Barking Mad

As a rule, we are not a vociferous race (ooow! excuse the pun) of hounds. In fact, I pride myself on seldom having to have recourse to verbal instructions to my people, much preferring to make my feelings clear by eye signals or, if that doesn’t work, then by vigorous and meaningful pacing.

My people are learning all the time about me, my habits, likes and dislikes, and mostly they do a pretty good job. Today, for instance, they have learnt that I do not – repeat NOT – like people firing shotguns anywhere within a half-mile radius of the property. The sound echoes all around the valley, and quite assaults my delicate ears. Only this morning, when some inconsiderate person fired one, it completely put me off my breakfast (an extremely luscious goat flap). I’m afraid I had to abandon the delights of the goat on my comfortable outside bed, give one very loud warning bark, and retreat swiftly inside to the foot of the stairs. (I’ve read all this GET READY/GET THRU [by the way, can no one SPELL any more?] government literature the folks have lying around, and I know that in a tornado, hurricane or the like, the safest place for me will be the centre of the house.)

When in doubt - hide your head!

Our rural delivery person, who is, most of the time, a delightful man, and good for a cuddle or two, is also, unfortunately, a bit of a joker. One morning recently he walked up our long drive to the house (so quietly I certainly didn’t hear him coming), and proceeded to make strange howling sounds outside the back door. Even though I had been enjoying a nice nap at the time, I immediately leapt up and rushed to the door, in full guard-dog mode, giving a few stern barks to indicate that I wasn’t amused. For some reason, my people were pleased with me for doing that. Most of the time, if I bark for any reason they’re too slow to pick up on, they aren’t too happy. This time they loved me! Sometimes life is complicated.

The past couple of weeks have been full of ups and downs. I’ll tell you about the ups first. My folks took me to my first ever GAP (Greyhounds as Pets) run in some place called Horotiu, near Hamilton. They actually got me up at 5.30 in the morning and shoved me out onto the deck in the pitch dark to eat my breakfast. I mean, come on – 5.30am? And they’re the ones who used to grumble when I woke them up at six. Well, of course I scoffed my breakfast, not wanting to offend, then we all bundled into the car soon after 6am and went for a very long drive. Truth be told, I slept through most of the four-hour journey there, but it was really exciting when we finally arrived.

Here are some of us hounds and owners at Horotiu Park. I am standing at the front between my Mum and Dad. (Thank you to whoever took this wonderful photo of us all!)

Lots of people came over to meet me and my folks, and most of them commented (naturally) on how handsome I was. I met lots of other hounds, including two who looked just like me – Bree (a frisky little minx) from Hamilton, and Linford, all the way from Taupo. I was hoping to have more of a chat with them, but it was such a crush, and very soon we were all let off our leads and WHOOSH! away we went.

That's me on the right, making some new friends

Me in the middle, with some of my new friends...

Worn out, after my gallop, and waiting for Mum to give me some fresh water. (And at least I didn't lie down in the mud, unlike some I could mention!) 🙂

We had a fantastic time, galloping round and round the lovely big park. I heard Dad telling Mum later that he thought I’d been quite clever, because I’m not as fast as a lot of the dogs so I kept cutting the corners in order to keep up with everyone.

We dogs lay around in the shade after our mad gallop, and the folks had a sort of picnic and spent lots of time with boring talk. To be honest, I didn’t mind that too much: I was so exhausted I could hardly stand up!

Done for the day...

Needless to say, I slept the whole way home. After my dinner that night I only wanted to go out for a quick bathroom call, then I was out like a light for the next twelve hours! Next day I was still tired, and I slept through most of that as well. But what fun I had!

Made it! My first time up the stairs! 🙂

Am I clever, or what?

The next fun thing I did was: go upstairs! Upstairs has been off limits for me since I arrived here – especially as it took me quite a while to master the steps into the house without skinning my legs all the time. But I heard the folks talking about how good I was with the steps now, and maybe it was time… so Mum took me upstairs on my lead – and you know what? I did it perfectly! I got lots of hugs when I made it to the top, and – what fun! – I discovered a lovely big settee up there, in a nice, cosy room with a thing called a TV, which Mum switched on for me (though Dad swore it was for her benefit, not mine).

Oh wow - a new place for me to stretch out! (They've been hiding this one from me...)

No pictures! No pictures! I haven't done my hair!

Oh, all right - if you insist...

I was a bit more nervous about going back down the stairs – there are such a lot of them – but with lots of encouragement from Mum and Dad, I made a very presentable job of it, and got lots more cuddles, which I liked. I got so good at the stairs that very soon I was trotting up them all by myself, and then one day I walked down by myself, with Dad walking beside me. Then – disaster! I think I got a bit cocky, because I was trotting downstairs with Mum when I slipped about half way down, and I sort of fell down the rest. Luckily, nothing was hurt except for my pride –  but I didn’t want to go back up again that day.

Now, I suppose I’d better tell you about our biggest ‘down’…

Like most hounds, I like to have a good gallop round the garden, and I have to admit, I can get a bit silly at times – well, I’m only barely out of puppyhood. The other day, I took my folks outside for my usual bit of garden fun, and they both had their cameras to record some of my gorgeous moves, naturally. I’d finished rushing around and Mum decided to take a little video of me, but then for some reason, I decided to have one last charge around. I went all around the garden and round the house, then, because I’m such a good boy, I came galloping back when I heard Mum call my name. She had the video running, to catch me in action – but then she caught more than she bargained for…

Me and Dad in the garden, before disaster struck!

Like my fancy legwork? 🙂

Yes, this is me - Solo the Amazing Blur. Mum hasn't quite got the hang of action shots, yet...

What can I say – I didn’t see her standing there. As well as being totally gorgeous, my gorgeousness comes in a small package. I only weigh around 26kg. As for Mum – well, let’s just say that Mum weighs a lot more than 26kg. The result wasn’t pleasant, I can tell you. I wasn’t going flat out, but I was going pretty fast when I hit Mum. My screams were terrible – so loud that our neighbour rushed outside to see what was going on. Mum hit the floor pretty hard and Dad said that she half-fell on top of me. I heard them talking afterwards and they both thought she’d killed me. I’d ended up on my side but it turned out nothing was broken, thank goodness, so I stopped screaming and managed to get up for a cuddle and a pat down to check all my bones.

Me and Mum - still best friends.

After all that, I made it up the steps and back into the house, no trouble, but Mum’s still walking a bit funny, because she landed on her back, and between you and me, I don’t think she’s as young as she thinks she is.

Luckily, there was no permanent damage for either of us. But Mum says it’s a salutary lesson for sight hounds to look where they’re going. And for Mums to stand well out of the way!

Well, I’m off for a nap now. All this writing has tired me out. ’Bye for now…

P.S. you can see the accident here:

Mum and I don’t much like watching it (*shudder*)