“Good things come to those who wait” Trusty is a beautiful, large tuxedo male with a very gentle disposition. Right now he’s finding the transition from track life to home-life a little overwhelming and is displaying an extremely shy demeanor, bordering on spookiness. He seems most comfortable with other greyhounds and so far interacting with my dogs is the only thing that gets his tail wagging. Trusty will only come out of the crate if he thinks no one is looking and when I enter the room he retreats either into the crate or behind a chair: whichever is closest. I have found I can lure him part-way out with treats lined up on the floor, but he will not take a treat from my hand yet. He makes eye contact and I believe he wants to be more trusting of humans and may warm up more as he becomes accustomed to all the new sights and sounds. Besides being beautiful, he is cat-safe, eats and drinks with gusto, whines if he has to go potty and sleeps all night quietly in his crate.
Trusty did not race due to an unusual front-leg break. The bones have fused together, but he has no limp and this will not affect his suitability as a pet.
Update: 02/10/09 – Trusty is warming up quite nicely. He seems to still be afraid of new things until he gets used to them, but after 2 or 3 introductions to new stimuli he’s fine. He’s spending a lot more time outside his crate now, playing with toys, hanging out on dog beds, wagging his tail and he even comes to greet me when I come into the room. But he still likes greetings to be on his terms. If I approach him, he will back away – he’s still a little hand-shy. He readily accepts treats from my hand though and we are working on petting him all over while giving him lots of yummy treats to get him to accept touching better. Occasionally, he will approach me to ask to limited petting. He’s an extremely happy dog who likes to explore in his own time and loves to collect toys (socks, slippers, books, remotes) in his crate. He loves to steal things when I’m not looking.
He is reliably house-broken and eats and crates well. Trusty complains loudly when he’s left out, for instance if I take one or two of my dogs out for a walk and leave him behind. He’s very happy when his turn comes and goes potty on lead as soon as we get outside. He’s walking quite nicely and really enjoys being outside. He’s still not too keen on car rides or scary parking lots.
Check Trusty out. He pays off patience by learning to trust and it’s really fun to watch him blossom!
Update: 3/10/09 – Trusty is completely comfortable with us now. He enjoys petting and snuggling together when we are watching TV or just hanging out. He’s also started learning a few basic obedience commands. He has learned to lie quietly in his crate when I say “lay down” and waits to be released or until food is given before getting up. He has also learned “wait” at doors and doesn’t go out until released. And he is most proud of learning “sit” and will happily do it over and over for a treat. Trusty knows his name and is making great eye contact. However, new situations, environments and strange dogs/cars/kids on our daily walks continue to be stressors for Trusty. He doesn’t mind riding in the car, but is really anxious in new places, preferring instead to stay at home. I believe he will be happiest in a home with another confident dog and will thrive once he becomes comfortable. His main limitation is going to continue to be new, scary things, people, and places. He would be perfectly happy to be a stay-at-home dog. He is very well behaved and mostly low-key in the house. He does love to pick up a stuffy and shake the dickens out of it and still collects his treasures in his crate or on a bed. He will probably never outgrow his little stealing habit. Trusty’s greatest hope is to find a family of his very own who will love him as he is.
Update 6/19/09 – Trusty just completed six weeks of Greyhound Only Class at Trainer’s Academy and has his diploma to prove it! GEM felt that an obedience class would help him gain some confidence. Although Trusty is still terribly shy and has a great deal of difficulty in new environments/situations, he did beautifully in class after he got past the initial fear. The first week he was so terrified he had to be pushed and pulled through the door and by week 6 was entering the classroom willingly with little encouragement. He got to know the other dogs, trainers and handlers in class and really got into the swing of things there once he realized that there were lots of treats to be had!
Trusty is very intelligent and highly food motivated. He proved to be an apt student as he learned many commands, including sit, down, wait, watch, touch, come, stop, stay, go to your bed (crate) and he even knows how to take a bow on command (this is very cute). I am really proud of the new things he has learned and Devene Godau at Trainer’s Academy did a great job of making learning fun and low key for Trusty so he could become comfortable in class.
Trusty still has a way to go, but has shown a great deal of interest in learning new things and will continue to grow in confidence and ability with an experienced dog owner who is patient and willing to introduce him to new things slowly and who also realizes that he will probably never be completely comfortable in stressful environments and situations.
Good boy, Trusty!!!
