April is Adopt a Greyhound month, and what better way to celebrate than to invite one of the biggest Greyhound lovers we know to write about what makes her beloved breed so special? Cara Brockhoff and her husband Jerry have been caring for retired racing hounds since 1993 and raising awareness about Greyhound adoption for just as long. They regularly have between 6 and 9 senior Greys at home at any given time. –Janine Kahn
What Makes Greyhounds Greyt
By Cara Brockhoff
April is Adopt a Greyhound Month and Im here to tell you why you should!
Greyhounds are: calm, affectionate, short-haired, velcro couch potatoes. Greyhounds arent: perfect. But then, who is?
Sleek and handsome, Greyhounds have a unique way of embedding themselves into the hearts of their admirers to the point where The Potato Chip Syndrome applies – It’s hard to have just one. It is rare that you’ll find a single greyhound home: new owners become so infatuated theyve gotta have more. We have seven. Having been raised and trained with their whole litters and living among kennels full of other Greyhounds during their racing careers, the dogs do better with companionship and having more than one dog can avoid separation anxiety, especially if left alone during the day.
Greyhounds have been bred for 5,000 years to hunt, and in their racing lifetimes, to chase the lure- it’s in their blood and their brains so adoption groups require new owners to have fenced yards and to keep their new kids on lead if theyre not within it. It only makes sense: a sighthound can see something moving a mile away and hit a top speed of 45 mph while chasing it. Unfortunately, theyre focused upon the item and not upon freeways or trees in their path. Its impossible for a human to keep up with a greyhound to protect it from danger a mile away. So if prospective owners want a dog who will follow them on a street or a beach, theyd be better advised to look at labs or goldens or foo- foos (who should all be leashed anyway its a bonding experience!).
Ive just finished reading the article by Kathleen Gilly in Celebrating Greyhounds- The Magazine. Kathleen and Gill were masters of training and behaviorism, introducing new Greyhounds to their dancing and entertainment team of six with the least possible stress and instilling trust and pack-order from the get-go. I was awed by their knowledge, their understanding of doggie mentality, and diligence.
In our own home, our method is a contrast – we try to figure out what a newcomer wants and we give it to them. I know, I know – not wise, but then, were not adopting 2- or 3-year-olds fresh out of the kennels. Jerry and I are addicted to the seniors and returns – dogs who have been in family situations for years where previous owners gave them up either out of necessity or lack of compassion (would they relinquish their human children?). Were seniors ourselves, so we appreciate the slower pace and we know they need us as much as we need them. Weve got lots of couches. Actually, with seven hounds, we have eight beds or couches in my office, and the same number in the kitchen/library, greyt room, and bedroom, surrounding our own bed like an audience. Were a tight family – the whole gang follows us from room to room and we like to give them choices.
If yours is not already a Greyhound family, you probably havent experienced a Greyhound gathering. Media folks and other observers are always blown away by seeing hundreds of Greyhounds mingling with their owners and the silence of it all – there is no snapping, no bickering, no angry this is my space warnings- they just appear to revel at being among their own kind. This is how it is in our own home when dogs have come from places where they were less loved or, by necessity, received less attention theyre just so darned greytful to have a family of their own and trust that its finally their Forever Home.
Yes, we suffer more losses than those who adopt two-year-olds and get to adore them for 10-12 years, but for us, the Greyhounds who we are fortunate enough to have even for a year or two, feel as though theyve been here for a lifetime. Their individual quirks and personalities leave such a mark upon our hearts that we wouldnt have missed the opportunity for anything in the world. And we know that the love they knew with us is what theyll carry with them into eternity. Just LOOK at these memorable faces (and read some of their stories!)
If your family is considering a new canine companion, dont pass up an opportunity to meet some Greyhounds up close and personal at a local Meet and Greet or adoption kennel. Its Springtime, so many groups are planning summer picnics where you can have a hands-on experience with lots of Greyhounds and visit with owners who relish the opportunity to brag about their babies! Youll notice in the process that if you decide to adopt, youre not only adding to your own family, but joining a family of devoted Greyhound adopters if you choose to do so. These are social folks who love social dogs – help is always nearby. We should let Cal speak for himself!
The Greyhound Project keeps an up-to-date list of adoption organizations all over the country to assist you in finding greyhound events locally. These organizations are adept at matching the right greyhounds to the right families, so applications always ask if you have cats or small dogs, small children, birds, etc. Because most retired racers have been in foster homes, foster parents are intimately familiar with each Greyhounds personality and want to place them in perfectly suited homes.
Now if you ask ME, theyre all perfect. Especially the older ones.
Northcoast Greyhound Support, a FUN-Draising Enterprise
(100% of earnings to greyt causes)