Saturday, January 28, 2012

Adopting Greyhounds

Sleek, lean and competitive, Greyhounds have been primarily bred for their racing and coursing ability. Some have been adopted out as pets after their retirement from the race track; many still need caring homes.

Greyhound Adoption Movement 

The National Greyhound Association, a non-profit association operating as the sole registry for racing Greyhounds on the North American continent, reports that most Greyhounds begin racing at approximately one and a half years of age, continuing until they are four years old.

Before the development of Greyhound adoption and rescue programs, Greyhounds had a dim future: tens of thousands of Greyhounds a year were being euthanized at early ages once their racing careers were over. With the help of Greyhound adoption organizations over the years, euthanasia rates have declined.

In fact, according to the Greyhound Racing Association of America, approximately 90 percent of registered Greyhounds are adopted or returned to the farm as pets or for breeding purposes; however, those that are unsuitable for adoption or breeding programs are still euthanized.

Adopting a Retired Greyhound 

Why should you consider adopting a retired Greyhound? They make great pets, rarely bark and are tolerant and accustomed to human handling. Greyhounds crave human companionship due to their pack-animal nature and adapt quickly to their environment.

During their racing career, most Greyhounds were kept in crates or kennels, and were normally let out four to five times a day at the track to exercise or play. If you open your home to a retired Greyhound, keeping a similar schedule should make housebreaking relatively easy.

Greyhounds should be kept on a leash or in a fully enclosed area at all times. The dogs love to run, and because of their racing training and prey-drive, they tend to take off if a door or gate opens. This can put them at risk for running into traffic and potentially injuring themselves.

Greyhound Adoption Resources

There are a number of groups nationwide that work to help find retired Greyhounds’ homes. The Greyhound Project, a non-profit organization providing information about and promoting the adoption of retired racing Greyhounds, is a great place to start your research when considering adopting one of these dashing dogs, and even offers an online directory of Greyhound adoption agencies worldwide.

Greyhound Pets of America, the largest non-profit Greyhound adoption group, runs a nationwide 800-number service (800-366-1472) administered by the American Greyhound Council, an organization that develops, funds and oversees programs to ensure the welfare of racing greyhounds, to field calls about Greyhound adoption and to send prospective adopters to their nearest adoption agency. There are currently 54 chapters of this organization serving most of the United States.

Prospective Greyhound owners should know that there is nothing “wrong” with a retired Greyhound. Being retired simply means they don’t race anymore. The American Greyhound Council reports that since the 1990’s, more than 180,000 retired Greyhounds have been placed into loving homes. Will yours be one of them?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Another UPS Delivery...Yes, For Derby

The new arrival has been something I have been really excited about getting, and it's not a new pair of shoes.  With the weather changes in Georgia, and with the special needs of greyhounds, I was pleased when I opened the box to find what I purchased from

As many of you know, and I've discovered, greyhounds are thin skinned and apt to hypothermia.  In Georgia, one day it could be pretty cold and rainy, and the next warm.  I worried about this, so I researched what is available specifically for greyhounds given their unique body shape.  My search led me to Voyagers K9 Apparel.  I loved the choices, and how I could specifically select what was needed based on the breed of my dog.  They have many breeds to chose from, and they're apparel line covers many climates.  The choices of apparel can be used alone, or in combination should the weather be extremely cold.  With these choices, we can take Derby out for long walks with no problem, and no worries that he is getting cold and wet.

The Things We Do For Our Pets

Ok, I feel really stupid.  So I took note that Derby wants EVERYTHING I'm eating or drinking.  One quick no and he will leave me alone.  I just need to get others in the family to invest in his behavior training.  But, back to what I was talking about.  Yesterday, the UPS stopped by with another box for Derby.  He used to stop with an box for me, but lately, every stop by the UPS man has been for Derby. This time he brought him a water fountain. Yes, that's right, a 2.5 gallon water fountain.  I bought my big knuckle-headed greyhound, who is scared of just about everything, especially anything new, a water fountain.

The fountain is very quiet, so sound is not a problem.  Tony, my husband, thinks like a man who is used to hunting dogs in rural Mississippi, believes I should just stop filling his other three bowls filled with filtered water.  "But he loves it filtered and cold from the fridge", I tell him, and  he just shakes his head and laughs.

Well, after a day of just watching the fountain sit in the corner, the soft sound of the trickling water was too much to bear.  Derby submitted to the cool filtered goodness of H2O.  So what, I spent $53.43.  The shipping was free!!

Click here to purchase the Drinkwell Big-Dog Pet Fountain

Fight Dog Rescue on NatGeo Wild

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Tail of the Backyard Sciurus Carolinensis Lure

It started out a leisure walk outdoors, and ended up being a flashback to his racing days.

That is how this story starts.  I thought it was funny, but my husband begged to differ.  The racing wounds he endured speak for themselves.

Leash Burn..Ouch!
What you see is what happens, in the blink of an eye, when our backyard squirrel fails to get the memo that Derby is out for a potty break, and a walk.

As quick as a wink, and before Tony could brace himself, Derby took off after our backyard neighbor.

I never would have thought anybody could be fast enough to catch a squirrel, but he would have had Tony not been attached to the other end of the leash.

It's a tail, or a tale, of what happens when you don't think like a greyhound.  I witnessed the entire episode from the sunroom window.  Derby spotted movement, and his life's training kicked in.  I actually saw the same movement, but, of course, not a fast as Derby, and certainly not a quick as Tony.

Scene of the Crime
Derby's head whipped to the right, and spotted the squirrel, and immediately he dashed after it.  Several milliseconds afterwards, the squirrel attempted to run for his refuge high in a tree, but Derby was next to it.  So the squirrel, we'll call him, Almost (you'll understand the name if you've ever seen Apocalypto), ran underneath the trailer we have anchored to the backyard.  But not even the trailer could save Almost from our Speed Demon.  When Derby ran for the trailer, all the while dragging Tony with him, he cleared the path for Almost to make way for his tree.  High up in the tree, you will find a nest of leaves, and that's where Almost was headed.

During all this commotion, the sounds I heard was, "Whoa! Oh crap! Hold on Derby! OUCH!!"

With Derby away from the path of the tree, Almost made it up his tree with Derby close at his heels, and again, Tony was not far behind.  When they later made it in the house, after doing Derby's planned business, as you can see above, there were no casualties.  Yet, we did have one wounded.  And what did Derby have to say when he came indoors?  Well, he didn't say much, just see for yourself.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Dogs Tuned to the Bark Side

Here is a teaser to the Volkswagon 2012 Super Bowl Commercial, where dogs bark to the theme of Star Wars.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Skechers Super Bowl Ad Promotes Greyhound Racing

Shame on Skechers: The mega-shoe company recently filmed its new Super Bowl ad at an Arizona Greyhound track. The soon-to-be-released ad features a small French Bulldog wearing Skechers sneakers and competing against Greyhounds at Tucson Greyhound Park. The small dog wins.

Unfortunately, we know the same cannot be said for racing Greyhounds. Just last month, GREY2K USA, with funding from the ASPCA, released a report detailing the horrific conditions of race dogs in Florida. Dogs are confined in small cages for 20 hours or more a day, often wearing muzzles; they are bred excessively in the quest for good runners, with the “excess” puppies killed or otherwise discarded; and they regularly endure serious and fatal injuries. You can access a copy of the report here [PDF].  
Take Action! 

Animal lovers across the nation are demanding Skechers pull the ad or suffer a major boycott of the company. To date, nearly 50,000 advocates have already signed a petition voicing this demand. For more information and to add your name to the petition, please visit ASPCA partner organization GREY2K USA.

Above article from the ASPCA website 

Tucson Greyhound Park CEO Caught Lying

Is Tucson Greyhound Park CEO Tom Taylor telling the truth when he says his dog track is, "an ideal place for racing dogs"?  Watch this video as he attempts to defend the conditions dogs are subjected to at his racetrack.  Added to this video is a Tucson KOLD Channel 13 news story containing photographs that document how greyhounds really live at his track. 

Retired from Racing Not From Life

The "Retired from Racing, Not from Life" art book is a fundraiser for OSU's Greyhound Health & Wellness Program (GHWP). The book is a compilation of art & photography featuring Greyhounds.  Fifty contributors from around the world, generously donated their talents to raise money & awareness for the Greyhound Program. 100% of the proceeds are sent from the publisher to the GHWP.  

"Retired from Racing, Not from Life" is an extension of True North Greyhounds (TNG), a Canadian non-profit organization which raises funds for various Greyhound related charities world-wide.  Their overall mission is to create a happier & healthier future for greyhounds globally.


Everyday I learn something new about Derby. Those who don't have a retired racer won't understand, but in our household, we appreciate the difference between a dog you've raised from a puppy, and one who comes to you from a dog track.

One difference is a retired greyhound has never been in a home. Now, this is different from a dog you adopt who was previously outdoors, these dogs have spent a life of sleeping, training, and running. When they are not racing, or training, they are kept alone in a crate, adjacent to other greyhounds. They don't get to spend time with the other dogs romping, and playing. In other words, they
aren't able to just be a dog. They are raised to make money. There are some unlucky ones who don't rate very high in winnings, that are transferred to less extrava

Others like myself, have hearts. We don't adopt these dogs just because we want a dog, or because what they are. We could get any dog at the ASPCA, or just raise a greyhound as a puppy. We adopt greyhounds because they need love, and we have an abundance to give. When a greyhound reaches the age of three or four, they don't race any longer, so they don't make their owners money. If they break a leg, or have any other injury, they no longer make their owners money. If they don't makgant tracks, or "Kennel Clubs", and are kept in deplorable conditions. These beautiful dogs are kept in crates stacked, one on top of the other, in a dark shed, sometimes without heat or air conditioning. Some are even kept muzzled to prevent them from chewing through the cage, yet many chew through their muzzle. They have human contact only twice a day when they are fed.

e money for their owners, they don't euthanize them, they are no longer fed, and they are murdered.
I knew a couple of years ago I would adopt a greyhound once I retired from the Army. I didn't want to adopt one and then leave him alone alot, because I traveled quite a bit. I want
ed to be there to get my dog accustomed to living in a home. Training a greyhound to living in a home is needed, because as all greyhound owners know, they have NEVER been in a home before. The first time Derby saw a mirror is something I wish I had on video. Just about every puppy will attempt to climb stairs. Derby avoids our stairs like the plague. Many dogs will not find things like a dish washer something to fear. Derby walks around, not by the dishwasher when he walks through the kitchen, and our dishwasher isn't loud. When I vacuum, he either heads for the sun room, or to his cage for refuge.

With Derby's idiosyncrasies aside, he is so sweet and loving. I get kisses when I ask for them. When I lay down and take a nap on the couch, I awake to find him stretched out, on his back asleep. I love seeing him dream when he sleeps. On many occasions his legs are moving as he dreams of still running after that lure. Derby loves to get scratches, and will roll over when he wants our scratching session. We spend our mornings in the sun room relaxing as I read or watch some television, while Derby stretches out and sleeps. Sleeping on his own pillow in the sun room or in the family room is a large contrast from sleeping in a dark warehouse in a small cage. The love I get, and joy I get from having him around, makes me realize I get more from having him here than he does.

Before Derby came to live with me, my days were filled with pain. In 1998, a young kid ran a red light, and plowed into the driver's side of my car. Although I was in my seat belt, the force of the impact whipped my head back, and broke my neck. After spending six months in a halo, my neck eventually healed, but left me with chronic neck pain. I remained in the Army, but was always going to the doctor to find help for my pain. But, after 25 years in the Army, I had to say good-bye to it. One of the things I said I would do after retiring was get my dream dog, and it was the best decision yet.

