Archive for the ‘Greyhound Adoption’ Category

No News…

September 9, 2010

I strongly hesitate to even tap out these words: no news is good news. Because the minute I do so, you know something is going to happen. But I’ll risk it because I feel like I haven’t posted in this blog in ages.

But the reality is: Stella is pretty much not a problem. I really get why people will rescue one Greyhound and then go back again (and again–and again.)

The only real issue she has is that she can be growly on lead. This, I have learned, is something that just comes with the dog or doesn’t. The best thing to do is to just avoid extended “meet and greets” with other dogs if she’s on lead.

The therapy work we do at the psych facility is challenging and I question how long I’ll continue. The people act funny, smell funny and, as much coaching as we do, asking them to be gentle in their approach, there is generally at least one person who comes at her and frightens her. I’ve shifted to letting her walk around without her leash and I believe she feels more secure without it. And I’m reducing her sessions from an hour to 30-45 minutes. We’ll see…

I’m training for another half marathon and Stella has been training right alongside me. I’m now up to 9 milers for my long runs–I sort of wish I could take her with me on the actual day of the race. It feels odd not to run with her, like I’m missing a 65 pound, four legged, black and white appendage.

So yeah, no news is good news. And honestly, I’ve been writing a lot less and “arting” a lot more. Check out Wildpots, my latest endeavor!

The Michael Phelps Of Sleeping

April 12, 2009

If there were a sleeping event in the Olympics, I believe Stella would bring home the Gold. Every time. Whether it’s a couch roach, bed curl or a snooze-fest in the car, this dog would end up with more bling around her neck than Michael Phelps.

Not to say that I hadn’t been warned. How many times have I heard that Greyhounds are the 45 mile-per-hour couch potato? Everyone who has a retired racer remarks on how cleary these dogs understand the meaning of retirement. Most recently while listening to a piece on rescuing all those hounds in Guam, I heard someone say, “Well, you know how it goes. Adopt a Greyhound. Lose a couch.”

Maybe because we got a Greyhound puppy or maybe because she never had a career to retire from, I figured she would not morph into, well, a Greyhound. But I’m here to tell you, that day has arrived. And it is on this day that I finally understand all those things they say about lazy Greyhounds. Stella sleeps so deeply, so regularly, so much of the time I often feel like we are living with a critically ill patient who is not to be disturbed 22 hours of the day.

Or that she is training, and training hard, for her events in 2012.

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The Big Day

January 21, 2008

I often wonder how Stella felt on that hot August day when we drove the three hour trek, for the second time, to take her home. I could not seem to get beyond feeling bad for her: she’d be leaving her mom, her siblings and a large spread in the country for a two bedroom, one bath house in a concrete jungle.

Dee told me she would be plenty upset at some point and to comfort her–but not too much, “She’ll get over it”

When we arrived we were greeted by the woman running the facility. She seemed happy to see us—ecstatic even. I figured she’d been fantasizing for the past week about offloading each an every one of these hellions onto new caretakers.

The woman pointed towards the field where the pups were all turned out. We’d come to take Stella away and to rock her little dog world for good. But for the time being she could have cared less: she hung in the field, ate grass and did what dogs do best: she stayed in the moment.

I snapped a few photos, signed a stack of paperwork and then, for the first time, showed Stella her leash. She looked at me like I’d just landed from Mars.

Weighing in at about fifteen pounds, Stella sat in my lap the entire ride back. I thought we’d gaze into one another’s eyes but I realized this was impossible to do if one or both parties were dead asleep. I kept myself occupied by thinking about the next challenge ahead: Llewis. I was hoping Llewis’ disinterest in Bally would generalize to all puppies. But I wasn’t 100% counting on it.

After many days of strategizing, our game plan for introductions was as follows:

P. would go up to the house first and put LLew in the bathroom. He would call on his cell, let me know the coast was clear and then I would come in with Stella.

Stella would get a quick and hopefully urine free tour of the home and then she would be whisked out the back door for a pee. Stella would then be brought back and we’d put her in her crate.

