Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Black is Beautiful


I follow the Best Friends Animal Sanctuary website and like to keep updated on their special needs animals.  If you have not visited their website check it out at http://www.bestfriends.org/


Solitary Wakeup

It was on their website that I learned about the Back in Black promotion going on until September 17.  This is a nationwide effort to promote adoption of black animals.  There are more black dogs and cats in shelters than any other color and they are usually the ones that people are most afraid of.  Why?  My theory is because dark colored animals body language is harder to see there by making it harder to understand.  People would much prefer the light colored dogs and cats. 


Prior to owning Luna I was not interested in black dogs.  I did not like their graying muzzle which made them appear older.  However, when I signed up to foster a greyhound two years ago I was assigned Solitary Wakeup, and all black greyhound.  I had Solitary for the month of October which was perfect for a black dog.  She was a real sweetheart and one of the most intelligent greyhounds I've met (smart, not trainable).  Fostering Solitary was not only good for her, but it helped me to see black as one of the most beautiful colors a greyhound can come in.


Luna

Because of my experience with Solitary Wakeup I was excited to adopt Luna who has turned out to be the best dog for our family.  People are constantly stopping us on walks to pet her because they find her to be so beautiful.  At the fairs, we could barely walk anywhere before getting stopped by someone who just loved how she looked.
 
I can't think of a better set of ambassadors for adopting a black pet than Luna and Solitary Wakeup.



Sunday, August 28, 2011

Surviving Hurricane Irene

Hurricane Irene hit us this weekend and it hit hard.  My parent's basement always floods which it did again without any trouble.  However, this time we had plenty of warning so we were able to pick up most everything so clean up will be much easier.  What will be a problem is the two oak trees that fell on their roof.  We've never had to deal with that before.

But enough about human troubles.  Luna was absolutely fantastic through this whole ordeal.  Well, until it came to going potty outside during winds and rain.  She does not like to get her precious feet wet so this weather was less than ideal.  I had purchased a dog raincoat which actually worked great.

Luna is less than thrilled with her new look.
After dealing with the tree all afternoon my parents, brother and a neighbor's family who had helped us out followed Mike and me back to our house (since we have power and running water) for showers, food, and comfy chairs.  Luna was amazing with so many new people in the house.  I forgot to mention that she also went to my parents' 30th anniversary party this weekend (before the hurricane) and was fantastic with so many people wanting to pet her.

To sum up, this weekend was tough, but no one was hurt, everything that was broken can be repaired, and we have an amazing dog who handles a hurricane like a champ.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

A Quick Run

videoLuna and I checked out the nearby "dog park" which is just an area enclosed with snow fencing which is falling apart.  I don't think we'll return, but at least Luna enjoyed a little running.  This is the first time I have been able to get her to run while off leash.  Most of the time she just stands still or trots next to us.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Luna's Top Five Favorites

We've now had Luna for eight weeks and we are getting a good idea of what she really likes.  Here are Luna's current top five favorites.

What a pretty puppy.
Top Five Favorites

#5) Car rides.  We've never had any trouble getting her to jump into the car and she loves being able to visit new places.

#4) Giving hugs.  She is a real leaner.  I've known some greyhounds that are very happy to hug you with their whole body, but she really takes it to a new level.  Almost every adult she saw at the fair would be instantly greeted with a full weighted lean from Luna.  She also enjoys leaning her body into the lawn chair you are sitting in or resting her heavy head on your lap.

#3) Food.  There's no doubt about it.  Luna is very food motivated.  The judge at the fair commented that she was a real "chow hound".  Since day one we have been working on "leave it", "stay" and "ok" during her meals to help slow her down.  We've also learned that she will taste anything that could potentially be food so we have to be careful to keep the garbage can closed, pick up and put away food items, and keep the pantry door tightly shut.

#2) Small fast moving objects except for cats.  That greyhound instinct is very pronounced in her.  While very good with my pet rodents inside, she would happily give chase to the rabbits, squirrels and skunks in the neighborhood.  For some reason she could care less about the cats.  At the fair we discovered that what she really wants to chase is the radio controlled cars.

And Luna's most favorite thing is...

#1) Me! (and Mike, too)  It is very obvious that we are her favorite people.  That helicopter tail kicks into high gear and her whole body wiggles when we come home from work.  She is excited to see familiar people like our families, but when we come around she always has the happiest greeting for us.  We're glad she loves us so much already because we love her just as much.

    Thursday, August 18, 2011

    Motorized squirrels

    Years ago I discovered the fun that could be had with a greyhound and a go-kart.  My first greyhound, Eris, would get so excited watching the go-karts race around the dirt track at the Somerset County 4-H Fair and would want to give chase.  It took a little bit of time before we learned to run as a team along side the fence around the track.  She quickly learned to slow down so I could keep up and I learned to wear good sneakers.  For some real fun we added my friend Gloria and her greyhounds to the party.  It was amazing to watch the three greyhounds remember their track days and do their best to come in "first".

    videoI was very excited to introduce Luna to this once a year event.  Our first attempt was a little crazy and I'm glad no one saw us.  She was so excited by the go-karts, but did not know which direction to run.  Her solution?  Run in every direction all at once!  After a few more attempts we started to get the hang of the game.  When the go-karts come around the track run along side the fence.  Then run back to meet them as they come around again.  Repeat until owner is exhausted.

    What I had not expected was Luna's instant love of the radio controlled cars (RC cars).  When she saw the RC cars flying around their mini dirt track she began barking and jumping to get to them.  Unfortunately, I was not present when this occurred since my brother, dad and Mike were walking her at the time.  They reported having a tough time getting her away from the RC cars.  They had never seen this kind of reaction from a greyhound before and were completely shocked.

    Maybe Luna would like an RC car for Christmas.

