Thursday, October 31, 2013

Public Enemy No. 1

Someone in a hurry tossed a black plastic trash bag beside the road. Peter and Silver and I walked right past it.

But then the wind kicked up a bit, and the plastic began to billow. Peter went rigid, staring at it. Then he growled, then began to bark at it. And it ignored him and kept shifting in the wind, and Peter started lunging toward it. (This is on a steep creek bank, where lunging could end in an unwanted splash.)

Finally, I took Peter and Silver back to the house. I went back and got the trash bag and put it in the garbage can, then got the dogs and walked them back down to the corner. With the enemy vanquished, Peter was willing to pee and poop on this trip. Silly boy.

* * *

Friday night, Peter goes to his new home after nine weeks here with Silver and me. A friend on Facebook put it well for both of us: "I will miss him. Good journey, wingnut. ♥ "

wingnut: (noun) A person appearing to be moderately to severely crazy, disoriented, jumbled and more often than not, a total mess. A wingnut is a constant source of entertainment to those surrounding it and can easily be found in any type of setting or venue. Example: grocery stores, sporting events, cross-walks, public transportation, school, work…you may even have one in your house.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Peter's Status

He does stairs well. We practiced today on my spiral stairs--scary to most dogs. He was fine going up until the last few steps; I let him stop and think about it and he finished up well. Then, coming back down, he needed some encouragement to start. But he was fine with going down and, unlike my previous dogs, he doesn't try to speed up at the end of the stairs and leap to safety.

His most recent flea and tick (Frontline Plus) and heartworm meds (ivermectin) were given on October 7.

He's crated when I'm not home, and he's muzzled in the crate. I scatter a half-cup of kibble in the floor of the crate and he gets the pieces in through the holes in his muzzle. When he gets a Kong, the Kong has his regular kibble (about 1/3 cup), then yogurt at the top, then it's frozen. So his "treats" at my house mostly have been his kibble, which seems to have done well for his digestive tract, because we haven't had to deal with an upset stomach. Currently, the kibble is Iams in the green bag. There are higher rated, more expensive foods out there, but Peter and my own dog have done well on this food, which they both like. Aside from the kibble, he's been getting a heaping tablespoon of pumpkin every night (canned pumpkin, not pumpkin pie filling; check your grocery store's baking section for canned pie fillings--it's usually there instead of in the canned fruit or vegetable section). The pumpkin is the first thing he eats out of his bowl at night. And he's been getting half a raw turkey neck at least twice a week; the uncooked bones are soft enough to help with cleaning his teeth, but because they're uncooked, there's no risk of splintered bones.

Breakfast: 1 cup of kibble.
Noon: 1 Kong. (Kibble in his crate can substitute for the Kong, if you won't be home.)
Dinner: 1½ cup of kibble. (Or less, if he got kibble in his crate and a Kong.)
Bedtime: 1 Kong.

That bedtime Kong (or a kibble snack) is what has made it possible for me to sleep until 9 or 9:30 in the morning. If he seems calm enough in the crate not to need muzzling (he's chewed the wires some, although he hasn't bent the wires or tried to get loose), he could have a Kong in the crate instead of the scattered kibble.


Ready for the freezer. That's a little dog biscuit tucked into the peach yogurt.

He likes squeaky toys. While he silenced the squeaky in one toy here, he didn't shred the toy and pull out the stuffing. (Yet.) He likes to chew on hard things. He's chewed on a pair of my shoes, on a hair brush (handle was wood), and on a vacuum cleaner attachment (plastic with bristles). When I've caught him, he hasn't objected when I've taken things away from him, and he can be diverted to something he's actually allowed to chew. He's shown no signs of food aggression, and I've been able to reach down and move his bowl, take a Kong from him (sometimes kibble gets stuck, so he lets me bang the Kong until the kibble breaks loose), and take toys from him. I consider turkey necks a high-value food item, and I haven't tried to take one from him. I let him eat those in peace.

He's not cat-safe. (Or squirrel-safe.) He's not to be trusted with small, fluffy dogs, and I'm not sure how he'll be with larger, non-greyhound dogs. So far, he barks at them, but he shared an earlier foster home with non-greyhounds. I'd proceed with caution in that regard. If he starts barking or growling at dogs he sees on a walk, I've just walked him in circles until he's calmed down, and I haven't let the small dogs get close enough to be in danger. Typically, I walk him on a 4-foot leash rather than a 6-foot just because he and my own dog tangle themselves up on the 6-foot leashes. There haven't been any episodes where he's gotten sight of "prey" and suddenly lunged for it. Usually, he sees something interesting (a slow-moving squirrel), and he gets his ears and tail up and sort of trots along, all hopeful-like. Meanwhile, I'm telling the squirrel to get itself up a tree and I've held Peter back until the coast is clear. He's seen cats on a couple of walks and he stares at them. Cats in my neighborhood know not to run or move fast when they see my dogs, so nothing has triggered his chase instinct here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Eight Weeks

Peter has been here 8 weeks today.