Llew would be released. And he would then have run of the place. He would be unable to kill her, we were pretty sure, if she were protected in the crate.

As we got closer to home, Stella began to wake up.  I thought again about how she would never see the green fields in Auburn, about how she wouldn’t wake up the next day and be able to play with her littermates. About how, in one car ride, her life would be radically changed.  

But while I wondered and worried and pondered how everything would go down, Stella simply yawned, looked up at the traffic, and then fell back to sleep in my lap. She’d deal with her new life as it came—one moment at a time.

What’s In A Name

November 29, 2007

Years ago my friend Bob was living up north on a few acres of land. Growing tired of mowing the grass himself, he decided to get some help. But unlike the rest of us who would just pick up the phone and call a gardener, Bob opted against the bipedal route. 

Instead, Bob decided to purchase some sheep.

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A few days after he called in the order, a grizzled sheep dealer arrived at Bob’s place. The sheep were quickly released onto Bob’s property where they immediately got down to business. Bob stood waiting in silence for the sheep dealer to finish writng up his paperwork. A man of few teeth and even fewer words, the dealer tore a receipt from his book, handed it to Bob and eventually spoke only these words before he took off in his truck, “Don’t name and don’t tame ‘em.”

The next day Bob called to tell me about Madge, Simon and Bud, the three sheep he put on his credit card. He didn’t plan on inviting the sheep inside to watch TV on the sectional, but he did want some sort of relationship. And with no plans to make mutton, why not name ‘em?

I thought about Madge, Simon and Bud when I was trying to think of a name for the puppy. Naming something doesn’t only mean you won’t be eating it. Naming something means it becomes a someone And it was for this reason I couldn’t name my puppy.

After all the bridges I crossed I did not anticipate that this would be the last one. But it was. Deep down inside I thought I could back out and say I’ve reconsidered if I’d never named her. But to name her and back out well, that was worse than a hit and run.

So the internal confict raged on. In bed I lay awake, restless, churning over a puppy—a puppy that played all day in the sun with her eight littermates—a puppy that was being prepped for departure the following week—a puppy, that, for now, would remain nameless. 

Frozen Feet

November 16, 2007

frozenfeet.jpg 

I’ve purchased two houses in the Bay Area. For those not from this part of the world, this translates into a honking amount of debt and a lot of responsibility—financial and otherwise. Oddly, in neither case, likely due to stupidity or ignorance, did I experience the typical cold feet and buyer’s remorse that everyone else experiences. I wasn’t quite sure what people were talking about when they described these feelings of panic and nausea.  But then I said yes to that puppy and now it was all falling into place for me.

 

My feet weren’t just cold, they were frozen solid.

The problem started, most likely, because I couldn’t take the pup home with me soon after the open house. The litter would stay together and all be spayed and neutered before anyone would be released.

This left plenty of time for me to stew in my neurotic juices. There was no adorable puppy roaming the premises to reinforce that the sacrifices I was about to make would all be more than worth it. Instead, there was just the theoretical responsibility of a high maintenance puppy taking on a life of its own in my head. So the fact that I eventually nudged myself over the edge wasn’t exactly a big surprise.  

It was innocent enough. B. forwarded me a friendly email with an article she found online about a nice couple who adopted a nice couple of Greyhound puppies. The woman half of this couple, while not complaining exactly, chronicled the endless and massive number of times these creatures pee. She described in detail a home ripped apart and the personal sacrifices, like sleep, that come with the “joys” of raising Greyhounds. In the end, she added something forced and cheerful like, “Take pictures of this sleepless blood bath because it’ll be over before you know it. Ha, ha ha!!”

At the end of the article, which I could barely finish reading, I had a full blown, flop sweat panic attack.

When I came to I decided I just couldn’t do it. I would not let a dog destroy my house. I would not let a dog eat my Adidas Trail Runners. But most of all, there was no way any dog would get in the way of my REM sleep. It was there that I drew the line.  For me, the world without sleep is a world I’m better off not occupying. I picked up the phone to call Dee.

