Friday, 21 September 2012

School Days

Mila loves her adventures in the car!
On Monday, Mila and I jumped in the car and took a two-hour drive down the road to Foxton where we went to visit our new friends in Room 10. I had arranged with their teacher, Miss Gorrie, to go out and visit the class after the kids wrote us such nice comments here on our blog. Many of the kids had never met a greyhound before and were interested to know all about Mila's racing life and to see the star of the blog in the flesh. 

It was raining and very windy in Wellington when we left but by the time we reached Foxton at 11.30 am, the weather had started to clear and we were even getting some good patches of sunshine. When we arrived at school we made our way through the Office, where we met the Office ladies and the Principal and then headed out through the playground and over to Room 10. The kids gathered round us to give Mila a pat and I could see from her furiously wagging tail and the dopey looking grin on her face that she was in heaven with all of this attention. Mila was wearing her GAP Ambassador vest and also modelled her paw print pyjamas and racing muzzle for the class, before we watched a DVD of the race in which she came third (a result that she is obviously very proud of). The kids asked us some great questions about Mila - and Chris, who they had also read about on the blog. The class also told me about how they were interested in finding out more about what they could to help organisations like Greyhounds As Pets, through donations or volunteer projects. We then sat down to listen to the kids' stories about their own pets. There were some very well written and funny stories - and many of them reminded me of my own adventures with owning dogs, cats and a rabbit. Mila even lay down on the mat so she could be comfortable as she listened to what everyone had written!!
Mila, back home, checking out her goodies!

After the stories, we gave Room 10 a book that had been recommended to us, 'Born To Run' by Michael Morpurgo (the man who wrote Warhorse). 'Born To Run' is a story about the adventures of a greyhound named "Best Mate" and the friendships he makes throughout his life. The class gave us a huge basket of goodies (both human and dog related) to say thank you for our visit. We were very, very spoilt and Mila was immediately interested in the toys and treats inside.

After all that, it was time for our shared lunch - and man, did Room 10 put on a spread! There were chippies, sausage rolls, hot chips, fresh baking - the Works!! I had to do my best to make sure that Mila didn't beat us to the food and ruin it all but she was very good and quickly understood that the human food on the table was not for her but that she was allowed to enjoy her own little snack if she sat down nicely.

Let's hope this backwards sleeping craze doesn't catch on.
Eventually, it was time for us to head home. Miss Gorrie helped us to pack up our gears and take it all out to the car and away we went. After about an hours' drive south, we stopped to stretch our legs and the Titahi Bay Dog Obedience park, which is a little fenced off area in Mana where you can go to let your dog have a bit of a run around and to practice training. The sun had come out and it had turned into a beautiful spring day - perfect for running around in the grass! When we got inside, Mila raced around for about 2 minutes to brush out the cobwebs, decided that after her big adventure she was too shattered to do anything more and promptly lay down in the shade. We jumped back in the car and sat in the sunshine watching some other dogs racing around the rugby grounds nearby and then set off to pick up Emily from work and head back into town. On the way home, Mila was so tired that she slept the wrong way on the back seat - with her back to the front of the car - so I had to drive especially carefully to make sure she didn't roll off the seat and hurt herself.

So, a highly successful day! Dog behaved, the kids were great, and we even managed to get in a visit to the park. No wonder Mila slept very soundly that night. Thanks to Room 10 for having us to visit, for putting on such an amazing lunch and for our awesome gift basket. I have hidden the treats and toys away in the cupboard so that Mila doesn't try to eat them all at once and I have made her promise to share her goodies with Chris. I'm sure he is wondering where all of these wonderful presents have come from!!

Mila will be horrified that I posted this photo of her - but it was too funny not to!
Had enough of running around - time for a relax!