GRA Peter
Peter rings the bells

He's learned to sleep late (until after 9 some mornings; the secret is to make sure he gets a bedtime snack and a last trip outside). He's learned to signal when he needs to go outside. (And when he just wants to go outside.) He's learned to cuddle without being too pushy.

Although he'd like to come along when Silver and I leave the house, he's fine staying home by himself. He's muzzled in his crate so he won't chew the bars or get into trouble. I leave him kibble that he can get through the holes on his muzzle, and that distracts him when I leave. When I come home, he's relaxed and peacefully asleep. And he'll wait patiently in his crate while I bring in groceries.


And, what might be the biggest miracle, he's learned to slide his head onto Silver and nap there without making her mad. She never tolerated Sam touching her when she was lying down, but she didn't complain today.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Ring them bells!

I've created a monster, and it didn't take much effort. ;)

There were (and are) a couple of issues going on here.
  1. Peter hasn't had to ask to go outside at my house--so he hasn't learned how to ask. Since I work at home, he gets lots of trips outside during the day. I work until I get fidgety or want more Diet Coke or something. I get up, stretch my legs by taking the dogs outside for a quick trip to the corner (a pine tree with needles under it--and it's not in anyone's yard--makes a great place for dogs to pee), come back and make a trip to the kitchen. The dogs settle down again to nap, and I go back to work. And Peter hasn't learned how to make me get up and take him out when he wants me to.

  2. Peter has the attention span of a flea. Really. You can take him down to the peeing corner, spend 20 minutes or more with him there, start back to the house, and about 30 feet from the front door he slams on the brakes, suddenly realizing that he's forgotten to pee. He's been too busy watching neighbors and their dogs, passing cars, airplanes, falling leaves (it's October, for cryin' out loud), and raindrops. He'll finally settle down to do some business. He'll circle, sniff bushes, circle again, sniff pine needles, circle again, sniff tree trunks, circle again, get all set to go--and a neighbor will come out to see if there's mail in the mailbox. Or a bird will make a noise. A cat will cross the street two blocks away. Whatever. Peter forgets what he was about to do. I just want to scream at the neighborhood: "Stand still for 30 seconds, will ya?"
What this combination yields--on mornings when you're frantically pressed for time--is a disaster. Get up. Take the dogs out to pee. Twenty minutes later, decide that Peter needs more time to make up his mind than I can afford to spend (it's amazing how distractingly busy my neighborhood is at 7:30 on a Saturday morning), and head home with the dogs for breakfast, planning to take Peter back out after he's eaten. Feed both dogs. Decide to spend a couple of minutes filling Kongs. Go looking for Peter and find that he's left gifts by the front door. At first, only the pee was visible on the black floor, and I dashed off to get paper towels. Came back with the towels and realized I'd just run through the less visible poop--brown on black in the dimly lit foyer--and tracked it from the foyer, through the front room, the pantry, and into the kitchen--and back again. Call it Kiss your morning schedule good-bye.

So, step 1: Teach Peter how to ask to go out. The easiest way is to teach him to ring a bell. I took a Christmas collar that has bells on it and draped it over the knob of a door that's in a place he can reach easily--and that's close enough to where I work that I can hear the bells. (They're not very loud, but they've worked short-term, and I'll make something better.) The collar isn't on the front door that we go out for our walks; that would be too hard for me to hear. It's just on a convenient doorknob, but it could be put anywhere. (And the bells can be used later when he's in an unfamiliar place--when he goes to his forever home or he goes visiting with his forever people.) For the past 8 days, every time I've taken Peter out, we've stopped by that doorknob. At first, I jingled the collar; after a bit, I could point to the collar and Peter would jingle it; and now, Peter goes to the collar on his own and rings the bells when he wants to go outside. At that point, I praise him, take him by the leash, and we go to the front door to go outside.


(The "monster" I've created, of course, is that Peter now rings the bells when he wants to go outside--to look at the scenery, bake in the sun, meet with the neighbors, watch the birds, dodge falling leaves, scope out the cats, stare at passing cars... I can take him out, watch him pee and poop all he wants, come back to the house, settle down to work--and the bells are jingling again. So now I need to figure out when he's serious and when he isn't--without undoing this useful week of training.)

We'll continue the bells next week while we work on hurry-up-and-poop. I'm going to take treats out with me and start treating both dogs if they pee/poop quickly. The longer we stand outside, though, the fewer the treats. And I'll make it a point to stay out there for a bit after everyone's finished (I don't want him stalling in an effort to stay outside longer). As for Peter's attention span... What I've discovered is that I need to break his focus on whatever he's watching. Walk him in circles, get between him and whatever has hypnotized him. He can't pee while he's moving, of course, but he's not peeing standing still, either.  I want him to learn that he doesn't have to watch everything that's moving. Perhaps if he watches the approaching car for fewer seconds, fixates on the Yorkie twins only for a few yards (rather than two whole blocks--and those dogs move so slowly!), perhaps I can get Peter's attention back where it's supposed to be--especially if there are treats involved.

