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Day in the Life of a Greyhound.

October 6, 2007

We’ve had a greyhound living in our house for almost 4 months; the dog that N had “muling and puking”-ly acquiesced to, but now adores. She has changed our lives for the better – and according to research might even extend them an extra seven years.

Gracie, as she is aptly named, is an elegant, intelligent, easy going animal who, unlike most greyhounds, listens well. I take every opportunity to train her. These are not official training sessions but different situations where a 30 second teaching moment – done with an immediate reward – produces a fast result. For instance: at feeding time, I make her sit for a moment, telling her to “stay” before I give her a release command to eat her food. I pat her and give her positive verbal reinforcement. She is a quick learner.

Almost everything about her is a delight, except for behaving like a prima donna when it comes to her outdoor bodily functions. For me she’s a pill, for N she is a princess in the good sense of the word; not wanting to have his lawn littered upon, he takes her on a mile walk to a “field” at the bottom of our street where she performs immediately. He calls it a field, but what it really is, is someone’s empty, oversize lot that they’re trying to sell. When I suggest he take a plastic bag with him, for convenient poop removal, he comments, “Not to worry,” that nobody cares, “it’s just a field.”

Greyhounds are sight hounds, reacting incredibly fast (they can reach up to 45 mph within 6 strides) to anything that moves or anything that looks like prey. Consequently, a yard with an electric fence doesn’t work, because the dog will be through the “shock area” before you notice they’ve gone, and within a short while will be out of sight or run over by a car, or both. So without a physical fence, they have to always be on a leash.

I don’t relish the thought of trekking almost a mile to “N’s field,” each time Gracie needs to pee and poop. As I’m the primary poop picker upperer, I take her on a leash into our unfenced back yard. Normally I allow about 10 minutes for her to do her duty, and yet it seems I haven’t learned from past experience. Miss Gracie Prima Donna is a dawdler when with me. We roam around for my allotted 10 minutes while she sniffs and has a “Remembrance of Things Past,” type moment, all the while I’m looking at my watch because I’m supposed to be somewhere else. She begins to get into her “about to go any second” mode when someone coughs 4 miles away. On hearing this, she instantly straightens up, pricks up her deer-like ears, turns her head to see what on earth could be more important than what she’s doing right then, thus putting an end to doing what is most important right then.

So it’s back to the beginning; meandering around and around, up and down the large yard, sniffing the same old places over and over; I can tell. Gracie needs the dog equivalent of the NYTimes crossword or a book of Sudoku. So I cajole and I praise and at times curse softly so neighbors cannot hear me, although they have to wonder what this dog with a woman in sun hat and boots is doing, trudging back and forth for eons and eons, over our grassy back 40.

When Gracie’s gait slows and she lowers her head then rear end, it’s such a sure sign of impending action that I get so excited, as if I’m about to win something big……………..that’s how desperate I am.

When nothing happens again, I start to have evil thoughts; perhaps I should lead her into the Roundup sprayed area surrounding our mailbox, that N, with his ever ready Flash Gordon-like pesticide spray gun, zapped with a vengeance 2 days ago. Perhaps I could just tie her to the mailbox, someone might take her.

It was getting really hot outside, maybe all the water she drank evaporated with her incessant panting; maybe she’s more like a camel than I realized; maybe she just wanted to go back inside, which is what we almost did, but then her pace slowed as she lowered her head, crouched a little like a cat stalking her prey, then mercifullly, oh so slowly eased her butt down ………………until that darn truck back fired.

Copyright © 2007

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