Hounds’ Club is held close by us in a church hall near the Maypole. When we arrive, Julie suggests we inhabit a safe corner away from the other dogs as greyhounds are naturally extremely interested in small fluffy creatures.
“Watch it, Isis,” I tell her, “You’re prey.”
The greyhounds all have their beds in their own space along the walls. Between exercises they rest in them, legs elegantly arranged. Optimistically, I place Isis’s bed in our space. Perhaps she’ll want a rest.
Perhaps she won’t. Very alert and interested, she remains on her feet throughout the session. Sitting down is for wimps – unless you’re expecting a treat.
Fortunately the recently refurbished hall is lit by daylight so she doesn’t twirl, snap at mind flies or bark as she does in artificial light.
Julie introduces us and asks the other owners to watch their dogs carefully for any sign of ‘fixing’ on Isis. (I think that means staring at her impolitely and wondering who’s got the mustard.)
The class trains in two separate groups which take turns to work on the long carpet. The dogs practise walking to heel, halting, and turning to the right. For the final exercise the owners tell their dogs to ‘wait’. They then take two steps away and call the dogs to them. All work is done on lead, of course.
Isis and I have our turn on the carpet alone. Walking a few steps by my side, she follows the treat I have in my hand rather than trying to grab it. She does her right turn in a fashion. But I am fumbly and a bit self-conscious. I think she will improve as I do.
The audience of greyhounds behaves impeccably and Isis remains uneaten.
We practise the ‘wait’ and ‘come’ exercise in our own space. I had already begun working on this at home and Isis is quite good at it.
Julie suggests pulling a few inches of the lead up between a finger and thumb to communicate to Isis that something different is about to happen. She also suggests trying out the clicker next week.
I am very pleased with Little Hairy who behaves remarkably well. She follows my lead instead of insisting on going off in a different direction. She does not dance, perform acrobatics or snarl at a dangly lead and I am able to subvert a couple of attempted spins. True, she was restless when not working and I had to give her constant attention – but then, she ain’t no greyhound!
Isis came from the Aeza cat and dog rescue and adoption centre in Aljezur, Portugal. For information about adopting an animal from the centre, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or www.dogwatchuk.com