In good news, he hasn't peed or pooped in the house again, so that bad Saturday morning wasn't the start of a new bad habit. And he's remarkably better about not jumping up on people.

P.S. The title of this post isn't a grammatical slip. It's the title of a Fred Ebb/John Kander song.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

The Love Bug

If you call Peter to come to you in the house, you've got a 50-50 chance that he'll respond. (We're working on actual recalls out back, with him on a long leash. He's only 50-50 out there, too.)

But fling your arms wide and call him. He'll trot to you, tuck his head down, and lean and lean against you for hugs and petting. He'll keep leaning as long as you keep petting.

* * *

When I leave the dogs home alone, both dogs are muzzled, but no one's confined. They each get a couple of small cookies. Silver settles on her dog bed before I get out the door. Peter comes halfway to the door to watch me, but that's all.

If Silver is going with me and Peter will be left home alone, it's totally different. When Silver has the car harness on and Peter doesn't, he figures out that he's being left and he doesn't like it. There's no way I can get Silver out the door and all my stuff out the door without Peter pushing to join us, and I'm worried about the potential for tails pinched in doors (there's a wood door and a storm door), shins scraped, toes crunched in door jams.

I'm still using the Dog Anchor in the house to keep Peter from getting into trouble while I'm busy (or while Silver's eating). So, in order to get Silver and my stuff out of the house safely, I hook Peter to the Dog Anchor until Silver and my gear are in the car. But I can't leave Peter attached to the Dog Anchor when I'm not around. He's silly about the leash when it wraps around his leg(s), and I won't risk that he'll hurt himself with the Dog Anchor once I'm gone, so I unhook him from the anchor. At this point, it's a contest between him and me to see if he can get out of the house while I'm getting out. And because I've already taken off his martingale (for safety's sake: he never wears a martingale when I'm not home), the risk that he'll squeeze out of the house when I leave is a serious one: he'd be out there, muzzled and leashless. (He always wears my foster dog tag collar: a collar with a tag that says "I'm lost" on one side, with my phone number on the other.)

So I needed something to keep him safely occupied while I leave, something that works even though he's muzzled. I tried dropping a couple of little cookies for him, but he knows how to get the cookies through the holes of his muzzle, and he still can get to the door before I get out safely.

I put down an old cookie sheet. It's warped and stained and due to be replaced. (It's too large to fit comfortably in my oven.) It has raised edges all the way around. I drop it in the floor and toss a quarter-cup of kibble onto it. Peter blissfully stands there, hoovering up the bits of kibble through the holes in his muzzle. And I can leave the house safely, without trying to wrestle my way out the door. In fact, yesterday I got to the car, realized I'd forgotten my phone, and unlocked the door, came in and got my phone, and left and locked the door again--all while Peter scrambled for kibble pieces.

Why not crate him? He doesn't like the crate. You have to get behind him and push to get him in there. And since he chews on the crate, he still needs to be muzzled to protect himself. If he has to be muzzled to keep him from chewing things, it just seems like overkill to crate him, too.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

E.T.S. = Escaped Tongue Syndrome

GRA Peter

He's sound asleep, and his tongue is completely dry. If you touch his tongue, he doesn't stir.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


Peter: What was that? Did you hear that noise?

Silver: Yes. It was a crash in the kitchen. There were bad words.

Peter: Should we go investigate?

Silver: No. There were bad words.

Peter: Maybe we should go help clean it up.

Silver: No, son. There were bad words.

Peter: If you're sure...

Silver: If she wants our help, she'll call us.

Peter: Well, I'm going back to sleep.

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Good Boy

We went to Petco today so Peter could get his nails done. I'd been told he didn't like it, but he behaved very well. No one had to muzzle him, and he stood patiently through the whole thing. The groomers liked him--one fell in love with him, took pictures of him, and everything. (But she's not looking to adopt him. She has two elderly cats and a huge rabbit. Peter + cats + rabbit = very bad trouble.)

The best news may be that he didn't try to jump up on either groomer--or anyone else he met at the store today. He was terribly fascinated by little critters he saw in displays (I didn't let him get close enough to the enclosures to alarm the ferrets or birds), and he caught a glimpse of a tiny poodle puppy through the mesh of the owner's shoulder bag and just went rigid. I gave his leash a tug to get him moving, then got a good grip near his collar to keep him moving, but he kept looking over his shoulder, hoping the puppy's owner would follow us.

After the Petco, we stopped at my vet's office so I could get an accurate weight on him. He's lost about two pounds in three weeks. I just increased his food by half a cup last week, so we'll stay at that amount to see if it makes a difference soon. If not, we'll go up another half-cup.

Also, he's now getting Iams in the green bag. This isn't a highly rated dog food, but it's a product that lots of dog owners resort to for good, firm poop. It's also about half the price of the Nature's Recipe Venison and Rice formula he was getting, and if he can be healthy on a less expensive food, it makes sense to give it to him. If I see any sign that he's having trouble with it, I'll change him to something else. (I know lots of people rave about the Nature's Domain food from Costco/Kirkland as an inexpensive, good quality food, but my dogs never did particularly well on it. I can try it for Peter if he has trouble with the Iams.)

