Greyhounds as Pets?

When Suzanne asked me if I could write up a page for her website in favour of greyhoud adoption and let people know what good pets they make, it filled me with the slightest bit of trepidation, because I feel I don’t really know enough about the breed, the racing practices to actually write an article about it.

However, we own one greyhound and one galgo(a), and before that we had a lurcher, so I believe I know enough to tell people about what great pets these gentle giants make. I am not here to write about the malpractices that go on in the greyhound racing industry, but I couldn’t convince anyone why there is a desperate need for adoption families without stipulating a couple of simple arguments. Could I?

Greyhound racing is big business. They are bred especially for their performance on the race track. Puppies that don’t train well are discarded, hounds of racing age that don’t perform as they should are discarded, retired greyhounds 4 years plus are discarded. Only a fraction of them will be going through the appropriate channels up for adoption. Larger numbers, however, are being discarded in all kinds of obscure and grueling manner. Some make it to Spain as racers or hunters (no need to point out that these dogs have a terrible future ahead of them – more reading can be found on this subject on the internet)

Mistreating of greyhounds is not an exclusive Spanish pastime, though and it serves us well to have a look in our own back yard, so to speak. Unproductive dogs will either get euthanised (which IMO is still one of the lesser evils) or left to die a very slow death without proper nourishment or care.

While there are loads of  “Greyhound Rescue Charities” accross the world, there will always be more greyhounds that won’t benefit from adoption as long as the racing business continues in this god-awful way.

How come that these graceful dogs, that have been companions and pets to nobility throughout the centuries, are now, in this day and age when we consider ourselves to be more civilised, reduced to money spinning machines that serve only the gambling industry?

If you would like to read more about greyhound racing (mal)practices, there is an article by Annette Crosbie on this link

So, do they make great pets? Of course they do. They are as wonderful a pet as any other breed of dog, even more so IMO.

As I mentioned before, they are gentle giants and very sweet-natured.

Just a few things you should bear in mind before adopting a greyhound.

They don’t need attention 24/7, but they do like you to be around, so leaving them on their own for most of the day, every day is certainly not suitable. After all, every dog is a pack animal and that should always be taken into consideration.

Are you willing to sacrifice your couch? If not, I recommend that you provide a snug, comfortable basket with fluffy cushion/blanket for your greyhound to feel at ease. Or better still, get the dog it’s own second hand or cheap new couch, covering it with a throw that matches the rest of your interior won’t make it look out of place.

Greyhounds are indoor dogs, so don’t even contemplate putting them in a kennel outside. They have very thin skin, no layer of fat to speak of and not that much hair, they are therefore very susceptible to extreme temperatures.

Greyhounds and their hunting instincts. Some will always be high-prey hounds, fortuntately most will easily adapt to any other pets you have in the house, such as cats. Obviously, introducing them to one another should be done when you are present and with the dog on a lead and if at all possible, muzzled.

Going for walks with the greyhound is a pleasure as most ex-racers are used to walking on a lead. DO NOT let them off the lead, EVER, as they are most certainly going to notice some ‘prey’ in the far distance and they will be off like a shot. Can you run 45 miles per hour ? I don’t think you can, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

Give them an opportunity to race in your well fenced off garden or in any suitable meadow where there is no danger of them escaping.

Don’t let these precautions you’ll have to undertake put you off adopting a greyhound, as this should be advice given for any other dog breed.

Once you have taken into account all of the above, having a greyhound as a pet will be a doddle and easy-peasy.

They adapt easily to a new life in a loving family, but be patient, the dog will also want to observe the family dynamics.

They are generally child friendly, but are not the kind of dogs that want to play ‘wild and boisterous’ games. Respect on both sides is always a good idea.
Once they know their position in the new ‘pack’ they will gladly share their sleeping area with the pet cats (as long as the latter doesn’t take advantage and uses their new found friend as a scratching pole).

You can give them cuddles as little or as much as you like, they will gladly receive any you are willing to give, but they won’t hold you at ransom to get some affection.

They are fast, when they want to be, but they like a good loooooong rest even more. Overall, our Sam, will have one or two bursts of high energy per day and they last all of …. what …. 5 minutes ! So he will speed around the garden like a maniac, and then that is that, from one moment to the next he will be on his back (on the couch) with his paws sticking up and a cheeky grin on his face. They also do have a stage in between the two, like walking through the garden, checking out the birds in the trees. Observing their surroundings.

I’ll spit it out then, shall I? They are the most lazy breed of dog that I have known. It is well documented that they ‘rest’ for about 20 (yes, twenty) hours a day. If you want to let them run, let them do it of their own accord, don’t force them.

They are funny in a ‘dry-humour-kinda-way’ and they don’t even realise it.

Greyhounds are loyal, graceful, gentle, funny, lazy, fast, generally well behaved dogs and you will see it in their eyes how grateful they are that you have given them a lovely, welcoming and safe home.

There is one more thing I would like to point out. Please make it a priority to have your dogs neutered, bitches spayed. There are already too many unwanted dogs in this world, so make sure you are not responsible for adding to that number.

Patricia Pelgrims – Currently Belgium

Suzanne’s Diary: Nov 30, 2010 Dec 10, 2010: Today From The Dog Pound
Suzanne’s Diary: Nov 30, 2010
Dec 10, 2010: Today From The Dog Pound