Thursday, November 5, 2009


I haven't posted for quite awhile, due to lack of time as well as lack of any blog-worthy recipes. But today I was looking through some old photos on my external hard drive, and felt like sharing some of them and writing.

As many readers know, we have two dogs in our house: Foxy, a Shiba Inu, and Stitch, a Greyhound. We adopted Stitch from a local rescue group after his 5-year racing career. But a few years ago, for a few months, we had a third dog: another Greyhound named Cal. We were only his 'foster parents' for a brief time before he went to his permanent home, but based on the number of pictures I have of him he was obviously really special to us during that time. (The pictures I'll include below are only a small sample of the total.)

We never would have considered bringing a third dog into our home. Foxy was notoriously aggressive towards other dogs, and it took weeks for her to warm up to Stitch. Foxy was adopted as an adult dog from the humane society, and I don't know what her issue was with other dogs, but any time we were on a walk and passed by another dog she would growl and lunge at it. Jason adopted Stitch while we were still dating, before we lived together, and we knew we would need Foxy to accept him if we were ever going to spend time together with our dogs in the same place. We used to meet on neutral territory at a local park to get Foxy used to the idea of just being in the same area as Stitch. With most dogs you start out with letting them sniff each other, but with Foxy she didn't want Stitch to even come close, and would snarl at him if he did. So we literally had to started with just being in the same vicinity. Then, at separate sessions, gradually we would move closer to each other. Eventually they worked up to being able to sniff each other. Then Foxy decided that she would tolerate him being around her as long as he left her alone. Their relationship is pretty much like that to this day. He generally leaves her alone, and she tolerates his presence.

So anyway, with Foxy being so difficult we would have never considered bringing another dog into the picture. But we got a desperate call on Jason's cell phone from the Greyhound adoption group rep, Maria, one November afternoon (we were actually at an OSU/Michigan party), BEGGING for help. A group of dogs had just come in off the track and needed temporary housing for just a week before they could go into the prison program to live with and be trained by inmates. This was around the time of Thanksgiving, and the people who would normally take in foster dogs had plans to go out of town and couldn't. We were reluctant to do it, but Maria was desperate and we knew it would only be for a week, so we decided we would try to make it work.

We went straight from the OSU/Michigan party to pick up Cal from a local vet's office. Cal came off the track with horrible teeth (many Greyhounds do) and while at the vet's office that very day he had a big tooth pulled. He was on pain medication and would have to eat soft food for a few days. We were also told that he had worms, and consequently had bad diarrhea. At this point I was starting to feel slightly duped since none of this was mentioned to us over the phone. But he looked so sad and sickly and my heart went out to him. There was nothing we could do but take him home with us and take care of him as we had been asked to do. And he was SO SKINNY. Greyhounds naturally are very slender dogs, and it is normal to see one or two of their ribs. But on Cal you could probably count at least six ribs. He really was a sad sight.

We brought him into the house, with Foxy and Stitch on leashes so we could pull her back if she tried to attack Cal. We did have to restrain her a bit until she got the idea that it wasn't okay to go after him. She did growl at him a few times when he came too close, and fortunately he got the message to stay away. And then they were fine. And I had another moment of anguish when Cal walked into our living room, promptly lifted his leg, and peed on the side of our couch. He was definitely a handful.

He whined a lot during that week. It was understandable, considering his life had been turned upside down and he was probably scared, plus he was in a lot of physical discomfort due to his tooth issue and the worms. There were a few nights I slept on the floor next to his crate because it seemed to calm him down somewhat.

After a long, stressful week, he went to a local women's correctional facility where he would live for a few months. There they taught him basic commands, how to play with toys, how to go up and down stairs, and that it's not okay to go to the bathroom inside the house. (Remember that Greyhounds grow up on the track learning none of these things.) They did a fantastic job, and eventually it was time for him to be "paroled." But since the rescue group didn't have an adopting family lined up for him, they asked if we would consider fostering him again until he could be adopted. Cal had a great personality and actually got along pretty well with Foxy and Stitch, so we agreed. We knew most of the previous difficulties we had with Cal were probably due to him being fresh off the track and not healthy.

And we were right. When he came to us the second time he was a transformed dog. He had gained some weight and learned how great it is to live with a human who loves you. His personality sparkled. He was so goofy and funny and sweet. We really could have kept him. We thought long and hard about it. He was a great dog for our little 'family.' But we just couldn't bring ourselves to commit to being a three-dog family. There were too many issues, not with Cal himself, but with having a third dog. Such as not being able to transport them all in one vehicle. Little things like that that made us hesitant. So we decided to keep taking him to adoption events, and see if anyone came along who had just the right place for him in their lives.

Eventually Cal got a family of his own, with a few young children who loved him a lot. (They even changed his name to Guido. But he'll always be Cal to me.) In the meantime, we had a lot of fun with him. I know we made the right choice, but I still think about him and what a great dog he was. Here are some pictures that show you a little more about our time with Cal.

This is Cal.

We always thought Stitch was a big dog, but Cal dwarfed him.

Obviously Stitch and Cal felt pretty comfortable with one another.

Foxy also tolerated him surprisingly well.

Cal was not supposed to be on the furniture, but there was no stopping him. He loved to make himself comfortable, especially when it meant curling up next to you (or on you, in my case).

We were able to transport all dogs in the same vehicle once.
We took them up to Walton Lake in Jason's parents' SUV.

So handsome.


Beth said...

Adorable! I'm impressed that you could give him up. My friend Laura fosters greyhounds, and she often ends up keeping one of the fosters because she keeps falling in love! You must be feeling nostalgic lately - puppies and fosters!

Adam and Vicky said...

I love these chapters in Cal's story. And am so happy you're sharing it with the world. The prison rehabilitation is equally impressive -- for the inmates and the dogs. I'm glad you shared pictures -- I visualized Nick when you've mentioned him, the greyhound my brother adopted. (I was sort of close -- just put reddish brown over Cal's black.) :)And I think Nick was smaller than Stitch is, so Cal is huge! And Foxy is the foxy lady she is. Thanks again for sharing!