The Gorge - Flash Bristow's Website
Dog related entries from my regular online diary:
The first month of dog ownership!

Monday, May 3rd, 2004
3:19 pm
Cray is being adorable. The cat is lying on the landing and deciding to stay upstairs, and the dog is just following me everywhere and lying down to sleep when I'm busy. At the moment I'm taking him from room to room with his lead, because he doesn't like the muzzle, but he won't settle with the lead on so I have to close the door. So I might pop the muzzle on instead and let him choose where to be, and tonight I will stay downstairs with him and shut the cat in the spare room.

So far all is peaceful apart from the inevitable admin hassle of a new pet and learning what he wants and how often he needs to go out, etc.

I'm very relieved (so far!) and very happy.

Tuesday, May 4th, 2004
8:45 am
Well, Cray was very good last night. I didn't need to stay with him at all! I left him at ten and the light in the room (from the fish tank) went off a little later, at which point he barked. I went to see to him, and he was very pleased. I left him with a toy and put the hall light on for a little ambient light.

He was silent all night (although I woke up almost every hour on the hour wondering if he was ok) and this morning I found a few little accidents by the back door, but that's ok - stress has affected his system so I daresay he couldn't have held on. No damage to anything and he was just lying peacefully in bed. He was ecstatic to see me, and has followed me round so far this morning, and settled whereever I stop, but he does get up to help himself to water or whatever before returning, so he seems to be ok.

The only problem was yesterday, while walking him some kids set off fireworks right near us and he panicked. We walked back home at as quick a march as I could manage. He was happy to go back to the same place later, though. And I was pleased he made a beeline specifically for our house - he is already learning where he lives and is safe.

He's really gorgeous, but I will take photos when he is more settled.

If anyone really is sharing my enthusiasm (?!) then I have found out some info about him - his racing name was Majopa Owl, and from this site I have found that he won 12 out of 89 races (that's about what you'd expect by random chance though!) and his family tree (under "pedigree").

I already knew he was Irish bred from his ear tattoos.

1:21 pm
Today Cray quietly wandered in, picked up one of Jeremy's rabbit-fur toy mice, and quietly walked off with it to his bed. When I took it he came back for another - and found they'd been shut in the cat basket. He wasn't amused!

I wonder how to stop him taking things. He has his own toys which I promptly interest him in. He's hungry too. Due to stress-diarrhoea he's on limited food...

Ah well. He is still following me around and being adorable, and he's finally discovered how comfy my futon (my choice for his bed) can be.

2:41 pm
Among my dog-related surfing I have just come across this gem:

"He may indeed know you are angry about the newspaper, but what about the newspaper? Are the bits and pieces not small enough? Are they not scattered randomly enough? Is the job not done well enough?"

2:59 pm
Cray doesn't like thunder.

However, having been woken up, he asks to go out.


6:42 pm
Another surfing treasure: http://www.dognoses.com/

One for Graham Norton, I suspect...

Wednesday, May 5th, 2004
9:53 am
Last night, Cray barked until I came and slept with him. But no mess overnight - he slept through from 11 until 6am - and his stress-diarrhoea has gone. He's much healthier.

He saw the cat last night (it had bravely ventured to the dining room) and when it darted for cover he was very interested in it indeed. Bother!

This morning, I had just popped the door shut on the cat as he was sleeping peacefully, and let Cray loose for a few minutes before he would settle beside me, when I heard "Thud. Thud. Thud-thud-thud."

Yes, Cray has learnt stairs.

Luckily, with a bit of encouragement and guiding, he came down again too.

And then back up, because it was so fun the first time!

And then was made to come down and settle next to me.

I've called the kennels for advice - I'd really like upstairs to be Jeremy's safe place for a while longer, but I don't know if a stair gate would be enough to stop the dog. I'm not sure if it's time to introduce the dog and cat and begin to train them both to get on in the same room, but I would REALLY rather wait until Jeremy feels ready, like we did last time he lived with a big dog - it was a few days before he would come down to see it.

I dunno, yesterday I was worrying about diarrhoea, today I'm worrying about stairs...

Cray is of course behaving very typically for a greyhound and is learning me, his name, and now stairs, very quickly!

12:52 pm
I have improvised a stairgate.

Meantime, Cray refused to go past the primary school on the way to the common - the sounds of children shrieking really scared him!

3:22 pm
Current problem: Finding an engraver with an @ sign so I can have my email address on the dog's tag. Common response is "It's not in my letterset".

I did however find Dog-e-tag which looks rather cool.

