“Warning: Strange Dog.” That’s the plate my husband wanted to put on the door when we started discussing Juniper’s adoption. I refused. After seeing how shy she was, I felt the plate was insensitive. She wasn’t strange – she just needed some love and care. However, now that we’re several years down the road, I’ve come to accept how accurate the statement is. Especially when I find myself laughing and saying, “She’s strange,” as she hides behind my legs when we encounter little dogs.
Your Average Greyhound
Comparing track greyhounds with show greyhounds can leave you confused. They seem like different creatures. One looks healthy, and the other? Well, suffice it to say they need a cheeseburger. Or ten. (Yes, I’m kidding. No dogs need cheeseburgers) Overall, though, the breed average comes out around 28 inches high at the shoulder and 68-70 pounds.
They’re NOT little dogs.
However – as any grey owner will tell you – you can get away with keeping a greyhound in an apartment without any trouble. So long as you accommodate those daily zoomies, they don’t take up much room. Despite the fact we’ve provided numerous giant dog beds throughout the house (including an orthopedic monstrosity), Juniper prefers to lounge on the couch.
She’s even curled up on one of the cat beds a time or two. Well, she tried to. (Very comical – to everyone except the cats)
When walking, her head comes even with my hip. And I’m not a short individual. A comfortable stride for me will still find her slightly ahead at her usual pace. That’s typical for the breed.
They’re larger dogs.
NOT Your Average Greyhound
Now, you don’t see many greys in our part of Virginia. Juniper’s the only one in the neighborhood. Makes her popular. Everyone compliments her and wants to come over and see her. She’s as rare as the lone giant schnauzer we see on occasion.
Little dogs are more common. Not tiny, per se, but along the lines of terriers, dachshunds, and chihuahuas. The sort of breeds owners feel comfortable leaving unsupervised for a run in the backyard rather than escorting on a walk around the block.
And that’s the crux.
We don’t know WHY, but Juniper is petrified of any dog smaller than her. She will swing around behind us to hide. She immediately feels threatened whether she spots that little yapper in a yard or behind a closed door. (And, to be fair, the dog doesn’t even need to be barking) We need to serve as the barrier to “save” her.
The same grey who happily shares a home with cats smaller than she is.
Little Dogs Only
When we first spotted her avoidance behavior, we assumed she was nervous around other dogs. (Read that as “non-greyhounds”) Considering this was in those first months with her, it made sense. She was afraid of everything back then. We couldn’t even get her near other people.
After some time, though, we decided to brave a local dog-oriented festival. Outdoors in a park, where we’d have control of the situation? Seemed ideal.
The first dog she encountered was a massive Great Dane. Easily double her size. I looked at my husband, and we both braced ourselves for Juniper to bolt and duck behind us.
She went nose-to-nose with the behemoth. Didn’t bat an eye.
However, when the first of the little dogs stepped on the path – a 5-pound poodle puppy – she performed her usual dance.
That threw our theory out the window. Other dogs weren’t the problem – unless they were tiny enough for her to step on. Friendly, quiet, aggressive, barking – doesn’t matter. If the dog is on the small side, she’s petrified.
Our Strange Dog
Juniper’s made tremendous strides in the three years we’ve had her in the family. She recognizes family and friends – greeting them with an exuberant tail-wag. (After barking at the door, of course. Something greys are NOT supposed to do) She’ll happily hike on trails with us, undeterred by rocks or branches. And she even mastered the odd stairs into my parents’ RV. She’s also discovered the joy of playing with toys when she isn’t undertaking necessary napping chores.
But getting anywhere near little dogs? That’s still off the table.
Which continues to remain humorously tragic. Particularly with our next-door neighbors adopting two dachshund puppies. Oh, well.