Fabulous Fur Friends

Must Love Animals


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A New Year, A New Dog

Happy New Year to all our friends in blog land.  I haven’t had much time lately to follow all your lovely posts so I do apologise.   I have been very involved with our rescue group – Amazing Greys – helping with the administration – answering emails, sending adoption and foster applications out, organising house checks, updating the website etc.  So I’m afraid my blog has been a little neglected of late.

But we have some good news to start the new year – we have foster failed again and will be keeping Chelsea!  Despite our best efforts, and my husband’s determination to prove that we can foster dogs without keeping them, she’ll be staying with us!

You may remember from the last post in September a few weeks after she’d arrived that she was a little CRAZY when out walking on seeing cats or other dogs, and jumps around like a lunatic when it’s walk time?  Well, she’s still a bit like that, but she has settled down a lot at home and gets on really well with Billie and Rupie – they have all become pretty good friends.

She’s quite the goofy girl and is extremely affectionate and even quite smart.  She’s learnt to sit when there’s food around (not an instinctive thing for a greyhound to do) and is no longer pushy when we sit down for our dinner.  She happily sleeps in her bean bag, or beside our bed all night and only jumps up in the morning for a cuddle.

It’s definitely more work to have 3 dogs than 2 (lots more poo to pick up!!), but she’s brought a lot of laughs into the house and she seems so happy here that it would be a shame to uproot her and get her settled with someone else.  (That’s our excuse anyway!)

So we’ve failed again – but it’s a good fail!!  Welcome Home Chelsea xx

 

 

 

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Chelsea Girl

Nearly two weeks ago, we decided it was time to foster another greyhound!  It is nearly 12 months since our beautiful old girl April went to the Rainbow Bridge and we felt it was time to help another dog in need of saving from the cruelty of the racing industry.

The rescue group we’re involved with – Amazing Greys – had 5 on the books needing a foster home.  So we asked if there was a female available (Rupie seems to like the girls best) and there was – a lovely fawn girl called – Crazy!

Oh dear.  Did her name reflect her personality?  We had agonized over the decision to bring another dog into the house – we have a lovely balance and friendship with Rupie and Billie.  Everything is calm and organised and routine.  What would a dog called Crazy do to that harmony?

We were assured her name wasn’t an indication of her personality (an ironic name, perhaps?) so we said we’d foster her, as long as we could change her name.  After all, what young lady wants to be called Crazy?  So we re-named her Chelsea.  Less than a week later, after picking her up from a road transport, she arrived!

She was quite anxious and excitable, but she’d had at least a 10 hour road trip in a small dog trailer so it was no wonder.

After initial introductions, all seemed well, although Chelsea was quite full on and in Billie and Rupie’s faces.  They gave her a few grumbles and she turned the other cheek, not retaliating, so that was a good sign.  She is very thin so we’re fattening her up with some good dry kibble and puppy food.

Very quickly she proved to be friendly and affectionate and she settled into home life very quickly.  She is a quirky girl who loves to ‘roach’ with her back legs up the wall.  She wiggles and wiggles and her tail never stops.  It’s like a whip though and poor little Rupie is just the wrong height and cops it in the face!

In the past two weeks, Chelsea has grown in confidence and is in fact very pushy for affection, and quite crazy at times!!  So, it appears her name was not ironic – she is the most enthusiastic greyhound I have ever met.  She can be hard work, and goes  CRAZY when she sees a cat on our walks, but she is funny and cuddly and loves to follow us around.  She’s very easy going with Billie and Rupie  and I think they’ve actually come to quite like her, even when she’s standing all over them!

We have foster failed in the past (ie. ending up adopting them) but we’ll have to think very hard about this young lady.  We love her and she’s wormed her way in, but it certainly has  changed the peace and quiet of our home!  Perhaps when she’s had more time to settle, there may be a suitable home for her with energetic children she can play with!

Here are some photos of the beautiful Chelsea and her new friends!  They belie everything I’ve said about her being full of beans – but she does also love to flop down and relax!


