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A Tale Of Two Greyhounds


Guest hollies
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Guest hollies

Two months ago we adopted a black 4-year old ex racing Greyhound called Jenny, who was an absolute sweetheart from the start. She had not been inside a house before, but has never made a mess, and she mastered the staircase on the second day. She quickly learned her name, and the meaning of “No”, and “Tats”, which is an almost forgotten English command for a dog to go outside.

She walks sedately on the lead, and ignores yapping small dogs. She has bonded strongly with my wife and me, but to prevent us from becoming complacent, she is also an incorrigible counter surfer, an accomplished thief, and she enjoys chewing computer cables. We call her Jenny Longlegs

When she started to dig slit trenches in the garden we decided she was bored, so we took her back to the Sanctuary to be introduced to prospective companions. She rejected or scorned several candidates before she selected Jack, a handsome 8-year old black. We approved her choice, even though Jack was seriously traumatised.

He came from an appalling background. When he was retired after 65 races, he was given to a supposed rescue kennel that in reality sold dogs to vivisectionists and spurious meat merchants. The dogs were kept in dreadful conditions and were regularly beaten and ill treated. When the authorities closed the kennel and prosecuted the owner, some dogs were in such poor condition that they had to be put down. The others, including Jack, were taken by genuine rescue centres.

Jack was absolutely terrified of people, ran away in a panic when approached, and trembled with fear when walked on a lead. Yet he showed no sign of aggression, despite having more than enough reasons to bite any human within reach. I would like a few minutes alone with the person who reduced him to this state.

When we brought Jack home he paced and panted non stop for three hours before he dared to lie down. He was a bit more relaxed when in the garden with Jenny, but she was disappointed to find that he did not know how to play. He just stood looking bewildered while she ran around him barking.

How do you train a completely undomesticated dog that is in a permanent state of terror; doesn’t understand censure or reward; does not recognise praise; will only eat if left alone in a room; and does not dare to take a treat from your hand?

We decided not to try. Our first priority must be to gain his trust. We gave him a comfortable bed in an alcove where he felt fairly safe, and then left him alone. We spoke kindly to him when we passed by, but made no attempt to approach or caress him. Fortunately we had no problem letting him out. Provided we stayed well away from the doorway, he would follow Jenny outside. Along the way he even house trained himself, probably by following Jenny’s example.

For days he tried to climb into the wall when we walked past his bed, later he just sat up and looked frightened. Then, after a week, when I came downstairs one morning, he stood up and - oh so tentatively - wagged his tail. I called him a good boy, but did not try to fondle him. However long it took, I knew we would have to wait for him to come to us.

He wanted to. He would stand a few feet away and stare longingly at us when we made a fuss of Jenny, but if we looked at him he backed away.

On Jack’s tenth day with us I was sitting reading a book when he edged up to me and nervously nudged my hand. He looked horrified by his own audacity, but closed his eyes when I fondled his ears. I asked him whether he was enjoying being a domestic dog, and he made a rumbling noise in his throat that I took to be a 'yes'.

We still have some way to go, but I am astonished by his progress in just two weeks - and what a pleasure it is to have a glimpse of the very good dog that was hidden under all that damage.

 

Peter



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How do you train a completely undomesticated dog that is in a permanent state of terror; doesn’t understand censure or reward; does not recognise praise; will only eat if left alone in a room; and does not dare to take a treat from your hand? We decided not to try. Our first priority must be to gain his trust.

 

100% this. You are amazingly wonderful folks and I just wanted to say Thank You for giving Jack the most wonderful day of his life, the day that he came home with you, thanks to Jenny! She knew how much he needed to be saved. You are already on the right path to doing exactly what you chose to do, gain Jack's trust. The rest will come, every day will be a new day with new discoveries and so much love. I am so happy for Jack, and Jenny, and you. :bighug

Old Dogs are the Best Dogs. :heartThank you, campers. Current enrollees: Aiden. Punkin. Annie Oooh M. 

