Thursday, 16 July 2009

The Pitter-Patter of Tiny Feet

No, not those sort of feet. Actually, not even feet but paws as I'm looking into the possibility of getting a dog.

And not just any dog, a greyhound.

The choice of dog was made for us really, due to the following reasons:

  • Small Daughter adores dogs, but is allergic to most breeds. However, greyhounds are almost always non-allergenic.
  • I want a big dog to scare away potential burglars.
  • I didn't want a yappy dog and greyhounds are very quiet.
  • I have a soft spot for greyhounds as my Mum used to keep them as a child and always spoke very fondly of her gentle greyhound dogs.
After doing a bit of research about the type of dog we wanted, and their temperament, etc. I found links to the National Retired Greyhound Trust. This organisation looks after the thousands of retired racing greyhounds and tries to rehome the dogs with suitable new owners. To adopt a greyhound you have to go through an 'adoption process' which starts with an online questionnaire followed by a phone call to check certain details. After that, if they think you may be suitable they arrange a home visit.

Yesterday we got to the stage of having our home visit check. Angela and Graham who run the local Greyhound Trust came to visit us and brought one of their own dogs with them. My girls are desperate for a dog and were so excited before the visit I feared they may self-combust, but luckily they managed to stay in one piece.

Cassie making herself at home in our living room

They loved Cassie and spent the good part of the hours visit stroking her, getting her a drink of water, and walking her around our back garden. She was a beautiful, gentle creature and we all fell in love with her. A big plus is that Small Daughter had no allergic reaction to Cassie, as that was a deal breaker.

We were asked several questions about how we would care for a dog, including how often we would exercise it, (surprisingly, greyhounds need little exercise as they only run in short bursts) and what arrangements we would make for veterinary care. They also checked out our back garden to make sure it was secure enough - it needs three higher fence panels along one part of the garden - and that the guinea pigs were safely housed away from where the greyhound would be.

I asked Angela and Graham if, instead of us choosing a dog we liked the look of, they could choose a dog suitable for our little family. They seemed to like this idea and said they would get back to me. This morning I had a call from them to say they thought we could provide a safe and caring home for a greyhound, and they had a 3 year old bitch that needed rehoming. It has already been house trained and is a very gentle dog, so we have agreed that they will bring this dog to visit us with a view to it being rehomed with us eventually.

The girls can talk of nothing else. They spent the rest of yesterday evening thinking of names for the dog, and drew up a shortlist (Bubbles is on the list! Can you imagine shouting "Bubbles!". No!) Today I went window-shopping in a pet store for leads, beds, bowls, etc. I'm so nervous, but excited. I hope I'm making the right decision for us. It feels right, but also very, very scary. Keep your fingers crossed!

P.S. I'd appreciate any advice from all of you dog owners out there. We're novices so any ideas or tips would be brilliant!


see you there! said...

I think it is really exciting. Neighbors of ours have greyhounds and I never hear or see them unless one of the owners is out walking them on a lead. They are beautiful dogs.


SandyCalico said...

What a wonderful thing to do. My uncle raced greyhounds. When they had finished racing they retired to my grandparents to lay by the fire all day. They're lovely dogs.

Iota said...

Congratulations on the new addition to the family.

When we did our long road trip the other week, we listened to a book on cd. It was Michael Morpurgo's "Born to Run", and was about a greyhound. Some of it is written with the dog as the narrator. We really enjoyed it. It was too old for my 5 year old, but my 8 and 12 year olds liked it, and it would be great for older kids too.

Imogen Lamport said...

I'm so excited for you! I have whippets - which are a smaller greyhound - they are pretty similar in many ways re their personality apparently. They are basically couch potatoes when they're not going full bore!

You need to be able to take them somewhere where they can run offlead once a day, but other than that, they want comfort - they are not outside dogs - not enough fur and fat - they want comfort. Beanbag beds are great for them. They love to lie down in a patch of sunshine and sleep.

Feed them higher quality dog food - the cheap stuff just comes out in nasty big poos, the higher quality stuff makes them poo less and works better for them.

Can't wait to see a pic of your new addition! A friend of mine adopted an ex-racing greyhound and she was so happy with it.

If you want any more advice please email me.

Dan said...

Greyhounds are nice gentle loving dogs. Yo made a good choice.

Make sure it recognizes that you are the dominant "dog" in the house and it's at the bottom of the heap. We had to get rid of our dog because it was growling at the kids because it thought it was in charge.

Don't let it sleep on the bed. Don't feed it before you eat, and always make sure it goes through doors behind you.

notSupermum said...

Darla, it IS exciting! The girls talk of nothing else!

Sandy - We are looking forward to meeting our dog, although the 3 year old mentioned in the post is not suitable for us (she only settles if there is another dog in the house). We're going to the kennels on Sunday to see all of the dogs available!

Iota, we love Michael Morpurgo so I'll look out for that book, thanks.

Imogen - ooh, thanks! The tip about the food is very welcome! I might just email you.

Dan, great advice. The tip about them going through the door after you is brilliant - I'm determined to stay leader in this house! Thanks.

La Belette Rouge said...

I am so excited for you and the girls and of course your puppy. The best advice I can give you is to watch Victoria Stilwell and get her book and do everything she says. That is how I turned my Lily into a well behaved angel.

metscan said...

Hi! I know nothing about greyhounds. We have had a dog/2 dogs in our house for over 30 years now. Each dog is an individual, and when a new`baby´arrives, I behave as if i never before had a dog. My rough estimate is, that it takes one year to get used to the idea, that there really is a dog in the house ( a cat, in my case 1/2 years). At the moment we have a flat-coated retriever and a hovawart, both males. They do get along fine, usually this is not the case with males. I think that the idea of providing a home for a dog, is a great one. You seem to have the right attitude, so go for it.

Caroline said...

cassie looks lovely - my partners sis has 2 and they are lovely dogs too. Nice to have met you in London, hope we get more chances to do that again!

notSupermum said...

La belette - I'm sure you can imagine how excited my girls are! We went today to visit the available greyhounds, and picked one out as ours.....more details later! I've also ordered a book specifically about rehoming a retired racing greyhound - and I'll look out for the book you mentioned, thanks.

Metscan - thanks so much for the advice, it's great to hear from dog owners and what they have learned.

Caroline - lovely to meet you too! You and Tosha are the first bloggers I've met in the real world. I'm hoping it won't be a one off.

Audi said...

Greyhounds are wonderful dogs; some friends of mine have a retired racer and he's gentle and mellow. I second the advice about quality food -- avoid giving your dog any table scraps either, and when you give treats make sure it's as a reward for some specific behavior. As my dog trainer said, "She loves you already -- there's no need to buy her affection."

I've also been using the technique of going through doors first, and it does work. I'll make my dog sit and wait until I call her to come in or out; this reinforces the idea that you're the pack leader and are in charge of safety and security. The dog should trust you implicitly and always be looking to you for direction and the cue that something is safe. Same goes for street crossings; as soon as you stop, the dog needs to sit and wait for you to give the signal that it's okay to cross. It's a good idea to stop at every intersection whether there are cars coming or not.

Enjoy your new addition to the family. Dogs bring so much to your life; they bring the humans in the family closer together too.

notSupermum said...

Tessa, I wouldn't expect anything else from my twin! Guess what the name of the dog is that we're getting? I'll give you a clue, it begins with a T....

Audi, thank you for the great advice. I must admit that I'm feeling really nervous about it, it's such a big step for us - but I'm hoping it'll work out well.