Why You Should Adopt a Greyhound

By now I hope you all have heard that April is Adopt a Greyhound Month. I have been racking my brain over what to post to best advertise for these amazing creatures. It’s hard to pick out one thing that sets the Greyhound apart from other dogs—they have so many lovely traits. But as I am sitting here typing with Darla’s head in my lap it came to me. 

Greyhounds get us. Greyhound-type dogs are one of the oldest dogs. They have lived with humans for thousands of years. Genetically speaking the Greyhound understands humans probably better than we understand our Greyhounds.

The fact that the Greyhound has been around humans for so long plays into why we are attracted to these dogs. I think that we cognitively recognize Greyhounds as the dog prototype. Due to our long years getting acquainted the physical aspects of the Greyhound they feel natural to us. Greyhounds are also good at following our cues making us feel like they truly understand. And who doesn’t desire to be understood—Darla gets me better than any human!

The ability of a Greyhound to place their head in your lap, you tussle their ears and they look up at you with innocent loving eyes speaks to our heartstrings. Couple these traits with their ability to co-exist well with other Greyhounds, easy upkeep, and temperament and you have the ultimate dog-living companion.

In addition to the Greyhound’s long history of living with humans they are also independent fearless dogs (generally speaking). I have posted on how difficult this independence can be when training but it is nice to have a dog that can entertain itself and not be constantly underfoot—unless you are making dinner, breakfast, a snack, lunch, or if the refrigerator door opens!

But don’t mistake their independence for being aloof. Greyhounds have a passion for life, their people, food, and for running. Greyhounds are passionate creatures. I love this passion. I love that I can fire up my Greyhound and he will prance like a pony, jump, and then do zoomies! There is nothing better!

Some folks think that Greyhound just lay around all day and I have to say that Greyhounds do enjoy lazy afternoon but most of all they enjoy showing off that big passionate heart. Just watch a Greyhound run in an open field; anyone can see the passion the Greyhound has for running and being in the countryside!

Video Credit: David Lowery

I wish everyone could experience how great it is to own a retired racer. These low maintenance dogs are all around amazing but when they are showing off their passion there is simply nothing sweeter on this planet!

I hope you consider adopting a Greyhound. If you are in the Atlanta area please check out Southeastern Greyhound Adoption, by clicking here.

The Perfect Pair

After writing my post, Yes, I Own a Racing Greyhound and No She Isn’t a Rescue, I was delighted by the support from readers and that so many readers related to my experience. This post engaged a lot of people and a lot of comments. The comments I received were very positive. However, in many of the negative comments there continued to be a theme, using old information to justify the anti-racing agenda and the idea that Greyhounds are “rescued” from inevitable death.

I have been a part of the Greyhound world for four years and the dog world since birth. My Greyhound learning curve has been steep. You could say that I am obsessed with expanding my Greyhound knowledge, if I am not out photographing my Greyhounds in a beautiful field, I am learning more about the breed and why performance is so important.

I entered the Greyhound world at a very good time. The racing industry and adoption charities had created a successful relationship with the welfare of the racing Greyhound at the forefront. It was not an easy journey and took a lot of hard work from both parties.

In the late 1980’s Greyhound racing was the sixth most popular sport in America. There were multiple tracks throughout the country and there was high demand for racing Greyhounds. Greyhound breeders were breeding and whelping to fill the demand for racing Greyhounds.

With the increase in supply of Greyhounds, there was always a newer faster dog in the wings. Unfortunately these racing kennels could not house excess Greyhounds. This was a huge issue. Greyhound adoption was catching on in the mid-1980’s but there were some obstacles. Many people opposed Greyhound adoption stating that these dogs were vicious, trained to kill, and should not be rehomed as pets. The racing industry and the adoption charities developed a symbiotic relationship, hosting meet and greets at tracks and encouraging the publicity of unmuzzled Greyhounds interacting with people. Adoption groups continued to sprout up throughout the country re-homing racing Greyhounds.

In the meantime, The AR lobbyists were trying their best to end Greyhound racing by 2000.  The racing industry continued breeding Greyhounds to the performance standard, albeit fewer Greyhounds per year.  But there was a big change, no longer were trainers having to search desperately to place retired racing Greyhounds. The racing Greyhound had an abundance of people wanting them in retirement. The improved publicity and relationship between the racing industry and adoption charities increased the adoption rate of retired racing Greyhounds to 90%.

