The Lurcher is a type of dog, rather than a pure breed, but it’s instantly recognizable. It’s usually a result of a cross between a sight hound (typically a greyhound) and a pastoral dog (such as a Collie). The resulting animal possesses a combination of speed, intelligence, and a willingness to work for their owner. Traditionally, Lurchers were known as poachers’ dogs, bred for hunting rabbits and other small animals. In recent years, they’ve been known as excellent family pets, with their gentleness and loyalty endearing them to their owners.

Karen obtained her two dogs when they were eighteen months old, as rescue animals. They’d been unwanted by their original owners, and because they weren’t cute, cuddly puppies, they’d ended up with the DSPCA. Both dogs have settled in well with Karen.

Karen takes the dogs into the Wicklow hills and woods every day, and they love to run off the leash. She’s trained them to come back to a referee-type whistle that she bought in a Euro shop. They’re very reliable: one blast of the whistle and they come charging back to her, eager for the treat that she has ready for them.

Last week, the two Lurchers disappeared deep into the undergrowth during a walk, staying out of sight for a little longer than normal. They have jangly bells on their collars so that Karen can hear where they are, but this time she couldn’t hear them. When she blew her whistle, there was still no sign of them, and she began to get worried.  She blew the whistle repeatedly, and after another five minutes, first she could hear the tinkle of a bell, then Amber emerged alone from the densely forested area. She had a few small grazes on her forelegs and her body, as if she’d been tunnelling through some type of thorny thicket. There was still no sign of Saffron.

A few minutes later, another bell could be heard, and Saffron burst out of the bushes, rushing up to Karen enthusiastically, obviously delighted to have made her way back. Karen noticed at once that all was not well: there were lacerations on both of her back legs, and she was leaving a trail of blood behind her.

Karen had recently completed an Animal Care course, and her first aid training meant that she knew exactly what to do. She walked Saffron swiftly back to the car, where she had a clean towel, which she wrapped around the cut that was bleeding more severely. Her boyfriend drove straight to the vet clinic, while Karen sat on the back seat with Saffron, nursing her dog’s wounds.

Saffron’s wounds were not life threatening in any way, but they did need rapid veterinary attention. An immediate operation was carried out, with one wound needing three stitches, and the other five. Lurchers have fine skin, like Greyhounds, with little overlying hair to protect it. If the skin is snagged on a protruding stick or other sharp object, it can tear like tissue paper. Fortunately, they tend to be healthy dogs, healing rapidly.

Both hind legs had to be bandaged to prevent Saffron from chewing the stitches out, and again, Karen’s training has come in handy. She’s been able to change the dressings herself, rather than having to come back to the vet every two days. I removed the stitches yesterday, and both wounds have healed well.

TIPS

  • Many rescue centres have adult Lurchers looking for homes
  • They can make excellent family pets
  • Their fine skin means that they’re more prone to cuts and grazes than many other breeds