Saturday 27 April 2013

Keeping it in the family

It's the Lady Of The House here, making a brief return to blogging because Bill - who I think has been doing a fabulous job of getting to grips with it all - says I can share some exciting news with you.

First of all, Monkey's doing well and gaining confidence every day. He's also happily heading to his bed at night time thanks to the chicken treat bribery many of you suggested.

Yesterday his paperwork came to us from the Retired Greyhound Trust where we learned that his racing name was Autumn Fusion. John and Judith at Crossing Cottage had already told us he had run 129 races in his career, but now we were able to look him up on greyhound-data where we found out a bit more about his races and his family tree.

Given the way he chose us SO clearly on that visit to Crossing Cottage at the start of this month, perhaps we shouldn't have been surprised to see that he was related to our Winnie on both his mum's side AND his dad's side. Yes, we have another Honcho Hound in the house. See this Facebook Group - - for owners of dogs descended from Head Honcho.

What was a surprise was to find that he was ALSO the grandson of the superstar Australian greyhound Brett Lee - who I wrote about on our Lost and Fond website.

Here's Monkey's potted family tree

Of course, we realise that greyhounds at stud have LOTS of puppies so lots and lots of dogs share common ancestry with Brett Lee and Head Honcho - but maybe now that we know there is DOUBLE greyhound Royality in his family tree it explains why he still likes to have his dinner brought to him in the living room.

Perhaps that confused look in his eyes in recent weeks was actually him saying: "Don't you know who I am?"

Today we took Monkey out in the car for the first time since we brought him home. We didn't want to give him too many new experiences all at once. We just took a short drive to a local park that's near a busy road (another test for Monkey). It was also his first time without his muzzle and he had a WONDERFUL time.

The sights and smells made him skip with joy and he didn't seem to mind the traffic noise at all. We also ventured on to the canal towpath to test his reaction to ducks. Not bothered at all. So more car journeys and muzzle-free walks loom large in Monkey's future.

Now on to the Saturday Pet Blogger Hop!

Seems a long time (because it is) since I did one of these so bear with me if I get anything wrong. If you just want to use the links below to find new blogs to read and follow - that's fine.

If you want to join in and add YOUR pet-related blog, you should use the Linky tool provided to sign up. 

Please also follow your three host of this blog hop - Life With Dogs, Two Little Cavaliers and Confessions of the Plume. who are in positions number 3. 4. and 5. on the listings below.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Working a treat

As I said before we have decided to go down the treat route for Monkey the Greyhound when it comes to bedtime - and it does seem to be working - if you'll pardon the pun - a treat.

Previously it involved the pair of us v Monkey, one at each end to get him to leave one bed for another at night. Now, with a little bit of chicken to tempt him it's much easier and last night we managed it without the leash.

They're getting there

Given that everything else is done on the leash - except for when he gets up in the morning. Then it's just time to lie down in the front room and away he goes.

We are delighted with this seeming breakthrough and are hopeful of a repeat tonight.

The routine is now working great and Monkey is eating and drinking from his bowls, which have been moved into the doorway, so we are on the way to the kitchen with food as well.

He doesn't seem to want to eat if you are watching and if disturbed he will go and sit down and we need to get the cheese to tempt him back.

A bone . . . for me

A bone has been introduced but doesn't seem to hold much allure for Monkey - it's rawhide free and good for him - but I don't think we'll bother with another, there's hardly a scratch on it.

. . . you shouldn't have

People can be strange. Walking on the old Clay Pits nearby can be fraught as many owners let their dogs off to exercise on their own while they have a natter and are seemingly oblivious to what's around them - including of course when their dogs toilet.

Anyway there was a woman walking her toddler through the area the other day while three random dogs were dashing about hither and thither without leads. Monkey - walking very calmly on the leash - was then pointed out to the toddler as a dog she shouldn't try to stroke as he was 'dangerous' - all down to the perception of the muzzle he was wearing.

Hopefully this will be resolved at the weekend as there is a park a short drive from us where we can leave Monkey's muzzle off as there will be no little surprises running out of alleyways as there is on our daily walks. He'll be able to see the rabbits as well.

Can't wait to show off my smile
This should enable us to see if he really needs it or it can be consigned to the bin it will also show us whether he can be tempted into the car or will need lifting in as he did when we picked him up from Crossing Cottage.

Although he pricks his ears up and pays attention we come across cats and other dogs most of the time that's all there is to it. He rarely pulls, contenting himself with twisting and turning to keep the animals in sight.

Again though, down to a person's lack of awareness we can be caught out.

There is a woman who has a poodle - one of the smaller ones - and she seems to be terrified that other dogs are going to go for hers. She may well have good reason for this assumption as something may have happened in the past. I don't know.

However, whilst we always cross the road when we meet, for which she is grateful, there are times when you wonder what is going on.

Today, seeing that Monkey was toiletting, she decided that the best thing was to run past on the other side of the road. This got the poodle excited and so it started yapping and panting which in turn attracted Monkey's attention and he obviously thought it was a game so he decided he needed to go after it.

Luckily Monkey is not a puller as Winnie was and so he is very easy to calm down by shortening the leash and holding it close to his head. Even so, when you are bending over to pick things up it can still take you by surprise - suffice to say a strong cup of tea was called for when we got in.

Friday 19 April 2013

bedtime question

When we put Monkey away in the kitchen at night he is very reluctant to go and digs his paws in and we have to push and pull him to achieve it. When he gets through the door he goes and lies straight down on his bed and doesn't make a sound all night. Which would be the best for him - to continue to force him to go in the kitchen where we eventually want him to sleep at night or to leave him in the front room at night until he feels more confident?

Thursday 18 April 2013

Scary monsters

What we have learned today.

Monkey has added a couple of things to his ‘I’m scared of this as well' list.

On today’s walk he reinforced his dislike of transit vans and added a bus shelter – just the one so far – and wheelie bins.

He also decided that the swooshing sound a car tyre makes when it goes over a wet patch on the road – not a puddle – just a wet patch, is enough to make him jump forward.

He also discovered last night that he would like to be Scooby-Doo. Walking on the green in the twilight he moved away from me by a lead’s length – about six feet (two metres) while he was ahead of me I stepped on a twig. You could almost hear the yikes as he jumped up in the air. Luckily he didn’t try to jump into my arms!

Anyway back to today’s additions to the list. The bus shelter we pass most days is open fronted

Today’s evil bus shelter is one we have passed on the opposite side of the road several times without any fuss. However, walking on that side of the road necessitated a run round behind me as we approached it

Go figure.

Wheelie bin day leads to all sorts of shenanigans as some bins are on drives to our left – others are on the edge of the pavement to our right.

 If I could get Monkey on skis I swear he could win Gold in the downhill slalom at the Winter Olympics.

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Taking the rough with the smooth

Before today's blog Monkey and I would like to send our love to all our friends in America after the monstrous outrage at the Boston marathon. Stay safe.

It was inevitable that we would have setbacks along the way to integrating new boy Monkey into our household and it would be remiss of me to paint a false picture of adopting a greyhound to those who may come across this blog and think that a grey could be their forever friend.
I must stress that it was only a minor matter and it was in no way Monkey's fault. I hold myself fully to blame.
As you will have read on previous posts Monkey was being trained to fit into our existing routine around getting the workers and pupil out the door. Sadly yesterday, I was tardy in getting Monkey into the garden first thing and he couldn't hold his wee any longer. I had the backdoor open but had left his leash in the wrong place so I couldn't lead him out and he relieved himself in the hall.
Nobody was more upset than he was. The look on his face said it all.
I got him into the garden on the lead but when I let him off he just ran back in the house and practically covered his face with his paws. Poor lad.
The incident seemed to upset him for the rest of the day. On the morning walk he was very skittish with the passing children and anyone in a hi-vis jacket was well and truly avoided - to the extent of stepping off the pavement to go by them. Breakfast was a no-go also - as I thought it might be - which was a pity as we needed to get some Drontal tablets into him. I'd even grilled a sausage to put the tablets in to disguise them.
Monkey had calmed down by dinner time but he was still needing the leash to get him in the garden and running straight back in as soon as he was let off it.
After some thought we have tweaked the routine in the morning to allow me to get Monkey into the garden more quickly and I have decided that for now we will keep him on the leash until he has had a wee and only then go back in.
The smooth news today is that it worked a treat. Monkey stayed on the leash until he'd weed. He had his breakfast a little later and ate the lot - including the Drontal stuffed sausage. I delayed his walk until the children were at school and that too went fine. Hopefully we are back on track and Monkey will continue to settle in.

Sunday 14 April 2013

Week One

Well that's the first week over with. Overall a solid start I think.
Monkey is much calmer than he was and more responsive. He is beginning to notice certain things such as the rattle of his muzzle when it is time for a walk.
I shall have to come up with something else to do in a couple of weeks - when we have tested his responses to other animals and children and decide if he will be going out without a muzzle. It doesn't seem to bother him too much - but he does keep wacking in against my leg to remind me it's still there.
Anyway at the moment when he hears me rattle his muzzle he gets up and comes to the front room door. I do have to be quick as if I leave it too long he goes and sits down again.
He will now wait when we get in from a walk so I can take off the muzzle and lead before he goes back to the front room.
He is using the new feeder we bought. It is still having to be presented to him at meal times but today he got up and had a drink from it. We also had teeth cleaning today and he didn't seem to object too much to that.
All in all a good end to the week and a good start to life with Monkey the Greyhound.

Saturday 13 April 2013

Mellow Monkey

Quiet day today with the Lady Of The House (LOTH) and the Girl Of The House (GOTH) out. One with boyfriend, one on business in Penzance. Of course it is the LOTH away on business.
Monkey and me and Boy Of The House Tom have spent a day chillin'. Tom with friends and some new games on his X-Box, Monkey - sleeping mostly - and a couple of calm walks.
Me, Soccer AM then following the footy on Sky.
Got myself a new copy of Greyhounds for Dummies - just to refresh my memory - and find myself torn between advice in the book and what has worked for us before. Will try some of the book's recommendations but mainly will go on gut instincts and what the LOTH feels to be right for us.
Sadly the netbook I usually post on is away with the LOTH so I'm having to use the main computer in what serves as an office upstairs. At least this machine doesn't freeze up every few minutes and I feel more in control of the post.
Hoping for another quiet day tomorrow with more chillin' with my boys and some good food and the Chelsea FA Cup semi-final - must keep calm for Monkey. Had a lovely text from a friend asking when they could come over and meet Monkey which I'm sure will make for an interesting day soon.

Friday 12 April 2013

Big thank you

As Monkey the greyhound finds his paws in his new world I too am finding my feet in the blogosphere. I hope you will forgive me for not posting individual replies to all of you who have welcomed Monkey and myself into your lives. I am very conscious of having to tread carefully in this new world and would rather not leave a proverbial mess on someone's blog carpet.
Monkey and I are finding our way together in this new adventure and I hope you will bear with us as we come to know each other and yourselves.
I think Monkey will probably understand his world quicker than I will. I am after all an older dog than him and you know what they say about new tricks.

Thursday 11 April 2013

Monkey day 4

What an exciting walk we had this morning. So much to see and hear.

Not only was it bin day - but the Boy Of The House (BOTH) and the Girl Of The House (GOTH) were back at school after the Easter holiday break. I know - a bit mean having to go back in the middle of the week – the BOTH as pupil and the GOTH in her role as a teaching assistant.

The structure of the days so far has been preparing for this - with get-ups, toilet, walks and breakfast being arranged to fit around the rest of the Pritchard pack. What can I say, it worked perfectly. Monkey slotted in without a murmur.

The main concern was how the walk would go as we were timing it so there would be a lot of the BOTH’s schoolmates coming and going as the term started and we could see how the activity affected Monkey.

He was very alert with a spring in his step as he took in all the people bustling about. The traffic also seems to engage him as his head is all over the place looking and listening. He is a little anxious with the cars but not in a way that puts him off his stride and I’m sure with a few more walks Monkey will soon relegate the traffic noise to the background as we all have learned to do. He also got to meet Winnie’s old friend the crossing patrol lady.

Back home the cheese was used to encourage breakfast and also to help as we try to move his bowl out of the front room towards, and finally, into the kitchen.

Quieter afternoon walk. Passed a Labrador without too much fuss. It feels as though Monkey wants to make friends rather than cause trouble but with the muzzle on other owners, quite rightly, hold their dogs back or even cross the road.

Monkey decided to have his dinner closer to him. My fault. I'd put dinner by the door as I did this morning but came back to the room to try to get a picture so Monkey thought he'd sit back down on his bed.

Wednesday 10 April 2013

Monkey day 3

Best day so far. The beginning of a structure put in place. Breakfast was eaten. Walks were taken and cats were passed without too much trouble. Monkey is being so good on the lead. Dinner was delayed due to visitors . . . but with a little added cheese it was devoured in minutes. A couple of days like this and we'll be ready to start looking at moving Monkey out of his 'kennel run' and into the rest of the house. At the moment he is so relaxed it is hard to see where his bed ends and his body begins. At lunch I put my coat on to go into the village - leaving Monkey with the GOTH. Monkey saw me put the jacket on and got up. When he saw I hadn't got the lead, he lay down again.

House noises do not seem to bother him as much as they did on Monday and Tuesday as the post arrrived through the letter box with a mere pricking up of the ears rather than a full-blown heads up 'what was that'?
There seems to be a problem with my netbook at the moment so I am going to try to post this and sign off for the night. Thank you all for bearing with me and I am very hopeful of being able to respond to your kind comments next week.

Tuesday 9 April 2013

Monkey day 2

Another quiet night and out in the garden first thing for toilet. Monkey seems to like going out of a side door rather the patio doors. He had a slip in the dining room on his first night so maybe that has coloured his perception. He does want his lead on when he goes out and comes in. With the lead he will trot straight in but without he will stand his ground and no amount of cajoling will change his mind.

He also turns his nose up at treats at the moment so they are no use in reinforcing positive behaviour.

Breakfast today was also a no-go area although he has had some water – again, as his first drink last night, it had to be brought into the front room. It’s almost as if the front room is his run at the kennel and while he seems quite happy in here, he doesn’t like to leave it.

But, having said that, he goes off to bed in the kitchen at night without a fuss.

The news on the cat front appears promising as Monkey passed within two metres of a neighbour’s animal on our morning walk and never turned a hair.

We ventured down to the clay pits, on Bitham Lane, which can be a hit and miss affair as we have encountered loose dogs on there with Winnie but Monkey needs to nose out his surroundings and today there were no other dogs about.

He seems to be on alert all the time when out as traffic noise makes him turn his head all the time to watch. He can be skittish when other dogs are sighted but with the muzzle others are giving us a wide berth.

We are of course awaiting the revealing of Monkey’s true personality once the ‘honeymoon’ period is over and he begins to find his place in the ‘Pritchard pack’.

He is sticking to his ‘spot’ on the carpet rather than in front of the fireplace so we have put his daybed there and hopefully he will get used to the daybed and we can gradually move it.

Fruitless attempt at dinner time to convince him he must be hungry.

However, a bowl of pasta, cheese and chicken at 7pm finally broke his fast abd this was rapidly followed a couple of handfuls of dog biscuits and cheese. Hopefully, tomorrow will bring a proper breakfast meal – if not we’re gonna get through a lot of pasta.

Monday 8 April 2013

Monkey makes his mark

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.