Due to the work of adoption charities and the Greyhound racing industry, I do not feel that today’s racing Greyhound is a rescue. There is a high demand for retired racing Greyhounds as pets.  If one adoption group cannot take a dog another will. However, decades ago, when trainers were desperately searching for groups to take their Greyhounds, knowing there was no more room in their kennel, I can understand why some would refer to the Greyhound as a rescue. But times have changed.

The racing industry has a commitment to the performance standard of the Greyhound and with the assistance of adoption charities the industry has been able to further their commitment to the welfare of the racing Greyhound throughout their lives on and off the track.

 

Separation Anxiety

A lot of my blog ideas come from previous posts.  I do research on a topic and then think about my experiences.  I think that gives this blog a distinct feel and I hope you all enjoy it as well.  The other day I way touching on some of the myths people believe about racing Greyhounds and their lives on the track.  Separation anxiety popped into my mind.  In addition to hearing that skittish dogs are products of abuse, I have also heard and read that the anxieties or issues Greyhounds have in their adopted homes are products of what might have happened at racing kennels.

Today I want to dive into my dogs’ separation anxiety (SA) journey and how it correlated to mistakes I made and not problems in their kennel lives or mistreatment.

In my “Myths Busted” post I compared a racing kennel to a military school.  I think this is the most accurate way for many adopters to understand their Greyhound’s previous life if the adopter has never been to a kennel or racetrack.  Dogs are creatures of habit and, due to that tendency, Greyhounds do very well in the racing kennel environment.  Kennels have daily routines that do not differ greatly from day to day.  This is very comfortable living for most dogs. Once the decision has been made to retire a racing Greyhound and send them to an adoption kennel, their lives change but generally speaking they continue with a stable routine.  Sometimes the retired Greyhounds have a long trip to the adoption kennels but once there the Greyhounds enjoy a routine that includes exercise, interactions with humans and Greyhounds, and meals.

The big change comes to the Greyhounds’ routine when they are adopted.  One change is they are no longer around other Greyhounds (unless there are Greyhounds in their new family).  These dogs have spent their entire lives with other Greyhounds and are now alone. They may also have more free time—they can wander around in the yard or house.  They most likely are getting less exercise than previously, possibly increasing their anxiety.  Finally the biggest change and the biggest issue is the over-abundance of affection from their new owner(s).

All of these changes influence the risk of separation anxiety in these dogs, but the biggest issue is the amount of affection we give to our newly adopted Greyhounds.

When Clint and I adopted Jethro I had firm opinions that Jethro was going to be crated and sleep in our sunroom that was close to out bedroom but not in it.  Big mistake!  The first few nights Jethro howled and I went into the sunroom every time to comfort him.  This was my first mistake and biggest mistake.  It would have been better for Jethro to be crated in our room than for me to continue to check on him.  I know this is what triggered his separation anxiety. And it was not easy to undo.

Jethro had horrible SA.  He chewed through multiple metal and soft crates, escaped through the sunroof of my SUV at a field trial, escaped from a kennel run with a d-ring, he learned how to break down a metal crate and would leave the front panel off to chew up our window seal and blinds.  I felt that I had created a monster!  I had no clue how to help him.  I consulted my friend Jennifer Bachelor and her blog.  By this time it was clear that the crate was not working for Jethro.  We began baby gating Jethro in the kitchen—we could make his area smaller than a bedroom but larger than a bathroom. We continued to leave the TV on for him and a kong.  We also hired a dog walker to check on him.  And we got another Greyhound.

The process of Jethro’s SA rehab took a long time.  He is still not a fan of the crate but deals with it for car rides and field trials.  He does have the run of the house when we are away.  I do NOT feel that Darla’s arrival fixed his issues, but it did help.  I would not recommend getting another dog to fix SA, as you have to deal the dogs’ issues and training issues, getting him stable before adding to the pack—I would have lost my mind if I had two dogs like Jethro!

After my experience with Jethro, I looked at Darla’s arrival completely different.  If I was home and not playing or training Darla, she was crated.  I made the crate fun—she got raw bones, feet, and hooves that she was not allowed out of her crate.  She slept on a dog bed in my room.  I did NOT shower her with affection: she had to earn it.  Darla and I had a “working relationship” for about a year.  It seemed like she respected me for giving her stability and security and over time we developed a relationship of best friends.  I do not regret one aspect of Darla’s training and she is a very balanced Greyhound and extremely secure.  Sashi was also trained in this manner—he likes his crate so much that he will hang out in there when we are home!

