Learn about retired racing greyhounds and what a wonderful addition to your family one (or more) would make. G.O. Inc. volunteers will share their experiences, knowledge and advice. Please come talk to us at one of our many meet and greets, social gatherings, or fundraising events; pick up the phone and call any of our Placement Representatives; or look at our website, www.greyhoundoptions.org. There are also many books and references that are available online or at your local library or bookstore. Some “must-reads” include: Adopting the Racing Greyhound by Cynthia Branigan, and Child-Proofing Your Dog by Kilcommons and Wilson. We can provide or recommend some wonderful information to help you decide if a greyhound is the right pet for you.
Once you have decided to take the plunge, fill out an application online or ask one of our Placement Reps for a hard copy to complete and return.
The Placement Representative located closest to you will review your application and call you as soon as possible with any questions and to set up an appointment for the home visit.
Your rep will visit with you in the comfort of your home for an hour or two. He/she will get a good idea of your lifestyle and home environment, and if it would be the right home for a greyhound. The visit affords you the opportunity to ask more questions of the rep, and vice versa. It also provides an opportunity for the rep to point out some potentially hazardous areas for a greyhound and give corrective suggestions. He/she will also tell you what you may need to purchase or alter in preparation for the arrival of your new 4-legged housemate. Your Rep will likely bring her own greyhound with her. This will truly exhibit how a greyhound will behave in your home, often defraying misconceptions as to their size, typical behavior and activity level.
You will be informed either during the home visit or shortly thereafter whether your application has been approved.
You and your rep will work together to determine the criteria to best match a greyhound to your family and circumstances. Some things to consider might include whether you have a fenced yard, other pets, children, layout of your house and number of hours a dog would be alone. Once you have narrowed your options from our list of available foster dogs, you will meet potential adoptees.
The dog that you have selected will come to your home to stay until you decide whether you want to finalize the adoption. This can happen within moments or over a few weeks. The rep will take the adoption donation of $400.00 and hold it until the adoption agreement is signed. You will also be asked to complete a brief liability waiver. If a problem arises, or the dog just isn’t the right one, your check will be returned to you. You may then wish to consider another greyhound, or withdraw your application.
Time to officially welcome your new family member! Your Placement Rep, you and a witness will sign the adoption agreement. CONGRATULATIONS! Remember that Greyhound Options, Inc. will always be available to answer questions, provide support, and in the worst of circumstances, take your greyhound back to find him/her a new home. As is outlined in the adoption agreement, you must notify Greyhound Options if you move, can no longer keep your greyhound, or if your greyhound has died.
Greyhound Options, Inc. is dedicated to the responsible placement of retired racing Greyhounds. We feel strongly that vetting is a very important part of the adoption process. Thanks to donations, fund raisers and the participation of many veterinarians, G.O., Inc. is able, for a $400 adoption donation, to include the vetting listed below for each and every dog we place.
Upon Arrival from the track
Each dog is given a general physical to determine overall condition. Special attention is given to dental condition, coat, and ears.
Heartworm Test and Medication
This test is very important as the dogs are not on heartworm preventative while racing. Fortunately we have not seen many dogs with heartworm come off the track. A “heartworm certificate” is issued and the dog is placed on Heartgard 30 Plus. It is the adoptive families responsibility to continue Heartgard after placement. Should a dog test positive for Heartworm, the dog will be placed into foster care for treatment and a recuperation period (usually about 8 weeks)
Distemper and rabies vaccinations are given, if not current.
In Foster Care or Immediately Upon Placement
As a precaution, all dogs receive a dose of Drontal in their Foster Home. This rids the dog of intestinal worms as well as tapeworm. The new family should take a stool sample to their own vet approximately three months after in case a re-dosing is needed.
Greyhound Options has every dog we place Spayed or Neutered. This is usually done within the first 2 to 3 weeks after coming off the track. Should a dog be adopted prior to spay or neuter being done, a G.O., Inc. representative will contact the adoptive family and make an appointment with a participating vet nearby to do the spay or neuter. This is usually done within 2 weeks. No unspayed or unneutered dog will be placed in a home with another dog which has not been spayed or neutered.
During the spay/neuter procedure, the dog’s teeth are cleaned. Due to their diet at the track, which consists of a high protein soft food, the dog’s teeth become covered with tartar, which if not addressed can cause severe periodontal disease.
Greyhound Options Inc. will provide tick titer testing at our two semi-annual events, the Spring Reunion and the Octoberfest at the owner’s expense. Since we are able to test in bulk, the cost will be considerably less than at your family veterinarian.
What has life been like for the racing greyhound?
The racing greyhound has spent its life in the company of other dogs. When born, the average litter size is about nine pups. Generally, young greyhounds are touched and hugged as much as possible. As they near their first birthday, they begin their racing training. They are taught to chase a lure using a variety of systems, all geared to maximizing their natural abilities of speed and vision. Eventually they progress to a racetrack such as the one from which your dog came.
