In July 2014, I was reading a book by my writing friend, Chris Stovell. The main character had a greyhound called Gracie. I loved her, and for some reason, right out of the blue, I decided we should have one.
We'd never owned a dog before, let alone a greyhound, and my husband, Paul, was adamant we weren't having any more pets. Our two cats were no longer with us, and he didn't want the responsibility of another animal. But, my sixth sense was telling me this was something we should do.
Cherry, deep in thought
We are both home all day - my husband is retired, and I'm a writer - so, we had the time to devote to a dog. I cajoled and pleaded with him, until he finally agreed, and we then did some research about greyhounds, online. We knew nothing about them, but wanted to find out as much as we could. The more we researched, the more we realised a greyhound would be perfect for us. They make fantastic pets, because, contrary to what people think they don't require a lot of exercise. Their favourite past time is roaching on a sofa.
They are gentle and sensitive souls, so are good pets for the elderly, as well as families. They also, apparently don’t bark a lot
I went on the Retired Greyhound Trust's website, and whilst browsing the photos of all the dogs who needed a home, I saw a pretty female greyhound called Cherry. She wasn't yet two-years-old, which was quite unusual. They are normally older dogs, given up for rehoming after their racing careers have ended.
Paul liked the look of her too, so we planned to visit Cherry the following day, on our way to stay with relatives
When the volunteer opened the cage door, Cherry ran out, jumped up at Paul, and licked him all over his face. We knew then that she was the dog for us.
I'm ready to go for a walk!!
We had to wait a while for a home check to be done, which we thankfully passed, and we collected Cherry two days later.
She'd never lived in a house before, and we'd never had a dog, so we learned everything together. That first day, after walking her around the house on a lead, we let her off to explore in her own time.
She went upstairs, then freaked out, because with those long legs, she didn't know how to get back down
Paul had to go up and help her. That night, we thought she'd be safe sleeping in the hallway, and we left the kitchen door open so she could go in and get a drink if she wanted. What we hadn't remembered was that she's the perfect height for 'counter surfing.'
Not long after going up to bed, we heard an almighty crash. Cherry had jumped up at the work surface, and knocked off two wine glasses we'd foolishly left at the back of it. Thankfully, she wasn't hurt, but it was a lesson well learned! We didn't get much sleep that night because the poor dog howled and cried for hours.
When you think about it, she'd been taken away from everything she knew, to an unfamiliar place, with complete strangers. No wonder she was upset. But, we survived. The next day, our neighbours lent us a stair gate, which we put at the entrance to our bedroom, so we could leave the door open. We'd closed it the night before, which probably hadn't helped.
Poor Cherry couldn’t see us, and for a dog who's had company her whole life so far - either humans or other greyhounds - she must have felt scared and alone. But she could see us now and was much happier. She slept right through that night
She had so many things to get used to. She didn't know what all the usual household noises were, like the TV, vacuum cleaner or washing machine, she didn't know how to play, or even what her own name was. She wolfed down her food because she'd always had to compete for meals and didn't understand that the dish of food I put down was just for her, and wouldn't be eaten by anyone else, or taken away.
Her world was all new and a bit scary, but with time, patience and love, we got there
She took almost everything in her stride; hardly anything seemed to worry or faze her. The only thing she doesn't like are very loud noises such as gunshots. But now we live in the countryside, she's even getting used to that, as we hear it quite frequently.
Do you like my coat?
She loves going out in the car, and will jump into the boot quite happily as soon as we open it. In fact, she loves car journeys so much, she’ll get in anyone’s open car. Our friends came to stay with us for a long weekend, and when they arrived, and Tony got out of the car, he left the door open. Quick as a shot, Cherry jumped in and made herself comfortable.
Ten months on, we've learned so much. Cherry has blossomed – see what I did there? – and we've got a beautiful, gentle, sensitive, fun and sometimes crazy, hound, who we love to bits.
I believe that everything happens for a reason, and I think we were meant to be together
Fate gave us a helping hand that Summer’s day by choosing that book for me to read.