You can have too much of a good thing.  We have to remember that saying when adopting our Greyhounds.  We have to focus on a routine that we set and they live by.  We must exercise and train our Greyhounds—just because they lie around does not mean they do not need stimulation!  And we have to remember that affection will come but security is much more important and what we should strive for.

 

Yes, I own a racing Greyhound and no she isn’t a rescue

Am I the only Greyhound owner who gets annoyed when asked if my Greyhound was rescued?  It really gets under my skin and it seems to happen far too often.  The other day we were buying dog food and I was asked if my Greyhound was “rescued.”  I was in a particularly rotten mood and my husband elbowed me as to say “please do not unleash your bad mood on this poor kid.”  I put my bad mood aside and replied, “No, they were not rescued and yes they are racing Greyhounds.”  The kid looked perplexed but continued to bag our goods and not ask for more clarification.

I feel continually frustrated about the misinformation that makes its way into the mainstream.  It seems like the anti-racing (AR) propaganda penetrates so deeply that it has affected many people, even people who own Greyhounds.

This past week I read two articles in two different papers in North America stating complete inaccuracies about Greyhound racing and the lives of racing Greyhounds.  By no means am I saying there are no failings in the Greyhound racing industry and that it is perfect.  However, I feel that the vast majority of people working in the Greyhound racing industry love Greyhounds and respect the breed for what it is: a functional, fast, exceptional hound.

If you are into Greyhound adoption and have not visited a track, you’re missing out.  I am lucky to be a part of a Greyhound Adoption group that arranges yearly visits to racing kennels and tracks encouraging adopters to see what life was like for their Greyhound before adoption.

It is important to be thoughtful about our opinions, and knowing the details of both sides is important to understand the entirety of a subject.   Unfortunately, it seems that most of the AR supporters cannot see past outdated reports of abuse and neglect to see the positive changes in Greyhound racing today. It oftentimes seems overwhelming to educate the general public and some Greyhound enthusiasts that racing Greyhounds are loved, well exercised, well fed and happy in their professional careers.

There are certain ideas created and propagated by the AR machine about retired racing Greyhounds that have invaded mainstream Greyhound adoption.  One idea is that skittish dogs were abused throughout their professional careers.  This idea is complete rubbish.  First off, by now we all know that negative training is not successful.  Why would someone spend thousands of dollars on a dog that could create revenue and abuse it, thus diminishing their chances of success? Complete insanity.  Furthermore, dogs have different personalities just like us.  I have raised a fair number of terrier pups and for the most part they are fearless dogs, but I have seen dogs be gun shy or timid with no external cause for them to demonstrate that behavior.  Skittish Greyhounds are most likely that way do to nature not nurture.

Another idea that makes me nuts is the raw meat myth.  Feeding raw meat is not a bad thing!  Dogs are predators and they are made to eat raw meat.  Now, let’s talk about non-human grade meat.  The labeling of meat is not just based on the quality of the product but also the facility it is made it.  Lots meat packing facilities have quality products but have not obtained certification from the USDA to mark their product as “human grade.”  Most pet foods are not made for human consumption, as the regulations and certification for this labeling would be very expensive, increasing the cost of pet food.  It’s just not a logical business move. Thus, the non-human grade meat myth should be a moot point from now on.

Opinions and facts are not the same; however, opinions create gut responses and bias.  When dredging through the misinformation about Greyhound racing it is important to push our bias aside and get at the truth.  I support Greyhound racing for many reasons and as I have seen and learned more about the industry my support grows.  I hope that this article encourages you to reinvestigate your feelings about Greyhound racing immersing yourself in facts and not opinions.

 

 

 
 

How to get a solid recall

By now you have probably noticed there are a lot of pictures of my dogs running and playing without leashes. I want to make it clear that generally speaking my Greyhounds are leashed.  However, when we are in the country we allow our Greyhounds to be off leash.  Our dogs are familiar with our property and understand their “boundaries”.

My Greyhounds did not come with off-leash manners and it took a lot of work to train off-leash manners.  So how did I go about teaching my Greyhounds to come? Recall training is not a once and done type of command.  Recall training has to occur frequently and you have to be ready to give you Greyhound a huge payload when they come to you vs. following that amazing coyote scent or chasing an armadillo. 

