I wake with a start. Where am I? It’s dark. It’s cold and smells strange. I’m not in a cage or even in a kennel. I’m on something incredibly soft… Cushion. Bed. Right. Them. Dad and Mom.
Where are they, anyway? I stand up and my chin just reaches the top of what she called their bed. Her face is right there.
“It’s OK, baby, I’m right here,” she whispers, and touches the top of my head. Hmm. Ok. I settle back down and fall asleep on this great thing they call a bed.
Morning comes. I get up and walk to the center of the room. They’re still sleeping. I bark to let them know it’s morning.
Hey, um, good morning, nice people! It’s time to get up!
I don’t get it. What’s wrong?
“I’m sorry, baby. We’ll train her to wait for us to get up.”
I lay down on the rug. I know what NO means: the energy behind that is very clear.
After a while, they get up and she takes me outside. She again allows me to sniff around and repeats her strange requests from the day before to let me know she wants me to relieve myself. I do. I get a gentle pat and a treat, along with a “Good girl!”
We return inside and he leaves. She brings me to the crate and puts the thing called “Kong” inside, allowing me to sniff it first. It smells delicious. I step inside the crate to investigate this “Kong.” It’s filled with a wonderful gooey substance that tastes fantastic. She latches the crate shut and walks away.
Wait… Hey! Where’d you go?
I hear the “Shhh!” but I can’t see her. What’s going on? I whine some more. Then I give up. For now, anyway.
After a few minutes, she comes back, unlatches the crate, grabs the Kong and says, “OK.” I guess that means I can come out of the crate.
She paces around for the next hour or so, doing human things. She also feeds me. This is good. I see a pattern. I won’t starve.
She takes me outside again and repeats the silly words. I comply. Back inside.
She again puts the Kong in the crate and tells me, “Inside.” I obey, but I’m not sure about this. She latches the crate and walks out the door.
Wait, what? I’m in a cage again. They’re both gone. Are they coming back? Are they abandoning me? What will I eat after I finish the gooey stuff in this Kong? Actually, why don’t I just eat that now? It smells great and maybe some food will soothe my nerves…
I lick up as much of the gooey stuff as I can reach with my tongue. I hear soft talking. I look through the wires of the crate and see little flat gray people in a box. That’s where the talking is coming from. I noticed this box yesterday – Mom and Dad sat a short distance from it and stared at it while they ate. More strange human behavior. But right now, being alone and more than a little freaked out, the talking gray people are kind of soothing. I stare at them and zone out…
Next thing I know, the sun is going down. I must’ve fallen asleep. They’re still gone. I whine, but there’s no “Shhh!” Not even a “NO!” I try a few barks. Nothing. I settle down. I’ll try again in awhile.
Then Dad gets home. He doesn’t feel well. I don’t know either of them well yet, but I can sense these things. He lets me out of the crate.
Oh, thank you! I really got worried you might not return!
He doesn’t understand. I can’t talk like humans do and he doesn’t comprehend my language, which relies heavily on subtle visual signals. Oh well.
He leashes me and takes me outside. I urinate. He says, “Good girl,” and brings me back inside. I return reluctantly. I wasn’t finished out there…
Um, I kind of need to “go poo-pees.” Can I just, uh, hmm.
He doesn’t get my signals. He doesn’t feel well. What do I do?
Maybe if I go here, it will be out of the way… I defecate on the shiny wood floor.
What? Bad spot for it? Sorry…
He grabs a papery substance and picks up the feces with it. He goes into that little room they showed me yesterday, the one that had a really cold hard floor and big, cold-looking white things in there. I hear a whooshing watery sound. He comes out of the little room and pours some liquid on the floor where my feces had been.
His phone rings. He puts it to his ear and says, “Hi, baby.” He walks to the room where the crate is. He sits on one of the couches and continues talking.
“She was OK when I got here… Yeah, quiet when I walked in… Yeah, I took her outside, but she just pooped in here… In front of the microwave cart… Yeah, I flushed it and put some of that miracle cleaner stuff on the floor… No, I didn’t actually see her do it… No, I didn’t say anything to her… I don’t feel so good… I can’t tell. Maybe I’m allergic to her? It could be a cold… Ok, baby.”
She walks in a few minutes later. She goes to him and kisses him. Then she comes to me and strokes my head. She goes to the wet spot on the floor.
“Oh, sorry. I didn’t finish cleaning up.”
“It’s OK, baby. You don’t feel good. I’ll take care of it. I guess you didn’t keep her outside long enough. We’ll learn her signals. There’s no point in saying anything to her now, we didn’t catch her in the act.”
She cleans up the wet stuff, then goes back to him.
“Do you think you’re sick?”
“It’s too early to tell. I was congested this morning…”
“I’ll go get some stuff to make chicken soup. And maybe look at air purifiers, in case you’re allergic.”
“You don’t have to…”
“It’s OK, sweetheart. I’ll take her with me so you don’t have to watch her.”
She leashes me and we leave. She leads me to the car.
Not again. I freeze. She tells me, “Inside.” I won’t budge. She takes my front legs and puts them on the seat. Then she lifts my hindquarters and puts them on the seat too. Before I can protest, she closes the door and gets into the front of the car.
“Sorry, baby girl, but I can’t lift you in one shot.”
Humph. That wasn’t fun. Neither is being in this car.
It’s dark outside. She stops the car after a few minutes and gets out. She tosses me a treat.
“I’ll be right back, OK?”
No, not OK! If there’s anything worse than being in here, it’s being in here alone.
But she doesn’t hear me; she’s gone. She returns after a several minutes, with bags in her hands.
“See? I said I’d be right back. Now just one more stop, OK?”
Do I have a choice? She makes her stop and comes back.
“Ok, let’s go home.”
Yes, please. And can I eat when we get there?
“I’ll make the soup for your Daddy and give you your dinner.”
Oh, good. Wait, my Daddy?
And that’s how I learn Dad’s name.
* * * * *
The evening goes much like the evening before. I’m fed. I sleep on the soft bed they’ve given me.
When the sun comes up, I get up and bark.
Hey there! It’s morning!
Why don’t they get up when the sun comes up? I lie down on the rug again. And like yesterday, she gets up after awhile and takes me outside.
When we return, it’s very evident that Dad is not well.
“Are you OK, baby?”
“I’m definitely sick. I’m not going to work.”
“Ok, sweetheart. I’ll do as much as I can for you before I leave.”
“Thank you, baby.”
There’s a lot of love in this home. I can sense that. She channels love through her hands – she touches him gently, tenderly. She touches me that way too. But along with the love, she is nervous and jumpy. He just radiates love. There’s sort of a cloud around him, made up of love and gentleness. He is so calm, it tempers her nervousness. He senses her needs, and she senses his. It feels good to me to know these things. It makes me less fearful.
“I’ll leave her in the crate with some food. Will you be able to take her outside? I feel so bad making you do that if you’re sick, but we have to stay consistent so she can get house trained quickly.”
“It’s OK, baby. I’ll take her out if she has to go.”
“Thank you, sweetheart.”
She puts the Kong in the crate and tells me to go inside. I obey. The gray people are in the box again. And he’s here, lying on the couch next to my crate.
“Do you want me to leave the TV on, baby?” She gestures toward the box. So it’s called a TV.
“Yeah, I’m going to stay here on the couch.”
“Ok, sweetheart, I have to go now.”
She kisses him and leaves.
He sleeps on the couch. I watch the gray people in the TV. After awhile, when I’m finished with the Kong and bored of the gray people, I whine.
Hey, can I come out of here? I won’t bother you… I just don’t like looking through the wires…
He sighs. “Shh.”
I sigh. I lie down again. After a few minutes, he lets me out.
I nap in front of the couch on the rug. After a few hours, I walk to the door. I look at him. He’s watching the TV.
Um, sorry to bother you, but I need to relieve myself… I think you want me to do that outside, but I can’t open this door myself. Could you…?
“Do you have to go out?”
“OK, I’ll be right there.”
He puts a coat on and takes me outside. I quickly relieve myself and we return inside.
He lies on the couch again and sleeps more. I try not to disturb him and find a comfortable spot. I tentatively step into the crate. I look at him. He’s asleep. Good. He won’t lock me in. I don’t mind being in the crate – They’ve put a big soft quilt in it so it is rather comfortable. I just don’t like the door being locked. I’ve spent most of my life in a cage. There’s so much new stuff here, I’d like to get around and investigate – at my own pace, of course.
After the sun has set, she returns. She has a box in her arms.
“Hi honey. How do you feel? Did you take her out?”
“I feel awful. I took her out this afternoon. She was good. What’s that box?”
“It’s the radio/CD player I ordered. I’ll take her out now.”
She takes me outside and I “go pee-pee.”
Back inside, she feeds me. Then she talks to him.