It is here that I should tell you that somewhere along the lines B. had given me the name of a very nice woman who knew a thing or two about Greyhound pups. Dee had raised dozens of pups from scratch (AKC show Greyhounds) as well as adopting rescues. When it came to pups, Dee was the Man.  We began talking early in the process so, by now, Dee had a sense of me so I could let loose.

“I love my home. And I can’t live without sleep. I can’t do this…I…”

Dee interrupted me, “These people are idiots. Who lets a dog rip their entire house up and eat all their shoes?”

“They did!”

Dee reassured me, “Calm down. It’s gonna be fine. The problem you need to focus on is how LLewis is going to react. Because if your cat can’t handle the puppy and you have to give that puppy back you will be, and I guarantee it, broken hearted.”

Dee was right. I was freaking out and obsessed about some stupid article online. She also added that this should be a happy time. A little scared is fine. But more scared than excited, I need to look deep within on that one.

I sat silently on the other end of the phone.

“You there?” she asked.

I bit off the last remaining nail left on my last remaining finger that still had a nail. “I’m here.”

“I don’t want you doing something you don’t want to be doing but hear me out. Raising a Greyhound pup is an opportunity of a lifetime and it won’t come around very often. I’d hate to see you let that slip away because you got scared off by some bozos who wrote an article. So promise me you’ll take a few deep breaths before you do anything.”

Dee was a Greyhound angel from heaven and I’d never even met her. She was wise in general and specifically about this breed.

“I promise” I said. “And thank you. You know you’re the best.”

“Nah” she said, “I’m just old and know stuff.”

I went to bed and, like Dee said, did nothing—except breathe.

Won’t You Be My Number Two?

November 15, 2007

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P. and I arrived in Auburn one half hour after the open house began. Hot, humid and a three hour drive from civilization, we thought we’d be the only two.

The place was mobbed.  It was as if everyone thought Greyhounds just sprung from their mothers’ heads and were born full grown. Few, aside from the breeders at the tracks, ever get to see the babies. Having learned of the open house, those who loved their retired racers (and there were plenty of them) came from near and far to witness the puppy sized versions of their beloved hounds.

We were told that no adoptions would take place at the open house so it should be just a kick back, get to know you kind of a day. I felt good about this—it made me feel relaxed. We could just take things slowly.

When we went through gate we saw profiles of each puppy on the fence: three were already adopted.

Great. It was mobbed, a third of the dogs were gone and now, I said to P., take a look at the profiles of the ones left.

Big Trooper is the leader of the pack.

Irene is a loving, sweet girl.

Xena likes to have fun!

I instantly grew suspicious of these descriptions like I would a too rosy description of a piece of real estate. Sweet girl meant needy girl. Playful and fun loving meant destructive and noisy. And it took no genuis to figure out  the what rhymes with Big Trooper.

As people continued to stream in, I wanted to cut to the chase. So I asked the manager of the facility if she could pick out the top three easy going pups. Specifically I was interested in ones that could hang with a cat that would never stop hating him or her.  

She instantly pointed to two black pups and a black and white one.  “One, two and three” she said as she pointed, “in that order.”

We spent time with One, Two and Three but they all seemed the same to me. They were all cute and squirmy and when they weren’t playing they looked like fat little corpses laid out on a field of grass.

Having said that, we did begin to zero in on the cow print girl: Number Two. More than anything, we observed. We watched how she interacted with people and her siblings. We also kept a close eye on Number One—we began to think she could work too.

P. has amazing eyes. He could spot a fly taking a crap from a mile away. We figure he must have been a sight hound in a previous life. So it was P. who saw The Enemy coming. He called it dead on just as he squinted at the sun reflecting off her hand in the far distance.

You see just as we were beginning to discuss how Number Two might match the décor in my living room, The Enemy entered. P. said she was trouble, that she was up to no good. And that we should be afraid. He was right. The Enemy ran towards Number Two and then just scooped her up—just like that and said, “Mine.” I wondered if this is how it’s done—if Greyhound pups are like gold and I should have done that myself. Had I been a fool?  Should I have just grabbed the first pup I saw and said “mine” before anyone else could?

