Saturday, 7 March 2009

A New Day

Last night I slept heavily until i heard Little Dog wandering around. I felt sorry for her and let her come up on the bed and there she stayed for the rest of the night. She has been terribly quiet today. Her favourite pastime is normally barking at any dogs passing the house. We took her for a walk earlier and her enjoyment was evident. Maybe we never noticed how quiet she really is because Big Dog was so loud.

Big Dog had a personality that filled the house. He had different noises for everything! You always knew how he felt and what he wanted. I wanted to share a little more of him with you as I am so thankful for the time I had him.


Greyhounds often seem to have delicate digestive systems and the ability to pass the most noxious wind. Big Dog was no different. One memorable evening we had friends over and cooked a big gammon joint. One of our friends fed Big Dog some fatty bits. It became very apparent very quickly that he couldn't cope with them. The smell was truly awful and nobody stayed for very long once it started.

Even though he was on occasion a little whiffy, nobody else was allowed to be. If I dared to consider passing wind, he would get up off wherever he was lazing at the time and move away with a disgusted look on his face. On one memorable occasion he passed one so bad that he looked disgusted at himself and moved.


Big Dog was very vocal with his greetings and everyone near our tends to know when we have pulled up. He would lead a canine chorus of howls and whines and barks at the top of his voice. Little Dog learnt well from him and joined in with her sopran howls and yips.


When I first got him i warned my lodgers that he would probably nab any food left out so they should put everything away. One time my lodger left a pound of butter out and he ate it, foil wrapper and all. Her response was 'but I didn't think he would eat that!'. Oh how little she knows of hounds....


In his younger days he used to have the odd funny five minutes and race around like a mad loony thing. One time he was doing this when all of a sudden he started howling as if he was dying. My lodgers sat there in horror with no idea what to do. I told them not to worry and started to massage his leg and he quickly stopped and acted as if nothing had happened... Many of the greyhounds I have known have been prone to cramp *grin*


Big Dog had a habit for a while of stealing my shoes and taking them off to a bed somewhere. It got so he was trying to take my shoes off my feet as I walked through the door. This all came to an end the day he came up behind me as I was taking off my boots... Every so often I would shoes had migrated inexplicably though...


My Mum commented earlier that when I told them I was taking a dog home and they met Big Dog for the first time, that she had thought I was completely barmy! She thought that this terrified, mangy looking dog would be very hard to rehabilitate and probably not worth the effort. She then said of all the dogs we had ever had he was up there with Amber who was the best greyhound of all time.... My folks has four rescue greyhounds at a time, there have been a few over the years, particularly if you have in short stay foster dogs...


My Dad reminesced about the first time I left him with them when I had to go away on work before I met F. Big Dog was so upset he glued himself to my Dad. At night he was inconsolable and my Mum found herself being kicked out of her bedroom so my dog wouldn't have to sleep alone.

Big Dog used to share my bed before I met F. Once F came a long he happily moved onto a dog bed on the floor. However, if F vacated the bed, even for a second, Big Dog would be there. I normally go to bed before F as I seem to need much more sleep. Big Dog would be there with me.


Big Dog was a grinning dog. For the uninitiated there are some dogs who are able to grin and it is quite common amongst greyounds. Big Dog grinned a lot. He grinned in greeting. He grinned in thanks when you gave him food. He grinned if you twitched your fingers at him.

He also nuzzled and snorted and hid his head playfully under his paws. If you weren't paying him enough attention he had learnt that a swift flick of the head under an elbow soon sorted that out. Unfortunately he never learnt not to do this when the hand attached to the elbow held a cup of tea.


Although Big Dog was terrified of people when I got him, he was never, ever scared of children. He loved children and his patience was incredible. He would let children do whatever to him. S loved him from the start and has known him for half his life. Tomorrow we have to tell S. S has been saying recently that when he is older he is going to have a greyhound and a dalmatian.

My niece and nephew loved him to and loved to make him grin.


This is not to say he didn't have a bad side. He was awful with other dogs, except greyhounds. He would act like he wanted to kill them and there I would be trying gamely to drag him away. My worst nightmare, when out with him, was owners who let their dogs off but couldn't control them. I could control my dog and move him away and I used to muzzle him but there is nothing so annoying as having people let their dogs follow you when you are trying to beat a hasty strategical retreat. One day he got me bitten, not badly but I did lose my faith in others control over their dogs.

One day we were on the beach when a very expensive looking dog with huge amounts of frizzy white hair came to investigate. Big Dog did his normal thing and the other dogs owner was some way away and his dog was ignoring him. When the white dog was finally removed I noticed that Big Dog had a long strand of beautiful white fur dangling from his teeth...

I suspect his early life involved dog fights. He certainly had enough scars and broken bones for it. He was probably only two by the time he was rescued. I was quite young when i got him and I used to feel very self-conscious walking this dog that had so obviously been abused in the not so distant past. Nobody ever assumed I treated him badly.


He would have defended me against anything, right from the beginning. I used to sleep in a downstairs room and one night he woke me growling. I had only had him a couple of months, so I had no idea how unusual this was. The growl was low and menacing and meant trouble. I called his name but I could see from his silhouetted head that his head did not move at all from gazing at the window.

This contined for what seemed like some time. Every so often there would be another growl. Eventually i heard feet running from my window and jumping into a car which screeched off.

My house is a typical old Cornish terrace house which has a front door that opens onto the street. He has never ever done this since, despite drunks arguing outside our house and people sitting on our window ledges. I have no doubt that someone meant my house harm that night and he was determined to defend me. I wouldn't have argued with that growl. I have never heard that growl again.


One night a friend of mine and I were walking home. Where we parted ways there was a seat and we would often sit there gossiping for a while. One night we were sat there when a man went past. He kept looking back at us and he turned down the road my friend had to use to go home. Suddenly the night felt dark, unfriendly and very, very dangerous.

We walked to my house and collected wonder dog himself to escort her home. We walked home happily and as I walked back alone, Big Dog had fun stalking cats out on the tiles. When I returned I discovered someone had ripped the wing mirror off my car. I hadn't been gone long.


These are things I will remember. I am grateful that he did not suffer long and had no slow lingering illness but a swift sudden one that probably effected him very little till that last day. I looked up the odds for his type of cancer and I am utterly convinced that to have done anything different would have been cruel, particularly given the size and placement of it.

I have been wracking my brains to see if there were any signs at all that we might have picked up. Even in hindsight I can find nothing.

We will find a new companion for Little Dog, but not quite yet.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for sharing Big Dog with us...he sounds like such a character.

    It's funny..Rosie had many of the same mannerisms you described - especially the elbow jostle! It made me smile to read that....thank you. (hugs)