Angels: Pal :heart. Segugio. Sorella (TPGIT). LadyBug. Zeke-aroni. MiMi Sizzle Pants. Gracie. Seamie :heart:brokenheart. (Foster)Sweet. Andy. PaddyALVIN!Mayhem. Bosco. Bruno. Dottie B. Trevor Double-Heart. Bea. Cletus, KLTO.

:paw Upon reflection, our lives are often referenced in parts defined by the all-too-short lives of our dogs.

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Wow. :cry1

 

It is so wonderful that you are giving Jack a home and the opportunity to learn and approach things in his own time. Please keep all of us updated on his continuing progress!

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Humans Kathy and Jim with our girls, Ivy (Carolina Spoon) and Cherry (Fly Cherry Pie)

Missing our beautiful angel Breeze (Dighton Breeze) and angel Beka (BM Beko) - you are forever in our hearts.

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How do you train a completely undomesticated dog that is in a permanent state of terror; doesn’t understand censure or reward; does not recognise praise; will only eat if left alone in a room; and does not dare to take a treat from your hand? We decided not to try. Our first priority must be to gain his trust.

 

100% this. You are amazingly wonderful folks and I just wanted to say Thank You for giving Jack the most wonderful day of his life, the day that he came home with you, thanks to Jenny! She knew how much he needed to be saved. You are already on the right path to doing exactly what you chose to do, gain Jack's trust. The rest will come, every day will be a new day with new discoveries and so much love. I am so happy for Jack, and Jenny, and you. :bighug

I could not agree more! And please keep us updated on his progress. Pictures would be great too.

Cynthia, & Cristiano, galgo
Always in my heart: Frostman
Newdawn Frost, Keno Jet Action & Chloe (NGA racing name unknown), Irys (galgo), Hannah (weim), Cruz (galgo), & Carly CW Your Charming

Princess http://www.greyhound-data.com/d?i=1018857

"It came to me that every time I lose a dog they take a piece of my heart with them. And every new dog who comes into my life, gifts me with a piece of their heart. If I live long enough, all the components of my heart will be dog, and I will become as generous and loving as they are." -- Unknown

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What a beautiful story. Made my eyes a little leaky. I can't wait to hear more about Jack. ... and of course Jenny too. :)

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<p>Finn, Wink, Birdie, Snap and SmokeyJG Quicknfast 7/25/99-5/16/08, JG Quickwink 7/25/99-9/22/13, Iruska SweetDuv 7/19/03-11/9/16, Delbar 6/11/11 and Catahoula Smokey
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Tears rolling here, too. Bless you for letting Jenny choose. She did a good job of picking the one who needed her (& you) the most.

 

I predict that in 6 months, he'll be a totally different hound, and all will live happily ever after. Photos anxiously awaited.

Blessed is the person who has earned the love of an old dog.

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Greyhounds are far too forgiving of humans based on the terrible things that they've been through, but thankfully his forgiving personality and your patience will make him a very happy pet! What an awesome story and hope he continues to improve with your love and care!

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That's wonderful. Patience is key.

 

One thing you can do is start clicker training, but only teach him the significance of the clicker. Even if he's laying in his alcove, you can just click and throw a treat for him. He'll eventually learn that the click means food is coming. As he makes progress this can be a great tool to mark behaviors you like. I'm not suggesting you push training, because I don't think you should, but this could help in the future.

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Guest grey_dreams

What a lovely story. We have been blessed with two beautiful souls who are similar to your Jack. There is nothing so wonderful as providing a loving and safe environment and then watching their terror slowly melt away, as they blossom into their true selves. This is your journey, as well as Jack's. Wishing all of you a wonderful future together.

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Ahhh too beautiful! (You could also drop pieces of kibble/treats when you walk by his bed, in addition to saying soft, friendly things. Though things seem to be going well enough, as it is.) And yes, we would like to see pictures of Jenny and Jack! (Tho I imagine Jack is probably camera-shy right now.)

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Greyhounds are far too forgiving of humans based on the terrible things that they've been through, but thankfully his forgiving personality and your patience will make him a very happy pet! What an awesome story and hope he continues to improve with your love and care!

