Adopting A Retired Greyhound

By Tamara Sevigny

If you are seriously considering adding a new pet to your family, you may want to consider adopting a retired Greyhound. With the recent closing of the Plainfield Greyhound Track, hundreds of dogs were left homeless. Many went to private adoptive families, while many others went to rescue organizations and shelters.

Each year more and more retired racing Greyhounds are finding themselves in the homes of adoptive families. With only a few thousand adopted in the early 1990’s people have since learned more about the possibility of bringing retired Greyhounds into their homes, thanks to the efforts of adoption and rescue groups. Last year tens of thousands more retired dogs found themselves in happy homes.

Retired racers are usually available for adoption between two and six years of age. Their racing careers end when they stop making money for their owners. Some are no longer fast enough, while others may have been injured, but even fast racers must retire by the age of six. The life span of a Greyhound is from 12 to 14 years.

Greyhounds are docile and quiet; they rarely bark and are so friendly they would not be considered a good watchdog. They have excellent manners and are easily trained with positive reinforcement.

These medium-large size dogs (65 to 75 lbs.) have no trouble adapting to home life. They bond with their families and love hugs and petting. They are easy to train, intelligent, fun-loving pets. Their short coat requires little or no grooming. And they are generally good with other dogs.

Most retired dogs have been trained to walk calmly at their handler’s sides. Even though retired dogs have never lived in a home before they usually are housebroken within a couple of weeks due to their regimented life at the track.

While track life prepared them for crating and walking nicely it did not expose them to windows, stairs, patio doors or slippery floors. If your dog is adopted straight out of a track adoption center or rescue kennel you might have to help them conquer these obstacles.

As you can imagine, they are very active dogs and do require three to five exercise sessions a week. These can consist of a dog run, a fenced area for running, or a long brisk walk.

Due to their speed and intense desire to chase, Greyhounds should never be allowed off lead unless in a fenced area. Furthermore, these dogs are sighthounds, which means if something catches their eye they are apt to pursue it – at 35 mph.
Despite their desire to run when outdoors they also enjoy lounging around on the couch. Pups Without Partners, a Greyhound rescue organization from Bridgeport, calls the breed “45 mph couch potatoes” due to their ability to transition from outdoor play to indoor relaxation.

Their sleek body meant for speed does not allow excess body fat, so they do require a sweater and warm bedding in the winter. Their minimal body fat also puts them at a risk around herbicides, insecticides, and certain types of anesthesia. Consult your veterinarian before exposing your dog to these possible dangers.

Their intense chase instincts can mean trouble for small animals. If you have rabbits, cats, or toy-sized dogs the Greyhound should be tested around these animals. Introducing pets to an adopted Greyhound should be done with a racing muzzle on. The Greyhound should not be left with the other pets alone until you are 100% sure the dog is reliable.

Most Greyhounds are terrific with respectful children. If your kids are young and boisterous adopt a stable dog and avoid shy, sound-sensitive dogs. Rescue and adoption agencies specialize in placing the right dog with the right family. Trust their judgment. Spend some time with a few different dogs before making a decision. If you find a Greyhound works well with your family, you will have a friend for life.

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