Thursday, May 26, 2011

My Blue Angel

Only he has not much to be blue about these days ^_^.

CGC test a week from Monday...still practicing, but doing well.

Also, his coat is shiner than ever.

Today, I also essentially wrote a novella for the GEGR forum on how and why I got Ferguson, and because I put so much into it, I'll go ahead and post it here. If you already know the story, feel free to skip along.

Enjoy the weekend!

"Since I was 15, I raised and trained Labradors for Guiding Eyes for the Blind. I would receive puppies at 8-9 weeks of age and socialize and train them extensively for the first year and a half of their lives before returning them to the guide dog school for even more training to become official service dogs. This worked out for me at the time, being in high school and unable to fully dedicate to having a permanent dog, and also got me much more involved in training with hands on experience and professional classes than I ever anticipated.

While I did bond deeply with my dogs (one of which I am still hoping to have back at the end of her guide dog career), there were many things about the labs, all being adolescents, that I found frustrating over time to deal with. For example, guide dogs must absolutely remain calm around other dogs, people, etc. for obvious reasons, but the number of repetitions it would take to simply get a doofy pup to calmly pass a stranger during class I found to be tiresome. Everything about life they take with such ridiculous enthusiasm, and just does not suit my own personality for my own personal pet. I also knew I'd want a dog that did not need 3 miles of walking every day to remain balanced and happy. Don't get me wrong, I loved many of the dogs I raised, but as a general rule, feel that the energy level and goofy temperament of the lab was not a perfect fit.

With my experience, I aided others with casual training and worked with terriers, shepherds, hounds, etc. What I found was that most people that had trouble with their dogs also had dogs that really were not a good match for their temperaments and energy levels...something I definitely didn't want to happen to me. So many people adopt dogs based on flashy or cute looks, but don't consider the dog's genetic background and what it takes to make that dog complete...until it is too late of course, and the dog and their owners often suffer as result.

When my graduation from college came nearer, I had decided I wanted a dog, but my own PERMANENT dog that I would never have to return. I also wanted a dog that would reflect my calmer personality, as well as being a prime example of what I wanted out of dogs I would train in the future, aiding me with their rehabilitation/redirection of behavior by simply being themselves and respecting my authority without question. For those of you who know Cesar Milan, I was searching for my own "Daddy" dog, if you will. Also, being a firm believer in adoption, I would only consider a dog in which I could rescue. However, with such demands, finding a low key, mellow, healthy, and fairly young dog was hardly an easy feat. I expressed my wishes to my boyfriend, and he immediately recommended the greyhound. His grandparents owned them in the past, and he always knew them for being docile, friendly, and, of course, lazy. I started my research, and was sold in no time. Here was a dog that was bred for thousands of years to be docile, healthy, and of course, a sprinter. I was pleased to learn I would have no trouble fulfilling a greyhound's needs as long as they had occasional opportunities to run and get a minimum of 30 minutes of walking each day. Once I decided, I became obsessed and enthusiastic about my eventual adoption (which, at this point, was more than 6 months away). Being a knitter, I even found a greyhound pattern and made my future dog a sweater...I priced out everything, made a budget, and started collecting dog things for my birthday and Christmas, so that when the time came, I would have everything I needed. (and yes, everyone else thought I was nuts ;) ).

The hunt began with me looking for a small young female, a white one with patches of black or brown or brindle. The size of the female appealed to me more, but the main reason was the fear of marking; my parent's adopted westie rudely marks things all the time, particularly in new environments, which would just not suit me, as I planned to take the dog with me to visit friends and travel. I located several females that might potentially work for me, but I was regularly halted by the adoption groups and their policies; they all insisted that they would select a dog for me, bring it to my house, and that would be it. "Well, I'd much rather get to meet a few dogs, see them interact with other dogs to get a feel for their natural pecking order, and also have something to compare to," I'd try explain. The answer was the same for three adoption groups. "We ask you to trust our judgement in selecting dogs, as we are experts at identifying good candidates for you." For ME?! They don't even know me! How could they do that?! Being the dog-snob that I am, I refused this form of adoption with the belief that I have met many dogs that have been good dogs, but were not naturally on my wave-length; I wanted to find a dog that could do this without having to feel sorry for returning it to the rescue at no fault of the dog. I continued my hunt, and finally found GEGR. Yes, Prince Frederick was much farther away than many of the others, but the adoption policy allowed me to meet several dogs and choose one (!). I emailed the given address and heard back from Lisa:

[color=#400080]Hi Jennifer,

Thanks for contacting GEGR. Although there are groups that are closer to you we would be happy to work with you. We do ask that our first time adopters do travel to Lusby, MD to meet and adopt their dog. The application process does not take long - usually not more than a couple of weeks so if December is your time-line then you can wait a while before submitting your application. In the mean time you can visit some of our meet and greets and get to know our volunteers and ask questions about our group if you would like to do that.

We do adopt to families with children. The dog that you describe is out there and will not be hard to find. GEGR works really hard to match dogs with adopters and we will be happy to help you find a good match.

We will look forward to hearing from you. Please let me know if you have any more questions.


I was thrilled and sure this was the group for me. When the time finally came, I immediately submitted my application, got approved, and was ready to meet the dogs on January 8th. As I mentioned, up until this point, I'd been fairly set on a female; we had a name picked out and everything. But, as I more deeply researched and read the blogs of the available dogs, I found myself very drawn to a big red Ferguson! I loved everything Chris had to say about him, and while he wasn't white with patches, the red color was mentioned on my application as one I liked. I knew I needed to keep an open mind, since meeting the dog in person would be the moment of truth, but Ferguson stayed in the back of my mind for the next few days...

When my parents, Eric and I arrived on that snowy, windy day in January, we went to the door and were asked what dog was on our list of potential good matches. I immediately asked for Ferguson, and out he and Chris came, all bundled up. The first thing I noticed about Ferguson was how HUGE he was...much taller than I expected. However, I also noted his sense of calm. There was so much chaos and activity around him, but he never lost his cool for one second. He sniffed my parent's Westie, and then completely ignored him. He walked with us willingly, calm and steady, though would look back occasionally at Chris, showing his sense of attachment towards those he loves. He also walked like a DREAM. :cloud9: Something that mattered a lot to me, a big promoter of walking dogs. Ferguson was definitely on my wave-length, but since I had met so few greyhounds, I took Chris's advice and met a few others to compare him to before making a final decision. We met "Nana" next, a gorgeous yet very shy girl who just came off the track, then Pal's Superdog (Now Finn, I believe ;) ), and Dakota Jones, also right off the track. I got it down to Superdog, Ferg, and Dakota, but ultimately, there was just something special about Ferguson that I couldn't deny. As Eric put it, "He's just so mellow. In all this chaos, he keeps it together and doesn't give two $hI+$ about any of it. I think he's the best choice for us." He was my boy, and while I very much liked the other dogs, it seemed like they were waiting for someone else (and I was right!).

Ferguson came home with us that night, and we've never looked back since. He is everything I wanted in a dog and is my perfect angel. Up until a few weeks ago, his only flaw was the "Cry" in his racing name ("Cry Ferguson") that made leaving him alone difficult, but has since been resolved with no more issues :cheerleader:. I will never be able to thank GEGR enough for bringing us together in such a perfect match. Even though it's only been six months, I can't imagine being with out him :heart: We were truly a match made in heaven :cloud9:"

No comments: