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Greyhounds

Got Ya plus 2 months

Wild Child Full of Chase

Missy is now my wild child full of chase. She is a living fireball full of adolescent dog energy. Generally, she’s quiet about the house but let her out in the dog paddock and she’s a wild woman. She loves to play with her stuffies, mostly hunting play. She’ll charge them, snatch them from the ground, and go ripping about with them, often throwing them into the air. Thankfully, she’s more restrained in the house but she can get pretty bouncy when cabin fever sets in.

Missy’s house manners have been impeccable. She’s a bright girl and assertive. When she needs attention, she comes and asks and has paired words to activities. So 20 questions is beginning to work with her. This skill is always a big help to identify what a needy dog act is about.

Nick and Missy Get On

Nick and Missy Together

Missy and Nick are comfortable in close quarters and get on well. I’ve not seen any possessiveness or indications that one feels that the other is a favored child.

Missy knows how Nick asks for food and comes running to clean up anything he doesn’t eat. Missy’s Delta Tau Chi name is Hoover! She eats everything in sight. That’s why they are “sight hounds.” Unattended food is hers except when Nick gets there first.

That said, Missy has impeccable table manners. I feed her first while preparing my dinner and Nick and I eat together. Missy lies quietly while Nick eats but is right there for leftovers. I’ve been picking Nick’s dish up so he can have his leftovers later. Nick is a picky eater on his current food so I’m going to look about to see if I can find something he likes better.

But he and Rhea always grazed and I could free feed them by measuring out two rations twice a day and letting them nibble as they would. Not with Missy Hoover in the house!

Play

Missy and Nick play a bit in the yard but Missy is a bit fast and rough for old man Nick. He often ducks and covers in the car port when he’s had enough play. She’s full of adolescent energy and will lead Nick about the back garden and then double back on him. All in good fun but greyhound fast and rough.

Sleeping Arrangements

My bed hogs left me the crate

Now that it is cool in the evening, Missy or Nick or Missy and Nick will hop in bed with me. Missy is clever and settles by the feet where there is room. I suspect she learned this skill from Jennifer in a single bed while at Second Chance. Nick has been working on it for 5 years but I suspect there is method to his selective amnesia. He plops down across the pillows and won’t budge until bribed to move. He’s definitely trained me to produce a cookie at bed time!

Missy’s Film Career

I’ve been accumulating a good bit of dog play video. It’s a good way to document their development and to keep entertained when bored. I started filming Lance and Rhea while in Rhode Island. Greyhounds always get frisky in the light snow at the start of a storm so I began by taking snow storm video and just sort of kept on. I’ve been editing the clips in iMovie and posting them to my You Tube account which you can find from my Google+ profile.

This clip is of Missy and Teddy in the back garden. Victor Wooten’s The Hawk from his Music Lesson record provides a groove. The Music Lesson has an accompanying text designed for guided self-study in jazz improvisation. Victor’s text is groove player oriented but these short pieces seem designed for a student to play along either as a grove player or to build improvisation skills.

Categories
Greyhounds

Got-ya + 2 weeks

Petting Out

I can’t brag on Missy enough. She’s been so easy after a couple of tense days while she was deciding we were keepers. Just 3 months ago, she was in a racing kennel at the Mobile Greyhound Park, a dim spot in the industry. After 40 starts, she was retired because she ran in mid-pack with no prospects for improvement. She received her pre-adoption health care in Mobile. From there she went to a Florida minimum-security prison to go through the Second Chance at Life foster care training program. After 2 months with her trainer in a dormitory environment, it was into a dog hauler for the trip to South Hill and by car from South Hill to Norfolk. Missy spent several hours with Old Dominion Greyhound Adoption. Sam and Gay Latimer looked after her for until I could hook up with them for delivery in mid-afternoon. She was pretty wary but eventually she was willing to load up for the ride home. We delayed delivery until after I had finished a morning engagement so I could stay with her to begin the bonding process.

