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).
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.