Kennel life at the track is very routine. Feeding in the morning, several daily turnouts in an exercise pen, and the rest of the time spent in the crate, unless the dog is racing that day or is new and needs to be schooled – that is, taught how to run around that particular track. Most dogs are raced every three days; most racing kennels have about 60 active dogs; and amazingly, most trainers have a special story about each and every dog with whom they work.
As you can see, the ex-racer has seen very little of what we call the everyday world. They have never seen a house, stairs, children or cats. Life as a pet is like being reborn for the ex-racer.
What should I expect of my dog when we get home?
Because everything is brand new for your dog you should expect him or her to be a little confused. Your dog will be very curious about every niche and corner of its new home. Most dogs come directly from the racetrack and do not understand that the stove is not the proper place for those elegant feet, nor, for that matter, is the cupboard or table.. They have not acquired what we call “manners”. If your dog does jump on things, firmly grab hold of its collar, move him or her down while authoritatively saying “OFF!” Should the jumping up behavior be repeated, be CONSISTENT and repeat the “OFF!” process. Greyhounds are very sensitive and will respond quickly to this simple training.
If you have stairs, that your dog will need to climb, prepare to be patient. Greyhounds have never seen stairs and usually approach them in one of two ways: they either decide that stairs are completely beyond their comprehension, becoming stiff and helpless, or they attempt to leap up or down the whole flight at once. To educate your greyhound about stairs, place the dog’s feet, one at a time on each step, with your body firmly behind the dog so it cannot back down. Proceed up the stairs, one foot at a time, giving lots of encouragement along the way. Going downstairs requires a little more muscle as your dog will want to try all the stairs in ONE jump. Keep the dog on a short leash, allowing him or her to take only one stair at a time. In a few days your dog will be able to navigate the stairs on its own.
Expect your greyhound to be curious, They have been taught to be alert to quick movements, particularly those of small creatures. If your dog even looks sideways at your cat, immediately and firmly say “NO!”. It may take a few times, consistency again being the key, but your dog will quickly learn what is appropriate behavior in regard to small animals.
You may find your dog is something of a shadow, following you everywhere. This is part of, the bonding process. YOU are the person your dog has decided to trust first. Be flattered. To help your dog adjust, take him or her everywhere you can. These are curious and sociable dogs and they want to know all they can about their new world. The more love and attention you give your dog, the more you will get back.
Does my dog need a special place in the house?
In the kennel your dog has always had its own confined space where it felt safe and secure. There are a number of ways of accomplishing this in your home. You can purchase or rent a large crate or make a social bedding area with a couple of inches of plump bedding. Either of these methods helps the dog to adjust to your household.
Although many people feel uncomfortable using a crate, greyhounds are quite at home in them. Indeed using a large crate can help you to help your dog successfully make the transition from racing dog to pet by affording the dog a manageable space when overwhelmed by the sudden freedom of your house.
Leaving the dog home alone, uncrated may result in some behaviors which might alarm and dismay you. Your dog may investigate the garbage or frantically try to chew through the door to find you. He or she may find new uses for your furniture, or your dog may simply howl and pine until you return. The use of a crate could eliminate these potential disasters. Dogs instinctively will not soil their own space, making usage of the crate an effective tool in the housebreaking process. It is a secure and somewhat familiar space for the dog, providing a certain piece of mind for you.
How do I housebreak my greyhound?
Your dog is kennel trained. This means that he or she knows that when let out of its crate at the racing kennel, it’s time to poop or pee in the turnout pen. By taking your dog out frequently and at consistent times and by giving lots of praise when the dog succeeds, you will quickly establish the correct place for your greyhound to relieve itself. Most dogs present body signals indicating when they need to go out. Look for these signals. They may be as simple as a serious sniffing of the floor to a lot of quick pacing back and forth. Initially, expect some accidents. It takes a little while for you and your dog to learn each other’s language and timing. If there is an accident, don?t punish your dog, just hurry outside and be encouraging. Consider taking the dog out more frequently for a while.
Vinegar and water are good to use in cleaning up ? the acid neutralizes the odor. Corn starch sprinkled over urine on carpets can be vacuumed when completely dry. This technique also takes out the stain and odor effectively. Never clean up an accident in front of your dog. You don’t want to even suggest to the dog that cleaning up an accident is something that humans do. Although it sounds odd, it is a standard rule.
When you take your dog out to relieve itself, you will notice that he or she seems to be looking for the “right” spot. This may take some time. Once found, your dog will relieve itself. The next time the two of you go out, go to the same spot, calmly waiting for your dog to do what is necessary. Don’t distract your dog with playful body language, as you want him or her to focus on the reason for being outside. Once business is taken care of, you can play, walk, etc.
Why is routine important to a greyhound?
A consistent routine is all your greyhound has ever known. At the breeding farm and later at the racing kennel, feeding and exercise always occurs at the same time each day. Generally, the dogs are turned out early in the morning and then again at mid-morning. During the second turnout, crates are cleaned. After the second turn out, those dogs not racing are fed. The dogs remain in their crates until late afternoon for the third turnout. The final turnout is usually late in the evening just before the trainer goes home for the night. Because the dogs are so accustomed to a daily routine, it is quite easy to adapt the old routine to what best fits your household.
These dogs are amazingly adaptable and really want to please, but depend on your consistency. Work out a general routine that might work for you and stick to it. Be sure and make it something that is easily managed by your household and takes the dog’s needs into account (Note: until you and your dog have established a comfortable routine, you may need to make more frequent trips outside to avoid accidents).
How do I feed my greyhound?
When you get your dog, it will be at “racing weight”. Most dogs reach “pet weight” within the first month of life at your house. Your dog may seem to devour its food at first. This behavior will slowly disappear as your dog realizes that it can depend on you for plenty of food regularly. Occasionally, however, a greyhound will seem totally uninterested in food. Do not worry. With patient coaxing, the dog will usually eat more heartily as he or she becomes comfortable with its surroundings.
Initially, feed your dog between 3-5 cups of food a day. As your dog adjusts to the food change, you can increase the amount to 4-6 cups a day, depending on the size of the dog, and its own personal appetite. It is best to buy a good brand of dog food that contains about 22% protein, derived from meat and/or chicken content. It should have as little filler as possible and no soy, which gives them gas. These better quality foods can be obtained at feed and pet stores, as opposed to the supermarket brands. A teaspoon of corn oil each day helps to keep the coat shiny. For good dental hygiene, occasionally give your dog rawhide chews and dog biscuits.
The change in diet from track to household may cause diarrhea in your dog. Should this occur, give your dog two Pepto Bismol tablets every two hours or so until the diarrhea has stopped. Feed 1-2 cups each cottage cheese and rice, two or three times a day until stools begin to look solid. Gradually decrease rice, while increasing dry kibble. As stools become normal, eliminate the cottage cheese. It is important to recognize that accidents may happen due to an upset stomach, rather than lack of manners. Remember, the dog is trying to adjust and should be treated with patience and care.
What sort of medical care will my greyhound need?
In our lives the best medical care is prevention. Even though your dog was dewormed, in about three weeks you should take a stool sample to your vet just to be on the safe side. Discuss with your vet what sort of heartworm preventative will work best for your dog. You might also ask the vet to show you how to cut your dog’s toenails, something that should be done once or twice a month.
Your greyhound was given all its vaccinations and was spayed or neutered. Be sure your vet is very familiar with the precautions necessary in regard to greyhounds and anesthesia. Try to do all the things that need to be done while the dog is “under”, such as tooth scaling etc.
Read all shampoo and flea spray/powder labels and be sure that they are safe to use on sighthounds. Do not use a flea collar on a greyhound ? they are particularly sensitive to the chemicals in them. Greyhounds are not plagued with conformation diseases such as hip dysplasia. If given good loving care, they can live 12-15 years or more, a delightfully long life for your dog and your family together.
How important is exercise for my greyhound?
The greyhound is an athlete. They are accustomed to racing every three days. However, in their retirement, their exercise needs are easily fulfilled by 2-4 “fun” walks during the week of at least 1/2 hour in length. They also enjoy a run in an enclosed area off leash. They are born to run and it is one of their greatest pleasures.
As you might expect, the change from racetrack to your household is somewhat stressful, confusing and exciting for your dog. Exercise facilitates an easier transition. A tired, satisfied dog seems to have less energy to worry or be upset. Walking and/or running with your dog speeds up the bonding process and enables the two of you to learn each other’s language that much more quickly.
Greyhounds make excellent jogging companions once they learn to adjust their stride to yours. Summer heat and winter salt can injure pads, however, so check your dog’s feet after each run. Also give your dog a chance to relieve itself before and after the jog to prevent kidney tie-up.
When can I trust my dog off the leash?
NEVER! Greyhounds have no understanding of cars. They tend to stand in the middle of the road watching the car approach, or they try to outrun it. They are sighthounds capable of speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour. They have been taught to chase fast-moving objects. Therefore, you need to structure a situation in which your dog can succeed and not be at risk; one in which you are in control. This may be an enclosed ballfield or meadow.
While basic obedience classes will give you good ideas for building a relationship and could be really helpful for other concerns you may have, the “instinct” to chase will always override the learned command. This is also why greyhounds should never be tied to anything stationary outside. They can reach those fast speeds very quickly and could snap their necks.