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Most people associate the fleet-of-paw greyhound with racing, or as the dog pictured on the side of a bus. But long before these iconic images, these dogs were the esteemed sight hound hunting companions of royalty. The 5,000-year old dog breed was favored by the pharaohs of Egypt and owned by kings and queens in England. In fact, for 800 years, you had to be of noble birth to own one.
Greyhound racing became very popular in the United States in the 1990s. There were more than 60 racetracks, creating an overabundance of dogs that needed homes after their racing career ended. Word got out and during the last 20 years, many greyhound rescue groups sprang into action. The racing industry is shrinking -- now there are only 22 tracks -- but there is still a need to adopt former racing greyhounds.
The Adaptable Greyhound
Former racing greyhounds adapt to just about every situation. They are used to being transferred from one place to another and handled by different people. So, if you get your greyhound from a reliable adoption program, the transition from racing to pet dog usually goes smoothly. Getting a puppy is also wonderful, and there are reliable AKC breeders. But in my opinion, puppies should only be adopted by people who are home during the day.
You might expect these fast sight hounds to be high-energy pets. Although they sprint at high speed, they do not have a great deal of endurance and are quite content to be “couch potatoes” when they’re not chasing prey. They’re actually very composed, quiet dogs -- the perfect companion for calm people.
The More Greyhounds, the Merrier
Greyhounds are also affectionate, sweet-natured and thrive on the love and attention of “their people.” People who adopt greyhounds get just as attached to them. I call it the “potato chip effect” because you want to have more than one! Many families who adopt a greyhound end up owning several. Greyhounds coexist with other greyhounds so wonderfully.
We used to attend an event in Dewey Beach, Del. called “Greyhounds Reach the Beach,” where literally thousands of greyhounds intermingled without having any issues. Even so, you should carefully introduce a retired racing greyhound to other furry pets so they understand they’re part of the family too. And, just as with any sight hound, greyhounds should be walked on a leash or exercised in a securely enclosed yard to prevent them from dashing off after a squirrel.
Photo: Corbis Images
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