Icky is our second dog. He is a purebred Italian Greyhound from Dierkings in Liberty, NE.

Not long after we moved into our house in Palmyra in January 1998, we decided it was time for a second dog. It was one of the things we looked forward to with homeownership, since Westbrook Commons allowed only one small dog. We had researched small breeds ahead of time and had decided we liked the sound of their personalities, their looks, and their low shed amount. Not to mention we now had plenty of land for walking a small, energetic dog.

Paul went on the internet to look and posted in a forum somewhere. As it turns out, Deb Dierking got back to us first and had a couple of male puppies available. An IG rescuer that responded later was very irritated with us for deciding to go with a breeder, but we were undeterred. As I've come to find out, there are not *that* many Italian Greyounds to be found in pounds or rescue, and they tend to find homes quickly despite their reputation for difficulty in housetraining. We were initially interested in the black IG (being fixated on black dogs for some reason at that point, probably because of our luck with Grep), but by the time we got back to Deb, only a white/blue male was available, but after seeing his picture we quickly agreed he was our dog. Deb seemed to think he was a very affectionate little puppy, always hugging people, which was even more appealing than his looks. We just had to wait a few weeks until he was old enough to be neutered (9 weeks) by Deb's vet and sent on a plane. Initially, the black puppy was to go to a family in Syracuse so we had arranged for both of them to fly to Syracuse (we're closer to Rochester but east, so it wasn't out of the question). Later, that fell through...we were offered the black puppy but we had already fallen in love with Icky's picture so he flew alone.

The first thing we noticed, upon picking up the large crate at the Rochester airport, was loud thumping--his tail madly whacking the inside of the crate. He was so happy to see people again, he flew out of the crate and immediately attached himself to my neck. Apparently the hugging rumor was emphatically true. He spent the trip home alternately wrapped around my neck or Paul's.

Grep was not overly happy to see another dog--at that time, he was almost exactly her size already. But, she adjusted well and learned to stay out of his way.

'Icky' is actually short for 'Icnivortsac'--Castrovinci backwards (Paul's college roommate Jay). But he can be pretty Icky, as well.

IG's are extremely excitable puppies and can be difficult to housetrain, especially if you live in a cold climate and it's the wrong time of year. He also seemed to think he could fly--we ended up wrapping the upper loft railings in saran wrap to prevent a leap. He also was quick to discover the gaps between the kitchen cabinets, which led to the wallspace behind and under our bathroom. If we didn't block every small gap, he'd be whining under the bathroom before long, or would escape in either direction. At the time, we were both working during the day and put him in the bathroom to promote housetraining (small area, no carpet to soil). Somehow, he pushed out the screen and leaped out the first floor window one day...we found him running in the yard when we got home.

Due to our work circumstances, we had decided to paper train Icky. This turned out to be a bad idea; the pee pads we utilized inevitably leaked off the edges, permanently soaking the carpet underneath. Not to mention the cost of packs of pee pads. Once we were home more (telecommuting), we were able to wean him off the pads by completely replacing the upstairs hall carpet and encouraging him only to go outside. If I were ever to have to housetrain again, I would definitely go with outside training from the outset. I just think it's a bad idea to give them the idea that it's ever OK to go in the house; otherwise from then on any time they find any kind of paper on the floor, they think it's OK to go there.

Eventually, all the bad puppy behavior was reduced and Icky became an affectionate companion. We found that IGs, or at least Icky, grunts almost constantly...from a long, drawn out moan to short grunts, depending on his mood...mostly when he wants something, like to be covered with a blanket (which is almost constantly, even in the summer). Also, rather like their larger cousins, they will smile when nervous (such as when we first come home, or we've got food he wants badly). He also loves to howl as a group with people and dogs, sounding a lot like a coyote (very high pitched). We found this out after we obtained our first larger hound (See LupiStory). He remains a hugger, but is very suspicious of strangers, barking and growling for quite a long time before finally greeting them. Unfortunately, being far from roads, he is not at all cautious about cars and chases them when they come up the driveway--he wants to be let in to ride the rest of the way up. If we hear a car coming and Icky's out, we need to capture him immediately. Fortunately it doesn't happen much around here. He is our best woods-walking dog...he stays just ahead, but comes back when called. No need to leash him on our property. Being close to hairless, he likes to stay warm, sleeping under the covers at night, usually near our feet or legs, but sometimes facing me with paws wrapped around my neck.

Although he is nearly all white other than his head and a small grey spot on the back of his neck, his underlying skin, which started out all pink, has gradually become dark-spotted. Dr. Krause called this 'ticking'. He is nearly all black under his white fur, in some spots; it's especially noticeable when he's wet. His grey started out very well defined, but his face has gradually gotten more and more white. IGs have very little oil in their skin and very little hair, and consequently very little odor--unless he rolls in something or meets a skunk, which he is very inclined to do when he gets the chance.

The really good news about Icky is that, despite his fragile appearance, he's been the healthiest of our dogs. Other than a few kinks in his tail from whacking it into things as a puppy, and one time being rushed to the vet with a stomach ailment, he has never had a health problem. Unlike all our other dogs, he seems unlikely to put on weight...he grazes only when he's hungry. His only current defects are a wart and a small fatty tumor (Dr. Schneider thinks it's probably benign).

He can be a bit high-strung at times. He gets extremely nervous when riding in the car. It's a good idea under those circumstances to have a passenger to hold him; otherwise, he sometimes attaches himself to the driver's neck in a panicked leap. He's not much for riding on any moving vehicle, especially a 4-wheeler. He'd much rather be running full speed after it and trying to herd it (a rather odd behavior for a greyhound).

Tricks: sit. Sometimes. He's not much for tricks. Smile, if he's already inclined to do so (if excited).

Likes: people, being covered with blankets, cheese, walking in the woods

Can do without: snow, riding in the car