“I talked to Sue today. It was awful! Someone did say something! I don’t know who it was, but the message she left said, ‘I heard you already have a dog.’ And her tone was not nice. I felt like throwing up. I called her back and said to her, ‘I’m really really sorry, but I had the opportunity to bring the dog home on Sunday, and in view of my condition, my therapist thought it would be a good idea to get the dog as soon as possible. I thought that since I had already spoken to you about getting the paperwork going, that it would be OK. I’m very sorry. I will have all the paperwork together by tomorrow and I can fax it to you right away.’ She told me to just mail it all so I told her she’d receive it by the end of the week. It was so nerve wracking! I knew someone would tell! They’d better not give me a hard time after they get the paperwork! I’m not giving her up, she’s such a good dog!”
Her voice breaks at the end, and she begins to cry, stroking me. I’m not sure what to do.
“It will be OK, baby. I promise. Like you said, if they allow all the other dogs here, they have no reason not to allow us to have one, especially since you’re going about it the right way.”
“I know, but with my luck… You know what’s ridiculous? When I looked at the papers she faxed me, it asks for specific information about the dog, like a copy of the license and last veterinary exam – even a photo of the dog! How could I provide that information without having the dog? It makes me so mad.”
He holds her. She sniffles.
“I’m sorry I’m putting you through all this. And you’re sick, too…”
“It’s OK, baby. Everything will be fine. You worry too much.”
“I can’t help it.”
She slowly calms down and they eat. Another quiet evening passes.
* * * * *
The next morning I wait a little while after I wake up, then I bark.
Still? I don’t know what else to do when I wake up. I need to let them know I’m awake, right?
We follow the same routine of the last 2 days. He doesn’t leave. He seems better than yesterday, but not well yet. She doesn’t leave until a bit later than the last 2 days.
“I’ll be back in a little over an hour, OK, baby? Then I’ll take her to the vet and take care of the rest of the paperwork.”
True to her word, she’s back in a short time.
“I got the letter. Look.”
“Looks good, baby.”
“The animal hospital in Petsmart takes walk-ins. I’m going to take her there for her checkup. And I’ll get the license and the photos.”
She leashes me and takes me outside. She lets me relieve myself and then leads me to the car.
Do I have to? Please, I really don’t like this car. I get nauseous.
“OK, then. I’ll have to lift you in.”
She lifts me into the car the same way she did last time: front legs, then hindquarters. It’s uncomfortable and humiliating.
“Sorry, baby girl, you have to come with me.”
We stop a few times. Each time she gets out of the car and leaves me in it, she tosses me a treat, says, “I’ll be right back,” and returns in a few minutes. Then we go to that big building we went to on the first day – the one that had all the smells and other animals. She leads me to the back of the building.
“Hi! How can I help you?”
“Hello. She just needs a checkup.”
“OK. Has she been here before?”
They continue talking while I try to digest this idea. My name is Gracie? Didn’t the kind people tell her at my adoption that my name is KB’s Dakota Kat? Not that anyone ever called me that outside of the races… But Gracie? I’m not sure how I feel about that.
They coax me onto a platform. I get a treat for this.
They lead me into a small room and I know what this is. A veterinary exam. I’ve dealt with this before. It’s not pleasant, but there’s not much I can do about it. They’re stronger than me. And if I don’t struggle, it’s over faster.
The doctor walks in.
“Oh, a Greyhound. Congratulations. They are the best dogs.”
Why, thank you, Doctor. I knew that already, but thanks.
“Thank you, she’s a good girl.”
“How long have you had her?”
“We just adopted her on Sunday.”
“You’re going to enjoy her. OK, let’s take a look. Hello, girl.”
Hi, Doctor. Can we make this quick?
The exam is quick.
“She looks healthy. The fur on her butt and thighs should grow back in a few months. Her gums are a little inflamed, but if you brush her teeth regularly and feed her a good diet, that will clear up with time, too. Her ears have wax in them, but they’re healthy. You can buy an ear cleaning solution in the store and just use that with a tissue to clean her ears. We can take her spay stitches out today. I’ll get an assistant.”
The doctor leaves and returns promptly with the nice woman who weighed me. They lower the table that’s mounted to the wall. Then they lift me onto it. I start to panic. They pin me down on my side and hold my legs.
What are you doing to me???
“OK, that’s it. It’s OK, girl. It’s over.”
They lower me to the floor. They give me a treat. Then Mom and I leave.
In the car, on the way back, I vomit. I see her eyes in the mirror.