    Monday, August 15, 2011

    A winning team

    
    She loved the attention.
    
    Luna was awesome at the Somerset County 4-H Fair!  She enjoyed meeting so many new dogs and people during the three days she was there.  I was surprised by how good she was with the small children.  It is hard to believe that this is the same dog that was terrified of an oncoming toddler six weeks ago.  
    
    Luna keeps her eyes on the judge.
    
    New for this year the dog project had an alumni show.  Previous dog club members came together to see if we still had our dog showmanship skills.  I decided to use Luna who had all of ten minutes practice on a show lead before entering the ring.  We were competing against some dogs who had been trained for years and handlers who I had never been able to beat.  One person in particular was my good friend Nathalie.  When we were in the dog club together I was never able to beat her in showmanship.  She always placed higher than me.  This was always a running joke between us.

    It turns out Luna is a natural at showmanship.  She looked amazing running around the ring with her head held high, a prancing gait, and a look that said "I'm having fun!"  She was perfect when in came to stacking.  Our training on "stay" really paid off.  I would place her feet without any trouble and she would hold her stance for a very long time.  It drove me crazy to think that inexperienced Luna was doing just as well as Eris, my project dog, had done at the height of her career.

    Not only did our performance outshine Nathalie, but we ended up taking 1st place!  Not to shabby for a dog who I adopted from the racetrack six weeks ago.  Since Luna shows so much promise for showmanship and obedience I have offered her to one of my club members for training.  Hopefully, there will be many more ribbons in their future.
    Luna is proud of her ribbon, but she really wants the treat.
    

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    Car ride!

    Greyhounds are well known for being good travelers. In fact, I have found the best way to catch a loose greyhound is to open up a car door and shout "car ride!"  My neighbor growing up was the president of NJ Greyhound Adoption Program and inspired my love of greyhounds and dog training.  His chow-chow would consistently open the gate and let all the dogs loose.  The greyhounds were the easiest to round us since they gathered by the car, but a few young afghans always took some time to catch. 

    
    She's ready for adventure!
     I mention this because Luna has been doing a fair bit of traveling in the car this week.  It is 4-H fair time in my home county which is keeping me very busy and away from home.  To make sure Luna is not forgotten in all the craziness, she has been accompanying me everywhere.  To work, to the fair, on errands, everywhere!  I am thrilled that she rides so well and enjoys all the new sights. 

    While I am not a fan of letting a dog stick their head out the window (very dangerous), I do allow a small amount of freedom at low speeds.  Once we hit the highway she settles right down and waits patiently to arrive at our destination.

    Saturday, August 6, 2011

    Shakespeare in the park

    I left Luna for just a few hours in the master bathroom while I went in to work.  She has been in the bathroom before during the night, but never with the door closed.  Closing the door was a big mistake because I came back to find that she had torn up the door frame.  Anxious much?  She had also managed to flip the lock so now I could not open the door.  After a few seconds of panic I was able to use a guitar pick to unlock the door and "save" her.  I later discovered with my foot that she had peed on some nearby towels.  At least they are easy to wash. The moral of this story?  Luna cannot be left in a closed bathroom for even a little bit.

    Luna tagged along with me last night to the 4-H Fairgrounds.  We were going to help set up, but none of our club members showed up (most are away on vacation or having family emergencies).  I decided to catch up with my parents at the local park that has free plays going on in the summer.  Last night's performance was "A Midsummer Night's Dream".  I've never seen the play and of course Luna is new to the whole experience.

    Even though she did not have a blanket to lie down on, she seemed to really enjoy the show.  She intently watched the play when the guys on stage were moving around and laughing.  At one point one character says he will talk about his dream and Luna's ears were up as if she wanted to know about the dream too.  What a cultured dog we have.

    Thursday, August 4, 2011

    On the mends?

    Luna spent the week at my parents house while I was busy working a summer camp.  I gave my parents strict instructions on how to feed her, observe her signs, and take note on her behavior.  I spent way too much time kissing Luna and telling her she'd be all right (not sure who we're convincing here).

    We love our puppy!
    I returned this evening to find a very happy and pretty healthy dog.  Definitely not the sick dog we had on Sunday and from what the folks report she is much improved since I dropped her off.  Her diarrhea has subsided and she is wagging her tail.  Despite my best instructions not to feed her anything but her bland diet, my parents spoiled her with some pieces of apples and pears.  I was pretty annoyed, but I guess I just got a sneak peak at what kind of grandparents they will be (way in the future).

    As far as medical reports go, the blood work came back normal except for a low white blood cell count.  The vet suspects that she was sick when we got her and with the combination of stress and food changes it put her body over the edge.  We will continue another round of medicine and see if things continue to improve as she adjusts to her new life.  If not, we'll pick up the testing in about a month.

    Tuesday, August 2, 2011

    Medical ups and downs

    I've mentioned before that Luna has been suffering from chronic diarrhea for the past month.  We've been doing everything to get her back on track.  Bland diets, stool samples, the works.  Right now we are on another round of medications and are waiting to hear back about some blood work.  Fingers crossed that we'll find out what the problem is and get it resolved quickly.
    Looking sad at the vet office.


    We did have a scare on Sunday when Luna was very dehydrated and refused to drink.  We finally got some fluids in her, but in the afternoon she ended up vomiting.  After several hours of observation it looked like she was starting to feel a bit better.  She has held down her food since then and appears perky and eager to be part of what is going on.  This is very different from Sunday.  I spent all of Sunday panicking and feeling so stressed out.  I'm glad to know that she is feeling better.

    Luna and her sock monkey.
    I will be away for work for this week so Luna is staying at my parent's house so she can be monitored during the day.  It was so hard to send her off, but I know she'll be in good hands with my folks.