401(Grey) Investor

Peter and Margaret Mary Morris

Foster Family

Tuesday October 20, 2020

Ginger Update

Darcie here, Ginger's foster mom. It has taken a few weeks to get Ginger adjusted to home life after she was surrendered and spent a month in a vet clinic in Birmingham. She is a passionate girl and feels deeply, so she was feeling deeply out of sorts and afraid for a while. I imagine she wondered if she’d ever be a pet again! She needed time to decompress before anything was asked of her. Fortunately, it was clear right away that she’d been trained to walk well on leash and listen to commands, so we were able to give her space while still walking her (since we don’t have a yard). She ate like a champ and chose her crate often to rest. She seemed to want to get on the couch, but we weren’t going to allow that until we figured out her triggers.

In those first couple of weeks, Ginger was obedient and submissive unless we got into her space (her crate or anywhere she was sleeping) or she felt unsafe, then she would growl and bare her teeth. She did not want to be forced physically into things, like climbing the stairs. While most greyhounds do fine with some hands-on coaxing, she was not one of those hounds. But she would obey verbal commands if she understood them. Without knowing anything about her previous home other than she supposedly snapped at someone, it took time to figure out if she has a real aggression issue or if she was just temporarily out of sorts. That growl and snarl can be scary from one of these otherwise gentle giants! We all had to learn to trust each other.

The flip side was that Ginger also snapped and “smiled” (baring teeth in a kind of crazy grin) when she was excited and wanted attention. So my theory was she just hadn’t learned that the way to get or stop attention is not with her mouth. She craved our attention and petting, nudging us with her nose or pawing at us, but she would snap or smile at us or neighbors if she was really excited. It was becoming clear that she was just an intense personality! And that she loved people but had some kind of bad experience that left her in the limbo of wanting love but being torn about how to go about getting it safely.

Add to all this, Ginger seemed to have some pain in her hind end (possibly because of an increase in exercise), and the poor girl caught a stomach bug a couple of weeks into her stay with us. This complicated the process of discerning between the true Ginger and the Ginger who didn’t feel well.

Thankfully we have an amazing resource in another adopter who has studied behavior analysis and been applying her knowledge to some of our “spooky” hounds. With her help, we determined what Ginger’s triggers are and how to set her up to win. Ginger got to feeling better and we trained ourselves to respect her space and eliminate fearful situations. Since we’ve been consistently applying those behaviors in our relationship with her, it’s been amazing to see her remember how to be a pet again! (Gaining access to the couch helped too!) Ginger has learned to trust and know that her world can be safe and her boundaries respected. She has settled in and become more easygoing with all the people and dogs she encounters. She’s acting more and more like a typical calm and confident hound.

Ginger might always need this specific care in order to feel safe, but we’ve seen her make a lot of progress and prove to be flexible and teachable. She’s very smart—the smartest hound I’ve known—which makes her a joy to work and play with but also means she does best with work to do and mental stimulation once she gets to that equilibrium of feeling safe and at home. We’ve begun working on the “down,” “stay,” “wait,” and “come” commands, and she is picking them up quickly! She will do the hound thing of sleeping all day, but she will thrive in an environment where she also has variety (a yard and walks, car rides, new places and smells, possibly exploration toys) and plenty of people to love on her. She loves to go on walks and will be restless and bug us if she thinks she needs more outside time. In a yard she wants to run with someone or see other people and dogs walking by… she gets bored if there’s no interaction! She is hilarious and goofy and as we’ve seen her personality come out, it shines. She has not been around children yet, but our guess is she would do better with older kids who could respect her space and needs. She seems to like certain dogs but she definitely wants to be the alpha and would need a gradual introduction and careful monitoring for everyone’s safety. She’s been an only dog in our home but we’ve worked with her on respectfully interacting with many dogs in our neighborhood.

Our helpful behavior analysis adopter has remained in communication and offered her help going forward. We will also be available to share in more detail what Ginger needs. She’s a lovely girl who will add a lot of joy and spunk to the right household.

Tuesday September 8, 2020

Welcome Ginger!

Hi everyone! Ginger here. At least that's what the people are calling me. Foster Mom and Dad said they're sad they don't know what my previous family called me, but they decided I'm sweet and a little spicy so Ginger fits. I looooove people, my crate, meals and treats, new adventures, and they say I listen well. I prefer nonstop scratches if you're nearby and I'm not afraid to ask for them by nudging your hand. The spicy part comes when I meet other dogs--I give them a little growl and sass. The people still aren't sure if this is just my personality and I'm excited or if it's because I'm fighting off some infection and feeling icky. Even though I don't feel well I'm still trying to be a good girl so I can find my forever home and chill out forever.

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