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The Little Book of R & R – Chapter 1

The Little Book of R & R (a dog’s tale by Ralph and Rupert)

 

Our story began in September 2004 when thirties-something couple, Kylie and Mike, went to the Lort Smith Animal Hospital to choose a dog. They had been given a voucher to adopt two dogs as a wedding present from their siblings.  It was not the first time either of them had owned pets, but it was to be the first time they owned any as a couple.  So, a day after returning from a five week honeymoon, they went to the Lort Smith to see which dogs needed a new home.  It was sad for them to see so many lovely dogs desperate to go home with them but when they came across us in the inside pens, the choice was obvious.  We were in a pen together, snuggled up, or chewing each other’s ears.  There were two little girls, our sisters as it happens, in the pen next to us but they had been mean to us and had to be kept away.

Adam the kennel manager  had quite a long chat to Kylie and Mike about what sort of dog they wanted, how many, their prior experience with dogs, and quickly determined they were a responsible, caring couple who would be perfect parents to two needy little fur babies.   Kylie and Mike wanted two dogs but hadn’t decided whether to get one first and then six or so months later introduce a second dog to the family.  We’d obviously charmed Adam and he didn’t want to separate us – he said he’d been watching us and we were such great little mates that if they wanted two puppies straight away, they could take us home the following week.

Kylie and Mike’s sisters came to meet us the next day – we put on as much cuteness as we could muster – and the decision was made.  A few days later (after our little ‘op’ to make sure there were no more unwanted puppies) we were on our way home to start our new life.

We were very small but big on cuteness!

We were very small but big on cuteness!

 

 

My name is Ralph and I’m going to tell you our story.  My little brother Rupert will pitch in now and again but he doesn’t know quite as many words as I do.

After a short car ride which was fun – we just sat in the back with Kylie, our forever  Mum,  hanging on to each other, wondering where we were going – we arrived at our new house.  To little pups – we were very small and no-one really knew how old we were – it seemed like a palace compared with the pen we were in at the shelter.  Kylie and Mike, now we call him Mikey, had created our own play area at the back of the house.  We had access to the garden for wee wees, a long hallway to run and chase along, a very comfy cardboard box with blankets to sleep in, a clock, toys and a hot water bottle. For two abandoned pups who didn’t know which way their life would turn, we were in heaven!

We only cried a couple of times for the first few  nights – not for our previous life, as that wasn’t much fun, but for our birth mum – we still wonder what happened to her and what she looked like.  However,  we soon settled into our new routine with Kylie and Mikey and became model fur-babies.

I bet you’re wondering how we came to having such cool names?  Well, Kylie and Mikey got married at Rupertswood Mansion the month before we met them.  As we were wedding presents, it seemed only logical that one of us would be called Rupert.  I’m not sure how Rupert got to be called Rupert, but now that I know him better, it suits him.  And of course they needed another ‘R’ name and Ralph just seemed to fit my cheeky face to a tee.   So, from then on, we became Rupert and Ralph, the terrible twins!  As with all good Aussie families, we had to shorten or lengthen our names, so we’re often called Rupie and Ralpie, even Scupie and Scalphie! Is it any wonder it took us a while to learn to come when we’re called – we’re not sure who they’re calling sometimes!

 

Our first week was relatively uneventful – Kylie and Mikey took it in turns to race home from work at lunchtime to give us our mid-day meal and check that we were ok.  There was lots of changing of newspaper on the floor too as we hadn’t learnt to go outside yet – we were way too little to be out on our own anyway. In the evenings, we’d al l get to play together and learn about each other.  Sometimes when we woke from a snooze, we’d notice Kylie and Mikey just standing together watching us – it was very sweet and we knew then that we had fallen on our feet and were going to love being part of this family very much.

