Friday, August 10, 2012

I Adopted a Greyhound! (and stopped blogging)

Meet retired racing greyhound Iruska Promiser, now known as Django. My husband and I adopted him in May, after 13 years of living with cats (our own, strays I rescued, ferals I socialized, kittens and sick cats I fostered for the local shelter) and nearly that many years of my begging my husband for a dog.

I'm an equal-opportunity animal lover, but I'm a crazy cat lady at heart. So during the years my husband refused to let us get a dog, I wasn't too heartbroken because I had my cats.

While at a Petco this past February, I saw greyhounds there for a meet-and-greet and went over to donate some cash. A half-hour later, after petting the sweet, gentle, calm dogs that stood there like little deer, I was convinced they're the perfect dog for us. They don't bark! They don't shed! Most are good with cats, they're intelligent and easily adapt to retirement after racing, are usually naturally well-behaved, and have very low exercise needs (contrary to what I thought and most people think, they are sprinters and not built for endurance, so they're mostly couch potatoes).

It took a few months of dragging my husband to greyhound meet-and-greets and nagging him before I finally wore him down. And so on a Saturday in late May, Three Rivers Greyhounds brought not-quite-two-year-old Django to his new home with us.

He came from Wheeling, West Virginia, where he'd flunked out of racing school and retired early. From there he went to a kennel that boards greyhounds until they find their forever home. He'd lived his entire life in a crate and had never been in a house, so everything was new and terrifying to him. He wouldn't go into the kitchen because he was afraid of slipping on the laminate floors. He was astounded the first time we turned on the TV. We had to teach him how to walk up stairs.

As we patiently introduced him to his new world, he started to feel comfortable. And when his personality started to come out, I realized I did not have one of those calm, sweet, gentle greyhounds I fell in love with at Petco. Instead, I had a two-year-old (he turned two on June 12) teenage dog who could be as goofy, willful, and crazy as any other young dog. Oh, and he barks--a lot! And we learned that he will "lose his kennel coat," which he's doing now, and that basically means crazy shedding. But most of the time, he is calm, well-behaved, and very much a big, lazy couch potato--so much so that I called my rescue group to ask if the amount of sleeping he did was normal or whether I should take him to the vet (it's normal--greyhounds sleep around 18 hours a day).

So for the past few months, my husband and I have been helping Django adapt to his new life, learning how to speak dog, and, with the help of a dog trainer who focuses on positive reinforcement, learning how to handle him when his puppyness comes out and he goes crazy.

So that's why I haven't been blogging--Django has taken over my life! We're all settling into our new lives with each other, and I love him to pieces. He's a big goofball, but he's my goofball. :-)

During this transition period, I didn't cook big, elaborate meals. Instead, I prepared very quick meals from my favorite cookbooks: Happy Herbivore, Appetite for Reduction, and The Food Matters Cookbook. As things continue to settle, I'll be cooking and blogging more. Until then, here are some more pictures of our handsome hound.

PS: The introduction with my cats is a work-in-progress. He tested cat-safe (he has a very low prey drive, which may be why he flunked out of racing school), but my cats refuse to meet him, so I need to keep them separated for now. Just this week, one of my cats and Django touched noses, so at least we're making progress.