Monthly Archive for February, 2010

Why Greyhounds Make Great Pets

Until a few years back, the word ‘greyhound‘ for me conjured an image of the dog as portrayed on the cover of Blur’s 1994 album, Parklife: a muzzled racing machine; a ‘sports’ dog;  bred for a life on the track & nothing more… How wrong I was!

Good music, bad cover

Several years down the line, I’m a little older & a lot wiser (when it comes to greyhounds at least) & would like to share my new-found wisdom, in the hope that others discover what fantastic pets these animals make. & here’s why…

Greyhounds love human company

Greyhounds adore human company. Having often been starved of it for the first few years of their lives, they can’t wait to get to know their first ‘real’ human! Providing them with nutritious food & a warm comfy place to sleep  are already enough to win these easy-to-please guys round. Throw in a couple of walks a day & you rock their world! Often greyhounds won’t have received any affection from humans during their life on the track, so may not seek it immediately. However, it doesn’t take them long to figure out that having these long necks of theirs rubbed, their ears fondled & their spine stroked from top to tail feels good & they’d like some more please! ;-)

Greyhounds are affectionate

Once they get to know you, greyhounds are incredibly affectionate animals. They display this in all sorts of different ways, from ‘kissing’ your hand with their nose, leaning their head in your lap, rubbing their muzzle up against you, licking your face (if you don’t mind that kind of thing, which I don’t!) & full-on rolling right over & presenting their belly to be rubbed! Greyhounds are very loyal pets, probably because of the stark contrast in how you treat them compared to how they were treated during their racing days, & they look up at you over that long long nose of theirs & you know they trust you 100% completely. I think they know that you’ve rescued them & that creates a bond that never breaks.

Greyhounds are loyal

Greyhounds are beautiful

Tall & elegant, with long graceful limbs & an aristocratic stance, greyhounds really are the cat-walk models of the dog-world. Take a step closer & you’ll see the beauty continues in their slender faces. Those wide brown eyes & furrowed brow project a steady calmness, when a greyhound extends it’s neck & rests its chin gently upon you. Watching a greyhound run, their bodies seem to glide effortlessly in one fluid motion from the top of their nose to the tip of their tail. It is wonderful to see them able to veer where they please, unrestricted by the confines of a track or muzzle – you can see the pure joy expressed in their face & the ‘dance’ they weave as they run.

Greyhounds are beautiful

Greyhounds are wise

Greyhounds dance

Greyhounds are entertaining

A pet greyhound will never fail to keep you entertained! Their facial expressions alone are priceless – who could fail to be amused by those cheeky eyes set at the end of that comical needle nose & under the dog-world’s most expressive eyebrows, with those cute little rose-bud ears perched on top? In addition to being one of the world’s fastest land animals, greyhounds are capable of going from placid to completely bonkers in 0.03 seconds! It’s these playful little bursts of energy which punctuate their calm, almost regal, composition that make them so endearing. & before you know it, they’ve nodded off again…

Greyhounds are fun

Greyhounds are hilarious

You will also find that greyhounds are capable of falling asleep in seemingly any position, no matter how unnatural looking: head dangling off the sofa, check; nostrils squashed against the floor, check; completely upside down, check!! They say that greyhounds are ‘the biggest lap dog in the world’ & it’s true – it’s amazing how they will manage to compact themselves up into a ball on your lap & squeeze into the smallest of spaces.

Greyhounds will sleep anywhere

Greyhounds are healthy

Unlike many pure-bred dogs, greyhounds don’t suffer the deleterious consequences of inbreeding. This is most likely because they have been (& still are) bred for functionality & not form. The wide range in both size & colour of greyhounds reflects a healthy genetic diversity.  With the exception of a certain susceptibility to injuring these long limbs of theirs if allowed to run freely in unchecked environments, they are not typically prone to illness, & not expensive to insure. It is important to keep their teeth clean &, as with other large breed dogs, to ensure that periods of exercise & eating are well spaced (to avoid the risk of ‘bloat‘ or gastric volvulus) but other than this no special attention is needed.  Unlike most large breed dogs, greyhounds have a relatively long life-span, usually living until they are 12 years old or so (compare this to an average life span of 9 years in great danes).

Greyhounds are multicoloured

Greyhounds are long-lived

Greyhounds are clean

Although not a non-shedding breed (like poodles, for example), greyhounds shed very little hair & are therefore a good choice for dog lovers (like me) with mild allergies. Their short coat does not pick up much dirt or moisture, & you won’t need to dry or wash them as they’ll take care of that themselves, grooming their own coats (& sometimes each others – aaaww!) like cats. Greyhounds have a unique, subtle ‘earthy’ smell, which is quite unlike that of any other dog I’ve come across ( & nothing like that awful ‘wet dog’ smell!) – it makes you want to snuggle into their long necks & breath it in!

Greyhounds are self-cleaning

Greyhounds don’t need much exercise

Contrary to popular belief, greyhounds do not require a lot of exercise. Dubbed ’45 mph couch potatoes’, greyhounds are designed to excel at running short distances but they are no marathon runners! A couple of 20 minute walks a day is plenty exercise for most greyhounds, after which they will be delighted to retake up their position on the sofa. Greyhounds are capable of much more exercise than this though, if you accustomise them to it – just don’t expect them to keep up the 45 mph pace for the entire walk! On the other hand, they do make wonderful ‘hot water bottles’. ;-)

Greyhounds are 45 mph…

…couch potatoes

Greyhounds need you

Bred in large numbers for the racing industry, did you know that almost all greyhounds are ‘retired’ from racing by the time they are a few years old? As soon as a greyhound is no longer winning enough races to ‘earn’ its keep, it becomes surplus to trainers’ requirements. While some trainers are responsible & do their best to find good homes for all dogs that they retire, many are not so. The result is an overwhelming number of greyhounds who end up neglected or abandoned, in dog pounds, put to sleep or, at worst, mutilated (ears are cut off to remove tattoo evidence of the dogs’ identity) & murdered (thus avoiding veterinary fees for euthanasia).

Luckily, there are many UK (& worldwide) greyhound rescue charities, who take in these retired dogs & care for them whilst they await rehoming. One of the largest greyhound rehoming charities in the UK is the Retired Greyhound Trust. This is where we adopted our first greyhound, Max, from. However, there are also lots of smaller organisations who operate locally, such as Midlothian-based Gracehounds,where we adopted our Molly from in 2008. Without these charities & the people who choose to welcome greyhounds into their homes as pets, these amazing animals will at worst be destroyed & at best live out the rest of their lives in the confines of a kennel.

Greyhounds need you

So, next time someone mentions greyhounds I hope you might spare a thought to consider the wonderful sweet-natured pets that these animals make, rather than the stereotypical image of dogs chasing a mechanical rabbit around a track.

I you are interested in adopting a retired greyhound as a pet, you can find out more by clicking on the links below or by enquiring at your local greyhound rehoming charity.

My Fiancé the Hero

On Christmas day, Martin, my partner of 3 years & friend / flatmate for several before that, popped the question, to which I (obviously) said yes! Although we don’t plan to get married until next year (2011), it was almost a very short engagement…

Martin & I share a cheeky glass of champagne on Christmas morning!

I don’t think many dogs could say that their owners have physically rescued them, but in Max & Mollys’ case this is now true! After the festivities of Christmas day, Martin & I decided to take the dogs out for a walk in the snow down at Alkrington Woods in Middleton. The place was virtually deserted & we let the dogs run free (with their muzzles on). Unfortunately we hadn’t realised there was a large pond within the park, which of course was frozen over…

No sooner had I seen the pond loom over the horizon & turned to Martin to say ‘maybe we should put them back on their leads in case…’, than the pair of them sprinted out onto the ice at full speed, attracted by a swan in the centre. The scene played out as if in slow motion: the swan took flight, the dogs screeched to a halt, the ice cracked & in they went…

After a few moments, it was obvious to us both that they were unable to get out by themselves. Before I knew it, Martin was stripping off his outer layers & running out onto the ice! At first he tried throwing branches & leads for the dogs to grab onto, but they were really struggling to stay above water (greyhounds are not the dog-world’s greatest swimmers at the best of times & our 2 had their coats on as well, which were weighing them down). So, before I knew it Martin plunged into the 6-foot-deep icy water & managed to lift them out to safety.

Meanwhile, I stripped off as much of my clothing as humanly decent to wrap around the soaking wet threesome that emerged from the pond! Half an hour later, back at Martin’s Mum’s house, everyone was warm & dry & had finally stopped shivering, & I’m happy to say that neither the dogs nor Martin suffered any lasting damage from the incident. But we didn’t half all get a scare!

the lucky pair, blissfully unaware of the the consequences of their adventures

We are well aware that the ‘official’ advice in such situations is to avoid entering the water at all costs to rescue your dog & that we were very lucky that things didn’t go horribly wrong for us. However,  all logic aside, we knew in our hearts that we could not stand by & watch the dogs that we love drown in  front of us. Rest assured we have learnt our lesson though, & have vowed never to let our dogs off lead near frozen water again!

Martin, our hero!

my beautiful amber & white gold engagement ring, handmade by Doris Adamietz

Valentine's Day, Doggy Style!

♥♥ 14th February ♥♥ is approaching, the roses are blooming, the love birds are singing… & The Dog House has created a cheeky design featuring the caption ‘doggy style‘ along with a single paw print – Guaranteed to make that special someone smile!  ;-)

DOGGY STYLE hand printed mens boxer briefs

These boxers are composed of a superior quality blend of 45% organic combed cotton, 45% modal & 10% lycra elastane, & have been ethically made. I have hand screen printed my ‘doggy style’ design onto the rear using non-toxic fabric ink.

They are available in 4 colour combinations (blue on white,  red on white, white on black, & black on white) in 4 men’s sizes (32-38″) & can be purchased at $16 USD (that’s less than £10 GBP)  a pair from my Etsy shop.

DOGGY STYLE hand printed ladies hot pants

Following the popularity of my ‘doggy style’ mens boxer briefs, I decided to print my design onto some ladies hot pants!

These cheeky panties are composed of a superior quality blend of 45% organic combed cotton, 45% modal & 10% lycra elastane, & have been ethically made. They are hot pink in colour with the ‘doggy style’ caption & paw print in contrasting black ink on the back; the front is left plain.

They are available in 2 women’s sizes (medium & large) & can be purchased at $16 USD (that’s less than £10 GBP)  a pair from my Etsy shop.

DOGGY STYLE hand printed white on indigo cotton towel

& for something a little less risqué, there’s always this super-absorbent 100% cotton towel which I have printed with the same design!

The towel measures a generous 46 x 74 cm & is hemmed on all 4 sides. Indigo in colour, the paw print & text have been printed in contrasting white non-toxic fabric ink.

Ideal for use as a dish towel or for drying your dog’s muddy / wet paws before they leave their paw prints all over the floor, this towel can be purchased at $10 USD (that’s less than £6 GBP) from my Etsy shop.

DOGGY STYLE hand printed green on bright blue organic cotton tote bag

I have also printed my ‘doggy style’ design onto this practical yet stylish tote bag.

Made of 100% certified organic cotton twill in bright blue with the caption & image printed in contrasting green non-toxic fabric ink, the bag measures 36 x 40 cm with a depth of 8 cm & long handles for carrying over the shoulder. It has been ethically made using a climate neutral process & carries the EarthPositive® label.

An eco-friendly & stylish alternative to plastic bags, this bag is can be purchased from my Etsy shop for $17 USD (that’s less than £11 GBP).

Not your style?

The Dog House has plenty more unique gift ideas for Valentine’s Day, from doggy bandanas to ladies sweaters! So why not visit & have a browse…?

As always, 5% of the profits from all sales will be donated to my local greyhound rehoming charity, Gracehounds (Scottish Registered Charity No. SC038872), who are dedicated to finding permanent homes & a better life for greyhounds. ♥♥♥♥♥

Celebrating Molly's 1 Year Anniversary

Just over a year ago we adopted our second rescue greyhound, Molly, from our local sighthound rehoming charity, Gracehounds. Molly was just 3 years old when we adopted her, but seemed as if she had missed out on her puppy-hood (she is making up for it now!). Having had a short racing career in Fife under the name ‘Monica’s Girl’ , she was rescued by Gracehounds when her trainer put up a notice to say she would be put to sleep at the end of the week if no-one gave her a home.

My beautiful Molly

Molly was an anxious wee dog when she first came to Gracehounds – she did not know how to walk on a lead or interact with other dogs, becoming very excited in their presence & ‘spinning’ (a sign of anxiety in dogs). After being fostered by Gracehounds for several months, she was placed in a new home. However, unfortunately she did not settle there & was soon returned to the charity once again. Which was when I met her for the first time…

Molly pre-adoption

When I started volunteering as a dog walker for Gracehounds in mid 2008, Molly was one of the foster dogs that I walked. I used to walk her with our own greyhound, Max, & found that when by his side she was much calmer & less anxious / excitable. Gradually she learnt from Max how to walk nicely on a lead & how to interact appropriately with other dogs.

Molly leans on ‘big brother’, Max

Over several months of walking, I built up a special bond with Molly, as did my partner Martin. It was just before Christmas time that year, when someone contacted the charity to enquire about adopting a dog, that I realised I couldn’t bare to part with her! Having 2 dogs wasn’t part of ‘the master plan’, but sometimes you just have to grab opportunities when they present themselves & this was one of those times: Martin & I (with Max’s approval of course!) decided to adopt Molly.

Molly & Martin

We are now a year on & have no regrets about our decision. Together, Max & Molly complete our wee family & we couldn’t imagine not having the both of them. Now I know what people mean when they say ‘you can never have just the one greyhound’! & it turns out Max needed her as much as she needed him: since bringing Molly home, Max has become a much brighter & livelier dog, with an added sparkle in his eyes ;-)

Molly with her wee ‘cousin’, Moss

A far cry from the dog she was when I first met her, Molly is now one of the most sociable dogs I know! She adores the company of other dogs, of all shapes & sizes.  Since I started my own dog walking business last year, she is always the first one to welcome new clients’ dogs into ‘the pack’, & I have never known her to be anything but friendly & playful with any dog that we come across. She was particularly good with my Mum’s border collie puppy, Moss, when she met him last year. Furthermore, she has now welcomed foster dogs  Torres & Tar, into our home, whilst they waited to find a special home of their own.

Molly & foster dog Tar share the sofa

Molly has really grown into a beautiful dog! People are always stopping to remark how lovely her markings are (she’s black with white splodges, just like a wee friesian in dog form!).  Her coat is glistening & silky to touch, her teeth are in great condition (minus the rotten ones she had to have removed when she first came to the charity), her long curvy tail is always wagging, & she carries herself with confidence & grace!

Molly never hesitates to jump up on your lap for a cuddle!

She does still have a playful streak though, which comes out every now & then when we least expect it: She’ll indulge in puppy-like antics & flail around with her long limbs all over the place & run round in circles like a daft kangaroo! But, she loves nothing better than to curl up right beside you on the settee for  a cuddle, & you can guarantee that every morning as soon as the alarm goes off (& sometimes sooner!) she’ll be up on the bed like a flash & wriggling her way down under the duvet to snuggle in beside us ;-)

Having fun on her summer hols last year!

Looking back, Molly has enhanced every day of our lives since she walked into them – she’s my special little ‘Molly Moo’ & I love her to bits!

Molly & me