By C. R. Larkin
I’ve worked with Giselle on her socialization nearly every day this past year, taking her to the dog park, and to dog friendly stores. While she accepts people, she has only just begun to accept other dogs. She is nearly accepting of dogs her size and smaller, however is a total mess when it comes to big dogs.
On Saturday, we went to the yearly "I Love My Dog" dog exposition in Lincoln, Nebraska. I left Carlos home because he is a total enabler. She did amazingly well. The place was a madhouse: a blaring loud speaker, a ton of people and mostly dogs, all sizes and shapes, loud music as canine acrobats jumped for toys and free-jumped hurdles. I led her around and around, letting her see many places more than once, meeting the same people and dogs again and again. It wasn’t for me, it was part of her socialization.
When encountering a big dog she will normally try to escape. Worst case scenario, she freezes, squats and poops. Yes. She is a fear-pooper. I brought a roll of small plastic dog-poop bags and some paper towels with me, but did not need to take them out once. Although she looked up many times begging me to get her out of there, she was a trouper. I brought her among Nebraska Italian Greyhound Rescue’s founder Scott’s tribe of rescue dogs. Versaci, an overly friendly rescue IG licked her ears and she accepted it although she looked about as you might expect. Like, “eek, a boy is licking my ears!”
I was very proud of her as she sat for a photographer from the Omaha-Metro-Lincoln edition of Pet Enthusiast Magazine. At first she wiggled around and squirmed, and I thought that I would have to sit there and have my fat arms appear in the picture, but at the last moment, she sat as though waiting for a piece of sausage, with a fierce Iggy look on her face. The photographer was pleased and took another picture, while Giselle flawlessly repeated her performance. I’ve never been so proud of Giselle. Other than a few spectacular jumps onto some exhibit tables, she acted like a dog who was not reactive.
This was her big test. A huge loud place with random dogs all over, small children running up to her and touching her face, lots of confusion and excitement. Aggressive dog? Reactive? No now I categorize her as “slightly timid.” I mean, greys are slightly aloof. That means, they don’t pay much attention to people. The forty mile an hour couch potato, only Iggys are smaller, but they are every inch a greyhound. On the way home, she didn’t whine and fuss much as she always does when in a car. She calmly lay down, and looked a little worn out. I guess I would be too if I had been negotiating all of these strange sights and sounds for around four hours.
Her next step will be agility training. In late March, I will enroll her in GLOC Beginning Agility 1. GLOC is the Greater Lincoln Obedience Club, and I don’t get the various acronyms they use for various types of dog registries yet. Giselle is a full bred mutt. A paperless full-bred. I think her high jumping will be useful if she had a focus. She can jump a hurdle twice her height while carrying a can of cat food. One day when I get a proper video camera, I’ll take a movie of that and post it on YouTube. I’d like to get her into some kind of sport. She might never win an event, but it’s about fun. That’s why I got a dog, and it would be nice to know she was having as much fun as I was.