Tomorrow: Turkey necks!

Note: On the Dog Food Advisor's rating scale, Iams green bag scores 2.5 stars; Nature's Recipe scores 3 stars; Kirkland's Nature's Domain scores 3.5 stars. But on a scale rating content of protein-fat-carbohydrates, Iams scores 28-16-49, Kirkland scores 27-16-50, Nature's Recipe scores 24-13-54; the Iams has a higher protein tally than the other two foods.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Just a quick update

Peter appears to have lost some weight, so I've upped his kibble. He's also getting canned pumpkin.

  • Breakfast: 1 cup kibble (Nature's Recipe Venison and Rice formula), with 1 teaspoon of Missing Link
  • Midday: 1 Kong (about ⅓ cup of kibble, some peach yogurt, and mini-marshmallows)
  • Dinner: 1½ cup kibble, with 2 teaspoons of Missing Link and a heaping tablespoon of canned Pumpkin
  • Bedtime: 1 Kong (about ⅓ cup of kibble, some peach yogurt, and mini-marshmallows)

So that's nearly 3½ cups of kibble a day, a couple of tablespoons of yogurt, a rounded tablespoon of pumpkin. A couple of very tiny dog biscuits when I have to go out and leave him at home.

GRA Peter
Too busy with his Kong to pay any attention to me while I cooked.

Today, he had another half of a turkey neck. I'm leaving a day or two between turkey treats to make sure they're not bothering his stomach.

A new issue: he really, really wants to go out with me. I've been leaving him muzzled but uncrated when I'm not home, but I may need to go back to crating him to make sure there's no chance of him slipping out of the house as I leave and return.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The New Boy

No, it's the same dog--GRA Peter.

But he's like a new dog. Today is his 19th day here, and he's finally got a good grip on the rules.


When you're in the kitchen, he wants to join you. But walk him out of the kitchen, then stand in the doorway for a minute (or less), body-blocking him when he tries to come back in the kitchen. He'll go lie down on a bed, preferably one where he can watch what you're doing.

Leash walking? Walk him on a 4' leash if you're walking another dog at the same time. With both dogs on 4' leashes, you're walking two dogs on two leashes. If they're on 6' leashes, it's like walking half a dozen dogs on one knotted tangle. With the 4' leashes, no one clotheslines anyone, they don't get tangled on each others' leashes; they don't even get tangled on their own.

He had half a turkey neck today. Raw turkey necks, with uncooked bones, are good for dogs' teeth. I hook dogs to posts in the carport so they can't reach each other or try to steal from each other. He was fast and neat with his neck.

He's also gotten adept at his Kong, and usually gets all the kibble pieces out.

The way my condo is arranged, he could reach the kitchen trash can, but he hasn't even tried. (He did investigate the trash can in the bathroom, but I was standing right there and could keep him from collecting rustle-y paper.) He still looks longingly at yarn, but he watched me wind a ball of yarn today and only touched the dangling yarn once, pulling back when I told him "No."

This doesn't mean he's trustworthy at all times, such as when your back is turned. But it does mean he understands that some things aren't allowed, and he's willing to take guidance about what those things are. The day he walked in here--the day he climbed on top of his crate--he was convinced he could do anything he wanted.

My favorite improvement? He lets me sleep. He didn't wake me up this morning. I got up about 8:30 after a couple of snoozes, and when I went back to sleep after breakfast (this ragweed is killing me), he went back to sleep, too.

He's still a bit goofy: he talks to himself when he's awake and isn't otherwise occupied. His tongue still falls out of the right side of his mouth when he shakes his head. And let's not even pretend that he's okay around non-greyhounds. But he's ready to be someone's house dog and buddy, although--with his present behavior--he's welcome to stay here as long as he needs to.

Edited to add:


Yes. Well. Two minutes with my back turned. I'd been told he doesn't like pedicures, but this isn't the way to avoid them.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Settling In

They say it takes a dog a couple of weeks in a new home before its personality comes out. Peter has been here two weeks last Friday.

GRA Peter

Peter has a new friend, which periodically is stolen by his housemate, Silver.

Silver doesn't want to play with it. She just wants to take it away from Peter.

Peter likes his squeaky toys. He's okay with stuffed toys, but the squeaking is the important part.

Peter's Friend

There are some things we're still working on here.

  1. Jumping on new people. We've worked on that. He hasn't done it lately because I've been on the ball and headed him off. I think one solution is to turn Peter sideways to someone who wants to pet him. Hold him by the collar, and let the person approach and start petting Peter from the side. Letting the person pet Peter while Peter still has four feet on the ground may be the best way to prevent the jumping and teach Peter that he'll get petted if he stands still.
  2. Leash walking with another dog. Peter is very good when he's the only dog you're walking, but he's clueless if there's a second dog being walked by the same person. He seems oblivious to the leash, and he'll clothesline the other dog or walk into the other dog's leash and choke himself and then turn and look at you as if you're doing it all wrong. Also, I've been walking him on his SEGA leash, which is a 6' leash. I used to walk Silver and Sam on 4' leashes, and I'm going to start doing that with Peter and Silver to see if that helps keep the dogs from getting tangled so much. ETA: Wow! 4' leashes are the cure for constantly tangled leashes. I should have tried this two weeks ago!
  3. People who are eating. He comes toward your plate, you tell him no. He keeps coming, so you push him back. He thinks for a minute, then circles you so he can come in from the other side. When he sees food--his or mine--he becomes deaf to commands and totally fixated. (But he hasn't growled or threatened when I've touched his food dish or reached for a Kong to help him get food out of it.)

