Sunday, February 3, 2008


A few months ago, Pam Davis alerted me to a litter of puppies that would probably be available for adoption. The dogs' owner was not paying the board bill and the greyhound farm had been sold and was going out of business. At the time, they were 8 months old and were kind of at the age where I was not sure if I wanted to go that young or not.... did I want the responsibility? Plus Katie was still working on rehab. I did not hear anything more until last week when Pam called to say that the litter (now 10 months old) was now available. The National Greyhound Association gave the greyhound farm permission to place the puppies up for adoption since the board bill probably exceeds their value at this point and the farm owner simply wanted to do the right thing and place the pups as pets. As luck would have it, I was already headed for Tampa, Florida for an agility seminar on February 4th and 5th (a Monday and a Tuesday) and it was no problem to head down a day early to Orlando to visit with the puppies. I already had my car rental and just needed to make a hotel reservation for Sunday night near the greyhound farm.

I left the house at about 5:30 AM Sunday morning. My birthday was the following day, so I was surprised to see a gift that Stephen had left for me in the rental car :-). The drive was uneventful and I arrived shortly after 1 PM. Kate Conroy (I think is her last name, Cindy the high jump record greyhound's mom) was kind enough to meet me there and to help me deal with the limitations of the situation. See, these full grown puppies were not wearing collars, had no manners, never been leash trained, and had never been out of the dog run.......... and here I am wanting to test for trainability. To top it off, they were all about the same color making it difficult to tell them apart. Pam and I talked on the phone several times. I knew there were some serious limitations to what I could do at the farm and just planned on being flexible, open minded, and plan for the problems ahead of time. Pam was probably more cautious than she needed to be. She explained that I would probably have to do much of my evaluating from outside of the fence and use a permanent marker to mark the dogs that I was interested in and then maybe I could see it outside of the run on Monday morning. She and the farm owner were afraid I would be knocked over or puppies would get out if I went inside of the run by myself since the gates are in bad shape. I decided to stop asking questions and examine the situation for myself.

With that information, I emailed everyone I knew in Florida and asked if anyone was available and could help me out in Orlando. I was so happy when Kate responded and was willing to go.

The pups ranged from creme to red. Kate and I looked at them from outside the fence and noted that there were 3 boys and 5 girls. The pups were in 3 runs because they had dug under the fence. There was a tall, creme colored male with a very curly tail in the third run. There was a red female and a fawn male in the first run. The remaining 5 were in the second run. I had originally thought that I would walk along the fence line for awhile to burn off some excess energy and to let the excitement wear off, but it was 80 degrees and the pups have very limited shelter and pretty much no shade, so I didn't want to get them over heated. So Kate and I decided to go on in and slip collars on since we were only able to put a couple of collars on from outside the gate. I had brought a baby gate (one of those problems I worked out ahead of time :-) and 5 or 6 different colored collars. I wedged myself through the gate and used the baby gate to keep the babies at bay. They had never seen a baby gate before so they all backed off and stayed out of the way while Kate came in and closed the gate. We started putting collars on the dogs that would allow us to and offering food to those that would take it since my "#1 must have" is food motivation. We leashed up the 2 that were most interested in our food and pushed and pulled them through the gate.

We checked tattoos and found that we had the "A" dog and the "B" dog. The "A" dog (later named Atlas) was a beautiful red male that looked a lot like Travis. The "B" dog (later named Brook) was a creme colored fawn. We struggled with leash walking. Sometimes we had to just push them along and other times they would get moving and seem to enjoy the walk. Having Kate there allowed us each to have a dog out, so they would feel more comfortable having a littermate near by. We walked them around the house and under the carport. We misted them off which surprisingly they were ok with. I clipped their nails, touched mouths, tails, toes, and ears. Both were very easy to work with. We dropped some loud dog bowls and neither seemed too concerned. I also played a thunderstorm CD from my car since I do not want a storm phobic. We were so lucky because we had the entire farm to ourselves and did not have to explain the crazy things we were doing. We offered them toys which Atlas and Brook were interested in, but they were not sure what to do...... plus it was hot and they were panting. Through it all they both ate the variety of treats we offered and lured along on leash by following a treat. Brook was especially food motivated and would climb on us for treats. We then took them for a quick ride in Kate's van. I don't want a dog that gets car sick either. They both laid down and held on for dear life (no offense, Kate, but you drive that mini van like its a Mazda Miata :-).

Kate had a limited amount of time, so we decided that we were finished with Brook and Atlas. I decided that if it came down to these 2 dogs, I would definitely consider Brook. We put them away and went back into the second run. We were able to get a leash on the female with the red collar ("J" dog, Jessie, see left), but the rest of the pups were more hesitant. I then remembered that the red female in the first run was the first dog I was able to put a collar on. We originally had passed on her because she was a little snarky to the dog in the same run, but I decided that being the easiest to put a collar on said something about her. Well, sure enough it did.... she was the most adventerous and curious about her surroundings. She led me the furthest aroud the farm and was very food motivated. Jessie was less brave, but still very food motivated. We put them both through the plethora of tests and they both did fairly well. Jessie was more cautious. The snarky, red female (the "I" dog) started to grow on me though. I really appreciated the curiousity she showed on the walk around the farm. When it was time for Kate to leave, I had narrowed it down to the "B" dog and the "I" dog.

Since I did not have to be anywhere and I still had daylight, I decided to practice putting collars on everyone and to write their ID letter on the inside of a thigh for each dog. I was starting to be able to tell them apart, but the only way I could relay the information about their personalities to Pam was to ID them with the letter. So I went back into run #2. Practiced putting on and taking off collars. I watched them interact. I touched them all and was able to determine and write the letter of each except for one. Zelda (couldn't determine her letter, see right) is a red female with a black mask. Cute as a button, but very submissive and excitable. She would explode with excitement which would attract the attention of the higher ups and she would be blocked and scolded. Kayla ("K") was the other submissive sibling. She was quick to roll over on her back for just about everything. She was a pretty, fawn who was very food motivated also. She searched the sand for crumbs longer than anyone. Curly ("C") was the tall, creme colored male with a very curly tail. I don't think I have ever seen a greyhound tail curl that much. Jessie was the most unique of the reds. She had some collie-type markings on her face that were pretty. Lastly, was Eddie ("E"). I totally overlooked Eddie in the first run. I thought he was shy, but then figured out that he was simply a gentle, quiet fellow. He was so unassuming. He demanded nothing, but when you stopped to give him a belly rub or an ear scritch he just had the warmest expression on his face. He would half close his eyes and just look so sweet. I definitely think he is the pick of the litter when it comes down to the best "pet". Just a doll.

I observed my 2 picks and discovered that "I" dog was clearly the alpha female. She was in everyone's business and was especially keen on Zelda for being too excited. I left that evening leaning towards the "I" dog since I like attitude and strong personalities.

You might be wondering where the "D", "F", and "G" dogs are. Unfortunately, they were sold as coyote dogs.

I went to my hotel.... excited that I actually liked 2 of the pups very much. I am very picky, so I was worried that I may not like any of them. I needed a shower badly. I have never been so filthy or had so much dirt under my nails. "I" dog is above. "B" dog is below.