Here is your chance to learn about greyhounds, support our local rescue, and save on your next dog food purchase! So keep reading…
We adopted our first greyhound in 2003, before we got engaged or married, before kids, before the minivan and living the suburban dream. Researching breeds, we looked for a young (not a puppy) rescue dog. We wanted a dog with a reasonable level of energy since we were willing to walk daily, but jogging was out of the question. We also looked for a low-shedding breed that would not exacerbate my allergies. Labs, goldens, and shepherd mixes were out of the question. We checked Petfinder and our local SPCA weekly. I don’t remember exactly how greyhounds entered the conversation, but we connected with a greyhound rescue and the rest is history.
We met Dirtywater in October 2003. He was 2-years old and raced at tracks in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. The gentleman who ran the greyhound rescue brought him to our house. Dirtywater sniffed the perimeter of our family room, sniffed us, flopped on the floor, and fell asleep. Love at first sight. Obviously, Dirtywater was not an acceptable name, so his forever name became Bocephus. Bo for short. He was the perfect family dog for 11 years–there the day we got married, when we brought three babies home from the hospital, and he had an unspoken relationship with our oldest son that is the stuff of fables. In May of 2014, Bo’s age finally got the better of him.
Most greyhounds around the world are bred for racing; so most adoptable greyhounds are retired racers. Greyhound racing is a dying spectator sport in the United States, and declining revenues means declining track and kennel conditions. Groups like PETA and GREY2K USA exposed multiple accounts of confinement, injuries, and poor breeding practices around the country over the last 10 years. In the end, though, there are still more retiring racers than adopters, and greyhounds are destroyed as a result. When you adopt a retired racer, you gain a family member, friend, and support an international community dedicated to giving these dogs a second chance. Here’s what you should know about the gentle giants:
- When you adopt an adult dog, you know what you’re getting. They are already full-grown in size and personality. Since race dogs spend their entire lives on tracks and in kennels before retirement, they are not used to living in a home. Glass doors, hardwood floors, and stairs are foreign to them, but they learn quickly.
- Adult dogs require less work than puppies. Housetraining those dogs already used to a turn-out schedule makes things pretty easy.
- Greyhounds are quiet indoors, laid back, and love to lounge in their favorite soft spots. They require less exercise than other breeds. There’s a reason greyhounds are called 45-mph couch potatoes, but they can be as active as you are. Adoption groups work tirelessly to match you with the right grey for your lifestyle.
- Greyhounds are naturally well mannered. They are quiet, usually compliant, easygoing, and require minimal grooming.
- For allergy sufferers like myself, greyhounds make great pets because their coats are light, short, low-shedding, and not oily. They groom themselves like cats and do not slobber. No offense to my doodle-owning friends, but there is no such thing as an allergy-free or hypoallergenic dog. Those terms are marketing ploys for the designer dog business. If you want the real scoop on pet allergies, check out the Mayo Clinic or this New York Times article.
- Greyhounds are a healthy breed. They are bred for physical superiority on the race track, and large-breed problems like hip dysplasia are nonexistent. The biggest time investment you’ll make in their health and grooming is regular teeth brushing.
The books Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies by Lee Livingood and Adopting the Racing Greyhound by Cynthia Branigan detail the ins and outs of adopting, training, and loving these dogs. If you’re interested in adoption, read one of these books!
This year, we adopted our second greyhound. She is 2-years old and raced in Alabama. We described our family dynamic (three young children, two with autism), and the adoption agency screened possible candidates for therapy dog training. Belle arrived in May, skinny and infected with hookworms. She cannot stand to be absent from her family. By family, I mean me. I leave the house and she’s howling at the top of her lungs. I go to the bathroom and she whines at the door. Belle is my shadow–affectionate, sometimes smothering, but she only wants to give and get love. She’s still learning the ropes.
Here is Belle the weekend she arrived, already Thing 2’s skinny and stinky pillow.
Fast-forward 10 weeks later, she gained 10 pounds (thanks to a fantastic food from Nature’s Select of Central Virginia), got treated for those nasty hookworms, and sports a fancy new collar.
When we’re out walking, whether the neighborhood or anywhere else, I field a lot of questions about greyhounds. Since we do not have dog tracks in Virginia, I guess people are not familiar with the industry or the work of adoption groups in our state. If you are looking for a furry family member, I hope you consider adopting a rescue first. Then I hope you check out greyhounds.
We discovered Nature’s Select later in Bo’s life. Bo loved it, and so does Belle! We prefer feeding kibble approved by the Whole Dog Journal; Nature’s Select meets that criteria and made our dogs’ skin and coat look and feel amazing. Buying Nature’s Select, we support a wonderful local family-owned company, and the food gets delivered right to our door. Try it for yourself by ordering your next bag of dog food from Nature’s Select of Central Virginia and use the coupon code HELPGREYS (all caps); you’ll save 15% off your first order, and $1 per bag will be donated to James River Greyhounds.