The Enemy held Number Two up in the air and then back down in her arms. “Mine” she said again. If you’re wondering what age The Enemy was, let’s say she was no spring chicken. To add insult to injury she had bling dripping from every digit given to her from what, we figured was her eighth or ninth husband. 

Paniced, I did what any dog virgin with no experience would do: I headed to one of the coordinators for the day and asked: “Exactly what’s the deal here?”

The coordinator, who truly was sweet–and not in a fake real estate euphemistic way—saw the fear in my eyes and said she would note that I was interested in Number Two.

Phew.

The day progressed. More people piled in. And turns out The Enemy was a pretty nice lady.

“Please adopt her” she said, “Because if you won’t, I’ll have to.” She loved Number Two but was not at the stage in life where a puppy would really fit in.

Turns out, 99% of the people that showed up fit this category.

We stayed longer than most. And as the day finally wound down, we narrowed it down to Two—and to One. We couldn’t decide. Number One or Number Two…we were mulling when I heard: “Yes, we’ll take her.”

I spun my head around and before I knew it, Number One was gone. Like that. A couple had come in and decided, instantly, to take Number One.

The choice was made, and the cow print girl, by default, was ours. That is, if we still wanted her. The coordinator looked up at me, “I have you down for Number Two, do you want to adopt her?”

I went and looked at her description: A very photogenic little girl, she has a tiny spot interrupting her white blaze. She is, of all the puppies, one we would call Miss Congeniality.”

Miss Congeniality. I tried to think of what they were really trying to say. Is she overly friendly? Does she try too hard?  As I continued to strain my brain, P. nudged me and then pointed out to the field.

 

And there, in the patch of grass, all by herself,  I saw Miss Congeniality, her little black and white cow print body stretched out in the sun, sleeping. If this wasn’t the best house on the block, I didn’t know what was.

 

“We’ll take her.” I said

And Then There Were Nine

November 14, 2007

sixofnine.jpg I began to accept the fact that a dog was not in my future and started making plans that had nothing to do with dogs. Sorta like what you do if you find out you can’t have kids. I perused the community college website looking for the next course I would take. I also pulled out some new swim workouts. And I gathered up drawing materials so I could get back to a little art work. I tried to stop thinking about rearranging my bedroom for a crate and where the water dish would go. I need not worry about these things anymore.

But it was only four days after I left B. the voicemail and I was still a bit raw so I decided I’d go to the GFFL website, just like I’d done an embarrassing amount of times before, to see who had come in. They put up new photos of the dogs every few weeks and it had become habit, or perhaps addiction is a better word choice, to stalk the hounds online.

It’s hard to remember the exact feeling when I landed on the homepage. I guess it was a combination of excitement and dread—like finding out you’ve been accepted into a university that should have thought twice. 

“Greyhound Friends For Life has rescued a litter of nine Greyhound puppies. Five girls and four boys were rescued Memorial Day weekend and have been taken up to Auburn for adoption.”

I called P. and then called about seventeen more people after that. I was completely struck by this coincidence. I am not religious but I’m open to listening to what’s out there. Something was definitely out there, including nine squirming Greyhounds, each needing a home.

The last call of the day was the one I made to B. at GFFL. She had been way too busy dealing with the influx of puppies and absolutely clueless really on what to tell people because they simply never had dealt with adopting out puppies that she’d not have a chance to call me.

“I can’t believe this.” I said.

B. was also a little dazed, both by the influx of pups and by how my story so oddly or beautifully, depending upon your perspective, seemed to dovetail into these circumstances.

“Well, there’s an open house next weekend if you want to come look” she told me. “They’re cute as the dickens but, well, you know, Greyhound pups are little devils.”

Devils, hellions, whatever. I would be there. P. would be there. But, more than anything, the universe would be there because, apparently, it clearly had a hand in this all along.

Expect The Unexpected

November 13, 2007

bally_hat.jpgJ. brought Bally over but not in a steel, triple sealed, ultimate security crate. She brought him over in some hard plastic gizmo. However, she was right: this crate seemed to offer enough safety from say a domestic cat on up through a panther.  I was okay with it.