First Days Home

Greyhounds bond with their new pack mates during the first two or three days at home. Until bonding is well underway, risk of a loose dog running off is pretty great so you can’t be too careful with doors, gates, and comings and goings during the bonding period. Missy pretty quickly decided she had it good and should keep Nick and I. The changes during the first 3 days were pretty dramatic as she dropped the shyness and learned the household routine.

Around home, she was uncertain of me and some spaces at home, especially the sally port into the back garden. This is a narrow area between the car port shed wall and the side yard fence that is about 3 feet wide and 5 feet long. She really didn’t want to go in there, probably a reaction to rough handling being loaded into the starting boxes at Mobile. Over the first week, this behavior gradually resolved itself with patience and gentle leadership on my part and lots of treats.

Missy and Nick

Missy and Nick hit it off pretty well. There’s been amazingly little indoor posturing on Nick’s part. For the most part he has been gentle with Missy and Missy has been comfortable with normal encounters in the confined spaces of a small mid-fifties modern hip roofed ranch. It is not unusual for there to be some telling off when a hound approaches a lying hound but she’s told Nick off only twice that I’ve seen and he’s not told her off. As you can see, they are both comfortable piling on the big Bowser life raft bed and will share my bed.

While I’m Out

I’ve let them have the run of the house unmuzzled while I’m out. I’ve tried to limit trips to 4 hours or less so we’re not testing Missy’s endurance limits. So far no signs of separation anxiety or unpleasantness during my absence. I expect this will continue as both are generally well behaved while I’m in.

The Back Garden

Missy likes to rip about with a ball or stuffy and actually plays fetch. Nick may be angling for a more dominant position while they are out in the garden. I’m seeing some posturing during chase play. If there is some tension, the dog in back will do some vocalizing and possibly some air snapping.

Missy will start play with a stuffy, Nick will get in trail and hang in for a few laps with some vocalization. Missy will entertain him for a few laps of the garden then turn out and tell him off. You can see this in this video. I pieced this together from short clips taken over the past two weeks. So far, no bickering matches and no evidence of teeth.

The catch is that most outings are calm and orderly. It is only when I get Missy spun up with a toy that this happens. Nick ducks out into the carport for a bit, screws up his courage, and emerges for this bit of chase. Nick is starting to feel his 8 years and Missy is still less than 3 and track fit. Fortunately we have 40 by 90 fenced so they can’t get going fast and are always in sight. I’m working on teaching them to come to me when things appear to be escalating. So far, so good.

Walks

During this period, I gently introduced her to walks in the neighborhood. You have to let them take things at their own pace. It can take a while to undo the harm of a scary encounter with common neighborhood hazards like children, other pets — especially those with rough coats who appear aroused to a smooth coated greyhound, charge the fence dogs (greyhounds are particularly sensitive to fence posturing), cats, the hoody shuffle teen, etc. So far, this process is going well but we are careful of when we are out and that we’re away from the bus stops when school buses are releasing packs of rowdy children. I’m also careful to alert folks at a distance that Missy is newly retired and may react to them. If I see ears go up, I get the dogs onto a yard and we watch whatever prompted the reaction pass. So far, so good.

After 2 weeks, Missy likes walking with Nick and Nick seems more confident with another hound at his side. This summer he was becoming shy about walks after being charged by a couple of loose dogs and an encounter with a nest of tracker-jackers (red wasps). Yes, one trial learning is possible. He avoided that street for a month. Missy was a bit uncertain out in the hood the first week but she’s getting pretty confident and will walk our two favored blocks (less dog posturing at the fence) relaxed and in a decent heel. When she’s concerned, she’ll constantly change sides and generally be obnoxious so I am glad to see this development.

Supper

Jennifer taught Missy table manners so we were off to a good start for my meal. Missy’s Delta Tau Chi nick name is Hoover. She puts her food down pretty quickly then shifts suction to Nick’s dish. Not a dog to free feed. Her idea of free feeding is “food is free so I should eat it all.” So Nick and I are working out how to feed Nick. What works best is to feed Missy first, then feed Nick while I eat. Missy is good about taking a place in the corner and staying to be fed treats once her supper has kicked in and she is feeling satiated. The hard bit is to get Nick eating again on a schedule. I’ve cut his ration a bit so he’ll eat it all and we all eat together (approximately) as described above. Fortunately, Nick is not shy about asking for seconds and only as needed. He maintains weight well.

