Friday, August 28, 2009

Wet Dog Walking

On the way back from our Meadow Park stroll this evening, Jackson and I got caught in a downpour. Ten minutes of hard rain. The first few weeks that we had Jackson, there was very little rain in Richmond, so this was the first time that I got to see his reaction.

Which was pretty much nothing. He took it in stride, literally. He was maybe a little less interested in checking out all the trees, and he seemed to want to get home. But he wasn't agitated. (Fortunately, this wasn't a thunderstorm - thunder and lightning are a whole other story. He freaks out big-time.)

Normally, Jackson pants for quite a while after a walk; tonight, he didn't pant at all. The cool rain was the difference. We're looking forward to some great walks in the fall.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Poop Aesthetics

Greyhound poop tends towards the inchoate. But we've been mixing pumpkin into Jackson's kibble, and there are occasional triumphs: Stacy described his first poop this morning as a "beautiful big pile of shit." We are so proud. (Sorry, no photo. Maybe next time.)

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Road Trip

We have one car, an Accord, and our first few trips with Jackson were harrowing. I drove, Stacy sat in back with Jackson, and he stood on the backseat. That left him extremely vulnerable if we stopped short or turned hard, and made it pretty much impossible for me to see anything behind us. Stacy tried all manner of treats and cajoling, but Jackson stood tall.

We took a trip to Barker Field dog park yesterday, and we had a breakthrough. It was simple, in retrospect: Stacy sat on the middle of the rear seat instead of the end. That backed Jackson into the corner. At first, he stood anyway, like a four-legged danseur en pointe. But as soon as the car started moving, he decided that he didn't have enough room to stand, and he sat down. That got him a treat. A minute later, he lay down, head in Stacy's lap. Another treat, and a safe trip to the dog park.

On the way home, he lay down almost immediately. Woohoo!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Born To Run

We took Jackson to the Hanover Dog Park yesterday. It was a playdate: our friend Debbie brought her brindle, Brady. And, of course, we wanted to see Jackson run.

He obliged, a bit. We half-expected him to take off like a Tom Seaver fastball as soon as we unhooked the leash. Didn't happen. We had the dog park to ourselves for a good half-hour. Jackson explored a lot, loping around at a leisurely pace. He ran when Debbie threw a tennis ball, and Brady chased it, and he chased Brady. And, when some pugs showed up, he ran with, or after, them. But he didn't seem to have any compelling urge to run, run, run for the joy of it.

Which is a relief to us. We have a postage-stamp backyard, so Jackson isn't getting a chance to run. Now we really believe that long walks are plenty of exercise, and he doesn't need to run. We knew that from the literature, but we had to see it.

The arrival of the pugs gave me a chance to try out our #1503 Scotch Predator Call. The "distress cries of a rabbit" are pure sonic crack for greyhounds. For me, it's like a remote control. Jackson immediately comes, at high speed, and he turns damn near feral: he wants to kill whatever is making that sound. It came in handy when he was bearing down on the pugs like a cruise missile.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Back On The Gravy Train

We put out the standard Kirkland kibble au jus this morning, and Jackson pretty much ignored it. A few bites. But we hung tough - no yogurt, and we dumped the nearly-full bowl after half an hour.

This evening, same food, and he inhaled it in about ten minutes. He paused a few times to look at us, to see if something wonderful might happen. But, when it didn't, back to the bowl.

Mommy and daddy are much happier now.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Jackson 1, Bob 0

Jackson had a good day. He met Stacy's brother Robert, and some other people, and nothing untoward happened. So we were optimistic when we put his dinner out. Costco kibble in water, dusted with psyllium: a classic. Yesterday, he was licking the bowl clean. Tonight, nothing. He approached it, then walked away.

Uh-oh. Two meals in a row, he wasn't eating right. We tried gentle persuasion. No go. On our side, mild panic.

Then I put a dollop of yogurt in the bowl, on top of his kibble. He ate most of the yogurt off the top, like a kid eating the icing off a cupcake. Then he walked away. Hmm. I swirled the remaining yogurt into the kibble. Better: he ate about 2/3 of the kibble. Hmm.

A little thinking, a little browsing, and we think we have the answer. Pieces of steak, spoonsful of yogurt - we were unwittingly training Jackson to expect better food. These treats were random, not tied to anything in particular. So, when the kibble appeared, he passed. Why not hold out for something better? Maybe it'll happen.

And, in a masterful counterstroke, he started training us: he stayed away from the kibble for a few minutes, and we added something tasty to it. I'm a quick learner: I learned to add yogurt after just two repetitions. Good boy, Bob!

Well, we're all over that scam now. No more fabulous treats till Jackson's back on the kibble. And we've learned something about training. From the trainee side, unfortunately, but still.

Trouble In Paradise?

Jackson ate just half his breakfast this morning. Very uncharacteristic. Every other meal, he's vacuumed up his food like a competitive eater at Nathan's on July 4th. Empty bowl in five minutes.

We gave him a couple of bites of steak last night. Maybe that threw him off, so we're going to stop that. On the plus side, his poops this morning were normal (where "normal" means somewhere between mousse and pudding.)

And his butt is raw from all the scratching he's been doing. He had fleas, so we started him on Frontline this past Friday, and we gave him a good workout with a flea comb last night. Not sure yet if he needs another trip to the vet. We're trying to walk that tightrope between overprotective and oblivious.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Home Alone

We left Jackson alone for over two hours last night, with just a rawhide chew as company. No crate, no muzzle. No furniture assaults, no bathroom accidents. And two hours was enough time for us to catch a set of good music.

We had started alone training about a week ago, leaving Jackson alone for just five minutes. Gradually, we built up to an hour. Now we feel ready to spend the occasional evening out.

Of course, we're just at the ten-day point in this whole adoption thing. According to the literature, greyhounds can go through some dramatic personality changes over the first six months of adoption. So we may come home to an unpleasant surprise at some point. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The Big Brush-Off

A good greyhound owner brushes his dog's teeth every day or two. So far, that's like asking me to defuse a bomb every day or two. It's a tad unnerving to invade the mouth of a hound who doesn't know you very well yet. Those teeth look real big up close.

So I'm nervous. Jackson knows that, and it makes him skittish. But we're making progress. For a couple of days, I did nothing more than hold his snout for a few seconds. Yesterday, I reached into his mouth and rubbed his teeth and gums. That got him a treat. Then I used a washcloth with some toothpaste on it to do a little brushing, followed by another treat. It's coming together.

(The greyhound folks gave us a toothpaste/toothbrush kit. The toothpaste is tasty, and no rinsing required. The brush has a long handle, so that you can get all the way up in the snout. But many people suggest using a cloth or gauze pad instead of the brush.)

BTW if you want to see greyhound toothbrushing done right check this out.