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Greyhounds Only.

October 20, 2007

Today is Gracie’s third birthday. Although we’ve only known her for 4 months, she has shown herself to be one of the sweetest natured dog’s with whom I’ve shared a home. The other dog that carries that honor was a yellow lab named Charlie, who lived her far too short 10 year lifespan with my ex husband, our children and moi.

When we first got Gracie I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to bond with a dog that wasn’t a lab, and that she would be lonely being the only pooch in our home. That former concern was short lived. My allegiance to another dog species now includes that lean, athletic, aero-dynamic, long legged and incredibly fast, breed of dogs: the greyhound. As to Gracie being lonely, I think at times she is, but when we take her to the dog park she ignores the other dogs (none of whom are greyhounds), checking out their “owners” instead.

Gracie is beautiful and aloof, a dog version of Greta Garbo, that stunning sultry beauty known, on occasion, for uttering her famous, “I vant to be alone.” Gracie’s aloofness can be a tad disconcerting, as if she doesn’t need us or anyone for that matter but most of the time she just follows us around.

Greyhounds are gentle dogs, who hardly ever bark but can be stubborn when it comes to training (not Gracie) and are usually intelligent. They love to play with other “Grey’s” and it seems (judging from the assortment of stuffed animals in our living room), they are partial to toys as well. They learn to walk well on a leash but don’t require as much exercise as people think. In fact amongst greyhound aficionados, they are called 45 mph couch potatoes, the second fastest accelerating land animal on the planet.

I have read that the greyhound’s history can be traced back thousands of years; their image can be seen in cave paintings and decorative artifacts. Some animal anthropologists feel that a greyhound type dog is one of the breeds from which most domestic dogs could have descended, but are definitely descendants of an identifiable breed that goes back to the Egyptians and Celts. The Egyptians worshipped greyhounds and their images can be found on murals in the tombs of kings. Legend has it that Cleopatra had coursing greyhounds, and they were the goddess Diana’s hunting hounds.

Tomorrow there’s a greyhound reunion at the kennels of the “Greyhounds Only” organization. This group has done, and continues to do exemplary work rescuing retired racing greyhounds, then placing them in the “appropriate” dog lover’s home. It is a testimony to the nature of this regal and loving animal, that it can be acclimated to a new environment in such a short time. It is also a testimony to the rescue organizations for giving greyhounds a new lease on life.

Racing greyhounds spend their formative years with their litter mates, are handled frequently by breeders and their staff, but are not exposed to other breeds of dog. When not racing they are crated separately along with dozens of other greyhounds. Their whole “raison d’etre” is to make money for their owners and when they cease to be of value in that respect, they now have the opportunity for a second, much more humane lifestyle.

When a family is approved for adoption and before the adoption takes place, the dog is spayed/neutered and goes into foster care with a “foster parent” for about a week. The reason for the foster care is to teach the dog “house manners” (they are already crate trained), to go up and down stairs, walk on various floor surfaces and that windows are actually solid. All this is new to the retired racing greyhound who has spent his/her life either in a crate or running on a track. Very much stimuli impaired, but they are fast learners.

We are taking Gracie to the reunion tomorrow where I’m hoping she’ll meet a new playmate with whom she’ll permanently bond. If that happens the only thing I have to do is coerce N into agreeing that Gracie is really a very lonely dog and we just have to bring that second “Grey” home with us.

Gracie sunning half of herself.

Copyright © 2008

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