We are Val and John Ball and on 20th November 2016 we became the proud adopted parents of Sasha, the three-legged Lurcher, who we took to her Forever Home.
After losing our 19yr old Lurcher Beau in the April, we had decided we wouldn’t have another dog as his loss was so painful. After 6 months of no dog and our house feeling empty, we decided we would look around for our new friend. We had decided on a Greyhound as we had met some at a show and Val had had two before. We went on the Greyhound Rescue Wales website and looked at the various gorgeous hounds and read their write-ups. It was then we came across the picture and write-up of Sasha. We read her ‘Buddie’ Nicola’s piece about her and watched the videos. The lack of the fourth leg was not an issue as Val could associate with that, we just wondered why this beautiful girl had not been snatched up.
We filled in the forms, spoke to Paula and had the house check with Bev, who Val knew from when she had greyhounds before. Sandra rang from Hillcrest and we also spoke to Kerry about our interest in Sasha and they told us that she had a few issues, but that didn’t put us off. We went to see Sasha at Hillcrest and as soon as we saw her beautiful eyes our hearts melted. Yes she did have issues from her past to overcome, but then don’t we all? After five weeks of travelling from our home in Rhoose twice a week, to help enforce the work Sandra, Kerry, Nicola and the other volunteers at Hillcrest were teaching her, Sasha was ready to come home.
Sasha doesn’t travel well, but with time, that will be another issue for her to overcome with our help. Otherwise, she is settling in well. She is quick to learn new things, new noises and her new surroundings as well as finding out that dinnertime isn’t only at 4.30pm and that not everyone goes to bed at 7pm!
We had decided before she came home that it wouldn’t be a good idea for her to go upstairs as the pressure on her front leg when she came down might be too much. We were going to get a standard child gate, until at the assessment room at Hillcrest she showed us that jumping one was no problem, so we bought the extra tall one. Sasha has so far not attempted to jump it and has eyed up the stairs, but I think even she knows her limitations.
When she goes out with her dad first thing, it is at quite a quick pace as she is rushing to check that no corner of the local field is missed or territory marked, she meets new dogs and people – some she likes and some she doesn’t, although the squeezy cheese is a good ice breaker with Sasha. When she walks with her mum in the afternoon, then due to both of their leg problems (Val has no feeling in her right leg and spinal damage, so uses a stick or walker) then it is a much slower pace and her whole demeanour changes. There is no continual sniffing and marking, the ears are up and she is in protection mode. When with dad, obviously he can look after the two of them. After her walk she is like any other sight hound, drink of water, mad five minutes and then sleep for a couple of hours.
Once rested she is ready for her brain training and we do about 10 minutes of this a couple of times a day, and shows how really clever she is at the different tasks, You have to try and keep one step ahead so that she doesn’t get bored doing the same games. Her character and personality are now showing through, we saw bits of it at Hillcrest. We have enforced the ‘Touch’ before treats so that when she meets someone she is gentle in taking the treat. When it is someone new, although she is wary of them, the next time she sees them, it is like seeing a long lost friend. Losing her leg so young has meant that she has had to adapt and do things differently and if she faces a new challenge she will either stand looking at it, tilting her head from side to side working out how to do it, or walk away and come back to it again later, but she doesn’t give up. Jonathan, Kerry, Sandra, Debs and Nicola from GRW have all been to see her and couldn’t believe how relaxed she was. She remembered them all and had great fun showing off how good she was.
On Boxing Day, we took her out on a 50ft lead, which she thoroughly enjoyed as she was able to have more freedom. Her recall is good, and there is no jarring as she doesn’t like going off very far without you there. It is easier when there aren’t many out on the field as she worries about some of the other dogs.
Sasha has made our house a home again; having dog hair on our clothes and having to hoover every day is great. She has brought so much into our lives and gives so much love, which we gladly return and can’t imagine it any other way. Yes she will snap at you if you tread on her paw or tail, but soon apologises afterwards, wanting to know that it is ok and that she is still your favourite girl. It really is cute
Anyone thinking of getting a sight hound and you see one with an injury or a limb missing, don’t ignore them, look past it and get to know the character and personality. Yes they need more of your time to learn things and you will learn from them, but apart from that, they are just the same and it is so rewarding when they learn something new and achieve it.
AN UPDATE ON SASHA
Since writing the above report, a lot has happened in the life of Sasha and us. Sasha has become so relaxed at home, and her anxieties on the lead have been overcome since going on the walks at Cosmeston Lakes that were organised by Emma and Jon. When being surrounded by 52 other greyhounds, lurchers and whippets, she realised it was great walking in a group of sighthounds, which we have enforced by going to every walk in our area. This boosted her confidence when meeting people outside of the home, which had been a problem. She has a lot of small dogs as friends that she sees every morning and a few her own size. Mostly liking male dogs to female, well why not!!
Even though she is not very good in the car (ill wise), it now is not a regular occurrence, and all enjoyed a holiday in Somerset in April, with Sasha enjoying the fuss of lots of people, being given treats, being told how gorgeous she was and how well she had adapted. At English Heritage sights she was told she could wee anywhere she liked, whereas National Trust asked her not to wee on the grass, so we had gravel everywhere afterwards!!
Sasha has done quite a few visits back to Hillcrest and enjoyed seeing everyone, getting muddy after which Auntie Sandra gave her a shower and supervising her dad making the steps in the field.
Sasha has had a Cocker Spaniel around to her home, after a walk together and both being in the garden, Sasha initiated play, much to her annoyance the spaniel didn’t like to play!!
We will keep working on her interaction with dogs and giving her the home she deserves.