Archive for the 'Greyhound related' Category

Blog backlog: Jack Jack

July 21st, 2014

My latest greyhound acquisition came home on June 7th, the week before I got out of school. I ended up having to wait two weeks after we first met him, but it worked out to be a good thing, because it took him longer than a weekend to learn to use the dog door. (Why don’t dogs ever teach each other anything useful?) Since the last week of school was minimum days, though, I could come home early to let him out.

He only took about four days to figure out the dog door, which is about half the time it took Sophie. (Not coincidentally, he did not require a trail of kibble down the hallway to lure him out, either.) Jack Jack was enticed by the opportunity to bark at squirrels at will. (Why don’t dogs ever teach each other anything useful?) Actually, Jack Jack doesn’t bark, but he never misses an opportunity to go check out squirrels with Philip. At least they get along, I guess.

We kept his name, although it’s not really my fave, mostly because Matt insisted he knew it. I maintain that all he knows is high happy voice, but what’s done is done and it does suit him. My minor modification is to call him Jack Jack, rather than just Jack. You know, like Jack-Jack Attack? Also, it just sounds natural to me, I think because I’m accustomed to two-syllable names.

Jack Jack doesn’t care what you call him, though, because thankfully (and by design), Jack Jack is a very easy dog. He’s six, so he’s the highest energy of the dogs, but he’s still a greyhound, so it’s not so bad. As is natural for a dog, he loves his walks, and when I pick up the leash, I’m now surrounded by jumping dogs snapping their teeth. (Sophie substituted this annoying habit for the even more annoying demand barking, and she taught it to Jack Jack. Why don’t dogs ever teach each other anything useful?)

Walks have become largely separate affairs for Matt and me, as I jog the young dogs (also known as “the pack”) and he shuffles with the old man (also known as “the mouth breather.”) This holds even when we take the dogs to the river, so last time, we took two cars. Typically, however, we end up back about the same time (the young dogs just go farther), so yesterday, we decided to try all the dogs in one car. They fit!

(Sort of.)

This works only because neither Philip nor Jack Jack care that much about their personal space. So the old man got in the car first (Matt has to lift him), and then Sophie. Jack Jack got in last, and squeezed himself into the remaining space. (See! Easy dog!)

If you put all the dogs in the car at the same time, like we did on the way over, you get this:

with the pack sticking their heads out one window and the mouth breather sticking his out the other.

Overall, Jack Jack has been a fantastically easy addition to the household, and it’s not been nearly as logistically complicated as I thought. The peace will last until Wednesday, when my parents bring their adolescent terrierist for a week-long visit. That one’s going to be interesting.

Happy birthday to me

June 3rd, 2014

Happy birthday to me
I’m getting a greyhound
And then we’ll have three!

The original meeting was scheduled for the kennel in Auburn two weeks ago (why, yes, that was 5/24). And, in fact, the dogs, Matt, and I met our possibly-third dog that day, as scheduled. Not exactly as scheduled, however; he was wearing a cone. Apparently, another dog in his foster home decided he wanted the toy, and opened up a scrape on Blackjack’s nose. Which would have been fine, except that dogs never leave well enough alone, and the next thing you know, he needed two staples and the cone of shame to ensure they stayed in.

Now, Blackjack didn’t seem to mind the cone at all. He would just amble along, banging the cone into things (fences, trees, you name it), completely indifferent. Sophie, on the other hand, was (surprise!) afraid of the cone. She was already on edge being in Auburn! in the daytime! surrounded by people! who wanted to pet her!, so we didn’t want to make a final decision on Blackjack until we could do a cone-less meeting. We rescheduled for the following weekend.

But. Blackjack’s staples didn’t come out until Sunday (my birthday!). And his foster mom wanted to keep the cone on for a few more days, just to be on the safe side. Honestly, I completely agree with the logic, but. . . I want my dog! We’re scheduled to revisit/pick up Blackjack on Friday evening. In the meantime, I’m busy collar shopping online and picking out names. Stay tuned!

