One Year Ago

One year ago, Dennis the Menace invaded our home.   That’s pretty much the only way I can put it.  He was a stunning hound I just wasn’t ready for.  Without a doubt, Dennis has been the most challenging greyhound in my adopting experience.  I’m glad he wasn’t my first greyhound but came to me at a time when I was better equipped to handle him and knowledgeable enough to know what I needed to do.
Dennis can sit!
He can sit!  But he refuses to do so on command.

This isn’t to say that Dennis is a bad dog.  Nothing further from the truth.  I’m totally in love with him and have made my commitment to be his Mumma until the day I help him cross to the bridge.  They say you don’t get the dog you want, you get the one you need and I think that has been true with Dennis.  Sometimes you don’t realize the lessons your greyhound has taught you until you look back over years spent with him or her.  And sometimes your greyhound comes barreling in and hands you your lessons with trumpets blaring.

Dennis is such a loving boy.  And he wants to please and be a part of everything.  But Dennis has a hard time trusting.  Our first year has been spent with Mumma learning how best to introduce Dennis to his new life and Dennis learning to trust that Mumma has his best interests at heart.  We have made so much progress and I see a bright future for us as we head into year two.

Bettina and Dennis have mutually agreed to be part of the same pack.  That took some negotiation and I laugh now to think of it because it was a similar process when Bettina came barreling in (with the name Crazy Mo) and threw poor Blue for a loop.  Dennis came in from his kennel with the nickname Dennis the Menace if that tells you anything about him.  I sometimes call him Freak Show.  But our friends insist that his name is Dennis Galahad.

Dennis has proven himself to actually be somewhat of a guard dog.  He patrols his fence line like a
A greyhound that loves fetch?
He plays fetch and LOVES balls of all kinds.
soldier and if anyone or anything gets too close, he puts on a show.  I always know if something is amiss.  Dennis has even taken to alerting me if my cell phone rings or I get a text or a special weather alert or an alarm goes off and I’m not within hearing of it.  He is not chivalrous at all.  If there is any sort of rain or snow melt causing water to drip off the roof, Dennis will let his sister go on the porch and stand at the door alerting me that they want to come in.  While she gets water dripped all over her, he stands at the bottom of the stairs and waits until the door is open.  Then he dashes in to avoid getting wet.
Dennis has a fascination with the shower which is odd for a hound who doesn’t want to get water dripped on him outside.  He’s had one bath in there so far but that hasn’t remotely put him off the bathroom.  It only took one bath for Bettina to steer clear of that room like it was the plague.  Dennis loves to come in while I’m showering and throw the curtain open (letting all my nice warm steamy air out).  He investigates for awhile and then he comes back when the shower is over so he can help me dry off by licking the water off my legs and then helping to clean the shower by licking the water off the shower walls and curtain.  He finishes that off by nibbling for a bit on the washcloth that is hanging to dry out.

Bettina and Dennis in the cool spot
Bettina and Dennis hog the cool spot during a Bowdoin Gang play date.
Dennis’s favorite scent seems to be hairspray.  When he knows I’m going to be doing something with my hair, he sticks to me like glue.  He’s learned to love the hairdryer because it usually heralds the use of the hairspray.  Once I’ve sprayed it on my head, he spends the rest of his time trying to rub against my hair and then he lays down and rolls all over the small rug on which the remaining particles of hairspray have landed. 

All my other greyhounds have had impeccable car manners.  But not Dennis.  He insisted that any time I vacated the driver’s seat; he would keep my seat warm.  He also sometimes felt it was a good idea to climb into the passenger seat while I was driving.  I had to get a barrier to put up between the two front seats.  Now Dennis rides with his head just over that barrier, or he rests his head on the back of the seat so his nose is right in my ear.  On his trip to Maine with the ladies from his kennel, he spent his time in the backseat chewing his way through one of the seatbelts in the car.  There is now The Dennis Rule at his rescue which says muzzles on at all times while in the car.

