Sunday, October 26, 2014

When life is a juggling act

Back in the day when I was blogging regularly I seem to recall having lots of space in my day. Time is a luxury that has long fallen by the wayside! These days it seems my life is scheduled to the hilt, and my timetable is governed by both exercise and the dogs.

As an example, during the week I walk the dogs Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings, and work out on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. I run Monday and Wednesday nights and walk the dogs on Tuesday and Thursday nights. On Friday the dog walker usually takes over in the afternoon, but if not then Hamish and I juggle the dog walking depending on who gets home first (or more often, how long I stay at Friday work drinks). At night the cats take over - spending the night in bed with us and demanding their own attention.

On the weekend I usually run in the morning, then come home and walk the dogs. Sunday mornings are for grocery shopping. Weekend afternoons end up being a mix of dogs and housework/gardening. Long gone are my long Sunday bike rides! I bought a membership to the Zealandia Sanctuary (where I used to be a volunteer), but I never went because if I was going to walk it felt wrong not to take the dogs.

Don't think I'm complaining, because I'm certainly not. The tradeoffs do frustrate me - I'd like to say we were further ahead in our plans to paint the house inside and out for example. However owning two greyhounds has brought a huge network of people into my life. Similarly, I have a network of friends I would never have met if it weren't for my running. I stopped running with my squad for a few months for budgetary reasons, and quickly realised squad membership is a need, not a want, as far as quality of life and mental health go.

I offer up this long weekend as an example. Once upon a time Labour weekend marked Hamish and my anniversary of starting dating, as far as we could recall. It used to be a time for lounging around doing nothing much, eating too much and drinking good wine. Halfway through I've managed a beautiful Saturday trail run, several loads of washing, a fair amount of housework, a working bee in a friend's garden, and a Greyhounds as Pets off leash run. Hamish and I are now sitting here, having just finished some excellent fish and chips from Gooseshack, Emmie asleep on the sofa next to us.

Life is certainly different from how it was ten years ago. If you'd told me back in 2000 when we were living in our Ponsonby apartment that I'd now be living in a ramshackle villa with three cats and two dogs, and that I'd be working in middle-management for the largest Government agency, I probably would have laughed. If you'd told me I'd be spending a good part of my weekend running beautiful trails I probably would have died laughing.

I will admit I need to find more time in my life, but I also love this little world I seem to have stumbled upon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Back by popular demand

I've had a few requests to start up again, so here we go! I was considering starting a separate blog dedicated to my greyhounds, but yeah, it seems easier just to go with the one. So I'll use labels and those of you interested in my training can read those posts and those of you interested in my dogs can read those! There should probably be some cat posts in there as well or Tissy, Bergamo and Gaffer might get offended. They are still in the majority after all!

So ... in March I posted about adopting a second greyhound. Unfortunately he didn't work out and went back to GAP after a few days. He is now back where he belongs though, happy with his trainers who love and adore him.

We licked our wounds for a little while then in May I was exchanging drunken messages on Facebook on the bus ride home (as you do) when I spotted a four year old white boy with a blue patch on one side of his face who sounded perfect. I was just tipsy enough to get home and show his adoption page on the GAP website to Hamish. Hamish thought he sounded perfect. He was in Kaiapoi so I called up the kennel manager and ...

It turned out Desiree, the Kaiapoi manager, was heading through Wellington in a few days' time and had space in her dog trailer. So before I knew it we were welcoming Mask (racing name Shadow Wolf), off the Interislander ferry.

After a day or two of deep thinking, Mask became Harvey, short for Harvey Dent, the two-faced man from Batman. We had four days to decide whether he would work for us or not before Desiree headed back through Wellington on her way home. It was quickly clear however that Harvey wasn't going anywhere.

So now we are a two-dog, three-cat household. I was assured that two greyhounds were not that much more work than one. Initially I didn't find that to be the case. That is probably because Em was such a mellow, quiet girl. Harvey was supposed to be calm and quiet but .... wasn't - at least initially. Boys are definitely different from girls, and he seemed much more boisterous to me.

Harvey was much more curious about the cats than Em, who is slightly scared of them. He wasn't at all predatory, but he wanted to sniff them to kingdom come. Our cats were obviously not too keen on that! Four and a half months in, Harvey is generally pretty good. The cats stay clear when he is at his most energetic - first thing in the morning and when we get home in the evening. Once he has had his dinner he crashes, and then Bergamo will join us in the lounge. The other two - Gaffer and Tissy - are less keen on hanging out in the lounge with him. Gaffer will join us if we carry him in, but generally walks in and hangs out in the bedroom. Tissy prefers to hang out in the bedroom but is starting to make forays into the lounge. This is way ahead of the progress we made acquainting them to Em. Harvey did manage to bail up Tissy in the hallway tonight, burying his nose in her fluff, but she gave him a jolly good hiss before retreating outside. A few minutes ago she wandered down the hallway and headed for our bedroom, so clearly she's not been too traumatised.

We originally thought Em wouldn't appreciate another grey in the house, but a couple of weeks in Bannockburn with my father-in-law's Jack Russell puppy proved that she could share territory with another dog. She put Harvey in his place a few times in the first couple of weeks, but now they quite happily share a selection of sofas and beds. In fact Harvey has taught Em how to be more cuddly. She never used to share our sofa but now, in an obvious attempt to beat Harvey to the favoured spot, she will jump up on to the sofa with us and snuggle on in.

I'm still regularly amazed by the differences between Em and Harvey. They can both be quite anxious dogs, but show it in different ways. Harvey will get noisier and more boisterous, Em retreats. Harvey has to be near us. If it were up to him he would sleep on our bed every night. That will never happen - at least not while we still have cats - but he certainly pushes the boundaries and comes in to wake us at first light.

Harvey loves sofa cuddles. Last night he was taking up 2/3 of the sofa while Hamish and I squeezed up together at one end. Harvey scootched up until he was lying across Hamish's lap with his nose on mine. Bergamo then joined us, lying so that they were practically nose-to-nose. Harvey then fell into a deep greyhound sleep, involving contented groans, snorts and snores. Hilarity ensued, with Hamish and I completely unable to control our laughter.

Emmie is what Desiree described as a 'jesus hound', perfect in every way. She is elegant, beautiful, intelligent and she loves us. Harvey is a big, boisterous and impulsive boy. He needed a little more work to settle in at home, and he has needed more training to socialise him around other dogs. The two complement each other fantastically. Our lives will never be the same, and that is definitely a good thing!