So imagine this. . .

May 19th, 2014

. . . it’s 7 pm. Still light out. Matt and I put on shoes to go to the grocery store.

And Sophie starts jumping around and capering and generally begging and pleading for a walk.

Now, this would be normal dog behavior in a normal dog. But Sophie, bless her pointy little head, is not a normal dog. She’s a dog on two different types of anti-anxiety meds (trazodone and paroxetine) who flat-out refused to leave the house on a leash starting last August. She’s actually been out on regular walks for the past few months, but always in the dead of night, when there are very few people around. Last time I tried to take her out during the day, she looked around and then hopped back up the steps and nosed at the door. So. That was pretty clear, and we quit attempting daylight walks.

Until yesterday. Since she asked, I figured, sure, let’s try, thinking she’d look around and head back in (again). But no!

Sophie walk

She went for a 20-minute walk, in broad daylight, and our neighbor even talked to us (voices upset her), and she didn’t freak out (unduly).

So maybe we’re finally making some forward progress. It’s only been two years.

And actually, on that note: Sophie took hot dogs from Kevin two weeks ago!

Kevin feeds Sophie

Maybe there really is hope!

And, um, just in case there isn’t? I might be getting another dog this weekend.

Forget gold. It’s more like platinum.

February 1st, 2014

First of all, and I just want to make sure this is clear up front, I love Philip.

Everyone loves Philip. He’s very easy to love, after all. He’s charming, affectionate, fearless. He is also very, very, very expensive. Matt and I used to joke that Philip was worth is weight in gold. Literally. As he’s gotten older, though, and the total expenditure has skyrocketed up, well, I think gold is undervaluing him. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s a brief summary of Philip’s medical history:

  1. Worms. Weeks and weeks and weeks of worms.
  2. A dermatologist. Months of dog food rouletteYears of IVD Rabbit and Potato.
  3. Foot surgery (twice)
  4. Back surgery

And now, Philip is adding to his lifetime totals with:

  1. Old man stuff

Philip, lest we forget, is eleven. He doesn’t act like it, but he is, and he’s slowed down noticeably in the last few years. Oh, he still barks at squirrels and demands walks, but he sleeps a lot more, is much lower key, and gets tired a lot faster. Also, he has arthritis.

At its worst, the arthritis got to the point where Philip could no longer jump on the bed. Matt and I discussed various remedies (get a ramp — no room; get a lower bed — sigh) and took him to the vet. Philip went on twice-daily NSAIDs, which helped, but even then, he was reluctant to jump on the bed. Matt was lifting him up every night, and lifting a 75-pound dog up onto the bed multiple times a day gets really old (or so I hear). Matt’s colleague Carole recommended we try acupuncture; she thought her senior dog really benefited from it. So off went Matt and Philip to the Center for Integrative Animal Medicine.

Philip acupuncture

At around $150 a visit, it’s not cheap. But it does seem to be helping; Philip is now back to living on the bed, having gotten there under his own steam. Of course, to start out, treatments have been weekly, though now we’re able to spread them out a bit more (every 2-3 weeks), and we’ll be able to go down to once a month eventually. In the meantime, though, ouch.

And that’s not including the NSAIDs ($80 for a 30-day supply), or the blood tests we have to get to check liver function ($150 every 3-4 months) to ensure Philip is healthy enough to take them. Nor does it include incidentals, like the biopsy on one of the random skin tags that pop up every so often ($50) or the visit to the opthamologist to biopsy the frankly disturbing growth in Philip’s eye that had been there forever but then got red and inflammed (don’t ask).


But I’m pretty sure if we totaled it up, he’s worth his weight in platinum.

Post-Christmas in Monterey

January 3rd, 2014

Matt and I spent a low-key Christmas at home this year, with exactly the same menu as the last time we did this. It was a very relaxing holiday, which was really just what I needed. Besides, there was no shortage of family togetherness, since Kevin just bought a house near us, and the whole family helped him move in on the 26th.

