NOTE: Much of this is a (slightly) edited repost from last year’s “Peaches” post. If you just want to read the new stuff and see new pictures, scroll down to the “Peaches’ 2009 Update” section toward the bottom of the page.
In May 2005, I received a phone call from someone saying she knew of a Greyhound whose owners were going to have her put down if someone didn’t take her immediately because she had reportedly bitten one of their children. According to the caller, the people had gotten PJ, the Greyhound, from someone who’d had her as a pet for a while, but her former owner didn’t want her back. This person had received PJ from yet a different person who may have got her from yet someone else – her history got a bit fuzzy at this point.
As you may be aware, when you adopt a Greyhound from an adoption group, you sign a contract that says you will return the dog to the adoption agency if you ever have to get rid of it. This is done because the agencies want to make sure that Greyhounds go to good homes that are educated about the needs of Greyhounds. PJ’s original owners had broken their contract by giving her away, and it was likely that she had been in at least two homes since then (possibly more) with people who knew nothing about Greyhounds.
I am not a member of a Greyhound rescue group, but I figured I would get PJ out of peril and then get her to an adoption group that could find a new home for her. I wouldn’t be able to keep her because we already had four Greyhounds and we didn’t want another dog. Besides, we do a lot of work with the public through Greyhounds of Fairhaven, so we couldn’t have a dog that wasn’t good with children.
I contacted PJ’s owners and told them I was on my way to pick her up. When I arrived, the poor girl was locked outside in an unlandscaped backyard (just plain dirt – no trees or bushes or grass) in 103-degree heat. The owners opened the back door, and a beautiful, shy, white-faced brindle girl crept inside. She let me pet her while I talked to the owners. They told me that PJ had been given to them by an acquaintance. They knew nothing about Greyhounds and, apparently, not much about dogs in general. They thought it was perfectly all right to leave their two young children unsupervised with a dog. One of the children had fallen on PJ while she was asleep, startling her. She came up snapping and scratched the child’s cheek. Not exactly a “bite.”
I explained to the owners that Greyhounds spend much of their racing lives in crates; they are not used to being touched when they are sleeping, so PJ’s reaction was hardly surprising. In fact, any breed of dog might do the same thing if startled awake by someone falling on them. The owners acknowledged that they’d been mistaken in leaving their children alone with PJ, but they still wanted her gone because she clearly couldn’t be trusted around children any longer. Okay…if they said so…
I loaded PJ into my van and headed home. On the way, I had to stop at a friend’s house. He had several Greyhounds, so I brought PJ in to meet them. She was scared and wouldn’t go anywhere near them. I was not reassured by this reaction. What was she going to do when I got her home to my four Greys? As it turned out, she was scared of them, too, but I took my time and introduced them slowly, and PJ finally relaxed enough to let them check her out. She was still very wary of them, but at least I didn’t need to keep them separated.
PJ had a microchip tag on her collar, so I called the number on the tag and was told that her chip was registered to Arizona Adopt a Greyhound (AAGI). I called AAGI and found out that PJ, whose racing name was PJ’s Jackie Why, had been adopted in late 1999, just after she turned three years old. AAGI hadn’t heard anything about her in the ensuing five-and-a-half years, but they would be happy to take her back and find a good home for her. Unfortunately, they had no foster home openings at the time. Could I keep her for a week or so?
“Of course!” says I, secure in the knowledge that this would be a short-term thing since there was no way we could keep such a shy girl.
And then, three days later, something amazing happened. Shy PJ turned into friendly, loving, outgoing PJ. Not only that, but she replaced our dark brindle girl BJ (racing name: Red Eye Express) as the alpha dog of our pack. BJ happily let PJ have the position; BJ had never really wanted it anyway, having been left top dog when our former alpha, Ebony (Jon B Racey), died two years earlier. BJ had no problem being the alpha’s lieutenant, but she’d never been comfortable as the boss.
Here are a few pictures we took of PJ a few days after I brought her home and she came out of her shell:
Relaxing with a rawhide
PJ, aka “Ears”
PJ in her favorite position – the dead cockroach
PJ was no longer afraid of our dogs or shy around us, and (of course) we were falling in love with her. Maybe we could keep her after all. But we still needed to find out if she’d be all right with the public and with other dogs.
As luck would have it, my parents were coming to visit, and they would be staying at a campground in the mountains. We decided to take PJ with us when we visited to see how she reacted with them, their dog, and anyone we met at the campground.
She did wonderfully – with my parents, with their dog, with all of the strangers she met, even with a couple of Greyhounds that were camping with their people.
We figure that during the nearly six years between PJ’s initial adoption and the day I picked her up, she forgot she was a Greyhound, and she needed some time with other Greyhounds to remember.
