I think Greyhounds are the almost perfect dog. But that doesn't mean you will. And even if you do think retired racers are perfect that doesn't mean that you and a retired racer are right for each other.
Many people adopt dogs for all the wrong reasons or without knowing anywhere close to enough about the breed or about dogs. As careful as the best adoption groups are about choosing the right adopters for the right dog, dogs still end up being relinquished--returned-- to adoption groups. The reasons for the returns, called bounces, are often incomprehensible to me. The biggest problem in Greyhound adoption is that living with a Greyhound often looks too easy. When an adopter brings a retired racer home, at some point he realizes he is living with a real dog--and a very large dog at that. Real dogs have real needs. Take the time to learn what you need to know to make your match a successful one.
It's my opinion, as someone who works with problem dogs for a living, that the more often a dog is rehomed, the more likely it is to develop behavioral problems. And naturally the more severe the problem, the less adoptable that dog becomes. I can hope that educating prospective owners and asking them to be truly honest with themselves will help keep every Greyhound in the home in which it is originally placed.
Everyone involved in Greyhound adoption goes through horrible turmoil because of retired racers that are bounced. They second guess their placement strategies and policies, they question if they should have or could have seen something that might have prevented each unsuccessful adoption. They lose sleep and shed tears and wonder why they keep doing adoptions.
So I'm going to do all I can to convince you not to adopt a retired racer. Every item on this list relates to a reason that has resulted in a retired racer being returned.
1. They shed.
Yes, they have a short light coat. Yes, they are easy to groom and maintain. But they are dogs and like every other breed that has fur they do shed. They shed lightly, but they do shed. Get used to it or get a stuffed toy. If you don't think you can become accustomed to thinking of dog hair as a condiment, don't get a real animal.
2. No matter how gentle Greyhounds look, they are still large to very large dogs.
An overly excited, untrained 45-95 pound Greyhound may knock down smaller children or a a frail person. And Greyhounds tend to hold their ears back and their tails tucked and balk when they are stressed. Folks that don't know the breed might mistake this for aggression and find it too frightening to live with --especially in a dog this large.
3. Dogs and lawns are not a great combo.
Unless you have a very large yard that you can section off so your dog has his own area, it isn't likely that you can have a great lawn and a greyt dog. Get used to it or get a cat so you can use a litterbox. Greyhounds love to run and while they don't need a lot of exercise, when they run they will destroy your landscaping. If gardening is your passion, a dog who loves to run may not be your best choice.
4. Dogs make messes.
Even the best mannered, best trained dog gets sick. and if he gets sick, he isn't going to rush to the kitchen or the bathroom or some other easy to clean surface. The rugs are where the traction is--that's where he'll barf. Even elegant-looking dogs like Greyhounds get gas, barf, and/or get diarrhea at some time in their lives. Dogs track in dirt. Dogs and fancy furnishings, expensive rugs, and elegant decor aren't a good mix. If you can't stand a little dirt and fur, if fancy things are really important to you, or if your life's dream is replacing Martha Stewart, don't get a dog--even a quiet, clean dog like a Greyhound.
5. Greyhounds love (and need) soft, warm places.
If you want a dog that you can house outdoors or if you can't stand the idea of a dog on your bed or furniture, this is not the breed for you. Greyhounds are not suited to living outdoors and those bony joints need padding and a soft warm place to rest.
6. If you don't have time for a child, chances are you don't have time for a dog.
If you have children and all your time is spent at soccer games and school activities, unless your Greyhound can be part of the activities, you don't have time for a dog. Dogs are social animals that need physical and mental stimulation. And just because they are quiet, gentle dogs, doesn't mean they don't need to be trained. Training isn't about obedience as much as it's about forming a trusting relationship and establishing a way to communicate.
7. Dogs and children are not as compatible as Hollywood would have you believe.
Greyhounds have little padding and they have skin that tears easily.They have little protection from falling toddlers or rowdy children. They have a quiet nature and do best in a tranquil environment. If any of your children are under school age or your kids are particularly active, don't get a Greyhound.
I'd even go a step farther and tell you don't get any adult dog if you have young children. Dog bites are one of the leading causes of death in children. And I can assure you, biting a child is a leading cause of death in dogs. If you insist on combining children and dogs, research breeds very carefully and commit yourself to learning and taking all the steps necessary to make the combination work. See the Resource Review section for more information.
8. Just because your lifestyle and interests change doesn't mean you can abandon a dog like a used toy.
Divorces, job changes, relocations, and new babies happen. If you can't be as close to certain as humanly possible that your retired racer will be part of your life for all of his life, don't adopt.
9. Greyhounds are easy live with but they do have special needs.
Their lack of body fat, long thin bones, fragile skin, and sensitive souls means they need to be protected from extremes of temperature, rough environments, and inappropriate handling. Thousands of years of breeding to build quick reaction times, create blazing speed, and to foster work away from and independent of human direction means they must be kept safely in fenced areas or on leash at all times.
