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Living with a greyhound – the cat owners’ perspective

In July 2007 we decided we would like a dog – we have two cats, aged twelve and nine – in fact we have always had cats. We never thought it fair to have a dog while we were both working but as I decided to give up a very stressful job in June last year it gave me both the time and the inclination to start looking.

By chance I came across the Monmore Green RGT website and its rehoming page. That was it – all those beautiful dogs just waiting for loving homes. My husband and I were hooked! I had some misgivings – several people said ‘don’t have a greyhound if you have cats’ and ‘all dogs chase cats but a greyhound can catch them.’

Not one for being easily dissuaded I went to meet Alison and Andy who said that an unraced dog would be fine but that if we chose one we should have him for a few days to see how he and the cats got on.

The following week two unraced dogs arrived at the kennels and we both went to see them. They were brothers – both blue – both beautiful and the choice was difficult. We can’t explain why but there was just something extra special about Comet.

A few days later we collected him for an afternoon – we did not introduce him to the cats at this point mainly because we felt that it would be too much too soon. When the time came to take him back to the kennels we didn’t want him to go.

He came to us for a week before we officially adopted him and though he didn’t like the cats he was not aggressive with them - he barked at them sometimes but he had already begun to understand the word ‘no’ which we said very firmly making sure that we had eye contact with him. They were not left together unsupervised because it’s not only the personality of the dog to be concerned about – cats can be very stubborn and unaccepting of strangers. Henry, the nine year old neutered male cat stood his ground and spat at the dog even though the dog was not doing anything wrong – it was a warning. Jasmine, the twelve year old female took a different approach and stayed out of the dog’s way, weighing him up from a distance and not being confrontational. The greyhound, having seen Henry’s claws, seemed more nervous of the cats than anything else – intelligent dog!!

We adopted him and changed his name to Mr. Darcy (after the character in ‘Pride and Prejudice – tall, dark and handsome!) Darcy was housetrained within forty eight hours - we had no mess at all. As I said he learned the word ‘no’ – though he is very tall and at eye level with the dining table he no longer even attempts to steal. He knows that we eat first and he is always fed immediately afterwards so mealtimes are not a problem.

In fact, there are no problems. He is a wonderful, happy, loving dog who likes nothing better than to please. He will walk for miles if you want him to or he will walk for twenty minutes! He wants to be with you all the time – go anywhere near your coat and he begins bouncing around with delight at the thought of going out.

Wherever we go people want to stop and ask about him – ‘where did you get him from?’ Is a frequently asked question and we advertise the Trust at every opportunity.

We have had Darcy for seven months now and he and the cats have come to an understanding – they wander around when he is there and they eat at the same time.

The cats are not excluded and they are not afraid of him. Darcy knows that they live here.

If you have a cat and you are worried about having a greyhound these would be my tips:

Have an unraced dog.

Don’t expect overnight acceptance or miracles.

Introduce them gradually and have lots of patience.

Don’t try to force them to be friends – let them get to know each other in their own time.

When they begin to accept each other, feed them together – food is a great leveller.

I honestly believe, in the majority of cases – they will sort themselves out.

You will also find that if you have any queries or concerns you can go and chat to Alison, Andy, Trev, Kay, Jo or volunteers at the Trust – when you adopt a greyhound you are not just cut adrift.

Greyhounds are very intelligent dogs and we found Darcy very easy to train – as I said earlier he is eager to please.

As the months have passed his mischievous side has emerged – he has a passion for cushions, fluffy scarves and squeaky toys – he loves to play. He and our daughter’s Manchester Terrier, Percy, are great friends – like children they copy each other, they play together and it’s obvious they are having great fun!

Darcy also gets on very well with my small nieces and nephews - I think children should be taught to respect animals. When Darcy goes to have a lie down on one of his beds they understand that that is his quiet place – his space.

If you want a dog, we would definitely recommend a greyhound because the greyhound has a superb temperament and has a lot of love to give. Just one word of caution – when you go to the kennels, beware - I guarantee you will want to take all of them home with you!

If you have cats and you would like a greyhound I hope reading about our experience helps.

Darcy is almost three years old, and after seven months we can’t imagine life without him – he is a joy to have around.

Carole and Brian

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