Thursday, February 24, 2011

Greyhound Myths + Christchurch Earthquake:(

Most people will have heard about the tragic disaster in the form of a second earthquake which hit Christchurch, the main city in the South Island of New Zealand.  It struck on Tuesday about 1 pm whereas the previous one on September 4th, 2010, struck about 4am when there were very few people around and no loss of life resulted.  At this time there are at least 75 people who have died in this earthquake.  Frankie, Beryl and I haven't been affected as we are well away from Christchurch.  I have no close friends who live there although I do have a friend who lives nearby and she is fine as are all the Greyhound people who live in Chch or the area.

I have been affected emotionally though.  Feelings of wanting to help but not being able to, great sorrow for the people, their families and also lets not forget the lost animals.  Sorrow for New Zealand.  Things like this just don't happen in my lovely adopted homeland.  With all the natural disasters happening around the world in the past year or so I wonder what is happening to our planet?  Are we slowly self destructing?

So far I haven't been able to watch any TV coverage, it's hard enough watching things like this when they happen in someone else's homeland.  I'm not ready yet.

Anyway, onto something a bit lighter which will hopefully lift my spirits:)  A few days ago we were given a lovely award
from our cute new friend, Summer who lives in Malaysia, thanks Summer:)  She seems to have an affinity with Greyhounds as she follows quite a few Greyhound blogs;)

Now, I'm supposed to tell you 7 things about myself (and/or Frankie and Beryl) which you may not know, but I thought I'd make it a bit different and tell you 7 things you may or may not know about Greyhounds:)  Many people have preconceived ideas about Greyhounds that simply aren't correct or are the exception rather than the rule:)

1 - Greyhounds can't live with cats, small dogs, rabbits etc.
If you get a Greyhound from a society that rehomes ex-racing greyhounds, and young greyhounds that don't want to chase, then they will have been temperament tested and also tested for their reaction to cats, small dogs and perhaps other small animals.  An average of 50% of Greyhounds are cat friendly, some are cat tolerant or cat trainable.  The average for those who are small dog friendly is probably higher!  You will also be matched with a dog who suits your lifestyle.  It pays to be honest with the society about your circumstances to avoid a mismatch:)

Here is a photo of 1 New Zealand ex-racing Greyhound with her cat
Bonnie and her cat
and here is a photo of 3 NZ ex-racing Greyhounds and their cat:)
On the couches, Gracie and Astro, Mr Spurs and Oscar on the cushions:)
Here is Beryl and one of her little friends, Spot the 15 year old Foxie

Another one with Beryl, Lucy and 'Big Ted'

Of course, sensible people keep their Greyhound muzzled for a week or so and never leave the cat and new dog unsupervised:)  It's better to err on the side of caution rather than take unnecessary risks.  There are also dog aggressive cats out there!!

Greyhounds who come straight off the track or out of the kennels may not have met other breeds of dogs so they will need to meet lots of different dogs and learn that other dogs can be fun too, not just Greyhounds:)

2. Greyhounds need a LOT of exercise.  
People think because Greyhounds can run very fast that they are extremely fit and need a lot of exercise.  Most Greyhounds are lazy.  They are not a breed that would ever be recommended as a training companion for someone getting fit to run a marathon:)  They are bred for short bursts of sprinting, not sustained endurance type jogging or running.  Having said that, there are exceptions to that rule. Also young dogs around a year old will have more energy than a young dog who has matured and finished racing at around 4 years old.

Greyhounds do seem to make excellent hiking companions.  A blog with lovely photos and stories of hiking expeditions with Greyhounds that is well worth a visit is Hiking Hounds, I am green with envy at the places they go!  Another wonderful Greyhound blog which mentions hiking often is Tails and Tales.  The star of this blog, Bunny, often goes hiking with her GSD sister, Morgan.

While Greyhounds sleep a lot, if their exercise is built up gradually to the stage where they are quite fit then they can take and want more exercise.  Beryl lets me know when she wants some 'action'.  She is possibly fitter now than when she was racing:)  

Also important is mental exercise.  A tired dog is a good dog and a happy dog.  Beryl loves the mental stimulation of going to new places.  She smiles and prances and bounces and gets a real kick out of it.  She also enjoys her Rally O classes.  