Derby has got me off the couch, and has taken me out of just sitting stressing over my pain. He has been good for me, just as I know I've been good for him. When we go places, he draws attention. I was surprised that many don't know what kind of dog he is, and that Derby is the first greyhound they have seen. I find that unfortunate, because more greyhounds need homes. We are asked how we were able to get him after they hear how docile and sweet they are.

So my next decision now that I have retired, and I have my Derby is........when to get my next greyhound, who I will name........Churchill.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Derby waiting to go home

This was taken by Derby's foster Mom, Jennifer of Never Say Never Greyhound, when we were on our way to bring him home to us.

Derby and my son, Jordan

A Truly Sick and Disgusting Man

NC man charged with having sex with neighbor's dog

Authorities in Cumberland County, N.C., arrested Ray Lynn Mitcham Jr. Monday after hisneighbor claimed she saw him having sex with her dog, according to the Gaston Gazette.

Mitcham, 33, of Linden, N.C., was charged with a crime against nature, a felony. He appeared before a magistrate at the county jail on Jan. 9 and was released on a $5,000 unsecured bond.

Debbie Tanna of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said the incident occurred Jan. 2, when Mitcham's next-door neighbor, who also is Mitcham's landlord, opened the door to his mobile home and saw him attacking her dog.

The dog, a shepherd-Lab mix weighing 60 pounds, was taken to Cumberland County Animal Control , where a veterinarian recovered a DNA sample that Tanna said matched Mitcham.

"There's no way he can sidestep this," Tanna told the Associated Press.

Animal Control director Dr. John Lauby said the examination showed no physical injury to the dog. He said he doubts the attack will leave lasting trauma.

"With dogs, the dominant animal breeds with the others, so I don't think there will be psychological damage," Lauby told The Huffington Post.

Allison Gionatto of agreed, to a point.

"A dog understands pain, but not shame," Gionatto said. "You can't prove emotional damagebecause you can't put the dog up on the stand."

After the examination, the dog was returned to its owner.

Tanna said sexual assaults against animals are rare in Cumberland County, located near Fayetteville.

"I've been here for seven years and there was only one other case, over in Spring Lake, N.C.," she said. "He was a mental patient."

Dr. Peggy Drexler

Author, 'Our Fathers Ourselves. Daughters, Fathers, And The Changing American Family

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Greyhound Behavior

Dominance and Fear

Learn to recognize subtle signs of dominance or aggression, such as a greyhound positioning itself in a stiff stance (usually with tail held erect over back) above another pet that is lying down or playing with a toy or eating. This signifies a greyhound that wants to establish itself as "the boss" and wants respect from the rest of the "pack." Gently pull the greyhound away with a firm "NO" to let it know you are the "leader of the pack" and will not tolerate this behavior from one of your "charges".

Watch for a greyhound that turns its head slightly to the side when someone approaches to pet it — this may indicate it wants to be left alone or is head shy.

Never put your face directly into the face of a greyhound (or any other breed, for that matter) unless this has long been established as acceptable by your pet.You'll know by their response. If they suddenly become very still and the tail is not wagging, this means they may be interpreting your approach as a challenge or a threat to their well being. Resist the urge to hug or join a greyhound that is lying down, especially if it is in its favorite bed. Remember, these dogs have had very few "personal items" during their lifetimes, and a bed and crate are at the top of the list. Of my three greyhounds, one cannot be trusted with face to face contact unless she initiates it with licking and tail wagging; then I know it is acceptable to reciprocate with a kiss on the nose. But never do I grasp her head and keep it in one position. My other two greyhounds are fine with face to face contact, but I still don't overdo it. You never know when a pet is having a bad day — they have moods, too, just like we do!

Many people are tempted to enforce a "you must obey" rule with head shy dogs, and they try to expose the dog to frequent, positive handling of the head. This can backfire. It is best to recognize this peculiarity and respect the dog's need to avoid such interaction. The key here is let the dog initiate any face to face contact, and hopefully the tail is wagging when this occurs!