Update 6/4/10 – I am pleased to announce that Trusty, a/k/a Trusty Tuxedo, Trusty McCrusty, and Bouncy-Pouncy was adopted today by me!
For those of you who don’t know, I lost my dear friend, Clue on November 6, 2008, just shortly after his 8th birthday, when he failed to wake up from anesthesia after his dental. Clue was my heart dog and I experienced grief like I had never known before. I cried so much that I was starting to think something was wrong with me to be grieving the death of a dog even months later. I cried at the drop of a hat at work, in the grocery store, just about anywhere and at any time without warning. I was grateful that my husband worked afternoons at the time because it meant that I could come home from work at night and cry until I was cried out each night.
When I lost him I wondered if I would ever love another dog as much as I had loved Clue and decided that it was probably not possible. I cursed the unfairness of him being taken from me when he was still so young, and from his friends he had made as a therapy dog. The Hospice patient he had visited loved him very much and I wondered how it came to pass that he should have died before she had. I tried to coax myself into believing that I had been the lucky one who had at least gotten to know what it’s like to have a heart dog – that many people go through their entire lives without ever loving a dog like I had loved Clue. I sent letters to his racing owner, Eddie Woods, and also to the Highland Township Library to tell them of Clue’s death because I couldn’t make the phone calls without falling apart.
I missed doing therapy dog work and I though that if I had another therapy dog, well, at least that would give me something to do besides just crying all day long, so in January of 2009 I discussed with Helen beginning to look for another dog with a suitable personality for therapy work. She sent me a weblink to Kate Bressler’s next haul out of Kansas and I picked three boys who looked like they might fit the bill and finally settled on Trusty for a couple of reasons. One was that his short bio said he was playful and friendly. The second was that he was a black tuxedo, nothing like Clue who had been a white parti-dog. I kept reminding myself that this dog was not to be a replacement for Clue, because no dog could ever fill that void, only to be a therapy dog because I needed to have some meaningful work to take my mind of my grief.
Trusty came and he turned out to be playful and friendly ONLY in environments where he is 100% comfortable and it apparently takes several months for him to become comfortable with anyone or in a new place. He was and still is terrified of strangers and even more terrified of children. I also failed to connect with him in any meaningful way because, well, he just wasn’t Clue and my heart was still so broken that no one or thing could take away that pain. Trusty’s shyness, however, was a beast that needed to be tackled if he were to ever become adoptable. Helen and I decided to give Trainer’s Academy a shot and he did remarkably well, considering how scary it was for him. He learned all his basic obedience commands and demonstrated good confidence when he took his test. The ride in the car was always torture for him and I knew this was no therapy dog – not now, not ever.
Once he graduated I had high hopes for him learning to greet strangers and maybe even children eventually. I asked my neighbors to help out be keeping treats on hand when they were out in their gardens and two of them actually did. It took him an entire summer to get used to my next-door-neighbor, Carol and he never got completely okay with the other neighbor who has a 14 year old son. That proved to be too much for Trusty. He now has also accepted a second neighbor who has a beagle mix that is friendly toward Trusty. I guess a friendly dog must automatically give a person a pass in his little mind. He has never gotten much further with car rides and he is still terrified of children.
Since his initial training I have decided that it was more cruel than anything else to keep pushing him to accept more people and situations that were hard for him to handle and over time I decided that the most important thing was for Trusty to be happy, not for him to be molded into anybody’s idea of what he ought to be. Since being with us, his little world has grown to include walking past up to six houses on our street while the kids are in school and he knows when he tugs to go back home I will not force him to go any further. We have crossed the street back and forth to avoid scary things or situations and he trusts me to keep him safe and I believe that’s why he is now willing to walk even past houses where he knows children reside. To many people this wouldn’t be much of a dog and I admit I even have times when I wish he could be more confident but now it’s only because I’d love to bring him to a meet & greet to take him to the Lilac Festival to show off my beautiful, shiny boy.
He has grown to be a silly, funny ham at home. He chases the cat and tries to engage her in play and is repeatedly baffled when our little 7# Shelby doesn’t want to have a romp in the living room with 78# himself! He has a squeaker toy that he plays with after every walk and he looks around the room sadly if “squeaker man” gets lost under the sofa. We joke that Trusty has a watch because he expects his daily long walk promptly at 3:30 every day and if I am not ready in time he barks and barks until I get his harness on for the event. His afternoon walk is the highlight of his day and we walk in the woods and trails near my house where there are usually no strangers or kids in sight. The few people we encounter know him and his story and people have been very accommodating about taking a different path or stepping of f the path enough to allow him to pass without being afraid. I have asked people not to approach him or reach toward him on the rare occasion we meet someone and people are remarkably kind and understanding. Trusty has learned to trust that I will not allow him to get cornered in any way.