Watching the birds in the sunshine at Pauatahanui Inlet

Friday, 14 September 2012

Settling In

This week, Chris found a coke with his name on it!!
Chris and Mila are settling into a nice little routine at our place. We have rearranged the furniture a little bit so that they have their own bedroom to share at night when it is time for sleep (which keeps them out of the hallway where they risk being kicked in the middle of the night when someone gets up to stumble to the toilet) and they seem to be getting on with each other better and better each day. 

As Chris gets used to our house and his housemates, he has started to test Mila's patience a tiny bit to see what he can get away with. Sometimes he will sneak on to her precious green couch or wander off with one of the squeaky toys and pretend he doesn't know what's wrong when she looks at him accusingly. The other day, he peed on her leg outside when he got a little close to her and she was mortified!! And he thinks that no one notices when he wiggles his hips to barge Mila a bit to the side to get in a little closer for a pat (...I'm on to you buddy).

Chris also has some interesting little character traits that we have noticed coming out as he becomes more comfortable with us. Some of them I think are in keeping with his status as a dottery old man. Others are just plain weird - for example, 'if I don't look at Rachel sitting there watching TV as I sneak up on to the human couch, she won't see me doing it.' Nice try - but wrong! Or - 'you might have just fed me dinner and given me a nice long pat, but if you leave the room and come back again, I will have no idea who you are or what you are doing here and I will think that you are a complete stranger'

Chris' new bed
Chris is also quite "vocal" when he wants to be and we are developing quite a good list of random and hilarious things that make Old Man Chris bark:

 1. Dancing. Chris is the canine equivalent of the town in the movie Footloose. Any attempt to move in time with any type of music will be met with disapproval. Young people these days...
2. Whispering. Old men like Chris need hearing aids at the best of times so it is incredibly rude when someone is speaking quietly on purpose. And Chris would like to make sure that you know when he thinks you are being rude. 

3. Pretending to throw something. This is a game that Mila LOVES. Her face lights up and she is never quite sure if you actually did throw something, where that something went, or even if you had anything in your hand to start with. Of course, the fun for Mila is in trying to work out whether we really are playing fetch, or just acting. Chris on the other hand, will not have any of it. His bark says 'What, do you think I'm stupid?! Come back to me when you have something in your hand that you are actually willing to let go of.'

4. Changing clothes without warning so he thinks you're a different person. If you are suddenly wearing track pants instead of jeans, there is no way in the world that you are the person who was here just before. 'Who let this stranger into my house? How do they know my name? I can't work it out...I'm going to lie down now and go to sleep. Wake me up when that other lady in the jeans comes back to give me a pat.'

5. Coming home. Our house/section is set up in such a way that you can see the car pull into the driveway from where you are sleeping in the lounge - and we tend to get home at about the same time every day during the week. I'm fairly certain that this one is a bark to say hello - as it accompanied by a waggy tail and a greeting at the door - and is never more than one or two short barks. 

To be fair to Chris, he is very good at stopping his barking when he is told to be quiet and he is learning that having a bit of fun about the house isn't as bad as he might think. Every couple of days we discover something new that he would like to have a word with us about - and he barks out his thoughts very politely. He never barks aggressively and he has never snarled or lunged at any of us. Like any grumpy old man, he would just like you to know what he thinks about what you are doing at any given time. Fair enough too.

Hanging out with my best friend, Mila

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

A Big Thank You!!

When I checked my messages this morning, I was surprised to see a whole heap of really nice comments on my last post congratulating us on our foster/adoption of Chris and asking us how we are getting on. Thanks to everyone for your kind words - they are really nice to hear! Chris is doing very well - settling in nicely and getting used to his new surroundings. As I type away here, he has just come in to see me for a pat and to see what all of the clicking is about. He is still a little nervous to be around us but his tail wags a lot more often now - which is always a good sign! 

One special message I received was from the kids in Room 10 at Coley Street School in Foxton and their teacher, Miss Gorrie (love it!). They have been reading my blog as part of a 'Writing for Purpose' project they are doing at school and sent me a lovely message to say that they have really enjoyed it and to ask me a few questions about Mila and Chris. 