At first we did a lot of work in the backyard.  I would send a Greyhound out and allow them to start their sniffing.  I would watch on the deck and when I noticed they were very interested in something I would call them and give them a high value treat—think canned dog food, mac&cheese, or raw tripe in a small container.  After they had successfully completed this on a small scale I increased the distraction and the distance. 

After mastering the backyard we would begin working on recalls at our local private dog park. This was a good location because it was safe but also full of new exciting smells and distractions.   Again I would wait until they became interested in something and then call them giving them a huge payload. 

We continued with this exercise until I felt they were ready to head to our country fields. 

The boys were relatively easy to teach a recall to.  Both Sashi and Jethro are huge momma’s boys.  They are not going far from me.  I can’t put on make-up without Sashi watching!  The cord was not cut with the boys.  Training a recall took a few huge payloads in a few different locations and they were hooked. 

Darla was not that simple.  Darla is a complicated Greyhound.  She is very independent and when I first got her she could take me or leave me.  However, she did want to hang close to Jethro and she loves food.  The issues with her recall came when she wanted to do more independent activities and realized that she could wonder off from Jethro.  This caused some stress—we thought all of our Greyhounds had great recalls but Darla did not.

Darla was deemed a flight risk and leashed.  Clint and I wanted Darla to enjoy the independence of sniffing and hunting around our fields.  We began reworking her recall and giving her another chance at off leash activities. 

We took her to the fields and the first time she did well and stayed with me, I thought that she had it!  The second time was not so pleasant.  As soon as we unleashed her she was off. Fortunately she was with Sashi and he has an excellent recall.  We called him and she remembered what she was supposed to be doing.  And came running back to us for her reward.  I want to note how important it was that we were happy and rewarded her when she came back.  She did not do exactly what we wanted her to do but we want her to associated coming to us with happiness and rewards, not us being frustrated.

After this experience we knew we had more work to do. We tried her off leash again this past week in our fields.  She did much better.  I have learned that once she is off leash she is going to run like crazy. The difference this time was that when we called her she did a turn-face and came back to us, ready for her jackpot reward. 

We will continue to do more and more off leash training with Darla and we will allow her more and more off leash time.  Hoping to balance her training with her positive experiences. 

No matter if you are considering allowing you Greyhound off leash or not, training your Greyhound to a recall is one of the most important things you can do.  We have to remember that accidents do happen and the better prepared you are the better chance you have a good outcome. Good solid recalls take time.  It is important to start slow and practice often.  Sometimes regression is part of the learning process and should not be considered a failure but an opportunity for learning.  Training you Greyhound should be a fun positive process for you and your Greyhound. 

For more off-leash training tips check out Jennifer Bachelor’s Blog Never Say Never Greyhounds.  This is the premier blog for training Greyhounds!

Amateur Running Sports: LGRA

Photo Credit: Carl Doby

I hope you all found the lure coursing piece useful and fun.  Today I want to discuss sprint racing, also know as LGRA as it is organized by the large gazehound racing association.    

LGRA is a favorite of mine.  I love the raw speed that sprint racing provides.  I also like LGRA because the fastest dog wins, which removes any subjectivity from the event.  However, it is not perfect.  Today I will talk about what LGRA racing is and what you should think about if you decide this is the sport for you and your hound.

First, make sure you are aware of any injuries your Greyhound may have had on the pro track.  Make sure that your Greyhound is at racing weight and well conditioned.  As always, please check with your vet before beginning in amateur running sports to make sure your Greyhound is healthy enough to sustain these activities. 

OK, now what is LGRA?  LGRA is a sprint race of 200 yards with three programs.  Generally four dogs compete in each race, this number can change depending on the entrants. Dogs are usually boxed at the start just like in pro racing and then they chase a drag lure for 200 yards.  The hound that gets to the finish line first wins the race.  LGRA is simple and a blast to watch.  My dogs love it!  Based on the number of entries, the dogs are awarded points.   The larger the entry the more points for the winner and placing dogs.  Once your dog has accumulated enough points they are able to obtain titles.  (I have never seen a Greyhound get excited about a title, but the competition is fun for the owners.)