Fox and Goose family photo

(Matt took this frankly frightening photo of us at breakfast the next day, at the Fox and Goose, which has, bar none, the best corned beef hash I’ve ever had. I also strongly recommend the scones. With Devonshire cream.)

After that, Matt and I took Sophie to boarding. Why did only Sophie go to boarding, you ask? Because she has become, as insanely improbable as this may seem, still more crazySince last I wrote, she started refusing to go outside. No walks, no car, no dog park, no, no, no, no, no. Finally, we just gave up, Sophie became a shut-in, and frankly, all of us were happier. (I did call Nancy back in, and she did have some recommendations, and we are working on it, and we did go back to the behaviorist, and Sophie is on new meds, and this is really a story for another time.)

Long story short, Sophie was going to have to be boarded for New Year’s anyway, as there was no way she could: a. travel to Fresno, or b. deal with the Fresno family gathering. So Matt and I decided to board her a few days early and take a Philip-only vacation. We chose Monterey because it was on-the-way-ish to Fresno, we haven’t been to the aquarium in years, and it’s pretty dog-friendly.

So we got a nice little hotel room off the main drag, and spent a few nights in Monterey. Matt and I were happy because it had a refrigerator and microwave. Philip was happy because it had an extra bed.

Philip's bed

Every morning, we’d get up at our leisure (except for the morning we got up before sunrise because Matt wanted to “catch the nice morning light”) and wander down to the harbor, stopping for a coffee along the way.


Matt liked the harbor for the boats.


I liked it for the seals.


Philip liked it for the opportunities to sniff and pee.


We spent a few afternoons in Carmel, on the off-leash city beach, where Philip proved he can still run (albeit slowly, as I can keep up with him now).


And after a few days, Philip was so exhausted, he would sleep just about anywhere.

Matt and Philip


When we got to Fresno, Philip slept for two days straight. “Kimberly,” my mom would say. “I think your dog is dead.” But he wasn’t. He was just really, really tired. He is old, though, so we’re glad we took this little one-dog vacation.

Blog backlog: Anniversary and crazy Sophie

August 19th, 2013

Matt and I took our customary jaunt out to the coast for our anniversary (7 years!) during the first week of August. Since Sophie did well at the ranch on our last trip, we figured we’d be fine taking the dogs along. (Side note: Someone at breakfast commented, “You have videos of your dogs on the internet.” Well, yes, but how did you know? Answer: She found my video of the dogs while doing internet research on the Howard Creek Ranch Inn.)

We did our usual, taking lots of walks on the beach,

Beach walk

and Matt did some geeking out at a different beach, where he spotted a geological feature called an anticline.


Sounds good, right? Well, it was. For us. And for Philip.

Philip tidepool

Not so much for Sophie, however, who has become, improbable as it may sound, still more crazy.


She’s always been afraid of people, but now it seems like there’s no safe distance — if she can see them, she’s upset. As if that’s not enough, she’s become very sound-sensitive, too — if she can hear people, she’s upset. So in addition to her Zoloft and her weekly training class, we tried a Thundershirt and Calming Cap to see if they helped alleviate her anxiety.

Sophie's traveling gear

The answer was yes. . . and no. They helped (although Sophie really hates the Calming Cap and spends a great deal of time trying to remove it when it’s on), but not enough to keep her calm if, say, she heard anyone upstairs. Or if we went through a drive-through. Or stopped in a busy parking lot.

(One thing she doesn’t care about, though: My personal space.)

Sophie on my legs

When we got home, we scheduled another appointment with our vet behaviorist, who upped the dose of Zoloft and added another medication to Sophie’s regimen (trazodone). So far, no good, so the next step is likely to be to wean her off the Zoloft and try a different medication. In the meantime, she’s gotten worse again, and now she won’t go out the front door. So no walks, no dog park, no nothing. I now have an agoraphobe. (And you thought it couldn’t get worse. . . well, me too. More fool we.)

