There are various little things to know about greyhounds, which will be explained to you if you go to a ‘proper’ greyhound rescue centre, rather than the RSPCA which just lets you find out. One is that they will not know their name. They’ve just been given a random name and so if you don’t care for the name it comes with, simply change it. Another is that they may well be untrained, although ex-racers will have been taught to walk to heel. Fortunately, this is not too much of a problem, especially once they have learned their new name, as they are eager to please and very biddable. In addition, they have never lived in a house so are not housetrained.
Again, this is often not too much of a problem as they quickly learn. Usually. Most of them. Khan was a rather slow learner. He realised that he shouldn’t misbehave in his living quarters, but my mother had two sitting rooms and used one much more than the other. So if he was caught short, he tended to go in the drawing room and lift his leg on the sofa. This did not go down well at all. Also, like Henry, he had wobbly bowels, so my unfortunate mother found that she still had to get out of bed two or three times a night or else she found heaps of ordure in the hall the next morning.
In other respects, he was fine. But I found it hard to become really attached to him. He was most undoglike. It’s my theory that dogs either think of their owners as honorary dogs, or themselves as honorary humans. Khan didn’t understand either. He was eager to please, but he didn’t quite know how.
For example, he was the only dog I’ve ever known who would tread on another dog. If Chester, who ruled the roost (except for me) was lying in his path he would blunder over him. Chester was not aggressive, unless he disagreed with the Sage or Ro (who booted him out of the room, to much mutual growling) so he did not snap, but he was quite aggrieved; rightly so. It’s just not what dogs do. It’s not dog etiquette, whereas bottom sniffing, for instance, is.
Once in a while, he would be overcome by nervous energy and rush a couple of paces, wheel round, rush again, turn again – he was oblivious to anything you said and had to be physically stopped. He only ever did it indoors and it was really irrritating, especially as his long slender claws did no good for the carpet. Once, I was busy and couldn’t get up, so chucked a cushion at him. It was small and light and I didn’t throw it hard, but he stopped and yelped and stood trembling with confused eyes. He also used to writhe on his back happily, in a back-scratching sort of way – the sexlessness of it (as Weeza just put it, ‘frog legs and neuticles’) was strangely repellent. I just couldn’t get on his wavelength. I’m good with dogs, cats and horses, but I didn’t understand him. He got on well enough with Tilly and Chester, but he didn’t quite gel with them either.
The people who loved him most were my mother and my sister. My mum felt protective to him and Wink really did love him. His sweet nature appealed to her and she didn’t mind that he wasn’t very doglike.
I’ll conclude about greyhounds tomorrow and then I might continue with Khan’s saga, but I’m not sure whether to. Poor dog, things went a bit awry, and some of it was at the time my mum died and the stories are all intertwined. Shall I go there, is the question. I’m not sure. I sort of want to, but I sort of feel it’s all so involved, and the endings, of two episodes, are neither of them happy because one time my mother died and one time Khan did. Your call I think – if you’d like to know tell me, if the summary (see above) is enough say nothing and nor will I.