Photo Credit: Carl Doby

Besides having a fit dog, you need a muzzle and racing blankets for LGRA (1-4). Usually there are plenty of experienced Greyhound people at these events and will allow you to borrow blankets or muzzles if needed. Prior to arriving at the meet you need to contact the race secretary to register your dog and check if they need a certification run.  Dogs that have raced in NOTRA or have raced professionally generally do not need a certification. However, it might be helpful to run some practice runs prior to your official meet to see how things work and get the hang of boxing your Greyhound. 

I overall enjoy LGRA racing.  I like that LGRA focuses on raw speed – the Greyhound does not have to consider manipulating turns or when is the best time to really turn up the speed.  There are two things that I wish were different.  I wish the length of the sprint were longer.  I feel that Greyhounds are just getting up to top speed when the race is over and another 100 yards would be better for a lot of Greyhounds.  I also wish there was a trap for the lure.  When the lure stops, after the sprint with plenty of run out (area for the Greyhound to decelerate) all the dogs clobber the lure.  Removing a Greyhound off a lure is very difficult and I have a very small bitch.  I cannot imagine having to manipulate a 65+ pound Greyhound off a lure!

LGRA is rather safe, as it is a straight line without any turns; however, these Greyhounds are running hard and as with any strenuous athletic activity, injuries can occur.  As always check your Greyhound’s feet after each run.  If the ground is hard and you are wrapping pads, it is important to remove the vetrap after each run to make sure their feet are OK.  I generally leave the elastikon in place if they haven’t run it off. 

LGRA is a great sport for retired racers.  It focuses on the Greyhound’s raw speed and is a blast to watch.  I hope you now know a little more about LGRA and how much fun it is!  Tune in next week for another post on amateur running sports.  


Feature Photo credit: Carl Doby

Why all the chatter about breed standard?

A few days ago I wrote an article about what it means to adopt a Greyhound.  Overall this article was well received.  However, some comments I found thought provoking.  I also reviewed other posts throughout social media and there continued to be a theme:  what is the standard for a greyhound and why that matters to you as an owner.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) judges each breed of dog based on a written standard.  You can review the AKC written standard for greyhounds below.

Head –  Long and narrow, fairly wide between the ears, scarcely perceptible stop, little or no development of nasal sinuses, good length of muzzle, which should be powerful without coarseness. Teeth very strong and even in front.
Ears ­ – Small and fine in texture, thrown back and folded, except when excited, when they are semi-pricked.
Eyes ­ – Dark, bright, intelligent, indicating spirit.
Neck – ­ Long, muscular, without throatiness, slightly arched, and widening gradually into the shoulder.
Shoulders – ­ Placed as obliquely as possible, muscular without being loaded.
Forelegs ­ – Perfectly straight, set well into the shoulder, neither turned in or out, pasterns strong.
Chest ­ -Deep, and as wide as is consistent with speed, Fairly well sprung ribs.
Back ­ – Muscular and broad.
Loins ­ – Good depth of muscle, well-arched, well cut up in the flanks.
Hindquarters ­ – Long, very muscular and powerful, wide and well let down, well-bent stifles.  Hocks well bent and rather close to the ground, wide but straight fore and aft.
Feet ­ – Hard and close, rather more hare than cat feet, well knuckled up with good strong claws.
Tail ­ – Long, fine and tapering with a slight upward curve.
Coat ­ – Short, smooth and firm in texture.
Color ­ – Immaterial
Weight ­ – Dogs, 65 to 70 pounds: Bitches, 60 to 65 pounds

If you are like me when you read this, it sounds very similar to what you see in a National Greyhound Association (NGA) greyhound.  First, what is the difference between the AKC and NGA?  Both are registering bodies; however, the NGA is special as they only register greyhounds.  All American racing greyhounds are registered with the NGA.  The NGA doesn’t have a written breed standard so to speak; rather, NGA greyhounds are bred to a performance standard, meaning they are judged on their ability to excel in running sports.  When we look at the AKC written standard for the breed, the NGA greyhound fits the description in that standard.  So why do we find ourselves disagreeing on the breed standard again and again?  The answer is rather complicated.   I think that show breeders thought that breeding a greyhound with exaggerated structural features was sexy and the dog would be able to compete in the group and best in show ring at dog shows.   They succeeded.  There is no functional purpose or advantage for the exaggerated changes we see in most greyhounds that compete in the show ring.

Actually, dogs that are exaggerated are not good for our breed and here is why.  These dogs are not functional in that they are deficient in athletic ability.  They are able to participate in running sports but unable to compete on the same level with coursing-bred greyhounds or racing greyhounds.  If you read into the written standard above you will understand all these qualities are desirable because they improve the greyhound’s speediness and athleticism.  By exaggerating the structural features called for in the written standard we are taking the functionality and the most important part of the greyhound away.

