Finding the Right Homes for Retired Hounds in the Delaware, Maryland, D.C., Virginia Area ...and Beyond!
Prince Frecklebum's Foster Files - Volume 1by Ron Powell
~~ For southern Maryland, it was a typical early fall morning. There was a decided chill in the air, dew clung to grass and mist rose from the water nearby. The volunteers hauling the dogs had called ahead and even now they were making their way down the long driveway to Greyhound Central. The car doors opened. Volunteers hustled out with their charges. Ten muzzled faces looked around, slightly bewildered. The eleventh muzzled face, which belonged to a big fawn male, looked around placidly. The dogs took care of some outstanding business and were lead (coaxed, bribed, pulled, dragged or carried in some cases) down a set of concrete steps. It was here that the familiar chaos of dog hauls and Adoption Day truly began. Dogs were ushered about, bathed, groomed, put into crates and were made ready to meet a whole flock of new people. Signs bearing their names were put on the cages. Volunteers were marshalled and information was exchanged. All was as ready as human endeavour could accomplish.
The first adopters began to show up. They were led about from place to place and were finally taken outside to meet the dogs that had been matched to their application profiles. All told, 8 families showed up and 9 dogs were adopted out thanks to a couple with twins who wanted a pair of dogs to sort of keep with the family theme. After the last family left and as the day's activities wound down, there were two dogs that needed to be fostered. There was some discussion about which dog to place with which foster. The foster families took their newly assigned dogs and went home to begin the process of teaching track dogs how to be good family dogs.
When the car pulled into the garage, the big fawn male got up and waited very patiently for the humans to leash him up and allow him to jump down. They lead him out to the fenced in back yard, around the flower bed and the bird bath. They let him off the leash and he trotted around, sniffing and looking around. They called and he ran back over to them, whereupon they lead him into the house. There were two dogs standing there, tails wagging. They sniffed around a bit, muzzles were removed and the humans went into the next room to check on grandma and the kids.
The male dog of the waiting pair introduced himself.
"My name is Prince Frecklebum, Greyhound Detective. I wasn't always a detective. I was a racer once, before I retired. My track name was Occam's Razor of Lightspeed Doom. You can call me Prince. Most of the humans around these parts do."
Lady immediately chimed in with "Hey, I'm Lady. My track name was Maury and Arty's Heart of Treachery, but I'm retired now and just go by Lady."
"Maury and Arty? Hey, I know those guys. I think they were the guys who wanted me to be sent me up here. They're swell fellows, I suppose. Always had a treat for me. My track name is You Don't Know Jack Squat. When do you get a new name? Why do you get a new name? All I know is that, a few days ago, one of the humans around the track said he had a surprise for me. Next thing I know, I'm on a truck, then some people took me out of the truck, we had another ride, I got a bath, met a bunch of people and now I'm here. It's been a hectic few days, you know?"
"Don't worry, rookie, Lady and I will show you the ropes. That big wheely thing you rode? That's so no one knows there are greyhounds going places. It's like a big disguise. We're very much in demand because humans need us to watch over them so much. If people knew there were greyhounds just going around from place to place, they'd try to take us instead of letting us choose who our humans are like we do on Adoption Day. You gotta watch out for the International Greyhound Stealing Ring of Peoples Who Like To Steal Greyhounds! Then, when you got in the other wheely things with all the soft places to lay on, that's to give you a little taste of how awesome it will be when you get to pick your humans and go to their houses and watch over them and train them up. Then you go see all the other humans at the Greyhound Day Spa and Human Picking Outing Place. You get a nice bath, your nails get done and then they parade a whole bunch of humans for you to pick from. Don't worry, though, that you didn't find any humans to your liking this time. In a little while, they'll bring you a whole bunch of new humans to pick from and you can just keep going back for a day at the Spa until you find the family that needs you the most."
Jack took all this in while Lady chimed in, "Prince may be a little off from time to time, but he's pretty much right about meeting new families until you find the right one. As for the name, the humans will give you one..."
"Yeah, cuz long names are hard for them to remember," interrupted Prince ", so we just let 'em call us what they want as long as it's not embarrassing. We Greyhounds have standards, you know!"
Lady rolled her eyes and spoke to Jack, "Never mind him right now, let me show you the best part about retirement. Soft, comfy beds!" And with that the three hounds went into the living room, where to the surprise of all the humans, Jack found a soft bed and made himself at home.
"You're gonna fit in here real quick, rookie! Remind me later and I'll show you how to train the humans to give you treats!"
Several days passed. For Jack, it was an idyllic time where he learned how to water flowers and make sure that the flowerbeds had enough holes, how to nose-poke Dad in the eye so he wouldn't be late to work and when was the best time to share a Mucho Grande Volcano Burrito (which was all the time, every time). Prince and Lady were very helpful to Jack and in no time, Prince thought Jack was ready for the biggest lesson of them all - how to train the humans to give treats on command.
"Jack, here's the thing. Humans don't speak our language so you have to give them a sign that even they can understand. It might take a few tries because humans aren't as smart as Greyhounds, but just keep at it. C'mon, I'll show you." Jack and Lady followed Prince into where Dad was sleeping in his chair. Prince trotted over, pushed his nose under Dad's hand and sidled up against the chair and thumped his tail against it. Dad snorted once, cracked an eye and said "There's my big boy, how ya doin? You wanna treat, boy?" Dad got up, came back with Prince's favorite treat and settled back in his chair.
Lady said, "Now, watch this." They followed Lady until they found Mom. Lady planted her head against Mom's leg, perked up her ears and sat down beside her with her tail wagging. Mom was tickled pink and made lots of happy noises. She scratched Lady under the chin and said, "Does Mommy's girl want a treat?" Soon a treat was produced. Jack was impressed. Prince and Lady really had their humans trained well!
Jack wandered into the room with the glowy box on the wall. It had all sorts of things on it. Jack saw a bunch of humans all dressed the same way and they'd put one hand up to their eyes and someone would give them something in return. Jack saw Foster Dad looking at him, so he sat down and put one paw over his nose. Dad jumped out of his chair and made lots of loud happy noises. "Honey!! HONEY!! Jack sat! And he saluted just like they were doing on TV. NO! I haven't been drinking. Yes, I'm serious. Come here!" When Mom arrived on the scene, Dad held out a treat and said "Salute!" Jack didn't know what "salute" meant, but he sure wanted that treat so he sat back down and put his paw over his nose again. Mom and Dad went crazy with all the loud noises and Jack got his treat. Over the next few hours, Jack got lots of treats! Prince and Lady were amazed and just a little jealous but they were proud of their pupil just the same.
According to Prince, it was Greyhound Spa and Human Picking Outing day again. He told Jack, "Look, you're not really a rookie anymore. You know how to take care of humans pretty good. If you don't find a family today, you'll come back here and hang out with us until next time. Good Luck!"
Lady was positively beaming with delight. "I hope you find a family, Jack."
Mom and Dad got Jack into the car, which was easy since he learned to jump in on his own, and they headed off to Greyhound Central where Jack would get his pick of the litter.
"Jack sure is going to make someone happy. He's so laid back and confident. He'll be able to handle anything life throws in his way."
Greyhounds aren't just dogs, they are a way of life!