Author Archives: Chris

Our Latest Rescued Greyhound Blog – Penny the Crafty Dog

Penny, Greyhound, Crafty Dog, Chris Dignam

Penny’s heard the crisp packet…

Greyt Expectations – Chris Dignam’s Rescued Greyhound page – Penny the Crafty Dog

Here’s the latest Blog from the South Wales Evening Post.  This week’s is about how Penny arrived with us.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve mentioned our first rescued greyhounds, Sally and Sam. We have also fostered a few over the years in between dogs of our own. Our latest hound in the house is our Penny. Her story began like many other dogs but fortunately for her our paths crossed and so she came to us.

Penny is not her racing name; for reasons that will become apparent, it’s best not to share her name here. She was born in Ireland and after initial races was sold and brought over to the UK. Like all Irish dogs she has a tattoo in each ear, which shows the year of her birth and her litter, all the details of which are recorded on the Irish Greyhound Stud Book in Clonmel. Her trainer lived in the Home Counties and she raced on the Swindon dog track. She won a good number of races, had some seconds and some thirds, was a good runner and she raced until her last outing on the day before her fourth birthday.

A month or so after this race, a black dog was found in a field in mid Wales. A dog wandering in a farmer’s field where there is livestock can be shot as a potential sheep worrier – the dog disappears, no-one is any the wiser – but luckily this dog was taken in by the farmer. He contacted Greyhound Rescue and the dog found herself in the kennels at Swiss Valley. We had spoken to the kennels about taking on a new foster dog so Armelle and I came over to see the prospective fosters. There were as usual a large number of black dogs, difficult to rehome as people do not think they are as pretty as the other colours. One of these, the dumped hound who had been named Suzi by the kennels, came out and took to us almost immediately. She walked easily on the lead with me, and even reacted well to the kennel’s Jack Russell terrier. We decided that we would give her a go, but we had a couple of craft fairs that weekend. We were asked whether we minded if she went to another family in the meantime but I said no, hang on to her as she was going to be ours.

On the way home we decided on a name; Suzi did not suit her, but how about Penny – like the Penny Black Stamp? A week later we collected her and Penny never looked back.

Penny, Greyhound, Rescue

She was named Suzi when she was handed in by the farmer.

Greyhounds have their ears tattooed – Irish dogs both ears and British dogs one ear, an important means of identifying a dog to prevent racing fraud but it also means that any dumped dogs can be traced. Some have their ears cut off when abandoned to prevent them being identified. This does not always work however, as one owner found to his cost. A number of years back a battered greyhound was found alive but dying on the hillside above Fochriw near Merthyr. His owner had dumped the body before the animal was dead and his cries had attracted another dog and owner who contacted a vet. The greyhound was so severely injured they had to be put to sleep. The owner had cut off the dog’s ears but in spite of that due to the public outcry he was identified and prosecuted. This dog, nicknamed Last Hope by greyhound charities, is the reason for an annual sponsored walk at Brynbach Park to raise funds to protect dogs like them.

Penny was far luckier. She has really landed on her paws; a famous and well-travelled hound, she helps out at Craft Fairs where we sell our Crafty Dog Jams and Chutneys, or our Crafty Dog Designs hand-painted glassware or even at book readings of our books. She is such a gentle and well-behaved dog, she has been to book readings at schools and libraries across South Wales where I read excerpts from our children’s book “The Largest Rabbit” or our greyhound rescue book, “A Hound in the House”. She loves people and children, and is more than happy to have kids hanging round her neck making a fuss of her.

Penny has been a wonderful ambassador for her breed, and a number of people have said that they had never considered homing a greyhound until meeting her. In fact, after we did a book reading at Sketty Library last year one dog was rehomed by a family that met her that day, and the interest raised by her visit meant another four dogs were also given homes.

At a recent school visit we left as the children were being collected by their parents and we could hear the guys

saying to their parents, “That’s Penny that is. She’s a greyhound and she’s really lovely.” A seed planted in a young child’s mind will help change society’s attitude towards these fabulous dogs so in a few years’ time when they want a companion for their own family, they will think of adopting a greyhound after looking back on the day they had a school visit from Penny the Crafty Dog.

