We first visited John & Judith at Crossing Cottage late 2013 looking for a retired greyhound. We had admired this breed for some time; their elegance, easy-going nature and love of humans. When we realised how many ex-racers needed homes, this confirmed our decision.
Having visited a couple of other kennels previously we felt a sigh of relief to arrive at Crossing Cottage and see how clean and spacious the kennels are and how the greyhounds were being given such love and expert care specific to this breed.
John & Judith and all the staff know each dog’s personalities inside out and all their different temperaments & habits. This gave us confidence that we had found the right place : we have never owned a dog before so we had a long chat about what temperament dog would best suit us – laid-back, ‘easy’, happy to be fussed was what we all thought would work. A number of greyhounds were ready and waiting for us to walk around the lane, dogs which they felt would be right for us. We walked about six dogs on that first visit and each one behaved exactly as described: some pulled, some trotted along nicely, some were more energetic. Some were physically larger, again something we needed to get used to. But every single one of them was friendly and happy to walk with us strangers! Cool was one of the first dogs we walked, a beautiful blue boy, lovely on the lead, even happy to have cuddles for a photo on the walk! We very nearly asked to adopt him but wanted to be absolutely sure so we decided to return the following weekend ( Cool was re-homed with another family in between so they must have fallen in love with him as we nearly did).
The following weekend, we walked a few more dogs and they were all beautiful, gentle, happy souls, but we just didn’t get ‘the feeling’ that Judith said we should get with the right dog. We just felt so pleased and lucky that we could go back as many times as we needed to get it right.
Judith rang us the following week and said there was another dog, Rumble, who was looking for a home but due to space was still at the trainers kennels. Could he be the one?…..
We visited the trainer, overall I think about 3 times. But as soon as we walked in and Rumble came sauntering out on his lead there it was! The ‘feeling’. What a beauty, black all over, brown eyes and the sweetest nature in a dog either of us have ever seen. We walked him in the paddock and couldn’t resist the odd hug and a tickle behind his ears. He was happily kennelled with a female greyhound and the next few visits we walked to the cage and he was just settled in his bed chilling out. It was lovely that he seemed to recognise us after a few visits and really came out of his shell, getting excited when he saw us and having a little leap about.
Rumble arrived home with us early January 2014. He settled in quickly, considering he had never been in a house, seen a tv or washing machine. He house-trained within a few days thanks to John & Judith’s very specific guidance about letting him out every hour initially. We’ve had just two accidents since, usually when we’ve introduced something new like, one of us leaving the house. He managed the stairs after some encouragement and spent his first night on his bed in our room. None of us slept that well the first night, it was like having a new baby, we were so heightened to every little snuffle and yawn. Rumble now sleeps on the sofa at night on his own blanket, so he knows to sleep on his floor-bed when we want the sofa. He sleeps through the night but if he needs to go in the garden, gives a gentle whine. Then at 7:15am on the dot, he whines for us to get up and go for a walk. Every now and then he’ll come upstairs to speed things up!
We did a 6-week training class to socialise Rumble which he initially found quite stressful; lots of other dogs, some a bit growly, some very small and confusing. He panted a lot, stood the whole time and wasn’t treat-motivated. It was quite overwhelming and a big learning curve for us all. But we continued the class and by week six he was laying down, completed the tasks for treats and was comfortable socialising. He also did really well at recall. The class was so worth doing. We learned how to read his behaviour and how to make sure he feels safe with us. It also gave us confidence to continue training at home, just with simple things like knowing his name, going to bed and laying down.
Four months on and Rumble is a ‘lamb’ on the lead ( he has been really, from day one), he has bravely dealt with all new situations; other peoples’ houses, children, visits to the pub and meeting groups of our friends and going on a local greyhound walk. He is approachable with all other dogs – where necessary he just tolerates dogs who are a bit bothersome or does the various sniffs with dogs who are willing. Any indication that Rumble is afraid or uncomfortable and we move off. But he knows best and is of a passive nature, he knows when to say hello and when to leave well alone or not show interest. His interest in rabbits is still going strong but he is not off-lead with us yet, unless on the beach!
He plays with toys, which we had to teach him and he loves cuddles and hands-on grooming and massage.
Rumble initially struggled being left alone, even for a few minutes – he cried, jumped on the windowsill, knocked the tv over! Poor thing must have scared himself silly. We persevered with advice to leave him gradually which is the best way. However with Rumble we found that a little more time before returning ( say 20 mins) helped him settle and accept we were not just outside the front door. Recently though he’s only cried a little then gone to bed. He doesn’t panic or get frightened, just a bit huffy! I honestly didn’t believe other owners when they said ‘he’ll get used to it’ or ‘we leave ours for 8 hours’ but he has improved so much that we can leave him for up to 2.5 hours. If it’s longer, which is rare, we take him on a long walk beforehand. But one of the best things for us is to take him with us wherever we go, where possible. Then he just sleeps and sleeps, dreaming and twitching making zebra noises.
Rumble is in our hearts and a key part of our family. He now feels like our dog, rather than someone else’s and with patience, we have built up his trust in us. As many people say about their greyhounds; we can’t imagine life without him. In fact, we are hoping to get another greyhound! A little girl for Rumble to play with and snuggle up to.
The main things Rumble the Greyhound has taught us:
I’m like a puppy – literally every situation is new to me so walk me through it slowly, a bit at a time
I’m happiest when you’re in charge so I can look to you for guidance and safety
Use a gentle voice and I will listen. Giving commands doesn’t require shouting or raised voices and I will just ignore you
Be clear what’s expected of me and tell me when I get it right. I will signal to you when I’m uncomfortable, anxious or confused – please listen to me and watch how I act.
Make time for cuddles, every day!
The last piece of advice we can give is just to take your time in choosing your greyhound. They are all so gorgeous and friendly when you meet them, you want to be sure you adopt the right dog for you personally. We couldn’t have made the right choice without Judith & John.
Katie & Sean Lingwood