Angela writes warmly about welcoming an ex-racer into her home.
To say that Arthur is the most longed-for dog is the understatement of the century. Since my childhood family dog died in 1998 my heart has literally ached for a dog. Where most women my age get broody for babies, all I ever wanted was a dog. For a long time, the timing wasn’t right. Working full-time and having my own health and mobility issues meant I wasn’t in a position to give a dog everything it needed, and I always promised myself I would never get a dog just to fulfil my needs if I couldn’t meet the dog’s needs.
By the end of 2016, however, the planets were aligning, I was working part-time and mostly from home and my mum was retired and working as a dog walker so could help me as needed – the time was now right for me to get my much longed-for canine companion, the only decision now was what dog to get. Buying was never an option, it would always be a rescue whatever the breed. Greyhounds had been mentioned to me a number of times over the years and having friends who run a greyhound rescue meant I’d seen lots of their posts on Facebook about them. So, after a little more reading about these beautiful 45mph couch potatoes I decided a greyhound was definitely the dog for me and contacted Karen & Dawn.
Karen & Dawn were certain as soon as I contacted them that they could find the perfect dog for me and after one or two considerations they decided that Cushie (as he was then known) was the right boy for me. The home visit was done and preparations for his arrival began. Since my dog was going to be the best dog in the world (as everyone’s dog is to them) I decided he needed a new name, a regal name and so I re-christened him Arthur. On 22nd April 2017 Arthur walked through my front door and firmly into my heart.
The first few weeks were certainly a lesson for both of us. Arthur came to me straight from the racing track and so had literally never set paw in a house before, he had no clue how to behave in a home. Lesson number one for me came about an hour after his arrival when I decided a cup of coffee would be nice only to end up wearing it after being pounced upon carrying it through from the kitchen. Meals for the first week or so, for me, were eaten from the corner of the worktop with my back turned to an eager pooch who thought any food was his food. Arthur, having most likely been group fed up to now practically inhaled his meals, I did find myself questioning once or twice if there had definitely been food in the bowl I’d just put down for him as it disappeared before I had chance to see it.
The first few nights were also very sleepless for both of us. Right up to Arthur’s arrival I had not decided whether he would have a bed and sleep in my bedroom or whether he would sleep in the crate I had set up for him in my spare room (open of course). I went to bed that first night leaving Arthur in the hallway with access to his bed/crate in the spare room, but the second I closed the door the barking started. Each time I went out to him he was more frantic, panting heavily and obviously quite distressed being left alone in this new and unfamiliar place. I decided within less than an hour that I couldn’t possibly leave him in that state and so from the first night and every night since he has slept in my room.
The first sign that Arthur was starting to properly settle was on the 6th night when he came into the bedroom and promptly went to sleep. This was to be Arthur’s best night sleep since he arrived and absolutely my worst. Until now, where ever I went, Arthur followed. If I got up in the night, Arthur followed. If I went to the loo, Arthur waited right outside barking until I reappeared. On this 6th night, that didn’t happen. I got up, Arthur stayed put – eyes closed sleeping soundly. I called his name from the kitchen, he didn’t come. I went and sat next to him, first gently stroking, then more vigorous shaking, Arthur barely opened an eye. The poor boy was exhausted and clearly finally felt at home and ready to have a proper sleep, but in the early hours of the morning, in my very active imagination, I decided he must be seriously ill… dying… Oh my god, I couldn’t even keep this poor dog alive for a week, six days with me and he was dying.
By 4 am I had worked myself in to such a frenzy of panic I decided I had to call someone – my mum. I begged her to come over, explaining Arthur was seriously ill and must be taken to the vet immediately, she wasn’t driving at the time due to a recent surgery so called a taxi and came rushing over. The minute she walked through the door, Arthur, having now had several hours of lovely restful sleep, woke up and went bouncing to the door to meet her. I promptly burst in tears out of sheer relief. That was the moment I knew it. This beautiful boy had well and truly captured every single ounce of my heart. A quick check up at the vet that following afternoon confirmed all was definitely well and Arthur and I settled in to life together. Over the next few months Arthur blossomed. We worked on his manners around the house and he was soon behaving (for the most part) like a gentleman.