3Greyhounds are large dogs that need lots of space to live in.
Well, they are not Chihuahuas, but they are indoor dogs. Greyhounds have virtually no body fat so outdoor temperatures to either extreme are not tolerable to them. Even if you live in a house with a fenced yard, the dog will need to live indoors. We have people who live in two bedroom apartments with a Greyhound and they are very happy and comfortable there. The uninitiated are always amazed at how "small" a sleeping 30kg Greyhound can be.  Beryl weighs about 28kg and isn't a small female by any means but she can curl up into a ball slightly bigger than a pillow:)  She can also spread out on a queen sized bed so that there is barely room for me which is why she sleeps in a crate and not with me and Frankie:)
Beryl curled up
4. Greyhounds can't sit.  
It's true that many Greyhounds don't find sitting comfortable.  I taught Beryl to sit and it took a while and I have never seen her sit for comforts sake.  She will keep standing and look miserable if there isn't anything comfortable to lie on!  Put down any sort of mat and she will lie on it happily, but sit, no way.  However if I'm eating something she wants then she sits with great aplomb:)
Beryl sitting
Me with Beryl's cousins, Louie and Lucy
5. Greyhounds can't be trained for obedience, agility etc.
I call Greyhounds 'why' dogs.  If you ask a Greyhound to jump it won't say "sure, how high?"  It will say "why, what's in it for me".  And there are plenty of breeds of dogs with this attitude.  While it makes them a challenge to train it also makes them very good at problem solving as they aren't afraid to think for themselves.  

There are a couple of blogs written by owners of very high achieving Greyhounds with plenty of training tips and videos.  Never Say Never Greyhounds and Aragon Greyhounds take great pleasure in training their Greyhounds and it shows in the way they perform so happily:)

Another blog chock full of training tips for the "why" dog is Honey The Great Dane.  Great Danes aren't normally associated with obedience and while Honey doesn't compete she does do 'doggy dancing' and demonstrations.  She's had articles written about her in magazines and her owner, Hsin-Yi, writes articles for pet magazines about training and various other topics.  There are many suggestions for training your "why" dog for polite behaviour in every day life.  Her training tips are full of common sense and ingenuity.  Sometimes you have to be quite clever yourself to outwit a "why" dog .... perhaps that's where I fall short, lol!!

6. Greyhounds can't be off lead except in fenced areas.
This is a very contentious issue amongst Greyhound owners.  I have only owned a Greyhound for 10 1/2 months so I'm no expert.  I was told this before I got Beryl and I very nearly didn't get a Greyhound just because of this.  But if you look at my photos and videos you will very rarely see Beryl on lead.  There are quite a few things to do before and after taking the plunge to unleash your Greyhound.  Recall training begins at home!  And never ends:)  I always carry high value treats with me and whether I call Beryl or if she's just hanging with me on our walks she gets treats.  I never take it for granted that she comes, it's always a big deal:)  I never call her when I'm going to do something she doesn't like, e.g give her a bath or have her toenails done.  In those instances I go and get her.  I am extremely vigilant when at the park, river or beach.  I'm the one that's doing the scanning, not her!  I'm looking for little dogs mostly, but anything that may cause her to take off.  Beryl is good with little dogs but if I had a little dog I wouldn't want a comparatively huge dog racing up to my baby at 40 mph!!  It is important to be a responsible Greyhound owner (and dog owner!) as we want people to realise they are wonderful pets, not give them a bad name.  You have to know your dog, and this takes time.

I'm still learning about Beryl.  I'm going to confess that at the beach last night (yes, the 3rd trip to the beach in just over a week!) Beryl went AWOL on the way back to the cars!!  This is the first time she has ever done such a thing.  She'd chased a rabbit on the way to the beach but came back quickly enough.  When we were walking back to the cars she was wandering in and out of the scrub on either side of the 'road' and when we were almost back to the cars she just didn't turn up after a few calls.  We waited for a while then Fatima and I went back to where we'd last seen her and found a narrow track which we followed for a while and met her coming back towards us.  Only Beryl knows where she went or what she followed!  So she has now lost off lead privileges on the walk to and from the beach.  She is not going to be happy about that, especially on the walk to the beach!   Being off leash isn't a right, or something she can take for granted either, it has to be earned and she slipped up last night.  
She did have a wonderful time though:)
7. Some advantages to owning a Greyhound:)
Most Greyhounds are good with children, some are besotted with children, some would rather live without them.  This applies to all dogs though.  Beryl would rather live without them but she hasn't met many.  Children need to be trained to treat a dog with respect to avoid any potential problems.  

Greyhounds are very adaptable.  You are virtually getting a blank slate when you get an ex-racing Greyhound.  They don't know how to be a pet and as they are intelligent they soon learn the rules.  Some will have to be shown how to walk up steps, they won't know who the other dog in the mirror is, glass doors are new to them etc.  But it's fun watching them learn about life as a pet:)  House training is generally a breeze.

While Greyhounds do shed it isn't in copious amounts.  They have very little oil in their coats so doggy odour is at a minimum and they are a good choice of dog for people with allergies.  And that lovely short coat is so easy to keep looking good!!  Having such a short coat and lack of body fat means they appreciate and need a coat (or 2 or 3!) during the winter.  This is wonderful for people who like to dress their dogs up, you don't have to have a handbag sized dog to have a dressed up dog:)  And then there are all the stunning martingale collars available.  Beryl has quite a few!  

OK, I could carry on and on but then I'd never get this blog posted so I'll stop right here.  If anyone disagrees with anything I've written or wants to add to it please feel free to do so in the comments section:)  Be aware that this is mostly my opinions, my experience with my Greyhound and stuff I've gleaned from various sources on the internet so I'm happy to be corrected and to learn more!  And also that I had to stop somewhere;)

Now, getting back to my award for a moment ... I'm supposed to pass it on to 6 more bloggers but I'm not going to do that because I'm lazy and this has taken me a few hours to write up as it is, and also I feel it devalues the award if everyone has one:)  I have mentioned 5 blogs in this post who if I was going to pass on the award would be top of the list so please go and check them out.  You could possibly be doing your "why" dog and yourself a big favour:)


Hiking Hounds said...

I was thinking about you with the earthquake. I actually looked up your location on a map and was happy to see you weren't near it. I know it's still hard for everyone though.

The pictures are great. I love the one of Beryl curled up. It's amazing how small they can get.

4-legged Wiums said...

great post Sue :)
we feel the same as you about the earthquake :( it's just horrible :(

PS - love the new blog layout!

jet said...

Naughty Beryl! Barbie gets to go offleash in 5 places - 3 of them are fenced suburban parks, one is the beach (though she is on leash to and from the beach, because that's the law here) and the other is the area near the river. She took a big tumble running at the river a while ago so now she is a bit funny about walking in the area where she tumbled and slid on her back. She also had a big scare down there with smoke/sirens so I think it's her least favorite exercise place. Bystanders are sometimes concerned about Barbie hurting herself, and occasionally she startles people, but mostly she goes for a burn, and then comes back to walk with me.

I think having any breed of dog off leash is a privilege. Its just that Greyhounds can be more of a danger to themselves than other dogs because they move so fast. At the beach I'm always watching to make sure she doesn't go too deep in the water - I'm not sure she can swim!

houndstooth said...

I was so sad to hear that Christchurch had been hit again by the earthquake. I knew that you and Jet were safe after reading about things last year, but I still feel terrible for those affected.

I think a lot of people assume that Greyhounds can't do a lot of activities and never really give it a try. Plus, I suspect that a lot of them outsmart their people! When my husband was doing obedience with Blueberry, she'd get tired of it if she couldn't figure out what he wanted fast enough and she'd go in her crate and turn her back on him. No amount of coaxing would get her out, either!

We don't hike in many places where off leash is allowed, and it's important to us to be good visitors in our state parks and such so that all dogs retain the privilege of continuing to visit. I don't have a good place to practice recall, so I don't trust Bunny off leash too many places. Part of me would like to try it, but the other part isn't sure it's worth the risk.

Summer said...

We were so sad to hear what happened at Christchurch. It's such a terrible devastation, and we never know why these things happen. We're glad you, Beryl and Frankie are unharmed.
It's true, Momma-1 has a sick obsession with greyhounds. Too bad, she's stuck with me! Mwahaha!
You're doing a really good job shattering the greyhound myths. =) I think pure breed dogs come with stereotypes which are built up over time. People just accept them at face value and don't think to question the validity of it. I'm glad that there are rebels out there who take breed stereotypes and throw them out the gutter!


Spiffo said...

We've been watching the TV coverage - just awful - very impressed with all the rescue dogs searching through the rubble. It's huge news here in Australia.

And what a great post - essential reading for any potential Greyhound adopter - it made me chuckle lots.

Cheers Spiffo, Cami (and our new guy) Jakka aka Ginger Flash.

Sue said...

So glad you are all ok. The news is just awful.

Congrats on the blog award.

Love your photos.

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Glad you guys are ok. Good post! Thanks for plugging my blog.

Kristine said...

The news footage from New Zealand is pretty hard for me to watch as well, and I have never even been there. I am so sorry for everyone having to go through such a terrifying event. It's just awful. I am glad you are okay and hope the worst is over.

I really liked this list. I think a lot of the things you said are true for any dog. It isn't fair to say these problems only exist in the greyhound breed. My whatever-she-is dog has off-leash difficulties as well as our own unique set of troubles to work through. Honestly, I think every dog is unique, regardless of breed, and it all comes down to patience and hard work and a lot of understanding. Thanks for outlining this so well.

And congratulations on your award!

Art and Sew Forth said...

I must admit that more I learn about greyhounds (and their peeps) I am more inclined to get one! Lovely photos and great info. Sending prayers for the NZ folks as they try to recover and rebuild. SO sad.

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