My friend Wicket noticed that it is waterproof to 50m and suggests we email to say "Pleased to see the tag held out, but Fido has a bad case of the bends" :-)

6:32 pm
The afternoon has been quiet. Instead of having one of the pets shut up, or Cray on a lead, I put his muzzle on him. After numerous attempts to remove it, he now puts up with it (until he remembers it's there and makes a fuss again). So he is now free to wander, and so is the cat.

I've made a barrier on the stairs, so of course it's still cat upstairs and dog downstairs, but neither of them seems stressed. And they've looked at each other a bit from a distance without Cray getting into "kill!" mode or Jez getting into "hiss!" mode.

I wonder if Cray will let me sleep in the hall (where he can see me but not be with me) tonight, or if he will need comforting again.

I must make up a camp bed. The floor is mighty hard, and Cray gets the blankets...

Thursday, May 6th, 2004
6:00 pm
I popped out for 45 minutes to get a stair gate (would have been less but the fastpay machine at Argos was broken and the queues were insane) and Cray was great - no barking when I left or arrived (I did stop to listen), and no damage or messing. He was pleased to see me, for sure, but not neurotic-dog "I thought I'd never see you again, this is the best thing in my life ever ever!" pleased, like he was when I returned in the morning after the first night. Which is excellent! Well done Cray! I told him what a good boy he was, and mixed a can of tuna in with his meal.

Wednesday, May 12th, 2004
11:00 pm
Today was a big day. I left after having walked the dog and muzzled him and popped him back inside as usual. I returned at lunch (after leaving him 3 hours, which he has done a couple of times already) to find the stair gate subtly moved. I went upstairs and the bins were over and the catfood messed and eaten, he had defiinitely been up here. I panicked (remember greyhounds are not only trained to chase small furry things but are lean enough for small spaces and at 40mph can catch even a quick cat...) and I went from room to room, trying not to shake or to cry but to say "come here Jeremy" and just hoping that the fact there was no blood, no fur, was a good sign. Trying not to let myself think "at least it would have been quick" and instead to think "it's not the dog's fault. We talk in foreign to him in a place he has never seen (a house) in a routine he has never kept... he didnt mean to hurt the cat...."

After checking every room upstairs many times and stripping them down so thoroughly that it took me many hours this afternoon to tidy up - I found the cat unharmed behind the futon that the dog sleeps on downstairs!

After calming down (after all the cat was calm so why wasn't I?!) I think the dog got upstairs and had a great time going through the bins (he doesn't downstairs as I quickly told him not to!) and the cat saw him and went "I'm not staying here then!" and went down to hide in a quiet place. After all, they couldn't have passed on the stairs... there would have been war!

So the cat is fine. And I really don't think he was chased - our curtains are torn so maybe he was startled, cos cats go up when afraid - because he wanted to leave our room as soon as I contained him safely within it, with his litter food and toys! He wasn't afraid and hadn't been terrified.

But thank goodness Cray had his muzzle on (as ever) just in case.

And my temping job kindly called and even though they are a few people short today they called just after I had left to go back after lunch, to say "stay with your dog and sort it out". Very much appreciated...

Monday, May 17th, 2004
10:03 am
Barking mad...

At the weekend Bloke kindly fixed the stair gate across the spare room doorway at a height which the cat can get under. So the dog was led upstairs on a lead and sniffed at the door, and also explored the rest of the upstairs, and all was well. Both pets were well behaved.

However the barricade on the stairs remained as well.

We all went to bed early because I was tired and feeling crap yesterday (elder is out in bloom and my hayfever kicked in with a vengeance).

At 3am the dog woke, and started barking for us.

Trouble is, I should either ignore him or give him a deterrent (I will get a water squirter today) but when he barks early, my thoughts are for the neighbours. So I get up. So he gets a mixed message - that he gets me to join him by barking, albeit a grumpy me!

But then later he even started barking when I was right next to him, saying "I want to go back upstairs, please!" As Bloke was still asleep all I could do was to walk him and distract him with play - again he gets the idea he gets something good from barking. Not good.

I've been told that the solution is to let him upstairs with you - in fact some adoption agencies insist on it so the dog isn't scared and alone, given that he has never been in a house before - and he will just go to sleep and get used to your routine. Loads of people on a mailing list have been very helpful about this (and understand I am not going to use the USA style crate training where you cage your dog in a box - Cray isn't used to crates) but the respondents all have their dog with them at night, so they can't offer advice.