He needs a firm hand: if you give him an inch, he'll take a yard--in everything. If you ever let him eat from your plate, he'll think every meal is his; so if you want to give him people food, make sure he eats it from his own dish, not yours. If you walk him past an open car door, he will get in--even if you were just opening the door to get something out of the car. If you let him snuggle next to you, he'll insist on getting as close as he can--then start shoving you with his feet so he can get more space. If that starts, make him get up (you can take him outside for a potty break), then come back and establish your space again and don't let him get so close. I've used the Dog Anchor to control how close he can get to me. He can get within a foot or two when I'm working or sleeping--close enough that I can pet him, but not so close that he feels I'm in his territory. He's on the Dog Anchor at mealtimes to make sure he doesn't crowd Silver at her dish. I've let him off the Anchor sometimes and let him roam around the condo. He's stayed out of trouble, but I don't let him do that if I'm not able to keep an eye on him. When he's home with Silver, both dogs are muzzled. When he's home alone, he's crated, and I'm still muzzling him in the crate to be sure he won't hurt his teeth chewing the wires. He was home alone for about 7 hours on Saturday (7:30-2:30), and he was fine--sound asleep in the crate when Silver and I got home.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Stepping Out

The good news: Peter aced his step test. He's quite willing to go up and down steps with no balking. Even better, he takes steps at a sensible speed and steps onto each step. Some dogs who are uncomfortable on steps will take a flying leap at the end of the staircase to eliminate those last few steps. Peter neatly took all the steps, even on short staircases where he could have jumped.

But, being Peter, every silver lining has its cloud. ;) I took him for a walk at the park and was letting him sniff at leaves and sticks and rocks and whatever else he was interested in. He ate something hard--didn't sound like either stick or rock, so I don't know if he found a piece of hard candy or a bit of bone or what. ETA: I've discovered he's fond of acorns. --KF 9/20/13

I haven't been muzzling him on walks at home because people here are pretty good about not throwing out things that would be hazardous to wildlife (or wild dogs). But I muzzled him for the rest of our walk at the park so he could sniff to his nose's content without finding anything else to eat.

Muzzled or not muzzled, he's not attracting a lot of people who want to pet him. It may just be that we were running into people who've never met a greyhound. Peter is a tall dog, and maybe people are intimidated by his size and his stripes. But at least I kept him from jumping people at the library (where we practiced short steps) and at the park.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Turning the corner

Bless him, Peter's getting calmer and more sensible all the time.

GRA Peter
I found the off switch. It's called "a pillow."

I hoped to work with him some this weekend, but wound up being diverted into a search for a lost greyhound. (Chloe, who got loose on Friday night, was caught on Monday afternoon.) So poor Peter spent a lot of time muzzled in his crate while I was gone, which he wasn't happy about--to the point where I'd have to get behind him and push to get him in the crate the next time. (He has an excellent braking system that kicks in about 3 feet from the door of the crate.) But when I came back home after he'd been left, he was sound asleep in the crate and not making a big fuss to get out. After he was crated so much of the day, I let him spend the evenings out, although I still muzzled him at bedtime, so that if he got up and wandered around while I was asleep, he'd be limited in what damage he could do.

But he behaved at night, so I've left him out of the crate while I've run two errands (I've been absent a couple of hours each time). He's muzzled so he can't eat anything he shouldn't, but he hasn't done any damage. He's even ignored a loaf of bread sitting out on top of the stove in the kitchen.

Some things I'd like to test further or see improve:
  1. He needs to leave people alone while they're eating. In this case, "No!" doesn't stop him. He'll keep pushing ("pushing" is a euphemism for "planting his entire face in your dinner"). I don't let him have any of my food--or let him lick my plate when I'm through. A future adopter will need to be careful about this, because if you give in to him, there may be no going back.
  2. He needs to leave other dogs alone while they're eating. At mealtimes, he's been hooked to the Dog Anchor so he won't bother Silver, and she's good about not bothering him. But he just tried to "help" Silver with her Kong, and she told him off. I'd feel more optimistic if I thought he'd learned his lesson.
  3. We need to practice stairs. I don't have any idea if he knows how to do them. There's a local library branch with ramps and sensible concrete stairs out front, and I think we'll go there soon.
  4. He still wants to jump up on everyone he sees. Until he gets past this one, he's a bad candidate for a meet and greet (unless you want a whole row of bodies on the floor). Between this and his feelings about non-greyhounds, he may never be a good meet and greet candidate, which is too bad, because he's a very sweet boy.

