Once upon a time.... in the Hampshire Countryside
We (my boyfriend Andy and I) got Tipps from a retired greyhound rehoming centre, Greyhound Lifeline. Andy was on holiday when I visited the charity initially and met Tipps. We had previously walked Greyhounds to get a feel for their size and temperament before committing to rehoming one but this time I was on my own.
I wouldn't say I was particularly nervous, having grown up with dogs, but I was most certainly cautious knowing that this breed liked to take off without warning when something caught their eye. Tipps was very relaxed and put me ease straight away. He plodded along next to me, his calming influence resonating with me.
I walked another dog that day, a female fawn coloured greyhound who was beautiful and very bouncy. I did not get the same feeling with her thought. As I excitedly text photos of both dogs to Andy, I commented on how regal the male dog looked. I had a feeling this monarchical black beauty would soon be part of our family.
3 weeks later we had passed our home check, signed the adoption forms and was homeward bound with Tipps in the back of my Ford KA.
A Ford KA is 100% not a suitable car for a greyhound. The boot is barely fit for a ferret, let alone a 30kg dog. We put the back seats down, kitted it out with dog bedding and duvets but Tipp's long snout joined us in the front.
We made it back in one piece & upgraded to an estate the following weekend. This dog must have wondered what kind of owners the Trust had let him be taken by. His raised eyebrows and rolled his eyes. Every look shot our way screamed "bumbling idiots".
Life was not smooth sailing when Tipps first came home with us. It's one of the reasons I wanted to share my experience and help others going through this rehoming process. Andy and I had to adjust to life with a dog, easy - right? Walk them, feed them, play with them, love them and they will be happy.
However, as we had both grown up with dogs in the family, we naively did not take into consideration the transition Tipps had to make. Going from a life racing and living in kennels, to a totally foreign domestic home environment.
Although all ex-racers are house-trained, tend to walk well on a lead and have already outgrown the "puppy stage", they are socially awkward - having never been in an environment with other breeds or possibly any other animals. Unless you count the stuffed rabbit.
Even such things as comfortable bedding or their name are unknown to them. Not that you would have thought it now, but when Tipps first came to our home we had to coax and encourage him onto our sofa. He was wary and unsure of what we were allowing him to do. Nowadays, Andy and I have to make do with what little room is not taken up by his outstretched limbs!
Doubts creeping in
Crisis Talks came two weeks in! There had been a few restless nights while Tipps settled - standard, a few items gnawed, chewed or mysteriously missing (Greys can be sneaky little hoarders). A few uneasy walks whilst Tipps truffled and snuffled and lunged for any potential sources of food. Him being over 75% of my body weight and much more powerful than I believed I could handle making walking a daunting task.
One afternoon he had gotten into the top oven, pulled out the recently baked tray of brownies, smashing the oven dish and its contents all over the kitchen - the fear of him injuring himself was scary. He was a brute of a dog and we had started to wonder whether taking on a retired racer was over our heads.
Then the day came when we walked into utter kitchen carnage, it was almost impossible to see the floor of our kitchen through the mess. All sorts of boxes and packaging had been shredded, contents of which spilt everywhere. Cupboard doors ripped from their hinges and Tupperware and plastic bowls and bottles strewn across the lino. Tipp's bed was no longer recognisable anymore, parts of it's dissected remains were scattered to the four corners of the kitchen. Yet there he slept, oblivious to any wrong doing. We needed help, we were on the verge of returning him to Greyhound Lifeline.
When the help arrived
This is where Marie came in. We contacted her as recommended by the Greyhound centre and she helped us overcome the "teething" issues we were having. "You put a kennel dog in the candy shop (kitchen) and left him there unsupervised.
All those new smells and his inquiring mind were bound to provoke a reaction". It dawned on us we needed to understand what our greyhound was going through and help him to become a domesticated pet.
Over time, with help from books, behaviourists, blogs and a little trial and error we are the proud owners of a well adjusted, healthy, happy hound. He has found his way, and so have we.
He is at ease with other dogs, enjoys the company of children or at least is very tolerant with them. He knows the rules and plays by them, though an eager opportunist where a slice of cake is concerned. Each day brings a new adventure or a lazy one!