For more information about Penny, keep an eye out on the Crafty-Dog-Cymru.co.uk website, for information on her latest meet and greets or news on the new book.

greyhound, running, Penny, Crafty dog

Penny doing what she loves second best!

Travellin’ Light – The Travel Sick Greyhound

Here’s the second blog I have written in the South Wales Evening Post.   Pop over to their site and have a read, or read it here!

In last week’s article I wrote about how we became involved with rescued greyhounds and how Sally, our first dog, came to live with us. She was a fabulous family dog and had many adventures with us as she learned what it was like to have a family and we learned what it was like to share your life with a 40mph couch potato. Sally was a great traveller and went everywhere with us, to street collections, to visit friends and family, to the countryside or the beach. She loved it all.

We had taken it for granted that all dogs were good travellers but our next one, Sammy showed us that this was not the case. She was a quiet black greyhound girl, gentle but with an inner determination. The first signs of her travel sickness appeared when we collected her from the kennels; when I opened the hatchback to let her out she had been sick in the car. We put this down to anxiety but the next day when I took her to a street collection in the City Centre she was sick on the way there (twice!) and again on the way back.

I read up on greyhound rescue sites on the internet and found that though it is not uncommon it is unusual for a dog to be travel sick. Some said it was anxiety, and all they needed was to get used to travelling, and associate the car with good things. I tried feeding her in the car, short trips to the park at the end of the road, all ending with a good positive experience. At first she would be drooling before we had got to the end of the street, but gently over the months we managed to extend this to a couple of miles. There was no problem getting her into the4 car or out, she was not frightened of it, the travelling just made her sick. Trips to the beach or anywhere further afield were impossible.

We tried human car sickness tablets (after checking on the net to see what other greyhound owners used). Small doses were ok, did not upset her but also did not work. We asked our vet and he prescribed zylkene, a milk-derivative which helped with nervousness. These were great. Sammy started to take longer journeys but after a few miles she would still be sick. However, the tablets made her so relaxed that she would throw-up but just not care! Going to the beach was great, she just accepted she would be sick getting there and coming back. Fine for Sam but not ideal for us.

Travel sickness has 2 main causes; anxiety (fear of travel, fear of being ill) and motion sickness (the movement of the vehicle makes you ill, like sea-sickness). I was convinced by now that Sammy was ill due to the motion of the car. The question was – how could we cure it? A colleague in work had a spaniel that was travel sick and he tried a homeopathic remedy called cocculus, based on cockles. We bought some and started Sam on a small dose, checking for side-effects, and then increasing the dose. Incredibly, they worked! We could go a little bit further than before and you could see Sam’s confidence increasing. Sam would only allow Maggie at Pets at Home to cut her claws which would mean a long trip into town and back. Invariably we’d get there ok, Sam would have her claws done and a long walk, but on the way back the interminable Swansea traffic with its million roundabouts would take its toll and by the time we got to our road we would look in the back and see her shoulders going, cue to her throwing up on her blanket.

By this time we had bought a motorhome and so we wanted to be able to take Sam with us on our holidays. Larger vehicles sometimes help with travel sickness and indeed it did help but was not infallible. We needed something else. An advert in the vets recommended a new tablet called Cerenia. It was a tablet prescribed to prevent nausea for dogs having chemotherapy so was a heavy hitter. The vet agreed to try it, but it could only be used for 48 hours, which would be ideal for a weekend. The other hiccough was that it cost £7 a tablet! OK – if it made her feel ok and be able to enjoy some trips with us, then it would be money well spent.

Our first trip took us to Mumbles and where previously she had been sick as we had passed the “Welcome to Mumbles” sign, this time there was nothing. Fabulous! We even had a bag of fish and chips before coming home which we shared with her. No a patch of sickness to be seen. It had taken ages (and rolls of kitchen towel!) but we found something that worked – 99% of the time anyway.

We even managed to take Sam on holidays in the van down to Pembrokeshire and as long as we were sensible, took breaks from driving every hour or so, then she was ok. The van was something Sammy grew to love so much; when walking down the drive past it she would stop by the side door and sit waiting for it to be opened, even when we were going for a walk!

