You’ve probably heard of Greyhound adoptions, and thought that you’d like to work with these loving, sensitive dogs, but didn’t know where to turn for information, or how to get started.
Everyone knows that greyhound dogs are fast, and were bred for racing. What isn’t as well known is the fact that these dogs are extremely devoted to people, and they make fantastic pets once they’ve retired from racing.
Going back thousands of years, Greyhounds were bred as hunting dogs that caught their prey by essentially outrunning them. Needless to say, they’re still the world’s fastest breed of dog by a wide margin, which led to greyhounds being used extensively as racing dogs for gambling.
If you’ve looked carefully at a Greyhound, you can see why these dogs are so fast. They have extremely long and powerful legs, and a thin, athletic body that has little or no body fat. They have short fur, and a graceful stride that’s poetry in motion as the dog lunges out of the starting gate and moves around the crowded racetrack.
But off the track, these dogs are very loving, sensitive, intelligent and very loyal to their masters. Unfortunately, once they’re injured or retired from racing, Greyhounds are usually seen as “expendable” by their owners, and thousands are killed every year without ever living outside a cramped kennel.
Most adopted racing Greyhounds come from tough backgrounds
Most of these dogs begin their lives in “breeding farms” in this country, where literally thousands of pups are born and raised every year with the hopes of becoming a winning dog. But in fact, only a few “make the cut” and actually move onto dog racing, while the others are culled out and destroyed. A few others are sent to research labs for animal testing and experiments.
Then, the “lucky ones” that do making the racing circuit often live in deplorable conditions. These animals are typically housed at commercial racetracks, where they’re confined most of the time in warehouse-style kennels, in cramped pens that are stacked one on top of the other. And since most of these facilities aren’t heated or air conditioned, the unfortunate dogs are at the mercy of the elements.
Then there’s the constant risk of injury during a racing career. These wonderful dogs were bred to run, and run fast, and they love to get out of their cramped kennels and chase the mechanical bunny around the racetrack. But this type of hard racetrack running is also hard on the animal, and every year thousands of Greyhounds are seriously injured around the country. These can include broken legs, torn muscles, mangled toes and even more serious injuries like broken spinal cords or cardiac arrest.
Retired Greyhounds make wonderful pets
With this kind of background, it’s no wonder why these dogs bond so well with their adopted masters who have rescued them from such a brutal existence. Since these dogs have never lived around people in loving homes, they respond with gratitude toward the people who have taken them in and are providing for them.
As a breed, these dogs are very kind, gentle, and intelligent, and they’re generally do very well around kids and other pets. This fact has not been well-publicized, and many people think of retired Greyhounds as lanky, broken-down animals where are literally on their last legs.
But the average Greyhound will live 12 or more years, and many times their best years are ahead of them after they retire from the dog track. And since these are short-haired canines, they don’t shed as much as other dogs, and they adapt well to living indoors. This will be a necessity if you live in a cold climate as well.
So how do you get started working with these canines?
Just like with retired racehorse adoptions, if you’re interested in working with retired Greyhounds, one of the best ways to get started is by volunteering your time with an organization in your area. Go on the Internet, or scan the phone book, and see if there are any Greyhound adoption agencies in your area. These organizations are almost always looking for kind, dedicated dog lovers to help out with their day-to-day activities.
These facilities offer a safe environment for retired race dogs, and, and offers a wonderful opportunity to work with these animals while at the same time networking and starting some important relationships in this industry.
If you don’t have an adoption agency nearby, you can still make a difference and gain valuable experience working with rescued canines by volunteering at a no-kill animal shelter, or even the local dog pound. Every healthy dog saved from destruction and placed in a loving home is a victory, no matter what breed or background.
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