Last summer I lost my job and then Brian retired in the fall and we had to become used to a new financial life that is very different from what it was before when we both had high-paying jobs. I am in nursing school now and we have adjusted out lifestyle to our new lower annual income. I began to know sometime last fall that I wanted to keep Trusty here with me and I was already beginning to feel then that moving him to a new home would be quite traumatic. But we had no idea what our new financial life was going to mean to us at tax time and didn’t feel we could adopt him not knowing if we were going to end up with a huge tax bill on April 15th. A couple of inquiries came in but didn’t pan out and each time I was secretly relieved. But I knew my luck couldn’t hold out forever.
Well, just a few weeks ago Brian and I got our tax return back from the accountant and discovered we did not owe the government a huge sum and, in fact, they owed us a huge sum, which we just received and put aside in an account for the dogs so we don’t have to worry about too much before I graduate and begin earning a salary again. Then, on Wednesday I got an email from the board saying that someone expressed an interest in Trusty; someone who has experience with shy dogs, who was going to put in an application for him. I emailed back asking who this person is, although it didn’t much matter to me, I was just trying to buy some time. It’s funny how panicky you can get when you realize there is a real threat that someone else could come along and adopt your dog. Yes, I said my dog. You see, I had begun thinking of Trusty as mine a long time ago and I had put off adopting him because I wasn’t sure I could be financially responsible for him. But now, I knew I could and I had to get home to discuss the situation with Brian. I was in a panic! I couldn’t imagine what would happen to Trusty if he had to start the whole process of learning to trust a new stranger in a new home and I also wondered if I would die a thousand deaths again like I did when Clue died. And that’s when I realized that it IS possible to have a second heart dog!
I don’t know exactly when this happened. I have had more than a few friends tell me that they have known all along and I suppose somewhere in my heart I have known for a long time too. I thought I had been luckier than anyone else in the world to have had a dog like Clue and I used to tell him that everyone in the world only had their second choice because I had him. I now feel the very same way about Trusty. And somehow I think it may be partly because Trusty is not the dog Clue was; he’s different in every way. As different as day and night you might say even, but I know this: I have been luckier than most just in the fact of having had Clue and now I am luckier still because I have found a heart dog again.\
Some people may think I’m wrong to protect Trusty in this little sterilized world we have created for him, where he doesn’t have to go scary places or meet scary people or even walk any further than his comfort level on any given day allows, but I truly believe every dog has a personality and abilities that are unique, just like people do. Not everyone is a natural public speaker and not every dog is a natural at socializing. I feel its part of my responsibility as Trusty’s mom to keep him feeling safe and secure as well as keeping him healthy and providing shelter and food. What’s the life of a dog, if not being happy?
And I realized today just what some of Trusty’s little habits remind me of – the way he knows walk time is 3:30 and he knows bed time is when the kettle whistles at night and he hides behind the arm chair when it rains. Every single thing has a time or a ritual that seems to be very important to him. Then it hit me – Rain Man! Just like Dustin Hoffman’s portrayal of an autistic man who had to watch Jeopardy at a certain time every day, so Trusty has his little habits that cannot be compromised or his little world is turned upside down. Maybe dogs can be autistic too and maybe they just need to be loved by someone who can accept them for just what they are capable of being and who can see them for the beautiful, shiny, wonderful, silly goofs they can be when they feel safe and loved. Trusty is playful and friendly – but only a few of us get to see that.
I am now only a little sad that he couldn’t be the therapy dog that I had hoped for, but now that I am in nursing school I will be able to give to children and old ladies in a different way soon. And I am a little sad for you because you only have your second choice dog.
Trusty is even now laying behind my chair, where apparently even the scariest thunderstorm is not so bad, and chewing on his new “squeaker man”, a happy dog, and as well-adjusted as he needs to be to be the perfect dog to me. Please welcome Trusty McCrusty, Bouncy-Pouncy Carey as the latest GEM who is home forever! And if you have ever wondered if it’s possible to have two heart dogs in one lifetime, it is.