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Thinking of adding a Companion to the family? Adopt an ex- racing greyhound

January 26, 2010 11 comments

Are you aware of the life of an ex- racing greyhound? Odds are that the average person has no idea what the poor dogs go through starting at a very young age. Up until a few days ago I had no idea about the life of an ex- racer, a life that I don’t think any animal should have to have, especially a fun loving dog.

Last week, after the passing of our 14 year old Labrador, my family and I decided that we wanted another dog. We currently have a Weimaraner and even though we had only one dog for twelve years, after having two dogs only one just isn’t the same.

One morning I was flipping through the penny saver while eating my daily bowl of cereal. I came across the pet adoptions section and surveyed the page. One ad in particular caught my eye, it was for the adoption of ex- racing greyhounds. So, not knowing much of anything about the breed I went online and did some research. What I found would not make animal lovers too happy.

Greyhounds have been around since as early as 12,000B.C. They were a breed that was thought of very highly by the humans, but that has changed for the worse. Greyhounds are now bred for only two reasons.

  1. To be show dogs
  2. To be racers

So this prestigious breed that was thought so highly of by our human ancestors are now only bred to entertain humans with their looks and their legs. In fact if you want to get a greyhound as a puppy you have to contact AKC, American Kennel Club, and you have to be prepared to wait….a very long time.

I didn’t do much research on the show dogs life, I figured that even though a dog would rather be a dog they can’t mind being pampered 24/7 too much. I focused my studies on the ex- racers.

As I said these dogs are bred to be racers and they are tattooed on the ear soon after being born. The tattoo is made up of the month of birth, the last digit of the year of birth, and the order of which they were tattooed in their litter. They begin training very early in their lives and by 12 months they are making trips to the racetrack every week. While they are being trained they are held in kennels stacked on top of each other in a room with their kennel mates, usually with the females stacked on top. They are taken out four times a day to relieve themselves and play with their mates for an hour. They start racing against other novice greyhounds and if they show a lot of skill they move up in the ranks until they are too old to continue to race competitively or they are injured. The dogs’ longevity on the racetrack depends on their skill and the age. The less skilled dogs are retired around two years of age and the greater skilled can race up to five or six years old.

After being retired, these dogs are dropped off to the local greyhound rescue foundation where volunteers, some who have full time jobs, have to fully take care of these dogs while trying to get them adopted by a new loving family. This includes, feeding, grooming, washing, brushing teeth, attending meet and greets, and profiling, which is the process in which the foundation picks the right dog for the adopting family.

There are many thousands of greyhounds adopted each year, about 18,000, but there are many more thousands that are born each year. This means that there are thousands of greyhounds that are put to death for no real reason, just because there aren’t enough families out there looking for a companion in there house.

Greyhounds are great pets for anyone who decides that they want a dog. They are a very docile breed, they are known as the “45 m.p.h couch potatoes” because many of them will sleep, go outside and run for a few minutes, then come back in and sleep some more. Greyhounds are very good on the leash, they enjoy staying in crates, because have been in them for most of their lives, they love the car, because they are always traveling, and they are great if you want a dog but do not want to have to deal with caring with a puppy, which can be very high- maintenance. And if you are afraid that greyhound require too much exercise you are sadly mistaken because a daily ten minute walk is all they need.

Although I am painting this picture that a greyhound is the perfect low- maintenance dog, I should tell you that they are dogs. They do shed, though very lightly, and they do require light grooming and dental care. They are also very fragile do their low body fat, but die to their excellent breeding they have very few major health problems.  And due to the fact that they have never been without another dog, they require a good amount of attention for the first few days. They also require attention because they do not know what stairs are, or pools, mirrors, and windows.They don’t even know how to hold a bone in their mouth and they are unaware of other dog breeds. If you have a cat or other small furry animals make sure that the agency knows so they can give you a non aggressive dog.

So I am not saying that you can adopt a greyhound and expect them to take care of themselves, but I am not saying that you need to have your eye on them every second of the day. All greyhounds have different personalities and no matter what kind of family you have, if you want a greyhound you can get one.

My family and I filled out our application with Greyhound Rescue and Rehabilitation and expect to be welcoming a new pooch to the family very soon.

So if this article has willed you to think of adopting a greyhound, contact your local greyhound rescue agency and do your research!