Sam did not have a long life but a happy one and her travels in the van were a real joy to her. She saw places we thought she would never get to, where once we had been resigned to her being a house dog. It all proves that with thought, perseverance and research most canine issues can be overcome. It was worth it to see her happily eating ice cream in the car park at Rhossili, not worrying about how far we would get before Sam’s blanket got to sample it too!

Greyt Expectations – South Wales Evening Post launches Greyhound Blog!

Monday this week Chris Dignam of Crafty Dog Books and Crafty Dog Cymru had his first blog published on the South Wales Evening Post website.  Its going to be a regular weekly piece about living with rescued dogs, particularly greyhounds, and tips and lessons learned along the way.  Not only will you learn what greyhounds like to do, you’ll also read about life with Penny the Crafty Dog, and also the adventures of being a jam and chutney maker, and even of how the books came about.  Wanted to know about the pet passport and travelling abroad with your dog?  One of the Greyt Expectations entries will be about that.  If there’s anything you are specifically interested in, contact us through our website and we’ll get back to you.

Heres the link to the blog;

http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Greyt-Expectations-Chris-Dignam-8217-s-greyhounds/story-23015432-detail/story.html

The Crafty Dog Gang in the South Wales Evening Post

Where Dylan Thomas Once Trod…

Chris Dignam, Greyhound Rescue, Greyhound Author, Largest Rabbit, Hound in the House.
Chris with Penny

In this week’s Evening Post Kate Clarke has written a lovely article about Chris & Armelle Dignam of Crafty Dog Cymru, about their involvement with Greyhound Rescue and living with their rescued hounds.  Its a fabulous piece – it was a double-page spread in the paper and is terrific publicity for the plight of ex-racing greyhounds and the fact that they make wonderful pets and companions.  Penny was very pleased to have her photo in the paper again and was waiting at dog class this week to sign pawtographs!  She’s been getting a bit full of herself lately, now insisting on having specially prepared foods at certain times, and her fruit peeled in a certain way.  She is even trying to take over more of the double-bed at night, which really isn’t fair!

This weekend when Armelle is at the Made it Market in Neath, Chris and Penny will be helping out at the Greyhound Rescue Wales street collection also in Neath.  Come along a meet a tabloid celebrity!

http://www.southwales-eveningpost.co.uk/Kind-hearted-pair-new-lease-life-greyhounds-race/story-22961217-detail/story.html

South Wales Evening Post, Greyhounds, Jam & Dylan Thomas

What an eventful day!

Chris and Penny have a nice big photo in the South Wales Evening Post today – the very same newspaper that Dylan Thomas cut his teeth writing for.  There is a lovely article by Kate Clarke about how they got involved with greyhound rescue, about their own greyhounds and their foster dogs.  As well as talking about rescuing hounds, it also mentions the jam and glass making.  The main point behind the piece is to launch the new weekly column Chris has been given in the on-line South Wales Evening Post, nominally titled “Greyt Expectations”, in which Chris will keep everyone updated on Penny’s adventures, as well as the world of the Crafty Dog industry, making glassware, jams and chutneys, writing and promoting the books, and generally letting everyone know how great rescued greyhounds are.  There may also be some hints about the new books planned – Penny’s story “In for a Penny, In for a Hound” and the further adventures of Rubbish, The Largest Rabbit.

Chris told us ,”To be in the paper is a wonderful opportunity for us to promote the world of greyhound rescue and make people see what wonderful companions they make.  It will also allow people to keep people informed on our latest range of jams and chutneys which are proving so very popular across South Wales!”

The Crafty Dog at Talgarth!

Hi Everyone,

Penny Greyhound Motorhome

Penny the Crafty Dog and the rest of the Crafty Dog Gang will be up at the Talgarth Festival of the Mountains this weekend (23 – 24th August 2014).   It’ll be great to meet you so come along and find us.  We will have our glasses and tableware including the new In Flanders Fields tumblers/lanterns, the Celtic Greyhound wine glasses and our new and very popular Green Man design. 

We will be in the main street with the other stalls, and Penny will be with us.  If not working with us, Penny will be helping out at the Greyhound Rescue Wales stand in the old Cattle Mart.