I have listened and read comments about show greyhounds and see things such as “isn’t she beautiful” or “she’s living art”.  I appreciate these opinions but I want to know if they have ever seen a greyhound running after a lure or quarry.  Have they ever seen true poetry in motion?

I am not sure that I will ever feel that a hound standing in a ring is more lovely than a hound doing what they were bred to do for centuries.  I will never see how loping in a ring can be more beautiful than raw power on the coursing field or sand being flung all over the track by a hound that can scoot.

I understand that dog shows are a lot of fun to a lot of people.  I wish we would see more functional dogs at these shows.  I proudly support the breeders that are promoting functional hounds and I hope that in the future at Greyhound specialties you will not see a dog win breed in the ring that is not able to compete in the field but instead a Greyhound that can win in the ring and on the lure coursing field.

As stewards of our breed we must advocate for functionality.   Our focus should not be on what can win the group and best in show ring but what can make a hare turn and break track records.  We simply must focus on the raw power of our breed; after all, it’s why they are still with us.

Official Standard of the Greyhound. c/o The American Kennel Club.  Retrieved December 1st, 2016 from http://images.akc.org/pdf/breeds/standards/Greyhound.pdf_ga=1.268297802.576806201.1479637347

What it means to adopt a greyhound

Every American Thanksgiving the American Kennel Club has its national dog show.  The Best in Show (BIS) dog gets tons of advertising and often times many people throughout the country are exposed to a dog that is “beautiful”.  This advertising causes an increase in desire for the BIS dog breed.  This year the BIS went to Gia the greyhound.  Gia is an AKC greyhound that has never competed in amateur running sports a day in her life as she was bred for the ring only.  She is not the typical body type of the NGA greyhound or retired racer.  She is an exaggerated form of the AKC breed standard for Greyhounds. Nonetheless, she is advertising for the greyhound breed and her handler gave serious prompts to the greyhound as a great living companion or pet.
 
Since Gia won BIS there have been several articles published talking about why to add a greyhound to your household, and I have taken issue with some of this; they encouraged me to write this post!  None of these articles captured what adding a greyhound to your home truly means.
 
Many articles spoke about the traits of greyhounds and what the greyhound can and cannot do.  These articles also suggested what is needed to provide one of the fastest land mammals a perfect home (I am not sure there is a perfect home).
 
I disagree with most of this.
 
These writers have completed some research or googling of the greyhound but are missing one important piece of the puzzle:  they have never owned a greyhound.
 
While I was pondering the characteristics of a retired racing greyhound and what I would tell a potential adopter about the breed, I asked my husband, a non-dog-person but a greyhound aficionado that I would trust any greyhound decision to, what makes a retired racer special? Without a moment’s pause, he said “heart.”
 
Retired racers are raised to have “heart”.  By “heart” I mean passion.  They are raised to chase with all their “heart”, hang-out with their kennel mates with all their “heart”, and love their people/trainers with all their “heart”. Everything a greyhound does is with all their “heart”.  Greyhounds are independent dogs that do not need human affirmation like many other dogs.  Greyhounds choose their humans and they do it with all their “heart”.
 

After Gia’s win if you decide to adopt a greyhound, make sure that you know you are not just getting a thin skinned dog that doesn’t bark, but a dog that has “heart”. You’re getting a dog that has been loved by trainers, a dog that loves to chase, a dog that loves to live and lives her life to the fullest, and a dog that inspires you to be a better human.  My friends, greyhounds are more than any dog, more special than anything in the world, and able to give more than their all, as they give their “heart” in all they do.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Six Greyhound myths BUSTED!

It seems that every time my husband or I take the greyhounds for a walk we get a ton of questions.  We get a lot of questions about the quality of life at the track, if greyhounds really do love to run, if they need a lot of exercise, if they eat a lot, if they will chase small animals, if they bark, and most frequently if they can sit.

Today I am going to do my best to debunk these six myths about greyhounds. 
 

1.)  Greyhound tracks are terrible places.  Tracks and kennels get a bad rap due to lack of knowledge about the racing industry.  There are state regulations as well as individual track regulations for greyhound racing.  These regulations are in place to ensure the integrity of racing and the welfare of the dog.

