Friday, November 5, 2010

The Beginning

In December 2000, I was 24, had graduated college a year before, and had just bought my house. At the time, I had greyhounds, Jessie and Teresa. I had discovered agility and they both started classes when they were 5 and 6 years old. We had a lot of fun together learning as we went. My goals were small and once attained I created another one. Jessie and Teresa were good teachers and ignited the passion I have for clicker training, agility, and obedience today. Along the way, I also determined which traits would make a greyhound easier to train. Out from under parental control and on my own, I wanted to adopt a third greyhound... an agility/obedience greyhound.

I started fostering greyhounds for Southeastern Greyhound Adoption. Back then SEGA depended solely on foster homes. I was dropping my foster greyhound off at the animal hospital for spaying when another foster mom happened to be doing the same thing.

I noticed the cute, fawn female with a charcoal nose, but my interest was peaked when her foster mom mentioned that Dallas played with a toy all afternoon. All afternoon? Greyhounds rarely play for more than few minutes. I asked if she liked food and her reply was "She loves food!"
After being spayed, I picked Dallas up from the vet and continued her fostering. She was aloof which some mistaken for shyness, but she truly did not give you the time of day if she had no use for you. She was quite active and sassy. I can hardly imagine her jumping on the door now, but she did indeed leave muddy paw prints towards the top of the sliding glass door. She would chase cars from inside the backyard. She would bark and run to the other side of the house as cars would drive past the house. She was the fun police and decided when the greyhound games would start and stop. She would hold her tail high and flag the white tip at the end. She had so much attitude.

I started training Dallas immediately. She was so food motivated and very easy to work with. She was the first greyhound I started training from scratch with a clicker. She was doing sits and downs in no time. I lured her through tunnels and up A-Frames. She basically would do or try anything for food. She would eat anything, anywhere, and at anytime.

My only concern about Dallas was that she was not cat safe. "Curious about cats" (see top photo) was a huge understatement. Both Teresa and Jessie were relatively cat safe and I thought it was necessary for off lead safety. Katie had a very high prey drive. She walked with 60 pounds of pressure on the end of the leash at all times and scanned the horizon. She would not check in with me at all on our walks..... something I had liked about all my prior greyhounds.

I discussed my concern with Kate Crawford. At the time, Kate had the highest titled greyhound in agility. She assured me that I wanted high prey drive. Two weeks later I adopted Dallas and renamed her Katie.
Left to right - Katie, Jessie, and Teresa.