If you have observed aggressive behavior in one or more of your pets when they are playing, especially outdoors in a large open area, you should look at this as a potential disaster if you allow this type of "free play" to continue. Racing greyhounds are especially prey driven and competitive by nature and training, and can become frenzied into an attack mode if the right circumstances prevail. Competing for a toy or jockeying in position for the lead in a game of chase are perfect examples of "setups" for fighting. Even in the most friendly and companionable of dogs, there can be a sudden overwhelming need to possess a toy or be ahead, which can produce devastating injuries in a pack response.

Muzzle any greyhound that exhibits aggression when running with other dogs. Muzzles on all greyhounds while running in groups is the safest bet.

Fetching Balls or Frisbees
Never play group fetch with dogs that have shown a competitive streak unless you can separate the competitive one from the rest of the dogs. You may have to have two games of fetch going so that all can participate, but it should be only with the aggressive dog isolated in another area where the game is between just you and the dog, rather that the whole pack.

Aggression in dogs can be a result of any one thing or a combination of factors. When they are aggressive toward other pets, you must be vigilant of this tendency. Even the subtlest hint of "alpha" (dominant) behavior should be taken very seriously. It is your responsibility to avoid situations that may provoke this behavior.

Fear Fighting
Fear fighting among animals often follows an injury to one of the pack. This type of response is one of pain and confusion, and results in the injured animal striking out at the nearest thing that may have caused the pain.

If there are other animals present at the time of injury, the injured animal may attack and a very vicious fight may ensue — occasionally to the death. This is often the case when animal owners describe fights between animals that have been "best buddies" then suddenly become vicious toward one another. Very often, the owner was not present at the time of the altercation to know the details of how it happened, and they are speculating that one of the animals "just went berserk" and "tried to kill another".

Rarely will an animal turn on one of its own pack unless provoked or in pain.

It should go without saying that handling an injured pet carries with it considerable risk that you could be bitten or at least growled at. Always muzzle an injured dog before attempting to transport or treat it.

You — The Pack Leader
Animals will almost invariably revert back to instinctual behavior without the presence of a pack leader, and that pack leader should be you.

Set guidelines for what is allowed and what is not when dealing with your greyhounds. Remember that the environment they have come from, in most circumstances, is one of a totally different nature compared to what they will experience in their adoptive home. They have been expected to do very few things at the track and kennel besides run and rest, and they were required to obey.

Once in an adoptive home, multiple stimuli (stairs, sliding glass doors, TVs, ringing phones, ceiling fans, children running, cats hissing, etc.) and new rules for socializing, can produce a very challenging adaptation period for the greyhound. These dogs rely on us as their human pack leader to keep things in order and to enforce rules that are meant to protect all those in the pack — human, canine, feline, and otherwise.

A common human behavior toward new pets, especially ones we feel have come from abusive or neglectful backgrounds, is to try to relate to the animal on its terms. We may find ourselves crawling on the floor or lying with the animal (particularly when they are moderately to excessively shy) to attempt to comfort in the initial adaptation period.

When putting yourself at the dog's eye level, especially if you are crawling toward the dog, you are creating a situation that can easily be misinterpreted as a challenge or threat. This can produce instinctual fear akin to that of another pack member approaching for a "stand off". Similarly, being on all fours can give the "alpha" (dominant) dog the impression that you are just another litter mate that needs to be put in its place.

If you want to establish a trusting relationship with a shy or timid dog, it is best to avoid direct eye contact; at least until the dog has determined you are not a threat. Stay on your feet or sit, but don't crawl. When approaching a shy dog, act as though you are walking past and gently touch its head or back; accompany this gesture with some reassuring words. Sit on a piece of furniture and let the dog approach you — don't rush the process of getting close to the dog.

Let it advance on its own terms. Have treats in a pocket so you can offer a reward each time it comes to you for attention. Do not allow children to chase or persist in approaching a shy dog.

Crate for Safety
Don't hesitate to crate a dog for brief periods. This can keep it out of trouble or safe from endangering itself or other family pets when you cannot be present to supervise.