I think of the racing kennels and tracks as a military school; the dog goes there to learn a trade and is supported throughout its career by a team of people who have dedicated their lives to the breed.  As the dog ages it inevitably slows down, cue the adoption kennels. 

 After a dog is hurt or has graded off she is sent to an adoption group.  While in the adoption group she has a health check, is spaded or neutered, and is placed.  In the US greyhound adoption is skyrocketing.  There are some locations in the country that have waiting list for greyhounds.  This excitement about adoption is attributable to the effortless work of kennels and adoption groups. 
 
2.) You must have to exercise that dog all the time!  Yes, greyhounds love to run.  Please come and look at my grassless back yard and you will see that greyhounds LOVE to run and nothing can stop that love. 
 
Their love of running doesn’t equate to a need for intense exercise.  Greyhounds are sprinters.  They accelerate quickly but this is not sustained for long periods.  Greyhounds are perfectly happy with a nice daily walk and do not need a lot more exercise. 
 
 
 
If you want to participate in any dog sports with your greyhound, I would recommend additional exercise.  You will have to gradually work the dog up to longer periods of exercise, as they are not used to long endurance intervals. 
 
3.) I bet those greyhounds eat you out of house and home.  Depending on your feed it can vary greatly.  At the track greyhounds are fed a mixture of raw and usually a good quality kibble.  Once these dogs enter the adoption kennel they are switched to a kibble and most continue on kibble.  As with all mammals, greys have some GI issues and certain feeds can exacerbate this for certain hounds.  Probiotics are important to maintain a healthy system.  I can’t average the cost of feeding a grey; it depends on the size and sex of the hound and the type of feed they are getting.  The most important thing to remember is to keep the hound within 3-5lbs of their racing weight or at their racing weight.  Greyhounds are skinny we should not be trying to fatten them up!
 
 
 
4.) I bet those dogs can’t live with a cat or small dog.  It’s true, greyhounds love to chase things.  Honestly all dogs love to chase but there is something special about watching a greyhound chase.  Sometimes greyhounds mistake small fuzzy animals for a lure.  This can be an issue when a grey has a strong prey drive.  The good news is that most adoption groups test the dogs with smaller dogs and cats prior to adoption so that the adopter understands how the new dog will fit it their home.  There are plenty of greyhounds that co-habitate with small dogs and cats without issue, but please check with your adoption group before bringing your greyhound home.  Supervision between these interactions is needed until stable relationships are formed in the home. 
 
 
  

 

5.) Greyhounds don’t bark.  Overall greyhounds are rather calm quite dogs but yes, they do bark and sometimes they will even sing.  Most greyhound owners find this trait charming and even encourage it, I know we do at our house.  

 
 
6.) Greyhounds can’t sit. Of course my greyhounds can sit.  Sitting is not the most comfortable position for most greyhounds and sometimes they appear a little odd while sitting but most can sit.  Some hounds are natural sitters and seem to enjoy the position while others are not.  Sitting is a great command for your grey to learn and is easily taught.
 
 
Myths busted!  Greyhounds are truly dogs and enjoy doing dog things.  The important thing to remember is that there is something special about this breed, something much better than any other breed can offer!
Feature photo credit: Trent Rees

Greyfest

 

A few weekends ago the hounds and I attended the annual Greyfest at the Georgia International horse park.  I volunteered to trim nails on the hounds attending the festival.  It was a lot of fun.  I was able to keep D&J close by while I was working.  

 

 

 

The festival is dedicated to celebrating Greyhound.  It is hosted by SEGA (southeastern greyhound adoption) and coordinated by the ever-organized Lisa Strickland.  They put on a wonderful event with several contests celebrating all that greyhounds are. 

 

 

They also have a contest called “Blur the Fur”.  This contest allows the greyhounds to run in a horse arena.  The hounds are encouraged to run by the sound of a squawker and visual stimulation of a lure.  The hounds love it!  The best part for the human was that your hound’s speed is clocked with a radar gun!  Darla was clocked at 41 mph.  That is fast!!

 

 

 

 

Unfortunately Jethro was still recovering from his toe surgery and was unable to run.  I will post photos of him running later.  We were given the okay to run last week! 

 

Darla continues to be seizure free.  We are going on one week without seizures, touch wood.  We are continuing our raw diet and I am continually pleased with how my dogs are improving. 

 

Photo credit: Cindy Frezon