A week later, Mike and Kylie were taking us to puppy school for the first time.  We were nearly there – it wasn’t far, but too far for our little legs – when I heard Rupert groaning in his corner of the back seat of the car.  “ Ooooh Ralphie, I don’t feel very well. My tummy’s sore and I think I’m going to be sick”, he said, just before he threw up all over the place.  Mikey stopped the car but before he could take Rupert outside, he threw up again, and again and again, all the way back to the Lort Smith Hospital.  I said, “what’s wrong little brother?  Are you going to be ok?”.   Rupert looked at me with very sad and sorry eyes and said “I don’t know what’s wrong Ralphie but I feel really sick and I’m sorry for the mess but I can’t help it.  Please get Mikey and Kylie to take me to the hospital quickly so they can find out what’s wrong with me.  Oooh, my tummy…”.


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Story of Adoption

Our love affair with greyhounds started in September 2010.  We had previously decided that our next dog would be a greyhound as we had a friend who had adopted one and she was beautiful. We’ve always adopted pets from shelters so saving the life of a greyhound fitted with our beliefs. But we didn’t realise that day would come as quickly as it did, as our two dogs, Ralph and Rupert, were only three years old.

Instead of telling you all about us and how much we love greyhounds, we’ll let April, our first greyhound tell you our story.

Hi, I’m April!  It all began in NSW in 2002.  My mum Stacey gave birth to my sisters Shawee and Baby, my brother Milagro and me.  When I was being born, I got a bit stuck and had to be pulled out.  Unfortunately it did some damage to my foot and it’s never been normal since. We grew up with a trainer and he and his wife were good to us.  As we grew from gangly, short-nosed pups, our owner could see that my siblings had inherited their mum and dad’s good racing pedigree and started their training.  It all seemed very glamorous to me, but because of my club foot I did not join them.  I had to wait in the backyard for them to come home and tell me all about the outside world.  They were given lovely racing names, but I was only ever called April, after the month in which we were born (not much imagination there!) as it had become obvious that I would never race.  I could only hop around on 3 legs most of the time as it hurt to put my foot on the hard services.  If was on grass or chasing my siblings, I forgot about the pain and used all 4 feet!  Despite my obvious disability, I grew into a handsome girl who looked just like my mum and sister and was pretty happy about life – nothing much fazed me and I enjoyed spending time with my family.

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We were some of the lucky ones – our owner kept us even past the time we could win any races, and of course I couldn’t ever do anything but be sweet and hop around a lot.   Eventually, however, in early 2010, hard times fell on our owners and they couldn’t keep us anymore.  Janet and Peter from Greyhound Rescue took us in as a family (including Princess who is my half sister from an earlier litter) and let us live with them for a while with all their other dogs.  It was fun, but there were so many of us they had to find us new homes. Shawee, Baby, Princess and Milagro were all found lovely forever homes quite quickly but mum and I were going to be a bit of a problem.  Mum was now nearly 14 years old and I was 8 and had special needs as far as my leg was concerned.

On the saddest day of my life, my beautiful mum Stacey passed away in September 2010.  I didn’t understand what had happened and was very stressed.  For the 8 years of my life I’d never been apart from mum and my siblings and now I found myself alone.  What would become of me?  Who would want an old girl who couldn’t go for very long walks?

And then it happened – the start of the rest of my life!  Kylie and Mike in Melbourne had been considering fostering a greyhound a year and a half after their beautiful dog Ralph passed away aged 4 from lymphoma.  They didn’t know if they were ready to have another dog but Ralph’s brother Rupert had been depressed since the loss of his best mate and they thought a new friend might cheer him up.

So they contacted Greyhound Rescue and thought they’d try fostering for a while to see how everyone got on.  Next thing I knew I was on a plane (that was a bit weird!) to Melbourne and a couple of days later Kayleigh from Greyhound Rescue took me to meet my new family.  Rupert (I now call him Rupie) is a cutie – he was a bit wary of me at first and bossed me around a bit to let me know it was his place and he’d lay down the ground rules – fair enough, I reckon.  I was just happy to have a new friend and some owners who really love me.

