Tag Archives: Missy

Got ‘yah plus six months

It’s hard to believe Missy has been with us for 6 months, but she has. She is developing into a confident companion with a definitely playful and goofy personality.

Six months on, Missy is becoming comfortable in the neighborhood and is often out front on walks, is learning to visit with neighbors, and to be more comfortable around novel sights and sounds. She’s eager to go for walks and on rides to do errands. She still has mixed feelings about strangers. She’ll visit with some but is shy with others.

Missy has become quite the terrorist at the fence. She’s taken to chasing joggers but not walkers, and kids with wheels: bikes, skate boards, scooters, if they’re not walking, she’ll chase them. The kids have figured out that the fence is good so they largely ignore her. We are working on “calm dog”. I teach that at the door so they’ll stop bouncing and squirming to have leads hooked up to walk. They’re pretty motivated to go out so it is easy to teach. To my surprise, if I tell her “calm dog” as a neighbor walking a dog approaches, she’ll stay calm for much of the approach but she’s still getting excited once they reach the corner and are along side the fence. I think it will come with time.

Missy has become a frenzied digger. The photo above is of the hole she dug where there was once an aucuba. The landscapers moved it for me as part of a general back garden make over. They filled the hole with nice soft top soil which is now scattered. The plan is to make a boarder of paving tiles, put a layer of rock in the bottom, and add some sand on top so that they have a nice clean, dry nest for sunbathing.

Missy is determined that that is her hole. She’s taken to doing some frenzied digging, giving it a heavy marking, and back filling it a bit. Stinking Nick better not dare trespass on her hole.

Missy is playing less fetch but there are clearly times when she needs a ball thrown for her either in the back garden or in the house. The red ball in the photo is a favorite. It has a soft ribbed design that makes it fun to carry, toss, and snatch on the fly. This got quite animated one evening at sunset and included running yard-spanning figure eights. Missy always sat in the back racing, but probably because it was boring. She’s sure acting like she would have been a super coursing dog. She really loves chasing her ball and playing at it.

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.

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