Bloke and I had a brief discussion about this at 3am. He doesn't want to share his bedroom with a dog that still craps in the house. Absolutely fair enough. But as I understand it the dog will never crap in "his kennel" and so he needs to learn to accept all the house as "his kennel". In any case he doesn't crap anywhere except by the back door, and then only overnight. (He always gets up to go there if he doesn't wake me - it's not laziness. He doesn't ever just crap a foot from where he is sleeping or anything like that - no way would I tolerate that in our house! I'm experimenting with his mealtimes to address his timings too.) When I'm with him in the early mornings, he is usually content to go to sleep as he has me with him. I am led to believe this would happen if he was upstairs with us, too. But hey, 3am is never the time to discuss these things and I went downstairs instead so Bloke could sleep. (Willingly and happily cos I love my Bloke, even though I was tired! His sleep matters much more than mine - I can catch up by day.)

I'm a little frustrated because I thought the idea was to introduce him to upstairs, hence the stair gate across the spare room door to let the cat have that as his safe area, rather than across the stairs so the whole of upstairs would be the cat's safe area. But the barricade on the stairs continues as well! And I find it quite hard to climb around that too. I think until we do this the barking will persist, but I don't want to do it without Bloke's say so, because of course it is his home. But then if we don't do it the dog will bark, and then it's my problem! I feel like my hands are a little tied.

I feel guilty at disturbing Bloke with the barking, tired from not enough sleep, and frustrated that we can't let the dog upstairs to at least try and address this.

I have investigated "anti barking" collars but they sound cruel and/or expensive. I do have the pheromone release thing, but it apparently takes a couple of weeks to work in calming and reassuring the dog. I am going to start training "properly" i.e. in sessions rather than just generally using praise and commands when the dog does the right thing. Hopefully that will improve things in bonding us and stimulating him as well as improving his behaviour, but training not to bark is hard especially when the cause is a lonely or bored dog, which needs addressing rather than leaving him to become neurotic. My understanding is that greyhounds are naturally quite quiet, and he certainly was at first (and in the kennels) so I think he needs company / cheering up / stimulation in order to make an improvement in this area.

So if anyone has any advice I would very much welcome it. It is my and Bloke's house of course, and the cat's, but the dog has been invited to share it as well. I need him to feel happy and settled (i.e. not barking or fretting, and being receptive to training) but of course Bloke needs his sleep, we need some time together, and of course we need our sanity!

10:12 am
In response to the comments, here are the doggie photos:

[Doggie photos removed, please see Photos page instead]

Despite my frustrated posts, he usually looks like in the first photo...

12:28 pm
Right. Some progress.

1) I have bought a water shooter. I've never actually had one, so this is a lot of fun! So far it stopped the dog barking once (by distracting rather than deterring as I missed him!)

2) I have found a toy he can enjoy with his muzzle on! I know he loves soft toys, and particularly Jeremy's squeaky mouse, so I have found him a furry ball which squeaks. So he has just spent a happy half hour pouncing on it (*SQUEAK!*) and pushing it away, then pouncing again. He actually seems happy, hot and worn out, but very pleased. Just one thing - he is reluctant to give it up. He is now lying on his prey happily. So I will wait til he is distracted sometime later (meal time?) and then take it back - sounds cruel but then I can give it to him at night and if I have to leave him, and it will be a great treat. That's the plan. For now I have a happy and silent dog in another room on his own, by choice.

3) I have read a guide to clicker training and while I dont like bandwagons ("clickers were never needed in my day", etc etc) I think I will try it because he is keen to learn and quite bright and should enjoy the stimulation. I have loads of metal bells which I inherited from my grandparents, which have been barely used since I was about three. So one will be used as his "clicker". I *hope* he has no association with a bell noise. A click is too easily made by clicking a biro or fidgeting somehow.

Here's hoping some or all of these techniques work...

Back to work...!

Tuesday, May 18th, 2004
7:36 am
Cray was quiet *and* clean last night!

We shut the cat in the spare room (it has a stairgate for him to get under, but as he and Cray aren't yet properly acquainted, we shut the door too) and put a small barrier to our room so he could see us but realise that he shouldn't join us (he only hopped over once or twice before twigging). And then he slept from quarter to eleven until seven am outside our room on his bed. He did get a 3am bathroom trip - but as I was going myself, it seemed fair to give him the chance too.

All in all quite successful. I didn't sleep that well - twitching at small noises in case Cray was trying to get at the cat (he wasn't) and dreamt he was barking and woke up in a hurry a few times, only to see he was dozing peacefully. But next time I think I would sleep better.