When it came time to put me up for adoption, it seemed I had wormed my way into the hearts of my new family – they say I am quite a character and make them laugh – and they decided they could not let me go to yet another home, so they made the adoption official.

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Two years later, Martina from Kay’s Greys (now Amazing Greys) put out a desperate call for a foster carer for a young dog who needed rescuing from a trainer’s kennels.  Kylie and Mike had fallen for me big time (and who wouldn’t??) and they couldn’t bare to see a dog at risk of being killed.  So, they offered to take in New Girl (she didn’t even have a name) and in a few days, we had a skinny, dirty, woolly, frightened young girl living in our house.

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Rupie liked her straight away and I guess I did too, but she was a bit scared of us, of Kylie and Mike and every single noise that she heard.  We named her Billie, and gradually, with lots of love, encouragement and space, she came out of her shell and became part of the family.  When it came time to put her up for adoption… well, Kylie and Mike foster failed again!  So she was officially adopted by us in October 2012.

Now we couldn’t imagine life without her – she’s always wandering around, checking to see that everyone’s ok, gives gentle little kisses on noses, hogs the bed and steals all the attention when we have visitors because she is now so beautiful.  The ugly duckling has grown into a graceful swan.

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She’s only three years old and likes to play which has kept Rupie and I from growing into old grumps.  We have a lot of fun together and we’re really grateful that we have a nice happy home in which to live the rest of our lives.  We hear that some of our kin are not so lucky.

So the moral of the story is that we’ve all given something to each other – Billie and I have a lovely new home full of love, Rupie has two new friends to play with (and boss around!), and Kylie and Mike have had the opportunity to experience the joy of caring for us and watching us flourish into wonderful pets.

Thanks for reading our story – please consider adopting a greyhound when your circumstances allow.

April, Billie, Rupie (and Kylie and Mike)

The gang

 

 


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Birthday Boy

It’s our gorgeous boy’s 9th birthday today!!  It’s hard to believe –  the years have gone by so fast – it seems hardly any time since he and his brother Ralph were little pups.  For those who don’t know the story, Rupert and Ralph were given to my husband and I as wedding presents 9 years ago.  The day after we returned from our honeymoon, we went to the Lort Smith Animal Shelter in Melbourne and found the two adorable pups cuddled up together.   We hadn’t decided whether we wanted one or two puppies, but they were so gorgeous together we couldn’t resist.  And the kennel manager said he couldn’t bear to separate them because they were such good mates.

So, we came home with two tiny puppies; no-one really knew how old they were, or what they were.  All we knew was that they were adorable and completely the cutest we’d ever seen (we were a bit biased, and fresh from our honeymoon!)

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They grew into beautiful boys and great mates, though in their terrible twos when the adrenalin started pumping they did have a few brotherly scraps (well, more than scraps, stitches were sometimes involved!).

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Best mates

So you can imagine how devastated we were when at 3.5 years old, we were told that Ralph had lymphoma and without treatment only had weeks to live.  Of course we couldn’t let our boy go that easily, so we gave him treatment and had a happy healthy boy for another 18 months.  Eventually however, the disease took over and we had to let him go.
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I was distraught, and whether Rupert picked up on that, or was also deeply affected by his brother’s loss, he seemed to go into a depression for at least 6 months.  He went quiet (and he’s usually quite noisy and vocal), sat in his beanbag and took no notice of things going on around the house or garden.  It was terrible to see and we didn’t know what the best thing to do for him was – should we get him a friend (he seemed frightened of puppies he met), or was he happier being with us, as we started taking him everywhere with us.

He, and I, gradually recovered.  He started to come out of his shell and engage in some of his ‘clown’ antics.  We could see our happy boy re-emerging.

Eighteen months on, we decided to see how we’d all get on with fostering a greyhound in need.  Well, I need not go into too much more detail!  Three years later, our family now also consists of our lovely 11 year old April, and our 3 year old Billie (also a foster fail).  And we have our boy back!  Rupie is again the clown of the family; noisy, chatty and bossy!  He loves having the girls to push around (but he has taught them manners – he is very polite with food and requests).   He plays with his toys (well, more like destroys his toys), and barks at the girls while they run rings around him.