Do not confine greyhounds to small rooms (i.e. bathrooms, laundry rooms, etc.) as this can frighten them and also can result in destructiveness. A dog in a crate is less likely to harm itself or its surroundings. Don't leave a dog unattended in a crate for long hours.

It's All Up to You!
Be aware of your role in promoting peaceful relations among the pack.

Close supervision and recognizing subtle signs of aggression are paramount in providing safety for your family and your pets, especially when a new pet is introduced into the family. Be observant of all behaviors that may signal the onset of a problem. Protect your pets and yourself by practicing common sense.

An excerpt from
Some Basics on Why and How Retired Racers are Different.
By Judy Kody Paulsen

Raced Into My Heart

Hello Everyone,
I'm Claudia, and I'd like to introduce to you my sweetheart, Derby. He is a 3 year old brindled greyhound I adopted in December 2011.

Derby's racing name was "Up and Over". He had raced 57 races, winning first place five times, and came in second place 12 times. Initially I wondered why he only came in first place five times, but after a few weeks,

all questions were answered.

Derby does what he wants, when he wants to. It took about a month for him to understand who was the alpha in the household. He loves playing with any small and fuzzy toy, as long as it squeaks. When I brought him home
, I could tell it was a stressful move only by the amount of dandruff he threw. Other than that, the change was great. He's housebroken, so we haven't had any accidents inside. The only issue is his fear of stairs. Derby will no go up the stairs. In fact, Derby avoided even coming close to the stairs. When we had to take him outside to potty, Derby would take a route to the front door that would take him through the dining room, a route that clears him from coming close to the stairs.

Although I saw no problem with him negotiating the stairs, where our bedrooms are located, but to make tracks through the dining room was something we needed to remedy. So one evening, I used the leash to guide him through the hallway next to the stairs that lead to the basement and the set of stairs that lead upstairs. The plan was the walk him back and forth through the hallway until him did it with ease and submitted to the trips. The hallway flooring is wood, so when Derby resisted, he had not carpet to did his nails in. The leash provided no escape, which he attempted on many occasions. After about 45 trips, there was little resistance. After we finished, and he was walking, and allowing me to lead, I blocked the path through the dining room.

By blocking his path through the dining room, Derby had no choice but to walk through the hallway he had been avoiding.

I have never regretted my decision to adopt Derby. He fits just right into our home. His favorite part of the house is the sunroom. Being that he doesn't like to go up the stairs, he sleeps in front of the fireplace in the family room.

Adopted greyhound racers are unique. They have never lived in a home, and have spent most their lives in crates. In a home, many things are new for them. The first time Derby saw a mirror was quite funny. He stared at the mirror for several minutes thinking it was another dog. This explains why he doesn't feel comfortable on stairs. Now that he is comfortable in our home, I plan to participate in an agility course to help him with his confidence.

He doesn't like cats, but is great with other dogs and children. But when it comes to smaller animals like squirrels and rabbits, he isn't so tolerant.

After three week with us, I had Derby outdoors to play and decided to switch leads. Currently, we don't have a fence, but plan to have one put up next month. Normally, when we enter the backyard, the squirrels take their leave, but on this particular day, a squirrel who lives across the street didn't get the message. As I was switching the leads, the neighbors squirrel took a running dash across the street. Derby saw all this before I could react, and blasted after it. Within six steps, Derby was in a full sprint dragging his leash after him. All of this gave me a whole new appreciation for the speed these dogs. As I looked after him, screaming his name, Derby was a blur. I took off in a run pitifully after my greyhound. This had to have been a sight. Halfway into my attempts, I remember I had one of his squeaky toys in the yard with us, and ran back after it. As I resumed my run after Derby, squeaking his toy rabbit, this got his attention. Derby came back to me from a distance in a full sprint. I was so relieved I could have cried.

So this is my introduction to my new sweetheart, Derby, a very active and playful greyhound, who has raced into my heart, and brightened my days.