Dennis is not a rooer.  But he is an enthusiastic barker.  He loves Petco and will spend as much time as I will let him chasing the ferrets around and around their enclosure.  Thankfully there is glass
Birthday Boy Dennis
So many milestones yet to come.
between them.  The ferrets seem to enjoy torturing him. 

Dennis is a big goofy love bug.  He’s even taller than Blue was and weighs more as well.  I got exactly what I was hoping for, only it came in different packaging with a different presentation.  It just took me a little while to realize that while he isn’t goofy and loving in the same way Blue was, in his own way, Dennis is marvelous. 

Happy First Gotcha Day D-Menace.  I can’t wait to see where you take me in our second year together!


Happy Fourth of July!

Hope you all eat lots of hot dogs and burgers, drink lots of whatever you like to drink best, and have no idiots in your neighborhood shooting off a ton of fireworks.

Yankee Doodle Dennis

Stars and Stripes Bettina


Training Bad

Dennis and I went to our first obedience class last night.  We are signed up for 5 weeks of classes at Mr. Dog located in West Bath, Maine.  The lady who owns it has been voted the best dog trainer in Maine for a couple years now.  I figured, how could we go wrong with that?  I must admit, with that kind of fire power I had high hopes.  Visions of a grand champion obedience hound.  I cannot say why I had these delusions given the fact that I had taken Bettina to a training class when she first joined me and learned pretty quickly that high hopes are dangerous.

Dennis greyhound at training
Watching all the other dogs sit and get tons of yummy treats.
But my hopes for Dennis were reinforced when two of the participants were so freaked out they had to take part behind blanket draped x-pens so as not to see the other participants in the class.  Most of the rest were yanking their owners all around the room.  We had two young labs, one on each side of
us, and they were hauling their owners out of their seats.  Dennis was excited but he calmly stood there in front of me, slightly leaning on my leg for reassurance.  He looked like a rock star in this group. 

My head swelled all up.  Dennis was going to be the gold star student.  We were going to show up everyone and I would practice being humble.  I was already practicing in my head.  The trainer went around and introduced herself to each pet parent and dog.  When she got to us the first thing out of her mouth after “this must be Dennis” was “you know greyhounds don’t sit, right?”

I assured her I knew that but in this case, Dennis was a natural sitter.  Frequently he sits for the heck of it.  We so got this.  Except of course, we hadn't got this.  Of course we had to start with sit.  My old nemeses sit.  The trainer told us what she wanted us to do and demonstrated with a little Chihuahua who sat perfectly.  Then I watched as the labs on either side of us also nailed perfect sits.  I took a deep breath and asked Dennis for a sit.  He looked at me.  I moved on to step two, taking a piece of hot dog, holding it first in front of his nose and then up over his head.  Dennis would only back up.  His butt, which the trainer assured us would naturally sink to the floor when you held the treat over their head, didn’t get anywhere near the floor.

Dennis greyhound sits
Blurry yes, but PROOF that he sits...when he wants to.
We tried a few times and then took a rest.  Tried a few more times, took a rest.  Dennis was getting discouraged because he wasn’t earning any of those yummy pieces of hot dog.  Soon he stopped paying any attention to me and started watching the dogs all around us who were getting stuffed full treats.  Finally I felt bad and just started giving him treats.  We’d celebrate the fact that he looked at me when I said his name.  Or that he held my gaze for a second before turning back to watch the other dogs. 

Eventually I just gave up all together and sat there while everyone practiced a sit and stay until released.   Dennis started to drool a little watching everyone get treats.  I was beginning to think maybe this was not such a great idea and now we were locked into 4 more weeks of this.  Luckily we switched to learning to target.  I think the trainer could read the look on my face since she chose to use Dennis as her demonstration dog for this. 

He picked it up quickly and was touching her palm like a super dog.  Then it was my turn.  I did manage to get him to touch my palm.  I will admit that it has been awhile since I’ve done much training and I quickly realized how sloppy I was with my commands and rewards.  We practiced target a bit and Dennis was happy to be getting fed finally.   So our first training class ended on a high note, but we are not setting the world on fire.  Mumma’s vanity and pride have suffered a bit of a hit.  That’s what I get, I guess, for being a stage mom.