It’s a happy house again and a joy to be met at the door by three wiggling bodies.  Ralph will always be deeply missed (on their birthday I often wonder what he would have been like as he aged;  he will never grow old and will forever remain young in our hearts), but I’m sure he’s glad that his little brother now has some sisters to keep him company.

They’ve been running themselves ragged tonight, so this is the end of their playtime – Rupie always has the last word!

This is Rupert enjoying his new toy – no wonder I don’t buy him expensive ones – he does this to any toy, regardless of the cost!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY OUR BEAUTIFUL BOY!


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Run For Your Life – Part II

racing greyhounds

“They’re off and racing” says the starter as the gun fires, loudly enough to make anyone turn and run the other way.  Jack jumps off with a leap and bounds after everyone else.  Bill, Jack’s trainer, is impressed with the start.  Jack is in the middle of the pack – not losing, not winning. “Come on you lazy bugger”, Bill yells with the crowd.   “C’mon, I need you to do this one for me”.  As they turn the second bend, one of the runners in front of Jack falls, Bill thinks it might be Bruce, and all the dogs behind trip over him.   Jack can’t stop in time and is flung high in the air.  His long legs and tail are flailing and as he hits the ground Bill hears the crack.

“Bugger, not another one”.   Bill looks for Jack’s owner, but he’s already walking away, heading for his SUV.

Bill called his handlers over to help him cart Jack away to the vet in the kennel complex.  Once certified dead, Jack’s carcass is discarded with the others who were also injured in other races at the meet and are too injured to be repaired, or for whom their owners were not willing to dish out  the vet bills.

Bruce is brought in to be inspected by the vet.  Miraculously his injuries are relatively minor and he is taken back to Bill’s scruffy kennels to recover.

Bill is tired from the emotion of the day and just wants to relax, have a beer and wish he was somewhere else.   But he knows he has to tend to Bruce, as well as all the others.

He summons up enough energy to throw them a few scoops of food.  “Settle down you mad buggers”, he yells unkindly to the dogs who are jumping and whizzing around, having not  had any contact or attention for over twenty four hours, while Bill was busy getting Jack, Bruce and Roger ready for today’s meet.  Overall a pretty disastrous day, he mumbles to himself.  Jack, the most promising, gone.  Bruce injured and future uncertain.  Roger, well, no hope for him.

Bill didn’t want to think anymore more about the dogs today.  He’d had enough of them – hopeless bloody things, eating him out of house and home.   He decided to deal with them in the morning and retired to his old, draughty house.  He didn’t think of it as a home, though he’d lived in it his whole life; a home should be warm and comfortable, and full of country cooking.   None of these things exist here, and hadn’t since his dear Mum had departed for, he hoped, a better life over fifteen years ago.

The day after the disappointments dawned cold and menacingly gloomy.  As usual, Bill rose early and began his chores.   His bones ached with the cold and his fingers were numb while he scooped food into the clanking buckets.

He did the rounds.  One fewer to feed today he realised.  Jack’s pen was strangely bare; perhaps Bill did have a bit of a soft spot for the young fella after all.  He’d have to ring the owner today and chase the outstanding monies owing for Jack’s training.  With yesterday’s result though, he doubts he’ll see any of that.   He’d give the pen a bit of a clean later in the day and fill it with another hopeful.

By mid morning the essentials were done and Bill went into his old shipping container office to do some paperwork.   He wasn’t good at this part as he’d left school as soon as was allowed so he could help his Dad with the dogs.  He didn’t realise there’d be forms to fill and ledgers to balance.  It was always a struggle for him and there was no way he could use a computer so all the bits of paper were haphazardly filed in piles on his desk.  He had to find the phone number for Bruce and Roger’s owner.    He’d have the conversation with him about yesterday.   What did he want to do with the dogs? He knew the answer – it would be the same as usual – “I don’t want them, get rid of them”.   Although Bill knew there was no point in keeping dogs around who weren’t going to make anyone any money, he didn’t like the thought of getting rid of them.  Sometimes he’d given them to another trainer who said he’d deal with them for him.  Bill didn’t ask what the other trainer did with them, but he had a fair idea and although he didn’t like it, it was a cheap option so he just let it go.

