Whew. Getting a new dog — even one as easy as a greyhound — is *exhausting* ! Jennifer, who’s sort of participating vicariously, bought and loaned me a couple of books, including “Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies”, and I also got Jan Fennell’s “Practical Dog Listener” out of the library. Stephen and I have spent the weekend learning how to be alpha dogs. It’s easy to see why so many people get it wrong and end up with neurotic dogs or ones with behavioral problems. And it’s been fun comparing it to llama alpha behavior.
Kylie, a woman from Newtown who is also fostering, drove up to the kennels in Sanson Saturday morning to pick up her foster, Gigi, and ours, Prince — (“Aquatic Prince”, apparently) a 7 year old that came in with a lot of dogs from a kennel that had been shut down by New Zealand Greyhound Racing for not looking after the dogs properly.
So Saturday started with me leaping into the car and scooting down to the annual comic/sci-fi/gaming/etc. convention to pick up this year’s batch of anime. Then back in time to meet Kylie and Prince at around 11am.
First surprise — he’s intact. Part of what we’re doing is teaching him how to live in a house, and that means NO MARKING. Ack. He cocked his leg twice in the house & both times I took him immediately outside & praised him to the sky for doing his thing out there instead. Luckily, I’d swung into Animates on the way home and picked up some enzyme cleaner. So far, no reapeats of that behavior.
One of the hitches that racers often need to get over is being left alone — many of them have been surrounded by other dogs their entire lives. The books suggest working on this in stages for the first couple days — leave for just a few minutes, then come back before the dog has a chance to get anxious. Gradually lengthen the time you’re away, until the dog is comfortable that you’ll always come back. By 2 or 3pm, I could leave him alone for short periods without him making a big deal out of it.
Another bad habit greyhounds have — because they’re so tall, you see — is “counter surfing”. We planned to head that off by just keeping him out of the kitchen in the first place. We have a folding clothes dryer thingy (white rubber-coated steel wire) that we put in front of the opening to the kitchen (in lieu of a baby gate), but I soon discovered that not only did he have no trouble jumping over it (if it was at floor level) or wriggling under it (if I propped it up on boxes), he’s skinny enough that he can go right *through* it. BUT, all I had to do was make a sharp “AHH-AHH!!” noise and haul him out by the collar a couple times, and by 4PM, he’d grasped that he’s not allowed in, and no longer tries to follow me/us in there.
At 7PM, Stephen and I felt okay to leave him (crated) for a couple hours to go to a party, and he spent the night in his crate in the dining room with no complaints at all (in fact he walked in by himself just as we were thinking it was time for bed).
Day two, he no longer needs to follow me around as if his head were glued to my thigh, and he’ll even (mostly) stay flobbed while we get up and move from room to room.
On the flip side, we’re not solid on walks yet — he doesn’t pull the leash (unless he thinks there’s a cat around), but he does try to push ahead through doors and gates. And he’s no good with cats yet. For the most part, if he’s indoors, he’s at least distractable, but still too interested, and he totally lunges at them if he sees them through a window. He’s *much* calmer about them if he’s in his crate — doesn’t even get up, just watches. So for now, we’ve moved the cats’ food and water into the living room and given them the back half of the house, while the dog, when he’s out of his crate, gets the dining room and conservatory. We’ll see how this goes.
I think he must have been kept crated *too* much at the kennel he was at before — he’s missing hair in a lot of places (as you can probably see in the one photo). He’s also shedding dander at a prodigious rate. I need to find out if that’s something I need to do something about, or if it’ll
come right once he’s eating better and settles down. He needs his ears cleaned, too, though his teeth look okay.
I’m a little worried about a couple of organization glitches — he came with a regular collar, not a martingale, and no coat or mat (I bought a second-hand crate myself). I’m surprised to hear he’s not neutered. Plus we haven’t been given a lot of literature, so it’s good that I’ve done so much reading on my own. I think a lot of this is just because the adoption group is very very new (and maybe a little understaffed), and it hasn’t worked out all the kinks yet.
I’m SO relieved that he doesn’t have separation problems, or crate issues. It’ll make it much easier during the week. It’s also really good that Stephen can check in on him and give him a walk on his lunch break.
And here are a couple pictures: