Involvement with greyhound rescue is unlike any other canine breed rescue and adoption program. You see, the majority of greyhounds that come into the adoption market are taken from the retired racing stock of commercial breeders and trainers. The adoption people must work ever harder at “selling” the greyhound to the public since the supply of dogs is never-ending.
Most of the greyhounds that enter the adoption market are not rescued dogs. Their lives are generally not endangered, nor for that matter are they even compromised. Most retired racing greyhounds have led good lives up until retirement eating nutritious food and getting adequate veterinary care.
Greyhound adoption groups differ in the way they handle the dogs as they receive them. Each group’s decisions in how they handle the dogs are made based upon things such as availability of volunteers, size of the geographic area that they are able to cover, availability of a central kennel, availability of affordable veterinary care or the condition of the incoming dog or dogs. Since there can be a wide range of options, I will speak generally of the preparation process of a greyhound prior to final placement in a permanent home.
Greyhounds are usually received by an adoption group in quantity although an occasional dog will come in solo due to injury or illness. A trailer, designed to carry dogs, may be used to shuttle the animals or they may be picked up by one or more private vehicles for transport to a central point. The dogs are either muzzled or transported in crates to keep them safe. Upon arrival at the central location, the dogs are examined by volunteers who record the dog’s vital information including weight, sex, color, ear tattoo numbers and any scars or deformities. Some groups test the dogs for cat-safeness at this point. This test will usually give a good indication as to the greyhound’s tolerance to cats and small dogs. The dogs are usually bathed using a greyhound-safe flea shampoo, hand dried and then taken to crates so that they can rest after their grueling trip. Some adoption groups do not have the luxury of a central kennel facility and at this point, the dogs are moved to foster homes.
Usually, within a few days, the dogs are taken to a veterinarian where they are spayed or neutered, given a complete medical examination and their teeth are cleaned. (The racing diet is very soft and tartar buildup is common in retired racers.) If the dog is not already in foster care, they are next moved to a foster home. This, in my opinion, is the most important part of a retired racer’s journey to a permanent home. In a foster home, these athletes are easily converted to family friends and pets. The foster home is responsible for teaching the greyhound about such things as stairs, mirrors, television, ringing telephones, and furniture. Foster homes are encouraged to socialize the dog and not to get too attached since the intention here is to teach the dog and move them out to a permanent home. (I personally have failed at this twice having kept my last two foster greyhounds.) The foster family is also responsible for learning about the new greyhound’s personality and helping to ensure the new family chosen for their foster dog is a good match. Most foster families have the final say-so on the adoption of their dog to a permanent family.
The day has arrived that a greyhound will meet and stay with their new family. The foster family brings the new family pet to the permanent home and makes sure the fit is good. It remains the foster families’ job in many cases to stay the point of contact for the new family for any questions or concerns. Staying in touch with foster greyhounds is an important part of the lives of many foster families. It often makes the process of separation easier for the humans and the foster family can be assured they have chosen well for their friend.
Finally, the foster home is one greyhound lonelier tonight. The foster family has taken the time, patience and love to socialize an animal that is already, by its very nature calm, loving and loyal. They have done their job well and have let go of their newly found friend. But not to worry for they will not be short of greyhounds for long. There is a new load of hounds coming soon and again they will pour their love into a new friend.