But perhaps Bill was getting a bit soft in his older years.  He felt there had to be a better way of getting rid of the dogs who had been mildly injured while racing, like Bruce, or who weren’t the slightest bit interested in running, like Roger.   He knew they were nice dogs really and surely they could have a life after racing.

Bill had the predictable conversation with Roger and Bruce’s owner who said he’d pay their food bill for one month only and then it was up to Bill to ‘deal with them’.   His predicament gnawed at Bill for a few days – get rid of them the ‘usual’ way, or try to find another solution.  He mulled it over and over – he really was keen to find a better way of dealing with these dogs when their racing days were over, or once it was clear they had no interest in the chase.  There was no point in them languishing in his pens, costing him and the owners money.  They were still only young dogs so had many years of life ahead of them.

The trainer had a flash of brilliance!  He knew of a lady in town who helped injured wildlife – maybe she might know what he could do.   He found her number in the local directory under the piles of old contracts, long out of date and no longer relevant.

Bill summoned the courage and called her, but he wasn’t sure what kind of reception he would receive.  She was reticent at first when Bill told her he was a trainer.  But as he explained his dilemma he could feel her softening.  She told him she would look into it and get back to him.

Two days passed and Bill began to think she had fobbed him off, just being nice to get him off the phone. When he felt, reluctantly, that he was going to have to go down the old route, he received a call from a young woman called Marina.  She said she ran a greyhound rescue group and would be interested to meet with him and see the dogs he needed to get out of his kennels.

Bill agreed to meet with Marina the next weekend.  She arrived, confident and compassionate.  Bill didn’t often spend time in the company of women so was anxious, and he stammered in her presence.   She quickly put him at ease and explained what she did.  He would have to officially surrender Bruce and Roger to her, in the name of the rescue group, and she would find foster homes for the boys.   Once they had spent some time in a home environment, they would be adopted out to a forever home and live their life on a couch in a warm house.

It sounded like the perfect solution to his problems.   He thought of all the other dogs he’d be able to bring through his kennels now that he knew there was a way to re-home them afterwards.

Marina returned the following weekend, got Bill to fill in the relevant paperwork, and took Bruce and Roger to the city with her.  They were wide-eyed and nervous in the car, but settled quickly.

Marina took Bruce and Roger home for the night to rest and have a gentle play with her special greyhound puppy Joe.  They were inquisitive about all the things in the house – the mirrors, glass doors, stairs (oh heavens how would they manage those!) and seemed surprised when they were each given their own bowl of food.  At the end of an anxious day, after experiencing a whole new world of sights, smells and kindness, they slept soundly on a soft mattress at the end of Marina’s bed.   In the morning she put out her usual call for assistance from the amazing network of foster carers who were involved with the rescue group.   Mary said she had space for the boys to stay with her for a while until they knew how to live as a pet.

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Mary taught Bruce and Roger what kind words sounded like, and showed them a gentle hand ,  stroking their heads at night, while they lay on the couch beside her.   They soon learnt how comfortable a double bed was and enjoyed being snug and warm in their fleecy jumpers.  Mary watched their personalities develop and their dirty, woolly kennel coats give way to sleek and shiny ones.  She knew it wouldn’t be long before the boys were doing zoomies in the backyard and would be ready to make a lucky family very happy in having two such beautiful, gentle and kind dogs in their life.

Marina was nearly out her doorway on her way to work a couple of weeks later when the phone rang.  She hesitated, but felt she should answer it.    “Hi, it’s Bill. I have two more needing homes, can you take them?”

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