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FoG on Four/Behind the Scenes

>FoG on Four. Hey, did you see our FoG dogs on TV? Channel 4 and Jade Alexander did a wonderful piece on the kennel and on FoG. If you missed it, you can see it by clicking here. I hope this brings lots and lots of new adopters to the kennel this weekend. Come on down if you’re free. I’m hoping we’ll need the help.

Behind the Scenes. Some people think all we do is wait for adopters to arrive at the kennel and then hand them a dog. There’s so much goes into getting a dog from the track to a home. There’s care and feeding, medical work, marketing the dogs and a ton of little details to do and to track. When people arrive and we can say “this dog has already been neutered”. That means the dog will be delivered at least a week – possibly two weeks – sooner than if the neutering wasn’t yet done. And “this dog tested cat tolerant”. WHEW! What goes into that simple phrase. Let me tell you about just one day…

On Wednesday morning, Linda arrived at my house at 9 am. I had already pulled a list from our computer database of the dogs that had not yet been cat tested, arranged in order of their arrival at the kennel. Armed with five sturdy travel crates in the van, leashes in one hand and coffee in the other, we drove from my house in Sunrise to the kennel in Hialeah via I-75 which was mercifully empty. The ride takes about 30 minutes and I’ve done it so often, I think the van has autopilot. My 13-year old granddaughter, Sarah, remained at the house with her instructions. Linda and I loaded the first five dogs from the list into the crates and drove back to the house. About 2 miles from the house, we called Sarah and she went into action. She ushered the 3 house dogs into bedrooms and then lifted Cherokee, our big, fluffy white house cat into her crate. Her crate is a mini version of the Precision brand crates we use for the greyhounds. She’s very protected but visible in it.

When we arrived at the house, we one by one brought the dogs into the living/ family room area for the cat test and then they were let out in the backyard for a romp before going back into the truck or into a kennel in the garage if one was open.

The cat test has three parts. First the cat is in the crate and we watch the dog’s reaction. The dog is walked on a short leash past the crate. Most are no more excited by the cat in the crate than by the dining room chairs or the rug or dog toys we missed picking up. Next, I hold the cat in my arms with that long, fluffy tail hanging at about nose level. If they walk on past without trying to “taste” the cat, we move into the kitchen. My long narrow kitchen allows for cat running room without a lot of distraction. Obviously, if at any point, the dog tries to get the cat, goes into a fixed stare or shows any signs of trying to hunt the cat, he or she is deemed as “not cat tolerant”. Cherokee is tough. We really think she knows which dogs she can run from and which ones to be careful with. And then there are those she’ll scratch at and fight. Sometimes we use a muzzle especially if it’s a strong dog that might be hard to control. We don’t take any chances with Cherokee. She’s a valuable part of FoG.

After she tested those five dogs and the two we already had in the kennel, we loaded the five back into the van and headed back to Hialeah. Sarah let the house dogs and Cherokee go back to their normal routine. We made three trips and tested 17 dogs on Wednesday. Many were cat tolerant (no dog is cat SAFE). Some we judged to be “okay” which generally means they would do best with a cat that will back them down. By the time we arrived back home about 5 pm (with two other dogs that needed to go to the vet) we were thoroughly exhausted. 17 dogs in one day was a record for us and for Cherokee. It was a lot of driving and a whole lot of wrestling dogs. We couldn’t have done that many without Sarah setting things up in advance for us and standing at the kitchen door to catch the cat. I was so tired by the end of the day, I had to let Jerry do the night walks and I went to bed. I know Linda felt it too. But it was worth it and we’d all do it again tomorrow if we needed to. Greyhound rescue isn’t all cookies and toys.