It’s all been a bit serious on here recently, so I’m on a bid to lift things a little before I disappear… well you know.
I haven’t mentioned them for ages, so thought I’d write a bit about my sleek black leggy (ex) racing partners in crime.
I’m starting with Ronnie. Ronnie goes first for everything that doesn’t involve food. Wendy is pack leader, although you’d have a job to tell most of the time as she is so lazy, and shoves Ronnie out of the way at tea time.
But this isn’t about food, so we shall start with Ronnie.
Ronnie is 7 years old. His racing name was, unbelievably, Hit and Run. His racing stats show that he was a decent dog, racing over longer distances once he got older. He never raced in the highest classes (higher A numbers) but won a few times out. I adopted him in December 2011, having made the decision to look for another dog after my much loved old greyhound Bubble finally left in June of that year.
I started looking in October, and went to the local RGT kennels at Clarks Farm near Maldon in Essex, to see who was in need at that particular time. I had a quick chat with the kennel staff to discuss my requirements which were basically two older (5+) dogs, not bothered what colour or sex, not too bouncy, and off they went to bring out a couple of possibles. I met Ronnie and Poppy.
Ronnie came bursting into the shed/office like a whirlwind, and he pretty much ignored me and headed straight for the dog treats. It was love at first sight and my heart leapt out of my chest.
He was lively but not excessively so, and his next move was to go and stand in the corner by the desk as there were more treats in the drawer. He’d obviously done this before, as he got stuck. He stood there quietly for a few moments until the kennel staff came back with Poppy. I asked if everything he was OK.
It turned out that yes he was absolutely fine, he was just waiting for someone to help him out of the corner as there wasn’t space for him to turn round. He looked a little in need of a special person to call his own, although he was very much loved at the kennels, and his coat looked like a saggy worn out old jumper.
After having a bit of a snuffle about, he soon settled down for a bit of a snooze on the dog bed. Poppy meanwhile, was just a bit too bouncy. Sometimes this is just because they are out of their kennel and meeting people, but sadly I didn’t feel she was the dog for me. She was absolutely gorgeous, but she was two years older, more energetic and bigger than Ronnie. Ronnie is not a small dog. We went for a walk to see how we got on, and while I was sad about Poppy, I didn’t feel she was the one for me. Another family were interested in her so I hoped she would soon have a home.
I was home-checked by the RGT volunteers, and all was fine apart from the pond. I was warned to fence it as he was a nosey dog and would go in it. I had no means of fencing the (very large) pond but planned to watch him carefully when he was near it.
He settled into his new house very quickly. He’d never lived inside before, never had a carpet or sofa to lounge around on. He’d never seen a television or heard a hoover or a washing machine. He coped well with all of these. Within minutes of being in the house, he’d hopped up next to me on the sofa and decided that if I was there, that’s where he should be too. He quickly learnt his name and the word no.
Three days after he arrived, it was Christmas Day. We went to visit my parents for lunch. We thought all the dogs had gone to sleep while we were eating, but when we looked we were missing one. You can guess who. I went to look for him, and found him at the top of the stairs, waiting patiently to be rescued. He couldn’t turn around or walk backwards. There was no way I could carry 33 kilos of muscle down a flight of stairs, so my dad was summoned. Ronnie is still frightened of stairs to this day.
A couple of days later, while he was in the garden, I popped inside to put the kettle on. Sure enough, he went in the pond. I had no idea until I saw him, sopping wet, looking very pleased with himself. Strangely, he smelled better than before he went in.
Within a week of arriving, he’d cut his foot in the garden, on a particularly awkward part of his toe. A trip to the emergency vets on a bank holiday, and several dressings and re-dressings were required. He wasn’t bothered at all, and is pulling his best sorry face here.
Ronnie is a real character. He adores people, and approaches everyone as if they are his best friend and their sole purpose in life is to make a fuss of him.
He adores my dad, and particularly used to enjoy supervising him mowing the grass in my old garden. He’s stopped for a rest here, but despite the fact that it took twice as long as normal to untangle the dog regularly, my dad enjoyed himself as well.
He is incredibly gentle with children and babies and stands perfectly still for them to pat him. He is a bit less gentle with adults if they stop stroking him before he’s had enough. I have ended up wearing countless cups of tea as I have not put my drink down before sitting next to him on the sofa. He has a nifty trick of using his nose as a lever under your elbow to flick your hand over his head.
Ronnie has one and a half ears, and two thirds of a tail. Both have happened since he came to live with me. The ear had to go because of a benign lump on the tip, and the tail was a very unfortunate accident where I caught it in the front door. However, Ronnie adores going to the vet. He is treated like royalty, is stuffed with biscuits and fussed over by everyone. Whatever has to be done, however painful, he stands still, takes it bravely and is the perfect patient.
He has several teeth missing, and likes to sleep with his mouth and eyes open.
Ronnie loves food, particularly rawhide bones, bread and biscuits. Recently he has shown himself to be fond of fish too. He loves ear rubs, and groans loudly if you hit the right spot. He loves being stroked on his head and neck. He loves his walks, and pulls enthusiastically, even uphill. We tackled a particularly steep hill together once, he hesitated briefly but with a little shove on his bottom, off he went and didn’t stop. If you relax the lead, he turns round to check you’re still there.
He loves his toys, particularly squeaky ones. He is very playful in short bursts. He adores stretching himself out along the whole length of the sofa, and can touch both ends of a 3-seater sofa with his toes. He loves the vacuum cleaner and doesn’t believe in moving off the sofa when asked. He plays chicken with the hose, seeing how close it can get. Then he will hop off at the very last minute.
He loves to chase. Crisp packets, balls, leaves, birds, cats, rabbits, squirrels. He wasn’t a fantastically successful racer but he has a very strong prey drive and for this reason will never be safe off the lead. He will stare at children playing football because he wants to join in. Another greyhound we see is always carrying a ball with him, and Ronnie stares at him too.
He has no road sense. If you mentioned the Tufty club he’d be straight after the hedgehog. He has learnt the places where we cross the road on our walks. He knows he has to wait a little while, but doesn’t understand why. He looks both ways briefly, as he knows I do this, and then charges out whenever he’s ready. This has almost landed us in trouble a couple of times but I concentrate much more now to keep us both safe.
As well as stairs, Ronnie is frightened of tin foil. He hates the noise it makes when you pull it off the roll. He is also scared of my kitchen floor, which he can’t walk on. It’s a complete mystery as to why, as Wendy is fine on it. He has to be led across it by the collar, or coaxed in and out of the back door with food.
Other than that, he’s a happy dog who loves human contact. Here is he is celebrating the jubilee last year, when he still had the full complement of ears. He tried to eat his garland soon after it was put on.
He could sleep for England, except between the hours of 5.30 and 7am when he is awake almost without fail. I’ve tried countless things to get him to stay asleep, and he’s had a talking to from the vet. Listening to his favourite vet telling him “that he was a grown up dog now and should know how to settle himself down if he heard a noise in the night” was just priceless.
He’s happiest when asleep on the sofa, with a warm body next to him. Ideally, his head is on your hip or your ribs. He twitches in his sleep, and occasionally barks and wakes himself up. He has typical greyhound digestion so this can be an occasionally unpleasant experience, but on a lazy Sunday, or when eating my breakfast in the morning, there are few places I would rather be.
I don’t eat toast on the sofa now, since he learnt he could sneak round behind me like this. He is watching it like a hawk, just in case. A greyhound always has to be ready….