GRA Peter

But there are some things I don't think will change:
  1. He needs to leave yarn alone. He'll ignore a ball of yarn if you say "No!" But he needs to be told about each ball of yarn he encounters. But he does leave it alone if you say so. (I'm a knitter, so this is fairly high on my list.)
  2. He panics if he gets his back foot caught on something. He just hooked an electrical cord with his back foot and yanked and screamed bloody murder. He's not hurt, and he didn't even manage to unplug the clock that he'd snared, but it really scared him. If he's going to be out and about in your home, keep foot-traps to a minimum. This tendency isn't peculiar to Peter--or even to greyhounds. Dogs have no sense about their back feet or about what to do when tangled. Peter is just more vocal than most greyhounds I've met. And he got his foot caught about 10 minutes after Silver snapped and growled at him over the Kong, so he's feeling really put-upon right now--so scared he's decided to lie down and take a nap. ;)
  3. He's not cat or other-dog safe. He might eventually learn to leave a larger non-greyhound alone, but I don't think I'd ever risk it. He is getting marginally better about animals he sees on walks, but I still need a firm grip on his leash. The other day, when there was a Boston Terrier and two Yorkies in sight at the end of the street, I walked him in circles for five minutes while they pranced around down at the corner. (We never got closer than 30 feet.) It took a few trips around before he stopped fighting the circling and stopped trying to watch the small dogs over his shoulder. He did calm down, and I'd bet he can be desensitized to the sight of them so you could walk him down the street safely, but I wouldn't ever expect him to be a buddy to one.
  4. He wants to be with you--the closer the better. He's not going to tolerate being shut in one part of the house while his people are in another part. You can crate him, but you'll need to muzzle him as well to keep him from damaging his teeth on the crate.

If you're not home with him, he still needs to be muzzled. He might be okay in his crate without a muzzle, but he hasn't shown that here, and he has a history of chewing on furniture when he's anxious. If he can reach anything chewable when he's home, he'll need to be muzzled because what will draw his attention when you're home and can correct him (or remove temptation) bears no correlation to what will attract him when you're gone. (For those of you who don't know, baseboards, doors, and sheetrock are all chewable by stressed dogs. So is furniture.) Giving an anxious dog something appropriate to chew (like a Kong or a deer antler) is no guarantee that he'll stay away from inappropriate items like the rungs of your antique dining room chairs. Do yourself a favor and muzzle an anxious dog. You'll be doing him a favor, too, as you prevent damage to his teeth or the consumption of something that would be dangerous.*

And if you have another dog at home who's left uncrated, that dog may need to be muzzled along with Peter. I'd never leave one dog with a fighting advantage the other doesn't have. If you don't want to muzzle both dogs, then crating at least one dog is advisable.

I do want to add: One awww trait he has: when he shakes his head, his tongue dangles out the right side of his mouth, and sometimes it takes him a few seconds to realize it and pull it back in. It's one of those things that's hard to catch on camera, and it's a uniquely "Peter" trait.

*I had a dog who lived with me from 5 October 2002 to 8 August 2013. He was muzzled every time I left the house. He once pawed and clawed at a new bag of dog food until he tore it open. Then he spread kibble all over my condo. But if he'd been unmuzzled, he'd have eaten enough to bloat; I'm quite sure his muzzle saved his life, and saved me a fortune in emergency-vet fees.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


GRA Peter

He's serious about toys. On the bright side, he'll surrender a toy--although I wasn't foolish enough to try to take one while he was in mid-frenzy.

GRA Peter

He likes wool. (I'm a knitter, so this is not a good thing.) On the bright side, he surrendered the wool when I reached for it. (On the not-bright side, he followed me to see where I hid it away.)

GRA Peter

He likes to chew things. In his last home, he chewed wooden furniture, which often is a sign of separation anxiety. Here, he's chewed the contents of his Kongs, he's ignored a Durable Nylabone and a deer antler, and he's chewed the wires of his crate. That last one is a big no-no.

Since he's not chewing the Nylabone or antler (even with peanut butter on it), he's not naturally a chewer. Since he was chewing furniture when people weren't home and he's chewing his crate here, it's clearly separation anxiety. But the crate chewing here has only happened when I've been home, and I've stopped the chewing at this point by muzzling him when he's crated. He hates the muzzle, but that's better than letting him damage his teeth. When he's crated and I'm here, he's a bit noisy (whining--not barking). But when he's crated and I leave the house, he doesn't get noisy, so apparently his noise-making only happens when he thinks he can persuade me to get him out of the crate. (So far, he's been disappointed on that front; I'm not going to let him out at night because he wants to cuddle and sleep with me, and his next owner might not want that.)

Meanwhile, I've stopped using the ex-pen. He's not going to stay in there, and he's going to hurt himself getting out. I have a Dog Anchor (they don't make these anymore, but it's the same idea as this Pet N Place with Paw Anchor), and I've tried hooking him to that to keep him from wandering around. Unfortunately, he's an idiot about his leash and winds up with it wrapped around his back legs, so that's not going to be a way to keep him out of trouble when I'm not here. Eventually, it may be safe to leave him loose but muzzled, but for now we'll have to stick with crated and muzzled. He'll have some alone time Friday, as Silver and I leave him home alone while we go to a Pope High School football game Friday evening. We'll see how he is after that. I think he might be fine in his crate when there's no one around to let him out.

He's fine on leash--unless he sees someone. He gets hyper-vigilant when he sees other dogs (he sometimes growls at them, but he doesn't bark and he can be turned away while the other dog is still at a distance). But he gets crazy when he sees a person. He wants to meet the person (whether his intended target is interested or not), and when he gets to a stranger he jumps up and puts his feet on their chest. I need to work on correcting that behavior, but I'm running out of volunteer victims in my neighborhood, and he hasn't jumped on me since the first day.

He's not cat safe, not small dog safe, and possibly not other-breed safe. (He hated my neighbor's Aussie on sight at 40 paces.) He's not scared of thunder or noises or anything else that I've noticed. He doesn't react to sounds on the TV or the laptop--not even the sound of other greyhounds. He's respectful of my girl, and when she growls at him, he listens. He's made no effort to pee in the house, but he marks Silver's pee outside (or tries to--his aim is awful). He's not jealous of Silver: doesn't mind when she shoehorns herself between him and me. He's fond of his food, but hasn't been possessive about it. He wants to cuddle. If you're on the sofa, I think he'll want to join you there; I usually sit in the floor to work, and he wants to curl up next to me. We've started clicker training; he had diarrhea the day he arrived here, but I think that was stress, and I think his stomach can handle some richer training treats--in moderation. Today we played "touch the cup" for training.

Silver and GRA Peter
I'm filling Kongs, Silver is watching, and Peter is waiting patiently.*

And he's learning to sleep late. In his former home, everyone got up at 6am. On the off chance that his next adopter won't want to get up that early--and because I don't want to get up that early--I've got an alarm that goes off at 8am, and I'm liable to snooze until 9. He was noisy at 5:30 the first morning, but he's getting better about being quiet until I get up.

More Details: He had ivermectin today (heartworm preventative) and Frontline Plus (flea and tick preventative). For food, he's getting a cup of kibble in the morning, a cup of kibble in the evening, and a quarter-cup of kibble in each Kong (two Kongs a day), with vanilla yogurt on top, then frozen. He gets two teaspoons of Missing Link Hip and Joint formula a day. (The "hip and joint" is for Silver, but he might as well have some too.) He's not clever about the Kong, and if the ingredients are packed too tight, he gives up. Current kibble is Nature's Recipe Venison and Rice formula.

*Here's a tip: if you have a dog that wants to hang out in the kitchen while you work, provide a comfy resting place right outside the kitchen, where the dog can watch in comfort. I didn't have to teach Silver to stay there. She used to stand right behind me in the kitchen (where I'd trip on her), but once the rug was in the dining room, she moved there to supervise.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Peter has had some more crate time today--in the crate, and on the crate.

He didn't sleep well last night. He yawned and sighed and moved around a lot. I think he wasn't being crated overnight at his last home (although he was crated at earlier foster homes), so it's probably just a matter of getting used to it again--of him resigning himself to the idea that his foster mom isn't going to let him out just because he makes a little noise. His future adopters might not want to crate him, but if they need to crate him, I don't want him to react badly to that decision. He's been kenneled for most of his life; there's no reason he can't tolerate a kennel again now--especially one with padding, a blanket he can dig a nest in, and with water, a Kong, and something to chew on.

He stayed peacefully in his crate while Silver went to obedience classes. He had a Kong to keep him busy at first. Then, I'm betting, he slept.

We got home from obedience and he had another Kong. I was working with my back to him when I heard a noise. I turned around--and found him standing on top of his 3-foot-tall crate. He wanted out of the ex-pen, but he thinks it's too flimsy and unstable for him to climb. A nice, stable crate is a much better platform for an escape; the ex-pen is bungee-corded to the crate for some stability--but clearly, Peter doesn't think it's stable enough.

When I told Peter to get down, he did--jumping back into the ex-pen. This is scary, though: aside from the risks of having a slightly crazy new boy wandering anywhere he likes in my condo, there's the danger that Peter could take a bad fall on a very hard floor if he keeps staging escapes from the ex-pen. (I've seen what lies under my vinyl-that-looks-like-stone floor: it's a concrete slab.)


Peter spent some time out of the crate and pen this afternoon, sleeping snuggled up to me. He ate dinner in his crate (his decision; I was all set to feed him in the ex-pen, but he went into the crate). After dinner and a late walk, we settled down to watch the Braves game. When the game ends--or sooner if Peter seems to want to go to bed (this game has gone to extra innings)--I'll settle him in the crate with a Kong.

Tomorrow, he can be in the ex-pen when I can watch him. The rest of the time--or if he's trying to escape from the pen--he'll be back in his crate.