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Greyhounds

Missy’s Foster Mom

I thought I’d take a few minutes to introduce Jennifer, Missy’s trainer in 2nd Chance at Life’s inmate dog training program. Over the years I’ve heard stories about correctional institutes working with outside groups to introduce selected inmates to dogs and dog training. These stories have been favorable with good rehabilitation for both dogs and inmates. The rescue dogs get a chance to start a new life and the inmates experience the joy of life with dogs, learn compassion and responsibility, and dog training skills.

Missy came with the following wishes from Jennifer.

  • To never have to be scared again, to only be happy.
  • To have a big yard to run around and catch balls.
  • Lots of yummy treats and maybe even some peanut butter
  • A big, fluffy, comfy bed or to be able to sleep with you in yours.

Jennifer’s Letter

Jennifer wrote the following longer letter

Thank you so much for adopting this sweet, amazing girl. Im sure she will seem a bit scared at first but give it a little time and I know she will get used to you and trust you. You are going to be happy with her.

Her favorite thing to do is play catch. She has so much fun playing with toys and balls. That could be a great way to get her out of a fearful state.

When God chose me to train Missy, He is always right. God always knows exactly what’s good for everyone. He truly blessed me when He put the two of us together. She is a spectacular friend and her love is amazing. Get ready to laugh at her goofy personality. I am so grateful for the time we got to spend together.

I pray you are blessed even more than I was, and that was a lot. I pray you guys live a long, happy, and joyful life. A life filled with love and peace. For an abundance of blessings.

Thanks for being the greatest part of the Second Chance at Life Program. Without people to adopt the dogs we would be doing this for nothing. But you make it possible for these dogs to leave hear and go on with their lives the way they were meant to. To be the animals they were born to be. Also, you make the Second Chance available to us here in prison. 

Jennifer

PS: Please do not crate

Thank you, Jennifer

You did a great job with Missy’s transition from track life to home life. Adopting a greyhound is always an adventure and I’ve had some that were messy rooms when they came to me. But with patience, consistency, and creative use of peanut butter, most problems can be solved in time.

Lord Nick, Missy’s consort, is an outgoing adventurer originally lacking in emotional control. Easily frustrated, he spent his first year with me being a total delinquent. At the end of our first year together (his 4th birthday), the frustration behaviors came to a stop and he’s matured into a normal adult. Four years on, he’s as nice a male greyhound as you’ll ever meet.

Nick and Missy hit it off pretty quickly as Nick escorted Missy around the back garden and showed her the house routine. She amazed me by recalling at the end of day 2, sitting on cue at the end of day 2, and by actually playing fetch. I’ve only met two former racers that would play fetch and Missy is the second. You’ve done a great job at getting her started.

I know it is tough to give one up. Foster dogs have a way of coming to stay out in the world. She’s been a real joy. We both fell for each other pretty quickly. As you know, it takes about 3 days for them to decide to keep you and she’s done that. Your compassion and concern for Missy are touching and the notes that you sent along with her have proven invaluable to me in helping her bond and settle into the household.

It was invaluable to know that she liked to play ball. Saturday morning (day 2), Nick wanted out at 0600. Missy hopped up too so I took them both out to the back garden without putting Missy on lead. She played little miss spook for 2 hours while I went through every stupid human trick I could think of to get her to let me approach and put her on lead. Then I remembered the note about balls and ran in to retrieve this dodge ball sized red thing that is designed to squeak and to be carried. It had sat unused as Nick and Rhea totally ignored it for several years. A few squeaks and the game was on. I played fetch with her until she finally tired, flopped down into a submissive position, and let me hook her up. Since then, we make it a point to play fetch on each long outing.

That note and the caution not crate here were invaluable. When I have to leave them alone, I’ve been turn-out muzzling and baby gating them. They use the back bedrooms (mine and my study) when I’m out. They quickly settle and nap until I return. I don’t think I’ll need to muzzle them. I took the photo up top after day 4 morning turnout. They are already comfortable together in tight spaces!

