

First Landing State Park boardwalk to the beach

Walking Down

As we were walking the planks, we met a lady with 2 Portuguese Water Dogs in tow. They looked funny in their curly coats. One was a tux-puppy and the other was a cow-puppy. She told us that the Portuguese Water Dog national specialty meet was in town for the week. Nice calm dogs. They were in sporting cuts looking trim. Suspect they were on stage later in the week. Nice field dog.

Looking Confused at the boardwalk junction. Steps or ramp. Ramp, please.

The Break

We walked the ramp down to the beach. Nice doggies were starting up the ramp as we were coming down. This access is wheel chair accessible with belting leading down to the firm sand below the high tide line. The tide was part way so the beach looked like this.

The Shore Break

Now you know why this is the “puppy beach”. The surf is not to big and not too small. Offshore is a sand bar that uncovers at low tide.

This is close enough, thank you

Meeting Children

We walked the other way for about 10 minutes and then back. Today, I met some children, my first in a while as the pox has limited children’s activities in the heighborhood. Most were good but one was a bit worrisome. Parents listened when DW told them child was asking for a chomping.

Dogs make the rules!

The first thing kids need to learn is that, when meeting a dog, the dog makes the rules. Many of us don’t have a lot of experience with kids so first greetings must go at our pace negotiating what comes next. The kid that runs up and throws arms around us will likely be bit! Listen when we object.

Some kids just can’t wait. They don’t get it that we make the rules and take a dim view of aggressive children. I like the calm ones who let me have the opening greeting. But once I decide to greet you, I’m likely to give you a big sloppy kiss.

Time to go

We walked back, taking the beach photos used in this post. We had the sun at our back so these were nicely exposed. All iPhone 11 point and pray shots. Finder washes out. All one-handed as I probably would have gone looking for the car. Not completely sure of this place.

iPhone11 is the first one that is dunk proof. We did not test that feature. But, DW was pretty wobbly standing in the break.


They’re Back, Daddy

After three clean stool samples in a row, our vet discontinued Drontal+ medication back in the spring. The 3 month check came back hook worm positive. So we’re back to square one with a new baseline fecal egg count and resumption of Advantage Multi plus Drontal+ parasite treatment. And did I mention, fecal egg count stool sample every 2 weeks.


“I came for good”

It’s been over a year! Dismal Wizard and I decided to keep each other. I have a wing-lass, Missy. Although we don’t appear close, I’m her wing man and protector. We perform all of our ZombieSquadHQ duties together. And we chase the rascally rabbit together. Said rabbit always has a plan so we have yet to score.

Audio Greyhounds Holiday Letter

Adios, 2020

Ahoy, all. Its been a crazy year. So far, I’ve missed the plague but my list of pre-existing conditions is getting longer. I hope the year finds you healthy and looking forward to a better 2021.

Tleilaxu Eyes

The year started off with cataract surgery. I now have Tleilaxu eyes and Warby Parker readers. It is nice having good distant vision and not needing glasses for most tasks. I have aspheric prosthetic lenses that correct my astigmatism. So fancy lenses and laser surgery Medicare wouldn’t pay for. The interesting bit is that laser incisions heal more quickly and have lower complication rates. Should be the standard of care CMS.


Meal Plan 2.0

Former racing greyhounds come with adult size if not with adult brains. They come knowing what they need to make it through work day life. Freedom is a new thing for them. After the initial few days that it takes to realize that this is not Florida and that there is a whole lot of opportunity and a slew of stuff to learn, you can begin teaching them what they need to know.

The first lesson is to look to you for guidance. As they absorb that one, you can begin to teach them the other things they need to know. Like when it is meal time, that your meal is not theirs, that they remain calm while meals are prepared and served, that other dog’s meal is not theirs, to take treats calmly and that other dog’s treats are not to be intercepted. We don’t quite have meal time down but, the remaining meal time and treat time house manners are coming nicely.

Rocky is continuing to mellow and settle in. As he becomes secure in the Dismal Manor Way, he is becoming gentler and more patient but he remains an early riser and won’t settle until his belly has been filled.

The first thing I tried was to divide his meals to feed him more frequently, and to give him a bedtime snack. That didn’t work. He got shouty more often rather than less often. So we went back to the recommended 2 meals per day, morning and evening.

