Category Archives: Greyhounds

Turd in Hand

Walking my greyhounds the other day, I stumbled into one of those sublime moments that you file away and retrieve for personal merriment, or whenever someone starts up about how cute, smart or clever their pet might be.

It’s damp, chilly and nearing twilight on a late winter afternoon as we round a corner near the middle of our route near the high school, and Chatterbox pulls up and assumes the dump position just off the sidewalk.

I reach into my pocket for a plastic bag, as I’m usually quite fastidious about picking up after my own dogs in public. But not this time.

Didn’t see it before, but Chatterbox had squatted over a lost glove lying palm-side up in the grass and left her deposit directly on center. Could not have sculpted a more elegant tower myself with can of chocolate whipped topping. Held like a trophy.  Wide base uniformly tapering to a twist at the top.

It was a work of art. Call it greyhound graffiti. A turd in the hand.  Bansky outside the bag.

I left it for the world to see. Came back the next day with my camera, but it had rained and the tower had turned to oatmeal.

Didn’t scoop that time either. Hey, someone might still be looking for their glove!

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Toy Killers

The carnage is appalling. Entrails scattered all over the living room.  Severed foot here.  Detached eyeball there. Lifeless body shredded. Nearby, a heavily chewed squeaker mechanism.

Squeakers 002Yet another victim of my 3-year-old greyhound BB, the serial toy killer.

My wife has been a co-conspirator in these crimes. Or least an enabler as the supplier of cute but easily ripped squeaker toys for doggy enjoyment. The latest victim, a stuffed squirrel, had a hole in it within minutes of introduction. By the next day, it looked like road kill in the snow under a Greyhound bus.

I’ve lost count of the desqueaked and shredded bodies I’ve disposed of. Squirrels, cats, possums, monkeys, snakes, sheep. We make Sid from Toy Story look like a choir boy.  I’m reminded of the last scene in Toy Story, when Woody gets the Christmas Day report from Sarge in the flower pot: “It’s a puppy!”  Previously thought the puppy merely represented another possible alienation of affection. I now realize the potential killer seen in Woody’s eyes.

Chatterbox, our 10-year-old greyhound, occasionally amuses herself with stuffed  toys, too, but age has taught her that the squeaky things can’t run and are no real threat. She simply grows bored once the carcass is desqueaked and Squeakers 007prefers chasing the live animals that venture into our yard. Trouble is, word’s out in the critter block watch  network to steer clear of our backyard where the assassins roam. The dogs can go from zero to full speed in three strides, and they can get anywhere in the yard within four seconds. Squirrels once delighted in instigating a chase before leaping to apparent safety atop the fence while scurrying to freedom. That lasted until one of them was ripped from the top of the fence and chewed from the middle like a hairy sausage link.

I have two sacks of desqueaked dog toys in various states of mutilation from BB and previous serial toy killers that we’ve fed. The plan is to one day launder and repair them with new squeakers sewn inside, but the Frankenstein procedure has yet to happen. Rather, we continue to play Nero, offering up fresh innocents and enjoying the spectacle like mob Romans.

BB is  currently working on a canvas-skin frog. Haven’t heard a squeak out of it for more than an hour. Must be nap time.  Or send in the  litter bearers!

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Welcome to the Fun House

My greyhound BB has a recently adopted sister named Jane, who since leaving the Greyhound Pets, Inc. kennel  has started publishing a blog (crackerjacjane.com) about off-track living.

Now BB wants to write a blog, too, and I told her, “Cut out eating poop in the yard, and we’ll talk about it.”

So I have that going for me while addressing other behavioral issues.

Having raised one daughter and six other adopted greyhounds,  all girls,  I thought I knew a few things about females (not all of which pertain to my wife, who remains a wild card).

Here’s BB’s mug shot from the GPI lineup. Her racing name was Bouncing Body.

My credo:  Spoil ’em but try to keep ’em in the yard. I had just three responses to my daughter as she was growing up:  Yes! Hell, yes! And, well . . . OK!  Then again, I worked nights, so my wife did most of the hardcore parenting. Thank goodness my wife was there to blow the whistle and throw an occasional penalty flag. Can’t be so lenient with BB or I might wind up with another Goth phase on my hands. BB already is black, and so are her lips and nails. We met halfway on a black collar with red  polka dots. No spikes or chains allowed, and we don’t use the muzzle for a fashion statement.