PJ at the campground
PJ cuddled in my lap. (It was cold in the mountains, thus the coat.)
PJ, too adorable for words
Well, that clinched it. We were going to keep PJ, but we still needed to change one thing about her: Her name. Having a BJ and a PJ was way too confusing. Since BJ was here first, she got to keep her name. Thus PJ became Peaches, one of the Greyhounds of Fairhaven, promoting Greyhound adoption at Renaissance faires throughout the southwest United States.
Peaches “roaching” at the San Diego Renaissance Faire
Peaches, the vicious child-biter
Peaches: “Hey, why is everything upside-down?”
Today, 04 Dec 2009, is Peaches’ thirteenth birthday, which is pretty darn cool. But that’s not the really important thing; what’s really special about Peaches is that last Saturday (28 Nov 2009) was her TWO-year post-amputation anniversary. You see, in November 2007 Peaches was diagnosed with osteosarcoma – bone cancer. Osteosarcoma has no real cure; the only way to fight it is to remove the affected limb and, if one chooses, follow the amputation with chemotherapy.
On 28 Nov 2007, Peaches had her rear right leg amputated. Sometime that night, when the night-duty vet techs were supposed to be watching her, Peaches fell and broke her tail about five inches from the base. No one noticed the break until the techs took her out of her cage the following morning and returned her to the vet. It was a very bad compound fracture, and there was no way to save the tail. So, on 29 Nov 2007, Peaches had her tail amputated to a five-inch-long stub. Poor girl.
Back home after her amputations – not feeling very good.
A few days later, feeling much better.
The funny thing is, Peaches was more upset about losing her tail than she was about losing her leg. More than once we caught her glaring at her tail stub, yet she never seemed upset about her leg.
Despite missing her tail, Peaches bounced back fast from her surgeries, and breezed through six chemotherapy sessions.
A missing leg and tail doesn’t interfere with snoozing…
…or with Peaches’ favorite position.
The missing leg and tail also hasn’t interfered with Peaches’ status as the alpha dog of the pack, a position she resumed as soon as she got home.
Peaches and BJ, her “lieutenant”
BJ and Peaches
BJ and Peaches
Peaches and BJ
Missing a leg also hasn’t stopped Peaches from having fun with her pack – particularly our two crazy boys, Captain Jack Sparrow (white-with-black-ticking Greyhound, RD’s Honest Abe) and Sergei (the Borzoi, aka the Woolly Greyhound).
Playing with Jack, Sergei, and visitor Mija, the hairless PIO.
During her convalescence, Peaches learned that she could bark if she needed help with something. Since then, she has perfected her barking technique and uses it to get pets or simply get us to talk to her. At Renaissance faires, if someone pets her for a long time and then stops, she barks at them. Quite often, she manages to get people who have left her side to come back and pet her more.
A cute little Peachy bark
A serious Peaches bark
Silly barking at the Arizona Renaissance Festival
Of course, having only three legs gets Peaches a lot of extra attention, since everyone feels sorry for her. We keep warning all of the children that she’s a vicious child-eater, but no one seems to believe us. I wonder why that is…
Peaches, the (vicious) Easter Greyhound
Peaches: “Hmm, this one looks tasty.”
A kiss from Queen Beatrice at the Arizona faire
Licking her lips in preparation for eating a couple of small children.
Peaches: “Nice scritches. Maybe I won’t eat this one.”
A kiss from “the one that got away.”
As you can see, Peaches is completely unreliable around children and needs constant supervision. No, really. She’s a vicious killer. She eats several small children a day…
…and she really needs to learn how to relax.
Peaches’ 2009 Update:
Peaches in 2009
Peaches has had a really GREYT year. In June, she went to her oncologist for an 18-month post-op check-up and there was no sign of cancer. Soon after that, she went to the vet for a dental cleaning. She had to have one molar extracted, but that’s the only tooth she’s missing – not bad for a 13-year-old Greyhound.
Peaches and her pack
As far as Peaches is concerned, the best thing about 2009 is her discovery of Victoria Peak dog beds. At night, she refuses to sleep if she can’t have her Victoria Peak bed. If there’s another dog on her bed, she’ll glare at them until they move.
Peaches on HER oh-so-cushy Victoria Peak bed
Here are a couple more pictures of Peaches from 2009:
Peaches: “Is that for me?”
Peaches: “Don’t hate me because I’m adorable.”
And, of course, she has continued her regular consumption of small children:
Peaches and friend at the
2009 Las Vegas Renaissance Faire
Happy 13th birthday, Peaches!
Keep showing that cancer who’s boss!