Make a Fast Friend
Make a fast friend. Adopt a greyhound. That’s what the tag on my license plate says. We adopted a greyhound 9 years ago. Dylan still talks about him. In fact, it’s why I am doing this post. A few weeks back, when I found all those lost CD’s with pictures on them while packing up, Dylan spotted a few of ‘Cloudy‘. To this day she still talks about him and even prays for him.
He was a great pet, a good watch dog, and great friend. We miss him and are making plans for adopting another after the new house is purchased (one reason house #2 really didn’t work).
So, one night this week I decided to go shopping at our local Greyhound adoption web site, Greyhound Crossroads. The unfortunate end to these athletes is sad in so many ways. That’s why adoption agencies and foster houses are set up for greyhounds.
When walking Cloud on the beach I was made to feel like a celebrity because so many people wanted to come up and pet him; especially excited kids.
So I wanted to tell you all a little bit more about these lovable pets and too often misunderstood breed. So I contacted the Greyhound Crossorad’s director, Joanne Johnson, and asked for some fast facts on greyhounds.
Now any pet in shelters or in harm’s way is worth adopting. No debating it. Greyhounds, however, have a few misconceptions that people have that keep them from being adopted, Joanne Johnson said in her email. We hear these same things every time we have the dogs out in public. So these are the things we really try to educate people about. For instance:
1) People think they are high energy because they are race dogs – the opposite is actually true. They are sprinters and very low energy. They race only once every 3 -5 days for 30 seconds at the track. That keeps them in top physical form and is all they can do without risking injury because they are low energy dogs. The rest of the time they are resting and sleeping. They have a nick name of ‘couch potato’.
2) People think they can’t be apartment dogs and need huge yards to run in because they think they are high energy. They are actually very good apartment dogs because of their low energy level and quiet nature. Although they do love to run we don’t require fenced yards if a family will leash walk them. A short walk can drain their energy as well as a run because they are such low energy dogs.
How many of you would like a reason to go for a walk each night?
3) People think they can’t live with cats or small animals – not true. We do get a few that have too high of a prey drive to live with small animals but most are fine with cats and some even live with rabbits and birds. Probably 80 percent or maybe even more than that are fine with small animals.
4) Retired race dogs aren’t old. Most are only 2 or 3 years old. Some of the better racers may retire at 4 or rarely 5. Even fast dogs start slowing a little in their 4th year and since one second separates the winner from the last place dog it doesn’t take much slowing to end in retirement. Few dogs ever race when they are 5. Ones that are really poor racers can retire out of training well before their second birthday when they are still pups.
We got Cloud just after he turned 2. His real name was Dana’s Cloud Nine on the track. He didn’t place that often they told us, so they took him off the track early. He was built like a bodybuilder, with bulging shoulders and hip muscles on a well chiseled frame. Greyhounds can be pure motivation to fitness enthusiasts. As a runner, he was always inspiring to me.
5) People think they have been abused and may have behavior issues from training on the track. Greyhounds are elite athletes and trainers only make money when they win races. Any abuse or bad treatment will make them run slower and trainers will make nothing. The average greyhound has over $3000 put into them before they start racing so are a considerable an investment for their owners. It wouldn’t make sense for an owner to send a dog worth that much money to any trainer that might harm it or not take good care of it.
Most trainers chose their profession the same way everyone else does, because it is something they like doing. They love working with dogs and greyhounds in particular. To us, it was like Cloudy had already been to obedience school from the very beginning. He needed housebroken but was otherwise very well mannered. You are actually living with an actual retired professional athlete!
6) Most greyhounds are very social and very bonded to humans BECAUSE of their trainers and the people that work with them at the track and dog farms. So it is natural that they will become bonded to their new owners as well.
The biggest behavior problem we see with greyhounds is actually separation anxiety, which is caused by being too bonded to people and not something you see in abused dogs that are afraid of people.
7) Along the same lines people also think that greyhounds are forced to race and hate it. Greyhounds can’t be forced to do much of anything and are famous for turning into statues when forced to do something they don’t want to. They were bred to run and chase for thousands of years. Their pedigree includes, big lungs, tails for rudders and little to no coat to slow them down.
Dogs that don’t have the instinct to give 100 percent effort at the track couldn’t ever win even if someone could force them to run. They are no more forced to run than a herding dog is forced to herd, a retriever is forced to play ball or a water dog is forced to swim. It is what they love and what they want to do more than anything else.
The only thing Cloud enjoyed doing was running. He got so excited when I took the leash off of him on the beach. He didn’t chase balls or fetch sticks. Greyhounds are truly something to watch when they take off; a combination of grace and power, along with a blur of winding legs and determination.
Rumor has it they can go from 0 – 60 mph in 5 steps. I found that not too far from the truth when I thought I would try to jog with him on the beach one time.
Every Sunday I would take Cloud for a walk on the beach as long as it stayed warm. It was therapy for both of us. I was feeling
stupid froggy one day and thought Cloud might run beside me while I ran on the beach. I took the leash off and he took off. The best I hoped for was to try to keep him in sight. I eventually caught him as he decided to relieve himself in the back yard of one of the million dollar houses along the beach.
8) People sometimes think greyhounds aren’t friendly, social dogs because they don’t bounce and wag their tails as much as higher energy breeds when meeting new people. They also hold their ears back when relaxed which makes them look stressed or shy.
When greyhound get real relaxed they like to roll over and lay on their backs, often with their paws up in the air. They do this frequently when they are at ease. The first time we saw it we just looked at each other and laughed. They have no shame we thought.
They are just low energy and aren’t hyper like other breeds so most greet people calmly and politely when out in public; i.e. well-mannered. That is one of the reasons they excel as therapy dogs.
Dylan saw this next picture. It is from when we first picked up Cloudy from Greyhound Crossroads. They take a picture to show another successful adoption. Dylan asks, “Why am I not in this pictures? Where was I?”
I politely replied, “Well you weren’t born yet. We got Cloudy before you were born.”
Enthusiastically, Dylan responded, “So I was in Mommy’s tummy then, right?
OMG, it is too early for this talk! “No Dylan. Cloudy just came a few years before you.”
So I keep looking at the greyhound adoption site to see if one is available close to us. And then Dylan, and Skylar, and Mommy and Daddy can have a Fast Friend again.
Here are a few more of our great friend. If you want a fast friend, google greyhound adoptions in your area. And adopt your own retired athlete.