BB, age 3,  came to us as a special needs girl with traits in the doggy autism spectrum, including social deficits, communication difficulties, and stereotyped or repetitive behaviors.  She was useless as a racer and was farmed out for adoption with two of her sisters when they were just  one year old, about the time that most racers begin training.  Unlike most greyhounds, all three of the sisters were extremely timid with other dogs, combative with each other  and shied from any human contact. When I first brought her home, BB would  have nothing to do with anyone or my older dog Chatterbox and preferred the sanctuary of a dog crate in my living room.  I had to pull her from the crate to get her to go outside for turnouts, and when loose in the yard she’d pace the fence line incessantly and run from any human contact.

I think she knew her name. But come when you’d call? Not a chance. Unless you’re my wife, who could coax a nut from a squirrel. Squeak toys worked best to get BB’s attention and entice her back into the house.

We adopted BB because GPI needed to clear space for new dogs coming,  most other potential adopters prefer dogs they can at least touch, and my wife loves a greyhound challenge.

It’s taken several months, including three with BB living in the crate, but she’s made great strides in sociability.  My wife and I can pet her now, although BB remains easily spooked and skittish around other people, including my daughter and her boyfriend.  BB and Chatterbox get along just fine, and we now bring an occasional third dog into the mix by dog-sitting other greys.  BB and Chatterbox both prefer napping on our bed and both like to sleep with us at night, although we usually invoke the three-body, eight-leg rule in bed, unless there’s a thunderstorm or fireworks going off in the neighborhood.

Having Chatterbox in the house to speak dog and communicate telepathically has greatly aided BB’s adjustment. Still, the new dog is easily frightened by any strange noise or movement. My daughter equates BB’s existence to living in a carnival fun house, with a potential scary surprise lurking around every corner.  It’s a slow process with frequent tests of patience, but we’ve managed to gain trust. BB’s not much of a kisser, but nobody minds that because of the poop thing.

Who knows,  if BB gets past the poop eating and starts blogging, I might even soften up about the spiked collar.

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Poop Patrol

Greyhounds are a competitive breed. And when you have more than one, as I do, the poop in your yard goes up exponentially. I swear, two greys will subconsciously try to outshit each other. And when there are four or five, you’d swear by the evidence in your yard that a camel or two has also passed through.

I’ve had seven greys of my own over the years – each adopted through Greyhound Pets, Inc. — and with more than two dozen greyhound fosters and vacationing dogs added to the

Yin and Yang

mix, I’ve had as many as five greys staying in my house at once. That makes for lots of crap in the yard and plenty of practice with the scooper. I’m a terrible golfer, but my 6-inch putting stroke is deadly.

Another thing about greyhound potty habits, they like to spread it around. My fenced backyard is about 2,700 square feet, which makes poop patrol a veritable Easter egg hunt. The fence line is always well-mined, especially the north fence, as if a Viking horde lurked just  on the other side, awaiting only a non-slip surface to invade.

Frosty mornings are the best time to scoop, because the turds are hard and easy to manipulate. I collect the specimen in empty dog food bags, wrap those in garbage sacks and dispose of them with other household refuse. Still, I’ve fantasized about many potential uses. If you could catch a buzz smoking dog dung, I’d be a rich man. Imagine that greyhound droppings were the missing catalyst in the formula for rapid weight loss. Dealing with high schoolers who park near my home and empty their ashtrays and McDonald’s breakfast bags under their cars, I’m sometimes tempted to litter back by tossing a turd or two on their windshields. I’ve never done that, but if war were declared, I’d be a dog shit superpower.

Speaking of frosty dog piles, they sparked a euphemism where I used to work as a copy editor in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer sports department.  One day, when desk banter touched on the topic of dog shit, someone used the term “steamer” to describe a turd so fresh you can still see the vapors wafting off. Thereafter, “steamer” became a staple of copy desk jargon, generally describing the ragged work of stringers reporting on high school games,  as in, “Oh my god, he threw a steamer on my plate right at deadline!”

I once proofed a posting by P-I art critic Regina Hackett on her Art to Go blog on the work of Andres Serrano, who had a show at Yvon Lambert in New York featuring 66 large Cibachrome prints of human and animal dung. Now, my dogs are no Serrano, but I swear that over the years I’ve scooped up likenesses of Popeye, Elmer Fudd and Rush Limbaugh.

(Note: This was written as a Writers Kickstart prompt on the topic Something Ugly with a Silver Lining.)

 

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