Next came the oooohing and ahhhing. Despite the fact that I’m not a big fan or puppies or babies (I prefer the adult versions of each) this little dude with the seriously crushed snout was kinda cute.  

While were ogling Bally, LLewis stopped over. My body kicked into protective mode, readying myself to grab LLew as he ran to attack the cage. But it was for naught.

Llew didn’t do a thing. Not one thing. It was as if I’d turned the channel to something boring or distasteful to him.

Llewis took a small sniff and then left the room as if to say, “Page my service when you’ve got something interesting. Otherwise I’ll be in my circle.”

J. and I looked at each other.

Tempting fate, I carried Llew from his circle and brought him to Bally’s cage,  encouraging him this time to look at the nice puppy.

LLew looked instead back up at me, “Did you not hear me? I said page my service when you’ve got something interesting.”

After J. and Bally left that day I called B. She wasn’t there but I left her a long voicemail “I know it doesn’t matter most likely because it’ll never happen but Llewis could care less about puppies He had no reaction. He was fine. So if you ever have a litter…”

The rest was a tad bit out-of-body because I knew as I was leaving the message that it wouldn’t happen. Greyhound rescue groups rescue retired racers. And last I heard, they don’t really retire puppies.

I listened to my own voice trail off on B.’s voicemail but I finished up my message and went back…back to the ranch.

$1000 Later, Tax Included

November 13, 2007

We hit our six month goal. And on the day I made this official, J. ordered up (would you like fries with that?) puppy. She quickly decided on a name for him: Bally. It was close to the name of our sales guy, the person instrumental in bringing Bally into J.’s  arms.

“The name’s cute too.” J. added.

Bally had already been born so the wait time to get him was minimal. Within just a week or two J. was able to go and get him from the broker. And, within a week after that, J. asked if they could come visit me.

“Uh…you do understand what you’re asking, right?”

J. had heard about my “situation.”  She knew Llewis well. He had sat in on many, many production meetings with us and I’d threatened that one day he’d call her into his circular office for a “meeting.”

“Can you lock him up?” she asked.

“Not for hours and hours.” I responded.

“Well, I’ll bring Bally in a carrying case and he’ll be fine.”

She seemed much more casual than I was.  While Llew’s close encounters with large dogs involved lunging and biting, I was concerned that, with a small dog, he might add swallowing to his repetroir.

“Okay, bring him over but bring him in a steel container with a padlock.”

“Will do, Boss” she sarcaszed into GoogleTalk.

Meanwhile, Back At The Ranch…

November 13, 2007

The phrase “Meanwhile, back at the ranch…” comes from the era of silent films; it was so common back in the day that it was a stock caption, used over and over again—apparently so much that a hundred plus years later it’s being uploaded to my blog.

The “Ranch” for me at this time was the rest of my life that was happening during all this dog drama. The ranch was the part of my life that wasn’t torn between getting and not getting a dog. The ranch included me working during the day with partners and clients and not watching  Youtube video clips of Greyhounds sleeping.

Whether it was in the foreground or background of my life, honestly it was hard to tell, my small business was becoming less small. We were really beginning to ride a nice wave of growth and changes.

In an attempt to be a good boss, I asked my production manager what she thought she’d like for a six month incentive. I asked the question in Google Talk and about a half a second later I received word that J. would like a puggle.

“What’s that?” I typed back.

“A cross between a pug and a beagle.”

She called it a “designer doggie” (www.designerdoggies.com), others might call it a mutt.

I asked how much these things cost.

“$700 or so” she casually typed in.

“Does that include tax?”

“I don’t know. I’m not sure if dogs are taxed. I’ll need to look into that.”

Tax or not, $1000 or so for someone so effective in helping our business reach its’ goal seemed reasonable to me.

“Okay, we’re on. If we sell a hundred billion widgets by end of June, you’ll get one of those strange little mutts they’re breeding for way too much money.”

“Game on.” she typed back.