So I got another training book, and have a one-on-one consultation with Nancy next week, and in the meantime am trying to implement tips from both. So Sophie is being rewarded any time she looks at me (Nancy’s idea) and I’m training her to target (both the book and Nancy’s idea) and to relax on a mat (the book’s idea). Naturally, this called for a homemade mat.

Sophie mat front

It’s reversible, too. And made entirely from scraps!

Sophie mat back

So wish me luck, I guess. Sigh. (Double sigh.)

It’s summer. . .

July 23rd, 2013

. . . and the greyhounds are hot. . .

Philip fan

. . . so they get their own fans.

Sophie fan


Happy Gotcha Day, Sophie

July 7th, 2013

Or, “How can it have been a year already when she’s still so, so, so crazy?”

Sophie head shot

Here’s to our one-year anniversary with our independent, willful,

hide and seek Sophie

high-energy, comfort-loving,

Sophie in pool

little ball of crazy.

sleeping Sophie

(Sophie’s gotcha day is always bittersweet, because it’s also the birthday of my grandmother and Henry, both of whom have passed away. So, happy birthday to Grandma M and Henry. RIP x 2.)


Celebrating the Fourth with peace and quiet

July 6th, 2013

Philip fears very few things. Fireworks, though, are one of those few, and they’re legal in Sacramento. Thus, as much as possible, we spend the Fourth on the road. We opted, once again, to spend this year’s Fourth on the beach in Point Reyes.

This is our first Fourth with Sophie, so we weren’t sure quite how it would go. As I feared, the first few hours were trying; she got splashed on the side by a rogue wave, so now she won’t go near the water (the same wave, I might add, knocked Philip off his feet and was pulling him in when Matt got to him, but you don’t see Philip complaining); and she spent most of her time looking around fearfully to keep an eye on the movements of nearby strangers (as well as changing position to better monitor same). We gave her lots of treats, and she was relaxed enough to take them, so overall, she did pretty well, but it wasn’t exactly fun.

That is, it wasn’t fun until Sophie had an idea.

Her idea was to move to a little inlet close by, walk as far up it as possible, and lay down there. At that point, we had a pile of driftwood to the back of us, plus hills on either side, leaving only one, easily visible, entrance. After pulling me determinedly toward her desired safe spot, Sophie finally went to sleep.

Matt and Sophie nap

Philip, naturally, had other ideas. Primarily because he was hot.

Philip naps

Because he’s a trustworthy old man, we opted just to let him stay down there. And sure enough, he slept there until he got cold, at which point we bundled the dogs into their coats, moved into what was left of the sun, and all huddled together.

Kim and Sophie

Well, that was the plan, anyway. Sophie declined to cuddle. Philip, as always, managed just fine.

Matt and Philip

Our normal course of events is to stay on the beach until the sun sets or we get too cold, whichever comes first. This year, it was the latter, aided by a strong sand-bearing wind blowing into our faces. Since looking at the setting sun hurt, Matt and I decided to put the dogs in the car and watch the sun set from there.


(The sun was setting, I swear!)


All told, we had a very nice Fourth of July. No fireworks and no 113° weather. I call that a win.

Greyhound walk and photo shoot — to musical accompaniment

June 23rd, 2013

Although there’s apparently a massive storm on the way, it hasn’t started yet, so Matt and I thought we’d take the dogs to the river before we get rained in. Since the light was nice, I thought the walk could do double duty as a photo shoot for my new top. An evening walk by the river is always nice, but tonight, we got bonus musical entertainment!

band practice

It’s the Moonlight Classic (34th annual!) which, amusingly, Sacramento apparently stole from Stockton last year, and then promptly screwed up due to an inability to turn on the stadium lights.

At any rate, it was nice to listen to, and since it didn’t seem to bother Sophie, we were free to actually enjoy it. Aside from the music, it was your bog-standard greyhound river walk. The dogs sniffed,

nose work

I posed for pictures,


and we all came home in a car that smells like wet dog. Happy Sunday, everyone.

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