When I started writing my blog, I thought it would be a little bit like a diary...just a place where I could write some funny and (maybe) interesting stories about my dog - and people could read those stories if they wanted to. I never, ever imagined that it would be read at school by a class full of people - and that they would enjoy it. That is just awesome!!

So, thanks to Room 10 (and Kylie) for brightening up my Tuesday - I hope you keep reading (and enjoying)  Mila's adventures! Feel free to drop me an email anytime. 

 And the hounds would also like to express their appreciation: 

P.S. Just after I took this photo, Mila tried to eat her sign!! She slobbered all over it and managed to screw it up. Lucky I got this one in time!

Monday, 3 September 2012

This is Chris!!

We have some exciting news at our place: the addition of 10-year old ex-racer Chris to our little family!! Last week we said goodbye to our dear old Otis the Bunny and by now you might also have gathered that things didn't work out with Tommy (our luck with pets of late has not been the best...) – but with a bit of extra space, the construction (by us!!!!) of the brand-new 'Otis Memorial Gate for Greyhounds' and a yard in which we no longer have to monitor Hound-Rabbit relations, we decided that we could make room for another greyhound in our lives.

Chris is a very sweet old man. He is brindle (with the tiger stripes) – has big brown eyes and a white smiley face. Here he is in the car with Mila on the journey back from the kennels to Wellington:

Mila and Chris enjoying being driven around in comfort
We drove out to Sanson to pick him up from the GAP kennels on Sunday afternoon and he enjoyed the 2 and a bit hour car ride back to Wellington bonding with Mila in the back of the car. He might be 10, but that certainly doesn’t stop him from enjoying a good car ride.

I apologise now for this photo looking like the dogs are sitting in some kind of “kill room”. As much as she loves to ride in the car, Mila also loves to get up, reposition herself and snot all over the backseat/window/boot, especially on long trips. Spending nearly 5 hours in the car on Sunday meant that we had to take protective measures – and the best we could come up with was plastic sheets over the upholstery. When Chris jumped into the car in Sanson, he must have immediately wondered what on earth he had gotten himself into with all that plastic!! He's smiling in the photo - so I figure he was happy to humour us.

We have Chris on a “foster-to –adopt” arrangement, where we will spend a month or so making sure that he can live happily with our Mila (and that she can live happily with him) and then after that time, all going to plan, we will formally adopt him as our own. There is not a huge amount of demand for the oldies at the GAP kennels and all he really wants is a comfy bed and few pats – so I couldn’t really say no to that.

We’ve only had him a day, but so far we have established that Chris enjoys taking life at his own pace (with the exception of walking through doorways where he finds some speed and has to be first through). At the moment, he is a bit nervous of his new surroundings but he is taking his lead from Mila and slowly warming up to us. He has even started to come to see us voluntarily for pats and responds to his name (I call him “Cwiss”) and our instructions really well. He slept right through the night last night (yes!!!) and we haven’t had any toileting issues so far – unless you count this morning when we went for a short walk around the block and he cocked his leg against a flax bush…and did a poo!! I spent the next few minutes with a plastic bag in my hand, trying to get various bits out from between the leaves. What a guy!

Mila is playing the whole thing very casually. If you look at her in the photo above, she has a very distinct ‘why am I lying in the back of the car with this old man?’ look on her face. Having said that, she is being very polite – showing Chris the house, telling him where he should go to the toilet and giving him space to work out the best sleeping positions (answer: everywhere!). She even let him up on her couch when she wasn’t using it and didn’t mind a single bit when he showed us how he likes to do barking sometimes. What a girl!  
Chris found his bed pretty quickly...
...and spent the evening with Mila, doing what greyhounds do best!
As long as she is still getting the lion’s share of the attention, Mila seems to quite enjoy having some company when we are not around. And, like a typical old man, Chris isn’t too bothered about being fussed over anyway. Win, win!