Having Arthur has opened up a whole new world for me. I have met and come to know more of my neighbours in the time I have had him than in the 7 years I lived here before he arrived. Having health and mobility problems myself it was always easier to just spend weekends indoors but since Arthur’s arrival I have spent so much more time outdoors, looking for parks and other nice locations to take Arthur, these have to be wheelchair / scooter accessible for me, but we have found so many lovely places to take him. Arthur’s favourite thing in the world is a car ride, the second he realises he is going in the car his excitement is uncontainable, so distance is no object. My main criterion now for looking for somewhere nice to eat out is not what the food is like, but do they allow dogs. Arthur loves nothing more than a ride out in the car, a nice walk in a lovely park followed by a nice pub lunch, where he is always impeccably behaved and always the centre of much attention and admiration.
Arthur is such a beautiful, happy and sweet natured soul. I have read that greyhounds can be standoffish with strangers. Arthur clearly doesn’t know this, he is the friendliest dog I have ever met. Wherever we go he wants to say hello to everyone and they instantly adore him. He also has such a playful and goofy personality, he loves his toys, he has a toy box overflowing with them and when he’s not doing what greyhounds do best (snoozing) he can often be found bouncing round the house with some squeaky toy or another or doing zoomies at 100mph round the garden.
It is difficult to imagine now that Arthur hasn’t been a pet and lived in a house his whole life. He is so settled into his happy little life and routine. He no longer wolfs his food but rather happily saunters over to his dish in his own good time. I can eat with a tray on my knee on the sofa if I want to without even so much as a look from Arthur. Each evening Arthur has a treat at 7 o’clock on the dot (believe me, he reminds me if it’s late), following this, there is a quick visit to the garden for essential business and then Arthur takes himself off to bed. I often pop my head round the door if I’m passing, to be met by one of my favourite sights, a roaching greyhound, fast asleep, all four legs in the air and just a long upside-down bobble nose and grinning teeth poking over the top of the bed, this is a sight that truly melts my heart.
Adopting Arthur was without a doubt the best thing I have ever done. He has completely changed my life and I honestly cannot imagine my world without him. I read an article recently in which the author discussed what she called ‘heart dogs’. She explained it that we will often have many dogs through our lives that we love dearly but most people are only lucky enough only have one ‘heart dog’. This is the dog with which we truly connect, the one that completely and utterly steals our heart, the doggy equivalent of a soul mate. Arthur is most definitely my ‘heart dog’.
Arthur and I had a tough few months at the end of last year, I had a major health scare and had bad news regarding the health of a close family member as well as the threat of redundancy, which thankfully didn’t happen. Arthur also had his own health problems and had to undergo surgery. Thankfully we both came through OK and I am sure this was in no small part due to the love and support we both find in each other. Speaking for myself, I don’t think I could have made it through those months without Arthur. No matter how bad things seem, one look at his face, that long nose and those beautiful big brown eyes and I know that I can make it through whatever life throws at me. I have to for his sake because he needs me too.
We also have a big year ahead of us this year. Arthur needs one more surgery which is coming up in April, hopefully we can then put his health issues behind us. We have also decided that we would like a house with no stairs in the garden and to live nearer my mum (Arthur really loves his grandma and wants to see her more than he already does) and so we have a house move coming up soon too. Despite the stress of moving, I am really looking forward to the move, I know it is going to be better for Arthur and for myself and I am sure he will settle just fine after a day or two, once he knows it’s our new home. Most of all I am just excited for the future and the fact that I get to share it with this beautiful gentle giant of a dog, my gorgeous King Arthur.