Monday, 10 April 2017

An Ode To Diggy

diggy the greyhound

Before my parents got married, my Mum let my Dad know that she didn't want children. No big deal, my Dad thought. She did, however, want a backyard full of greyhounds.  Fast forward many years & 2 teenage children (aka me and my brother) later, my Mum sort of got her wish. Whilst we didn't have the backyard for a whole lot of hounds, we did have room for one special greyhound - a black & white-socked lil' man my Dad named Digger, or Diggy for short. (Occasionally we called him Diggles, or my personal favourite, Diggerlicious.)

And on a hot summer's day in January 2003, Diggy came into our lives, courtesy of a trainer who wanted him to go to a good home....and almost left our lives the same day, thanks to him nearly drowning in our backyard pool.

The story goes that Diggy took 2 steps into the pool & upon the 3rd, he began to sink. My Mum frantically called out to my brother to save him (which he did) and, according to my brother, Diggy then collapsed in a heap on his lap & wouldn't move for at least an hour. Suffice to say, any attempts to get him into or even near water after that were fraught with anxiety. He hated the stuff - even trying to give him a bath was an exercise in stubbornness + sheer resistance (on his part) & brute strength (on my father's part, trying to drag him on the leash outside to have said bath).

diggy being bathed
He really was terrified!

You know what else he hated? Thunderstorms & any attempts by us to dress him up. The former he was absolutely petrified of (the mere sound of thunder would see him run up the stairs to either mine or my parents' bedrooms to escape), the latter he just refused to do.

diggy at christmas

diggy with a party hat on

There were things that Diggy did like though - "meaties" (his favourite being bits of BBQ charcoal chicken from our local chicken shop, which my Mum would feed to him ever so tenderly), "ta-ta's" (aka a ride in the backseat of our car) & W-A-L-K's. Yes, we had to spell out the word "walk" sometimes, just so his ears wouldn't prick up & he wouldn't start running around like some excited lunatic (which tended to happen at the mere mention of that word...or "ta-ta's"). Diggy was that intelligent that he remembered what shoes & clothes I walked him in & if I were wearing any of those items, he knew exactly what time it was. My one regret is that I disappointed him more often that not by leaving him at home. I wish I'd said yes more instead of no.

The love & joy Diggy brought to mine & my family's lives was returned a hundred-fold by him. Whether we were hanging out in the kitchen prepping/making dinner, or eating in the dining room (or on the couch), or just hanging washing outside; Diggy was like a furry canine shadow who always wanted to be where we were. He was forever going from one couch to another, searching for a family member who would give him a pat or a bum rub. Everyone who ever visited us or knew of Diggy would comment on his placid, curious & lovely nature & I think he might've even won over a few people too. Even the sight of rabbits at our front door once didn't really phase Diggy (well, not to the extent where he was tearing down the screen door & champing at the bit to get to them).

For an ex-racing hound, he adapted to family life & life with us fairly well...

....which is why it was devastating when we had to get him put down almost 7 years ago.

older diggy
Diggy, a few days before he crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.
Unfortunately he had lost use of his hind legs (the very legs that cost him a racing career, after developing tendonitis in them) & with that paralysis, heart failure & old age (he was about 10-11 years old at the time, which generally speaking is kinda old for a grey) having crept up on him, we knew we had to do what was best for him...and that was to let him go with dignity. Saying goodbye was heartbreaking & horrible (neither my Mum nor I could be there when he was put down, we were both too distraught); but Diggy will forever live on in mine & my family's memories....and in the urn that sits on my Mum's bedside table, containing his ashes.

diggy's urn
Yes, he really was my Mum's little sooky lala.
I've written this post about our beloved former member of our family for 2 reasons: firstly, to dispel any misconceptions surrounding greyhounds as pets. Some people look at them as "killer dogs" (which is what a lady down the road once called Diggy), probably due to most state & territory laws in Australia requiring greyhounds to be muzzled in public. Most people believe that due to their lean & muscular frames, they must require a whole lot of walking. I would also say that there are people out there with no or very little understanding about greys at all.

Well, let me tell you something.

A greyhound is no more of a "killer dog" than any other breed of dog. Let's face it, all dogs have the capacity to harm someone - it depends on how they are treated by their owners.

I'm also not entirely sure why most parts of Australia (Northern Territory & "some local council areas in Queensland" excepted, according to this RSPCA article) still require greyhounds to be muzzled, but from memory I believe you can apply to have your dog exempt from this law. I also believe that this law has contributed to a wider negative perception of these dogs by society at large.

Greyhounds also don't require long walks, funnily enough. A standard 15-20 minute walk once a day is more than enough. That's all Diggy ever needed - believe me, we tried walking him for longer than that at first & he was absolutely pooped at the end. They're also very easy to walk & rarely bark. We  often had neighbours asking us whether we still had Diggy as they barely heard a peep out of him.

diggy asleep

diggy lounging around

Greyhounds are like most other dogs in that they come into your life, take over your couch (greys are reknowned lounge lizards, although we never let Diggy sit on ours) & steal your hearts. They'll make you laugh with their "zoomies" & they'll comfort you in your time of need. They're graceful, elegant creatures who are more than capable of being a family pet, if people give them a chance.....which brings me to my last point....

April is Adopt-a-Greyhound Month in Australia & what better time than now to consider adopting (or even fostering) one of these gorgeous hounds. There are plenty of organisations throughout Australia who can assist you with this task, so why not contact your local greyhound adoption society & see whether adoption or fostering is right for you? Here are a couple of organisations that I know of, although you can find more through the Animals Australia website guide:

Greyhound Rescue (NSW)
Amazing Greys (VIC)
Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) (NSW , VIC, QLD, TAS & SA)

I hope that this post has gone some way towards busting the myths surrounding these adorable creatures. As for the 3rd child my parents never had, my black furry brother Diggy, may he RIP.

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Have you ever owned or considered owning a greyhound as a pet? Would you like to? What would stop you from doing so?

2 comments:

  1. What a beautiful post. I would certainly consider a greyhound as a pet in the future xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Indie. I'm glad you'd consider having a grey as a pet. I don't think my parents would consider another breed of dog ever again.

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