When he's out of the crate and pen, he's muzzled, and Silver often is muzzled, too. These guys are new to each other. Silver is known to be a grump about being touched when she's sleeping, even when she likes the other dog; let sleeping dogs lie isn't just a quaint old expression. Peter's reaction to contact he wasn't expecting hasn't always been predictable, so we'll be snuggling with muzzles for a while. So far, the dogs have been fine together, but taking a chance with their temperaments right now could mean stitches for one or the other, and I won't risk that. (Neither dog likes the muzzle; they both try to wipe the muzzle against the wall to dislodge it. But it doesn't interfere with anyone's ability to sleep.) Peter also wears his collar and leash when he's out of the crate and ex-pen so I can steer him out of trouble if he starts to wander. (Keeping him leashed is called "tethering": where you keep the dog on leash until you're sure he won't get out of your sight to pee or otherwise get into trouble. Tethering won't be necessary for long--he's shown no inclination to pee in the house--but I don't want to set him up to fail Housetraining 101 because I wasn't watching him.)


Some good news: Peter and I were outside when it started to thunder, and he didn't react badly to it--just cocked his head in that direction. Later, back in the house, there was a really loud bang that startled him, but he settled right down again: he's not thunder-phobic.

I want to make it clear: Peter isn't a bad dog. He's sweet, gorgeous, curious, bold, inquisitive, responsive, and an absolute darling. When I told him to get off the top of his crate (he's the first dog I've ever had do that, so I really wasn't prepared)-- When I corrected him he got down immediately. He hasn't once been sullen or snarky. If I've told him "no" over something he was interested in, he left it alone. But you need to let him know his limits, because he'll push against the universe until it pushes back.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Starting Again...

Peter had some problems in his first home. After a brief honeymoon period, he got off on the wrong foot and it was decided that he'd do better back at SEGA until he could find a new home.

GRA Peter

So today he came home with me--to be the foster brother of my 8-year-old girl, Silver--until he remembers his manners and SEGA finds him a new home. He was nervous, panting, and stressed when he arrived (and ignoring his stuffed Kong); that lasted about 30 minutes. Then he took a nap.

GRA Peter

I got a close-up photo of him, and that woke him up. No longer stressed, he was willing to clean out his Kong (kibble, vanilla yogurt, and a couple of mini-marshmallows, frozen).

GRA Peter
Look closely. There's a dog hiding on that bed.

He took another nap. When he woke up again, he was a bit bored. One thing he's going to learn here is how to chill when he's awake; naps are great, but sometimes he needs to be awake and calm. So he's in an ex-pen to keep him from wandering around and getting into trouble, and when he wakes up and is bored, he yawns. Loudly. And sighs--loudly. I'm sitting where he can see me, but I have my back to him while I work, and his yawns and sighs get louder and louder as he hopes for my attention (and I'm smothering my giggles). When he doesn't get noticed, he just goes back to sleep.

And that's how we want it. He'll learn to be calm and relaxed while his adopters go to work.

He's had his dinner and now is napping (again). In a little while, he'll get another quick walk, and Peter, Silver, and I will settle down in the living room to watch the Braves game. At bedtime, he'll get another quick walk, then have a Kong in his crate. Tomorrow morning, he'll be left home alone (and crated) while Silver goes to an obedience class. We'll see how he does then.

Peter's adoption photo, February 2013

One thing I want to add: This boy is gorgeous. When you see him in person, you realize that his coloring is much more vivid than it looked in bright sunlight during his adoption photos. His head is nice and slender, and he's not very large. He raced at a variety of weights ranging from 64 to 71 pounds; that's a wider range than most racers. Today, on the scales at Lake City, he weighed just under 69 pounds, and he looks great. He travels well in the car, too; the boy rode for more than 80 miles today.

* * *

Holey moley! He just came over the top of the ex-pen! (Ignore his sighs at your peril.) It's time for the Braves game, so I gave him his post-dinner walk, and I'm letting him stay out of the ex-pen. Bedtime (for him) at 10pm or so, and we'll work on ex-pen tolerance tomorrow. He has to learn the ex-pen is his friend. The alternative is the crate, and the bed there isn't as cushy.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Another nice weekend for Pete.  Pete seems to be enjoying his retired life.  He definitely enjoys napping some of the day away on his dog bed (or couch--if we let him).  He's not all lazy though.  He's still pretty active for a greyhound.  He runs daily in the backyard (just toss one of his favorite toys and off he goes).  He enjoys the car to pick up my son from school, a trip to Petsmart to buy toys or food, or just a quick ride to pick up dinner.  He's always up for a walk no matter how far or what time.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Silly Face

Peter is such a silly boy. He plays hard and then he sleeps. Here he is totally relaxed and sleeping like a baby.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Beautiful Day

What a great day!

Checking out the garden.

Homemade doggy door :)

All pooped out.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Hmmmm, GRA Peter is wondering what he did to deserve a bath ;)

He thinks all this primping and fussing is for the birds!

He had to admit he felt great when his bath & primping was all done...