Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Challenges

My main volunteer job for Southeastern Greyhound Adoption is to troubleshoot. I am a pretend behavioralist (not certified, but I play one on TV). I check in with new adopters and try to head off serious problems while they are still minor and can be handled via email or on the phone. Occasionally, I recommend that they return the greyhound for another. I am a big believer in the right fit. I especially do not want to lose a great home because they had a miserable experience with a greyhound that was all wrong for them.

For example, I had a very nice lady adopt a greyhound who was simply too much dog for her. Five minutes into the phone call and I told her to return him. She was hesitant to switch him for another, but I was able to convince her and she took a painfully shy female with a very playful, active nature when she was comfortable. This lady already had another greyhound (who was perfect), she walked 2 miles a day, and she was retired.... simply a wonderful home and perfectly suited for our shy female.

Today, I visited with a couple that had adopted a greyhound a few months ago. Again, it was a lovely home. They were retired, took walks, and had 2 small dogs. The problem was that their greyhound was extremely food motivated and willing to fight for it. In fact, one of the poodles recently suffered a bite requiring medical attention when they both went for the same treat. I really thought I was going to suggest that we find them a more appropriate greyhound. I assumed that the greyhound was probably a handful and the adopters were just too nice, but I was pleasantly surprised.

All of the family or pack members seemed well suited for each other. I felt that they simply needed to challenge the greyhound. They had been avoiding the problem by feeding the greyhound in a crate and not giving treats to the dogs. But avoiding does not set you up for success when the unplanned or unexpected happens.

I taught these nice folks how to body block the greyhound and to move her out of their space without having to push or pull her. The greyhound was sensitive and responsive, but had simply never been told not to dive for the food bowl or to lunge for a dropped piece of kibble. Luckily their home was narrow so it was very easy to set up exercises for them to practice in the door ways with no way for the dogs to circle around and get past the person.

The funny thing is that they had tried taking a clicker training class at PetsMart and the greyhound had been deemed untrainable. This wonderfully food motivated greyhound was able to sit in about 15 seconds and was able to down from a stand with just a few minutes of training. You just have to know the tricks.

All in all, I left satisfied that there is an excellent chance of saving this adoption. These people really love this greyhound and really did not want to give her up. It was a great reminder that you need to face the issues and to set up challenges to work through problems.

12 comments:

gyeong said...

Every now and then, there is the 'just doesn't fit' greyhound. I wish more of our adopters would call us for advice before the problems worsen and a dog is returned. Every greyhound group needs a behaviorist (certified or not) to help with new adopters.

jcp said...

Great article. I'm sure your groups success rate is much higher because of your efforts!

Tarmar said...

I love stories like this! I completely agree that personalities need to match.

I also completely agree that sometimes, there is a simple training solution and as long as the owners are willing to try, no reason to return the dog! It always makes me feel so satisfied when someone comes to me in tears with a big problem with a dog they otherwise adore and I can recommend a simple training solution that they are more than ready to follow through with.

SEGA is luck to have you! Thanks for helping to smooth the way for these dogs and adopters!

Mad Red Hare said...

Every group should have someone like you. I too agree that there is a "right" dog for every family, but there are some families who would return a dog no matter what. I have had 2 greys that were returned multiple times and have had no problems with them whatsoever, go figure. Keep up the good work!

greytblackdog said...

I think those PetSmart trainers are untrainable. LOL. Good for that family for being wiling to stay the course. You are the greyhound yoda.

Muttsandaklutz said...

What a fantastic resource these adopters have in you, your experience, and your advice. Must be so satisfying to help out in this way. Wonderful stuff! Ridiculous that Petsmart deemed a dog untrainable?!

houndstooth said...

I agree, you have to have a good fit! I can't imagine a greyhound that is untrainable. None of mine will work for free, but pull out the treats and they are going through the paces!

BrittBeah said...

I must admit, I giggled when I read the words "untrainable". What a tard that would lable any dog untrainable. Especially a grey that has obviously spent the first bit of its life being train to work for a living.
Set is def. my challenging dog. But we have stuck through the tough times and worked on his behavior problems. Thankfully we are all in tact (except for Dan's scars) and everyone is happy.
Untrainable, LOL

Granted Wishes Greyhounds said...

I'm so jealous of your group! :) <3 ya. Great blog.

You're on TV? Wow...

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

I was totally kidding about on TV :-).

Thanks everyone!

Granted Wishes Greyhounds said...

::grins sheepishly:: I knew that...

Sallie said...

I love that you do this! Great blog post.