Friday, May 21st, 2004
8:05 am
Cray has been quite good the last few nights, absolutely no barking now he can come upstairs with us. It's produced a great improvement in his separation anxiety too, and he quite often chooses to be in another room now rather than faithfully following me everywhere I go.

He did mess overnight once but at least he got up and went down to do it by the back door, which shows he knows where to go and isn't lazy enough to mess the rest of the house. (Just as well!!!) He does seem to want to mark in the house though. I'm going to get Febreze today so there is no trace of his scent left on the carpet, and hopefully it will also improve when he is neutered (must book him in, it's due in a couple of weeks). No matter how much he goes in the garden he always seems to have some left to mark with. On walks I sometimes wonder if he is just a big furry tank of pee.

Just one small snag. This morning I woke to hear Bloke saying "OFF! OFF!" to a dog lying serenely on a sofabed thing in our room. (So now Cray probably thinks "OFF!" means "well done, you found a really comfy bed!" :-) Anyway, we had a bit of a job to move him. He rather liked it there. He must have snuck into our room (usually we can hear him clip clopping over the board blocking it off) and just settled down quietly while we were sleeping. Actually I think it makes a very good bed for a dog, just the right height, squishy, and tatty and old, but there was the snag of it having our clean laundry on there...oh dear. Luckily I groomed him last night and he barely sheds at all (there is no fur on my futon where he lies, for example) but that is really not the point!

Still, there is progress in different ways every day. Today we managed to watch a group of dogs playing in the distance and then to walk away from them with no bother, which I was very chuffed with. Unfortunately the owner had no control and they all came bounding up - all dogs with the same tan and black colouring, but completely different shapes. Two puppies ran around us barking. A St Bernard shaped dog lay next to us on the grass, watching and panting. A collie shaped dog followed the owner and behaved quite well. Another different shaped dog looked interested but didn't come as close. So there were five dogs, all different shapes but the same colour so they looked like some kind of wierd family, all surrounding us with the owner having no ability to move them. Cray just stood still and behaved well - not scared and not really excited. He gave the barking puppies a quick sniff. Good dog! Eventually I realised they wouldn't be called off, so I took Cray home and the dogs moved away in the end. I was not impressed though at this man surrounded by a group of dogs without leads (or collars, at least on the puppies) which wouldn't obey him.

Saturday, May 22nd, 2004
10:03 am - Doggie or Druggie?
The dog found my stash yesterday. I came home at lunchtime to find my kilo all spread out over the floor. Individually wrapped chocolate covered coffee beans, all over the place!

The first inkling I had was when I noticed a small wrapper at my feet when I entered. I promptly went into my room and found the mess, and another empty wrapper. No others appeared to have been touched (he had his muzzle on so would find it hard to eat them) and as he seemed fine and had only eaten two, I gave him lunch and exercise and popped back to work having hidden the remainder of the beans rather well.

Come evening he seemed fine again, but it appeared to affect his digestive system (you know what I mean!) and I was rather shocked to see what he produced contained more wrappers... but by evening all seemed normal again. So no bother.

This morning he stood up and vomited a little pile of wrappers. So I now reckon he had 15-20 choccie beans (that's too many for me, in a day, and he's only five stone!)

I called the vet, but the vet is happy as long as Cray seems ok in himself and his heart isn't racing. He's seemed fine throughout, so I guess there is no need to panic.

I read that "as little as a pound of chocolate can be fatal" but there is no way he had that much... 450g of chocolate, when each bean is 2-3g. But I was a little worried about the caffeine as well. Still, no ill effects (apart from the indignity of vomiting wrappers!) And he slept very well last night, I had to persuade him to get up at 7am and use the bathroom. Perhaps he is on a come-down...

Tuesday, May 25th, 2004
4:23 pm
Having a muzzled hound pulling in your hands is very useful for dispatching unwanted callers to the door in double quick time. :-)

Thursday, May 27th, 2004
2:34 pm
I had a great strategy for disciplining the dog... tap him on the nose with things where he has caused offence.

So he got tapped on the nose with a china bowl he knocked over to lick.

Trouble is, I can hardly bop him with the kitchen bin!

Tuesday, June 1st, 2004
3:40 pm
Clicker (well, bell) training continues unabated.

When he hears the bell he comes running for a treat.

However if he knows I have a treat, he won't do anything (like go in his bed) because he is obsessed by the treat...

For my latest entries - which may or may not relate to the dog - please read my online journal.

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