I hope things continue to go well for you, that you have more pups to train, and that you have a successful return to the world when your term is up.

Dave

Categories
Greyhounds

Got Ya Day

She’s here!

And she’s a bit shy. But she had a pretty unsettling couple of days being loaded into a greyhound hauler for the trip to Tidewater, a few hours with Dominion Greyhounds adoption coordinator, then hand-off to me. The original plan was to do introductions at my friend Judy Schooley’s home, then take the dogs on home. Missy was so shy that I nixed that plan, stopped to retrieve Nick, and took her straight home. Of course, this was Friday, a mid-day beer tasting outing at O’Connor Brewing here in Tidewater with Judy, send Nick to Judy’s, drive to Gay’s to get Missy, then to Judy’s to retrieve Nick and home. We got in around 4 PM on Friday.

Missy loaded up without fuss. I put some treats in the way back, told her to kennel up, and she did. Nick crawled in the back seat of my Audi A4 Avant and snuggled up with the X-Pen that was in the foot well. The trip home was uneventful. Missy quickly settled down in the way back to watch the world go by. No words were said. No dirty looks were given. An auspicious beginning.

Homecoming

Once home, I brought both hounds to the back garden to meet. These things generally go easier when both dogs are off lead and have some room to move around. Missy and Nick walked around a good bit, Nick with Missy in tow as he showed her the back garden. Nick also introduced her to the back garden squirrels who are now picking pecans next door in a velociraptor free yard. Nick and Missy beasted one squirrel together then played a bit of chase. Nick was ready to go in but Missy decided to play hard to get. It took a good 30 minutes to coax her back in. She was shy of me and shy of the narrow back garden entrance. But after a half-hour of silly human games, I was able to get a lead on her and escort her in.

Nick settled right down while Missy toured the house. Eventually, she settled down and both goofed off until supper. Missy had not been fed before her trip north so she was ravenous. She ate her ration, then Nicks, then another two cups. A very full dog, she tossed the third ration up later that evening. For the rest of our turnouts, she went out on lead and dragged a lead to make her easier to retrieve.

Saturday

Saturday got off to one of those starts. Nick wanted to go out at 0600. Missy wanted to come along. I let her off lead, mistake! Two hours later, she finally let me bring her in. Same not quite sure of me or the back garden gate thing. But her Second Chance trainer mentioned in her letter that Missy liked balls. I went in and brought out this big red thick-skinned dodge ball that can be rolled but is ribbed to allow a dog to carry it. I rolled it across the lawn. Missy went after it, grabbed it, and began ripping around the yard having a grand time. When she tired, she was ready to be retrieved and go in. During the course of Saturday, she realized that the retired moocher life was not so bad. By evening, she came when called to be put on lead and actually sat on cue. She slept through the night.

Sunday

They change so much in the beginning. Missy and Nick trotted out into the back garden, did morning toilet, played some chase with the ball, and came in. I showered up for church with Missy paying special attention my bathing and dressing. Fortunately, shower doors open outward or I’d be chasing a wet dog about the house!

They both went out for pre-church toilet. Missy came right in and entered the house with minimal prompting. She’s getting the hang of this pet life pretty quickly. I brought them in and set up the baby gate with them in the two back bedrooms. Missy hopped up on my bed and settled down. Both were muzzled for some extra safety if someone stepped on someone and the stepped upon one took offense. It is rare for things to go to teeth in that circumstance but caution is wise in the beginning and during rough play.

By this point, it was pretty evident that Missy has decided to stay around. She’s sweet on me and on Nick and is a real hoot. She’s got the nicest ears and carries them half erect while she’s up and about and she is definitely playful. Nick has the running buddy he’s always wanted.

Categories
Greyhounds

Introducing Dancin Bahama

The new chaos unit is in a http://www.giveasecondchance.com halfway house beginning the transition from the working girl life to retired moocher life. According to Jennifer, her mentor, she is doing well with her house manners but is startled by noise. Not one to take to the Harbor Fest fireworks!  She’s expected to complete charm school in about 2 weeks and will be traveling to Tidewater Oct 16.

