Monday, February 25, 2008

Greyhounds are not Labrador Retrievers....

I found myself in dumbfound astonishment with my own actions today. I work across the street from a beautiful public park with long trails, deep woods, and a creek that all the dogs love to play in. One of my fellow employees and I decided to take our dogs to go play at the creek for lunch, it was really pretty outside today and it has been a while since we had been on an adventure with the furry kids.
Off we set; the two labs (Bingo and Narley), sweet little Rags, and my wonderful greyhound (Dan). We reached the creek in no time after pausing for a few great pictures in the sun and leaves. We crawled down the hill and in went Bingo and Narley diving off the bridge and splashing around in the creek. I led Dan down to the water and let him off his leash so the two rambunctious labs wouldn't get him tangled. Dan played around for a moment and then walked a little farther down. I quickly called him back and he came tail wagging. He playfully turned from me and took off in a little trot, I thought he was going to run a little way and turn and come back...he didn't.

Nose to the ground he was tracking something and he was well ahead of my friend and I. I called but he didn't come this time. Off he went, through the woods and he was gone. Fear instantly hit me as I started to remember all the warnings I had not heeded, all the horrific stories I had heard. Why, Why had I ignored my common sense? We tried to follow him but the woods were thick and the trails split. Greyhounds don't leave as large of foot prints as one might want when you are trying to decide which way they went. The woods opened into a large field, no Dan to be seen. My heart was pounding and my hands shaking as I kept calling as calmly as possible. He had his tattoos, his tag and collar, and his microchip, but the realization that all that didn't matter if he found the road before I could find him. I called my office with my cell and my friend went to get her car, I found myself frantic as that it had been twenty minutes since I had last seen Dan take off up the hill. I climbed through the woods and toward some dogs barking hoping Dan had gone to see who they were. With luck there were people there I told them of my missing boy and they said they would keep and eye out.

At this point it had been 45 minutes, I was about in tears because Dan could be long gone and here I am covering such a small portion of ground. I climbed one more hill and started calling again trying to choke back the tears because I realized this was MY fault and I couldn't yell as loud if I were crying. Then I looked up to see my BEAUTIFUL GREYHOUND! He was walking very slowly toward me, very obviously worn out. I don't know what he was tracking or if he found it, I do know he was overheated but otherwise unharmed! How lucky, luck is the only word for it. I grabbed him in a big hug and finally let myself break down.

All the obedience training and time we have spent together meant nothing today. I suddenly realized 'I have a hound'. Hounds have been bred for centuries to track and hunt prey independent of their handlers. That is their purpose, that is what is in their genes. My friend's labs on the other hand (whom are wonderfully behaved and during all this time were listening to every command) were bred to retrieve things, you know 'I throw it you bring it back'. They were bred to be dependent on their handlers to bring the prey back.

I (now feeling very stupid and greytful) have one: resolved to work harder on my recalls with Dan, two: will never ever try to kill my Grey again by letting him off leash in an unsecured area, and three: will be buying a squawker just in case I may ever need it. I know the squawker would have at least gotten his attention as he was ignoring my calls.

Please learn from my mistakes.
-Brittany Barner

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