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.
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.
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.