I've noted John's transparent attempt to acquire more bloggers and posters on his site through his James Bond Lookalike competition and, spurred on by yesterday's great Christmas quiz in the Racing Post (of which I could answer about two questions), I've decided to set my own test.
Among the many feline occupants of this stable is a sweet little cat by the name of No Name (pictured with Alamshar and Brilliant). When John was naming her brothers and sisters, he decided she did not have enough personality to warrant identification. Harsh, some may say, but she was a timid little creature in her early days. Now, with some delicate handling and regular blackmailing with Whiskas pouches, she is the friendliest of the lot and greets me every morning with a kiss on the cheek as I ascend the ladder to the hayloft to feed those moggies clever enough to stay out of Stan's considerable reach.
So, it's time to think of a name for No Name. A sherbert dipdab for the best suggestion (and I may even throw in a jar of my Christmas chutney as long as John and Olly don't scoff it all on Boxing Day).
Boxing Day. Can't wait. The best day of the year for bagging the biggest sofa with a Scooby size stack of turkey sandwiches and a giant tin of Quality Street within easy reach to enjoy race after brilliant race from Kempton, Wetherby, Huntingdon, etc. But before that we have the Aged Ps descending from the frozen north of Scotland for the annual Collings family 'Cheeses of Nazareth' joke and four runners at Kempton and Wolverhampton to look forward to.
In more pressing matters, I'm trying to work out whether John has done his Christmas shopping or not (odds against) and, after reading James Willoughby's review of Mark Johnston's autobiography today, I'm planning to try to squeeze it onto a rather long list of suggestions already made to the master of Beverley House Stables.
My biggest sadness this Christmas is the absence of Sarah. If you've read John's blog you'll know what's happened to her. Despite it being the only option, I miss her terribly as she is in all other respects a superb little dog. I was cheered by an email from Dave at the excellent Poplar Farm Kennels in Sutton Gault, near Ely. She lived there from a puppy to the age of two (when she came here) and has slotted straight back into her life there, living in the house with Dave and Rachel.
I hope it hasn't put anyone off adopting retired greyhounds. We've had Stan for two years now and he's been a wonderful addition to the family. He's lying right next to me as I type and is simply the most loyal companion. To me, greyhounds are very much like thoroughbreds. They are actually much lower maintenance than people give them credit for and, generally, very sociable and adaptable to life outside racing. Sarah had a clash of personalities with Alice which was deeply unfortunate but she was wonderful with Stan and everyone else she met. They do seem to polarise to their own kind. I noticed this particularly when we took Stan to Gatcombe horse trials this year. There were dogs everywhere but the ones he would go up to were fellow greyhounds/lurchers.
For anyone considering taking on a greyhound, my recommendations are that you are able to spend as much time with the dog as possible. They don't like to be left on their own for very long. Also, although we have zillions of cats here, you do have to watch them with anything small and furry, even small dogs. Racing dogs are used to being muzzled so it doesn't harm them to wear a muzzle when they're off the lead if you're unsure.
But PLEASE give greyhounds a try if you're looking at getting a rescue dog. They make fantastic pets and my life would not be complete without dear old Stan.