Thanks to her original owner, Peter Limer, for offering Dancer for adoption. Peter is a well respected NGA member and has campaigned a number of top gear dogs. He is well thought of in the industry and is regularly mentioned in NGA articles.

Dancing Bahama at her farm
Greyhound Data reports that Dancer had 40 starts, all finishing in the middle but off the back a couple of times. She was not covering her grocery bill so she’s petting out at 2 years 6 or so.

She’ll be my 6th retired racer. They’ve all been unique individuals and each one has presented his or her challenges. Dancer joins Lord Nick, also known as Nearly Headless Nick, Captain SLO (a story for another day), or Nick Nut. Nick fancies himself Alpha and can be a bit full of himself. But he’s acting like he’s ready for a best buddy. From her trainer’s notes and from her running style in her racing stats, Dancer is content to go along and get along. She didn’t have to be out front but was always in the thundering herd. I think she’ll be content to be Lord Nick’s consort. Lord Nick and Lady Dancer has a bit of a ring to it.

Messing around with available light

Categories
Greyhounds

How Lance was Named

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I adopted my first greyhound during the 1995 Tour de France. With Greg Lemond recently retired and a new American star, Lance Armstrong, beginning his career, I was following the race as best one could from Connecticut. Needless to say, I needed a name for a dog not knowing whether my luck of the draw would be a male or a female (bitch is the term of art). Application approved, I drive out to western Connecticut to pick up my new hound. The adoption coordinator brings out the two year old black boy pictured above, Boligee Pistola, called Pistol around the kennel. And Pistol had no idea he had a name. Needless to say, he really needed a name.

A few days before, there was a mishap on the Tour. An Italian rider on Motorola (Lance Armstrong’s team of the day) had gone off the road and over a mountain cliff to his death. With the Tour drawing to a close, young Lance decided to do something to commemorate his fallen comrade. On the last day of road racing, about 30 kilometers out (20 miles) Lance Armstrong attacked from the front of the pack opening a 2 minute lead. Out front by himself, he held his lead until the finish through the final climb up to a ski lodge. Breathless, he comes to a stop, dismounts, seeks out the Italian TV interviewer, and says in rough Italian, “Today, I rode with the strength of two men.” Lance showed serious courage on the final climb and some serious class with this act. I believe this win was the first stage win of his career. Up to this point, he had been learning the art and riding in support of the team stars.

I was so impressed with Lance Armstrong’s gesture that Pistol became Lance. Lance Armstrong, like Michael Phelps, has that unique combination of body structure, physiology, and competitiveness that it takes to be a world champion. Lance Armstrong is driven to excel while his namesake was content to sit in the back during his 1 month racing career. Lance Fourlegs quickly petted out. Lance Armstrong, gaining experience, learned the art of the Tour, and began to rise to the top of his sport to have his career interrupted by testicular cancer.

I can understand the temptation to use performance enhancing techniques in the Tour de France. What those riders do is amazing and if you’ve not tried to race bicycles or completed a 100 mile ride, it is hard to appreciate the challenges they are facing. The peloton races 200 kilometers (120 miles or so) and, tomorrow, they get up and do it again. The Tour is probably the toughest sporting competition on the planet. At the pace they are riding, the athletes deplete the body’s glycogen stores and must efficiently burn fat to complete the race. By the end of the Tour, each rider is ripped, probably 4 to 5 percent body fat even though they are eating 9000 or so calories per day. This is an event that places great demands on the body’s ability to recover to race again tomorrow.

The longest I’ve ridden is 108 miles on my first century ride. I love to ride and to bike trek but I don’t have the physiology for it. The next day, I was a dehydrated zombie walking around in a fog. It took a couple of days to recover. And no, I didn’t get up and do it again tomorrow; I was useless. Having this experience, I can understand the desire to have a technical edge to be ready to race next morning. European cycling started an arms race to make it possible to ride today’s times on today’s courses day after day with a rest day every four stages or so. Lance Armstrong joined that arms race and competed with the same drive and pursuit of excellence that he showed us on the road. I can understand why he did so and that he did does not lessen the courage and class he showed in that first stage win in his learning years.