10. Adding a retired racer should never be an impulsive gesture.
Don't adopt because you feel sorry for them or because it's fashionable. To paraphrase a bumper sticker from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers, A dog isn't just for Christmas. It's for life.
Now that I've given you reason you shouldn't adopt, Let me share a chapter from Retired Racing Greyhounds for Dummies. I've adapted the chapter and the contents slightly to fit this format.
I can give you almost 25,000 reasons to
adopt a retired racer. That's the estimated number of retired
racers who were available for adoption each of the last three
years (based on calculations from the National Greyhound Association
and the American Greyhound Council). Only 18,000 retired racers
are being adopted annually, which means that more than 7,000 Greyhounds
are still needlessly being put to death every year.
But, just because I can't think of any reasons not to adopt a retired racer, doesn't mean they're the right dogs for you and your lifestyle. Do your research carefully before you make a retired racer or any dog a part of your life.
1. You know what you're getting when you adopt an adult dog.
Regardless of breed, adult dogs make good adoption choices. You can easily put your common sense aside when you look at a cute little puppy and make choices only from your heart. But many people who get a dog because they couldn't resist that cute puppy face live to regret it, because they don't realize what they're in for. Looking at an 80-pound dog is good reality therapy. When you adopt an adult dog, you get to see the adult personality and temperament. The temperament a dog has as an adult is often different than what you would have seen in the same dog as a puppy. You also get to see the physical characteristics of a full-grown dog. You know exactly what size the dog is going to be. That can make it easier to make a good choice. Plus, aside from getting a great companion, you just plain feel good about adopting a grown dog whose fate is otherwise uncertain at best.
2. Adult dogs require less work than puppies do.
As cute as puppies are, they are a lot of work. Aside from having to be housetrained, puppies teethe, chew, and need much more exercise and attention than adult dogs. And the work doesn't last for just a few weeks. Many breeds have the characteristics of puppies until they are well over two years old.
3. Retired racers are great house mates.
Retired racers are low-maintenance. They require minimal grooming; their exercise needs are low to moderate for a dog of their size. They're compliant and have a personality that helps them adapt quickly to a new lifestyle. Most Greyhounds are naturally laid-back, well mannered, and sensitive. Plus, they're intelligent and respond well to the right training methods. Sounds like a great house mate to me!
4. Retired Racers adapt to a variety of lifestyles.
A retired racer isn't perfect for every family, but he can fit perfectly into almost any lifestyle, as long as you take the time to pick the right retired racer and teach him what he needs to know to be a valued family member. Retired racers are adaptable and do well in loving homes with families who understand their needs. They deserve no less.
5. Greyhounds are gentle and quiet.
One of the misconceptions about retired racers is that they are aggressive dogs because most people have only seen photos of Greyhounds racing, with muzzles covering their faces. The muzzles are used to help protect racing Greyhounds from injury and to determine the winners of close races. Outside of the racetrack, however, Greyhounds are usually quiet, gentle, docile, and compliant. If you're looking for a watchdog, choose another breed. They blend well into families with well-mannered children. Most Greyhounds love the company of other dogs, and many live happily with cats as well. Some Greyhounds adapt well to homes with very small animals.
6. Greyhounds don't need much exercise.
Another myth about Greyhounds is that, because they're bred to race, they need lots of room to run and constant exercise. But Greyhounds aren't marathon runners; they're sprinters. At the track, they only race once or twice a week. In homes, however, they romp for short bursts and then turn back into couch potatoes. While a fenced yard is best, a daily walk or two and a chance to run in a fenced yard or field from time to time are sufficient.
7. Greyhounds are very clean.
The coat of Greyhounds is so light and short that grooming is a breeze. They shed only lightly. Many Greyhounds groom and clean themselves much like cats do. Their coats aren't oily, so they aren't as prone to doggy odor as some breeds are.
8. Retired racers are healthy.
Retired racers are free of many of the inherited ailments that plague other breeds. For example, hip dysplasia is virtually unheard of among Greyhounds. Their average life expectancy is longer than that of most large breeds--12 years or more.
9. You can find the racer that is right for you.
With nearly 25,000 retired racing Greyhounds available each year, you can "design" your perfect dog. Know what color you want? You can find a Greyhound to match. Know what size you want, from 40 to 100 pounds? You can find a racer to fit your needs. Want a couch potato or a fishing buddy? No problem. Need a dog who can live happily in the city? You'll find him. Want a companion for your aging mother? There's one that fill the bill. Whatever you're looking for, somewhere there is a retired racer waiting to race into your life and into your heart.
10. Greyhounds are fun.
Many adoption groups have an annual reunion picnic and sell the obligatory event T-shirt. Our group's T-shirt from last year's reunion picnic said it all: " Life with a Greyhound is one big picnic." And that's why most of us have more than one.
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