 

Have to disagree with this statement...my three did not go through 'terrible things' before they came to us.

 

It is unfortunate that Jack has not had a good experience with humans, but his situation is not 'normal for the vasty majority of retired hounds.

 

A huge CONGRATS to the OP on bringing Jack into your home and giving him all the time and space he needs.

 

Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos) and Mario (2nd Chance Rescue).   Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) and especially  Nigel (Nigel), waiting at the Bridge

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Guest bethac

Your story is touching and beautiful, thank you for bringing Jack into your lives and giving him time to trust. I look forward to updates and maybe some pics of your pups!

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Have to disagree with this statement...my three did not go through 'terrible things' before they came to us.

 

It is unfortunate that Jack has not had a good experience with humans, but his situation is not 'normal for the vasty majority of retired hounds.

 

A huge CONGRATS to the OP on bringing Jack into your home and giving him all the time and space he needs.

I believe the OP was referring to Jack, plus conditions can be different in the UK.

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Xavi the galgo and Allen the cat. Missing Iker the galgo ?-Feb.9/19, Treasure (USS Treasure) April 12/01-May 6/13, Phoenix (Hallo Top Son) Dec.14/99-June 4/11 and Loca (Reko Swahili) Oct.9/95 - June 1/09.

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Bit teary-eyed after reading that! You guys are awesome for taking on Jack and it sounds like your patience and kindness with him is starting to heal the damage. Dogs are remarkable in their capacity to forgive and you must have been so happy and proud when you got the first nose nudge from him. I imagine more and more of his sweet personality will start to show through over the coming weeks and months as he settles in and realises he is now in a loving home for good.

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Guest hollies

I am very touched and grateful for the many kind and constructive comments about my post. They confirm what I already suspected: Greyhound owners are nice people.

Jack is slowly gaining confidence, but has rather sad flashbacks. Sometimes when I reach out to him, he jumps several paces backwards. He immediately looks embarrassed and comes back to nuzzle my hand as though saying: “Sorry about that, but I can’t help it”.

It is our calm and sweet-natured Jenny who has surprised us. She has decided that Jack’s presence is fine anywhere else in the house and garden, but she will not let him enter the sitting room. The moment he sets foot through the door she snarls and snaps at him. He accepts the warning and goes to lie down elsewhere.

We don’t know why Jenny is so possessive about that one room, she is never fed there, nor does she sleep there at night. However, we feel that any interference from us would probably make things worse, so we are leaving it to find its own level. The dogs understand the subtleties of the situation, even if we don’t.

Yesterday we took Jack to the vet to be fitted with a microchip. We brought Jenny into the waiting room as well, mostly to reassure Jack. I expected him to be nervous and difficult, but he behaved very well. He did baulk a bit at the entrance to the surgery, but after I had a chat with him, he trusted me to lead him inside. That made me feel like a Judas, knowing he was about to be hurt, but in the event, he did not even flinch when the chip was inserted.

The staff and other customers were impressed by the dignified bearing and behaviour of the two black Greyhounds. We were proud of them.

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Guest iconsmum

you don 't need any advice...I bet you know that :)

you're a total natural.

any dog is lucky to find himself with you, and when Jack is a happy and confident member of your family, I'd like to see his pic - but not until you say so.

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Have to disagree with this statement...my three did not go through 'terrible things' before they came to us.

 

It is unfortunate that Jack has not had a good experience with humans, but his situation is not 'normal for the vasty majority of retired hounds.

I agree with Nancy. The majority of racing greyhounds in the U.S. do not experience "terrible things" either, and it seemed like Bree was making a general statement about greyhounds. I think the progress Jack has made in just 2 weeks is actually a testament to the solid early upbringing that most racers receive, before he ended up in that unfortunate abusive situation.

 

Peter, it sounds like you're doing a wonderful job with Jack, and he's lucky to have found you.

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

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I'd like to say that the way you're handling his "gentling" is the absolute best way to train him to like humans (at least his humans). It is a form of training, because he's learning along with you.

 

It sounds like he found the perfect home...even if he isn't allowed into the sitting room. :)

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