By Marnie Grosz

- Rec. Racers Director, Adoption Coordinator and Web Master


The First Few Days with our First Greyhound.

Scotch and his bunny. Scotch turns 11 years old in May 2004 and it seems like our time together has gone by so quickly.  It got me thinking about when my husband and I first adopted Scotch, so I thought I'd share the story of his first few days with us.  It was September 1, 1997, the first day I brought an ex-racing Greyhound into my little townhouse.

I remember how he chose us at the adoption kennel.  I thought I wanted a small female, but we ended up with a big male who acted like we were long lost friends.  Scotch was so happy to meet us both and leaned up against our legs and wagged his skinny tail and made us feel so special.  Greyhounds have a way of walking straight into your heart in a matter of minutes.  Scotch was friendly, confident and had such a comical personality.  I will never forget, after greeting us with so much enthusiasm, he calmly walked to the water bucket and had a big drink.  Then he walked over to a damp section of sand, dug a shallow hole, laid in it then looked at Gene and I and let out a lip shaking burp!  Well, that did it, we had to have him!  While loading Scotch up in the car, I started thinking, "Oh my God, this dog is so big.  What have we gotten ourselves into?", but Scotch laid down in the back seat of the car on the 40 minute drive home and was such a good boy even though he panted nervously the whole time.

When we brought him into the house, the first thing I did is take him into the small back yard so he could relieve himself and also to be sure he didn't lift his leg in the house out of nervousness.  My husband, Gene, had to "help" him down the stairs of the back deck by holding Scotch's collar and quickly walking down the stairs by his side.  Scotch managed to go down the stairs just fine.  After Scotch peed outside I let him off his leash to investigate the rest of the small yard on his own.  He seemed to really enjoy that, and afterward walked up to Gene and me with a happy panting face.  Gene and I were nervous and happy at the same time.  We just adopted an ex-racer and were enjoying every exciting minute of it!

Going back up the 5 steps of the back deck, was a different story.  It was a slow process of standing behind Scotch and first lifting one of his front legs to the next step and then the other.  Then I had to lift one of his back legs up and then the other back leg.  By this time, Scotch was shaking and leaning back onto my legs with most of his body weight for support.  It looked like I was a chair and Scotch was sitting on me.  In the meantime, my husband called Scotch up and with me manually moving all of Scotch's legs up, one step at a time, we finally arrived at the top of the deck a few minutes later.

Back inside the house, I again put the leash on Scotch while we moved from room to room.  He sniffed and investigated his new home slowly but eagerly.  He only tried to lift his leg to mark once, but since he was on a leash and I was holding the leash, it was easy for me to give him a correction and firm "NO" before he had the chance to make a mistake.  Scotch looked at me as if to say, "Oh, I get it.  I'm not supposed to go in the house".  I never had a problem with Scotch lifting his leg in the house after that first day on leash in the house.

I later learned that this method of housebreaking a dog is called the "umbilical cord method".  The first 24 to 48 hours your newly adopted Greyhound is in your home, just keep him/her attached to you by a short 6 foot leash.  Just loop the end of the leash through your belt loop (so you don't have to hold it the entire day) and attach the clip to your Grey's collar.  If you do this method there is NO WAY your new Greyhound can pee or poop in your house, because you will see what they are up to and will be able to take them outside in time.  After a few days of using the "umbilical cord method", you should have a dog who understands that the outdoors is where he/she goes to the bathroom.  While you are attached to your Grey you will also find it easier to learn your dog's "special signal" that lets you know when he/she wants to go outside.

The first few nights we crated Scotch, but it was very difficult to get any sleep because he screamed and whined all night about it.  Even though we had his extra-large crate right next to our bed, nothing would ease Scotch's fear.  I finally had to sleep hanging half-way off the bed with the fingers of my right hand poking through the wire mesh crate door to get Scotch to settle down and sleep.  I remember the sensation of being in the dark room, feeling Scotch's nose bumping my fingers and then his tongue giving my fingers a little lick.  He settled down if he knew my hand was there and he always checked to make sure it was.

After a few nights of this routine, I just couldn't take it any more and I stopped crating Scotch at night.  Instead I placed a large soft dog bed in our room, closed the bedroom door so Scotch was not able to roam the house unmonitored and left a little night light on, so I could just barely see him in case he got up and started walking and sniffing around the bedroom.  Scotch walked around a little bit a first, but soon laid down and slept next to the bed quietly the rest of the night until....we heard a loud "wet" sounding fart noise that smelled like rotten eggs!!!

Boy did we fly out of bed in a flash!  We were not going to let Scotch have a diarrhea attack in our bedroom if we could help it!  It was around 5:00AM and still dark outside and we had to get Scotch who was still learning how to manage the stairs, down two flights of stairs (our bedroom was on the second floor) to get to the back door, and then down the deck stairs to get to the back yard!!  Gene was naked and I had on a flimsy old T-shirt, but we all flew down those stairs until we got to the back yard.  I remember we both felt sorry for Scotch, but couldn't help getting the giggles when we heard a loud noise which sounded like someone pouring a gallon of thick pudding onto a flat surface intermixed with a few loud and very rude gas sounds.  I said to my husband, "God, I hope the neighbors don't think that sound is coming from one of us!"  Afterward, we helped Scotch up all the stairs (he was already learning to jump over a few on his own now) and we all slept for another hour until it was time to get up.  What a night!

The good thing is that after a few days Scotch's diareahia went away and after about a week he was able to run up and down the stairs in the house and yard like he'd been born doing it.  In that first few weeks we taught Scotch how to be a good house pet and during that time we learned to trust and love him, and he to trust and love us in return.  I will always remember those first days with a warm feeling.

As I type these words, Scotch is sleeping on the floor with his graying face by my feet.  It feels like we have been together for a life time, even though it has been nearly 7 years.  Scotch is nearing the end of his life span, and I know that when it is time for him to pass, that I will always remember him, my first Greyhound, with a smile.  But I'm sure every Greyhound adopter feels the same way.  You just can't help but fall in love with these special dogs.

Web Master's Note: Scotch died on December 13, 2005 and is greatly missed by Gene and Marnie Grosz.

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