“Aww, honey, are you OK?”
We return home. There’s another person there, a woman. She has a familiar scent – it’s similar to Mom’s scent. Must be a relative.
The woman continues talking gibberish in a very high pitched voice. I back away. What’s wrong with this person?
“Mom, I think you’re scaring her. Everything is new to her. She’s not used to that.”
The woman stops the high pitched noise and looks disappointed.
“You have to give her time to get adjusted.”
The woman doesn’t stay long. She keeps trying to pet me. I don’t mind, but with the high pitched voice, it’s a bit overwhelming.
After she leaves, Mom talks to Dad about the veterinarian.
“She said, ‘Congratulations! Greyhounds are the best dogs.’ Isn’t that awesome?”
She has a big smile on her face.
“That’s great, baby.”
“I have all the paperwork done. Only problem is, by the time we were done, the post office was closed. And tomorrow’s a holiday. So I can’t mail it until Friday.”
“That’s OK, baby. You said the end of the week anyway.”
“Yeah, I guess. I just want it to be over.”
And another quiet evening passes.
* * * * *
The next morning is the same as the previous three mornings.
Today, they both stay home. In the afternoon, a new person comes in. It’s a young woman with almost the same scent as Mom. Another relative. This one is quiet and friendly.
“Ok, let’s go!”
Mom leashes me and leads me to the car.
Seriously? Are you going to put me through this every day? Wasn’t the vomiting enough to convince you to not make me ride in this car?
“In we go.”
She lifts me in again. She doesn’t give up, does she? The young woman gets in the car as well.
“Gracie, we’re going to the park. You’re going to like it.”
The car stops in a place surrounded by trees. She lets me out. I sniff the air. I’m excited by all the new interesting smells.
“Let’s take the trail.”
We walk through the woods. I’ve never done this before! It’s fascinating. The sights, the sounds, the smells!
After some time, the young woman says, “We should head back.”
“OK. Come on, Gracie. Good girl.”
We go back to the car. I refuse to cooperate and again, Mom lifts me in.
We go home. It seems strange, but I call this place home already. The young woman leaves.
This evening, Mom goes out alone. I stay with Dad. He seems almost all better.
She returns after a few hours and takes me outside to relieve myself. Then we go to bed.
“Are you going to work tomorrow, baby? How do you feel?”
“I’m mostly better. I’ll go to work.”
“I’ll need you to take her out when you get home. I’m going to see if my mom can stop by around midday to check on her. It will be her first long day alone.”
“She’ll be fine.”
“I hope so.”
“She will. She’s learning already. I love you.”
“I love you too. Goodnight.”
* * * * *
This morning, he leaves early, like the first morning. She takes me outside shortly after that. We walk a little more than usual. Then back inside and she feeds me.
She paces around doing whatever it is that she does. Then she takes me outside again. She tells me to “go pee-pee, go poo-pee.” I urinate. But I defecated this earlier and I really don’t need to go again.
But I don’t need to.
She takes out her phone and talks to it.
“Hi, mom. It’s me… She’s fine… He’s much better, he went to work today… Well, she won’t poop, and I need to go to work… Yeah she pooped earlier… OK. Do you think you can come by and check on her around one o’clock?… Thank you so much… OK. Bye-bye.”
We go inside. She turns on the radio. Soft music plays. She puts the Kong in the crate.
I eat all the gooey stuff in the Kong. I nap.
Hello! Can anyone hear me? I don’t want to stay in here anymore! Anybody?
I whine a little more, then give up for awhile. Then I hear the door opening.
Oh, it’s you. That high-pitched talking hurts my ears. And it kind of freaks me out. But I’ll deal with it if you let me out of this crate.
The woman leashes me and takes me outside. I relieve myself. She brings me back inside and stays for awhile. She pets me a lot and gives me treats.
That’s better. Just don’t use that high voice, and we’ll get along fine.
The woman leaves after awhile, closing me in the crate again. A few hours later, Dad arrives.
“Hi girl.” He unlatches the crate.
I’m so happy to see you!
He takes me outside to relieve myself. We return, and a little while later, Mom arrives. They feed me.
“So do you think you’ll be up to meeting my parents at the park tomorrow? They want to meet Gracie.”
“Yeah, I think so.”
The park. That was the nice place with the trees. I like that. But the car… I don’t like that part.
Another quiet evening, and I get comfortable on my bed. We’re settling into a routine and I think I like it. Except for the car. And the crate.