One Aging Geek

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Googling the dog

This past Sunday afternoon we added a new member to the family. We adopted a retired racing greyhound. There is a dog racing track about 15 miles down the freeway from us. When the dogs are no longer winning, they go into the adoption center. When we visited there were 17 dogs up for adoption plus a couple that won't ever be adopted out. One had snapped at a child when placed and because of that has been parked in the center for two years. Probably not his fault, greyhounds are not used to children and are not recommended for homes with small children. Fifty to eighty pound animals that stand up to 30 inches at the shoulder just don't mix with rambunctious little kids, no matter the breed.

Our dog, "Gertie" (an abbreviated version of her racing name) is a four year old female who raced for a bit over two years. She's just over 60 pounds, about average size for a female. She's "red fawn" colored, a reddish tan, with some white markings and a bit of black on her tail and ears.

Because all racing greyhounds are registered and have a unique racing name, it's possible to google for the dog's racing name. That turns up a number of racing cards and information sites. One of the result sites shows that she won a total of 10 races out of around 70. She had six siblings. Two other than her had decent racing careers, the other three ran only a handful of times.

The dogs live such a structured life, it's odd to find what they just don't know. Like stairs. Stairs are a complete mystery. Because they spend a large portion of their day in a kennel, a "crate" is mandatory equipment. They feel safe in the crate and will go there when ever things get too confusing or stressful. Gertie is crashed out in hers now having an after breakfast nap.

The most interesting thing we still have ahead of us is getting Bailey, the wussy cat, and Gertie to know each other without any bloodshed. Bailey is a flame-point siamese mix so he's nearly white... too close to the color of the lure that racers chase. Since Gertie can't handle stairs, the cat has retreated to the upstairs. I'm in no hurry to teach the dog stairs until she and the cat are safe together.

When Bailey ventures downstairs, we keep a close eye on them. A proper cat would walk up to the dog, hiss, give it a couple of quick smacks to show it who owns the house and that would be it. But Bailey is a complete wuss. He ignored our previous dog, Zoe, rather they ignored each other. Zoe had been taught by Sherlock, a previous cat, that cats rule the roost.

So far Bailey is eyeing Gertie from a distance and running upstairs if she comes out of her crate. Sunday evening Gertie made a move like she wanted to get a close look at him. We've muzzled her from some encounters but having the muzzle on and not going anywhere just confuses her. Time will tell how this works out. We have reasonable hopes since Gertie isn't showing signs of high "prey drive". We just have to convince her that Bailey is part of her pack and not lunch.