 

Chris will be there signing copies of A Hound in the House along with copies of the new children’s favourite, The Largest Rabbit.  Come and get your signed copy before they are all gone!

There’ll be music, food, a great welcome and even better – Greyhounds!

 

See you there!

Greyt News – Pennys Adventures in the South Wales Evening Post

Penny in Print!

Fabulous news for all of Penny’s fans out there.  Chris has just been offered the opportunity to write a regular column for the South Wales Evening Post about life with a rescued greyhound.  We are still ironing out the format but it will probably be along the lines of general tips about living with a rescued dog, information about dogs and greyhounds in particular, and Penny’s adventures.  It’ll be a great chance for everyone to see how fabulous a greyhound can be, how she enjoys her life and what she’s like with adults and children.  Penny is not only an ambassador for her breed but also for Crafty Dog, helping at book-readings and craft fairs and at greyhound rescue events.

It will probably be fortnighly, starting on the web-page and then into the paper itself when space permitsPenny was not available for comment as she is currently having her mid-day siesta after eating her lunch.

Here’s the recent piece from the Evening Post about Penny’s travels in Brittany.  Copyright SWEP.

Penny Hols

Ready for Thursday? Its Sketty Library again!

Penny Greyhound Rescue WalesDon’t Forget – Sketty Library 2p.m. Thursday

Afternoon all.  Penny the Crafty Dog reporting in to my many fans.  It’s been a looooong weekend and I’ve had lots of sleeps.  It’s been really hot here in Crafty Dog Towers.  Mr and Mrs Crafty Dog were out a bit at a Crafty Show the weekend and didn’t need me to come along.  This was great as Dad always leaves me with a project to do – a big blue toy called Bluey full of treats.  It takes me ages to get everything out of it and I have to have some long naps in between.  When I wakes up sometimes they have come home, so I then ask Dad to get some of the bikkies out.  Life can be great being a Crafty Dog – much better than when I was racing.

Anyways, the reason I was typing was to tell everyone I will be at Sketty Library in Swansea on Thursday.  Theres gonna be lots of peoples come to see me and listen to Mr Crafty Dog as he is reading some of his new book about that Largest Rabbit.  I don’t think it’s really a rabbit as he looks like somethinbg else on the cover – can’t say or it’ll give it all away.

Dad says the books are selling really well all over the place and money goes to help other greyhounds not as lucky as me.  I think that’s great.

Oooh – Mam has just finished her sandwich so off to have some crusts and maybe some gravy bones.

Ta for now,

Penny

 

Jammin’ at Swansea Museum

 

crafty dog primrose suncatcher

Primroses Suncatcher

Crafty Dog at Swansea Museum

Its going to be a very busy weekend for us Crafty Dogs!  This  weekend (Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th July) we will be at Swansea Museum at their Summer Craft Fair with a range of their incredible jams and chutneys and wonderful marmalades!  We will have some new products including a Date and Apple Chutney for diabetics – the first diabetic chutney we have done. 

Sunshine! 

And ideal for the sunshine, we will be taking some lovely new suncatchers which will look good hanging in anyone’s window catching the rays.

 

Open from 10 o’clock to 4 o’clock on Saturday and 11 o’clock to 3 o’clock Sunday, entry is free.

Come along and see us.

 

The Largest Rabbit at Sketty Library!

Come and meet Penny the Crafty Dog and Hear about Rubbish the Rabbithound!

Thursday afternoon next week 31st July, Penny the Crafty Dog will be visiting Sketty Library with Chris Dignam for a book reading of “The Largest Rabbit”.  Not only will you be able to meet Penny, but you will also be able to meet the wonderful chracters in the book; Scvutter and Bownie and the rabbits, the mighty Finn the Scottish Deerhound, Jeffery the ancient marmalade cat and of course Rubbish the largest rabbit of the title.  Meet these heroes, and also the villains of the book, and maybe get a signed copy too!  The library is also running a reading competition.

Anyone wanting any further information, check the Sketty Library page on the City and County of Swansea website, or ring the Library for more information.  We look forward to seeing you all there!

greyt  fair 5