How I Misspent My Summer Vacation, 2011 Edition: Intermission

I was hoping to keep the momentum going and hit you with another 2,000 to 3,000 words about a single day’s meanderings through Vancouver, but it’ll have to wait for the weekend. One of my greyhounds tweaked his lower back/hips on Sunday jumping into the car, and his suffering’s just ground me down to zero.

I took him to the vet this morning, and he’s optimistic that it’s just a pinched nerve, which will heal with rest. Meanwhile, Otis is on Rimadyl (anti-inflammatory) and Tramadol (pain-reliever).

Meanwhile, I have a ton of work to get done on our September issue, so Vancouver and Seattle II will have to wait a little while. But I promise I’ll digress my way through the rest of our vacation!

Otis (with Rufus) getting rubbies on the Sunday hike shortly before he tweaked his back.

Dog Tags

I’ve been putting in 12-14 hours a day in my home office this week, laying out our big Contract Services Directory year-end issue. Since Rufus & Otis can’t leave my side under any circumstances, I had to move one of their beds in here. All of which is superfluous buildup to the following photos, which illustrate what can happen when two greyhounds decide to flip into their “cockroach” pose at the same time. They play tag:

Ru should have little stars and birds circling around his head, he looks so knocked out.

“I have the vapors. . .”

Rufus doesn’t climb on furniture when we’re home. The moment we leave the house, he makes a bee-line for our bed or my fainting couch — why, yes, I do own a fainting couch, as a matter of fact.

Anyway, Otis appears to be much less uptight about sharing the chaise:


For weeks now, we’ve been meaning to join the Hiking Greyhounds group at Wawayanda State Park. These grey owners hike every Sunday at 9 a.m., but we’ve had various reasons (read: made various excuses) not to join them. This weekend, we figured, was likely the last one for great foliage, and wouldn’t be so cold that we’d be dissuaded from rejoining the group again.

So at 8:30 this morning, we drove out to the park, joined our fellow grey owners (many of whom we’d met before), put Rufus’ coat on, and got walking! I forgot to keep track of which trails we walked (Hoeferlin and Black Eagle, and maybe part of the Appalachian Trail), but I’m pretty sure we covered about 2.5 miles over 80 minutes. I’d never taken Rufus on an hour-plus trek before, but he never flagged, which means I’m just an overcautious ninny.

Since we got him, we wondered why Rufus only ran 8 races in his career before he was cashiered and kicked onto the rescue circuit. A common note from several of his races was “collision on first turn.” During the walk today, we realized that this wasn’t limited to the racecourse; Rufus spent so much of his time bumping into the other dogs, we nicknamed him the Supercollider.

Why don’t you check out the slide show?

Fear of a Grey Planet

One of the neat aspects of adopting a failed retired racing greyhound is that you become part of a community of grey owners. I’ve never been one for, well, belonging, so I’m surprised by how much I enjoy going to greyhound meet and greets and events like this past weekend’s Greyhound Planet Day picnic. The site was about an hour from our house, in Bridgewater, NJ.

(An hour unless you run into a monstrous accident, as we did on the way home, up Rt. 287. Let me tell you: when you’re on a 4-lane highway and the accident warning sign says that the far left and the far right lanes are closed, you know you’re in for a sight. In this case, a sedan was mushed up against a light pole in the left shoulder, to the point at which its spare tire was poking up out of its trunk. In the right shoulder, an SUV was flipped over, facing the wrong way, and partly flattened. Rufus was not happy with the delay, but he did his best.)

The picnic was a blast. Here are my disjointed impressions, but you may be better off checking out my slideshow and my wife’s slideshow.

To begin, I can’t even guess how many greys were on hand, but I’m going to guess it was far more than a hundred. An adoption area was set up for people to check out some available dogs, read their histories, and take them out for test drives. I stopped at the cage/crate of one of my faves from the website, Jumpin’ Jackson, who unfortunately has medical problems (seizures) but was adorable. And huge. I also checked out a bunch of the females, since we figure that, if we ever get a second grey to keep Rufus company, it won’t be a male (size, territorial issues).

In fact, my coworker/pal Jason and his wife adopted a pair of girls on Sunday; he showed up in my office Monday and asked, “You didn’t sleep the first night either, right?” Later it was, “How long did it take Rufus to go up and down the stairs on his own?” I warned him that the next 7-10 days may be pretty rough.

The first owners we met on Sunday — people frequently stop us to comment on how gorgeous Rufus is — filled us in on their dog, whom they adopted in June. He was on the track till he was nearly five years old, and ran in TWO-HUNDRED-AND-TWENTY-SIX races. Our boy, on the other hand, raced eight times before it was concluded that he was not cut out for that job. On the plus side, all the veteran racers we met were nicked up, scarred, or had other work-related deformities. So I take pride in my dog’s failure. One owner, whom we’d met previously at a meet-and-greet, told us that he was amazed by how perfect Rufus’ overall form is. He thought we were joking when we told him how terrible the boy’s racing record was.

Another neat aspect of greys is that they make virtually no noise. Except for the instances where people brought other breeds along — a few beagles and a labradoodle — the dogs really didn’t stir up at all. That said, there was a Group Roo. Watch this and try to imagine 40+ greys gathered together and getting incited to make this noise. Evidently, it’s a tradition at these events, but it’s pretty creepy.

As was The Group Photo, in which we were all herded together in the grass. It was like a grand march of very skinny soldiers. Once we were all gathered, our boy decided that he didn’t like facing the photographer and started turning around to check out the dogs behind him. We thought it would’ve been great for a group shot of 200 dogs’ faces, and 1 dog’s butt. We’ll see how the final version comes out.

We sort of took an adoptable dog on a test drive ourselves, but only because the organizers were very busy and one of the greys — Bizzy’s Barker — needed to go for a bathroom break. I thought it would be a good opportunity to see how Rufus would deal with my walking a second dog alongside him. He didn’t care in the slightest. Neither did BB. They walked in opposite directions a couple of times, and they were pretty oblivious to one another’s presence. That’s a good sign, I think.

We had a good time making the acquaintances of other owners; it’s nice not to have to start a conversation answering, “What sort of dog is that?” I was also glad to be able to ask questions of some of the veterans. They affirmed my suspicions that it’s best to cut their food back a little during winter, since neither they nor we like going on walks in the cold. I also gleaned that most owners do not take they greys on twice-daily mile-plus walks, like I do.

Anyway, there’s a ton more to write about, but I have to get to work. Check out the slideshows (Amy’s and mine) for some pix that’ll make you start thinking about adopting one of these hounds. (If you’re in NJ, visit Greyhound Friends of NJ for more info on that.

Amy, Rufus and Bizzys Barker, Sept. 21, 2008
Amy, Rufus and Bizzy's Barker, Sept. 21, 2008

The Standing Around of the Greys

I’m crazy-busy with these Top Companies profiles and re-confirming all of my conference speakers, but here’s a pic from Sunday’s trip out to Vernon, NJ for a greyhound meet & greet (so people can find out what awesome dogs greyhounds can be):

Rufus had a pretty good time. I mean, he sniffed tons of dog-butt, which is what passes for a good time in those circles. I think there were more than a dozen greys at the event; they certainly outnumbered the other pet groups that had come to this adoption fair.

I’m convinced they tangle up their leashes just to get their owners to bash into each other.

(Oh, and if you live in/near NJ and you’re interested in adopting a greyhound, contact Greyhound Friends NJ. They did a great job, setting us up with Rufus.)