In these first seven weeks with Lemmy many adventures have ensued. As his trust in us has grown he has shown his personality, moods and quirks more and more. Let’s talk about some of the more eventful walks.
The moment I told a few people we were getting a greyhound some of them started telling horror stories, notably, stories of other peoples dogs; The woman paying out for ‘countless’ dead cats, the escape artists, the sheer size and inconvenience. Experienced owners have their share of pretty traumatic experiences too, but risk can be managed. Our first alarming incident came before we’d said yes to Lemmy, but I’ll get into that and the ill fated pigeon another time. Lemmy’s first kill was rather spikier.
There is a specific look that someone gives when they’ve witnessed something a bit traumatic and don’t know what to think. Well, my husband’s face was a blend of that and an attempt to soften his face. He’s not very good at hiding his true expression though. He was out with Lemmy just over two weeks since adoption, in the evening. We frequent a lovely place not too far away with open areas, enclosed bushy walks and water. They were wandering through a narrow part on-lead, when in an instant there was a rustle, a short lunge from Lemmy into the bush beside them, then a crack. That was the moment Lemmy killed a hedgehog. Remarkably he came out of it with two scratches on his nose that didn’t bleed, unlike the unfortunate hedgehog.
Within days of this came kill number two. Again it was my husband who had control when this happened, and again he swears there was no avoiding it. A small mammal, maybe a field mouse ran across Lemmy’s path, or at least tried to. Lemmy ate the poor thing whole. I was rather weary of his bowel movements for a day or so. If this happens to you don’t fret, you’re apparently unlikely to see any evidence. I know, not really a silver lining is it.
Thankfully that concludes Lemmy’s wrap sheet for murder, I plan to keep it that way. We’ve had plenty of heart racing moments without actual harm to anyone. Take the off-lead beagle puppy. As I mentioned before we take walks locally where narrow bushy tracks open into fields, and just as we emerged into an open area the owner of said beagle thankfully thought to grab her pup. He was absolutely gorgeous and extremely playful. We chatted and shortly she let go of her dog to say hello, by which time I had insisted on putting Lemmy’s muzzle on. It hadn’t occured to me that some dogs might decide to help him out of his muzzle which is what this pup attempted, essentially boxing Lemmy’s face. Not a great start to a greeting. I pulled Lemmy away, but the bouncy young lad was too much temptation to play for Lemmy and he bounded after him. I can’t tell you for sure whether he ended up looming over the upturned pup in a playful way, or if there was some ill intent, and luckily no one had to find out. Trusty muzzle. I did not see any attempt to bite the pup, and as he was still on his lead Lemmy was swiftly removed from the pups personal space. The owner and I chatted briefly about the encounter and parted ways in a positive manner. Had I not used his muzzle, who knows.
Another time where I met an owner intent on off-lead walking we were all far better prepared. The lovely lady had her two whippets on-lead, handsome entire lads who quite fancied the opportunity to mount Lemmy and demonstrate they still had their relevant body parts. I wasn’t bothered by this and I didn’t think Lemmy was either, though perhaps it planted the idea in his head he would show them who’s boss. We walked together toward a secure gated and fenced area, with Lemmy muzzled and on-lead. Once she let her boys off, I cautiously did so with Lemmy keeping him muzzled and close. Once they began testing eachother’s speed I sensed the boys might get their feelings hurt, which is exactly what happened. Writing this now my mind is drawn to the quickest way to upset a man showing off his fast car – be faster than him. This works incredibly well with the majority of obnoxious drivers who go too fast in a straight line then corner like they’re in a bus. So anyway, these two beautiful dogs knew they were fast, but when Lemmy demonstrated he was much faster he scared the one dog out of his wits. I’m not sure if ‘tagging’ eachother during play is normal for larger sighthounds, it wasn’t a violent collision by any means, but with Lemmy’s height and weight it must have been scary for the whippet. Lemmy was quickly put back on his lead, but the whippets were very anxious after this so we calmly left. I admit, I’m feeling a bit bad remembering and writing about this but the lady understood there was no bad intention (and crucially no injury). She has since chatted to my husband and Lemmy and I’m glad to say we humans can all be friends. I don’t think her lad is quite up to the idea though.
On most walks and outings Lemmy behaves better than I expected so early on, like the early Sunday morning trip to Weston-super-Mare. We started off at the old pier, looking out across the sand and rock, gradually meandering over to the beach where a sparse but even smattering of dog owners and walkers were taking in the strange heat of mid-September. The vast majority of the dogs were off-lead. Lemmy stayed on his 10 metre lead and carefully selected who he would ignore, greet, and have a little play with. Despite the 10 metre radius he spent most of the time firmly at my side, maybe looking for my cues, maybe just a mummy’s boy. I’m happy about it either way. I’m often assuring people the muzzle is a precaution, that Lemmy is a softie and yes their child can get close. However a stressful environment, like a beach with ever changing canine occupants, could trigger something in our beloved Lemmy to ruin everyone’s day, or if the circumstances allow, much worse.
I think the bottom line is, I myself can be pushed to a reactive state, to anger and confrontation. To assume that my dog who has a wonderful temperament and is learning how to interact very well with strange and hostile dogs wouldn’t do damage to another dog would be irresponsible. We haven’t known Lemmy for long, but he’s come a long way already, and I am proud of how he’s doing.
RIP Spike and Mousey.