I’ve never raised a puppy before but in some ways Rocky is a big overgrown puppy. I have to teach him things he would have learned gradually while growing up in a home environment. Things he did not need to learn to live in a racing kennel.


New Meal Plan

Rocky gets powerful hungry over night. When Rocky wants fed, Rocky gets shouty. Painfully shouty if he’s within a foot or two of your ear. So what can we do to get Mr. Fancy Pants to sleep through the night?

Greyhounds for Dummies has plenty about proper feeding but not what to do about a colicky baby wanting fed in the middle of the night at age 4. At least he doesn’t want nursed!

So, brilliant idea, divid his ration in 3 and give 1/3 right before bed. The bedtime feeding prompts a bedtime loo visit. This works pretty well as I have to wait for sinuses to settle after brushing teeth. So I brush up, then feed Rocky. Missy was offered food but it ended up in Rocky so Rocky gets three squares and Missy gets two.

So far, so good. Mixed wakeup times. He’ll ambush me returning from the loo some mornings. Today, he slept in until first light and then some. So we’re calling this change in husbandry a partial success.

Greyhounds Personal Computing Photography Twittering

Mister Fancy Pants

Image taken by the author and manipulated in Apple iOS Photos of the Bovver Boys courtesy of their social media minions.

Rocky has made great strides in his house manners. We continue to work on treat taking, table manors are largely down when I’m at the island counter, and he is getting the hang of moving about the house. He’s caught on that Missy won’t be bullied to change beds.

He’ still a shouty git. He still wants brekkie at 0400 but waits to mug me after a loo visit. He still wants his tea around 1530 but can be distracted into waiting until 1630 or so. He’s still working on meeting trades and has yet to catch on to the notion that trades are not Blighters of Zombies. Maybe Zombie Squad HQ has a training for that.

So why is he Mister Fancy Pants?

Rocky with big muscles flushed (pink)
Mister Fancy Pants

His ticking makes him look like he is wearing yoga pants! This is an iOS 13 Apple Clips manipulated image that exaggerates his markings and coat texture. In boring reality his bum looks like this.

Rocky showing off his yoga pants while watching Squizzer TV

So that it?

No, he did something stupid so Missy give him the nickname for a Twitter post. Her social media assistant has forgotten the specific incident.

Apple iOS Clips App is a lot of fun

Clips App can process new camera images or video clips to apply various transformations to them. I’ve done a couple of things where I’ve grabbed a promising photo off of Twitter, filtered it, and posted it back as a comment on the original post. I modded an image of @NormTheCairn. Later that day both #BovverBoys were posting photos for me to render for them. I like the “Comic” filter.


The Bovver Boys posted this image on the occasion of friends day. I suspect it is a paste up but it is one of their better efforts at getting both of them into the same image. So I saved it to my iPad and had a go at it.

Bovver Boys before Comic Rendering


This image is the result of cropping and applying the color version of the Comic transformation. There are monochrome, pen and ink, and various color transformation filters. I keep coming back to the color Comic filter.

Bovver Boys Norm The Cairn and Rupert after comic render and crop

This may be a good technique to try for #ZZST storyboard collages. The ZZST artists make these up using Zombie cartoons as a base layer and clipped images of the brave Zombie Squad war fighters participating in that Saturday’s event.


Updated Hookworm Protocol

Hookworm image courtesy of the NIH Public Health Image Library #5205 and in the public domain. Used by permission.

Recently, I wrote about treatment of medication resistant hookworms in former racing greyhounds. Since that article was published, new research has been published and American Animal Hospital Association recommends a new treatment protocol. I’ll describe the new protocol after the break.


Camp Dismal Meal Plan

Rocky has spent the first four years of his life on the farm, in training, and at the Jacksonville track racing kennels. Rocky arrived “rough as a cob and full of piss and vinegar.” He was a big fellow willing to test limits. And the only useful companion skill he had was good lead and door manners. So Rocky was starting from a pretty low training baseline but with sound temperament, intelligence, and desire to fit in. He had so much to learn, where to begin. You sort of figure that out as you go along. The adopter’s guides present things in an order pleasing to book editors. Your hound may have other ideas about what should be learned first. This article recounts how Rocky adjusted his eating habits to Camp Dismal norms.