When we have high energy sight hounds as part of our family its quite a challenge to get it right all the time with these wonderful animals. Yes, they are animals & not pets. Since we’ve other dogs we can clearly see the difference & the quirky ways of sight hounds. One thing is sure with sight hounds, if a bond is not established they are capable of mysteriously disappearing over the horizon (even after 8/9 years). They are too fast, too strong, too determined & extremely sensitive. The biggest thrill in their life is to chase down everything which runs. The end result is exhausted & helpless companions like me. On the other hand if we exercise them too little our house will fall apart.
One day my visibly exhausted partner was asking me :
Partner: Are you sure you will be able to be the constant companion for Magic for the rest of his life ? If we turn the clock back 4 years would you still want to have a sight hound ?
Me: What Magic & Mia has done to me is something totally different, in fact i would like to have another sight hound !
Partner: (very surprised at my answer) huh…..what ? No way, are you in the right frame of mind ?
Me: My love affair isn’t over yet with Magic & Mia (now trying to push my luck further with her) Isn’t 3 a nice number? How about driving down to interior Maharashtra & finding a nice black pup. Black is my favourite color you know, they are absolutely gorgeous luv !
Partner: (visibly pissed off with me) Will you shut up !
end of conversation.
Recently someone was telling me :
Him: You’ve to be the pack leader to these dogs, you are not assuming the pole position of leadership, your dogs are not seeing you as their leader. This is the root cause of all the problems.
Me: listen, Magic & Mia ain’t like any other dogs, they are sight hounds & i don’t know of any human being who has the mental & physical faculties to be a pack leader to sight hounds. I am happy just to be their companion.
He had noticed that Magic had stretched himself on a sofa & Mia was watching him intently from her vantage position on a bed.
Him: Look they are using all the beds in your house, you should not allow this. They should never be allowed on a height, they should be always down on the floor. Please pull them down & be very strict, that’s how you should assume control.
Me: Haha, didn’t i tell you they are sight hounds & (i repeat) please don’t see them as any other dog. Sight hounds prefer the elevation/height hence they are using sofas & beds.
I tried to explain further:
One of the good things of all the running, is that they do sleep a lot. Their preferred sleeping arrangements are: On our bed when one is very tired and want to get in & there is no place, so i have to lie down on the floor, They are on the sofa and every chair when we have guests, On the floor in a doorway where you will trip over them. Also they sleep at interesting angles. This often involves strange, contorted positions with neck twisted round, legs bent like an orthopaedic case-study etc. If they are completely upside down with all four legs in the air and its eyes closed, it is rarely dead. It is just comfortable.
He gave up on me & threw his hands up…
Him: well, there is no point continuing this conversation anyway few more questions:
How do they respond to commands ?
Me: They respond beautifully to commands. They understand them perfectly, may be they don’t usually obey them, however they do respond well only at their own convenience.
Him: Oh, which means they are badly trained dogs…..How about SIT ?
Me: It is a very uncomfortable position for a hound, and will be ignored.
Him: Then what about STAY ?
Me: That is too boring for them and also will be ignored.
Him: Do they respond to DOWN ?
Me: Sure, this is one command which will be obeyed immediately & if they are tired and was already going for a sleep anyway.
Him: How about HEEL ?
Me: Don’t even try that, they will leave you tangled in three leads at once and leave you entangled & unable to move.
Him: What about COME ?
Me: They respond beautifully especially when we are going out of the house, or when we talk among ourselves & partner tells me come let’s go, before we even reach the door they both would be out of the door & waiting. In fact there is no need to say anything, they hear me putting the door keys in my pocket… that is enough, they are ready.
While in the open fields when one calls out Magic come here: he does come bounding in after a while, however he likes to keep his distance of about 6 ft from me, if i sit down then he comes right next to me. If i ever do the mistake of calling Mia she will come running at the speed of light & the impact will leave one flattened on the ground and unable to move, like what happened to partner the other day. If there is something to chase like another dog, cat, pigeon etc, then its best to forget them. There is no middle ground here, everything will be taken to the logical conclusion. After that they will look up & see where one is & they will start their trudge back as if nothing happened & look at us quizzically as if to say what was all the fuss about.
Him: (now visibly agitated) How can you keep such big dogs, especially when you have no control over your dogs, this is very irresponsible, do you know these dogs can be very ferocious…..
What about FETCH ?
Me: It’s very boring for them and will be ignored, unless a squirrel, pigeon or a cat is involved.
Then what about DROP ?
Me: That is unreasonable. It’s their squirrel, pigeon, cat after all.
Him: What about RECALL?
Me: Magic & Mia have excellent recall. They know/remember perfectly well that you want to them to come back, and will do so when they have finished what they are doing. Which is usually running in the other direction, or round and round.
Him: This is not funny sir, how can your dog run away in the opposite direction when you call them ? This means you do not have any bonding/relationship with them. This is crazy. Anyway what is their diet, what do you give them ? Who gives them their food ?
Me: Who ever is at home gives them their food. Sometimes they eat, sometimes the don’t. They have crazy food requirements. As a very last resort they will nibble around in their bowl & pretend to be eating what one has spent two hours in the market buying & another two hours in preparing. Sometimes they do not even look at the food, sometimes they want what we are eating, sometimes they want only yoghurt, most of the times Magic & Mia consume only one sparse meal a day.
Him: Now i understand why your dogs are so screwed up, neither do you feed them properly, nor do you have any control over them, nor have you spend any time training them. All i can say is that these dogs are not to be blamed its you the owner who has spoiled them.
Me: Didn’t i tell you i am not their owner, Magic & Mia owns me. I am just their companion, door mat, side kick, cook, caretaker, bodyguard, masseuse, groomer, cleaner, sleeping partner, devil’s advocate, agony aunt, the great dictator whatever you want to call me.
end of conversation.
Having said all the above partly fictional/ mostly true/ partly shared thoughts from other sight hound companions i need to say that Sight hounds are superb dogs, lifelong friends, marvellous with kids and full of fun. Contrary to some people’s vague understanding, in our direct experience they make terrific family dogs, and their house-training is generally impeccable. All they want is at least a couple of bursts a day, some home play time and some affection.
Peace & Love