As you are aware our last greyhound, Winnie, sadly died just before Christmas and this weekend we finally set off for Crossing Cottage Greyhound Sanctuary having, of course drawn up a picture of our ideal forever hound.
At Crossing Cottage John and Judith work very hard at pairing up the right people with the right greyhound. Before you visit you can go on their website and view the dogs that need rehoming. There are a great many details on this resource from whether the dog is shy through to the best age for the children to be in the new home.
We spent several days constructing our shortlist of attributes we wanted our next greyhound to possess in order for us to live harmoniously together. We printed out the details of more than a dozen dogs and then each of us went through the details and narrowed the dozen down to not only our favourites but also the ones that we felt wouldn’t cause too much disruption in the home.
Here is a rough idea of our shortlisted criteria: Female, Winnie was such a sweet-natured girl, black or blue, Winnie was a pale fawn colour so we wanted to get a contrast so as not to be reminded of her too much.
Also we wanted a greyhound familiar with a home environment, one that was comfortable with the smells, sights and sounds of domesticity and would fit in without too much stress – for us or the animal - and was comfortable with teenagers.
If you followed Winnie’s blog you will also be aware that the she gave us all names: MOTH is me, the man of the house, well in name anyway. LOTH is Elaine, the lady of the house, mum to everyone else. GOTH is girl of the house, Caitlin, and BOTH is boy of the house 14-year-old Tom.
Anyway, MOTH, BOTH and LOTH duly trotted off to Crossing Cottage – GOTH was on bridesmaid duties – armed with an exact specification of what was wanted.
That’s when Monkey upset the applecart.
You can plan all you want, but you can never factor in love at first sight.
While we were looking at the first pair of dogs in the kennels I felt a tongue on the back of my hand and looked down to see a brown – all right – foxy, ginger rump disappear into the sheltered part of the kennel.
We asked Judith if we could take him out for a walk. Yes, you read that right HIM.
We took Monkey along the path and when we turned again to return to the kennels he just stopped and dug his paws in as if to say ‘do I have to.’
We coaxed him back and he was returned to his run. We looked across and for a split second he looked back – then turned on his heels and vanished.
We went to John and Judith and asked about his background.
He had only been at Crossing Cottage since February 4 and was quite aloof as he was very nervous and shy having just finished racing due to a pulled muscle. He had only lived in kennels but was very clean. He had very little confidence and needed to be taught how to enjoy love and cuddles.
Monkey would need a lot of attention, patience and love to bring out his personality.
If you have a minute, go back to the beginning and look at what we set out to find.
GOTH was sent a picture of Monkey – the wonders of the modern world – and added her approval. So the deal was sealed. Not only sealed but done and dusted and instead of going to Crossing Cottage and seeing what there might be for us to pick from at our leisure we brought our new family member home with us.
We were not prepared as we had no lead, and nothing for him to lie on in the car. The house was without a doggy-thing, all having been washed and bagged up the day we lost Winnie. So we arrived home with a hound that didn’t know what a house even was and was very frightened of us and everything around him.
I took him straight in to the garden for the toilet while LOTH and BOTH got everything we needed out of the garage. After he had done his business we had a spot of grooming and then tried to tempt him into the house. He was very reluctant and I had to put his lead on to enable me to get him up the step and in.
He hadn’t been fed since breakfast at 6.30am so we tried him with food but he wasn’t having any.
We went for a couple of walks with the muzzle on, as we had no idea how he would react to who and what he saw while out. Hopefully, the muzzle will be a temporary feature as he seems to dislike it intensely and wasted no time in letting me know by belting me between knee and groin every chance he got.
He also decided that he needed to emphasise his irritation even more by stepping behind me and bringing his head up between my legs every few minutes. A shortening of the lead soon stopped this.
Bedtime arrived and after another visit to the garden and then into an almost sleepless night as I waited for the trouble to start. I needn’t have worried. Monkey was silent throughout the night and come this morning the kitchen was both still there and still spotless.
We’ve had two walks today, again with the muzzle as I will be concerned at Monkey’s response to cats until we have a close encounter of the furred kind and I know what I need to do to keep him safe. He's had his first meal with us this afternoon
As I write on my netbook he is asleep on his bed at my feet. He is interested in all the noises around him and his ears prick up at every new sound. He is still unable to meet your gaze but we are in the same room.
And so our adventures with Monkey the greyhound begin.